Growth of Buddhism In India Study Materials

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Growth of Buddhism In India Study Materials

Buddhism 

            Buddhism, the fourth greatest religion in the world, originated in India. It received state patronage from kings like Ashoka the Great, and it spread to neighbouring countries like Myanmar. Sri Lanka, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand.

Founded around sixth century BC, the causes for the rise of Buddhism are:

(a) Vedic rites bad become very complicated and expensive.

(b) Domination of Brahmins, who monopolised religion.

(c) Use of difficult and outdated language in religious ceremonies.

Buddha in Hinduism

In Hinduism, Buddha is considered to be the ninth avatar of Vishnu. There are many stories about Buddha’s lives and are called Jatakas. Jataka Tales shows haw he acquired greater knowledge and strength as he was reborn to another life. There are many versions of his lives.

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Founder        

Buddhism was founded by Gautama Siddhartha who was a Kshatriya prince of the Saka clan. He left his family at the age of 29 in search of truth (also called the Great Renunciation) and wandered for approximately seven years; Siddhartha received enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, under a pipal tree and became the Buddha. He delivered his first sermon at Sarnath in Banaras and spread his message for approximately 40 years, before dying at the age of 80 in 487 BC at Kushinagar in Deoria district of eastern Uttar Pradesh.

The Schism (or Split) in Buddhism

            During the fourth Buddhist Council held in Kashmir, the Buddhists split into two groups: the Hinayana and the Mahayana.

            The Hinuyanas believed in the simple teachings of Buddha. They did not worship Buddha in the form of his image but honoured his foot prints, umbrella and other objects, Pali was their main language.

            The Mahayanas worshipped the image of Buddha. Sanskrit was their language. They preached and hence got all of Buddha’s teachings translated into Sanskrit. They became popular in the Kushana period. Ashwagosha Nagarjuna, Vasubhandu were some of the greatest philosophers of Mahayanism. Buddha was regarded as God and the doctrine of Bhakti became an integral part of the Mahayana Buddhism.

Influence of Buddhism

POLITICAL

            Buddhism destroyed the rising militant spirit and fostered a sense of national unity and universal brotherhood.

SOCIAL

            Buddhism struck a strong blow to the  caste system and fostered an atmosphere of peace, stressing on purity of life

And metal uplifment. During this period, the development fart and artitecture also took place. Educational centres were  founded at  the Buddhist viharas and Indian culture spread to regions outside India during the reigns of the emperors Ashoka and Kanishka. 

 Decline of Buddhism

When King Ashoka embraced Buddhism and ruled the country between 274 and 232 BC, he became a propagator of Buddhism. King Ashoka made every effort to turn into a world religion by sending missionaries of Buddhism outside the India mainland. At one time, Buddhism flourished in India under the patronage of monarchs such as Ashoka and Kanishka. The latter lived in the second century AD and patronised the missionary activities of Buddhism in his vast empire, which stretched beyond the borders of India to central Asia. But by the twelfth century, Buddhism had begun to decline in India. The introduction of tantric practices was one of the factors in its growing unpopularity. Also, by coming under the spell of Hindu Shaktism and Tantrism, Buddhism lost its own religious identity. Another factor responsible for the decay and decline of Buddhism in India was that by taking a receptive attitude towards other religions. Buddhism became assimilated into Hinduism; for example, the Vaishnavite made Buddha an avatar of Vishnu. A third factor was the revived and resurgent Hinduism under the Guptas (332-185 BC) when Hinduism experienced its golden age. Thereafter, Buddhism declined as Hinduism advanced with the rise of the Rajputs as a military force Lack of unity among Buddhists and the increased use of Sanskrit led to a decline in Buddhism. Hinduism started absorbing Buddhism and the later Gupta kings also did not give the needed support to Buddhism. Influential monasteries fell to corruption and also the monks and nuns resorted to immoral ways of life. Muslim invasions in the eleventh and twelfth centuries led to its further disintegration.

Doctrines of Buddhism

The main precepts of Buddhism are

(a) The Four Great Truths

(i) The world is full of sorrow and misery.

(ii) The cause of all pain and misery is desire,

(iii) Pain and misery can be ended by killing or controlling desire.

(iv) Desire can be controlled by following the eight-fold path.

(b) The Eight-Fold Path, Right faith, Right thought, Right action, Right means of livelihood Right exertion of efforts, Right speech, Right remembrance and Right concentration or meditation.

(c) Belief in Nirvana When desire ceases, rebirth ceases and nirvana, a state of bliss and rest is attained, that is freedom from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth is gained by following the eight-fold path.

(d) Belief in Ahimsa One should not cause injury to any living being, animal or man.

(e) Law of Karma Man reaps the fruit of his past deeds.

(f) Existence of God Buddhism is silent about the existence of God.

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Buddhist (a) The Four Great Truths

(i) The world is full of sorrow and misery.

(ii) The cause of all pain and misery is desire,

(iii) Pain and misery can be ended by killing or controlling desire.

(iv) Desire can be controlled by following the eight-fold path.

(b) The Eight-Fold Path, Right faith, Right thought, Right action, Right means of livelihood Right exertion of efforts, Right speech, Right remembrance and Right concentration or meditation.

(c) Belief in Nirvans When desire ceases, rebirth ceases and nirvana, a state of bliss and rest is attained, that is freedom from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth is gained by following the eight-fold path.

(d) Belief in Ahimsa One should not cause injury to any living being, animal or man.

(e) Law of Karma Man reaps the fruit of his past deeds.

(f) Existence of God Buddhism is silent about the existence of God.Councils

Buddhist man gathered four times after the death of Gautama Buddha and the result of these events had their effect on Buddhism. The following table high lights the outcomes of these meetings. (Note: There were two Fourth Buddhist Councils held by two different sects.)

Buddhist Councils in Modern Times

After the fourth Buddhist council in Kashmir, the next council was held after a along time in 1871. Burma had become a stronghold of Buddhism, which had continued to grow outside India, though it gradually declined in India – the place of its origin.

The fifth Buddhist Council was held at Mundopa town in Burma. A total of 729 stone slabs engraved with Buddhist teachings were erected on the road leading to the town

The Sixth Buddhist Council was held in Rangoon. Burma in 1956, to commemorate 2,500 years of Buddhism.

Notable Dynasties In Magadh

  • Haryanka Dynasty Originally founded in 566 BC by the grandfather of Bimbisara, the actual foundation of the Magadhan Empire was laid by Bimbisara and Ajatashatru who annexed the neighbouring territories and established it as the centre of political activity in North India.
  • Shishunaga Dynasty The Haryanaka Dynasty was overthrown by Shishunago and the followed the Shishunaga Dynasty in 413 BC, which ruled for about half a century, the kingdotmof Vatsa, Avanti andKosala were annexed to Magadha, Kalashoka (396-395 BC) was the king when the second Buddhist Council was held.
  • The Nanda Dynasty hod its origin how the region or Magadha. It storied during the fourth century RC and had the period between 345 ond 321 BC. The Nanda rulers had extended their empire from Bengal to Punjab and up fill the Vindhya Range. Chandragupta Maurya conquered the Nanda Empire who was the founder of the Maurya Empire. The first known Empire builders in the history of India are the Nanda: rulers They extended the Magadha Empire up to the far off places ond also desired to expand it further.They had maintained a large army of 2,00,000 infanty, 20,000 cavalry, 2000 war chariots ond 3000 war elephants to obtain their purpose of expansion.
  • The Nandas were also very famous for their wealth. They storied many irrigation projects to help agriculture. Trade flourished during theierule Magadha. The fame of the Nanda Empire was also mentioned in the Sangam literature of the Tamil people. However, they become unpopular in the masses because of the financial extortion which led to a revolution Chandragupta Maurya and Kautilya took the opportunity ond overthrew the Nanda Empire. Dhanonanda was the last ruler of this dynasty who ruled over Magadha from 329 BC to 321 BCE.

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