Author Topic: Why Buddhism prospered in Asia but died in India  (Read 6883 times)

Namdrol

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Why Buddhism prospered in Asia but died in India
« on: June 10, 2012, 01:43:37 PM »

http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2012/06/09/why-buddhism-prospered-asia-died-india

Sun, 2012-06-10 00:42

By Shenali Waduge

Undoubtedly, the philosophy of Buddhism is one of the greatest gifts to mankind. Its peaceful concepts have distanced its followers from wars, crusades and is a binding formula for the entire South/South Eastern/Central/East Asian region of the world of which most nations are Buddhist countries whilst others including India are not.
 
The Buddha was not interested in numbers nor was he interested in the lay deity having a distinct identity. There were no social codes, modes of worship…in other words adherence to the Buddhist faith was not obligatory unlike other religions of the world. Anyone, irrespective of caste, creed was welcome to take refuge in the teachings of Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. There was no exclusive allegiance nor was lay deity required to perform regular religious service – essentially everything was voluntary. Only those that understood the philosophy behind Buddhism would be able to cherish its value.
 
With time the Brahminical Social Order began to secure greater advantage over Buddhism and with royal patronage shifting from Buddhism to Hinduism, the fate of Buddhism was sealed and the great philosophy all but disappeared from India with little help of revival even from State Governments.
 
Why India chose to forget Buddhism
 
A puzzle to most is how Buddhism disappeared in the land of its birth. Was it because people became absorbed in Hindu practices, rituals, and mythology and caste supremacy or, was it the Moghul invasions, or could it have been the failure of Bhikkus to sustain the great philosophy itself?

Needless to say for whatever reasons, Buddhism did decline and disappeared in India.

Historian S. R. Goyal has attributed the decline and disappearance of Buddhism from India to the hostility of the Brahmanas. An incident oft cited is the destruction of the Bo Tree and Buddhist images by Saivite King, Shashanka, persecution by Pusyamitra Sunga (185 BC to 151 BC) who detested the Law of the Buddha had set fire to the Sutras, destroyed Stupas, razed Samgharamas and massacred Bhikkus and even killed the deity of the Bodhi tree. There is also mention of the Huna onslaught on Taxila (in Pakistan), the persecution of Buddhist monks by Mihirkula.
 
Incidentally, though Moghuls are accused of destroying Hindu temples, most of these temples were actually built on Buddhist shrine sites. Results of Moghul invasions were many too - Somapura Mahavihara (now in Bangladesh) was set ablaze. Odantapuri Mahavihara close to Nalanda was razed to the ground in 1199 CE after killing all the monks and Bodhgaya was attacked as well. Though there is evidence that even a century beyond the Muslim conquest Buddhism remained in places like Gaya till the end of the 14th century which disproves the notion that Muslim conquest was not singularly responsible for the decline of Buddhism in India.

Thus the inability to gage a particular time period for the process of decline until Buddhism collapsed towards the end of the 12th century. Yet, the question remains if Jainism survived why Buddhism didn’t? The Bengal Puranas depict the Buddhists as being mocked and subject to verbal chiding.

Yet persecutions may suppress but it does not kill a religion! So what really happened to Buddhism in India?
 
No Hindu civilization before Buddhism
 
There is no mention of “Hindu” in ancient Aryan literature nullifying the belief that a Hindu nation existed. Hindus profess to be Aryans citing the Rigveda as the oldest literature in the world. However, Rigveda was written in Sanskrit and contains references to Prakrit language (600 BCE to 1000 CE) and Prakrit was associated with Buddhism. The Rigveda also contains Vaidik prayer to God Indra to kill Dasas. Dr. Ambedkar claims Dasas and Nagas were the same people and were rulers of India when the Rigveda was written. The Rigveda also mentions Rishis like Bharadwaj, Vasistha, Bhrigu, Viswamitra etc – Buddhist literature mentions these are Buddha’s contemporary so the Rigveda could not have been the oldest document in the world.

There is neither archeological evidence nor literary evidence that Sanskrit is anterior to Buddhism? Hindu historian Dr. Majumdar claims that 75% of Hindu culture derives from Dravidian culture. According to Brahminical literature the Chaturvarna (Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Sudras), the Kshatriyas were exterminated by Brahmin leader Parasuram. The Brahim text the Gita mentions Vaishyas, Sudras and women as belonging to papyoni – in other words they were non-Hindus. We also know that the Vaishyas and the Sudras were disallowed to hear or recite the Vedas. Moreover, the science of medicine – Ayurveda was the profession of the Sudras and Charak Samhita the father of Ayurveda was not only a Buddhist but also the physician of Buddhist emperor Kanishka.
 
The truth remains that there is nothing like Aryan civilization and Vedic period in Indian history anterior to Buddhism. Prakrit the language of the indigenous people was associated with Buddhism in ancient times. In reality, the Buddhist language is associated with the Harappan culture as inscriptions used by Buddhist emperor Ashoka to propagate his message to the people were derived from the language of the Harappan people. Aryan is a distortion of the word Iranian.
 
In all probability the Vaidiks falsely inserted the myth that “Aryan culture” and “Vedic period” in the historical sequence anterior to Buddhism because they did not want to disclose that the Brahminical culture came after Buddhism. It was essentially an inferiority issue.
 
It is clear that there was no “Hindu civilization” before Buddhism, there was no “Vedic” period before Buddhism because Sanskrit developed after Buddhism and it was during the Buddhist period that the Vedas were manufactured. Not wanting to give due place to Buddhism it is often argued that the Vedas were not written and were merely passed down over generations through oral scriptures (Shruties). If so, then why were they not called Vedas instead of shruties? If Sanskrit did not exist before Buddhism in what language were the Vedas or shruties passed down from generation to generation?
 
The Hindu era
 
We all agree that the history of all religions began from their leaders – the Buddhist era began with Lord Buddha, the Christian era began with Jesus Christ...etc. The Hindu era begins from Vikrami Samvat (from Hindu king Chandra Gupta Vikramaditya) and Shaka Samvat which are 2055 and 1922 years old respectively. Yet, there cannot be two eras for Hindus – the Shaka era started from 78AD related to Kanishka, a Buddhist emperor of the Kushan dynasty.

Hindu Brahminisation began with the Shaka era and continued to the Vikram era. The first archaeological evidence of Sanskrit (language of Hindu Brahmins) called Rudra Danam inscriptions belong to the period of the Shaka rulers (Mathura, Nasik and Ujjain their capitals).

Shaka era actually started from Kanishka, a Buddhist emperor of Kushan dynasty. Instead of Shaka era it should be called Kushan era. Another question seeks to ask why Vikram era associated with Chandra Gupta 11 was made anterior to Shaka era? What is the relationship of the Hindus with the Shakas and Chandra Gupta? Kanishka was associated with Buddhism while Chandra Gupta was associated with Hindu Brahmanism. The only possible conclusion we can derive is that Vikram era was made anterior to Shaka era to make Buddhism inferior to Hinduism.
 
It was during the Shaka era that Buddhism came to be divided into Mahayana and Hinayana. It was during the Vikram era that Pali, the language of the Buddhists was exterminated.

Hindu history is perhaps just 2055 years old but in order to show its superiority it exterminated Pali and destroyed the cultural and religious identity of Buddhism. There sealed the fate of Buddhism in India.
 
Buddhism in Asia
 
Buddhism has strong foundations in Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka whilst in other parts of South/South East Asia it is facing difficulties. The countries ruled by colonists resulted in persecution of Buddhist through missionary Christian/Catholic schools. Undoubtedly, there is a resurgence to revive Buddhism and to bring all Buddhist nations together.

South/South East Asia Theravada Buddhism - Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, Thailand, Bangladesh, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

In India it was only after Ambedkar started a neo-Buddhist movement among the untouchables in the 1950s that Buddhism came to be somewhat revived. In India it is mostly the Indian “untouchables” who are embracing Buddhism. There are 300m Dalits who to survive caste discrimination are turning to different faiths. We may recall how 50,000 Indian dalits converted to Buddhism. Out of 28 Indian states and 7 union territories Buddhism’s reach has become minimal. It is in the state of Maharashtra that 74% of total Indian Buddhists reside followed by Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Karnataka, UP, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh.

East Asian/Central Asian Mahayana Buddhism – Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Nepal and Bhutan, Ladakh, Russia and China (non-Han regions – Tibet, Inner Mongolia and Xinjian (East Turkistan). Han Chinese in inner China have also developed an interest in Buddhism.
 
It goes without saying that for a very peaceful practicing philosophy the currents that Buddhism and Buddhists have faced over ancient times and even towards contemporary times will never find answers as to why Buddhism has faced the challenges it weathered. There is no streak of violence in Buddhism. It is only about one’s own journey towards salvation along a middle path that espouses to refrain from either extremes to finding the Truth for oneself. That Truth is not the same for any of us, yet it is the Truth nevertheless.
 
Similarly in the West too, the people have found Buddhism to be an easy philosophy to understand and follow. Thus, in the US, Europe, Australia, Canada and even South America plenty of “Dharma centers” have emerged in over 90 countries.
 
Undoubtedly, we must mention Indo-Sri Lanka relationship and make special mention that there has never been a period of cordiality as that which existed during the time of King Asoka of India and King Devanampiyatiss of Sri Lanka. Regrettably, India has chosen to treat Sri Lanka as a quasi-enemy and has continued to carry out destabilizing operations against Sri Lanka. India’s present overtures towards aligning with Sri Lanka through Buddhism shows clear signs of seeking to be a partner of the Asian block through Buddhism since India has antagonized enough of its neighbors already.
 
While India plays no role in the future of Buddhism except its treatment along scholarly lines devoid of emotional attachment, it is the practice, the understanding, the reverence given to Buddhism that is seeing a revival and a greater binding amongst South/South East/Central/East Asian countries of the world and Sri Lanka should take a lead to create greater binding.
 
- Asian Tribune –

RedLantern

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Re: Why Buddhism prospered in Asia but died in India
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2012, 03:47:10 PM »

The decline of Buddhism in India was because people became absorbed in Hindu practices,rituals,mythology and caste supremacy,or was it the Moghul invasion or could it have been the failure  to sustain the great philosophy itself?
Buddhism had a strong foundation in Thailand,Burma and Sri Lanka.It goes without saying that for a very peaceful practicing philosophy the currents that Buddhism and Buddhist have faced over ancient times and even towards contemporary times will cover,find answers as to why Buddhism has faced the challenges it weathered.

Big Uncle

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Re: Why Buddhism prospered in Asia but died in India
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2012, 04:18:06 PM »
Buddhism died in India due to systematic invasion, conversion and destruction of numerous large scale Buddhist institutions like Nalanda, Odantapuri and Bodhgaya. On top of that and what the Buddha predicted to be the most important of all, the systematic deterioration of Buddhism from amongst the ranks of the practitioners themselves. What is this deterioration? Monks who don't hold their vows, Gurus who don't nurture their students well and so forth.

Real practice has become rare and real masters and practitioners are few and far in between. That is the worse form of deterioration and Buddhism survived because it has spread to faraway lands like Tibet, China, Korea, Thailand, Cambodia and so forth. Unfortunate for us, the Buddha predicted that his teachings will deteriorate once again and this time, it will deteriorate into nothing.   

dsiluvu

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Re: Why Buddhism prospered in Asia but died in India
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2012, 02:38:59 PM »
Unfortunate for us, the Buddha predicted that his teachings will deteriorate once again and this time, it will deteriorate into nothing.   

I have also been told that it is that their Karma for Buddhas teaching to sustain in their land has been exhausted. Such is also seen in Tibet where their land was conquered and many monks and nuns were killed/tortured and the Dharma literally was chased.

We must realize to hava and sustain Buddha and his teachings pure...one must have tremendous amount of merits. When the collective negative karma accumulated is far more overwhelming from the positive merits... it out weighs it and hence the causes for undesired results manifest. This is due to the actions created by the whole country/group as a whole likened to the actions that Big Uncle mentioned at the bottom...e.g. Not holding ones vows etc.
Buddhism believes in cycles in which life span of human beings changes according to human nature. In Cakkavati sutta the Buddha explained the relationship between life span of human being and behaviour. As per this sutta, In the past unskillful behavior was unknown among the human race. As a result, people lived for an immensely long time — 80,000 years — endowed with great beauty, wealth, pleasure, and strength. Over the course of time, though, they began behaving in various unskillful ways. This caused the human life span gradually to shorten, to the point where it now stands at 100 years, with human beauty, wealth, pleasure, and strength decreasing proportionately. In the future, as morality continues to degenerate, human life will continue to shorten to the point were the normal life span is 10 years, with people reaching sexual maturity at five.
Ultimately, conditions will deteriorate to the point of a "sword-interval," in which swords appear in the hands of all human beings, and they hunt one another like game. A few people, however, will take shelter in the wilderness to escape the carnage, and when the slaughter is over, they will come out of hiding and resolve to take up a life of skillful and virtuous action again. With the recovery of virtue, the human life span will gradually increase again until it reaches 80,000 years, with people attaining sexual maturity at 500.
According to Tibetan Buddhist literature, the first Buddha lived 1,000,000 years and was 100 cubits tall while the 28th Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (563BC–483BC) lived 80 years and his height was 20 cubits. This is on par with the Hindu eschatology which says this age to be the 28th Kaliyuga.

This also reminds me of the laws of impermanence where everything has a beginning... also has an end.... and the cycle continues. However the good news is there is still hope for even when the Buddha's teachings vanishes from the face of this earth...  people will grow more and more immoral and their lifespan will gradually decrease, as will their health, stature and fortune. While such delusions as miserliness, hatred and jealousy gain strength, the world will go through prolonged periods of famine, disease and continuous warfare until it eventually resembles a vast battlefield of graveyard.

Thereupon Maitreya will appear, not in his fully evolved buddha form, but as a person of regal bearing, very handsome and taller than those around him. On seeing this unusual being, people will be filled with wonder and faith, and will ask how he came to have such an attractive appearance. Maitreya will reply that this is due to his practice of patience, avoiding giving harm to others, and if others will also abide in love and tolerance, they could become similar to him.

Maitreya's appearance will mark a great turning point in the fortunes of this world. As more and more beings follow his example, their store of merit, and consequently their lifespan, will increase. Eventually people will live in health for such a long time that the sufferings of old age and death will scarcely be known. At that time, their observance of morality will grow lax as people become more and more involved in the pleasures of their existence. With this laxity will come another gradual shortening and degeneration of their lifespan until eventually beings once again will become suitable ripe to take sincere interest in the spiritual path. When the human lifespan as increased again to many thousands of years, and when the planet will be entirely dominated by a benevolent wheel-turning sovereign (Chakravartin) named Shankha, it is at this time that Maitreya Buddha will descend from the Tushita buddha field (devaloka) where he now resides, to appear in this world as the fifth founding Buddha of this world age. Maitreya will be born the son of a Brahmin priest, and will renounce the world and attain enlightenment in a single day, not requiring six long years. The world in this time will be politically neutralised, and therefore the warrior class and its martial virtues will be obsolete. Thus he will be born among the intellectuals, the priests, and his teaching will bring the gentler emotions to the fore.

His teachings will not deviate from that of previous Buddhas, except for an interesting tradition that he will not teach any esoteric Tantras (most likely hinting that Maitreya's mission will in general be more effective than Shakyamuni's). This does not show a difference in the perfection of liberative techniques of the two Buddhas, rather a difference in the evolutionary stage of the human beings on the planet (Shakyamuni Buddha taught at a time of violence and widespread militarism, and had to turn to the martial qualities of toughness, ascetism and determination toward the pursuit of enlightenment.

Shakyamuni Buddha also predicted that those who followed his teachings would be reborn in the first circle of Maitreya's entourage and would be able to complete the spiritual path under Maitreya's guidance.

vajratruth

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Re: Why Buddhism prospered in Asia but died in India
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2012, 07:39:52 AM »
One of the great ironies of the world is how Buddhism vanished from the country where it originated. Over time many scholars and historians have turned their attention to find a cause or causes to explain this disappearance of the religion from India but there has been no consensus.

Some have attributed the cause to the Muslim invasion of the country, some to the revival of Hinduism and the systemic absorption of Buddhist principles into Hindu practices, some to the moral decay of the Sangha community, and others to the "extermination of the Pali language, the language of Buddhism during the Vikram era and a few to the division of Buddhism into sects.

None of the above explanations can accurately explain why Buddhism faded in India and flourished in other countries. In India, just as in any other country where Buddhism is practiced, there are as many factors that are conducive for the religion to grow as there are obstacles in its path. There is no one single factor that can explain why Buddhism declined into insignificance in the India.

Perhaps, the only viable explanation is as postulated  by "Big Uncle" and "dsiluvu" which is essentially, that the collective karma of India not to have the Buddha's teachings, ripened upon them.

The Buddha spoke of The Five Disappearances which refers to the gradual disappearance of the Dharma from the world. This is not really surprising because as the Buddha taught everything is not permanent and transient. Even the Dharma.

In his prophecies, Shakyamuni described the gradual fading of the Dharma to the point where even the true sacred relics, not receiiving reverence and honour, will go to places where they can receive them. Buddhism is gone from its native India and the sacred relics taken from India to other places which receive them with reverence such as Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand and progressively other parts of the world where Buddhism is growing. We can see that this prophecy has already been fulfilled.


Klein

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Re: Why Buddhism prospered in Asia but died in India
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2012, 09:42:14 AM »
According to Tibetan Buddhist literature, the first Buddha lived 1,000,000 years and was 100 cubits tall while the 28th Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (563BC–483BC) lived 80 years and his height was 20 cubits. This is on par with the Hindu eschatology which says this age to be the 28th Kaliyuga.

This also reminds me of the laws of impermanence where everything has a beginning... also has an end.... and the cycle continues.

I didn't know that Siddhartha Gautama is the 28th Buddha. I always thought that he was the 4th Buddha. Can anyone confirm this?

Anways, I believe that on the spiritual aspect of why Buddhism died in India, it is due to the lack of merits and karma in India. This is the law of impermanence whereby phenomena is subject to constant change. There is no beginning and no end.

Therefore, we can see that if we do not constantly create the karma and merits to learn, practise and spread the dharma, Buddhism will die. This is also the law of cause and effect, better known as karma.

As such, it is crucial for dharma practitioners to have a dharma protector so that we will be guided for all lifetimes until we attain Enlightenment. The following is a brief explanation of the dharma protector which we can find on the home page of dorjeshugden.com.

"Also known as Dharmapalas, are special beings that emanate to protect the authentic Dharma. They do this by clearing obstacles and providing conducive conditions for Buddhist traditions to propagate and grow.
Some Dharmapalas are Buddhas and bodhisattvas appearing in worldly form, whilst others are spirits who have been subdued by compassionate lamas, and bound by vows to assist practitioners.

As emanations of Manjushri, protectors like Kalarupa and Dorje Shugden belong to the first class of Dharmapalas who are enlightened beings appearing in the guise of worldly protectors. Thus to invoke their blessings, is to invoke the assistance and blessings of an enlightened being."

Klein

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Re: Why Buddhism prospered in Asia but died in India
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2012, 10:29:38 AM »
There is an article of The History and significance of the Dharmapalas for your reference http://dorjeshugden.com/wp/?p=5605

ratanasutra

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Re: Why Buddhism prospered in Asia but died in India
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2012, 09:57:51 AM »
According to Tibetan Buddhist literature, the first Buddha lived 1,000,000 years and was 100 cubits tall while the 28th Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (563BC–483BC) lived 80 years and his height was 20 cubits. This is on par with the Hindu eschatology which says this age to be the 28th Kaliyuga.

This also reminds me of the laws of impermanence where everything has a beginning... also has an end.... and the cycle continues.


I didn't know that Siddhartha Gautama is the 28th Buddha. I always thought that he was the 4th Buddha. Can anyone confirm this?



i found this, hope it help.

According to tradition, Maitreya will be the fifth Buddha of the present kalpa (aeon) and his arrival will occur after the teachings (dharma) of the current Gautama Buddha are less meaningfully communicated.
Maitreya's coming is characterized by a number of physical events. For example, the oceans are predicted to decrease in size, allowing Maitreya to traverse them freely. These events will also enable the reintroduction of the "true" dharma to the people, in turn allowing the construction of a new world.

His arrival signifies the end of the middle time, the time between fourth Buddha, Gautama Buddha, and the fifth Buddha, Maitreya, which is viewed as a low point of human existence. According to the Cakkavatti Sutta: The Wheel-turning Emperor, Digha Nikaya 26 of the Sutta Pitaka of theP?li Canon), Maitreya Buddha will be born in a time when humans will live to an age of eighty thousand years, in the city of Ketumat? (present Benares), whose king will be the Cakkavatt? Sankha. Sankha will live in the palace where once dwelt King Mah?panad?, but later he will give the palace away and will himself become a follower of Maitreya Buddha.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maitreya