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Misleading information on Why Buddhism prospered in Asia but died in India

Below is a misleadig article by author Shenali Waduge, followed by a response from a devout Hindu.

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.

 

Response from a devout Hindu:


From Vasan from California
Clearly the author does not like Hindus. There is no point in trying
to argue seriously flawed assumptions about Hindu literature, culture
and religion. I will stick to simple arguments based on common sense.
Here is a simple reason why Buddhism did not prosper in India:
Buddhism demands a rejection of all worldly desires and asks its
followers to live as ascetics. People simply don’t want to do that. It
is defeatist and escapist.

Chanakya – yes, the very same archvillain- is credited with having
single handedly prevented the spread of buddhism in India. Common
sense dictates that if it was popular enough, no single man could have
stopped the movement. Gandhi could not be stopped by the mighty
British empire.No force on earth can stop an idea whose time has come.

But yes, Chanakya was a brilliant man and cared for the economic well
being of the state. So, when young men were giving up all their
responsibilities and seeking ‘nirvana’ in buddhism, Chanakya, quite
correctly, passed a law that enforced ancient Indian tradition that
the first responsibility of a man was towards his family. Chanakya did
not want the state to be burdened with poverty-stricken and abandoned
women and children – which is what happens when people take a vow of poverty en masse!

Again, having said that, if the people really wanted to ignore that
law and become hermits, no force on earth could have stopped them from
joining the Bhikshus and taking to to the streets to go begging for
food, as many did! But I suspect the Indian people of that era tried
it, and simply said it was silly to do it and just did not join the
religion. This is no different than what happens today in India when a
random ‘guru’ attracts millions of followers one day, only to lose
them all the next when they wise up to him! Whereas the wishful
thinking of the author is that they all would have, “if only it were
not for the evil Brahmins!”

Now, as for the question of why Buddhism survived elsewhere and not in
India, the answer to that is also very simple. Buddhists in other
countries ‘adopted’ some principles of Buddhism, that too in name
only. It is not even close to the pure form that was probably
practiced in its early stages in India – as preached by Ashoka- where
it asked people to renounce all desire. The Thai or Chinese
‘Buddhist’, is a Buddhist in name only (I am not talking about the
monks – I am talking about the masses). I cannot imagine a practicing
Buddhist who believes in ‘non-violence’ by eating meat! Or believing
in reincarnation of humans as animals and yet eating them, which is
tantamount to cannibalism! Or being a Buddhist who renounces worldly
pleasures but caters to the base sexual perversions of western
tourists which is what Thailand is most famous for.

Look, you can hate Brahmins all you want. You can convince yourself
that the ‘Hindus’ were all fools before Siddharta Gautama was born.
Ignore volumes of evidence that show enormous scholarship in
philosophy, literature, and all branches of science, mathematics, and
astronomy, in India long before Gautama was born. In fact it is
clearly stated that in the course of his wanderings even Gautama
visited many scholars who could not help him – well, I suppose they
were all ‘Iranians’! You can think that the local Indians were idiots
and it was the Iranians who taught them to read and write! Feel free.

Trouble is, there are mountains of evidence to show that India was a
land of great scholarship long before ‘Iranians’ came there (if they
ever did), and definitely before Siddharta was born. Mohenjodaro was a
civilization in 2600 BCE with dates ranging as far back as 6000 BCE.
Indian civilization is far older than what people like the author want
to admit. I will leave it to the clerks to fight over silly little
details like ‘but Harappa was not HINDU’ or ‘but there was no
Ayodhya’….or whatever!

The big picture clearly shows that India was a land of deep thinkers
and great knowledge from time immemorial. These thinkers came from all parts of society – contrary to the secular propaganda that only
‘Brahmins’ dominated the learning. There are many instances of the
lowly born rising to great heights of scholarship. The greatest epic
of India, Ramayana, was written by Valmiki who was not even a Brahmin when he was born. The word ‘Brahmin’ itself has been distorted by the secular propagandists to mean some kind of evil person. In truth Brahmin is the anglicized version of the original word ‘Bramhan’ which means ‘one who is aware of Bramha’. Which, by the way can be every human being.

 

जन्मना जायते शूद्रः
संस्कारात द्विजा उच्चायते
वेदपाठी भवेत् विप्रः
ब्रम्हां जानाति ब्राम्हण:

One is a Shudra by birth
By observing Sanskara one becomes a Dvija
By studying the Vedas one becomes a Vipra
One who knows Brahma is a Brahmana

 

Traditionally Brahman was the name given to persons who had attained
the highest spiritual knowledge (brahmavidya) and who adhered to
different branches (shakhas) of Vedas. This was described to be a
difficult path of discipline of body, mind, and intellect.
Irrespective of their birth or class, people who were dedicated to
such an austere life were recognized as Brahmins. An example of this
definition of ‘Brahmin’, that a person becomes a Brahmin, rather than
being born as one, is the story of the sage Vishwamitra, who was a
warrior, who became a Brahmin after attaining brahmavidya, and
composed the Gayatri mantra. Or the aforementioned Valmiki. So, the
belief that people born into the Brahmin caste, automatically become
Brahmins, is a concept that emerged later in ancient India and was
made worse in course of time by people interested in destroying all
that was good in India by dividing her people.

It was this culture of learning that the Brahmins practiced, and which
is why, even today India produces great men and women of science,
mathematics and literature from all walks of society irrespective of
caste, race and religion, despite the horrendous poverty and misery
brought on by corruption practiced shamelessly by the so called
progressive groups that rule the country today.

Dates do not matter to us who know the truth, trivial details do not
matter, and yes even archaeological evidence does not matter because
we know it is not there. And why is that?  Because of what the Muslims
and Christians did- destroy every last one of them with great hatred
and meticulousness which is the hallmark of  zealotry. Not just In
India but as they have done to monuments all over the world belonging
to other religions than their own. But the ‘progressive thinking’
people like the author want us to believe that the Muslims and
Christians were not as bad as the evil Brahmin!

We have an ancient saying in Sanskrit – and I can hear the author’s
whine already ‘but it is prakrit! Not Sanskrit…Iranians taught us
sanskrit..’..and on and on….Anyway, here’s what it says – You can go
to the ends of the earth and may succeed in obtaining the horns of a
Rabbit! You can even squeeze water out of a stone! But no one can ever convince a fool!’

However, a word of caution. the author is not a fool. People like this
have an agenda to destroy everything that is great about India. In the
grand tradition of MacAulay, they continue to chip away at the
foundations of Bharat with a view to destroying all that is good and
great about our ancient culture. Let us resolve to not to let them get
away with it.


Source: Asian Tribune

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