Connect with us

Buddhism

Who Destroyed Buddhism in India?

Published

on

who destroyed buddhism in India

– By Arun Shourie

“There can be no doubt that the fall of Buddhism in India was due to the invasions of the Musalmans,” writes the author. “Islam came out as the enemy of the ‘But’. The word ‘But,’ as everybody knows, is an Arabic word and means an idol. Not many people, however, know that the derivation of the word ‘But’ is the Arabic corruption of Buddha. Thus the origin of the word indicates that in the Moslem mind idol worship had come to be identified with the Religion of the Buddha. To the Muslims, they were one and the same thing. The mission to break the idols thus became the mission to destroy Buddhism. Islam destroyed Buddhism not only in India but wherever it went. Before Islam came into being Buddhism was the religion of Bactria, Parthia, Afghanistan, Gandhar and Chinese Turkestan, as it was of the whole of Asia….”

A communal historian of the RSS-school?

But Islam struck at Hinduism also. How is it that it was able to fell Buddhism in India but not Hinduism? Hinduism had State-patronage, says the author. The Buddhists were so persecuted by the “Brahmanic rulers”, he writes, that, when Islam came, they converted to Islam: this welled the ranks of Muslims but in the same stroke drained those of Buddhism. But the far more important cause was that while the Muslim invaders butchered both — Brahmins as well as Buddhist monks — the nature of the priesthood in the case of the two religions was different — “and the difference is so great that it contains the whole reason why Brahmanism survived the attack of Islam and why Buddhism did not.”

For the Hindus, every Brahmin was a potential priest. No ordination was mandated. Neither anything else. Every household carried on rituals — oblations, recitation of particular mantras, pilgrimages, each Brahmin family made memorizing some Veda its very purpose…. By contrast, Buddhism had instituted ordination, particular training etc. for its priestly class. Thus, when the invaders massacred Brahmins, Hinduism continued. But when they massacred the Buddhist monks, the religion itself was killed.

Describing the massacres of the latter and the destruction of their vihars, universities, places of worship, the author writes,

“The Musalman invaders sacked the Buddhist Universities of Nalanda, Vikramshila, Jagaddala, Odantapuri to name only a few. They raised to the ground Buddhist monasteries with which the country was studded. The monks fled away in thousands to Nepal, Tibet and other places outside India. A very large number were killed outright by the Muslim commanders. How the Buddhist priesthood perished by the sword of the Muslim invaders has been recorded by the Muslim historians themselves. Summarizing the evidence relating to the slaughter of the Buddhist Monks perpetrated by the Musalman General in the course of his invasion of Bihar in 1197 AD, Mr. Vincent Smith says, “….Great quantities of plunder were obtained, and the slaughter of the ‘shaven headed Brahmans’, that is to say the Buddhist monks, was so thoroughly completed, that when the victor sought for someone capable of explaining the contents of the books in the libraries of the monasteries, not a living man could be found who was able to read them. ‘It was discovered,’ we are told, ‘that the whole of that fortress and city was a college, and in the Hindi tongue they call a college Bihar.’ “Such was the slaughter of the Buddhist priesthood perpetrated by the Islamic invaders. The axe was struck at the very root. For by killing the Buddhist priesthood, Islam killed Buddhism. This was the greatest disaster that befell the religion of the Buddha in India….”

who destroyed buddhism in India

The writer?  B. R. Ambedkar.

But today the fashion is to ascribe the extinction of Buddhism to the persecution of Buddhists by Hindus, to the destruction of their temples by the Hindus. One point is that the Marxist historians who have been perpetrating this falsehood have not been able to produce even an iota of evidence to substantiate the concoction. In one typical instance, three inscriptions were cited. The indefatigable Sita Ram Goel looked them up. Two of the inscriptions had absolutely nothing to do with the matter. And the third told a story which had the opposite import than the one which the Marxist historian had insinuated: a Jain king had himself taken the temple from Jain priests and given it to the Shaivites because the former had failed to live up to their promise. Goel repeatedly asked the historian to point to any additional evidence or to elucidate how the latter had suppressed the import that the inscription in its entirety conveyed. He waited in vain. The revealing exchange is set out in Goel’s monograph, “Stalinist ‘Historians’ Spread the Big Lie.”

Marxists cite only two other instances of Hindus having destroyed Buddhist temples. These too it turns out yield to completely contrary explanations. Again Marxists have been asked repeatedly to explain the construction they have been circulating — to no avail. Equally important, Sita Ram Goel invited them to cite any Hindu text which orders Hindus to break the places of worship of other religions — as the Bible does, as a pile of Islamic manuals does. He has asked them to name a single person who has been honoured by the Hindus because he broke such places – the way Islamic historians and lore have glorified every Muslim ruler and invader who did so. A snooty silence has been the only response.

But I am on the other point. Once they occupied academic bodies, once they captured universities and thereby determined what will be taught, which books will be prescribed, what questions would be asked, what answers will be acceptable, these “historians” came to decide what history had actually been! As it suits their current convenience and politics to make out that Hinduism also has been intolerant, they will glide over what Ambedkar says about the catastrophic effect that Islamic invasions had on Buddhism, they will completely suppress what he said of the nature of these invasions and of Muslim rule in his Thoughts on Pakistan, but insist on reproducing his denunciations of “Brahmanism,” and his view that the Buddhist India established by the Mauryas was systematically invaded and finished by Brahmin rulers.

Thus, they suppress facts, they concoct others, they suppress what an author has said on one matter even as they insist that what he has said on another be taken as gospel truth. And when anyone attempts to point out what had in fact happened, they raise a shriek: a conspiracy to rewrite history, they shout, a plot to distort history, they scream.

But they are the ones who had distorted it in the first place — by suppressing the truth, by planting falsehoods. And these “theses” of their’s are recent concoctions. Recall the question of the disappearance of Buddhist monasteries. How did the grand-father, so to say, of present Marxist historians, D. D. Kosambhi explain that extinguishing? The original doctrine of the Buddha had degenerated into Lamaism, Kosambhi wrote. And the monasteries had “remained tied to the specialized and concentrated long-distance ‘luxury’ trade of which we read in the Periplus. This trade died out to be replaced by general and simpler local barter with settled villages. The monasteries, having fulfilled their economic as well as religious function, disappeared too.” And the people lapsed!

“The people whom they had helped lead out of savagery (though plenty of aborigines survive in the Western Ghats to this day), to whom they had given their first common script and common language, use of iron, and of the plough,” Kosambhi wrote, “had never forgotten their primeval cults.”

who destroyed buddhism in India

The standard Marxist “explanation” — the economic cause, the fulfilling of historical functions and thereafter disappearing, right to the remorse at the lapsing into “primeval cults”. But today, these “theses” won’t do. For today the need is to make people believe that Hindus too were intolerant, that Hindus also destroyed temples of others….

Or take another figure — one saturated with our history, culture, religion. He also wrote of that region — Afghanistan and beyond. The people of those areas did not destroy either Buddhism or the structures associated with it, he wrote, till one particular thing happened. What was this? He recounted,

“In very ancient times this Turkish race repeatedly conquered the western provinces of India and founded extensive kingdoms. They were Buddhists, or would turn Buddhists after occupying Indian territory. In the ancient history of Kashmir there is mention of these famous Turkish emperors — Hushka, Yushka, and Kanishka. It was this Kanishka who founded the Northern School of Buddhism called Mahayana. Long after, the majority of them took to Mohammedanism and completely devastated the chief Buddhistic seats of Central Asia such as Kandhar and Kabul. Before their conversion to Mohammedanism they used to imbibe the learning and culture of the countries they conquered, and by assimilating the culture of other countries would try to propagate civilization. But ever since they became Mohammedans, they have only the instinct of war left in them; they have not got the least vestige of learning and culture; on the contrary, the countries that come under their sway gradually have their civilization extinguished. In many places of modern Afghanistan and Kandhar etc., there yet exist wonderful Stupas, monasteries, temples and gigantic statues built by their Buddhist ancestors. As a result of Turkish admixture and their conversion to Mohammedanism, those temples etc. are almost in ruins, and the present Afghans and allied races have grown so uncivilized and illiterate that, far from imitating those ancient works of architecture, they believe them to be the creation of super-natural spirits like the Jinn etc. …”.

The author? The very one the secularists tried to appropriate three-four years ago — Swami Vivekananda.

who destroyed buddhism in India

Taliban soldiers stand at the base of the mountain alcove where the world’s tallest Buddha statue once stood on March 26, 2001. The Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, ordered the destruction of the mammoth mountain carvings and all other Buddha statues in Afghanistan. (Amir Shah/AP)

And look at the finesse of these historians. They maintain that such facts and narratives must be swept under the carpet in the interest of national integration: recalling them will offend Muslims, they say, doing so will sow rancour against Muslims in the minds of Hindus, they say. Simultaneously they insist on concocting the myth of Hindus destroying Buddhist temples. Will that concoction not distance Buddhists from Hindus? Will that narrative, specially when it does not have the slightest basis in fact, not embitter Hindus?

Swamiji focussed on another factor about which we hear little today: internal decay. The Buddha — like Gandhiji in our times — taught us first and last to alter our conduct, to realise through practice the insights he had attained. But that is the last thing the people want to do, they want soporifics: a mantra, a pilgrimage, an idol which may deliver them from the consequences of what they have done. The people walked out on the Buddha’s austere teaching for it sternly ruled out props. No external suppression etc., were needed to wean them away: people are deserting Gandhiji for the same reason today — is any violence or conspiracy at work ?

The religion became monk and monastery-centric. And these decayed as closed groups and institutions invariably do. Ambedkar himself alludes to this factor — though he puts even this aspect of the decay to the ravages of Islam. After the decimation of monks by Muslim invaders, all sorts of persons — married clergy, artisan priests — had to be roped in to take their place. Hence the inevitable result, Ambedkar writes: “It is obvious that this new Buddhist priesthood had neither dignity nor learning and were a poor match for the rival, the Brahmins whose cunning was not unequal to their learning.”

Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo and others who had reflected deeply on the course of religious evolution of our people, focussed on the condition to which Buddhist monasteries had been reduced by themselves. The people had already departed from the pristine teaching of the Buddha, Swamiji pointed out: the Buddha had taught no God, no Ruler of the Universe, but the people, being ignorant and in need of sedatives, “brought their gods, and devils, and hobgoblins out again, and a tremendous hotchpotch was made of Buddhism in India.” Buddhism itself took on these characters: and the growth that we ascribe to the marvelous personality of the Buddha and to the excellence of his teaching, Swami Vivekananda said, was due in fact “to the temples which were built, the idols that were erected, and the gorgeous ceremonials that were put before the nation.” Soon the “wonderful moral strength” of the original message was lost “and what remained of it became full of superstitions and ceremonials, a hundred times cruder than those it intended to suppress,” of practices which were “equally bad, unclean, and immoral….”

who destroyed buddhism in India

Swami Vivekananda regarded the Buddha as “the living embodiment of Vedanta”, he always spoke of the Buddha in superlatives. For that very reason, Vivekananda raged all the more at what Buddhism became: “It became a mass of corruption of which I cannot speak before this audience…;” “I have neither the time nor the inclination to describe to you the hideousness that came in the wake of Buddhism. The most hideous ceremonies, the most horrible, the most obscene books that human hands ever wrote or the human brain ever conceived, the most bestial forms that ever passed under the name of religion, have all been the creation of degraded Buddhism”….

With reform as his life’s mission, Swami Vivekananda reflected deeply on the flaws which enfeebled Buddhism, and his insights hold lessons for us to this day. Every reform movement, he said, necessarily stresses negative elements. But if it goes on stressing only the negative, it soon peters out. After the Buddha, his followers kept emphasising the negative, when the people wanted the positive that would help lift them.

“Every movement triumphs,” he wrote, “by dint of some unusual characteristic, and when it falls, that point of pride becomes its chief element of weakness.” And in the case of Buddhism, he said, it was the monastic order. This gave it an organizational impetus, but soon consequences of the opposite kind took over. Instituting the monastic order, he said, had “the evil effect of making the very robe of the monk honoured,” instead of making reverence contingent on conduct. “Then these monasteries became rich,” he recalled, “the real cause of the downfall is here… some containing a hundred thousand monks, sometimes twenty thousand monks in one building — huge, gigantic buildings….” On the one hand this fomented corruption within, it encoiled the movement in organizational problems. On the other it drained society of the best persons.

From its very inception, the monastic order had institutionalized inequality of men and women even in sanyasa, Vivekananda pointed out. “Then gradually,” he recalled, “the corruption known as Vamachara (unrestrained mixing with women in the name of religion) crept in and ruined Buddhism. Such diabolical rites are not to be met with in any modern Tantra…”

who destroyed buddhism in India

Whereas the Buddha had counseled that we shun metaphysical speculations and philosophical conundrums as these would only pull us away from practice — Buddhist monks and scholars lost themselves in arcane debates about these very questions. [Hence a truth in Kosambhi’s observation, but in the sense opposite to the one he intended: Shankara’s refutations show that Shankara knew nothing of Buddha’s original doctrine, Kosambhi asserted; Shankara was refuting the doctrines which were being put forth by the Buddhists in his time, and these had nothing to do with the original teaching of the Buddha.] The consequence was immediate: “By becoming too philosophic,” Vivekananda explained, “they lost much of their breadth of heart.”

Sri Aurobindo alludes to another factor, an inherent incompatibility. He writes of “the exclusive trenchancy of its intellectual, ethical and spiritual positions,” and of how “its trenchant affirmations and still more exclusive negations could not be made sufficiently compatible with the native flexibility, many-sided susceptibility and rich synthetic turn of the Indian religious consciousness; it was a high creed but not plastic enough to hold the heart of the people…”

We find in such factors a complete explanation for the evaporation of Buddhism. But we will find few of them in the secularist discourse today. Because their purpose is served by one “thesis” alone: Hindus crushed Buddhists, Hindus demolished their temples… In regard to matter after critical matter — the Aryan-Dravidian divide, the nature of Islamic invasions, the nature of Islamic rule, the character of the Freedom Struggle — we find this trait — suppresso veri, suggesto falsi. This is the real scandal of history-writing in the last thirty years. And it has been possible for these “eminent historians” to perpetrate it because they acquired control of institutions like the ICHR.

To undo the falsehood, you have to undo the control.

 

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Buddhism

Buddhist Concept of Heaven and Hell

Published

on

Buddhist Concept of Heaven and Hell

The wise man makes his own heaven while the foolish man creates his own hell here and hereafter. The Buddhist concept of heaven and hell is entirely different from that in other religions.

Buddhists do not accept that these places are eternal. It is unreasonable to condemn a man to eternal hell for his human weakness but quite reasonable to give him every chance to develop himself. From the Buddhist point of view, those who go to hell can work themselves upward by making use of the merit that they had acquired previously. There are no locks on the gates of hell. Hell is a temporary place and there is no reason for those beings to suffer there forever.

The Buddha’s Teaching shows us that there are heavens and hells not only beyond this world, but in this very world itself. Thus the Buddhist conception of heaven and hell is very reasonable. For instance, the Buddha once said, ‘When the average ignorant person makes an assertion to the effect that there is a Hell (patala) under the ocean he is making a statement which is false and without basis. The word ‘Hell’ is a term for painful sensations.” The idea of one particular ready-made place or a place created by god as heaven and hell is not acceptable to the Buddhist concept.

The fire of hell in this world is hotter than that of the hell in the world-beyond. There is no fire equal to anger, lust or greed and ignorance. According to the Buddha, we are burning from eleven kinds of physical pain and mental agony: lust, hatred, illusion sickness, decay, death, worry, lamentation, pain (physical and mental), melancholy and grief. People can burn the entire world with some of these fires of mental discord. From a Buddhist point of view, the easiest way to define hell and heaven is that where ever there is more suffering, either in this world or any other plane, that place is a hell to those who suffer.

And where there is more pleasure or happiness, either in this world or any other worldly existence, that place is a heaven to those who enjoy their worldly life in that particular place. However, as the human realm is a mixture of both pain and happiness, human beings experience both pain and happiness and will be able to realize the real nature of life. But in many other planes of existence inhabitants have less chance for this realization. In certain places there is more suffering than pleasure while in some other places there is more pleasure than suffering.

Buddhists believe that after death rebirth can take place in any one of a number of possible existences. This future existence is conditioned by the last thought-moment a person experiences at the point of death. This last thought which determines the next existence results from the past actions of a man either in this life or before that. Hence, if the predominant thought reflects meritorious action, then he will find his future existence in a happy state. But that state is temporary and when it is exhausted a new life must begin all over again, determined by another dominating ‘kammic’ energy. This repetitious process goes on endlessly unless one arrives at ‘Right View’ and makes a firm resolve to follow the Noble Path which produces the ultimate happiness of Nibbana.

Heaven is a temporary place where those who have done good deeds experience more sensual pleasures for a longer period. Hell is another temporary place where those evil doers experience more physical and mental suffering. It is not justifiable to believe that such places are permanent. There is no god behind the scene of heaven and hell. Each and every person experiences according to his good and bad kamma. Buddhist never try to introduce Buddhism by frightening people through hell-fire or enticing people by pointing to paradise. Their main idea is character building and mental training. Buddhists can practice their religion without aiming at heaven or without developing fear of hell.

Continue Reading

Buddhism

Swami Vivekananda: Buddhism is the fulfilment of Hinduism

Published

on

Swami Vivekananda Buddhism is the fulfilment of Hinduism

~ Swami Vivekananda, 26th September, 1893

I am not a Buddhist, as you have heard, and yet I am. If China, or Japan, or Ceylon follow the teachings of the Great Master, India worships him as God incarnate on earth. You have just now heard that I am going to criticise Buddhism, but by that I wish you to understand only this. Far be it from me to criticise him whom I worship as God incarnate on earth. But our views about Buddha are that he was not understood properly by his disciples. The relation between Hinduism (by Hinduism, I mean the religion of the Vedas) and what is called Buddhism at the present day is nearly the same as between Judaism and Christianity. Jesus Christ was a Jew, and Shakya Muni was a Hindu.

The Jews rejected Jesus Christ, nay, crucified him, and the Hindus have accepted Shakya Muni as God and worship him. But the real difference that we Hindus want to show between modern Buddhism and what we should understand as the teachings of Lord Buddha lies principally in this: Shakya Muni came to preach nothing new. He also, like Jesus, came to fulfil and not to destroy. Only, in the case of Jesus, it was the old people, the Jews, who did not understand him, while in the case of Buddha, it was his own followers who did not realize the import of this teachings. As the Jew did not understand the fulfilment of the Old Testament, so the Buddhist did not understand the fulfilment of the truths of the Hindu religion. Again, I repeat, Shakya Muni came not to destroy, but he was the fulfilment, the logical conclusion, the logical development of the religion of the Hindus.

Swami Vivekananda Buddhism is the fulfilment of Hinduism

The religion of the Hindus is divided into two parts: the ceremonial and the spiritual. The spiritual portion is specially studied by the monks. In that there is no caste. A man from the highest caste and a man from the lowest may become a monk in India, and the two castes become equal. In religion there is no caste; caste is simply a social institution.

Shakya Muni himself was a monk, and it was his glory that he had the large – heartedness to bring out the truths from the hidden Vedas and throw them broadcast all over the world. He was the first being in the world who brought missionarising into practice — nay, he was the first to conceive the idea of proselytising.

The great glory of the Master lay in his wonderful sympathy for everybody, especially for the ignorant and the poor. Some of his disciples were Brahmins. When Buddha was teaching, Sanskrit was no more the spoken language in India. It was then only in the books of the learned. Some of Buddha’s Brahmin disciples wanted to translate his teachings into Sanskrit, but he distinctly told them, “I am for the poor, for the people; let me speak in the tongue of the people.” And so to this day the great bulk of his teachings are in the vernacular of that day in India. Whatever may be the position of philosophy, whatever may be the position of metaphysics, so long as there is such a thing as death in the world, so long as there is such a thing as weakness in the human heart, so long as there is a cry going out of the heart of man in his very weakness, there shall be a faith in God.

On the philosophic side the disciples of the Great Master dashed themselves against the eternal rocks of the Vedas and could not crush them, and on the other side they took away from the nation that eternal God to which every one, man or woman, clings so fondly. And the result was that Buddhism had to die a natural death in India. At the present day there is not one who calls oneself a Buddhist in India, the land of its birth. But at the same time, Brahminism lost something — that reforming zeal, that wonderful sympathy and charity for everybody, that wonderful leaven which Buddhism had brought to the masses and which had rendered Indian society so great that a Greek historian who wrote about India of that time was led to say that no Hindu was known to tell an untruth and no Hindu woman was known to be unchaste.

Hinduism cannot live without Buddhism, nor Buddhism without Hinduism. Then realize what the separation has shown to us, that the Buddhists cannot stand without the brain and philosophy of the Brahmins, nor the Brahmin without the heart of the Buddhist. This separation between the Buddhists and the Brahmins is the cause of the downfall of India. That is why India is populated by three hundred millions of beggars, and that is why India has been the slave of conquerors for the last thousand years. Let us then join the wonderful intellect of the Brahmins with the heart, the noble soul, the wonderful humanizing power of the Great Master.

 

Continue Reading

Buddhism

Does Buddhism Have Roots in Vedic Hinduism?

Published

on

Does Buddhism Has Roots in Vedic Hinduism

~ By Stephen Knapp, also known as Sri Nandanandana dasa, writer, author, philosopher, spiritual practitioner, lecturer and president of Vedic Friends Association (VFA)

Many people may know about Buddhism, but few seem to understand its connections with Vedic culture and how many aspects of it have origins in the Vedic philosophy. To begin with, it was several hundred years before the time of Lord Buddha that his birth was predicted in the  Srimad-Bhagavatam:

“In the beginning of the age of Kali, the Supreme Personality of Godhead will appear in the province of Gaya as Lord Buddha, the son of Anjana, to bewilder those who are always envious of the devotees of the Lord.” (Bhagavatam 1.3.24)

This verse indicates that Lord Buddha was an incarnation of the Supreme who would appear in Gaya, a town in central India. But some historians may point out that Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, was actually born in Lumbini, Nepal, and that his mother was Queen Mahamaya. Therefore, this verse may be inaccurate. But actually Siddhartha became the Buddha after he attained spiritual enlightenment during his meditation under the Bo tree in Gaya. This means that his spiritual realization was his second and most important birth. Furthermore, Siddhartha’s mother, Queen Mahamaya, died several days after Siddhartha’s birth, leaving him to be raised by his grandmother, Anjana. So the prediction in the Bhagavatam is verified.

When Lord Buddha appeared, the people of India, although following the Vedas, had deviated from the primary goal of Vedic philosophy. They had become preoccupied with performing ceremonies and rituals for material enjoyment. Some of the rituals included animal sacrifices. The people had begun to sacrifice animals indiscriminately on the plea of Vedic rituals and then indulged in eating the flesh. Being misled by unworthy priests, much unnecessary animal killing was going on and the people were becoming more degraded and atheistic.

Buddha

The rituals that included animal sacrifices, according to the Vedas, were not meant for eating flesh. An old animal would be placed in the sacrificial fire and, after the mantras were chanted, it would come out of the fire in a new and younger body as a test to show the potency of the Vedic mantras. However, as the power of the priests deteriorated, they could no longer chant the mantras properly and, therefore, the animals would not be brought back to life. So in the age of Kali all such sacrifices are forbidden because there are no longer any brahmanas who can chant the mantras correctly. Thus, Lord Buddha appeared and rejected the Vedic rituals and preached the philosophy of nonviolence. In the Dhammapada(129-130) Buddha says, “All beings fear death and pain, life is dear to all; therefore the wise man will not kill or cause anything to be killed.”

The Vedic literature also teaches nonviolence, but Buddha taught the people who used the Vedas for improper purposes to give them up and simply follow him. Thus, he saved the animals from being killed and saved the people from being further misled by the corrupt priests. However, he did not teach the Vedic conclusions of spiritual knowledge but taught his own philosophy.

Buddha was born in the town of Lumbini in Nepal as the son of a king of the Shakya clan. He is generally accepted to have lived during 560-477 BC but has been shown to have been born in 1887 BC and died in 1807 BC.

His mother, Queen Mahamaya, before she conceived him, saw him in a dream descending from heaven and entering her womb as a white elephant. After his birth his father sheltered him from the problems of the world as much as possible. Later, Buddha married and had one son. It was during this time that he began to be disturbed by the problems life forced on everyone, especially after he had seen for the first time a man afflicted with disease, another man who was decrepit with age, a dead man being carried to the cremation grounds, and a monk who had dedicated himself to the pursuit of finding a release from the problems of life.

Buddha

Soon after this, at the age of 29, he renounced his family and became a wandering beggar. For six years Buddha sought enlightenment as an austere ascetic. He would eat very little food, sometimes only one grain of rice a day, and his bones would stick out as if he were a skeleton. Finally giving that up, thinking that enlightenment was not to be found in such a severe manner, he again became a beggar living on alms. When he started to eat more regularly, the five mendicants who were with him left him alone, thinking that he had given up his resolution. During this time he came to Gaya where he determinedly sat in meditation under the Bo tree for seven weeks. He was tempted by Mara, the Evil One, with many pleasures in an effort to make Gautama Buddha give up his quest. But finally he attained enlightenment. It was then that he became the enlightened Buddha.

Buddha at first hesitated to teach his realizations to others because he knew that the world would not want them. Of what use would there be in trying to teach men who were sunk in the darkness of illusion? Nonetheless, he decided to make the attempt. He then went to Benares and met the five mendicants who had deserted him near Gaya. There in the Deer Park, in present day Sarnath, he gave his first sermon, which was the beginning of Buddhism.

Buddha taught four basic truths: that suffering exists, there is a cause for suffering, suffering can be eradicated, and there is a means to end all suffering. But these four noble truths had previously been discussed in the Sankhya philosophy before Buddha’s appearance, and had later been further elaborated upon in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. So this train of thought actually was not new.

Buddha

Buddha also taught that suffering is essentially caused by ignorance and our own mental confusion about the purpose life. The suffering we experience can end once we rid ourselves of this confusion through the path of personal development. Otherwise, this confusion and ignorance causes us to perform unwanted activities that become part of our karma that must be endured in this or another existence. When karma ceases, so does the need for birth and, naturally, old age, sorrow, and death. With the cessation of birth, there is the cessation of consciousness and entrance into nirvana follows. Thus, according to this, there is no soul and no personal God, but only the void, the nothingness that is the essence of everything to which we must return. Although this was the basic premise from which Buddha taught, this theory was mentioned in the Nasadiya-sukta of the Rig-veda long before Buddha ever appeared.

However, Buddha refused to discuss how the world was created or what was existence in nirvana. He simply taught that one should live in a way that would produce no more karma while enduring whatever karmic reactions destiny brought. This would free one from further rebirth.

In order to accomplish this, Buddha gave a complete system for attaining nirvana that consisted of eight steps. These were right views (recognizing the imperfect and temporary nature of the world), right resolve (putting knowledge into practice or living the life of truth and nonviolence toward all creatures, including vegetarianism), right speech (giving up lies, slander, and unnecessary talk), right conduct (nonviolence, truthfulness, celibacy, nonintoxication, and nonstealing), right livelihood (honest means of living that does not interfere with others or with social harmony), right effort (maintaining spiritual progress by remaining enthusiastic and without negative thoughts), right mindfulness (remaining free from worldly attachments by remembering the temporary nature of things), and right meditation (attaining inner peace and tranquility and, finally, indifference to the world and one’s situation, which leads to nirvana). This, for the most part, is merely another adaptation of the basic yamasand niyamas that are the rules of what to do and what not to do that are found in the Vedic system of yoga.

Buddha

However, because of Buddha’s lack of interest in discussing any metaphysical topics, many interpretations of his philosophy were not only possible but were formed, especially after his disappearance. The two main divisions of Buddhism that developed were the Hinayana, or lesser vehicle, and Mahayana, or greater vehicle. The Hinayana was more strict and held onto Buddha’s original teachings and uses Pali as the language of its scriptures. It also accepts reaching nirvana as the goal of life. Hinayana stresses one’s own enlightenment and puts less emphasis on helping others, and Mahayana emphasizes the need of enlightenment for the good of others while overlooking the need to realize the truth within. The Mahayana accepts Sanskrit as the language for its texts and integrates principles from other schools of philosophy, making it more accessible to all varieties of people. Gradually, as followers came from numerous cultural backgrounds, Mahayana Buddhism drastically changed from its original form.

The ideal of the Mahayana system is the bodhisattva, the person who works for enlightenment for all other living beings. The personification of this enlightened compassion is one of the major deities of Buddhism, Avalokiteshvara, who is represented in a variety of forms and images. The mantra that is the sound representation of this enlightened compassion is om mani padme hum, which is chanted on beads by aspiring Buddhists. The vibration of this mantra evokes compassionate qualities and feelings in the heart and consciousness of a person who chants it.

A third division of Buddhism is the Vajrayana sect. This has the same principles as the Mahayana, but the Vajrayana bases its process for achieving enlightenment on the Buddhist Tantras, which are supposed to reveal a quicker path to enlightenment. The Vajrayana path is one of transforming the inner psychological energy toward enlightenment by the use of various types of yogic techniques. First they try to change their conventional perceptions of this world by identifying themselves with the Buddhist deity that they feel affinity for, and to view the mandala of the particular deity as the world.

Ultimately, this form of meditation, as well as other techniques used in this system, is meant to give one the experience of what is called the “clear light.” This clear light is said to be experienced by everyone shortly after death, but most people hardly notice it because they are not prepared for it. The idea is that if one is prepared for it before death, it can help one to be ready to merge into it when he sees it after death.

As Buddhism flourished, the Hinayana spread through the south in Ceylan, Burma, and Thailand, while the Mahayana spread to the North and East and is now found primarily in Tibet, China, and Japan. The Mahayana school still uses knowledge of kundalini and the chakras in its teachings, other topics that are traced to the Vedic system. It is this Mahayana school which has now developed more than twenty sects with a variety of teachings that, in some cases, especially in the West, have become so distorted that it is impossible to distinguish the original principles that were established by Buddha.

Buddha

Besides the Vedic similarities in Buddhism already mentioned, there are many additional correlations between the Vedic literature and the Buddhist religion of the Far East. For example, the word Ch’an of the Ch’an school of Chinese Buddhism is Chinese for the Sanskrit word dhyana, which means meditation, as does the word zen in Japanese. Furthermore, the deity Amitayus is the origin of all other Lokesvara forms of Buddha and is considered the original spiritual master, just as Balarama (the expansion of Lord Krishna) in the Vedic literature is the source of all the Vishnu incarnations and is the original spiritual teacher. Also, the trinity doctrine of Mahayana Buddhism explains the three realms of manifestations of Buddha, which are the dharmakaya realm of Amitabha (the original two-armed form is Amitayus), the sambhogakaya realm of the spiritual manifestation (in which the undescended form of Lokesvara or Amitayus reigns), and the rupakaya realm, the material manifestation (which is where the Buddha in the form of Lokesvara incarnates in so many other different forms). This is a derivative of the Vedic philosophy. Thus, Lokesvara is actually a representation of Vishnu to the Mahayana Buddhists.

Furthermore, all the different incarnations of Vishnu appear as different forms of Lokesvara in Buddhism. For example, Makendanatha Lokesvara is the same as the Vedic Matsya, Badravaraha Lokesvara is Varaha, Hayagriva in Buddhism is the horse-necked one as similarly described in the Vedic literature, and so on. And the different forms of Lakshmi, Vishnu’s spouse as the Goddess of Fortune, appear as the different forms of Tara in the forms of White Tara, the Green Tara, etc. Even the fearful forms of Lokesvara are simply the fearful aspects of Lord Vishnu, as in the case of the threatening image of Yamantaka, who is simply the form of the Lord as death personified. The name is simply taken from Yamaraja, the Vedic lord of death.

Many times you will also see Buddhist paintings depicting a threefold bending form of Bodhisattvas and Lokesvaras much the same way Krishna is depicted. This is because the Bodhisattvas were originally styled after paintings from India, which were prints of Krishna. Most images of Tara are also similar to paintings of Lakshmi in that one hand is held in benediction. And Vajrayogini, the Buddha in female aspect, is certainly styled after goddess Kali or Durga. Kuvera, the lord of wealth in the Vedic culture, is Kuvera Vaishravana in Buddhism. There are many other carry-overs from the Vedic tradition into Buddhism that can be recognized, such as the use of ghee lamps and kusha grass, and the offerings of barley and ghee in rituals that resemble Vedic ceremonies. In this way, we can see the many similarities and connections in Buddhism with Vedic culture, which is the origin of many of the concepts found within Buddhism.

Therefore, after the disappearance of Lord Buddha, the authority of the Vedas and Vedic culture was reinstated by such scholarly personalities as Shankaracarya, Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya, Nimbarka, Baladeva Vidyabushana, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and others.

 

Continue Reading

Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Latest

Significance of Baisakhi Significance of Baisakhi
Fesitvals2 weeks ago

Significance of Baisakhi / Vaisakhi

Views: 66 Baiskhi is also spelled ‘Vaisakhi’, and is a vibrant Festival considered to be an extremely important festival in...

Navaratri The Nine Divine Nights of Maa Durga! Navaratri The Nine Divine Nights of Maa Durga!
Fesitvals2 weeks ago

Navaratri: The Nine Divine Nights of Maa Durga!

Views: 123 – Shri Gyan Rajhans Navratri or the nine holy days are auspicious days of the lunar calendar according...

History of Vastu Shastra History of Vastu Shastra
Vaastu Shastra1 month ago

History of Vastu Shastra

Views: 163 Vastu Shastra (or short just Vastu) is the Indian science of space and architecture and how we may...

Significance of Bilva Leaf - Why is it dear to Lord shiva? Significance of Bilva Leaf - Why is it dear to Lord shiva?
Hinduism1 month ago

Significance of Bilva Leaf – Why is it dear to Lord shiva?

Views: 201 – Arun Gopinath  Hindus believe that the knowledge of medicinal plants is older than history itself, that it...

Concept of Time and Creation (‘Brahma Srishti’) in Padma Purana Concept of Time and Creation (‘Brahma Srishti’) in Padma Purana
Hinduism1 month ago

Concept of Time and Creation (‘Brahma Srishti’) in Padma Purana

Views: 160 Pulastya Maha Muni affirmed to Bhishma that Brahma was Narayana Himself and that in reality he was Eternal....

Karma Yoga - Yog Through Selfless Actions Karma Yoga - Yog Through Selfless Actions
Hinduism2 months ago

Karma Yoga – Yog Through Selfless Actions

Views: 169  Karma Yoga is Meditation in Action: “Karma” means action and “yoga” means loving unity of our mind with...

Four Sacrifices in Hinduism Four Sacrifices in Hinduism
Hinduism2 months ago

Four Sacrifices in Hinduism according to Bhagavad Gita

Views: 216 By Swami A Parthasarathy In the Bhagavad Gita, IV Chapter 28th Verse talks about four yajnas – the yajnas (yajna means sacrifice) of wealth, austerity,...

solar eclipse in rig veda solar eclipse in rig veda
Vedic Science2 months ago

Description of Solar Eclipse in the Rig Veda

Views: 261 India is rich not only in its culture and traditional values but also in the vast knowledge ancient...

Buddhist Concept of Heaven and Hell Buddhist Concept of Heaven and Hell
Buddhism2 months ago

Buddhist Concept of Heaven and Hell

Views: 199 The wise man makes his own heaven while the foolish man creates his own hell here and hereafter....

Vastu for Pooja Room in Home for Positive Energy Vastu for Pooja Room in Home for Positive Energy
Vaastu Shastra3 months ago

Vastu for Pooja Room in Home for Positive Energy

Views: 261 In the present times, Vastu Shastra is the most commonly used term, especially when it comes to purchasing...

Tags

Trending Now


error: Content is protected !!