Daily Archives: June 6, 2007

** Why Did Buddhism Vanish?

Why Did Buddhism Vanish from India?

Esamskriti.com has  listed 6 reasons plus

7.  words of Swami Vivekanand and

8.  words of Dr B. R. Ambedkar

  1. The main cause was the neglect by the monks of this life and its values. While the Buddhist monks realized that everyone was not fit or could not become a monk or nun, they paid attention only to the life of a monk and not to the life of a householder. Which meant that they focused on the life of a monk, which is a life of inwardness as compared to that of a householder, which is one of outwardness. Now, both these aspects need examination, study, guidance and control. It is not enough to tell a householder that this existing life is only a stepping-stone to the life of a monk. Why and how is it so and what relation it bears to realities has to be explained. Instead Buddhist philosophers began to teach that this life was nothing but a value of tears and misery. While some forms of Vedanta taught the same philosophy, the attitude of Mimamsa (philosophy of action) and the Epics saved Hinduism from the fate that overtook Buddhism in India. Many great Indians were impacted by spiritual teachings but “unless there were some codes extolling the values of the world, they tended to become one-sidedly inwardly “.
  2. Another reason was the admission of women into monasteries and the more or less indiscriminate conversion of men, women into monks and nuns. While true renunciation and celibacy were appreciated, people wanted to see them well practiced. When people supported these monasteries with their hard-earned money, they did not want its residents to live in luxury and enjoyment, virtues, which were condemned. If monks and nuns had lived by the rules that they were taught, people would have supported them inspite of any hardship that they had to face.
  3. The next reason was the deterioration in the political and economic life of the country. Monasteries were supported by the people and the Kings e.g. Ashoka. Now, when a dynasty fell or a king died, the next in line might not give the same degree of support. The king’s thinkers realized that their defeat was due to the loss of their best fighters, leaders, who had become monks. This made the country an easy prey to the foreign invader. Coincidence or otherwise, India’s first foreign invasion by the Greeks took place in 327 B.C. a couple of centuries after Emperor Asoka’s peace movement.
  4. Buddhism existed in the monasteries and unlike the dharmaasutras (ethical codes) lacked a moral code. So when monasteries disappeared, Buddhism disappeared. The invasion of the Muslims and the ruthless destruction of Buddhist monasteries extinguished the lamp of Buddhism in North India. The wanton destruction of the great monastery of Uddandapura (Bihar) and the wholesale massacre of its monks might make us visualize how the great monasteries of Nalanda, Vikramasila and others met with a tragic end.
  5. The extreme asceticism practiced and popularized by both Buddhism and Jainism disturbed the social life of India. Magadha, the seat of many imperial dynasties, became Bihar, the land of monasteries (viharas). There was nothing in these religions to emphasize the importance of life in this world and its values. These causes led to a bloodless revolt by the orthodox in the eight-century a.d. The revolt was staged from two sides, the Brahmanic and the Upanisadic. Kumarila was the leader of the former and Sankara of the latter. Kumarila succeeded in reviving a strong positive attitude towards the world and its values and all that could be called human and activistic. On the other hand, Sankara said that everything that was good in Buddhism already existed in the Upanishads. In fact, Gaudapada, the grand teacher of Sankara, unified the current spanda (vibration) doctrine of Saivism, the vijnana (mind) doctrine of the Buddhists and the Atman doctrine of the Upanishads in his Mandukyakarikas and made the way easy for Sankara to assimilate and absorb Buddhism. Thus, there remained no justification for its separate existence in India; it had no social ethics and consequently, no hold over society. It could not stand alone as a spiritual discipline as it was shown to be part of the Upanishads.
  6. Quoting Swami Vivekananda ” Thus, inspite of preaching mercy to animals, inspite of the sublime ethical religion, inspite of the discussions about the existence or non-existence of a permanent soul, the whole building of Buddhism tumbled down piece-meal and the ruin was simply hideous. The most hideous ceremonies, the most obscene books that human hands ever wrote or the human brain ever conceived, have all been the creation of the degraded Buddhism. The Tartars and the Baluchis and all the hideous races of mankind that came to India, became Buddhists and assimilated with us, brought their national customs and the whole of our national life became a huge page of the most horrible, bestial customs. Sankara came and showed that the real essence of Buddhism and that of Vedanta are not very different but that the disciples did not understand the master and have degraded themselves, denied the existence of soul and one God and have become atheists. That was what Sankara showed and all the Buddhists began to come back to their old religion”.
  7. Buddhism adopted various thoughts and beliefs between the first century B.C. and the sixth century a.d. Some Buddhists adopted the tantric sadhanas and distorted them for the sake of enjoyment and comfort. The highly advanced philosophy of tantric sadhana is difficult to understand without the guidance of a proper teacher. This undigested knowledge of tantra, including the use of wine, meat, fish, gestures and physical union led these Buddhist followers to their downfall. Also, the distortions of Buddhism produced a variety of schools, which were not pure Buddhist schools but contained a variety of practices. To give you an idea of the syntheses between Vedanta and Buddhism, the concept of Maya in Vedanta in borrowed from Buddhism. Sankara accepted the logical connotation of Maya just as it was given by the Buddhists. Jainism was saved by tacitly allowing its members to become part of the Hindu fold by adopting rules of conduct of the third caste, namely Vaisyas or traders.
  8. Quoted from Dr Ambedkar – Life & Mission by Dhananjay Keer’. Dr B R Ambedkar addressed delegates of Young Men’s Buddhist Association in May 1950 at Colombo on ‘Rise & fall of Buddhism in India’ – ‘Buddhism in its material force had disappeared. But as a spiritual force it still exists’. As regards Hinduism he said it went through three phases, Vedic religion, Brahmanism and Hinduism. It was during the Brahmanism period that Buddhism was born. It was not true that after the days of Shankaracharya Buddhism was dead in India. It was going on for years together. In fact Shankaracharya and his teacher were both Buddhists he added. While he was digging material on the subject for the decline/vanish of Buddhism from India the reasons were – adoption of some rituals & practices from Buddhism by the Vaishnava & Shaiva cults, which were vociferous in their propaganda against Buddhism. During the invasion by Allauddin Khilji thousands of priests in Bihar were massacred and consequently some of them fled for their lives to Tibet, China & Nepal. In the meanwhile, the majority of Buddhists went over to Hinduism. The third cause was that Buddhism was difficult to practice while Hinduism was not. Reason four was that the political atmosphere in India had been unfavorable to the advancement of Buddhism he concluded.

But according to Hindu scholars the fall of Buddhism was due to many reasons. Owing to universalistic ambition its spread was everywhere but it had geographical center nowhere. It discarded all national gods & godmen & proclaimed Buddha the greatest of all gods. As long as it reacted as a reformative flank in India, Buddhism gained ground but when it began to act against the Vedic religion, which was the national religion of the majority, Buddhism lost sympathy in India. The Vedic Hindus fought the Muslims bravely and did not flee to any other country. But the Buddhists when attacked, having a center nowhere, fled to different countries and even it is said acclaimed the invasion of India by non-Hindus with the ringing of bells. Besides its godlessness, its over-emphasis on redemption, its sad tone, its unconcern with the world & neglect of family checked rather than fostered enterprise. Quote ends. http://www.esamskriti.com/html/essay_index.asp?cat_name=prabuddha&cid=&sid=201

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Buddhism: The FULFILLMENT OF HINDUISM
Vivekananda,Chicago Addresses
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 criticize Buddhism, but by that I wish you to
understand only this.

Far be it from me to criticize 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 fulfill 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 importance
of his teachings, As the Jew did not understand the fulfillment of
the Old Testament, so the Buddhist did not understand the
fulfillment of the truths of the Hindu religion.
Again, I repeat,
Shakya Muni came not to destroy, but he was the fulfillment, the
logical conclusion, the logical  development  of the  religion  of
the Hindus.

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 the 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 how
the hidden Vedas and throw them broadcast all over the world.  He
was the first being in the world who brought missionarizing into
practice – nay, he was the first to conceive the idea of proselytizing.

The great glory of the Master lay in his wonderful sympathy for
everybody, especially for the ignorant and the poor. Saint 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 the 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 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 everyone, 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 himself a
Buddhist in India, the land of its birth. ( Lecture was given in 1893).

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 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 Brahmin with the heart,
the noble soul, the wonderful humanizing power of the Great Master.

RELATED STORIES:

Towards Buddhism @ http://members.porchlight.ca/blackdog/newbu.htm

Buddhism: by Steve Knapp @ http://www.stephen-knapp.com/buddhism_and_its_vedic_connections.htm

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** Science and Cultural Dilemma

Science and Cultural Dilemma

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Kishan Bhatia

This article discusses how three dominant global cultures – Vedic, Christianity and Islam – accept scientific truths. Christianity used to preach a dogma – Christian beliefs supersede scientific facts. They experienced reforms – starting with the renaissance era that changed Christianity for better. Not so with Islam. Vedic culture predates both Christianity and Islam and it has been free of a dogma – religious beliefs supersede scientific facts – from the start, about four to seven millenniums ago.Reforms among “the people of book” in the history of Christians and Muslims took opposite turns. Starting with 9th century in Islamic lands the Muslim rulers, clerics and elites dominated with a mindset frozen in the past primarily followed Sunna (traditions) documented in Koran, Hadith and Shariah. The Renaissance era (14th to 16th centuries) in Europe was marked by the revival of learning based on classical sources, the rise of courtly and papal patronage, the development of perspective in painting, and the advancements of science.In a struggle between the protestant movement and Catholics, the reformist Protestants managed to rid of dominance by fundamentalists Catholic Church. It followed a period of renaissance to bring about reforms in Christian social, cultural and political norms. With a separation of the Church and state, (not without some outrageous attempted suppressions of scientific discoveries like that of Galileo in a belief that Christian religion supersedes sciences) in many instances reformist Christians were able to incorporate reasons to evolve into a modern culture and society. Unlike political practices in the Muslim majority Islamic states, the Christian majority constitutional democratic states in the West and non-Christian majority India guarantees secular ideas of individual freedoms, equality of sexes, and political evolution in keeping with continuous changes in modern time.In a fifth century book, “City of God: Against the Pagans,” Augustine (ca 354 – 430AD) considered non-Christians to be pagans. Augustine was an early medieval Christian theologian and a judge in imperial Rome in Africa. He fought against both Donatist Christians and a variety of pagans. He advocated use of force to convert people and died when invading Vandals did to his church what he and his friends had earlier done to pagan temples. This marked the fulfillment of an earlier pagan prophecy that Christianity would disappear from Africa.Muslims are in denial that Islam is a derivative of Jewish-Christian theology and associated practices as they evolved over last fifteen hundred years. Many Islamic cultural and social practices on moral and ethics issues are connected to what Augustine advocated and institutionalized into Christian social and cultural practices. Augustine considered Arabs to be pagans and the prophet Mohammad (ca. 570 – 632AD) was unlikely not to have been influenced by atrocities committed by Augustine and his friends on tribal Arabs.

A question is why thinking in philosophy, mathematics, and science ceased in the Arab Muslim world starting about thirteenth century? Answers are history as to why rational explanations are not a part of Arab Islamic interpretations. A medieval scholar, Al-Ghazali (1058 – 1111AD) is one of the most celebrated Persian scholars in the history of Islamic thought and known as Algazel to the western medieval world. In his Tahaful al Falasifa (Destruction of the Philosophy) Al-Ghazali argued against the theology of reason and against earlier philosophers such as Al Farabi and Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (see, Dr. S. A. Kamali, Pakistan Philosophical Congress, Lahore, 1958 and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

The basic issue is whether propositions in the realm of beliefs are subject to rational examination? The “Mutazilites” Arabs sought to find rational explanations for articles of faith. They were influential for less than a century (748-827AD) and then they were suppressed until they disappeared from Muslim theological discourse. Arab Muslims have their share of obscurantism.

The winners in this contest, known as Asharites Arabs, opposed the application of reason to matters of religion. They preached conformity to the teachings of the earlier interpreters, and they cultivated prejudice against philosophy and non-religious branches of knowledge. In 1150 Caliph Mustanijid ordered the burning of the philosophical works of Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and in 1194 Amir Abu Yusuf al-Mansur, then at Seville (Spain), ordered the burning of the works of another great Muslim philosopher, Ibn Rushd (Averros). Thereafter, further thinking in philosophy, mathematics, and science ceased in the Arab Muslim world.

Dr Muzaffar Iqbal covers various topics related to Islam in general and political Islam in particular in his regular (every Friday) contribution of quantum notes to The News, a Jang publication. In two articles, Roots of Muslim dilemma (March 9 and 16) Dr. Iqbal asserts that Muslims of Islamic Um’mah in 21st century are facing a spiritual, intellectual, and moral decay. He argued that starting 18th century “Muslims came under attack from a civilization built upon ideas, beliefs, and aspirations in direct opposition to their own. Built upon a conception of life and cosmos from which the Divine had been abstracted, modern Western civilization placed human beings at the center of all things and constructed an edifice that makes human reason the measure of all things.”

Vedic civilization predates Western and Muslim civilizations. In recent times, Aryabhata (476 – 550AD) is considered a great mathematician-astronomer of Vedic decent among Indian mathematicians. The 3rd century Bakhshali Manuscript and the commentaries on works of Aryabhata by Bhaskara (Bhashy, ca. 600) and by Nilakantha Somayaji (Aryabhatiya Bhasya, 1465) are some well-known works.

Both Vedic and Western civilizations made significant cultural advances with progress in basic scientific discoveries. Vedic progress in sciences, specifically in mathematics and astronomy stalled starting about a millennium ago with colonization of India by the Turkic invaders from central and north Eurasia but continued in spiritual areas. During Sultanate (950 – ca 1200 AD), Mughal (ca 1500 – 1857 AD) and British (ca 200 years prior to 1947) periods colonizers with political suppressions of about 40 generations inhibited development of a critical mass of critical thinkers to cultivate a scientific mindset that was and is responsible for scientific progress during pre-950 Vedic period and post-1947 independent India, respectively.

Western scientific developments resulted in post-renaissance era, starting in 17th century. The recently developed theories – special theory of relativity (1905), the general theory of relativity (1915) and a unified quantum field theory – coupled with human reasoning powers have potential to rekindle links between mind (soul, spirituality), astronomy and quantum physics of sub-atomic particles. In physics, unified field theory (see 1967 work of Pakistani scientist Dr. Abdus Salam who shared a Nobel Prize with Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg; Sheldon Glashow and Howard Georgi proposed the first grand unified theory in 1974) is an attempt to unify all the fundamental forces and the interactions between elementary particles into a single theoretical framework by reconciling the general theory of relativity with electromagnetism in a single field theory.

Modern scientific discoveries are responsible for emergence of a new philosophical outlook on God, humanity and nature. Unlike Islamic dogma based culture with a mindset frozen in past, the humanism changed the Western and Indian (with deep roots in Vedic culture) societies by developing human resources through education in math, sciences, philosophy and logic. This new outlook places human reason at the centre of all things and redefines boundaries of human conduct for modern societies.

Human reasoning has allowed Vedic and Western civilizations to make rapid advances through scientific and technological developments to modernize social, cultural, economic and political norms. In case of Western societies, it led to modernization of some basic Christian theological ideas – such as sun, not the earth is the center of universe. The solar based Vedic calendar predates all other solar based calendars. Technological advances in military sciences enabled Western societies to manage political domination of the globe including that of the Islamic Um’mah.

In scientific areas, developments of quantum physics and the unified quantum field theory have contributed to a deeper understanding of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, which now occupies center stage of progress in the basic applied scientific technologies.

The phenomenon called gravitational waves was predicted by Einstein once he figured out that gravity was a warping of space and time by matter. Einstein predicted any mass changing speed or direction as it moved through space would produce gravitational waves like ripples on the water.

The 1993 Nobel Prize was awarded to two scientists – Prof. Joseph Taylor and his student, Russel Hulse – for proving in mid 1970s Einstein’s gravitational wave theory. They discovered in space a pair of neutron stars that were spiraling towards each other very fast – stars rotated around each other once every eight hours – which allowed the two scientists to determine that the stars were losing energy in a way that Einstein had predicted would happen if they were producing gravitational waves.

Einstein had previously predicted the famous E = mc2 equation that empirically related tangible matter to intangible energy. Vedic people consider the tangible body and intangible mind (soul, consciousness) as a whole simultaneously representing material and spiritual life. Mind is energy that intuitively produces ripples of reasoning to bring about changes leading to modernization of sciences, both hard sciences like physics and soft sciences like political science. Did Einstein light the trail head of spirituality through science?

LASER became a reality because scientist were able to develop technologies for Light Amplification by Simulated Emission of Radiation to generate coherent (holding together as one) light by electronic energy transfer of an ordinary beam of light, which is incoherent by nature. Like ordinary beam of light human mind is also incoherent meaning mind in ordinary state is not holding together as one or is not focused. Long before technology for electronic energy transfer of light to generate Lasers was developed; Vedic scholars had developed the meditation technology to enable humans to turn incoherent mind to a focused mind. Among many examples of extraordinary achievements through meditation most famous is that of Gautam Buddha who emancipated through his power of meditation. Dr. Mani Bhaumik is the inventor of LESIK technology used for corrective eye surgery and he describes in his book, Code name God (Penguin Books, 2005) how through meditation he was able to focus on development of LESIK technology, an application of Lasers.

Recent developments in the unified quantum field theory are likely to show a way to scientifically affirm a belief, “God is One,” which otherwise are three small words. Unlike politically motivated elites, theologians and orthodox fundamentalists, scientists seek empirical validation of a belief in one source of creation. With developments in the unified quantum field theory science is moving closer to the heart of the matter – do we still need God? No matter any specific religious faith or preferences the irrefutable truth at the heart of each religious tradition is “God is One.” Given one God the differences emphasized by proponents of different faith among people of the book or not are no more than a scientifically untenable dogma.

So much ritual, so many gods and demi-gods represented by the people of book or not, and yet Vedic belief system, especially Advaita manifests a single godhead, Brahman, and the Brahman itself – like fabric of universe – is undivided, unchanging, and all pervading. It is from Vedas that world first learned the notion that God is One. All separateness, including the separateness of our own selves, simply disguises the underlying unity of things.

Vedic credo – Aham Brahmasmi meaning I am Brahman – provides the sense of cosmic kinship. The belief that each one of us completes creation and that, correspondingly, God is incomplete without us is at the root of Indian life and may help explain Indian greeting of namaste, namaskar or namho aste signifying that I see God in you.

The feeling with namaste, namaskar or namho aste is no different than a statement attributed to Jesus Christ, “I and the Father are one.” Science gives us means to see in dimensions beyond the familiar; among them the realm of invisible reality. Einstein with his famous equation E = mc2 mathematically linked matter (a concrete entity) and energy (an abstract substance). If the body and mind comprises as a whole that is simultaneously material and spiritual then are we soul with bodies or bodies with soul? The difference is critical for if spirituality is primary and body secondary then in such a universe religious differences are untenable.

Politically motivated elite, theologians and orthodox fundamentalist with a mindset frozen in past and ignorant of scientific or mathematical logic propagate unscientific religious concepts – dogmas – to detriment of human progress, global peace and cultivation of spiritual love. According to Einstein religion without science is blind and science without religion is lame. As complex organisms grow from a single cell, so can complex philosophies grow from a single idea?

Prof C. K. Raju in a book, The Eleven Pictures of Time, (Sage Publications, New Delhi, London, 2003) brings together the physics, philosophy and politics of time beliefs to shed light on human progress starting with Vedic period. Prof. Raju’s powerful ideas can enlighten those engaged in understanding the roots of cultural, social, political and religious dilemmas of three dominant global cultures.

The qualities of heart are peace, freedom, love and spirituality. In that spirit I bow to you all, namho aste!

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