Why Buddhism Deserted in India?

In the era of the Buddha, India was regarded as a pioneer in many fields. India had an economic surplus, political stability and more importantly, a history of spiritual and intellectual innovation. India was viewed as a superpower similar to 21st century America. Buddhism was received with open hearts in other countries in Asia because of its origin in India.

Then why such a formidable culture lost in India? 

Before the birth of the Buddha, Indian society had become self-centered (the intellectual class) and ritualistic (the masses). Buddhism provided a new organized form of religious Sangha, which preached a simple message of compassion in Päli, the language of laypeople. This ease and simplicity helped the extensive spread of Buddhism.

Causes of decline:

The decline of Buddhism has been attributed to various factors, especially the regionalisation of India after the end of the Gupta empire (320-650 CE), which lead to a competition with Hinduism and Jainism and the loss of patronage and donations; and the conquest and subsequent persecutions by Huns, Turks and Persians.

Patronage and religious dynamics:

Loss of patronage and donations:

In ancient India, regardless of the religious beliefs of their kings, states usually treated all the important sects relatively even-handedly. This consisted of building monasteries and religious monuments, donating property such as the income of villages for the support of monks, and exempting donated property from taxation. Donations were most often made by private persons such as wealthy merchants and female relatives of the royal family, but there were periods when the state also gave its support and protection. In the case of Buddhism, this support was particularly important because of its high level of organisation and the reliance of monks on donations from the laity. State patronage of Buddhism took the form of land grant foundations.

Religious convergence:

Buddhism’s distinctiveness diminished with the rise of Hindu sects. Though Mahayana writers were quite critical of Hinduism, the devotional cults of Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism likely seemed quite similar to laity, and the developing Tantrism of both religions were also similar. Buddhist ideas, and even the Buddha himself, were absorbed and adapted into orthodox Hindu thought, while the differences between the two systems of thought were emphasized.

Internal social-economic dynamics:

According to some scholars such as Lars Fogelin, the decline of Buddhism may be related to economic reasons, wherein the Buddhist monasteries with large land grants focussed on non-material pursuits, self-isolation of the monasteries, loss in internal discipline in the sangha, and a failure to efficiently operate the land they owned. With the growing support for Hindusim and Jainism, Buddhist monasteries also gradually lost control of land revenue.

Reform in Hinduism:

Buddhism had dealt a heavy blow to Brahminical faith. Threatened with extinction, Hinduism started to re-organize itself. Attempts were now made to give up the complex system of rites and rituals and make Hinduism simple and attractive. The Hindus even came to accept the Buddha as a Hindu incarnation and accepted the principle of non-violence. This helped revive Hinduism and made it popular again. This took away the fragrance out of the flower of Buddhism. The decline of Buddhism became inevitable.

Lose of Royal Patronage:

In course of time Buddhism came to lose royal patronage. No king, worthy of note, came forward to sponsor Buddhism after Asoka, Kaniska and Harsavardhan. Royal patronage works magically for the spread of any faith. Absence of any such patronage for Buddhism came to pave the way for its decline in the end.

Emergence of Rajputs:

Emergence of the Rajputs became an important reason for the decline of Buddhism. Kings of such dynasties as Bundela, Chahamana, Chauhan, Rathore etc. were militant rulers and loved warfare. They could not tolerate the Buddhists for their message of non-violence. The Buddhists feared persecution from these Rajput rulers and fled from India. Buddhism became weaker and faced decline.

Patronage of Brahmanism:

In course of time there was the rise of the Brahminical faith once again. Pushyamitra Sunga, the Brahmin commander of the last Maurya ruler Vrihadratha, assassinated the king and founded the Sunga dynasty replacing the Maurya dynasty.

Role of Hindu Preachers:

Harsavardhan drove away the Brahmins from the religious council held at Kanauj. These Brahmins, under Kumarila Bhatta, fled to the Deccan. Under Bhatta’s leadership, Brahmanism staged a come-back. Adi Sankaracharya also revived and strengthened Hinduism. He defeated Buddhist scholars in religious discourses which were held in many places in course of his tour of the whole of India.

Wars and persecution:

Hun Invasions:

Chinese scholars travelling through the region between the 5th and 8th centuries, such as Faxian, Xuanzang, Yijing, Hui-sheng, and Sung-Yun, began to speak of a decline of the Buddhist Sangha in the north-west parts of Indian subcontinent, especially in the wake of the Hun invasion from central Asia. Xuanzang wrote that numerous monasteries in north-western India had been reduced to ruins by the Huns.

Mihirakula:

Mihirakula who ruled from 515 CE in north-western region (modern Afghanistan, Pakistan and north India), suppressed Buddhism as well. He did this by destroying monasteries as far away as modern-day Allahabad.

Turk-Mongol raids:

The image, in the chapter on India in Hutchison’s Story of the Nations edited by James Meston, depicts the Turkish general Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khilji’s massacre of Buddhist monks in Bihar. Khaliji destroyed the Nalanda and Vikramshila universities during his raids across North Indian plains, massacring many Buddhist and Brahmin scholars.

In the Gangetic plains, Orissa, north-east and the southern regions of India, Buddhism survived through the early centuries of the 2nd millennium CE. According to William Johnston, hundreds of Buddhist monasteries and shrines were destroyed, Buddhist texts were burnt by the Muslim armies, monks and nuns killed during the 12th and 13th centuries in the Gangetic plains region. The Islamic invasion plundered wealth and destroyed Buddhist images:

From 986 CE, the Muslim Turks started raiding northwest India from Afghanistan, plundering western India early in the eleventh century. Force conversions to Islam were made, and Buddhist images smashed, due to the Islamic dislike of idolarty. Indeed in India, the Islamic term for an ‘idol’ became ‘budd’.

— Peter Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhism

The north-west parts of South Asia fell to Islamic control, and the consequent take over of land holdings of Buddhist monasteries removed one source of necessary support for the Buddhists, while the economic upheaval and new taxes on laity sapped the laity support of Buddhist monks.

In the north-western parts of medieval India, the Himalayan regions, as well regions bordering central Asia, Buddhism once facilitated trade relations, states Lars Fogelin. With the Islamic invasion and expansion, and central Asians adopting Islam, the trade route-derived financial support sources and the economic foundations of Buddhist monasteries declined, on which the survival and growth of Buddhism was based. The arrival of Islam removed the royal patronage to the monastic tradition of Buddhism, and the replacement of Buddhists in long-distance trade by the Muslims eroded the related sources of patronage.

Islamic invasion and rule:

Ruins of Vikramashila

Muhammad Bin Bakhtiyar Khilji:

Vikramashila was destroyed by the forces of Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji around 1200. Many Buddhist monks fled to Nepal, Tibet, and South India to avoid the consequences of war. Tibetan pilgrim Chöjepal had to flee advancing Muslim troops multiple times, as they were sacking Buddhist sites.

Fall of Pala Dynasty by Muslim Invaders:

A major empire to support Buddhism, the Pala dynasty, fell in the 12th century, and Muslim invaders destroyed monasteries and monuments. According to Randall Collins, Buddhism was already declining in India by the 12th century, but with the pillage by Muslim invaders it nearly became extinct in India in the 1200s. In the 13th century, states Craig Lockard, Buddhist monks in India escaped to Tibet to escape Islamic persecution; while the monks in western India, states Peter Harvey, escaped persecution by moving to south Indian Hindu kingdoms that were able to resist the Muslim power.

Conquest of Turk Shah:

Brief Muslim accounts and the one eye witness account of Dharmasmavim in wake of the conquest during the 1230s talks about abandoned viharas being used as camps by the Turukshahs. Later historical traditions such as Taranathas are mixed with legendary materials and summarised as “the Turukshah conquered the whole of Magadha and destroyed many monasteries and did much damage at Nalanda, such that many monks fled abroad” thereby bringing about a demise of Buddhism with their destruction of the Viharas.

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7 Interesting things about Betel nut(Tamul) In Assam.

By Keya Dutta

1. Auspicious: In Assam, betel nut are traditionally offered as a mark of respect and auspicious beginnings. It is a tradition to offer pan-tamul (betel leaves and raw areca nut) to guests, after tea or meals, served in a brass plate with stands called bota. Among the Assamese, the areca nut also has a variety of uses during religious and marriage ceremonies, where it has the role of a fertility symbol.

2. Invitation : A tradition from Upper Assam is to invite guests to wedding receptions by offering a few areca nuts with betel leaves. During Bihu, the husori players are offered areca nuts and betel leaves by each household while their blessings are solicited.

3. Refreshment: A customary Paan-Tamul (Betel nut leaf- Betel nut) is offered to guests after the end of every Bhoj[feast]. This is usually the Saadaa-Paan-Tamul-Soon (Slacked lime) with cardamom pods in it to freshen the breath.

3. Play with areca nut leaf:04310-028playing Children in most of the villages Assam, play with areca nut leaf. It’s been existed in India since Medieval time till now and many people of my age group to old age can passionatelyrelate to this unsophisticated,  unwheeled zigzag, pulling car of which is a blessing of mother nature.

4. Sarota:2017012418235726065
Sarota is betel nut cutter carries the distinct design of all time. This exquisite piece is a treat for collectors and makes for a wonderful decor accent.

5. Peek(Colourful spitting):

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PEEK

It’s little disgusting to step on or watching over the views of every walls on streets of Assam “famous spewing the gross ‘Peek’ (liquid residue) after chewing Paan (Betel Leaf and nut)”

** However,  it is a common problem in many cities and towns of Northern India too. Government and Public both are equally working on the banning of ‘Peek
6. Health Benefits : It is believed to be healthy too.  It gives people a buzz equivalent to six cups of coffee and is used variously as a symbol of love, marriage and a cure for indigestion and impotence and prevent tooth decay.
7. Employment: Assam-based natural dinnerware producer Tamul Plates Marketing Pvt. Ltd. is pleased to announce that it has received a seed investment from Upaya Social Ventures through Upaya’s LiftUP Project. Based in the Barpeta District of Assam, Tamul Plates produces and markets high-quality, all-natural disposable plates and bowls made from arecanut (palm) tree leaves under the “Tambul Leaf Plates” brand.

**Caution:

Worryingly, the International Agency for Research on Cancer lists each ingredient, with the exception of cardamom and cinnamon, as a known carcinogen – or cancer-causing agent.

The slaked lime is seen as a particular problem as it causes hundreds of tiny abrasions to form in the mouth. This is thought to be a possible entry point for many of the cancer-causing chemicals.

Yoga, Wellness, Rejuvenation and travel Programme -Explore North East India

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Welcome to the North East India’s First Yoga Retreat with SILOAM, Meghalaya! Your next Vacation of Yoga and Adventure.  A Yoga Vacation program designed to recharge your energetic batteries and truly rejuvenate your body and mind to leave you feeling inspired, refreshed, centred and peaceful in 14 acre pine forest for open in outdoor sessions and activities. 250 seater Amphitheater by the Lake. Fully and excellently furnished accommodation for 60 persons in lake view rooms. 10 executive lake side Cottages with spacious open decks. State of the Art 100 seater conference Hall. 2 additional Meeting Halls for 25 persons each. 2 separate Dormitories to accommodate 100 persons. Landscape pathways for personal reflection and meditations. http://siloam.co.in

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Contact Number : + 91-8794006606

Historic neighbourhood

7 years in Secunderabad 

What started as an exclusive preserve of the army in the British Raj has now turned into a city in its own right. And a beautiful one at that. Let’s take you through a tour of Secunderabad, the twin.

Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of England during World War II, was posted in Secunderabad during the 1880s as a subaltern. He lived in a bungalow, surrounded by a large compound. It is still pointed out to visitors. He was very conscious of the fact that he and his colleagues were in Secunderabad to keep guard on the Nizam and the Old City of Hyderabad. They were convinced that it contained “all the scoundrels of Asia.” Legend has it that Churchill’s unit was transferred at such short notice that he was unable to settle his outstanding bill with the Secunderabad Club. This document is supposed to have become a part of the Club’s archives.

The Army still has a substantial presence in Secunderabad, which was founded at the end of the 18th century as a British cantonment. The Nizam of Hyderabad and the East India Company signed a deed of Subsidiary Alliance for military and political cooperation, to make this possible.

In terms of geographical area and population, the Secunderabad cantonment is said to be the biggest in India and also one of the largest in Asia. The infrastructure management and administration of the civilian areas in the cantonment are looked after by the Board. As per the Cantonment Act of 2006, Secunderabad cantonment is classified as a Class-I cantonment.

 

The tea selling woman in Varanasi

It was the tea-selling woman!

If people call Varanasi a “Holy city” or “Lord Shiva’s city” she is no indifferent to me.

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The Tea-selling woman from Varanasi

Returning back from the ceremony of cremation from Manikarnika Ghat, an everyday ritual taken place famously known as “Burning ghat” of Varanasi. I saw along the edges of the river people are having a fun evening , Sadhus smoking weeds, crowds were  watching multiple religious ceremonies, and street vendors selling food and crafts who were almost dispersed when on my return back the lodge. A frightful feeling and cold sweat in the numbing month of December, realised it was just foolish of me to stayed that long in Ghats all alone.

After crossing three to four ghats I was confused about the  right staircase towards my room. I heard one female voice coming from one deep dark staircase, thought to take steps up. A great sigh of relief! I knew, I could locate the lane where my Lodge was. The voice got louder and rough when I reached upto middle of the staircase. I saw shadow of three men and one woman, as if they were trying to force her for something and some filthy words to made my blod freeze. Sound of slaping and whaking her took sudden silence, when I was passing by them close..I could hear her suppressed weeping. I was reasoning that is it really possible in Holy city of “Lord Shiva” ?

Waking up next morning as usual I walked down to the Ghats to have my morning tea. It’s heavy fog to see any clear picture whether the lady had opened her tea stall yet or not and disappointed seeing her closed store. “May be it’s too cold and and foggy to start her stall”, I thought. I walked down toward Manikarnika Ghat to looking for another tea stall. I know the famous silent “Chai-Baba” (tea-monk) stall was there. Yes, he was precisely the same as described by many tourist in their travel memoir.

Three days went on,  and her store was still closed. I have only two days to leave Varanasi and may be I will never going to see her again. That day my friend accompanied me for the whole day as his research on Vedic astrology was hold out for the day. I told him about my curiosity to meet the lady before I leave. I asked him, “have you ever noticed her”?  She always greets people who come to her store. Doesn’t she look mysterious?  I don’t understand despite she makes fine tea with ginger why very less people show up. She spotted me very first time when I went to her for tea. She had no ungracefulness when I told her about my solo visit in Varanasi. Instead she said that she wished to be as liberated as me and belong to this class of society. I smiled at her and said, “It’s not about class of our society, It’s my spirit and zeal”

It was my last day in Varanasi so my friend from Canada(the research guy) and another Yogi form Germany decided to have lunch together. One of a local guy who works in the restaurant where we usually go for the lunch and dinner and been very sincere to my Canadian friend for many years, sat next to us. He always comes up with some local news to tell about. I was thinking, “What’s today!” and he stared at me first as if I have done something bad to him. He straight away told me, “If you visit Varanasi next time, never walk alone in the dark passages, specially the staircase which you came up few days ago. There is a disputes their every evening after she closes her tea stall”. And I took a sip of water before which I was about take a bite of my Chapati. “She was once a prostitute after her father died” he said looking  at my friend. “Her father was a poor priest but managed to look after his family by serving ritual prayers for the tourist.  At the age of  thirteen only she was forced to be a prostitute by her mother. Many times she has been bitten up, abused and faced ferocity.  But, she became a learned and skillful prostitute by the age of seventeen. After sometime she got married and started selling tea near one of the ghats. Everyone thought that her past life was buried behind after marriage, but nothing happened like that. Her husband became her flesh dealer very soon. Every evening there are some deals in that dark staircase and she was forced to overwork by her husband”. I soon realised It was the tea selling lady that evening.

I asked him, “Do you know where she is? I haven’t seen her for last five days.”

He told looking at three of us, “She has been sent to one of a brothel of infamous district in Shivdaspur.”

Her face is still vivid in my mind. She will always be the tea selling lady on the bank of river Ganges. If people call Varanasi a”Holy city” or “Lord Shiva’s city” she is no indifferent to me. I will always keep wondering…. what will happened to her!

Mawlynnong: Asia’s Cleanest Village

Mawlynnong: Asia’s Cleanest Village

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Is your mind conjuring images of Japan or Singapore on reading the words ‘Asia’s cleanest village’? I will tell you what all it has to offer besides the cleanliness it is known for ~

Raw and still fairly untouched by the ways of cities, the areas around the village promise some good treks. And walking tour (guided) is also the best way to discover the sights and stories of little Mawlynnong, home to about 95 families. Located in the state of Meghalaya, India. Mawlynnong, also referred as ‘God’s own garden’ has won the acclaim of being the cleanest village in Asia in 2003.It was again declared the cleanest village in India in 2005. The village known for its cleanliness is located around 90 kms from Shillong and is a community based eco-tourism initiative. The community has made collective effort to maintain the ambiance of a clean village.
The adage “Neighbors envy, owners pride’ is apt for Mawlynnong as it has earned the distinction of being one of the cleanest villages in Asia, a fact that every Mawlynnong villager is proud of and other villagers are envy of.
The village is quite pretty, especially in the monsoons when there is lush greenery all around, with waterfalls paving the way to small streams and abundance of flowering orchids dangling from the trees and hedges add to the beauty of the village.

Manuscripts and stone inscription of Assam

Though Manuscripts and inscriptions from any era, any history always captivate me, but I am laying the first stone on Scriptures from North-Eastern Province of India a state called Assam. There are two reasons for that -My first reason is to highlight Assam’s History, the one in question of it’s wellspring been very much untold. My second reason is I am inhabitant of Assam, though I am not living there for past couple of years.