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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How Swami Vivekanand Shaped the World Culture and Ethos

When the entire world was encapsulated with physical pleasures and materialistic race of leading a luxurious life, they needed someone to guide them to know real meaning of leading life. Hindu spirituality deals with body, mind and soul. Swami Vivekanand introduced world with the concept of oneness, soul and sole reason of taking birth as humans. The new concept thrilled the people across the globe and they got to know true realms of life through meditation and spiritual science of Hinduism.

Swami Vivekananda’s contributions in shaping the world culture is acknowledged by scholars of several countries.

Making an objective assessment of Swami Vivekananda’s contributions to world culture, the eminent British historian A L Basham stated that “in centuries to come, he will be remembered as one of the main moulders of the modern world…”

Swami Vivekananda, known in his pre-monastic life as Narendra Nath Datta, was born in an affluent family in Kolkata on 12 January 1863. His father, Vishwanath Datta, was a successful attorney with interests in a wide range of subjects, and his mother, Bhuvaneshwari Devi, was endowed with deep devotion, strong character and other qualities. A precocious boy, Narendra excelled in music, gymnastics and studies. By the time he graduated from Calcutta University, he had acquired a vast knowledge of different subjects, especially Western philosophy and history. Born with a yogic temperament, he used to practise meditation even from his boyhood, and was a and was associated with Brahmo Movement for some time.

Vivekananda’s contributions to world culture 
Making an objective assessment of Swami Vivekananda’s contributions to world culture, the eminent British historian A L Basham stated that “in centuries to come, he will be remembered as one of the main moulders of the modern world…” Some of the main contributions that Swamiji made to the modern world are mentioned below:

1. New Understanding of Religion: One of the most significant contributions of Swami Vivekananda to the modern world is his interpretation of religion as a universal experience of transcendent Reality, common to all humanity. Swamiji met the challenge of modern science by showing that religion is as scientific as science itself; religion is the ‘science of consciousness’. As such, religion and science are not contradictory to each other but are complementary.
This universal conception frees religion from the hold of superstitions, dogmatism, priestcraft and intolerance, and makes religion the highest and noblest pursuit – the pursuit of supreme Freedom, supreme Knowledge, supreme Happiness.

2. New View of Man: Vivekananda’s concept of ‘potential divinity of the soul’ gives a new, ennobling concept of man. The present age is the age of humanism which holds that man should be the chief concern and centre of all activities and thinking. Through science and technology man has attained great prosperity and power, and modern methods of communication and travel have converted human society into a ‘global village’. But the degradation of man has also been going on apace, as witnessed by the enormous increase in broken homes, immorality, violence, crime, etc. in modern society. Vivekananda’s concept of potential divinity of the soul prevents this degradation, divinizes human relationships, and makes life meaningful and worth living. Swamiji has laid the foundation for ‘spiritual humanism’, which is manifesting itself through several neo-humanistic movements and the current interest in meditation, Zen etc all over the world.

3. New Principle of Morality and Ethics: The prevalent morality, in both individual life and social life, is mostly based on fear – fear of the police, fear of public ridicule, fear of God’s punishment, fear of Karma, and so on. The current theories of ethics also do not explain why a person should be moral and be good to others. Vivekananda has given a new theory of ethics and new principle of morality based on the intrinsic purity and oneness of the Atman. We should be pure because purity is our real nature, our true divine Self or Atman. Similarly, we should love and serve our neighbours because we are all one in the Supreme Spirit known as Paramatman or Brahman.

4. Bridge between the East and the West: Another great contribution of Swami Vivekananda was to build a bridge between Indian culture and Western culture. He did it by interpreting Hindu scriptures and philosophy and the Hindu way of life and institutions to the Western people in an idiom which they could understand. He made the Western people realize that they had to learn much from Indian spirituality for their own well-being. He showed that, in spite of her poverty and backwardness, India had a great contribution to make to world culture. In this way he was instrumental in ending India’s cultural isolation from the rest of the world. He was India’s first great cultural ambassador to the West.
On the other hand, Swamiji’s interpretation of ancient Hindu scriptures, philosophy, institutions, etc prepared the mind of Indians to accept and apply in practical life two best elements of Western culture, namely science and technology and humanism. Swamiji has taught Indians how to master Western science and technology and at the same time develop spiritually. Swamiji has also taught Indians how to adapt Western humanism (especially the ideas of individual freedom, social equality and justice and respect for women) to Indian ethos.

What are we Striving for?

“What we Strive for is, What we’re not. Look at An Apple tree which strives to be a full fledged Apple tree, bears leaves, tries to be a fully grown Apple tree and bears gift of Apple fruits. An Apple Tree Doesn’t strive to be a Mango Tree. Every Creatures Likewise tries to be full of what they’re. Only We Human Don’t know how to fully strive to being Human” – Keya

Your Career shouldn’t be the Purpose of your life. A Person Wants to be a Doctor or an  Engineer, Scientist or  Musician, Writer or a Poet. And once the person reaches his Goal he must be striving to make more money or higher Status.

For an Example :Doctors, on average, are also paid well, and have positions of high status. A sign of living happily. You’re Perfect Now. But, in essence Excellence is the very opposite of PerfectionismPerfectionism is losing your true self in the demands of society, and trying to emulate a person who is not you and whom you can never become. Excellence, on the other hand, is becoming the centre of your own universe, and from that grounded, centred position, shining your light into the world by using your unique talents.

I’ve found Six Practises to implement to strive Full Human. These are:

  1.  Accept The Hardship: All life demands struggle, including an Earthworm, a bird, King of Jungle Lion to an Ant. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person to become full fledged Human.
  2.  Someone will Always Have More Than You: It doesn’t matter what I achieve in life, someone, somewhere will always have more than we do. Someone will always be smarter, stronger, and will have more money.  The minute you figure that out, you will be a happier person.
  3. Everything Happens For a Reason:  This is a hard one for me too. It is a hard one for anyone really.  No one really knows why things happen.  I have to believe it is all part of a bigger plan.  Why do people get sick?  Why do people die?  Why do relationships end?  Why are we here?  Why are we dealt a bad hand?  Truthfully, only one person can answer that question.  Breathe.  Enjoy life.
  4. Trying to Control The Uncontrollable: I am an anxious person.  I am always trying to find out how I can control a situation.  You know, I can’t.  It is going to happen regardless.  If I have sleepless nights over losing a job because of a bad economy, then I have wasted energy.   If you are religious/Spiritual, you will trust that things will just have a way of working themselves out.
  5. Treating Every Day Like It is Your Last:  The one thing that is certain in this life is that we will  Embrace every moment.  Treasure friendships that are meaningful.  Spend time with the ones that mean the most to you.   Do things that this wonderful world has to offer.  Your judgement day will come one day. It may come sooner than you think 🙂
  6.  Showing Compassion: When they make mistakes or hurt you. Instead, try to put yourself in their shoes, and think…

“Excellence” is the gradual result of always striving to do better.

 

 

 

 

 

The Eternal Bond of Friendship- Krishna and Sudama

The Eternal Bond of Friendship- Krishna and Sudama

Indian mythology abounds with colorful and flavorful tales and lore, each having a hidden moral or lesson to learn from. While some of these stories deal with valor and heroic deeds; others relate in detail, instances of love and friendship. In this present-day jet-age, a true friend is one who is the most dinarfficult to find and keep. We have several hundreds of friends, both online and offline, but only the really lucky ones get to meet that one friend and companion who will stay by their side, no matter what happens in their lives.

This time, we bring you a wonderfully refreshing and touching tale of the eternal bond of true and divine friendship between man and God – the bond that verily uplifts the Jeevatma to the level of the Paramatma and makes him one with the Creator. We present before you the story of Krishna and Sudama.

Sudama was a childhood friend of Lord Sri Krishna. Krishna and Sudama once went to the forest to gather brushwood. They stayed on there for long, walking and chatting with each other, while also enjoying the beauty of their environs. It started getting quite late and Krishna got hungry. Sudama, in the meantime, had some grams with him. However, he felt embarrassed to offer this simple food to his friend, who hailed from a royal family. Krishna kept telling him how hungry he was and asked his friend if he had anything at all to eat. Sudama denied taking along anything to eat.

Krishna knew very well that his friend had some food with him. He also knew that the boy too was hungry, so he dozed off for a little while. Sudama immediately opened his little pack of food and stealthily ate up some of it. Krishna noticed all this but said nothing. Both the boys then collected the brushwood and left for their homes.

After finishing with their studies, they lost touch for several years. Krishna moved away from Vrindavan and went on to Dwaraka, where he got married. He then became the King and a military leader of great repute. Sudama, though, remained as impoverished as always and stayed on in the same village; continuing to dedicate his life to religious austerities, mantra, japa and developing a spiritual attitude toward life. He also continued thinking of Krishna and loved him as always.

In due course of time, Sudama got married to Susheela . However, he never had any interest in accumulating wealth. He was happy to live frugally, desiring no material gains. He accepted his financial status and preferred to spend time in the contemplation of the Supreme Godhead. He had not much money to spare for his wife and children. There were many times when the family did not even get two square meals.

Sudama’s wife repeatedly requested her husband to visit his old friend Krishna and beseech him for some financial assistance. She would remind him that he being a true Brahmin, a devotee and long-lost close friend of Krishna, the latter would be only too willing to help him in his time of trouble. Susheela, like her husband, was not bothered about acquiring material treasures; but she was concerned about the health of her family, especially that of her children.

He eventually agreed to visit his long-lost royal friend at Dwaraka. He realized that it would not be nice to go empty-handed to visit the King and so, he asked his wife to prepare some foodstuff that he could present before Krishna. Having nothing to eat in the house, she picked up some flattened rice or “poha” and packed it in a little piece of cloth. Sudama took it and happily left for Dwaraka.

Reaching Dwaraka, Sudama stared in amazement at the massive gates of the palace, and then entered therein, passing through several military camps and residential quarters on the way. Once inside, he saw Krishna seated with Rukmini. The Lord immediately got up and warmly received Sudama, fondly embracing him. The palace attendants were shocked to see their King behaving in such a fashion with this humble, obviously very poor Brahmin. Sudama was completely overwhelmed by the rousing welcome that Krishna gave him. The Lord asked him to be seated and, in traditional fashion, washed Sudama’s feet, as a mark of respect for a Brahmin. Krishna then took some of the water used to wash his feet and sprinkled it over his own head. He then offered Sudama food and drink to refresh him after his long journey.

 

Krishna’s mood turned jovial and, with a mischievous glint in his eye, he asked his friend what the latter had brought him as a gift and if his wife had packed some nice eatables. Reluctantly and feeling very embarrassed, Sudama offered him the packet of flattened rice. Krishna, knowing what his friend was thinking, enthusiastically opened the packet and was very happy when he saw the contents inside it. He decided he would partake of the rice and then richly reward Sudama for the same.

The Lord grabbed a handful of the foodstuff and happily ate it up. When he tried to put in a second mouthful though, his wife Rukmini, the Goddess of Fortune, held his hand and shook her head ever so slightly. She meant to tell him that with one handful of the rice, Sudama would become extremely wealthy in his present life. But with a second handful, he would continue to reap riches even in his next life. She was already obliged by Sudama’s offering, to stay in this Brahmin’s house and shower her grace in his present birth. She did not wish to continue doing so in his next birth as well.

Krishna understood what Rukmini was trying to tell him and, with a gentle smile on his lips, kept aside the packet of rice. He then fed his friend a lavish meal, asked him to rest for a while and then spent some more time talking with him. Sudama, in the meantime, was in a state of transcendental bliss and so, actually forgot the reason why he had come here in the first place. He spent the night at the palace and left for his home early next morning. Krishna lovingly bade him farewell, though he did not offer him anything in material terms. On the way, he was completely happy and absorbed thinking of the wonderful time he had spent with the Lord.

He thought that Krishna had desisted from giving him money and other material things, as he probably thought that those things may spoil his own attitude and make him too proud and arrogant; finally making him forget God. Thinking thus, he continued on his way back home.

He thought that Krishna had desisted from giving him money and other material things, as he probably thought that those things may spoil his own attitude and make him too proud and arrogant; finally making him forget God. Thinking thus, he continued on his way back home.

A Palace Of Gold Awaits Sudama

As he neared his home, Sudama was dismayed to see that his humble little cottage was missing. In place of that was a large, gleaming palace, made of gold, stones and jewels. His poor and shabby neighborhood had been converted into beautiful gardens and parks with lovely lotus-filled lakes, filled with flocks of different multi-colored birds! Regal-looking men and women were strolling around the parks and divine music was playing somewhere in the background.

Sure that he had come to the right place, Sudama wondered where his little home had disappeared, virtually overnight. As he stood there taking in the sights, his wife ran out of the palace to greet him. She was dressed in opulent, rich silks and heavy gold jewelry and seemed to him like the Goddess of Fortune herself. She affectionately led her amazed husband inside the palace. Its chambers were beautiful and ornate, fit for Indra, the King of the Gods. The palace consisted of several ornamented columns and pillars, with rich silk and velvet canopies hanging from the windows.

Sudama then understood that all of this was Krishna’s doing. The Lord had been silently watching him and his suffering for all these years. But his small, seemingly meaningless offering of the poha had paid rich rewards. He had been bestowed wonderful and incomparable riches and a palace, beautiful beyond human imagination.

Moral Contained In The Story

The story of Krishna and Sudama contains several hidden lessons that we could learn from. Some of them are as follows:
All are equal in the eyes of the Lord and He does not differentiate friendship based on petty caste, wealth and social status. We too should learn to respect each individual, as each one is a creation of that Supreme Being.

Sex without love

“It’s like fast food…Satisfies a craving, but doesn’t nourish”

An old Irish proverb says it all~
“Sex with love is one of the finest and truly great experiences in life.”

It may be  thrilling, explorative, and physical.
But there is no deep spiritual soul-connecting thing underneath.

Is it Healthy? 

Not everyone can adopt this point of view— particularly women. When the mind connects sex with intimacy and emotions, it becomes very hard to separate. If a person does not find sex without love fulfilling or gratifying, then it’s better to abstain from such relationships.

It’s not healthy to use sex for means other than physical gratification, like the expectation that it will blossom into love. Sex should likewise not be used for attention or as leverage in a relationship to gain something else.

If people use sex as a form of escapism, it’s no different than being addicted to other behaviors(Rape/Child sexual abuse/manipulation/Prostitution).

Using sex to avoid dealing with pain or loneliness can only bring on more of the same.

Basically, if purely sexual relationships are not personally satisfying, then it’s not healthy for you to engage in these types of relationships.

Is it Optimal?

Sex without love seems to be connected to the physical world alone, which is only a small part of what is available to us. Sex with love is experienced at the core of people, where their innate health resides – apart from the personal thoughts, insecurities and beliefs, we are all so capable of, which will only cover up, but can never obliterate our healthy core. Like the sun behind clouds – it’s always there, it just gets covered up at times; but it’s only temporary.

The hope is that those who have experienced sex with love will provide examples for those who have not. It seems to me that the more people in touch with their spiritual essence, the better the world will be.

If you’re trying to figure out what kind of person you are when it comes to sex, then here are some questions you should start asking yourself.

Q. How were you raised?

Q. What is your religious or spiritual belief?

Q. How do feel after an one night stand?  Empty?

Q. What are your ratio of sex to love?

Q. Can you be in love without sex?

Q. Do you think it’s worth?

Q. How monogamous you are?

 

 

Mudra Science : Hand Alignments for Holistic Health

images
Sadhu is showing Gyana(Wisdom) Mudra 

Believe that your health is in your hands!

Our hands are particularly blessed with virtues of wellness. The four fingers and the thumb represent the five major building blocks or the ‘Panchamahabhootas’ of which the entire universe is made viz. Sky (Ether), Air, Fire, Water and Earth.

According to natural sciences, disease is nothing but a limitation that emerges in the continuity and balance of these five elements.

Philosophy of Mudra Therapy

The natural sciences of Mudra therapy believe that the five fingers correspond to the five basic elements viz. Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth.

  • Thumb – The fire (Agni)
  • Index finger – The air (Vayu)
  • Middle finger – The ether (Aakasha)
  • Ring finger – The earth (Prithvi)
  • Small finger – The water (Jala)

In order to bring back the balance in the five elements, there are some specific methods of touching and aligning the fingers with each other. These are referred to as ‘Hast-Mudras’ and this easy and doable therapy may be practiced anytime as an augmented relief from your malady as well as a handy tool for restoring your wellness.

Learn various Mudras in my next write up: