Decline of Buddhism in India

Whether you're exploring Buddhism for the first time or you're already on the path, feel free to ask questions of any kind here.

Decline of Buddhism in India

Postby Lotus_Bitch » Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:56 am

So, after reading some articles about the decline of Buddhism in India: I've been wondering if anyone could elucidate further on the causes of it's decline. Obviously, the Muslim invasions were cited as one of the determining factors, but I want to know more about the influences from Hinduism's gaining prominence in the sub-continent.

Some of the articles of I've been reading: http://www.byomakusuma.org/Teachings/MarshlandFlowersPart1.aspx

http://sgforums.com/forums/1728/topics/452467

I would also like someone to explain the situation with Buddhism in the post-Gupta period, since I've read some quotes from this thread:

http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=102&t=9619&start=140

Mihirakula is said to have razed 1600 viharas, stupas and monasteries,
and “put to death 900 Kotis, or lay adherents of Buddhism” [Joshi, 404].

The
celebrated Tibetan historian Lama Taranatha mentions the march of
Pushyamitra from Madhyadesha to Jalandhara. In the course of his
campaigns, the book states, Pushyamitra burned down numerous Buddhist
monasteries and killed a number of learned monks The archaeological
evidence for the ravages wrought by Pushyamitra and other Hindu fanatic
rulers on famous Buddhist shrines is abundant.

The
Brhannaradiya-purana lays it down as a principal sin for a Brahmana to
enter the house of a Buddhist even in times of great peril.

The drama Mrchchhakatika shows that in Ujjain the Buddhist monks were despised and their sight was considered inauspicious.

The Vishnupurana (XVIII 13-18) also regards the Buddha as Mayamoha who
appeared in the world to delude the demons. Kumarila is said to have
instigated King Sudhanvan of Ujjain to exterminate the Buddhists.

Yuan Chwang’s account reads, “In recent times Shashanka, the enemy and
oppressor of Buddhism, cut down the Bodhi tree, destroyed its roots down
to the water and burned what remained.” [Watters II p.115] He also says
that Shashanka tried “to have the image (of Lord Buddha at Bodhgaya)
removed and replaced by one of Shiva”.

Madhava Acharya, in his “Sankara-digvijayam” of the fourteenth century A.D., records that Suddhanvan “issued orders to put to death all the Buddhists from Ramesvaram to the Himalaya".

According
to The Rajatarangani (IV/112), Chandradip, a Buddhist ruler of Kashmir,
was killed by Brahmins in 722 AD. His successor Tarapida was killed two
years later. The newly anointed Brahma-Kshastra (Rajput) rulers usurped
power in the kingdoms of Sind and Kota. Graha Varman Maukhari, married
to Harsha’s sister, was treacherously killed by Sasanka, king of Gauda
(Bengal). He proudly destroyed many stupas and cut down the sacred Bodhi
tree at Gaya.

According to Gopinath Rao (East & West Vol 35)
the old tribal shrine at Jaganath Puri was usurped by Vaisnavas and the
walls of the temple even today displays gory murals recording the
beheading and massacre of Buddhists.


Epigraphica India Vol XXIX P 141-144 records that Vira Goggi Deva, a South Indian king, described himself as… “a
fire to the Jain scriptures, a hunter of wild beasts in the form of the
followers of Jina (Jains) and an adept at the demolition of Buddhist
canon”. It also records “the deliberate destruction of non
Brahminical literature like books of Lokayat/ Carvaca philosophy by
Brihaspati mentioned by Albaruni in the 11th century.” The huge Buddhist
complex at Nagarjunakonda was destroyed. According to Shankara Dig
Vijaya, the newly anointed Brahma-Kshastra kings ordered every Kshatriya
to kill every Buddhist young and old and to also kill those who did not
kill the Buddhists. A Jain temple at Huli in Karnataka had a statue of
five Jinas (Jain heroes) that was re carved into a Shaivite temple with
five lingas.


"During the reign of Nara "thousands of monastries were burnt, and
thousands of villages that supported those monastries were given over to
the Brahmans." Brahmans having succeeded in establishing their supremacy
set themselves in right earnest in strengthening themselves and their
position. Many superstitious observances and practices were invented.
Thought and culture were denied to everybody excepting themselves and
the modern Hinduism in Kashmir began its growth. But this degraded the
Brahmans themselves. During Mihirkula's reign many shameless practices
are ascribed to them..." (Kilam, 'A History of Kashmiri Pandits, Chapter
1- 'A Survey of Ancient Hindu Rule', Page 5)

"Though there was no great persecution of Buddhists by the ruling families of Andhradesa, at least two pallava rulers,
Simhavarma and Trilochana were zealous in destroying the monasteries at
Sriparvata and Dhanyakataka. Radical Saivaite sects like Kalamukhis
initially and later, Veerashaivas conducted an aggressive campaign
condemning Buddhists as atheists. Occupying Buddhists places, Shiva and Vishnu temples were built over Buddhists shrines.
The aggressive and often violent campaign is exemplified by the conduct
of the Veera Saiva proponent, Mallikarjuna Panditaradhya, who after
losing a debate to Buddhist monk in the court of chandole conspired and
got them, killed and destroyed their places of worship. Panditaradhya's
aggressive campaign almost wiped out Buddhism, in the Andhra country.
Earlier shankara who was known as Pracchana Buddha borrowed Madhyamaka
metaphysics and logic and modeled his mathas on Buddhist monasteries.
Kumarila and Shankara carried on virulent crusade against Buddhism."

Namo Amitabha Buddha

Tiger

Posts: 61
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:47 am

Top
Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby Tiger » Tue Aug 14, 2012 12:00 pm
"The puranas, the Mrchhakatikas, the Yajnavalkya-smriti, the
Rajtarangini, the works of Kumarila and Sankara, the accounts of Chinese
travelers, and the histories of Bu-Ston and Taranatha, do seem to point
to deeper hatred for Buddhism.""The mounting tide of
anti-Buddhist propaganda in Brahmanical literature seems to have reached
its apex in the hands of Sankaracharya........Sankara's biography tells
us that the great guru led a religious expedition against Bauddhas and
caused their destruction from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean".
.
"Sankara is known to have founded his Srngeri-Matha on the site of a Buddhist
Monastery. His anti-Buddhist activities may have been very terrible, and
according to the Tibetan tradition, at his approach " the Buddhist
monasteries began to tremble and the monks began to pell-mell.""
.
"Attention may be invited to a passage in the Bhasya of the Brahmasutra, in which
Sankara says: Buddha was an enemy of the people and taugh contradictory
and confusing things".
.
"Thus Sankara and Kumarila are the two
most important representatives of the Brahmanical hostility towards
Buddhism in India during this period"."

From "Looking for a Hindu Identity" by Jha

While there are many more examples of mutual hostility between
Saivas and VaiKIavas, sources testify also to the conflict between
BrahmaIism and heterodox sects. Early evidence of BrahmaIical
hostility towards Jainism, for example, comes from its canonical
text, the Ayarangasuttam, according to which monks hid themselves
in the day and travelled by night lest they be suspected of being
spies.156 Similarly, the Arthasastra of Kau_ilya contemptuously describes
the followers of non-Vedic sects as V<2ala or pa2a>?a (e.g.,
Sakyas, Ajivikas), assigns them residence at the end of or near the
cremation ground (pa2a>?acandalanam smasanante vasa=) and
prescribes a heavy fine for inviting them to dinners in honour of the
gods and the manes,157 though the occurrence of the word pa2a>?a
in the edict of Asoka “is not necessarily pejorative” because he appointed
dharmamahamatras to look after the affairs not only of the
Buddhist Sangha, the brahmaIs and the Ajivikas but also those of
“some other religious sects” (pa2a>?e2u).158



"The toleration of dissenting faiths which was the hallmark of
Asoka’s policy is not seen, however, in later times; for the celebrated
grammarian Patañjali (second century B.C.) observed that “the
sramaIas and BrahmaIas are ‘eternal enemies’ (virodha= sasvatika
=) like the snake and mongoose.”159"

The attitude of the orthodox philosophers found an echo in the
PuraIic texts as well. The Saurapura>a, for example, says that the
Carvakas, Buddhists and Jains should not be allowed to settle in a
kingdom.166 Similarly, the early medieval literary texts provide
highly pejorative portrayals of the Buddhists and the Jains. The
Mattavilasa Prahsana, a farce written by the Pallava ruler Mahendravarman
(seventh century), depicts Buddhists as morally
depraved, dishonest and the scum of the earth; a corrupt Buddhist
monk is made to ask “…why did [the Buddha] not think of
sanctioning the possession of women and the drinking of sura
(kinnukhalu striparigraha= surapanavidhanam ca na d<23am)?”167
The Prabodhacandrodaya, a drama written by KcKIa Misra (eleventh
century), describes both Buddhism and Jainism as tamasika (arising
out of darkness), depicts a Buddhist monk as indulging in worldly
pleasures168 and a Jain monk as naked, devoid of manliness
(nivirya), the hair of his head plucked out and carrying a peacock
feather in his hand.169


If anyone could recommend any academic (or non-academic) books on the above, that would be greatly appreciated.

:namaste:
Lotus_Bitch
 
Posts: 202
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:24 am

Re: Decline of Buddhism in India

Postby Indrajala » Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:54 am

Lotus_Bitch wrote:I would also like someone to explain the situation with Buddhism in the post-Gupta period, since I've read some quotes from this thread:


I wrote about this to some extent here if you're interested:

http://huayanzang.blogspot.com/2013/01/ ... nt-in.html

In respect to post-Gupta Buddhism, let me draw on a quote by Ronald M. Davidson in the Handbook of Oriental Studies Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia:

While institutions began to assume feudal dimensions, abbots, however, did not provide three important services that acted as much of the glue of the Indian feudal system: they did not engage in marital exchanges (being ostensibly celibate renunciates), they did not swear fealty to provide troops in time of war, and they did not provide the Brahmanical ceremonies needed by the king—marriage, postmortem, coronation, renewal, sacrifice, agricultural, and military rites among them. Buddhists had been aware of coronation ceremonies right from the early days of the order, but the earlier traditions had erected a strong ideological buttress between the law of the land (rājadaṇḍa) and the Buddhist administration (dharmavinaya). Both the Madhyamaka/Prajñāpāramitā ideology of the identity of samsara and nirvana and the feudalization of real Buddhist institutions eroded these ideological walls, so that earlier flirting that Buddhists had done with the Brahmanical practices of homa, coronation, image consecration (pratiṣṭhā), mantra recitation, and so on were now engaged in a much more sustained manner.


Meanwhile a lot of the old material culture of Buddhism fell into ruin. Kushinagar and other places were neglected and largely abandoned. That says something to how common laypeople perhaps had little to do with Buddhism, otherwise they would have presumably been charged with the task of maintaining the holy pilgrimage sites, but it didn't happen.

Buddhism in north India might have largely become the domain of intellectuals and monastics. It possibly became irrelevant to the common people and in due time was confined to the walls of institutions. Whatever grassroots Buddhism existed faded into the Hindu background as brahmanization saw to the eradication of Buddhist identities.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5964
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Decline of Buddhism in India

Postby Rakshasa » Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:46 pm

Huseng wrote:
Lotus_Bitch wrote:I would also like someone to explain the situation with Buddhism in the post-Gupta period, since I've read some quotes from this thread:


I wrote about this to some extent here if you're interested:

http://huayanzang.blogspot.com/2013/01/ ... nt-in.html

In respect to post-Gupta Buddhism, let me draw on a quote by Ronald M. Davidson in the Handbook of Oriental Studies Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia:

While institutions began to assume feudal dimensions, abbots, however, did not provide three important services that acted as much of the glue of the Indian feudal system: they did not engage in marital exchanges (being ostensibly celibate renunciates), they did not swear fealty to provide troops in time of war, and they did not provide the Brahmanical ceremonies needed by the king—marriage, postmortem, coronation, renewal, sacrifice, agricultural, and military rites among them. Buddhists had been aware of coronation ceremonies right from the early days of the order, but the earlier traditions had erected a strong ideological buttress between the law of the land (rājadaṇḍa) and the Buddhist administration (dharmavinaya). Both the Madhyamaka/Prajñāpāramitā ideology of the identity of samsara and nirvana and the feudalization of real Buddhist institutions eroded these ideological walls, so that earlier flirting that Buddhists had done with the Brahmanical practices of homa, coronation, image consecration (pratiṣṭhā), mantra recitation, and so on were now engaged in a much more sustained manner.


Meanwhile a lot of the old material culture of Buddhism fell into ruin. Kushinagar and other places were neglected and largely abandoned. That says something to how common laypeople perhaps had little to do with Buddhism, otherwise they would have presumably been charged with the task of maintaining the holy pilgrimage sites, but it didn't happen.

Buddhism in north India might have largely become the domain of intellectuals and monastics. It possibly became irrelevant to the common people and in due time was confined to the walls of institutions. Whatever grassroots Buddhism existed faded into the Hindu background as brahmanization saw to the eradication of Buddhist identities.



I've done quite a bit of research into this topic and I think it would be quite stupid to think that Buddhism got expunged (completely annihilated to the extent that Indians did not know of any Buddhism when Britishers arrived) merely because Buddhism was not useful in state polity. Buddhism has in fact shown to be quite useful for the affairs of the state that are not usually considered "religious" - in fact, in places like Tibet, Thailand, Sri Lanka etc Buddhism played a dominant role as a tool for ruling over masses by the kings.

One of my friends' used to say that Buddhism died down because Buddhist monks became corrupt. Unfortunately, such simplistic explanation was even accepted by the Indian historians and philosophers a few decades ago. To this I used to retort that Brahmins became even more corrupt (Devadasi prostitution, Kulin polygamy, rituals to gain power and influence, untouchability etc) and yet they not only thrived but became dominant.

Corruption of the monks, uselessness in governance etc could not be the cause of the complete extinction of a religion from the land of its origin to the extent that people did not even know about the Buddhist caves and artifacts in ruins in their own land, to the extent that all the Buddhist sutras and canon had to be recovered from other countries. One Buddhist monk called Dharmabhadra from Magadha had written a travelogue which puts a great light into the 14th century India. And he specifically mentions that by his time he was not welcome in most parts of India for being a Buddhist. For example, in Shaivite southern kingdoms, the King subjected him to humiliation by forcing him to bathe in a pond along with naked courtesans. Some assassins were let lose over him because of which he had to escape at night. He completely avoided the route through Jalandhara because of the fear of Brahmins.

In the 19th century, a Siddha physician called Iyothee Thasan, who was also a "Hindu untouchable", and thus subject to discrimination by the other Hindus in Tamil Nadu, suggested that his ancestors were Buddhists who were relegated to the status of untouchables and subjected to inhuman discrimination and agony when Brahmins came in power. Another scholar, Dr. Ambedkar, also had a similar view and he was also an untouchable. There is a community in India called "Valmiki", who are perhaps in the lowest position of the Hindu feudal caste system. A scholar from this community (Bhagwan Das http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl2726/st ... 610800.htm) mentions that their origins need to be researched more and that they were never Hindus (they still have some traditions of trance inducing ritual practices that smell of remnants of Buddhist tantra as can be read in that link). And of course, there is a well known historical legend about how Bangladesh became a Muslim country. The legend says that during the Sena dynasty (Brahmins) the Buddhists were so persecuted to inhuman discrimination (they were called "nede nede" reminding them of the shaven head), that these people openly invited the Muslim invaders to invade their country and liberate them while accepting the new Islamic faith).

All of these scattered facts and the fact that most of the Brahmanic scriptures display contempt for the Buddhists, and condemn them to live outside the villages, in cremation grounds, to not let their shadow impurify them etc, does suggest that Buddhism was deeply persecuted and the remaining extant Buddhists were relegated to the lowest rung of society and subjected to humiliating tasks and professions.

Read the monograph by Asvaghosa (called Vajra Suchi) debunking the myth of the Brahmanic caste system and refuting the logic behind it:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/journals/jras/tr03-08.htm

When the western scholar approached the Pandits (Brahmins) for seeking their guidance in translating this Buddhist text, most of them openly refused and showed contempt for this "heretic doctrine". Ironically, the Brahmins later copied the same scripture, named it as "Vajra Suchi" as Asvaghosa named it, and inserted it into their Upanishad as expounding the true definition of a Brahmana.

http://www.hindu-blog.com/2012/10/vajra ... hmana.html

This quote by Dharmakirti does show that when Buddhists were in power, they also displayed disgust for Brahmanic theories:

वेद प्रामाण्यं कस्य चित् कर्तृवादः स्नाने धर्मेच्छा जातिवादाव लेपः|
संतापारंभः पापहानाय चेति ध्वस्तप्रज्ञानां पञ्च लिङगानि जाड्ये||
Believing that the Veda are standard (holy or divine), believing in a Creator for the world,
Bathing in holy waters for gaining punya, having pride (vanity) about one's caste,
Performing penance to absolve sins,
Are the five symptoms of having lost one's sanity.
- Dharmakirti, a 7th century Buddhist philosopher


Indian history is very complex and Indian people are a mix of the Australoid natives, Indo-Aryans, Indo-Scythians, Indo-Greeks, Dravidians, Mongoloids etc. It has been the meeting ground of various races - so the conflict was inevitable.
User avatar
Rakshasa
 
Posts: 148
Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:29 am

Re: Decline of Buddhism in India

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:05 am

Rakshasa wrote:Indian history is very complex ...


Very interesting analysis. Thank you.

I've done quite a bit of research into this topic and I think it would be quite stupid to think that Buddhism got expunged (completely annihilated to the extent that Indians did not know of any Buddhism when Britishers arrived) merely because Buddhism was not useful in state polity.


It seems in some cases Buddhism became irrelevant to the common people. I've still yet to figure out why sites like Kushinagar, Kapilavastu and elsewhere fell into ruin by the 7th century (Xuanzang and Hyecho reported a forlorn site). Were such areas under Brahmin control and hostile to Buddhists? I don't recall Xuanzang or Hyecho reporting this. In contrast to their reports, in the early 5th century Faxian commented on the great numbers of Buddhist monks all over north India and a thriving Buddhist culture. There is a marked difference between what he described and then what other foreigners described in the 7th and 8th centuries.

Nālandā received royal patronage from even abroad, but why were holy sites not so far away falling into disuse and ruin? Some have suggested that in due time Buddhism effectively became of little use or interest to common people.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5964
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Decline of Buddhism in India

Postby Rakshasa » Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:13 am

Huseng wrote:It seems in some cases Buddhism became irrelevant to the common people. I've still yet to figure out why sites like Kushinagar, Kapilavastu and elsewhere fell into ruin by the 7th century (Xuanzang and Hyecho reported a forlorn site). Were such areas under Brahmin control and hostile to Buddhists? I don't recall Xuanzang or Hyecho reporting this. In contrast to their reports, in the early 5th century Faxian commented on the great numbers of Buddhist monks all over north India and a thriving Buddhist culture. There is a marked difference between what he described and then what other foreigners described in the 7th and 8th centuries.

Nālandā received royal patronage from even abroad, but why were holy sites not so far away falling into disuse and ruin? Some have suggested that in due time Buddhism effectively became of little use or interest to common people.



Actually it cannot be the case that Buddhism became irrelevant to the common people. This is what Hindu historians and Indians perceive because they themselves have never seen a real Buddhist tradition in India. You see so many Sadhus, Naga Sadhus, Yogis, Tantriks and Faqirs roaming around in the streets of India. They should have been even less relevant to the people, but Indian/Hindu people respect them and worship them. See this is a contradiction here. On the one side there are people who ascribe the Buddhism's lack of anything to offer to the rulers/state as a cause for its decline, and on the other hand you have people who believe Buddhism had nothing to offer to the common people. Neither of these can completely annihilate a religion.

Buddhism did not completely vanish. Most of it was "converted" into Hinduism. Many great pilgrimage site of the modern Hindus like Tirupati, Jaggannath Puri, Amarnath, etc were once prominent Buddhist sites that were taken over by the HIndus and converted into Hindu temples. Some of these were Jain sites. Both Jainism and Buddhism suffered annihilation at the hands of the Brahmins. The only remaining Jains of some regions in Rajasthan survive till today because of patronage by Royal Rajput (Brahma-Kshastra kings) who were of Scythic or Huna origins. And this patronage was because a Jain monk helped in reversing the drought in their kingdom (so says the legend).


Dharmasvamin, a Tibetan Buddhist, visited Bihar in 13th century and noted that some rare Buddhist monks had kept Shiva Linga along side Buddha statues in Bodhgaya so that the Hindus do not harass them. Such was the enmity between Hindus and Buddhists and the harassment that the latter faced from former. In fact, it was only under the British colonial administration that the birth place of Bodhgaya was handed over to Sri Lankan Buddhists from the Hindu Mahants who had converted it into a Hindu temple and conducted Vedic rituals there.


I would advice you to read an article by prominent Indian historian DN Jha called "Looking for a Hindu identity" which is available for free (in pdf form) in the internet. It debunks myths perpetrated by the Hindu nationalists.

Okay, I found the link for you:
http://www.sacw.net/India_History/dnj_Jan06.pdf
User avatar
Rakshasa
 
Posts: 148
Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:29 am

Re: Decline of Buddhism in India

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:48 am

Rakshasa wrote:Actually it cannot be the case that Buddhism became irrelevant to the common people.


It begs the question then why there was a marked decline in Buddhism between the early 5th century when Faxian visited and the 7th century when Xuanzang arrived.

This was probably related to greater pan-Eurasian economic changes that followed the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and by 550 the end of the Gupta Dynasty. As Gregory Schopen has revealed, for the first half of the millennium donative inscriptions in the epigraphical record constantly show that mainstream orders were patronized by prominent laity and royalty, but thereafter there is a decline. There was less physical cash in circulation and presumably disrupted trade routes led to less investment in religious activities.

Again, the ruinous state of Buddhist holy sites in the 7th and 8th centuries also begs the question as to why they were not maintained. Was it hostile territory? Or did the common laity have little interest in such pilgrimage sites?
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5964
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Decline of Buddhism in India

Postby dude » Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:10 pm

I think it's because after the Buddha's passing there was a period when Buddhism spread and developed in the region, then eventually lapsed into formality and lost it purity, its followers compromising with its enemies, and eventually the teaching was lost almost entirely.
dude
 
Posts: 555
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 3:38 am


Return to Exploring Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 12 guests

>