Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India

Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India

Postby Indrajala » Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:49 pm

In Kathmandu I came across this work and am quite pleased I bought it. It is a very well-written academic work detailing the violence employed against Buddhism by Brahmanical schools in ancient India. It isn't light reading, but it is very well researched. He refers to a lot of archaeological data that is perhaps overlooked. He also addresses the bias modern Indologists have in thinking India has always enjoyed religious tolerance, which was fostered early on by 19th century orientalists.

I very much recommend reading this work.

See the following:

http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse. ... Ii/ASANIqA

Title: Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India
Author: Giovanni Verardi
ISBN: 9788173049286
List Price: Rs 1,295.00
First Published: 2011
Pages: 523p.
Edition: Hardbound
URL: http://www.manoharbooks.com/Search.asp? ... 8173049286

Book description

Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India examines the reasons of
the structural subalternity of Indian Buddhism to Brahmanism, and the
mechanisms, characterized by intimidation and violence, which led to
its downfall in India. The analysis focuses on some crucial historical
junctions. The first is the policy of the Guptas, still mistakenly
perceived as favourable, or at least not hostile to the religion of
the Buddhist Dharma. Instead, it is in Gupta times that we witness,
among other things, the destruction of Nagarjunakonda and the
emergence of a married clergy as an alternative to the ancient
renunciate celibate model based on the Vinaya.

The focus then moves on the legal fallout of the doctrinal debates
that, especially after the death of Harṣavardhana, took place between
the Buddhists and the Brahmans. The debates, increasingly conditioned
by the prejudicial theistic stance of Pāśupatas and Bhāgavatas, became
occasions to get rid of the monastic elite. The scenario in which the
repression of the Buddhists and of the social sectors to which they
gave representation took place, is the gradual taking possession by
the Brahmans of the entire agrarian horizon. With the Vajrayāna, seen
as the theoretical and operational answer to the attacks on the
religion, a strict relationship was created between Buddhists, natives
and outcastes, which led to a long, fierce war that characterized the
period from the eighth to the twelfth century. This is most clearly
observable along the fault line, passing approximately along the
Vindhyas, which divided the Brahmanic kingdoms of the Deccan and the
territories controlled by the Buddhists (Magadha, Bengal and upper
Orissa).

Finally, the discussion moves on the game of three that was played
when the Muslims broke onto the scene. When the orthodox realized that
they would have never been able to defeat the invaders and that the
welding between Muslims and Buddhists, already successfully tested in
eighth-century Sind, was resurfacing in the Gangetic India of the
twelfth century, they accepted Muslim rule in exchange for the
extirpation of Buddhism and the repression of the social sectors in
revolt. Contrary to what is usually believed, the great monasteries of
Gangetic India, from Sarnath to Vikramaśīla, from Odantapurī to
Nālandā, were not destroyed by the Muslims, but appropriated and
transformed by the Brahmans with only the occasional intervention of
the Muslim forces.

Sources

The sources resorted to are mostly Brahmanical, and include the
allegorical narrations of the Purāṇas, the poems of the Tamil saints
and other hagiographic material. Medieval iconographies provide us
with a large amount of evidence that only rarely has been evaluated in
its historical and social impact. Relevant archaeological evidence on
the sites of Bodhgaya and Sarnath is discussed in the two appendices.

Contents
Introduction

I. HISTORICAL PARADIGMS
The Paradigm of Discovery
Allegories
Fieldwork
The Worm Within
The Paradigm of Exoticism
The Years of Independence
Another India
Paradigms of Oblivion

II. THE OPEN SOCIETY
Buddhism versus Upaniṣad-s: the Gnostic Perspective
The Freedom of the Indian Ocean
Aśoka or the Chances of Despotism
Kaniṣka and Harṣavardhana
Closing the Society: Violence and New Strategies
Pāṣaṇḍa-s and nāstika-s

III. THE GUPTA SPHINX
Questioning the Sphinx
The Fulfillment of a Duty
Vilification, Responses and the Rift in the New Yāna
The Gods in Arms
A Landscape with Ruins

IV. A PERIOD WHICH IS NOT PLEASANT TO CONTEMPLATE
Preliminary
The Logicians and the Split of the Brāhmaṇavarṇa
The Logic of the Saints
Elephant Hunting and Beheading
Military Training
On the Fault Line: the mahāvrata of the Kāpālikas
The Bhāgavatas and Pāśupatas in Nepal

V. BATTLEFIELDS AND YĀJÑA-S
The Blood of the asura-s
The Massacre of the Kṣatriyas and the Battle of Bodhgayā
On the Fault Line: Bhairava, the Goddess, the yoginī-s
Pacified Kingdoms
A Way Out of the Siege: the Buddhist Reaction

VI. THE DAYS OF RECKONING
The Householder Monks
Social and Sexual Insubordination
Sind as a Test
The Game of the tīrthika-s
The Siṃhala Monks
The Last Buddhist of Orissa and Bengal
Appendix 1 – The Brahmanical Temple of Bodhgayā (F. Barba)
Appendix 2 – Sarnath: a Reassessment of the Archaeological Evidence
with Particular Reference to the Final Phase of the Site
(F. Barba)
Bibliography
Index

The author

The book is the work of Giovanni Verardi, who, as a member of
Is.I.A.O. (Rome), has carried out excavations in Afghanistan, Nepal
and China, as well as extensive surveys and research work in India and
Pakistan. Giovanni Verardi was been professor of Indian Archaeology
and Archaeology of Central Asia at the University of Naples. The
appendices are by Federica Barba, an independent scholar based in
Rome.
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Re: Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India

Postby pueraeternus » Sat Apr 13, 2013 7:46 pm

Fascinating. I am surprised by the "married clergy" part. So I guess the Japanese Buddhist (married) priesthood does have antecedents from ancient India.
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Re: Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India

Postby Indrajala » Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:04 am

pueraeternus wrote:Fascinating. I am surprised by the "married clergy" part. So I guess the Japanese Buddhist (married) priesthood does have antecedents from ancient India.


The same thought occurred to me, too.

However, in Japan it was due to protestant influences. In India perhaps it had a lot to do with brahmanization. They had to adopt a brahman model as monasticism wasn't feasible in many areas it seems (lack of sponsorship).
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Re: Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India

Postby Sherlock » Sun Apr 14, 2013 4:17 am

What a coincidence, I was reading it recently too.

One of the major themes of the book was the Buddhism has always been antinomial with regard to Brahmanical society and laws. Even to its final days in India, the Vajrayana opened wide the doors to outcasts and taught that they too could achieve liberation.
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Re: Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India

Postby Indrajala » Sun Apr 14, 2013 4:24 am

Yes, despite undergoing brahmanization, they still refused to accept a predetermined social order and a creator god. To the Brahmans it seems this was unacceptable. Those who might have veered away from Vedic orthodoxy were still accepted no matter how eccentric they became provided they accepted caste and the Brahmans as the superior class above all others. The collective force of all the anti-Buddhist literature (uncooperative asuras and so forth) meant at some point there was no going back. Buddhism had to be eradicated and it clearly was ... violently.
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Re: Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sun Apr 14, 2013 6:38 am

Huseng wrote:Yes, despite undergoing brahmanization, they still refused to accept a predetermined social order and a creator god. To the Brahmans it seems this was unacceptable. Those who might have veered away from Vedic orthodoxy were still accepted no matter how eccentric they became provided they accepted caste and the Brahmans as the superior class above all others. ... (emphasis added)

:thinking:
I can't think why this doesn't surprise me.
:tongue:

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Re: Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India

Postby Sherlock » Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:11 am

I think the term "antinomian" is somewhat unfortunate.

It characterizes Buddhism as essentially a reaction against the status quo, Brahmanical caste society.

However, if one accepts that the Brahmanical order was not originally dominant in the Central Gangetic region, where Buddhism originated, then the story is quite different: Buddhism represents the fruit of the originally independent "Magadhan" culture which later became dominated by the Brahmans. The influence on tantra from the goddess cults of the north-eastern tribes might also point to such tribes having played a significant part in the make-up of Magadhan culture.
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Re: Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India

Postby plwk » Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:23 am

Well, if one is gonna accept this work, then one can also swallow what the late Ambedkar has been stating all this while in his works like Tirupati Balaji was a Buddhist Shrine
and many more others who affirm similarly... and expect lots of back and forth from the other side too...
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Re: Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India

Postby Indrajala » Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:55 pm

Sherlock wrote:I think the term "antinomian" is somewhat unfortunate.

It characterizes Buddhism as essentially a reaction against the status quo, Brahmanical caste society.

However, if one accepts that the Brahmanical order was not originally dominant in the Central Gangetic region, where Buddhism originated, then the story is quite different: Buddhism represents the fruit of the originally independent "Magadhan" culture which later became dominated by the Brahmans. The influence on tantra from the goddess cults of the north-eastern tribes might also point to such tribes having played a significant part in the make-up of Magadhan culture.


Jayarava have a good article criticizing the underlying assumptions of Bronkhorst's model of early Buddhism:

http://jayarava.blogspot.com/2012/07/re ... gadha.html
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Re: Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India

Postby Sherlock » Sat Mar 01, 2014 11:28 am

Indrajala wrote:
Sherlock wrote:I think the term "antinomian" is somewhat unfortunate.

It characterizes Buddhism as essentially a reaction against the status quo, Brahmanical caste society.

However, if one accepts that the Brahmanical order was not originally dominant in the Central Gangetic region, where Buddhism originated, then the story is quite different: Buddhism represents the fruit of the originally independent "Magadhan" culture which later became dominated by the Brahmans. The influence on tantra from the goddess cults of the north-eastern tribes might also point to such tribes having played a significant part in the make-up of Magadhan culture.


Jayarava have a good article criticizing the underlying assumptions of Bronkhorst's model of early Buddhism:

http://jayarava.blogspot.com/2012/07/re ... gadha.html


His criticisms don't really invalidate Samuel, whose approach to the two cultural complexes (whose existences are acknowledged by Jayarava too) comes from quite a different perspective.

Samuel clearly does talk about the different types of Brahmins for example, and he does acknowledge that some of the Upanishads' ideas were circulating before the Buddha's time.
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Re: Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India

Postby theanarchist » Sun Mar 02, 2014 1:22 am

Indrajala wrote:Those who might have veered away from Vedic orthodoxy were still accepted no matter how eccentric they became .



That sounds so familiar.... Seems to be a worldwide phenomenon that ruling classes strive to eradicate everyone who threatens the status quo. Frankly, humanity is disgusting.
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Re: Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India

Postby Malcolm » Sun Mar 02, 2014 5:26 pm

theanarchist wrote:
Indrajala wrote:Those who might have veered away from Vedic orthodoxy were still accepted no matter how eccentric they became .



That sounds so familiar.... Seems to be a worldwide phenomenon that ruling classes strive to eradicate everyone who threatens the status quo. Frankly, humanity is disgusting.


You need to study karma.
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there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

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Re: Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India

Postby theanarchist » Sun Mar 02, 2014 5:47 pm

Malcolm wrote:
theanarchist wrote:
Indrajala wrote:Those who might have veered away from Vedic orthodoxy were still accepted no matter how eccentric they became .



That sounds so familiar.... Seems to be a worldwide phenomenon that ruling classes strive to eradicate everyone who threatens the status quo. Frankly, humanity is disgusting.


You need to study karma.



I don't know, history shows that as soon as one ruling class is removed (for example by revolution) another ruling class comes into power and the whole game starts over. So my theory is that a vast majority of humans have this tendency at least to some degree if they are put into this position and that it has genetic reasons. Like for example chimpanzees, our closest relatvies as well as many other primates have also very elaborate power structures in their groups and power struggles that very much resemble human societies, complete with wars against enemy groups, suppressing the weak and outsiders, bullying, suppressing females, whereas bonobos are naturally much less prone to this sort of behaviour.

So, yes, it definitely depends on your karma if you become victim of these structures or not but it's not "karma" that Homo sapiens as a species developed this trait through evolution and it is genetically fixed in their brain structure.
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Re: Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India

Postby Malcolm » Sun Mar 02, 2014 6:04 pm

theanarchist wrote:

I don't know, history shows that as soon as one ruling class is removed (for example by revolution) another ruling class comes into power and the whole game starts over.


Yes, because of the karma of some people to be in power, others to be in service, some poor, some wealthy and so on.


So, yes, it definitely depends on your karma if you become victim of these structures or not but it's not "karma" that Homo sapiens as a species developed this trait through evolution and it is genetically fixed in their brain structure.


When considering karma, there are no "victims". And yes, it is a result of karma that human beings developed all traits they bear.
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Re: Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India

Postby theanarchist » Sun Mar 02, 2014 6:29 pm

Malcolm wrote:When considering karma, there are no "victims". And yes, it is a result of karma that human beings developed all traits they bear.



There are definitely victims. Or do you want to say that for example if a child suffers sexual abuse, it isn't a victim? That it has carmic causes doesn't change that at that moment it is in the prosition of the victim.


These traits developed long before humans became humans. It developed when our ancestors were still apes, animals, millions and millions of years ago and apparenlty at that time it had some kind of evolutional advantage..

I personally believe that first this constellation came into being through evolution/circumstances and only in the second step the "birth slots" that were offered by this evolutionarily selected apes/humans attracted beings with a karmic tencendy for those deeds.
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Re: Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India

Postby theanarchist » Sun Mar 02, 2014 6:42 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Yes, because of the karma of some people to be in power, others to be in service, some poor, some wealthy and so on. .



That's not the point. If you give everyone and every group in this society a term "in power" and rule, EVERY one of these will show the same traits. There were even psychological experiments done to see how humans react if they are in power vs others are not and as I understand it these experiements had to be stopped because every time the "ruling" group went completely beserk on the non ruling group. There were experiments done to see how eager people are to torture other humans with electrical shocks (with an actor playing the electrocuted person) and nearly all participants were quite willing to comply, up to "killing" the other person when a "scientist" (also an actor) told them that it was okay and he was supposed to do it.
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