Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

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Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby Sherlock » Sat Apr 20, 2013 6:02 am

(I use the term bourgeois in the following sense:
1.A.1 orig. A (French) citizen or freeman of a city or burgh, as distinguished from a peasant on the one hand, and a gentleman on the other; now often taken as the type of the mercantile or shopkeeping middle class of any country. Also fem. bourgeoise, a Frenchwoman of the middle class.
)

From its early history, Buddhism has been extensively dependent on urban bourgeoisie (tradesmen, merchants, etc) who donate to a monastic sangha. It faced competition from Brahmans (who depended more on rural economies), and periods of incline and decline correlate well with the extent of trade and hence urban development. It was only later on with increasing numbers of "householder monks" (laypeople who might have a family and a job but also perform religious services) that Buddhism pushed back, but it was too late for Buddhism in India in the end,facing aggression from Brahmans and Muslims. The phenomenon of householder monks in itself was a sign that Buddhism had become a civil religion (which isn't a criticism). I wouldn't count ngakpas as householder monks since they perform religious services full-time, although that may be how they got started.

I don't know much about Buddhism in China, but it seems like after the Song, with the last wave of translations, Buddhism became rather marginal.

It seems to me that Buddhism is once more following the same pattern. From the middle of the 20th century, Buddhism spread fairly widely amongst the developed Western world -- mostly among the same demographics as in India of the past: the bourgeoisie. As long as the Western world enjoyed prosperity and growth, Buddhism would ride the wave along with it. This came to an end recently, as a previous post about Google search terms and references in books shows. The Western world has been experiencing economic contraction, the bourgeoisie is shrinking, and interest in Buddhism is likewise declining. We have some "householder monks" in the sense of laypeople with jobs teaching some (mostly basic) things but this is still quite limited.

In light of future economic contraction, I find this slightly worrying. IMO, Buddhism should seek to adopt different models capable of survival without a bourgeoisie. We can look to the example of how Buddhism rebuilt itself in Tibet after the "dark ages", or how it is practised in contemporary parts of Greater Tibet (Ladakh to Sikkim). The example of the Catholic church in Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire might also be illuminative.
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby Indrajala » Sat Apr 20, 2013 6:18 am

Sherlock wrote:From its early history, Buddhism has been extensively dependent on urban bourgeoisie (tradesmen, merchants, etc) who donate to a monastic sangha.



Part of the reason for this in India and elsewhere (especially China) was that Buddhist institutions provided banking services and storage facilities. As a social movement, as well, Buddhism was antinomian, which meant it didn't accept absolute moral law, let alone a predetermined social hierarchy. In the caste system this would have been appealing to merchants and tradesmen whose social status was beneath that of brahmans despite having greater access to production facilities and wealth. The Vedic system effectively diminished the status and applicability of the merchant classes primarily because it prescribes a predetermined agrarian society.

In other words, the merchants had a lot to lose if they supported the orthodox Vedic social systems. On the other hand Jainism and Buddhism alike provided an alternative social arrangement which was fine with merchants plying their trade and even encouraged it. Buddhism was heavily tied in with urban culture, which again from the brahman's perspective was untamed, unorthodox and adharmic.




I don't know much about Buddhism in China, but it seems like after the Song, with the last wave of translations, Buddhism became rather marginal.


No, that's not true. It never became marginal until the communists took over, and even then arguably it survived although it took a big hit.




As long as the Western world enjoyed prosperity and growth, Buddhism would ride the wave along with it. This came to an end recently, as a previous post about Google search terms and references in books shows. The Western world has been experiencing economic contraction, the bourgeoisie is shrinking, and interest in Buddhism is likewise declining. We have some "householder monks" in the sense of laypeople with jobs teaching some (mostly basic) things but this is still quite limited.


Interesting observation.

I've noticed the same thing in Taiwan. Their giant Buddhist organizations had their boom times riding the coattails of Taiwan's economic success. They also enjoyed the prosperity of Hong Kong and Singapore as well. Their operations are energy and capital intensive, which was only made possible through economic prosperity (much of it as result of questionable capitalist behaviour what with environmental destruction and labour exploitation in much of Asia). The fruit of it all was Humanistic Buddhism, which seems to work well on paper during good times, but we'll see if it holds any water under stress.
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby plwk » Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:00 am

Same old ancient issue... when the rice bowl is empty, virtue starts taking a hike elsewhere for some...
Who isn't a Bodhisattva when the tummy is full or when the sun is shining?

Reminds me of what Confucius asked in the Analects
子曰。人而不仁、如禮何。人而不仁、如樂何
The Master said: “If a man has no ren what can his propriety be like? If a man has no ren what can his music be like?”
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby dzogchungpa » Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:39 pm

plwk wrote:Who isn't a Bodhisattva when the tummy is full or when the sun is shining?

I have seen many well fed people on whom the sun is shining who are quite far from being bodhisattvas.
ཨོཾ་མ་ཧཱ་ཤུནྱ་ཏཱ་ཛྙཱ་ན་བཛྲ་སྭཱ་བྷཱ་བ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔

The thousands of lines of the Prajnaparamita can be summed up in the following two sentences:
1) One should become a Bodhisattva (or, Buddha-to-be), i.e. one who is content with nothing less than all-knowledge attained through the perfection of wisdom for the sake of all beings.
2) There is no such thing as a Bodhisattva, or as all-knowledge, or as a ‘being’, or as the perfection of wisdom, or as an attainment.
To accept both these contradictory facts is to be perfect.
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby Karma Dorje » Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:44 pm

Huseng wrote:Part of the reason for this in India and elsewhere (especially China) was that Buddhist institutions provided banking services and storage facilities. As a social movement, as well, Buddhism was antinomian, which meant it didn't accept absolute moral law, let alone a predetermined social hierarchy. In the caste system this would have been appealing to merchants and tradesmen whose social status was beneath that of brahmans despite having greater access to production facilities and wealth. The Vedic system effectively diminished the status and applicability of the merchant classes primarily because it prescribes a predetermined agrarian society.

In other words, the merchants had a lot to lose if they supported the orthodox Vedic social systems. On the other hand Jainism and Buddhism alike provided an alternative social arrangement which was fine with merchants plying their trade and even encouraged it. Buddhism was heavily tied in with urban culture, which again from the brahman's perspective was untamed, unorthodox and adharmic.


It is a misrepresentation to treat varna as a simple hierarchy in anything but the last hundred or so years. While brahmins were devoted to spiritual practice, ksatriyas to rulership and vaishyas to business, they were all twice-born. Vaishyas had far less restrictive ethical codes to fulfill than brahmins. I doubt you would find too many vaishyas that wished that they had the same requirements of worship and study that brahmins had and it is anachronistic to suggest that the current degraded state of the varna system prevailed then. The vaishya were an intrinsic part of the Vedic system and highly regarded, or else they would not have been considered twice-born.

Imagine that, a system where scholars and priests were the most highly regarded! It's certainly preferable to our current rule by merchants.
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby Indrajala » Sun Apr 21, 2013 5:12 am

Karma Dorje wrote:The vaishya were an intrinsic part of the Vedic system and highly regarded, or else they would not have been considered twice-born.

Imagine that, a system where scholars and priests were the most highly regarded! It's certainly preferable to our current rule by merchants.


Clearly the merchants throughout Indian history didn't feel this way and hence sided with the Buddhists or Jains in many cases.

In the Vedic system brahmans are supposed to get special perks like grants of tax-free land and cattle. In the Gupta period especially there were reforms aimed at disenfranchising the middle classes and putting them under the direct control of landed brahmans.

The Vedic system favoured agrarian models while the Buddhist system favoured urbanized cultures. What this meant was that merchants and tradesmen had a lot to lose if brahmans exercised control over society.

This difference eventually led to conflict, which in turn entailed violence and religiously sanctioned murder of Buddhists among other heretical schools of thought in ancient India.

Later on we see this expressed in art. For example, see here an image of Cāmuṇḍā sitting atop a dead Buddha with various severed limbs and heads below placed in a ritual vessel. The dead Buddha is naked because he is without the Vedas. The goddess is clearly triumphant over the Buddhists.

Image

The scene depicted here is not symbolic. This sort of thing really did happen. The murderous goddess and her acts of violence here were acted out in ritual theatre with the slaying of real people. In other pieces you see a god or goddess dancing atop the severed heads of Buddhist monks, so we can assume executions were carried out against monks as a means of purging Buddhism from the land.

This actually stems from a cult movement aimed at eradicating Buddhism and other heterodox schools which rejected the Vedas. From another perspective, however, it actually reveals a conflict between two competing models of society. One which was agrarian with strict predetermined hierarchy and absolute ethics (the Vedic model) and another which was urban and antinomian (the Buddhist system). It would seem, in my estimation, the brahmans were fine with this though they might not have directly participated. The Kāpālika school might have been disdained by the Vedic elites, but they were still useful in achieving political goals and eliminating opponents to their hegemony.

Pressure on the brahmanic kingdoms in the west due to Islam had pressed their societies to actively persecute the remaining Buddhist cultures in Bengal and Orissa which rejected Vedic authority, thus disempowering the brahmans, though prior to this there were ongoing issues between them and Buddhists.

Also, we really don't have merchants running things, but financiers and bankers who create hallucinated wealth and use it for their own purposes. Merchants buy and sell actual goods that physically exist, which is a legitimate profession and quite useful, too.

In any case, you should reconsider your support for a system which even at the orthodox level condones animal sacrifices. One famous rite for example calls for the sacrifice of a horse in conjunction with securing one's kingship. The latter developments that stem from the Vedic tradition(s) became increasingly violent, intolerant and hate-filled, especially towards antinomian śramaṇas. You still see vestiges of this today amongst some contemporary Hindus.
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby Sherlock » Sun Apr 21, 2013 6:06 am

It should be noted that the whole idea of the Brahmans being at the top of society was an idea promoted by the Brahmans themselves. In the Buddha's time, the Kshatriyas were the rulers and in social terms, the top dogs, as you can see in the Ambattha Sutta, even then the Brahmans were starting to oppose that with proclamations of their own supremacy. The Buddhist Library site seems to be down for now so I can't quote the exact line, but I remember Rhys-David noting that the verse the Buddha cites in view that socially, the Kshatriyas were the "best of men" had a parallel in the Mahabharata (or another Brahmanic text) that had the Brahmans on top.

In the Buddhist mode of society, the Vaishyas weren't the rulers, the Kshatriyas were, and throughout Indian history, we have many examples of Kshatriya kings who patronized Buddhism or who even held on to it even when it was dying out. In the end the Brahmans even engaged in military training and supplanted the Kshatriyas in some cases or promoted some lower caste individuals under their influence to Kshatriya rank to rule for them.

I think it might not be inaccurate to say that the varna system only truly solidified with the death of Indian Buddhism. As a response to British colonialism, there was a move in Indian history to present a united India with a history of religious harmony; the actual reality was quite different.
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby Indrajala » Sun Apr 21, 2013 6:28 am

Sherlock wrote:It should be noted that the whole idea of the Brahmans being at the top of society was an idea promoted by the Brahmans themselves.


If Bronkhorst is right, then early Buddhism was in cultural environment that was basically non-brahmanistic. They were aware of who the Brahmans were, but they didn't wield any significant spiritual or social power yet. That came later on.


In the Buddha's time, the Kshatriyas were the rulers and in social terms, the top dogs, as you can see in the Ambattha Sutta, even then the Brahmans were starting to oppose that with proclamations of their own supremacy.


There were plenty of kṣatriya kings later on who sided with the Buddhists and in time were dispatched. It was to their advantage because the alternative was being basically a tenant king to the Brahmans with little real authority over the realm. If there existed a strong urban culture with plenty of trade they could exercise authority by means of acquiring taxes and being in a position to call the shots. However, if the land was all owned by brahmans who lived tax-free and commanded great spiritual authority, then they were effectively powerless.

The truth is organized religion, economics and politics all go hand-in-hand.
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby Karma Dorje » Sun Apr 21, 2013 6:48 am

Huseng wrote:Clearly the merchants throughout Indian history didn't feel this way and hence sided with the Buddhists or Jains in many cases.


Please provide sources for this assertion that merchants sided with the Buddhists or Jains because they felt shortchanged rather than because they were attracted to the message.

Huseng wrote:In the Vedic system brahmans are supposed to get special perks like grants of tax-free land and cattle. In the Gupta period especially there were reforms aimed at disenfranchising the middle classes and putting them under the direct control of landed brahmans.


Don't be silly. The Guptas were famously vaishya. Also, Nalanda University was likely founded by Shakraditya. It was a golden age for all forms of sanatanadharma.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gupta_Empire

Huseng wrote:The Vedic system favoured agrarian models while the Buddhist system favoured urbanized cultures. What this meant was that merchants and tradesmen had a lot to lose if brahmans exercised control over society.


That's a bold assertion. Where is the evidence?

Huseng wrote:This difference eventually led to conflict, which in turn entailed violence and religiously sanctioned murder of Buddhists among other heretical schools of thought in ancient India.


By the brahmins? Again, please provide evidence. Nalanda was not sacked by Hindus, but by the Khilji from Afghanistan.

Huseng wrote:Later on we see this expressed in art. For example, see here an image of Cāmuṇḍā sitting atop a dead Buddha with various severed limbs and heads below placed in a ritual vessel. The dead Buddha is naked because he is without the Vedas. The goddess is clearly triumphant over the Buddhists. The scene depicted here is not symbolic. This sort of thing really did happen. The murderous goddess and her acts of violence here were acted out in ritual theatre with the slaying of real people. In other pieces you see a god or goddess dancing atop the severed heads of Buddhist monks, so we can assume executions were carried out against monks as a means of purging Buddhism from the land.

This actually stems from a cult movement aimed at eradicating Buddhism and other heterodox schools which rejected the Vedas. From another perspective, however, it actually reveals a conflict between two competing models of society. One which was agrarian with strict predetermined hierarchy and absolute ethics (the Vedic model) and another which was urban and antinomian (the Buddhist system). It would seem, in my estimation, the brahmans were fine with this though they might not have directly participated. The Kāpālika school might have been disdained by the Vedic elites, but they were still useful in achieving political goals and eliminating opponents to their hegemony.


I am sorry Huseng, but you really are really sewing this out of whole cloth. Camunda sits on a corpse. Not on the corpse of a Buddha, a buddhist or a buddhist devata. There is very precise symbolic meaning to this as detailed in the Devi Mahatyam and its angas. It doesn't even have the same meaning as the seats of Heruka, Kalachakra, etc. which are all Hindu deities (yet even in a Buddhist context this doesn't represent that the Buddhist deities are crushing them or triumphant over them as deities, per se). You are going to have to present something beyond your own fancy to substantiate such a wild claim.

I think you watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom one too many times. The Kapalikas were tremendously influential on Buddhist tantra, and heavily influenced by Buddhist yogins in term. This has been endlessly detailed in the works of Alexis Sanderson, Ronald Davison, David Lorenzen, David Gray, etc. I think you are conflating them with the Thuggee, and there is no evidence that they particularly targeted buddhists nor were populous in the time that Buddhism declined in India. It was the Muslim incursion into India that destroyed the main seats of learning, and the renaissance that followed Adi Shankara that led to Buddhism's demise in the north of India.

Huseng wrote:In any case, you should reconsider your support for a system which even at the orthodox level condones animal sacrifices. One famous rite for example calls for the sacrifice of a horse in conjunction with securing one's kingship. The latter developments that stem from the Vedic tradition(s) became increasingly violent, intolerant and hate-filled, especially towards antinomian śramaṇas. You still see vestiges of this today amongst some contemporary Hindus.


I am not sure why you are so fascinated with a ritual that hasn't been performed in 300 odd years. The horse sacrifice is rather more complicated than you describe. It involves the establishing of empires, and in the general conduct of kingship and war where tens of thousands die I scarcely think a horse, a dog and some goats merits much additional mention. Hindu theory and praxis are not monolithic. There is a plethora of viewpoints within them and vedic animal sacrifices are not intrinsic to all by any means. In fact most Hindus find animal sacrifice to be a violation of ahimsa and don't support it. In the Vedas, these sacrifices are all kamya (to obtain specific desires) and are not necessary. Instead of animals, coconuts or other fruit are offered and animal sacrifice is interpreted symbolically.
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby Indrajala » Sun Apr 21, 2013 11:35 am

Karma Dorje wrote:Please provide sources for this assertion that merchants sided with the Buddhists or Jains because they felt shortchanged rather than because they were attracted to the message.


A good work that goes into the details of this is Giovanni Virardi's recent work Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India.

The urban merchant classes had little to gain by supporting the brahman elites, especially when they sought a different model of society at odds with what the middle classes enjoyed. This helps to explain why Buddhism went into decline whenever the economic machinery of Eurasia broke down (like in the third century with plague in the Roman Empire and the collapse of the Han Dynasty in China). If it was the landed farmers and their overseers who supported Buddhism this wouldn't have happened. No, it was the merchant and tradesmen who formed the primary class of benefactors. This is especially see outside India in Central Asia.




Don't be silly. The Guptas were famously vaishya. Also, Nalanda University was likely founded by Shakraditya. It was a golden age for all forms of sanatanadharma.


Again, Virardi calls this into question.

He dates the Arthaśāstra to the Gupta period and shows how the rules against feeding śramaṇas on special functions shows a kind of intolerance for śramaṇic religions like Buddhism.

The land transfers given to brahmans and their tax-free income was a strategy which helped cope with declining trade following the collapse of the Roman Empire. There was less coinage available in circulation after awhile.

That being said, some of the aristocracy might have supported Buddhism, but the dynasty itself was pro-Brahman overall. After the Gupta period we see increasingly hostile rhetoric aimed at Buddhists, referring to them as asuras. The artwork usually depicts them as characteristically Buddhist-looking.




That's a bold assertion. Where is the evidence?


It is quite logical if you consider the fact that political and economic power vested in the hands of untaxed Brahmans in the countryside outside the urban sphere was not good for largely urban merchants.

The early kaliyuga literature speaks of these money makers and their ilk, too. There were clearly competing systems. As a merchant would you want to subscribe to a religious worldview that classifies you and your activities as disagreeable?







By the brahmins? Again, please provide evidence. Nalanda was not sacked by Hindus, but by the Khilji from Afghanistan.


No, but Sarnath was destroyed several times before it was finally sacked for good.

Guess who did it?




Camunda sits on a corpse. Not on the corpse of a Buddha, a buddhist or a buddhist devata.


You need to look into the details of this. There are other specimens where clearly the dead corpse has the features often given to a Buddha image. This one likewise has the same features.

The reason they are naked is because they are without the Vedas. So, this isn't a Jain monk.


You are going to have to present something beyond your own fancy to substantiate such a wild claim.


Historical art analysis is where I got my information from. Again, see Virardi's work and his cited sources in the relevant chapter.


I think you watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom one too many times.


Let's not get personal.



The Kapalikas were tremendously influential on Buddhist tantra, and heavily influenced by Buddhist yogins in term.


It doesn't negate the fact some of them were useful for political ends and eliminating opponents.


It was the Muslim incursion into India that destroyed the main seats of learning, and the renaissance that followed Adi Shankara that led to Buddhism's demise in the north of India.


Yes, they hammered the last nails into the coffin, but before that sites like Sarnath and others were destroyed and rebuilt several times. Buddhists came to be known as atheist heretics spreading poisonous lies and violence was exercised against them. This is especially evident when you look at the relevant period literature which depicts them as asuras and whatnot. Later on they have the outcastes on their side, too.

Also, why exactly did a place like Nalanda have fortifications? It was to defend itself against hostile forces.

I am not sure why you are so fascinated with a ritual that hasn't been performed in 300 odd years.


Animal sacrifice was a part of various Vedic schools. The same with Confucianism. It is in their texts. If people don't do it anymore, it still nevertheless prescribes such activities as necessary and just.

There is a plethora of viewpoints within them and vedic animal sacrifices are not intrinsic to all by any means. In fact most Hindus find animal sacrifice to be a violation of ahimsa and don't support it. In the Vedas, these sacrifices are all kamya (to obtain specific desires) and are not necessary. Instead of animals, coconuts or other fruit are offered and animal sacrifice is interpreted symbolically.


I'm talking about how things existed historically -- before "Hinduism" came to exist. The ideas you outline here didn't exist in the ancient period. The texts and practices clearly called for animals to be sacrificed. Likewise Confucians used to sacrifice animals, but don't anymore. I'm not sure if the Qing Emperors were into the custom or not, but nevertheless their texts call for it. Modern values might mean they don't do it (for now).
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby seeker242 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 11:49 am

Are Google search terms and book show references really an accurate way to determine the growth or decline of a religion?
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby Karma Dorje » Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:20 pm

Indrajala wrote:A good work that goes into the details of this is Giovanni Virardi's recent work Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India.


Your post is riddled with such bizarre assertions I scarcely know where to start. I know you mean well, but I think it is dangerous to base one's ideas on a single scholar's viewpoint. Is it all based on Virardi's work? I don't have access to it, can you provide another more readily available source? Have you read his supporting sources?

Indrajala wrote:That being said, some of the aristocracy might have supported Buddhism, but the dynasty itself was pro-Brahman overall. After the Gupta period we see increasingly hostile rhetoric aimed at Buddhists, referring to them as asuras. The artwork usually depicts them as characteristically Buddhist-looking.


Where are Buddhists ever referred to as asuras? Do you mean the myth from the Bhagavata Purana that Buddha was an avatar of Vishnu sent to mislead asuras away from the vedic path? At the same time as this, there are competing myths of his purpose, such as from the Gita Govinda of Jayadeva,

O Keshava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of Buddha! All glories to you! O Buddha of compassionate heart, you decry the slaughtering of poor animals performed according to the rules of Vedic sacrifice.


I can't recall a single author that has equated Buddhists with asuras, outside of this one reference in the BhP. Can you please give some corroborating sources? As to them being "Buddhist looking", I can't think of any asuras that appear with shaved head and the robes of a bhikshu. Not a single one. Perhaps you can share?

Indrajala wrote:It is quite logical if you consider the fact that political and economic power vested in the hands of untaxed Brahmans in the countryside outside the urban sphere was not good for largely urban merchants.

The early kaliyuga literature speaks of these money makers and their ilk, too. There were clearly competing systems. As a merchant would you want to subscribe to a religious worldview that classifies you and your activities as disagreeable?


Political power was not vested in the Brahmins. It was vested in the Kshatriya. The Vaishyas' activities were certainly *not* viewed as disagreeable, they were focused on artha out of the four aims of life. Please give me a source for this assertion. These varnas were parts of a whole. There were tensions when the varnas left their traditional role (see Parashurama's war with the brahmins). These do not indicate competing systems.

Indrajala wrote:No, but Sarnath was destroyed several times before it was finally sacked for good.

Guess who did it?


No need to guess. Qutb-ud-din Aibak.

indrajala wrote:You need to look into the details of this. There are other specimens where clearly the dead corpse has the features often given to a Buddha image. This one likewise has the same features.

The reason they are naked is because they are without the Vedas. So, this isn't a Jain monk.


There is no precedent for this interpretation in the tradition. The word for this, "digambara", or "clad in the sky", is the very name of one of the Jain sects. However, digambara is also one of the epithets of Shiva. This corpse is Shiva, or the unchanging witness of the play of Camunda. He is naked, meaning "without elaboration".

http://books.google.ca/books?id=DbxE8zOuRbUC&lpg=PA423&ots=oAL0EMhbtC&dq=camunda%20buddhist&pg=PA423#v=onepage&q=camunda%20buddhist&f=false

Indrajala wrote:Historical art analysis is where I got my information from. Again, see Virardi's work and his cited sources in the relevant chapter.


Perhaps you can cite the sources, given that Virardi's book is not readily available to most of us. Hysterical art analysis is a better description of what you have described. By the same fatuous argument, it looks like the worshippers of Heruka and Vajrayogini must have been out slaughtering Shaivas.

Indrajala wrote:
I think you watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom one too many times.


Let's not get personal.


Nothing personal intended. The Thuggee as lampooned in the Temple of Doom were who you were referring to, not the Kapalika and they had nothing to do with the disappearance of Buddhism on the subcontinent.

Indrajala wrote:
The Kapalikas were tremendously influential on Buddhist tantra, and heavily influenced by Buddhist yogins in term.


It doesn't negate the fact some of them were useful for political ends and eliminating opponents.


The Kapalikas were not murderers nor were they politically partisan. See Lorenzen's work on how they drew patrons from Hindu, Buddhist and Jain communities.

Indrajala wrote:
It was the Muslim incursion into India that destroyed the main seats of learning, and the renaissance that followed Adi Shankara that led to Buddhism's demise in the north of India.


Yes, they hammered the last nails into the coffin, but before that sites like Sarnath and others were destroyed and rebuilt several times. Buddhists came to be known as atheist heretics spreading poisonous lies and violence was exercised against them. This is especially evident when you look at the relevant period literature which depicts them as asuras and whatnot. Later on they have the outcastes on their side, too.


This is philology of the worst kind. There is nothing in the historical record to support what is claimed. Buddhism flourished up until the Muslim invasions of the 12th-13th centuries. Have you read the puranas? Please show me where the evidence is of the sort of pogrom you are suggesting took place.

Indrajala wrote:Animal sacrifice was a part of various Vedic schools. The same with Confucianism. It is in their texts. If people don't do it anymore, it still nevertheless prescribes such activities as necessary and just.


As I said in my last post, such activities are kamya not nitya. They are optional, not necessary. As much as I dislike animal sacrifice myself, many Buddhist nations eat meat. Only those that completely reject meat eating should have anything to say about animal sacrifice, given that the animal is eaten after the sacrifice.

Indrajala wrote:I'm talking about how things existed historically -- before "Hinduism" came to exist. The ideas you outline here didn't exist in the ancient period. The texts and practices clearly called for animals to be sacrificed. Likewise Confucians used to sacrifice animals, but don't anymore. I'm not sure if the Qing Emperors were into the custom or not, but nevertheless their texts call for it. Modern values might mean they don't do it (for now).


The ideas I outline certainly existed in the period we are discussing (700 CE-1300 CE). Adi Shankara rejected animal sacrifice, whatever date we ascribe to him. Vaishnavism has always been against animal sacrifice.
This isn't about "modern values". This is about having some familiarity with the topic you are discussing before building a polemic based on the eccentric work of a single academic.
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby Indrajala » Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:43 am

Karma Dorje wrote:I don't have access to it, can you provide another more readily available source?


That you don't have access to Virardi's work isn't my problem. I'm not going to cite Wikipedia in this discussion. Where are your sources, anyhow? I've at least cited one scholar and presented a period specimen from the art record. If this was an academic discussion I could write a paper supporting my assertions, but it isn't. We're discussing a topic in a very loose and informal way.

All you're doing is asking questions aggressively and dismissing what I have to say as if I'm contradicting common sense. Your insulting remarks don't add any weight to your opinions. Your own views seem to reflect the mainstream of modern Indology. However, there has been for the last century or so a prejudiced view on the part of Indologists, both Indian or otherwise, who believe that ancient India always maintained a kind of environment of religious harmony and tolerance. This was particularly popular with orientalists like Muller. Nationalists found this a useful way to distance and distinguish themselves from the "intolerance" of western civilization.

Some scholars like Thapar and Virardi have recognized this and are trying to move the field into a less-biased direction. The history of Indian historiography is in itself a challenge to nationalistic and even Hindu-tva common sense, but nevertheless Indology is heavily prejudiced.

Some of the early scholars like Cunningham recognized that violence was committed against the Buddhists long before the Muslims, but this was latter dismissed along with many of the findings and opinions deemed as "colonialist". It was Cunningham for instance who recognized that Sarnath had been destroyed and many persons killed there with some architectural reworking. For instance, the top dome of a stupa being repositioned for a new building. If it was not brahmans in pre-Muslim India who destroyed Sarnath and burnt to death some of the inhabitants, then who was it?



Where are Buddhists ever referred to as asuras?


Do you know what the deva-asura wars actually signify?



I can't recall a single author that has equated Buddhists with asuras, outside of this one reference in the BhP. Can you please give some corroborating sources? As to them being "Buddhist looking", I can't think of any asuras that appear with shaved head and the robes of a bhikshu. Not a single one. Perhaps you can share?


No, but they often have elongated ears and a hairstyle not unlike how the Buddha is portrayed with.

Moreover, the later artwork there is the common theme of lions versus elephants. The elephant signify the Buddhists. This is why some brahmanical deities wear an elephant skin.



Political power was not vested in the Brahmins. It was vested in the Kshatriya.


They were expected to support and uphold the religious authority of the brahmans, give them cattle and tax-free land. They were merely attendants to the real authority in many cases. Some kings of course favoured Buddhists and trade, which undermined the economic base of brahman elites. A king without a tax base




...These do not indicate competing systems.


Sure they do. Virardi skilfully demonstrates this. Read his work.



No need to guess. Qutb-ud-din Aibak.


As I said, it was destroyed a few times BEFORE the Muslims ever showed up. Cunningham himself noted this.


There is no precedent for this interpretation in the tradition. The word for this, "digambara", or "clad in the sky", is the very name of one of the Jain sects.


That doesn't apply here. The victim is portrayed naked as he is without the Vedas.



Nothing personal intended. The Thuggee as lampooned in the Temple of Doom were who you were referring to, not the Kapalika and they had nothing to do with the disappearance of Buddhism on the subcontinent.


How can you insist that I was getting my ideas from a Hollywood film? This is a slanderous attempt to defame me and make me look silly.
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby jeeprs » Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:44 am

I wonder if it is relevant that the central figure of the Vimalakirti sutra is a wealthy householder who is a silk-trader. Actually, come to think of it, there is an obvious connection between that idea and the fact that Buddhism spread via the Silk Road. Are there any sources on that idea? That actually ties in with the idea that one of the reasons the Mahayana spread in the first place was because it was more accomodating to lay-practitioners and householders.
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby Simon E. » Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:00 am

Oh what a tangled web we weave when we apply modern political models to ancient social processes.
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby Indrajala » Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:02 am

jeeprs wrote:I wonder if it is relevant that the central figure of the Vimalakirti sutra is a wealthy householder who is a silk-trader. Actually, come to think of it, there is an obvious connection between that idea and the fact that Buddhism spread via the Silk Road. Are there any sources on that idea? That actually ties in with the idea that one of the reasons the Mahayana spread in the first place was because it was more accomodating to lay-practitioners and householders.


Merchants, I think, often liked Buddhism because they could both sponsor it and participate in ways they couldn't under Brahmanism. The latter would preclude the possibility of them becoming adepts and worthy of respect, whereas in Buddhism if they or their children entered the sangha they were, at least in theory, on equal footing with others. There was no divinely predetermined social order and holy men could be of any background.

Convert brahmans of course had preferential status in India given their fluency in Sanskrit, though in places like in Central Asia and elsewhere this wasn't the case.

In the archaeological record we see that Buddhism rises and falls in India alongside economic booms and busts.

Burjor Avari notes, “The fall of the Western Roman Empire and the disappearance of the flourishing trade with Rome meant a certain definite decline from the end of the fourth century in the value and volume of Indian international trade. One indicator of this was the paucity of metallic money from the late Gupta period onwards.”

Also, Gregory Schopen has revealed that 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 then they start rapidly declining. The links between the collapse of the cash economy and patronage for Buddhism are more or less clear enough.

In the 3rd century as well there was a sudden decline in Buddhist image making in the archaeological record -- we only need to keep in mind the plague in the Roman Empire and the collapse of the Han Dynasty to understand perhaps why this was. Buddhism depended on urban based trade and with such activities suddenly waning the machinery which supported Buddhist institutions basically ran out of fuel. It picked up again later on, but again as Virardi shows Buddhism's fortunes ran alongside times of economic prosperity.

In other words, merchants were a vital component to the Buddhist project.

Incidentally, the final collapse of the Gāndhāra Buddhist community happened in a few short decades, at which time trade networks shifted westwards to what is now Afghanistan. It seems the royalty there, in line with the Gupta model which favoured Brahmanism, became zealots and both the Buddhists and their associated merchants packed up and left.
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby jeeprs » Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:31 am

...and Vimalakirti was a trader who had bested all the great Bodhisattvas in debate. Only Majusri agreed to discuss with him. Eloquent testimony to the notion of Buddhist teaching appealing, if not to the Bourgoiuse, which really belongs to another historical epoch, but to an emerging urban class.
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby Karma Dorje » Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:25 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote:That you don't have access to Virardi's work isn't my problem. I'm not going to cite Wikipedia in this discussion. Where are your sources, anyhow? I've at least cited one scholar and presented a period specimen from the art record. If this was an academic discussion I could write a paper supporting my assertions, but it isn't. We're discussing a topic in a very loose and informal way.


Yes, but you are the one making outlandish claims and sourcing them from a single academic writing that you seem to view as gospel truth. You haven't cited "at least one scholar", you have based your entire posting on one scholar. There's a difference. If you are going to reference it, quote from it instead. Though we are speaking in a loose and informal way, that doesn't mean we should just dispense with inconvenient facts in the pursuit of a good polemic.

You are anachronistically interpreting the Hindu myth of the war between the devas and asuras, which was already fully established by the time of Shakyamuni (and referenced by Panini) to apply to a supposed war against Buddhists in the 11th or 12th century CE that is not recorded in the historical record of either Buddhists or Hindus in India or its neighbouring countries. You conflate two entirely different groups, the Kapalikas and the Thuggee. You float interpretations such as the nakedness of the asana of Camunda meaning that it is "without the veda" which has no precedent or parallel in the Hindu tradition, yet ignore the rather obvious other interpretations. Now you are also positing that the elephant skin represents Buddhism. Why pray tell is that an accoutrement of most wrathful Buddhist tantric deities then?

I am not suggesting that Buddhists and Hindus were holding hands and singing Kumbaya. Neither were they at war with each other. Since you are convinced that Sarnath was sacked prior to the Muslims which has been well recorded, by whom then and when? I am entirely willing to be convinced with evidence. Not imaginative interpretations with a political agenda.
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby Karma Dorje » Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:49 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Nothing personal intended. The Thuggee as lampooned in the Temple of Doom were who you were referring to, not the Kapalika and they had nothing to do with the disappearance of Buddhism on the subcontinent.


How can you insist that I was getting my ideas from a Hollywood film? This is a slanderous attempt to defame me and make me look silly.


Wow. I don't think you would have lasted five minutes on buddha-l if you think that I am being aggressive. Firstly, I think you mean libelous and regardless nothing in our discourse has met that bar. As I have explained, you are conflating two entirely different groups. I would encourage you to read:

The Kapalikas and Kalamukhas Two Lost Saivite Sects, David Lorenzen, (Delhi,1991)

As to making you look silly, I am afraid you have been hoisted on your own petard.
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Re: Buddhism's dependence on the bourgeois

Postby Indrajala » Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:29 pm

Karma, clearly my attempts to communicate are not being properly reciprocated. I've named sources other than Virardi and referred to Cunningham's personal observations, plus cited other scholars in my response to jeeprs to support my ideas.

You continue to misrepresent what I'm saying and seem to be trolling rather than engaging in critical dialogue.

So I'm not playing any longer. End of our conversation.
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