Buddha's time, political & religios situation

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sddht38
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Buddha's time, political & religios situation

Post by sddht38 »

Could you briefly describe what was the political situation in Buddha's time,
who were his contemporaries,
in India and in world in general, anything would be welcome

Also, what was the religious situation like in his time,
specially in India, but also in world in general

---

I would like to briefly know those situations to see what his environment was like, when his teachings came.

Thank you. Regards.
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Buddha's time, political & religios situation

Post by Kim O'Hara »

:reading:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Buddhism is a good enough starting point.
:reading:

:coffee:
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Buddha's time, political & religios situation

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

sddht38 wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 11:50 am Could you briefly describe what was the political situation in Buddha's time,
who were his contemporaries,
in India and in world in general, anything would be welcome

Also, what was the religious situation like in his time,
specially in India, but also in world in general

---

I would like to briefly know those situations to see what his environment was like, when his teachings came.

Thank you. Regards.
In your investigation, keep in mind that terms like “religious” and “political” refer to definitions of wealth, power, caste, and spiritual status that may not translate into concepts we have today. Many sutras recall meetings where “kings” meet the Buddha and ask him questions. But “king” can meet meet different things.
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook produces outward insight.
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Aemilius
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Re: Buddha's time, political & religios situation

Post by Aemilius »

sddht38 wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 11:50 am Could you briefly describe what was the political situation in Buddha's time,
who were his contemporaries,
in India and in world in general, anything would be welcome

Also, what was the religious situation like in his time,
specially in India, but also in world in general

---

I would like to briefly know those situations to see what his environment was like, when his teachings came.

Thank you. Regards.
There is a remarkable book Buddhist India, By T. W. Rhys Davids, 320 pages, published in 1903 by T. Fisher Unwin, London.

"The classic textbook on India at the time of the Buddha. Despite the volumes of scholarship published since, Buddhist India remains a remarkable introduction to the topic more than a century later."

You can take a look at it in https://buddhistuniversity.net/content/ ... hys-davids
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
sddht38
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Re: Buddha's time, political & religios situation

Post by sddht38 »

Thank you all for your replies.

I was surprised that Wiki article says nothing about Upanishads,
I was expecting the Upanishads were of major influence for Buddha,
later I have seen that the Buddhist texts supposedly talk only about 3 Vedas, if yes, why?
And were the Upanishads even in existence in his time?

---

As for the book, it is available on archive org. Thank you.

---
terms like “religious” and “political” refer to definitions of wealth, power, caste, and spiritual status that may not translate into concepts we have today.
If possible, tell more, how you see things.
It is not necessary that all is 100% reference-accurate, just that we try to briefly describe those times.

Well, there was no internet at the time, information traveled much slower.
Probably the Brahmin-Vedic class was very influential in India.
There were probably many kingdoms at the time in India
perhaps majority of kings were of Vedic religion, would that be Rigveda, Upanishads or something else?
Was there a caste system at the time?

We are talking years approximately from 563 BC to 483 BC
this is approximately the time, or some 100 years later, when the Roman Kingdom was founded
Wiki article mentions some Greek connections, ..was that from Alexander?
---

Any thoughts on any of those questions welcome.

I'm interested in the political-religious situation only briefly, any interesting details are welcome though,
I'm mostly interested on the majority religion, its class and established literature at the time of Buddha or just before him,
I guess it was Vedic, which I assume also influenced Buddha,
and that would basically be the four (three?) Vedas and Upanishads (?), yes?

Thank you.
Last edited by sddht38 on Mon May 13, 2024 5:46 pm, edited 22 times in total.
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Zhen Li
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Re: Buddha's time, political & religios situation

Post by Zhen Li »

It's a big topic. Maybe you should thoroughly read the books published on the history of Buddhism and then ask some specific questions that they fail to satisfy. Rhys Davids' stands up in many ways, but Etienne Lamotte's History of Indian Buddhism, though dated in some ways, is still the go-to classic on many of these topics (archive link). Chapter 1 part I is short and should answer most of the basics.
sddht38 wrote: Mon May 13, 2024 5:18 pm I was surprised that Wiki article says nothing about Upanishads,
I was expecting the Upanishads were of major influence for Buddha,
The early Buddhist texts don't refer to any upaniṣads by name, but some of the ideas are rejected or reframed, e.g. ātman. It could be that in the Buddha's region, the upaniṣads were not codified or studied, but the ideas circulated.
sddht38 wrote: Mon May 13, 2024 5:18 pm later I have seen that the Buddhist texts supposedly talk only about 3 Vedas, if yes, why?
The three vedas refers to the Ṛg, Yajur, and Sama vedas. In the Buddha's region, a singular veda is likely to refer to the Atharvaveda. The Atharvavedic tradition was strongest in Magadha, where the Buddha trained.
sddht38 wrote: Mon May 13, 2024 5:18 pm And were the Upanishads even in existence in his time?
This is a big topic, but depends on the upaniṣad in question. There is a lot of debate and research on this topic, depending on the text. These were orally transmitted, so we don't have manuscript witnesses.
sddht38 wrote: Mon May 13, 2024 5:18 pm perhaps majority of kings were of Vedic religion, would that be Rigveda, Upanishads or something else?
Was there a caste system at the time?
Vedic religion with an emphasis on Atharvaveda. Yes, there was caste, which the Buddha rejects firmly in several texts.
sddht38 wrote: Mon May 13, 2024 5:18 pm Wiki article mentions some Greek connections, ..was that from Alexander?
Yes, but you should check the section on this in Lamotte. There was plenty of interaction between Europe and India both before and after Alexander, but the influence of his conquest was profound.
stong gzugs
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Re: Buddha's time, political & religios situation

Post by stong gzugs »

sddht38 wrote: Mon May 13, 2024 5:18 pm perhaps majority of kings were of Vedic religion
Bronkhorst's work challenges the notion that the Vedic religion was dominant in the "Greater Magadha" region where the historical Buddha lived. While it's obvious that the Buddha was conversant with Vedic ideas and culture (he assumes many of the Vedic gods, and puts creative spins on several Vedic concepts like those related to the fire ceremony and stories of creation) the often-presumed political backdrop where the Vedic religion had political dominance and power in the region quite likely isn't accurate.
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Aemilius
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Re: Buddha's time, political & religios situation

Post by Aemilius »

stong gzugs wrote: Tue May 14, 2024 9:19 pm
sddht38 wrote: Mon May 13, 2024 5:18 pm perhaps majority of kings were of Vedic religion
Bronkhorst's work challenges the notion that the Vedic religion was dominant in the "Greater Magadha" region where the historical Buddha lived. While it's obvious that the Buddha was conversant with Vedic ideas and culture (he assumes many of the Vedic gods, and puts creative spins on several Vedic concepts like those related to the fire ceremony and stories of creation) the often-presumed political backdrop where the Vedic religion had political dominance and power in the region quite likely isn't accurate.

We should not forget that in ancient India there was also the movement of Sramanas, who did not accept Vedas as an authority and who were often non-theistic, more or less.

Buddhist and Jain sources mention that several kings of the 16 ancient Indian states (mahajanapada) followed Buddha or Jainism and possibly even Jivakas and the Lokayata or their ideal was to remain neutral in matters of religion.


"The Buddhist text of the Samaññaphala Sutta identifies six pre-Buddhist śrāmana schools, identifying them by their leader. These six schools are represented in the text to have diverse philosophies, which according to Padmanabh Jaini, may be "a biased picture and does not give a true picture" of the Sramanic schools rivaling with Buddhism.

The Purana Kassapa (Amoralism) śrāmana school: believed in antinomian ethics. This ancient school asserted that there are no moral laws, nothing is moral or immoral, there is neither virtue nor sin.

The Makkhali Gosala (Ajivika) śrāmana school: believed in fatalism and determinism that everything is the consequence of nature and its laws. This school denied that there is free will, but believed that soul exists. Everything has its own individual nature, based on how one is constituted from elements. Karma and consequences are not due to free will, cannot be altered, everything is pre-determined, because of and including one's composition.

The Ajita Kesakambali (Lokayata-Charvaka) śrāmana movement: believed in materialism. Denied that there is an after-life, any samsara, any karma, or any fruit of good or evil deeds. Everything including humans are composed of elemental matter, and when one dies one returns to those elements.

The Pakudha Kaccayana śrāmana movement: believed in atomism. Denied that there is a creator, knower. Believed that everything is made of seven basic building blocks which are eternal, neither created nor caused to be created. These seven blocks included earth, water, fire, air, happiness, pain and soul. All actions, including death is mere re-arrangement and interpenetration of one set of substances into another set of substances.

The Mahavira or (Jain) śrāmana school: believed in fourfold restraint, avoidance of all evil.

The Sanjaya Belatthiputta (Ajñana) śrāmana movement: believed in absolute agnosticism. Refused to have any opinion either way about existence of or non-existence of after-life, karma, good, evil, free will, creator, soul, or other topics.

These pre-Buddhist śrāmana movements were organized Sanghagani (orders of monks and ascetics), according to the Buddhist Samaññaphala Sutta. The six leaders above are described as a Sanghi (head of the order), Ganacariyo (teacher), Cirapabbajito (recluse), Yasassi and Neto (of repute and well known."

article about Sramanas in ancient India https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9Arama%E1%B9%87a
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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