You are on page 1of 22

DISAPPEARANCE OF BUDDHISM FROM INDIA:

THE BRAHMIN RESPONSIBILITY

ANKUR BARUA, M.A. BASILIO

Buddhist Door, Tung Lin Kok Yuen, Hong Kong

Hong Kong, 2009

Communication Address of Corresponding Author:

Dr. ANKUR BARUA

Block – EE, No.-80, Flat No.-2A,

Salt Lake City, Sector-2,

Kolkata - 700091, West Bengal, INDIA.

Email: ankurbarua26@yahoo.com

Mobile: +91-9434485543 (India), +852-96195078 (Hong Kong)


DISAPPEARANCE OF BUDDHISM FROM INDIA:

THE BRAHMIN RESPONSIBILITY

Abstract

Due to the lack of historical and archeological evidence, there is no absolute

consensus till date on what led to the disappearance of Buddhism from India.

However, if we analyze all the contributing factors and arrange them in a

chronological order, we would realize that the whole sequence of events was

initiated by the Buddhist monks when they had abandoned the community visits

and concentrated on their own salvation instead of helping the common people

and oppressed classes to end their sufferings. As the lay devotees were ignored,

Buddhism started losing the general support from the community. Subsequently,

the Brahmins took advantage of this situation and deepened the rift between the

common people and the Buddhist practitioners. They also manipulated the

contemporary rulers to withdraw their support from Buddhism and help in

reviving the existing Brahmanism. This was followed by the revival of Hinduism

and further decline of Buddhism.

Key words: Buddhism, Disappearance, Decline, Responsibility,

Brahmanism, Brahmin, Hinduism.

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 2


DISAPPEARANCE OF BUDDHISM FROM INDIA:

THE BRAHMIN RESPONSIBILITY

Introduction

It is still unknown as to what led to the disappearance of Buddhism from India,

the land of its origin. Many scholars of Indian history and religion are devoted to

unraveling this enigma. Due to the lack of historical and archeological evidence,

the debate continues for centuries and there is no absolute consensus on this

matter till date.1 Two factors were generally cited as the main reasons for the

ultimate disappearance of Buddhism from India. The first one was the Vedic

revival, which drove the religion out the country and this was followed by the

invading hordes of the Prophet Mohammed, who razed the temples and

slaughtered the remaining unresisting monks.1,2,3

Buddhism was a Critical Response to the Existing Brahmanism

Conflicts of opinions prevail while identifying the probable factors leading to the

disappearance of Buddhism from India during the 12th century A.D. A few

scholars however, cherish the opinion that Buddhism never disappeared as such

from India and subsequently got incorporated into the Hinduism. They believe

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 3


that modern Hinduism in India is a new form of ancient Buddhism.2,3 Due to the

striking similarities in the teachings of Buddhism and modern Hinduism, there is

another group of scholars who uphold the theory that Buddhism is a restatement

of Hinduism.1,2,4 But this notion is absolutely false as Hinduism is a much later

development after the disappearance of Buddhism from India. If someone has to

relate any ancient religion in India with Buddhism, it should be the existing

Brahmanism which paved way to the introduction of Buddhism in India by

Sakyamuni Buddha during the 6th century B.C., who was a historical personality.

Buddhism should be viewed as a critical response to the existing Brahmanism.

Buddhism came into existence in order to wipe off the existing four-tier caste

system in India laid down by the Aryans. As the status of women was remarkably

subdued and deplorable during the period of Brahmanism, Buddhism came to

the rescue by upholding the women‟s rights and focused on empowerment of

women in the society. Sakyamuni Buddha was the first historical personality who

rose against all odds to abolish discrimination and violence against women in the

existing Indian society.1,2,5

Gradual Decline of Buddhism in India during the 7th Century A.D.

Though Buddhism had been the dominant religion in much of the Gangetic plains

in the early part of the Christian era, but the Chinese traveler, Ven. Hsuan

Tsang, during his visit to India in the early years of the 7th century, had

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 4


witnessed a recession. The testimony of Ven. Hsuan Tsang, had demonstrated

the gradual decline of Buddhism in India. In Prayag or present Allahabad, he

had encountered many non-Buddhists. This was not surprising considering the

importance of Prayag as a pilgrimage site for Brahmins.1,2,3

Shravasti was the capital city of the Lichhavis, a north Indian clan that came to

power around 200 AD and established their capital in Pasupatinath. In a long and

glorious period of reign extending through the early part of the ninth century,

they had endowed a large number of both Hindu and Buddhist monuments and

monasteries. However, during his visit, Ven. Hsuan Tsang witnessed a much

greater number of Saivites and Jains than Buddhists. 1,2,3,5

Kushinagar, the small village near Gorakhpur where the Buddha had gone into

Mahaparinibbana, was in a dilapidated state and Ven. Hsuan Tsang found only a

few Buddhists. Though in Varanasi, Ven. Hsuan Tsang found around 3000

Bhikkus or Buddhist monks, but they were outshadowed by more than 10,000

non-Buddhists. Hence, we can conclude that Ven. Hsuan Tsang had arrived in

India at a time when Buddhism was entering into a state of precipitous decline.

But even as Buddhism went into decline, it is remarkable that Nalanda, the great

seat of Buddhist learning, continued to flourish by retaining its importance until

the Muslim invasions of the second millennium. It was from Nalanda that Ven.

Padmasambhava had carried Buddhism to Tibet during the eighth century.1,2,3,4,5

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 5


Hence, it is evident that the story of Buddhism in India cannot be unequivocally

written in a single register of decline as the entire process of decline was gradual

and spread over a long period of time.

Contributing Factors for the Disappearance of Buddhism from India

Buddhism had altogether disappeared from India as a formal religion during the

13th century A.D.6 In order to explore the contributing factors for the decline and

disappearance of Buddhism from India; we need to consider all the events in a

sequential and chronological order. These factors could be arranged under the

following major headings: (a) Sectarian and Internal Conflicts – Relating to

the schisms within the Buddhist faith; the widening differences between the

clergy, Buddhist monks and laity; and the growing corruption within the sangha.

(b) Buddhists were persecuted by Brahmins - Alleged persecution of

Buddhists by Brahmins; the defeat of the Buddhists by the great theologian Adi

Shankaracharya in public debates; as well as the characteristic tendency of

Hinduism, or rather Brahmanism, to absorb its opponents. (c) Secular and

political histories - Withdrawal of royal patronage from Buddhism was

followed by the Muslim invasions which had the effect of driving into extinction

the already debilitated Buddhist community.1,2,3,5,6

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 6


It is important to understand that Buddhism was never wiped off from India on a

single day and in any single event. Like the causal web of a disease, it was a

multi-factorial causation. The process of decline and subsequent disappearance

was gradual and lasted for many centuries. So, before we get into the details of

any historical analysis, we should first arrange the factors in a chronological

order and observe the interdependency of a previous event leading to the next.

Relationship between Buddhism and Brahmanism

Many narrative accounts of Buddhism‟s decline and eventual disappearance from

the land of its faith had been focused on Buddhism‟s relations with Hinduism or

Brahmanism. Some scholars believe that Buddhism never got wiped off from

Indian society. On the contrary, it simply changed form and was later absorbed

into Hindu practices. They believe that Buddhism disappeared, not on account of

persecution by Hindus, but because of the ascendancy of reformed Hinduism.

However, there is enough historical evidence to suggest that the Buddhists were

persecuted by Brahmins who were keen to assert their caste supremacy. The

renowned historian S.R. Goyal concluded that "according to many scholars

hostility of the Brahmins was one of the major causes of the decline of Buddhism

in India."1,2,3,5

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 7


The Buddha‟s fight against Brahmanism won him many enemies from among the

Brahmins. They were not as greatly opposed to his philosophical teachings as

they were to his message of universal brotherhood and equality. As this directly

challenged their hegemony and the scriptures, the Brahmins had invented to

legitimize this. To combat Buddhism and revive the tottering Brahminical

hegemony, Brahminical revivalists resorted to a three-pronged strategy. At the

beginning, they launched a campaign of hatred and persecution against the

Buddhists. This was followed by the incorporation of many of the finer aspects of

Buddhism into the system of Hinduism so as to win over their "lower" caste and

newly converted Buddhist masses. However, the Brahmins made sure that these

selective appropriations did not in any way undermine Brahminical hegemony.

The final blow of the Brahmins to wipeout Buddhism was to propound and

propagate the myth that the Buddha was merely another incarnation (avatar) of

the Hindu god Vishnu. The historical Buddha was thus turned into just another of

the countless mythological deities of the Brahminical pantheon.1,2,3,7

But the hostile attitude of Brahmanism alone could not explain the disappearance

of Buddhism from India. As we recall the history, Brahminical opposition to

Buddhism was always present right from day one. It was nothing new. If

Buddhism could survive and prosper for more than thousand years in spite of

Brahminical opposition, there was no reason for it to decline over the time. The

"Brahminical opposition" itself was also exaggerated at times by some historians.

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 8


We should remember that Buddha himself belonged to the Kshatriya (worrier)

caste of Brahmanism which was next to the Brahmins. So, the Brahmins never

had any problem related to caste discrimination while accepting his teachings.

The first five disciples of the Buddha were the Brahmins. Most of the great

Arahants of Buddhism belonged to the Brahmin caste. Historical evidence also

suggested that more than any other caste it were the Brahmins themselves who

contributed the most in the development of Buddhism.

However, some of the Brahmins did not like the way the outcaste and lower

caste community were rapidly getting converted into Buddhism and gaining

higher status in the society. The importance of the Brahmins in the Indian

society was significantly diminished during the propagative phase of Buddhism.

This sense of insecurity among some of the Brahmins vitiated their minds with

jealousy which later got transformed into vengeance towards the contemporary

Buddhist followers.

Buddhists Were Persecuted by Brahmins

Buddhism did not have any caste discrimination. As Buddhism rose to abolish the

caste system in the existing Brahmanism society, majority of the lower castes

and outcastes were getting converted into Buddhism in order to attain higher

social status. This sent a signal of uncertainty among the Brahmins who were

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 9


losing grounds on critical arguments with the Buddhist monks and were unable

to dominate and rule the deprived section of the Indian society. This sense of

insecurity soon led to the development of jealousy and hatred in the minds of

the Brahmins who began to assault both physically and mentally and victimize

the Buddhist community.1,2,3,5

In recent years this view is championed not only by some Dalit writers, but also

some scholars of pre-modern Indian history. Many Hindu nationalists often

believe that many Muslim monuments of recent era were actually Hindu temples

in earlier times. However, based on archeological evidence, the modern

historians are inclined to the view that Hindu temples were often built on the

sites of Buddhist shrines.1,2,3,5

The Buddhists, who survived in India after the decline of Buddhism, were finally

absorbed into the Hindu caste system, mainly as Shudras. To lend legitimacy to

their campaign against Buddhism, Brahminical texts included fierce strictures

against Buddhists. Manu, in his Manusmriti, laid down that, “If a person touches

a Buddhist he shall purify himself by having a bath.” Aparaka ordained the same

in his Smriti. Vradha Harit declared entry into a Buddhist temple as a sin, which

could only be expiated for by taking a ritual bath. Even dramas and other books

for lay people written by Brahmins contained venomous propaganda against the

Buddhists. In the classic work, Mricchakatika, (Act VII), the hero Charudatta, on

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 10


seeing a Buddhist monk pass by, exclaims to his friend Maitriya" "Ah! Here is an

inauspicious sight, a Buddhist monk coming towards us." The Brahmin Chanakya,

author of Arthashastra, declared that, "When a person entertains a dinner

dedicated to gods and ancestors, then for those who are Sakyas (Buddhists),

Ajivikas, Shudras and exiled persons, a fine of one hundred panas shall be
7
imposed on him."

The Revival of Hinduism

The Vedic revival during the 8th century A.D. was referred to as the revival of

Hinduism by the Western Scholars. This was initiated by Adi Shankaracharya in

the Gangetic plains of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. The Hindus of Rajasthan also

participated in this hostile revival activity. After the death of Harshavardhana, the

Rajputs were arising on horizons of North India. The Rajputs belonged to the

lineage from among the remnants of Hunas and other foreign hordes which were

broken down by the activities of kings like Baladitya and the local tibals. The

Rajputs were made prominent by the Brahmins for the specific purpose of

suppressing Buddhism by use of force. They subsequently dominated the later

part of the history of India and played a key role in the revival of Hinduism.1,2,3,5

During this time, the popular devotion to the Buddha was sought to be replaced

by devotion to Hindu gods such as Rama and Krishna. The existing version of the

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 11


Mahabharata was written in this period when the decline of Buddhism had

already begun. It was specially meant for the lower caste community (Shudras),

most of whom were Buddhists, in order to attract them away from Buddhism.

However, Brahmanism still prevented the Shudras from having access to the

Vedas. The Mahabharata was possibly rewritten to placate the Buddhist Shudras

and to compensate them for this discrimination. The Mahabharata incorporated

some of the humanistic elements of Buddhism to win over the Shudras. Overall,

it played the role of bolstering the Brahminical hegemony. Thus, Krishna, in the

Gita, was made to say that a person should not violate the divinely ordained law

of caste. Eklavya was made to slice off his thumb by Drona, who found it a gross

violation of dharma that a mere tribal boy should excel the Kshatriya Arjun in

archery.7

The various writers of the puranas carried out this systematic campaign of

hatred, slander and calumny against the Buddhists. The Brahannardiya Purana

made it a principal sin for Brahmins to enter the house of a Buddhist even at

times of great peril. The Vishnu Purana alleged that the Buddha as Maha Moha

or the great seducer. It further cautioned against the sin of conversing with

Buddhists and lays. Those who merely talked to Buddhist ascetics should be sent

to hell. In the Gaya Mahatmaya, the concluding section of the Vayu Purana, the

town of Gaya was identified as Gaya Asura, a demon who had attained such

holiness that all those who saw him or touched him went straight to heaven.

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 12


Clearly, this demon was none other the Buddha who preached a simple way for

all, including the oppressed castes, to attain salvation.

The Vayu Purana story went on to add that Yama, the king of hell, grew jealous.

This was possibly because less people were now entering his domains. He

appealed to the gods to limit the powers of Asura Gaya. The gods, led by Vishnu,

were able to restrict his powers by placing a massive stone on the demon‟s head.

This monstrous legend signified the ultimate capture of Buddhism‟s most holy

centre by its inveterate foes.7

Kushinagar, also known as Harramba, was one of the most important Buddhist

centres as the Buddha breathed his last there. The Brahmins, envious of the

prosperity of this pilgrim town, invented an absurd theory in order to discourage

people from going there. They spread a rumor that if one died in Harramba, he

would go to hell. However, if one died in Kashi, the citadel of Brahmanism, he

would go straight to the heaven. This belief got deeply rooted in the minds of

the local community. So, when the Sufi saint Kabir died in 1518 AD at Maghar,

not far from Kushinagar, some of his Hindu followers refused to erect any

memorial in his honor there and instead set it up at Kashi. However, Kabir's

Muslim followers were less superstitious and they set up a tomb for him at

Maghar itself.7

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 13


The Tendency of Hinduism to Absorb its Rival Faiths

The tendency of Hinduism to absorb rival faiths was evident from the fact that

many elements from other faiths had also gone into the making of Hinduism.

While some scholars focus on outright persecution, others speak of a long

process during which Buddhist practices became absorbed into Hinduism.

Though the doctrine of „ahimsa‟ or non-violence had originated with the Buddha

and had certainly found its greatest exposition in the Buddha‟s teachings, but by

the second half of the 1st millennium A.D. it had become an integral part of the

Hindu teachings. However, it is still not certain whether the Buddha was

absorbed into the Hindu pantheon as a gesture of compromise or as an attempt

of divide in order to reduce the overwhelming might of Buddhism or whether

Hinduism was eager to embrace as its own, certain values that Buddhism stood

for against the short-comings of Brahmanism.1,2,3,5,6

The simplicity of the Buddha‟s message in emphasizing its stress on equality and

crusade against the bloody and costly sacrifices and ritualism of Brahmanism had

attracted the oppressed casts in large numbers. The Brahminical revivalists

understood the need to appropriate some of these finer aspects of Buddhism and

discarded some of the worst of their own practices so as to be able to win over

the masses back to the Brahminical fold. Imitating the Buddhists in this regard,

the Brahmins, who were once voracious beef-eaters, had turned into

vegetarians.7

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 14


Adi Shankaracharya Had Preserved Buddhism by Incorporating It into

Hinduism

The great Brahmin philosopher, Adi Shankaracharya (c. 788-820 AD), took keen

interest in learning the inner aspects of Buddhist philosophy. He was alleged by

some scholars to have hated Buddhism and engaged the Buddhist monks in

public debates and each time he had emerged triumphant. But this theory was

far from truth for the simple reason that, had he successfully defeated the

Buddhist monks in debates all the time and had no faith in Buddhism, then there

was no logic behind his undertaking the initiative to incorporate the finer aspects

of Buddhist teachings into Hinduism. So, by the time he had invited the Buddhist

monks in public debates, he had already studied Buddhism and developed an

immense respect for the teachings of the Buddha. 1,2,3,5

He had also realized that all the Buddhist monks with whom he had debated

were not well-versed with the teachings of the Buddha. Due to their ignorance,

they were unable to preach the true meaning of the doctrine of the Buddha in an

effective manner. So, he took the initiative to include the finer aspects of

Buddhism into the core teachings of Hinduism. Under his supervision, the Vedas,

Bhagavad Gita and Puranas were rewritten incorporating these new aspects. The

Buddha was also transformed into an avatara (descent) of Vishnu. 1,2,3,5

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 15


The monastic practices had been unknown in Brahmanism, but this practice was

also initiated under the leadership of Adi Shankaracharya. He had established

„maths‟ or monasteries at Badrinath in the north, Dwarka in the west, Sringeri in

the south, and Puri in the east.1,2,3

Modern Hinduism is a Restatement of Buddhism

The finer aspects of Buddhism were later incorporated into the Vedas, Bhagavad

Gita and Upanishads by Adi Shankaryacharya during the revival of Hinduism in

8th century A.D. As a result of this, we do not find any major difference between

the teachings of Buddhism and Hinduism in modern era. Lay people and many

scholars often get deceived by ignoring the chronological order of historical

development of Brahmanism, Buddhism and Hinduism and they are unable to

make any distinction between these. We should understand that Hinduism was a

later development after Buddhism. There is enough historical evidence that

Buddhism paved the way for refining the teachings of Hinduism which came into

existence after the disappearance of Buddhism from India. We must always

remember that the finer aspects of Buddhism had been later incorporated into

Hinduism under the supervision of Adi Shankaracharya during the 8th century

A.D. 1,2,3

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 16


So, by observing the strikingly similar teachings in both these religions, it would

be wiser to conclude that modern Hinduism is a restatement of ancient

Buddhism. The reverse of this statement is never true on historical perspectives,

as an earlier religion cannot predict or copy the teachings of a future religion.1,2,3

Secular and Political Factors

During the rule of the Kushanas and the Guptas (325-497 AD), both Buddhists

and adherents of Brahmanism received royal patronage. However, the royal

patronage had shifted from Buddhist to Hindu religious institutions from the

beginning of the sixth century A.D. Buddhism began to suffer a decline as

Brahmanism veered off into Vaishnavism and Saivism. This was followed by

some regional kingdoms subsequently developing into the major sites of power.
1,2,3,5

Shashanka, the Shaivite Brahmin king of Bengal was a ferocious oppressor of the

Buddhists. The single original source for all subsequent narratives about

Shashanka‟s ruinous conduct towards Buddhists was documented by Ven. Hsuan

Tsang during his visit to India in early part of the seventh century A.D.

But the exact reasons for his hostile attitude towards Buddhism were not known.

It was believed that the Brahminical revivalists had goaded the Hindu kings like

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 17


him to persecute and even slaughter innocent Buddhists.7 It was reported that

Shashanka had destroyed the Bodhi tree of Bodh Gaya and ordered the

destruction of all Buddhist images and monasteries in his kingdom. This biased

and sectarian policy of Shashanka had broken the backbone of Buddhism in

India.1,2,3,5,6

Shashanka had also murdered the last Buddhist emperor Rajyavardhana, elder

brother of Harshavardhana, in 605 AD. He had marched on to Bodh Gaya and

destroyed the Bodhi tree under which the Buddha had attained enlightenment.

He forcibly removed the Buddha's image from the Bodhi Vihara near the tree and

installed one of Shiva in its place. Shashanka is alleged to have slaughtered all

the Buddhist monks in the area around Kushinagar.1,2,3,7

After the rule of Shashanka, the Pala kingdom was established in Bengal. Though

the Palas of Bengal had been hospitable to Vaishnavism and Saivism, but

nonetheless they were major supporters of Buddhism. However, when Bengal

came under the rule of the Senas (1097-1223), Saivism was promulgated and

Buddhism was neglected. 1,2,3 Another hostile Shaivite king like Shashanka was

Mihirakula who had completely destroyed over 1500 Buddhist shrines. His hostile

action was followed by the Shaivite, Toramana who had destroyed the

Ghositarama Buddhist monastery at Kausambi.7

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 18


Conclusions

Many scholars often like to represent Brahminism as a tyrannical faith that

caused massive destruction of the Buddhist monasteries. But this matter is

however, far more complicated than this. A recent study of the Bengal Puranas

proved that the Buddhists were mocked and projected as mischievous and

malicious in Brahminical narratives as well as subjected to immense rhetorical

violence. This rhetorical violence should be interpreted as both physical and

mental violence perpetrated upon the Buddhists. The extermination of Buddhism

in India was hastened by the large-scale destruction of Buddhist shrines by the

Brahmins. The Maha Bodhi Vihara at Bodh Gaya was forcibly converted into a

Shaivite temple.1,2,3,5,6,7

The controversy of the actual ownership of Maha Bodhi Vihara at Bodh Gaya

lingered till it was declared as a “World Heritage” by the UNESCO in recent years.

The cremation stupa of the Buddha at Kushinagar was changed into a Hindu

temple dedicated to the obscure deity with the name of Ramhar Bhavani. Adi

Shankaracharya was alleged to have established his Sringeri Mutth on the site of
7
a Buddhist monastery which he took over by force. At present, many Hindu

shrines in Ayodhya are believed to have once been Buddhist temples earlier. This

is also the case with other famous Brahminical temples such as those at

Sabarimala, Tirupati, Badrinath and Puri.7

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 19


Even though there was hatred against Buddhism, but the Brahmins could never

deny or disrespect the inner truths in the teachings of the Buddha. So, the

subsequent absorption of the Buddha into Vishnu‟s pantheon represented some

sort of a compromise between the Brahmins and the Buddhists on moral and

philosophical grounds. What Buddhism stood for to promote peace and harmony

in the society, had been later incorporated into certain strands of modern

Hinduism in order to make it more refined and acceptable to the society. Thus,

the Buddha was finally given his just dues. 1,2,3,5,6

Though the Buddha is now incorporated into modern Hinduism as Lord Vishnu‟s

pantheon, but he should not be regarded as a god of the Hindu religion. It needs

to be emphasized once again that the Buddha was never a mythological figure as

Lord Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma or Rama, but he was a real historical personality.4

Hence, in the light of historical evidence, we should now interpret the

disappearance of Buddhism from India as a parable about how a social myth had

outlived a historical event.1,2,3

If we analyze all the contributing factors and arrange them in a chronological

order, we would realize that the whole sequence of events was initiated by the

Buddhist monks and clergy when they had ignored the teachings of the Buddha

and concentrated on accumulation of abundance of wealth in the monasteries.

This had made them over-satisfied and lethargic. They were often engaged in

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 20


disputes over money matters and leadership. So, they abandoned the community

visits and concentrated on their own salvation instead of helping the common

people and oppressed classes to end their sufferings. As the community was

ignored, the tight bonding between the lay devotees and the Buddhist

monasteries became weak and finally broke loose.

This restricted the spread of Buddhism in India and soon Buddhism started losing

the general support from the community. Subsequently, the Brahmins took

advantage of this situation and deepened the rift between the common people

and the Buddhist practitioners that included the monks and clergy. The Brahmins

also manipulated the contemporary rulers to withdraw their support from

Buddhism and help in reviving the existing Brahmanism.

This was followed by the revival of Hinduism and further decline of Buddhism.

Towards the end stage of the outright massacre of Buddhist followers and

demolition of Buddhist monasteries on a large scale, there was the Muslim

invasion of India. During this time, majority of the surviving Buddhists in India,

who earlier belonged to the lower class Hindus, was forcefully converted into

Islam. Some of them of course, willingly adopted Islam as it did not have any

caste discrimination and was powerful enough to save them from the torture of

Brahmins and upper class Hindus.

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 21


References

1. Lal, V. 2004. Buddhism‟s Disappearance from India [serial online]. [cited


2009 August 26]; [2 screens]. Available from: URL:
http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/southasia/Religions/paths/BuddhismDisappear.do
c.

2. Jaini, P.S., Narain A.K., ed., 1980. The Disappearance of Buddhism and the
Survival of Jainism: A Study in Contrast. Studies in History of Buddhism.
Delhi: B.R. Publishing Company:181-91.

3. Ahir, D.C. 2005. Buddhism Declined in India: How and Why? Delhi: B.R.
Publishing.

4. Kantowsky, D. 2003. Buddhists in India Today: Descriptions, Pictures and


Documents. Delhi: Manohar Publications: 156.

5. Goyal, S.R. 1987. A History of Indian Buddhism. Meerut: 394.

6. Beal, S. 1884. Si-Yu Ki: Buddhist Records of the Western World. London:
Trubner & Co., reprint ed., Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint Corporation.

7. Pakistan Defence. 2008. Disappearance of Buddhism from "Non Violent


India": An Untold Story. Daily Muslims. [serial online]. [cited 2009 October 8];
[2 screens]. Available from: URL: http://www.defence.pk/forums/current-
events-social-issues/9222-disappearance-buddhism-non-violent-india-untold-
story.html

Disappearance of Buddhism from India: The Brahmin Responsibility Page 22