Historical story

Chapter-16 - Buddhism and its Influence on Indian Culture (R)

Last updated:2022-07-25

Contribution of Buddhism to Indian Culture

The rise of Buddhism in ancient India was no less than a great cultural revolution. Buddhism had a profound impact on various fields like Indian religion, philosophy, ethics, politics, literature, art, government policy, foreign policy etc. Important contribution of Buddhism in various fields are as follows-

(1.) Contribution in the field of religion and philosophy

Buddhism was simple and pompous. There was no place in it for unnecessary and costly rituals, complicated rules, long rituals and priests required for the sacrifice. Due to this the general public was increasingly attracted to Buddhism. The popularity of Buddhism posed a threat to the existence of Vedic religion. Due to this Vedic religion also started the process of reformation within itself.

In place of ostentatious sacrifices, sacrifices, rituals etc., Bhagwat Dharma based on humanity, affection, harmony emerged in Hinduism. The Mahayana branch of Buddhism made idol worship extremely popular in India. Bhagwat Dharma also resorted to idol making and temples for the prestige of Vishnu-worship.

The monastic system of Buddhists also influenced Hinduism. Prior to this there was no monastic system in Hinduism. Jagadguru Shankaracharya established his monasteries in the four directions – North, South, East and West. The style of propagation adopted by Buddhism also influenced Hinduism. Earlier, Hindu religion did not believe in propagation.

Buddhism renewed the Indian system of thought through philosophical ideas of animism, atheism, causality, karmaism and reincarnation, inner purification and nirvana. Buddhist masters like Asanga, Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu, Dharmakirti etc. gave new heights to Buddhist philosophy. The nihilism and Madhyamik philosophy of Buddhists occupy a proud place not only in India but also in the world philosophy literature.

The philosophical literature of the Buddhists was thought provoking. To refute the philosophical views of Buddhists, many philosophers were born in the Bhagavata religion, among which Shankaracharya and Kumaril Bhatt were prominent. The contribution of these two awakened a new consciousness in Indian philosophy.

(2.) Contribution in the field of literature

Buddhism greatly influenced Indian literature. Prabhuta literature was composed in the form of Buddhist philosophy and religious texts in Pali and Sanskrit language by the scholars of Buddhism. On the basis of the life of Mahatma Buddha, a lot of literature was written in Sanskrit and popular languages. Many books related to poetry and ethics were written. All these enriched Indian literature and contributed to the development of Sanskrit and folk languages.

Buddhist scholar Dignaga developed Indian logic. He 'Nyay Pravesh' and 'Alamban Pariksha' Write a book called This left a deep impression on Nyaya Vaisheshik. Buddhist Epic 'Buddha Charita' More drama 'Sariputra episode' Written by Buddhists only. 'Milind Panho' and 'Mahavastu' There is abundant historical material in the texts named. 'Manjushree Moolkalp' and 'Divyavadan' Important information about the ancient history and culture of India is also obtained from the Buddhist texts called.

(3.) Contribution in the field of art

The flourishing form of Indian sculpture, sculpture and painting is visible, it is the gift of Buddhism itself. The construction of cave temples, the Gandhara and Mathuri styles of sculpture and the Ajanta style of painting developed only due to the influence of Buddhism. Mauryan Emperor Ashoka built 84 thousand stupas across the country, out of which some stupas still exist today and are a unique heritage of Indian architecture.

The Sanchi Stupa is the best example of Buddhist architecture. High quality of craftsmanship is present in the pillars built by Ashoka. High quality artifacts were produced by the Buddhists at Sanchi, Bharhut and Amravati. A large number of statues of Mahatma Buddha were built in Gandhara region by the monks of the Mahayana sect. Therefore the art of that region was named Gandhara style.

Gandhara art gave a new impetus to Indian sculpture, as a result of which different styles of sculpture developed in Mathura, Nalanda and Sarnath. A distinctive style of painting developed in the world famous caves of Ajanta. The main purpose of these paintings was to depict the life events of Mahatma Buddha and Bodhisattvas alive. The Buddhist paintings of the Badami, Badh, Sitanvasal and Barabar caves are unique.

(4.) In the field of Governance Policy

Buddhism has deeply influenced the governance policy of India. Buddhist associations were established on the basis of democratic values ​​in which every monk had the right to express his views and doubts. There superstition was not encouraged. These democratic values ​​have been adopted in the governance system of independent India. In every institution of government, members have been given the right to express their views on an equal basis.

The spirit of equality, tolerance and fraternity can be clearly seen in governance. Buddhism prominently adopted the idea of ​​non-violence of the Upanishads and proclaimed ahimsa paramodharma. After the bad experience of Kalinga war, Ashoka also understood the importance of non-violence and followed the policy of non-violence throughout his life. Army and war are the basic basis of the power of the state, but the Indian rulers and presently the Government of India also gave prominence to world peace.

(5.) Contribution in the field of ethics

By adopting the ten principles, Buddhism showed the Indian people the way to follow morality and morality in life and helped in the advancement of Indian ethics. Due to Buddhism, the caste system in the traditional Indian society was relaxed and the people of each caste were considered equal in the system of governance.

Havel has written- 'Buddhism contributed to the unity of the entire Aryan race by breaking the caste bonds of Aryavarta and removing the superstitions that had penetrated into its spiritual environment and laid the foundation of the vast empire of the Maurya dynasty. . Buddhism contributed immensely in uplifting the moral side of the Indian people.'

(6.) Contribution in other fields

Buddhism expanded the scope of foreign relations of India and strengthened its relations with many countries of the world. In the countries where Buddhism spread, the residents of those countries started considering India as their holy place of pilgrimage and they started coming to India to visit Buddhist sites. Due to this, political, cultural and economic relations of India were established with many countries of the world and Indian civilization and culture spread in those countries.