Historical story

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

Spread of Buddhism abroad

From the 6th century BC to the 6th century AD, due to the efforts of monks, kings and some foreign travelers, Buddhism spread to the countries of Central Asia, China, Tibet, Burma, Afghanistan, Greece etc. and the South-East Asian islands. Buddhism was widely promoted in Khotan region, situated on the route between India and China. The work of propagating Buddhism abroad began in the period of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka of Magadha (BC 268 - 232 BC).

Ashoka sent his preachers to Sri Lanka, Burma, Central Asia and West Asian countries for the propagation of Buddhism. Ashoka's inscriptions show that Buddhist preachers went to Syria, Mesopotamia and Greece in the states of Macedonia, Erich and Corinth etc. to spread Buddhism. Ashoka organized Dharma Vijay to propagate Dhamma far and wide.

He tried to propagate his religion in different parts of India and abroad. He made friends with distant foreign kingdoms and made arrangements for the treatment of humans and animals there. He sent preachers to these countries to spread Buddhism and stop the violence. He sent his son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra to Sinhaladweep i.e. Sri Lanka to propagate the religion.

Ashoka's religious preachers were very enthusiastic and fearless. He propagated religion in Sri Lanka, Burma, Tibet, Japan, Korea and the eastern islands without worrying about the difficulties of the way.

Buddhism was widely spread in China during the time of Emperor Mingti. A large number of Buddhist texts were translated into Chinese during this period. Kashyap Mathang was the first to translate Buddhist texts into Chinese. Some Chinese travelers came to India to study Buddhism and took some texts to China and translated them into Chinese. Due to these texts, Buddhism got promoted in China and Tibet.

In the early centuries AD, many Acharyas and monks went to China like Kumar Jiva, Gunavarman, Buddhayash, Punyatrat, Gunabhadra etc. The Mahayana branch made an important contribution to the promotion of Buddhism abroad. The Kushan emperor Kanishka convened the Fourth Buddhist Council in the 2nd century AD and propagated Buddhism in Central Asia, Tibet, China and Japan.

Buddhism reached Japan from China in the 4th-5th centuries AD. Around this period, Buddhism also spread in Java, Sumatra and Cambodia. Buddhism spread from China to the islands of Korea, Mongolia, Formosa and Japan. After the brutal attacks of the barbaric Huns in the sixth-seventh century AD and the establishment of rule in India by the Muslims in the eleventh-twelfth century AD, Buddhism almost became extinct from its native India, but in foreign countries this religion is still alive with full enthusiasm. is.

At present, Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world after Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. About 52 crore people of the world i.e. about 7 percent of the world's population are followers of Buddhism. Buddhist followers live in most of the countries of the world. Buddhism is the 'predominant religion' in 18 countries, including China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Mongolia, Tibet, Laos, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Singapore, South Korea and North Korea. Millions of Buddhist followers also live in countries like India, Nepal, America, Australia, Indonesia, Russia, Brunei, Malaysia etc.

Extinction of Buddhism from India

The speed with which Buddhism spread in India, it also became extinct from India at the same speed. After the twelfth century, the number of its followers in India remained negligible. There were many reasons for the decline of Buddhism in India-

(1.) Weaknesses of Buddhism: There were some weaknesses within Buddhism that could not prevent it from going down the road. Buddha had told people a new way to attain salvation, but he could not create a separate social system, common customs and ethics for his disciples.

Therefore the Buddhist householders generally continued to follow the Vedic rites. On occasions like birth, marriage and death etc., they had to follow Hindu customs. Due to this, the household followers of Buddhism could not go far away from Hinduism and in time they did not have much difficulty in adopting Hinduism again.

(2.) Prevalence of pomp in Buddhism: In opposition to the pomp and ritual complexities of Vedic religion, Mahatma Buddha had run a simple religion based on moral life, he himself was surrounded by many types of pomp and complexities after Buddha's Nirvana. The Buddhist masters made the rules of the monks more strict than before, which aroused their distaste for this religion.

Considering Mahatma Buddha as an incarnation of God, his idols started being made and those idols were worshiped in different ways. The Buddhist system also developed and the left-wing sect also arose within Buddhism. Due to this Buddhism lost its original form and came closer to Hinduism.

(3.) Moral Decline of Buddhist Monks: One of the main reasons for the popularity of Buddhism was the sacrificial life and moral conduct of the monks, but during the reign of the Mauryas, huge and grand monasteries and viharas were built for the Buddhist monks by the state and money was given from the state fund for their expenditure. . The comfortable life of the monasteries made the sacrificial life of the monks luxurious. This led to indiscipline among them and malpractices started spreading. After the rise of the Vajrayana sect, Buddhist monasteries and monasteries became centers of adultery. Monks and monasteries were no longer worthy of reverence in the eyes of the general public.

(4.) Division in Buddhism: After the death of Buddha, internal differences arose among the Buddhist monks and they were divided into several sects like Hinayana, Mahayana, Sthavira and Mahasanghika. Ashoka worked tirelessly to maintain the unity of Buddhism and got some success but later a tremendous struggle started in these different branches and they started criticizing and criticizing each other. Their mutual conflict caused great damage to the popularity of Buddhism.

(5.) Entry of women into the Buddhist Sangha: One of the main reasons for the decline of Buddhism was the entry of women into the Sangha. Lord Buddha originally did not allow women to enter the Buddhist Sangha, but at the behest of his beloved disciple Ananda, he agreed to allow women into the Sangha. After this acceptance the Buddha told Ananda that now this religion would not last more than 500 years. Buddha's prophecy came true.

The living together of monks and nuns broke self-restraint in Buddhist monasteries and monasteries, and adultery and luxury flourished there. This brought down his reputation. The Vajrayana sect pushed Buddhism towards the left path and caused a big blow to Buddhism.

(6.) Lack of state shelter: Ashoka and the later Maurya rulers raised Buddhism to great heights by patronizing it. Buddhist monasteries and monasteries were established all over the country, which were given state grants. Because of this, lakhs of young men renounced military work and became bhikkhus and started eating their bread in peace while living a life of ease in Buddhist monasteries and monasteries.

Due to this the forces of the Maurya rulers became weak and the enemies defeated them from place to place, which destroyed the Maurya Empire. Seeing such plight of the Mauryas, most of the kings of India stopped patronizing Buddhism. The Sunga, Kanva and Satavahana kings, the successors of the Mauryas, again patronized and encouraged the Brahmin religion.

The Gupta rulers also re-established the Vedic sacrifices and adopted the Bhagavata religion. In South India also, the Chalukya kings gave state protection to Hinduism. So the people of India again moved towards Hinduism.

(7.) Bigotry of Buddhism: From the very beginning, Buddhism had a feeling of intolerance against other religions. Because of this, other religions also started having a feeling of bigotry against Buddhism. It is a well-known fact that in every age the common people accept and respect the good things of different religions, but it was not acceptable to the Buddhist Sangha to respect the good things of other religions.

Ashoka in his twelfth inscription has wished for the growth of the essence of all religions and advised- 'Man should listen to the religion of others also. A man who worships his own religion and criticizes other religions causes great damage to his religion. Therefore people should have restraint of speech, that is, they should speak carefully.'

From this statement of Ashoka, it can be inferred that Ashoka must have also been annoyed by the intolerance of Buddhism.

The founder of the Shunga dynasty, Pushyamitra Shunga (BC185-BC149), ended the Maurya dynasty and established the Shunga dynasty and patronized the Bhagavata religion in place of Buddhism. 'Divyavadan' Pushyamitra Shunga has been described as the ultimate enemy of Buddhists. While he did no harm to the Buddhists. During his reign, the artistic gates of the Sanchi Stupa and the ornate parts of the Bharhut Stupa were constructed.

Due to its bigotry, Buddhism made Jainism its rival on the one hand and on the other side also opened a front against Bhagavata religion. Thus he lost his popularity by getting caught in a double struggle.

(8.) Rise of Bhagavad Dharma: After the decline of the Maurya dynasty, the scholars of Vedic religion tried to remove the defects inherent in their religion and re-establish it in a simple form. The kings of Sunga, Kanva, Bharsiva, Naga, Gupta, Vakataka and Chalukya made their important contribution in the progress of Hindu religion by organizing Vedic Yagyas.

These rulers worshiped the ancient Hindu deities like Shiva, Vishnu, Kartikeya etc. and built their grand temples. Harshavardhana, who was inclined towards Buddhism, also had reverence for the Brahmin religion. Due to this Hindu religion regained its prestige at the national level. The Guptas established the Sanskrit language as the official language, due to which the lost prestige of Vedic literature was also restored.

On the lines of Buddha's statues, a large number of statues of Vishnu and his incarnations were built in the country and magnificent temples of Vishnu and Shiva were built, due to which the subjects were rapidly attracted to the Bhagavata religion and Buddhism was in decline. /P>

(9.) Alien Invasion: After the Guptas, India was attacked by the Huns. He was the enemy of the Buddhists. The leader of the Huns, Mihirkul, destroyed thousands of Buddhist monasteries and monasteries and killed millions of Buddhist monks. This weakened the influence of Buddhism in Punjab, Rajasthan and the North-West Frontier Provinces. The remaining Buddhist monks of these regions fled towards Tibet and China.

In the early Middle Ages Muslim invaders massacred Buddhists in Bengal and Bihar. Their monasteries and viharas were destroyed and educational institutions like Nalanda Vihara were burnt down. Due to this the Buddhist monks of these regions were destroyed and the Buddhist householders again adopted Hinduism.

(10.) Rise of Rajput Rulers: After the death of Harshavardhana, Rajput rulers emerged in place of the ancient Kshatriyas in the country and they established small independent kingdoms all over the country. The Rajput people were known for their valor and war and military service were their main occupations. Such people had no attachment to non-violence. He encouraged Hinduism. Due to non-availability of state shelter, the influence of Buddhism almost came to an end.

(11.) Shankaracharya's efforts: Shankaracharya in the 8th and 9th centuries AD and his disciple Kumaril Bhatt made a significant contribution in pushing the declining influence of Buddhism towards its end. He defeated Buddhist scholars from place to place in publicly organized debates and demonstrated the superiority and invincibility of Hinduism before the general public.

Shankaracharya established monasteries of the Advaita tradition in ancient cities located in all four directions of the country. Due to the efforts of Shankaracharya, the Buddhists were decimated and Hinduism spread all over the country. Shankaracharya wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita and made it the most popular book of Hindus, which inspired millions of people to re-convert to Hinduism.

(12.) The Birth of Left Wings Within Buddhism: With the decline of Buddhism, the Vajrayana and Mantrayana branches arose from the Mahayana sect in the 6th century AD. Vajrayani considered Buddha as a Vajraguru and a deity with supernatural accomplishment. Many occult practices were performed to attain these siddhis.

वाममार्गी बौद्धों के प्रभाव से शैव मत में पाशुपत, कापालिक (अघोरी), वैष्णव मत में गोपी-लीला, तन्त्र-सम्प्रदाय में आनन्द भैरवी की पूजा आदि पन्थ विकसित हुए। इन पन्थों का उद्देश्य मन्त्रों तथा अन्य साधनों द्वारा विभिन्न प्रकार की ‘सिद्धियाँ’ प्राप्त करना था। जनसामान्य इन वाममार्गियों से भय खाता था तथा इनसे दूर रहता था।