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24-Indian History-BC-1 - Bauddh Dharm
See also   Bodhisattwa Practices;   More on Bauddh Dharm

India has a continuous civilization since 2500 BC. During the 2nd millennium, Aaryan speaking tribes migrated from northwest into the Indian subcontinent. The following information has been take from "The Aangirasa Dictionary of the Hindu Religion and Culture", by Aangiras Muni. 1999. p 249-254.
[Text in green is my comments]

Bauddh Dharm -
Bauddh Dharm can be better understood if one knows that its founder, Gautam Buddh was born in a Hindu family and received his spiritual training from Hindu saints. Therefore Buddhism derives much from Hindu Dharm and its vocabulary is almost entirely Hindu. Foreign writers have taken pleasure in calling Hindu Dharm "Braahmanism" and have tried hard, though unsuccessfully to prove that Buddhism came in opposition to the so-called Braahmanism. Calling Hindu Dharm "Braahmanism" is wrong, as calling the Catholic branch of Christianity "Popism" after the Pope.

Siddhaarth Gautam was born in 624 BC and by that time almost all Hindu scriptures had been composed - all 4 Ved, all 14 genuine Upanishad, Bhagvad Geetaa. They were all composed even before any Buddhist cannon had been even conceptualized. Buddha was not the Enlightened One in real sense, he was original in many ways original in interpreting existing Hindu scriptures.

Originally Buddha lay his emphasis on logic. He preached that everybody should examine, study and understand the religious postulates for himself and become a Buddha himself in the process. Unlike some messiahs Buddha emphatically denied that he was God, God-incarnate, or the chosen Son of God. All he claimed that he became Enlightened. He laid down some principles for the people to consider, if they found them reasonable. And so great was the force in what he said that many people believed in them and became his followers, including learned people and even kings. It spread in many countries and is still observed in many countries even after 2,500 years with local variations but the main tenets are the same.

Preaching of Buddha
Buddha preached 10 virtues :-

(1) Daan (Charity),             (2) Sheel (Morality,     (3) Kshaanti (Patience),      (4) Veerya (Effort)            (5) Dhyaan (Meditation,    
(6) Pragyaa (Wisdom),        (7) Upaaya (Skill),       (8) Pranidhaan (Devotion)   (9) Bal (Strength),   and     (10) Gyaan (Knowledge).

Buddha stated that there was Dukh (pain) in life along with Sukh (pleasure). Dukh is inevitable both on physical as well as mental plane. Sickness, and lack of basic needs are sources of physical Dukh. Loss of dear ones to death, loneliness, alienation, purposelessness, bad relationship, unpleasant events lead one to mental Dukh.. Thus along with Sukh, Dukh ia also inevitable. Therefore rather than complaining about them one should take positive steps to combat Dukh.

Ahankaar and Aatmaa
He told that one of the important sources of Dukh was Ego. Separating between "I" and the rest of the Universe creates a hopeless situation for the being, one calls "I". Instead of separating the two, one should consider himself connected with and in harmony with the rest of the world. In Hindu terminology, the Ego is called "Ahankaar", and Hindu Dharm strongly advocates giving up Ahankaar. Buddha used the word "Aatmaa", to state the same principle. The originality of Buddha lay in emphasizing a strong relationship between the presence of Ego and Dukh.

Anaatmaa contains another idea derived from the Upanishad, that of he impossibility of defining the Supreme Soul. Whatever you say about the Supreme Soul, it will not define Him. In this way Anaatmaa of Buddhism is almost identical to the "Neti, Neti" (meaning - "not this, not this") of the Upanishad. The third and very important suggestion of Anaatmaa and the meaning of the Ego in others is "Karunaa" (meaning compassion) - to share and feel the pain of others as though it is your own.

The Doctrine of Middle Path
Buddha's first sermon was to follow the middle path, means avoid the two extremes of self-denial, and self-indulgence - this is the Bauddh commandment for worldly living. And this middle path has been divided in 8 recommendations :-

(1) Right views,
(2) Right thoughts,
(3) Right speech,
(4) Right action,
(5) Right livelihood,
(6) Right effort
(7) Right mindfulness, and
(8) Right meditation.

This middle path is classified in another way into 3 precepts :-

(1) Moral Precepts -
  Sheel (not to kill),
  Asteya (not to steal),
  Speaking truth
  Not to abuse sex
  Not to take intoxicants

(2) Samaadhi (Mediatation) - Sitting down in a calm posture and meditate on "nothing" by brushing aside any and every thought that comes to your mind during this sitting. Its main purpose is to inculcate mental discipline.

(3) Pragyaa (Wisdom) - Wisdom involves the understanding of 4 noble truths - Inevitable Dukh, Root cause of Dukh is "cravings", Dukh can be conquered, and one needs to know the path to conquer the Dukh. A complete understanding of these truths would free a person from suffering and from the cycle of birth and death.

Concept of Nirvaan
The goal of Nirvaan is of paramount importance in Buddhism. Nirvaan literally means "to extinguish" or "blow out". It is inseparably connected with the belief in Sanskaar - the continuous cycle of birth and death. Nirvaan is "getting out of the continuous cycle of birth and death". The belief of Sansakaar is nor anywhere in the Ved (3000-1100 BC). IN the Upanishad (1100-700 BC) it has been slightly hinted, yet in the Bhagvad Geetaa it has been proclaimed aloud. The present version of Geetaa is later than the Classical Upanishad having crystallized only in and around 450 BC.

Even though Buddha (624-544 BC) himself preceded the writing of final version of Geetaa, it was not until the 1st century BC, that the tenets of Buddhism were formalized. It is therefore reasonable to say that a strong belief in reincarnation had developed in India during the 600-100 BC period and was shared by the mainstream Hindu, and the Jain, and the Buddha offshoots of Hindu religion.

Nirvaan became Buddha's goal, because "life is full of Dukh, Dukh is inevitable and the only solution to avoid it is not to be reborn. Now the quality of next life is determined by one's Karm (actions) performed in the present and past lives. As you gradually improve your quality, your objective should be renounce desire and ignorance. Once this is achieved, the path of Nirvaan opens up.

Holy Places for Buddhists
Buddh Gayaa in Bihaar where the tree of Bodhi is, Gautam received his enlightenment;
Saarnaath, near Varaanasee where Buddha delivered his first sermon;
Saanchee - One of the most important Buddhist sites. although Buddha never came here but Heenyaan gave birth to it. There are many Stoops here including an Ashok Pillar.
the Temple of Buddha's tooth in Shree Lankaa; and
the Temple of Emerald Buddha in Bankok, Thailand

Sects of Buddhism - Mahaayaan and Heenayaan
Mahaayaan literally means "the lofty vehicle" It emerged as a reformed movement. The reformists named their reformed form as Mahaayaan and the older one as Heenayaan. They highlighted the concept of Bodhisattwa as a path towards becoming Buddha and finally achieving Nirvaan. Bodhisattwa is a person who is on his way to achieve to become Buddha. Instead of working for immediate Nirvaan, the ideal would be to delay it by coming back in future lives as Bodhisattwa and perform unselfish Karm (actions) for fellow human beings. This theory emphasized the welfare of others, in contrast of achieving personal welfare (which was in line with the preaching of Buddha). This concept was excellent, although in practice it took a different twist in Tibbat and other places. They envisioned Avalokiteshwar and Amitaabh who represented compassion and lived in Paradise and who could open the doors of Paradise to people. The founder Buddha was identified as Amitaabh. Strangely Mahaayaan took the regressive step of worshipping the idols of Buddha.

Tri-pitakaa (Tri means three and Pitakaa means basket, so Tri-Pitakaa means three baskets) is the main scripture of Buddhism and is written in Paalee language. These three books are - Sootra Pitak, Vinaya Pitak, and Abhi-Dharm Pitak.

Their main festival is Buddha's birthday - Vaishaakh Poornimaa (Full Moon day) of the Hindu calendar. In India it is called Buddh Poornimaa. On this day processions are taken out and the image of Buddha is bathed.

Disappearance of Bauddh from India
Anagrika Dharmpal writes in his "The Life and eachings of Buddha" -
(1) The Braahman King Pushyamitra Shung (185-151 BC), a Maurya Army general, was very cruel than Shashaank (a 7th century AD King) towards Buddhism. He destroyed all Bodh Vihaar from Paatliputra to Jalandhar. He declared a reward of 100 golden Mudraa to anyone who killed and showed the beheaded skulls of Buddhists. King Pushyamitra who adored and sacrificed to the Devtaa, destroyed in the 2nd century BC, many Sanghrahm and killed the Bhikshu who dwelt therein.

Thus historically speaking Buddhism practically vanished from India only about 800 years ago when
Shashaank, the Raajaa of Bangaal, in the middle of 7th century AD proved an inveterate enemy of Buddhism and endeavored a number of times to uproot Bodhi tree.

Then Bakhtyaar Khilajee (Commander General of Muhammad Gauree - 1175-1206 AD) killed more than 10,000 monks (teachers and students) in Naalandaa and burnt their libraries there containing millions of manuscripts and also destroyed more than 20,000 Bauddh Vihaar and killed all the monks there and elsewhere as they could be easily identified by their colored robes. That shows that Buddhism was definitely flourishing even for centuries after the passing away of Aadi Shankaraachaarya and Kumaaril Bhatt.

And after that, during the 16th century AD the King of Sinhalee island, Raajaa Jai Singh, just to please Shaiv Saadhu, killed so many Buddhists within 4-5 years that there remained none in his kingdom.

According to "The Mahabodhi Journal, Feb-1927"e;, the Buddhist literature was completely destroyed by the Hindu during Hindu revival headed by Shankaraachaarya. To save the teachings of Buddha, many monks migrated to nearby countries like Shree Lankaa, Thailand, Myanmar, China, Japan etc and with them they carried the teachings of Buddha too.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 12/17/12