Thursday, August 8, 2013

When did the Buddha break away from Hinduism?




Orientalists have started treating Buddhism as a separate religion because they discovered it outside India, without any conspicuous link with India, where Buddhism was not in evidence. At first, they didn’t even know that the Buddha had been an Indian. It had at any rate gone through centuries of development unrelated to anything happening in India at the same time. Therefore, it is understandable that Buddhism was already the object of a separate discipline even before any connection with Hinduism could be made.



Buddhism in modern India


In India, all kinds of invention, somewhat logically connected to this status of separate religion, were then added. Especially the Ambedkarite movement, springing from the conversion of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar in 1956, was very driven in retro-actively producing an anti-Hindu programme for the Buddha. Conversion itself, not just the embracing of a new tradition (which any Hindu is free to do, all while staying a Hindu) but the renouncing of one’s previous religion, as the Hindu-born politician Ambedkar did, is a typically Christian concept. The model event was the conversion of the Frankish king Clovis, possibly in 496, who “burned what he had worshipped and worshipped what he had burnt”. (Let it pass for now that the Christian chroniclers slandered their victims by positing a false symmetry: the Heathens hadn’t been in the business of destroying Christian symbols.) So, in his understanding of the history of Bauddha Dharma (Buddhism), Ambedkar was less than reliable, in spite of his sterling contributions regarding the history of Islam and some parts of the history of caste. But where he was a bit right and a bit mistaken, his later followers have gone all the way and made nothing but a gross caricature of history, and especially about the place of Buddhism in Hindu history.


The Ambedkarite worldview has ultimately only radicalized the moderately anti-Hindu version of the reigning Nehruvians. Under Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, Buddhism was turned into the unofficial state religion of India, adopting the “lion pillar” of the Buddhist Emperor Ashoka as state symbol and putting the 24-spoked Cakravarti wheel in the national flag. Essentially, Nehru’s knowledge of Indian history was limited to two spiritual figures, viz. the Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, and three political leaders: Ashoka, Akbar and himself. The concept of Cakravarti (“wheel-turner”, universal ruler) was in fact much older than Ashoka, and the 24-spoked wheel can also be read in other senses, e.g. the Sankhya philosophy’s worldview, with the central Purusha/Subject and the 24 elements of Prakrti/Nature. The anglicized Nehru, “India’s last Viceroy”, prided himself on his illiteracy in Hindu culture, so he didn’t know any of this, but was satisfied that these symbols could glorify Ashoka and belittle Hinduism, deemed a separate religion from which Ashoka had broken away by accepting Buddhism. More broadly, he thought that everything of value in India was a gift of Buddhism (and Islam) to the undeserving Hindus. Thus, the fabled Hindu tolerance was according to him a value borrowed from Buddhism. In reality, the Buddha had been a beneficiary of an already established Hindu tradition of pluralism. In a Muslim country, he would never have preached his doctrine in peace and comfort for 45 years, but in Hindu society, this was a matter of course. There were some attempts on his life, but they emanated not from “Hindus” but from jealous disciples within his own monastic order.


So, both Nehru and Ambedkar, as well as their followers , believed by implication that at some point in his life, the Hindu-born renunciate Buddha had broken away from Hinduism and adopted a new religion, Buddhism. This notion is now omnipresent, and through school textbooks, most Indians have lapped this up and don’t know any better. However, numerous though they are, none of the believers in this story have ever told us at what moment in his life the Buddha broke way from Hinduism. When did he revolt against it? Very many Indians repeat the Nehruvian account, but so far, never has any of them been able to pinpoint an event in the Buddha's life which constituted a break with Hinduism.



The term “Hinduism”


Their first line of defence, when put on the spot, is sure to be: “Actually, Hinduism did not yet exist at the time.” So, their position really is: Hinduism did not exist yet, but somehow the Buddha broke away from it. Yeah, the secular position is that he was a miracle-worker.


Let us correct that: the word “Hinduism” did not exist yet. When Darius of the Achaemenid Persians, a near-contemporary of the Buddha, used the word “Hindu”, it was purely in a geographical sense: anyone from inside or beyond the Indus region. When the medieval Muslim invaders brought the term into India, they used it to mean: any Indian except for the Indian Muslims, Christians or Jews. It did not have a specific doctrinal content except “non-Abrahamic”, a negative definition. It meant every Indian Pagan, including the Brahmins, Buddhists (“clean-shaven Brahmins”), Jains, other ascetics, low-castes, intermediate castes, tribals, and by implication also the as yet unborn Lingayats, Sikhs, Hare Krishnas, Arya Samajis, Ramakrishnaites, secularists and others who nowadays reject the label “Hindu”. This definition was essentially also adopted by VD Savarkar in his book Hindutva (1923) and by the Hindu Marriage Act (1955). By this historical definition, which also has the advantages of primacy and of not being thought up by the wily Brahmins, the Buddha and all his Indian followers are unquestionably Hindus. In that sense, Savarkar was right when he called Ambedkar’s taking refuge in Buddhism “a sure jump into the Hindu fold”.


But the word “Hindu” is a favourite object of manipulation. Thus, secularists say that all kinds of groups (Dravidians, low-castes, Sikhs etc.) are “not Hindu”, yet when Hindus complain of the self-righteousness and aggression of the minorities, secularists laugh at this concern: “How can the Hindus feel threatened? They are more than 80%!” The missionaries call the tribals “not Hindus”, but when the tribals riot against the Christians who have murdered their Swami, we read about “Hindu rioters”. In the Buddha’s case, “Hindu” is often narrowed down to “Vedic” when convenient, then restored to its wider meaning when expedient.


One meaning which the word “Hindu” definitely does not have, and did not have when it was introduced, is “Vedic”. Shankara holds it against Patanjali and the Sankhya school (just like the Buddha) that they don’t bother to cite the Vedas, yet they have a place in every history of Hindu thought. Hinduism includes a lot of elements which have only a thin Vedic veneer, and numerous ones which are not Vedic at all. Scholars say that it consists of a “Great Tradition” and many “Little Traditions”, local cults allowed to subsist under the aegis of the prestigious Vedic line. However, if we want to classify the Buddha in these terms, he should rather be included in the Great Tradition.  


Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha was a Kshatriya, a scion of the Solar or Aikshvaku dynasty, a descendant of Manu, a self-described reincarnation of Rama, the son of the Raja (president-for-life) of the Shakya tribe, a member of its Senate, and belonging to the Gautama gotra (roughly “clan”). Though monks are often known by their monastic name, Buddhists prefer to name the Buddha after his descent group, viz. the Shakyamuni, “renunciate of the Shakya tribe”. This tribe was as Hindu as could be, consisting according to its own belief of the progeny of the eldest children of patriarch Manu, who were repudiated at the insistence of his later, younger wife. The Buddha is not known to have rejected this name, not even at the end of his life when the Shakyas had earned the wrath of king Vidudabha of Kosala and were massacred. The doctrine that he was one in a line of incarnations which also included Rama is not a deceitful Brahmin Puranic invention but was launched by the Buddha himself, who claimed Rama as an earlier incarnation of his. The numerous scholars who like to explain every Hindu idea or custom as “borrowed from Buddhism” could well counter Ambedkar’s rejection of this “Hindu” doctrine by pointing out very aptly that it was “borrowed from Buddhism”.





At 29, he renounced society, but not Hinduism. Indeed, it is a typical thing among Hindus to exit from society, laying off your caste marks including your civil name. The Rg-Veda already describes the Muni-s as having matted hair and going about sky-clad: such are what we now know as Naga Sadhus. Asceticism was a recognized practice in Vedic society long before the Buddha. Yajnavalkya, the Upanishadic originator of the notion of Self, renounced life in society after a successful career as court priest and an equally happy family life with two wives. By leaving his family and renouncing his future in politics, the Buddha followed an existing tradition within Hindu society. He didn’t practice Vedic rituals anymore, which is normal for a Vedic renunciate (though Zen Buddhists still recite the Heart Sutra in the Vedic fashion, ending with “sowaka”, i.e. svaha). He was a late follower of a movement very much in evidence in the Upanishads, viz. of spurning rituals (Karmakanda) in favour of knowledge (Jnanakanda). After he had done the Hindu thing by going to the forest, he tried several methods, including the techniques he learned from two masters and which did not fully satisfy him,-- but nonetheless enough to include them in his own and the Buddhist curriculum. Among other techniques, he practised Anapanasati, “attention to the breathing process”, the archetypal yoga practice popular in practically all yoga schools till today. For a while he also practised an extreme form of asceticism, still existing in the Hindu sect of Jainism. He exercised his Hindu freedom to join a sect devoted to certain techniques, and later the freedom to leave it, remaining a Hindu at every stage.


He then added a technique of his own, or at least that is what the Buddhist sources tell us, for in the paucity of reliable information, we don’t know for sure that he hadn’t learned the Vipassana (“mindfulness”) technique elsewhere. Unless evidence of the contrary comes to the surface, we assume that he invented this technique all by himself, as a Hindu is free to do. He then achieved Bodhi, the “Awakening”. By his own admission, he was by no means the first to do so. Instead, he had only walked the same path of other Awakened beings before him.


At the bidding of the Vedic gods Brahma and Indra, he left his self-contained state of Awakening and started teaching his way to others. When he “set in motion the wheel of the Law” (Dharma-cakra-pravartana, Chinese Falungong), he gave no indication whatsoever of breaking with an existing system. On the contrary, by his use of existing Vedic and Upanishadic terminology (Arya, “Vedically civilized”; Dharma), he confirmed his Vedic roots and implied that his system was a restoration of the Vedic ideal which had become degenerate. He taught his techniques and his analysis of the human condition to his disciples, promising them to achieve the same Awakening if they practiced these diligently. 





On caste, we find him is full cooperation with existing caste society. Being an elitist, he mainly recruited among the upper castes, with over 40% Brahmins. These would later furnish all the great philosophers who made Buddhism synonymous with conceptual sophistication. Conversely, the Buddhist universities trained well-known non-Buddhist scientists such as the astronomer Aryabhata. Lest the impression be created that universities are a gift of Buddhism to India, it may be pointed out that the Buddha’s friends Bandhula and Prasenadi (and, according to a speculation, maybe the young Siddhartha himself) had studied at the university of Takshashila, clearly established before there were any Buddhists around to do so. Instead, the Buddhists greatly developed an institution which they had inherited from Hindu society.


The kings and magnates of the eastern Ganga plain treated the Buddha as one of their own (because that is what he was) and gladly patronized his fast-growing monastic order, commanding their servants and subjects to build a network of monasteries for it. He predicted the coming of a future Awakened leader like himself, the Maitreya (“the one practising friendship/charity”), and specified that he would be born in a Brahmin family. When king Prasenadi discovered that his wife was not a Shakya princess but the daughter of the Shakya ruler by a maid-servant, he repudiated her and their son; but his friend the Buddha made him take them back.


Did he achieve this by saying that birth is unimportant, that “caste is bad” or that “caste doesn’t matter”, as the Ambedkarites claim? No, he reminded the king of the old view (then apparently in the process of being replaced with a stricter view) that caste was passed on exclusively in the paternal line. Among hybrids of horses and donkeys, the progeny of a horse stallion and a donkey mare whinnies, like its father, while the progeny of a donkey stallion and a horse mare brays, also like its father. So, in the oldest Upanishad, Satyakama Jabala is accepted by his Brahmins-only teacher because his father is deduced to be a Brahmin, regardless of his mother being a maid-servant. And similarly, king Prasenadi should accept his son as a Kshatriya, eventhough his mother was not a full-blooded Shakya Kshatriya.


When he died, the elites of eight cities made a successful bid for his ashes on the plea: "We are Kshatriyas, he was a Kshatriya, therefore we have a right to his ashes". After almost half a century, his disciples didn’t mind being seen in public as still observing caste in a context which was par excellence Buddhist. The reason is that the Buddha in his many teachings never had told them to give up caste, e.g. to give their daughters in marriage to men of other castes. This was perfectly logical: as a man with a spiritual message, the Buddha wanted to lose as little time as possible on social matters. If satisfying your own miserable desires is difficult enough, satisfying the desire for an egalitarian society provides an endless distraction from your spiritual practice.




The Seven Rules


There never was a separate non-Hindu Buddhist society. Most Hindus worship various gods and teachers, adding and sometimes removing one or more pictures or statues to their house altar. This way, there were some lay worshippers of the Buddha, but they were not a society separate from the worshippers of other gods or Awakened masters. This box-type division of society in different sects is another Christian prejudice infused into modern Hindu society by Nehruvian secularism. There were only Hindus, members of Hindu castes, some of whom had a veneration for the Buddha among others.  


Buddhist buildings in India often follow the designs of Vedic habitat ecology or Vastu Shastra. Buddhist temple conventions follow an established Hindu pattern. Buddhist mantras, also outside India, follow the pattern of Vedic mantras. When Buddhism spread to China and Japan, Buddhist monks took the Vedic gods (e.g. the twelve Aditya’s) with them and built temples for them. In Japan, every town has a temple for the river-goddess Benzaiten, i.e. “Saraswati Devi”, the goddess Saraswati. She was not introduced there by wily Brahmins, but by Buddhists.


At the fag end of his long life, the Buddha described the seven principles by which a society does not perish (which Sita Ram Goel has given more body in his historical novel Sapta Shila, in Hindi), and among them are included: respecting and maintaining the existing festivals, pilgrimages and rituals; and revering the holy men. These festivals etc. were mainly “Vedic”, of course, like the pilgrimage to the Saraswati which Balaram made in the Mahabharata, or the pilgrimage to the Ganga which the elderly Pandava brothers made. Far from being a revolutionary, the Buddha emphatically outed himself as a conservative, both in social and in religious matters. He was not a rebel or a revolutionary, but wanted the existing customs to continue. The Buddha was every inch a Hindu.


sandalwood said...

Excellent blog!

I suppose it is the Buddha's statements to certain Brahmins (by birth) that one does not become a Brahmin (a knower of Brahman) by simply being born in a particular family and learning to recite the Vedas which gives some the impression that the Buddha was against the 'caste system'. But this is no different than what is stated in the Vedas themselves.

Indeed, Buddha was within the Vedic fold as a reformer. He reportedly said that he had not come with a new teaching but was clearing the weeds from the path which preceded him.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Excellent post. I have a suggested alternative title: "Buddhism and Hinduism: Separated at Birth?"

Rita Narayanan said...

what a lovely article! in my reading of Tibetan buddhism I found frequent references to noble descent mentioned in terms of "Brahmin", including that of the Chenrezig.Tibetan Buddhism is filled with so many Hindu & shamanistic motifs, quite contrary to the "peaceful" myth story told in Kundun.

Buddhist societies are filled with the opposite of what Ambedkarites claim infact as mundane as it may seem my maid(a Maharashtrian Dalit Bodh belonging to Ambedkar's clan)frequently refers to north Indian Dalits & Bengalis muslims in "not" nice terms.

But did Jesus really want to set up a new faith? After all the Judaism of the time suffered from all the ills of stagnation and corruption(and not just of wealth or money). I for one see Hinduism suffering from the same dilemma today- one of time and degenaration, and inability of coming up with comprehensive new mythology/trying to blame "foreigners" for all our ills.


Kutty's Blogs said...

To: Sandalwood,
Manusmriti(II/15700) says a Brahmana who has not learned the 3 Vedas is only as good as an elephant made of wood or a deer made of leather.

Anonymous said...

Do you have anything on the fundamental, doctrinal difference regarding self/non-self during this period in history? Such a vital distinction may well substantiate a historical, separatist claim despite the convincing arguments for subsumption of original Buddhist teaching as substantially Hindu that you present here. Thanks.

American said...

Another good article by KE.

A few comments,

1. I wonder what KE thinks of the debate between Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism on the virtue of Ahimsa? Each has extraordinary things to say on Ahimsa, each is a testament to how an open religion/spiritual system empowers men and women. Ahimsa, the idea that one must not cause injury through action or words, and one must not even have the desire to cause injury to any life... it is an inspiring concept, and a difficult one to apply in a world where people have swords, revealed truths, and punishment for infidels/pagans.

Ahimsa is one of the ideas that separates the three. The differences are in the harmonics of the details, not the goals, nor sincerity of each.

Hinduism's Ahimsa is more mature, with depth. The debate in Gita is the evidence. The theory of just war there is more profound than those written in Europe centuries later.

2. Did Ahmisa cause a professional monopoly driven caste system to ossify and metamorphose into a system of segregation?

If 'do not kill' and 'do not even hurt animals' principle is taken to the logical extreme, the pure vegetarians (brahmins?) would shun those whose economic survival depends on killing animals, creating leather, fishing, eating meat, etc (untouchables?). The cattlemen, the farmers, the workers cause more unavoidable injury than say those who sit and read and meditate on ideas/sutras, or who count money/merchants. The warrior group would have needed a carve out, rituals to absolve the 'kill and injure others with just cause.'

Perhaps, the Ahimsa schism between Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism differentiated the society more, than themselves.

On caste and Buddha: Caste system and untouchability remained alive under Buddhism for 2000 years, in Tibet, in Korea, in Japan, in China. In Tibet's Ragyabpa and duchung under mibok, Korea's paekchong, Japan's eta and hinin, and China's jianmin untouchable peoples. In all cases, the shunned untouchables worked with dead bodies, or killed animals, fished, worked with leather, etc.

Just like Cagots in Christian France and Akhdam in Islamic Yemen, Eastern societies segregated and shunned people driven by momentum of ideas, even if those ideas were wrong / still developing.

3. Ambedkar was more inspired to leave the religion he bitterly criticized, than to understand the history of religion he joined. Neither did he try to understand the history of Hinduism! Or the effect wars and unexpected violence between 0-1900 AD had on it or Buddhism.

Ambedkar did highlight the caste system for us in the West, which was already primed with misleading information from missionaries seeking funds to civilize India. All while, the tragedies and impact of Islam wrecked war, violence, campaigns of mass destruction, enslavement, Jizya, Karja, dhimmi system, forced conversions, along with waves of destruction of universities like Nalanda, cities like Vijayanagara, temples like Somnath. Buddhists, for all practical purposes, vanished from Afghanistan through Bangladesh; only Himalayan range and the buffer of Hinduism saved them. India's ahimsa filled soul, bled with shock and confusion.

It would be centuries before its children could rise up again to rediscover the pagan openness, curiosity, tolerance, temperance, charity, politeness, respect, passion, questions, free debates and ahimsa.

Dhruva said...

Brilliant and very informative post Dr. Elst. Thank you

@American : You make many interesting points and your analysis seems to be spot-on!

Karthikrajan said...

Another splendid analysis by KE.
@ American:
1) One tamil historian opined that Geetha was composed only around 500 BC as a direct answer to Buddhism and Jainism which were advocating total ahimsa. This concept and its popularity frightened hindus so much that a genuine question cropped in their minds as to how would a society be able to defend itself against external onslaught if it takes a vow of non-violence. I am inclined to believe that this is quite possible. Some wisecrack saw the opportunity in arjuna’s hesitation to fight and krishna’s few minutes pep talk to bring him back on track. To counter budhdhism and Jainism , the situation was exploited later to compose the full text of bhagavadh Geetha and quietly chucked into the mouth of Krishna to give credibility and acceptance. I was intrigued by the phrase ‘para dharmo bhbhayaavaha’ (the dharma of another person is fraught with fear !) in BG . which para-dharma was it referring to ? who else but that of budhdha and mahaveera !! Hindus wisely and subtly indulged in such ‘philosophical jostling’ to push aside these two religions. The external onslaught did take place thro islam , which nearly ravaged india. I have noticed two such jostling in tamil mythology. People can ponder over this : did arjuna refuse to fight because of his love for his gurus and kinfolk , or , did he develop cold feet ??
2) Ahimsa did not propagate caste system, neither did this system create any monopoly. Caste system is a pagan creation, which evolved due to rampant endogamy in indian families. KE delves into this topic in his wonderful book ‘saffron swastika’ , and rightly points out that there are ‘experts’ in india who can accurately predict the caste of a person from his/her facial features and native place. Incidentally, one such expert existed in my own friends circle who accurately predicted eveyone’s caste but strangely failed to predict my own !! Prejudiced human minds used caste as a convenient excuse to propagate hi – lo myth to create strife between them and exploit them. These were not lost on the vedhic hindus who were quite keen observers. They had understood that ‘casteism’ is simply ‘groupism’ based on genetical identitiy and groupism itself cannot be banished from human minds. They realised that another kind of groupism needs to be created to counter casteism and that was ‘varna-dharma’ - a groupism based on APTITUDE which will only encourage different castes to mingle. Nothing glues people like common interest. KE talks about this aspect too, but he hasn’t amplified it enough to give it prominence. This single word solves the jigsaw puzzle called varna-dharma which is wrongly equated to casteism. The usage of the phrase ‘according to nature’ umpteen times in the geetha stands testimony to this theory. Muddle heads and crooks of all hue and color have wrongly / cleverly twisted the meaning of this phrase to mean ‘by birth’ i.e born into a family, and hence hegemony by birth. Though the phrase by-birth is also found in the Geetha , i wonder whether this translation is correct. It should be ‘at-birth’, implying intrinsic qualities with which a human is born. Nature provides testimony to this too. Not all braahmans are intelligent and not all dalits are stupids. Geniuses have emerged from all caste groups. Students wanting to obtain govt scholarship to pursue Masters in engineering in india have to write an exam called GATE. 22 years ago when i took this exam i completely misread the letter ‘A’ in this acronym as : Graduate Attitude Test in Engg. After a few days , on closer examination did i realise that ‘A’ stood for Aptitude. I was unaware of this word until then and quickly ran thro the dictionary to find its meaning : A person’s natural ability to understand something !!.

Gururaj B N said...

The views of Dr.Elst is something of rarity, hardly appreciated by the present ilk of scholars. Bold attempt to bring down the artificial ravine created by Nehru and Ambedkar between Hinduism and Buddhism. Even from a philosophical perspective, the teachings of Buddha as seen from various Suttas in Suttanipata are very close to Upanishadic philosophy. Where Buddha takes his reasoning to logical end to conclude "anatta" (no atman), Upanishads, such Brihadaranyaka, rather thestically concluded that wat existed beyond reasoning and speech was Brahman. But, that still leaves one question about later day Hinduism, which thrives on idol worship. The evidence of earliest temples of vedic tradition is of 4th century, rather primitive in nature. But, by that time, grand Buddha idols had already come into vogue. Chaityas were in existence in Maharashtra region as places of worship of Buddhists. One wonders whether Hinduism picked worship in temple from Buddhism. In Mahabharata too, whose growth spanned between 400BC 400 AD, there is hardly any reference to an institution such as temple. A paper from Dr.Koenraad Elst on this subject would be most welcome.

Gururaj B N said...

I think, in Ambstha Sutta, the Buddha passionately argues in favour of superiority of Kshatriyas over Brahmins. So much for intellectuals who argue that Buddha was a social reformer iin modern sense and tried to build a casteless society.

American said...

@Karthikrajan, You claim, "Ahimsa did not propagate caste system, neither did this system create any monopoly. Caste system is a pagan creation, which evolved due to rampant endogamy in indian families."

But that transforms one unanswered question into another unanswered question: Why did endogamy arise?

Did some Hindu scholars create caste system, or did they document and attempt to introduce new rules to a social structure that already existed? What objective, independent verifiable evidence do we have? By independent evidence, I mean two or more ancient independent sources.

If it isn't the emphasis of Ahimsa as the highest virtue, what has the basis for a hierarchy? Why is a person who earns a living by hunting or fishing or processing meat or producing leather or dealing with dead bodies lower or shunned, than say a farmer or tool maker or pottery maker or a merchant?

By the way, like your GATE, we too have Aptitude tests in our GRE.

Funeral Moon said...

Curious, in which sutra did Buddha claim that he was Rama in past birth?

Gururaj B N said...

Wonderful article. But, one our left leaning intellectuals won't read. One is amazed at the degree to which we have become hostages to Nehruvian pseudo intellectualism based in insufficient knowledge of history. We have taken this received wisdom as holy gospel for at least two generations.

Before concluding, I would request Dr.Koenraad Elst to citation of the following statement in this article: "The doctrine that he was one in a line of incarnations which also included Rama is not a deceitful Brahmin Puranic invention but was launched by the Buddha himself, who claimed Rama as an earlier incarnation of his."

Ralph Rau said...

Siddhartha Gautama was modest enough to declare that Vipassana was merely re-discovered by him.

Vipassana is not mentioned in any Hindu scripture so we have to credit the Buddha with its discovery. If there were a Patent Office in those days he would have been granted the patent !

To me Vipassana is the great gift of the Buddha. I remain puzzled by the worship of Buddha statues in Buddhist societies. There is a clear need for aspiring Buddhists to go back to the basics of practicing mindfulness meditation and stop idol worship. Tibetan Buddhism is needlessly even more complex.

The absence of idol worship, the absence of deities, mindless rites and rituals and the absence of God worship is what most definitely distinguishes Mindfulness (label it Buddhist if you must) from all common "Hindu" traditions.

Ajeevak Shakyaputta said...

totally false and unsubstantiated claims....choosing and interpreting bits and pieces to paint a different picture.....yes he did not openly challenged caste system. It was not his place to speak but he did erased caste based hierarchy within Sangha which was under his dominion....As for the statement that most of early disciples were of higher castes...even child can make more smart guesses than blogger does....It was because there were highly educated and learned in philosophy...Buddhist philosophy highly imbued with psychology would make little sense to people of lower castes but many did become monks......

deepesh said...

No sorry. nope. Nada. Niyet.
You do not get to call other's claim false until u present counter proof.
In ur comment I didn't see one edict or line out of available literature.
You just said "false sinner false repent"
Present ur counter evidence first

vngpal said...

You wrote, "So, both Nehru and Ambedkar, as well as their followers , believed by implication that at some point in his life, the Hindu-born renunciate Buddha had broken away from Hinduism and adopted a new religion, Buddhism".

At some point in his life, the Hindu-born renunciate Buddha had broken away from Hinduism and adopted a new religion, Buddhism- What are you writing, it is not Buddha adopted a new religion, it is the followers who adopted the "way of living as shown by Buddha.

That means, Buddhism was already there before the birth of Buddha. Pl do not write becacuse, some one is there to publish your writing.

Dinesh said...

nice post! can you please tell Lord shiva's lingashtakam mantra along with its meaning and also who first wrote it.

tim drake said...


"the pure vegetarians (brahmins?) would shun those whose economic survival depends on killing animals, creating leather, fishing, eating meat, etc (untouchables?)." --- There is only one pure vegetarian population in India and that is, jains. As for brahmins, kashmiri pandits, maithili brahmins have traditionally performed animal sacrifices themselves and took meat as offering till very recently (as late as 20th century). Only selected brahmin groups are vegetarian in india.

"Did some Hindu scholars create caste system, or did they document and attempt to introduce new rules to a social structure that already existed? What objective, independent verifiable evidence do we have? By independent evidence, I mean two or more ancient independent sources." ---- There have been a lot of population genetics studies in india and it seems endogamy exists(and existed) in population who didn't come inside the traditional varna system like the so-called tribals and lot of south indian jaatis. So,it seems varna system overlays on top of jaatis. Mind you that there are just 4 varnas but more than 4,000 jaatis(and no , all jaatis are not formed as a result of inter-varna mixing)

Gururaj B N said...

@ American - I would say that no scholarly work can create something as complex as caste system. Sanskritic texts merely record what prevailed as practices in different parts of the Indian subcontinent. This is evident from the text of Manu Smriti. Then or now, would anyone adopt caste system, merely because someone writes in Sanskrit text?! While OBCs in India love caste system, generally they also join the chorus for "destroying the evil caste system".