Why Did Buddhism Fail to Take Hold in India?

Topics: Buddhism, Hinduism, Gautama Buddha Pages: 4 (1376 words) Published: September 19, 2010
It comes as a phenomenon at how Buddhism was driven from the land of its birth place due to Hinduisms ultimate triumph. It is difficult to say what specifically led to Buddhist decline from India; however, it is clear that Hinduism corresponded more elaborately with human needs, and established more direct connections with deities. The philosophy that Buddhism denies the importance of gods and emphasizes on expectations that people find their own ascetic paths in life may have been too heavy a burden for the ordinary person. The traditional religion of India was Brahmanism, which offered little comfort to the common people. The Brahmins were the highest of a four level social caste system. They had become extremely powerful due to their crucial role in the execution of sacrifices and mystical potency. Nonetheless, few could afford to pay for these sacrifices. Brahmanism and its teachings were understood only by the uppermost elite, and had little appeal to the common person. Many were dissatisfied with Brahman society, and a number of philosophical sects began to arise. Buddhism arose in the sixth century B.C.E. and demanded no intense physical austerities; the teachings of the Buddha were successful because they were simple and empirical, and most importantly accessible to all. Unlike Brahmanism, which was essentially ritualistic and mythological, the Buddha’s teachings were based upon the eightfold path. The Buddha stated that each person could achieve Nirvana, the ultimate spiritual fulfillment. Buddhism effectively ignored the social strata and it stressed that all castes could follow the Middle Way and eventually gain enlightenment; no matter how low they were in society. The religion’s optimistic outlook on the potential of each individual to transcend suffering and its accessibility and democracy rendered it immensely appealing to the people. (Barnes 1:113) A system of nuns and monks was established; creating a pervading notion of social equality that...

Cited: Barnes, Trevor. The Kingfisher Book of Religions: Festivals, Ceremonies, and Beliefs from around the World. New York: Kingfisher, 1999. Print.
I found this book useful because it creates parallels between the origins, developments, beliefs, festivals, and ceremonies of Hinduism and Buddhism.
Eliade, Mircea, ed. The Encyclopedia of Religion. Complete and Unabridged ed. Vol. 1-2. New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan, 1995. Print. ENC.
I found the encyclopedia to be very useful in providing facts to supporting my own path or thesis to understanding why Buddhism diverged from India and why Hinduism took its place?
Parrinder, Geoffrey, ed. World Religions : from Ancient History to the Present. New York, 1983. Print.
I found this to be a useful and reliable source that went into depth on the religions of Buddhism and Hinduism. Comparing the two religions I was able to draw tangible conclusions on the emergence of both theologies.
Sheean, Vincent. "THE BUDDHISM THAT WAS INDIA." Foreign Affairs. 1 Jan. 1951. Web. 2 Mar. 2010.
The article focuses on the spread of Buddhism in India while discussing its clash with Hindusim. It describes the decisive struggles of which took place between Buddhism and Hinduism for control of India, and it goes into the results that are still being seen in the evolution of the Asian peoples. I found this source to be very useful because it focuses directly on my topic.
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