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Was Buddha well known by western Romans in Late Antiquity?

Was Buddha well known by western Romans in Late Antiquity?

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St. Augustine of Hippo was Manichean before he became a Christian. I have read in Wikipedia that Mani, the prophet of Manichaeism, knew but rejected the doctrines of Buddha and that he died about a century before St. Augustine. There's also in Wikipedia information about Indian, maybe Buddhist, ambassadors and travelers arriving to Rome and Greece.

Is there any evidence to show that St. Augustine or some other common westerner Roman from his time (about 400 AD) was familiar with Buddha and his teachings? I want to exclude eastern Romans, like Syrians and Egyptians, from this question. When I say "common Roman" I mean ordinary, maybe educated people, like Augustine. I exclude politicians, merchants and ambassadors.

Perhaps not: this article by Alison Gopnik in The Atlantic suggests that Buddhism was barely known in Western Europe until the 1700s.

Was Buddha well known by western Romans in Late Antiquity? - History

#1 The Buda story says that there was this guy named budda. He wanted to go outside so his parent let him. when he went out he saw sick and dead people he asked people why they die . then he went to meditate and died wen he was 80
#2the people of anciet India lived in a land of extremes. The terrain was varied and often presented great challenges. Occasional extremes of weather such as droughts and monsoons were also part of life
#3Prithvi / is the goddes of earth she is also the goddes of fertillitey
Shiva/is the god who destroys the world when it is in a state of chaos. he is also the lord of the beasts.
Brahma/is the creator of the universe and the god of wisdom

well there once a king and a queen who live in the town of kapilavastu.A time later a baby was born and he started the buddha.

Task #1:Story of Budda. There was once a king named Suddhodana and a queen named Mahamaya. The queen dreamt that a white elaphant carrying a white lotust entered her right side. She later had a baby and a group of astrologers predicted that the yougn prince would either become a great emperor or a great spiritual leader. The prince never knew what happened outside the palace walls since he never left and he lived happily. One day the prince begged his father to let him outside of the palace and he learned that there was suffering in the world. After three visits he realised the fundamental truths of life. He took off his robes, cut his hair and sent them back to the palace. he then set out to find salvation. He went to the forests looking for wise men but this did not bring him satisfaction. So he meditated, achieved enlightenment, and became budda. Budda then traveled the world sharing his learnings. At his death he achieved nirvana.
Task #2:Geography. India had droughts and monsoons often. India is also a subcontinent. The land between the rivers were very fertile, so good for farming.
Task #3Early Hinduism. Agni was the messenger of the gods and always tell the truth. Dyaus was the god of the sky and fertility. Indra was the king of the gods and the god of thunder.

1.it is about a guy named Siddhartha Gautama who grew up in a palace and married a girl named Yashodhara and had a son named Rahula.then one day prince Siddhartha went in to a forest. then he sat under a tree to meditate.alot of demons came to tempt him, however he resisted them.after a week ao meditating he got very smart and was called Buddha. Buddha travled and shared his teachings. buddha died in 483 B.C. at the age of 80 and he became ashes.

1 Theres a king named Suddhodana and a queen named Mahamaya that lived in Kapilavastu in the sixth century B C. A baby was born and he was named Siddhartha Gautama.A young prince would grow up to be a great emperor.Siddharthas father ordered the city streets cleared of any one old or sick. 2

task #1: story or Buddha.
the story is about prince siddhartha growing up in the palace walls and never going out. so his dad one day let him go outside. before he went out his dad ordered all the sick or old people out of the roads so his son could not see them.but while he was out he did see and old person and wondered what was wrong with him. then he went a few times and found a sick person. he figured out that every man has to die and every man has to get sick. he went to sit under a tree and meditate for a few days and he acheived enlightement and from that time on he was known ad buddha.
task#2: geography.
people in india live in a land of extremes. the ganga was one of indias iimprtant rivers.another one of indias another imprtant river was the indus river.

There was a King named Suddhodana and a quees named Mahamaya who lived in the city of Kapilavastu.A little later, a baby was born to the queen .He was named Siddhartha Gautama.The prince grew up within the palace walls having no contact with the outside world . Siddhatha married a pretty girl named Yashodhara and they had a son.The little boy named Rahula.The King Suddhodana wanted to go outside so he did . He went outside and saw people who were old and sick . Suddhodana left his son and wife and set out to learn the way of finding salvation and understanding.

Its a guy named Siddartha and a queen named Mahamaya and they live in Kapilavastu. They had a chiled that is name Siddhartha Gautama. The prince grew up within the walls and having no contact with the outside world. The price Siddhartha married a beautiful princess named The little son was named Rahula.Yashodhara and they had a son. he was creamated and his ashes were divided up and taken in eaght. HE died when he was 80.

There once was a prince named Siddhartha that wanted to go out side the palace walls. One day, he saw a beautiful princess named Yashodhara and they had a son. The little boy's name was Rahula. Until one day, Prince Siddhartha tried to persuade his father to let him go outside the palace walls. His father let him go outside the palace walls and his father also ordered the city streets cleared of anyone who was old or sick. So when Siddhartha and his groom set out for their tour of the city chariots, they saw many young and happy people.

Task #1:
The Story of Buddha
Well the story of Buddha goes like this. There was a king and a queen. The queen had a dream with a white elephant with a lotus on it in it. The queen had a son named, Siddhartha Gautama. He married a person named, Yashodhara. He gave up the chance to be a king and instead he did spiritual stuff. Once he went into a forest talking with Wise men as he went along, he settled under a tree and started meditating. Dark spirits tempted him but he resisted. The Buddha died in 483 B.C. at the age of 80. He was cremated and his ashes were separated into four sections all to be buried in different places.

Task #2: Geography
In ancient India, there are many different terrains and land forms. But along the banks of the Indus & Ganges River. All different types of plants grow there.

Task #3: Early Hinduism
Indra, king of the gods. Dyaus, god of the sky. Agni, god of fire.

1. The Buddha: Once a long time ago there was a queen named Mahamaya and a king named Suddhodana. The queen had a dream the this white elephant carrying a white lotus in its trunk entered her right side. Over some time she had a baby she named him Siddhartha Gautama. Then some group of astrologers said that the baby would grow up to be a great emperor or would turn his back on privilege and power to become a great spiritual leader. So they put him in theas walls having no contact with the outside world. Soon he married a princess named Yashodhara and they had a son named Rahula. Then the prince saw this old man and a sick man and dead man so he was sent out to lean the way of finding salvation and understanding he did go into a forest and he found a old man but this did not help him so he moved on so then he got under a tree and stared to meditate and some demos came to tempt him but it did not work so then he was known as the buddha.

2.Geography:A lot of rivers flowed through ancint india making the land fertile. A important river in ancint indea was Ganga. The terraia was varied and often presented great challenges.

3.Early Hinduism: Prithvi is the goddess of the earth. Indra king of the gods and the god of thunder. Ushas goddess of dawn.

ello its kendall marina and caitlynn here we just wanted to say ello. and we sawdidid u :) at shunshine with ur magical laptop and pony named charlieee the unnniiicccooorrnnnn :) byeeee

Task #1: There was once a queen named Mahamaya who lived in the sixth century B.C. She eventually had a baby named Siddhartha Gautama. Later a group of astrologers predicted that he would become either a great emperor or a spiritual leader. The prince grew up outside of the castle walls having no contact with the outside world. One day he eventually convinced his father to go outside. He didn't know that his father had ordered anyone who was old or sick to stay off the city streets. So he saw many young and happy people. He saw an old man and was very touched because he didn't know how people get old. He left his wife, took off his princely robes and cut his hair. He later settled under a tree to meditate. After many days he achieved Enlightment. From that day one he was known as Buddha.
Task #2: They had droughts and monsoons. The monsoons brought very fertile land.
Task #3: #1 Indra is the king of the gods and the god of thunder
#2 Shiva is the god who destroys the world when it is in a state of chaos and ungodliness. He is also the lord of the beasts.
#3 Agni is the god of fire

Siddhartha Gautama he was a prince who became a buddha. A leader of a spiritchal relegan. Had to stay inside the castle. when he asked his dad if he could go out he let him. His dad tryed to hide all the sickes and old people. He say one sick person. Soo he meditated under the tree and he got state of higher spiritual understanding and achievement reached through reflection and meditation.
2# india had extremes of weather such as droughts and monsoons. The land had rivers, mountains, plains and deserts. Many rivers, such as Indus River and Ganges River, made the land fertile.
3. Agni is the god of fire. Indra is the king of the gods and the god of thunder. Ashwins are the twin gods of the morning.

1. The Buddha: Once a long time ago there was a queen named Mahamaya and a king named Suddhodana. The queen had a dream the this white elephant carrying a white lotus in its trunk entered her right side. Over some time she had a baby she named him Siddhartha Gautama. Then some group of astrologers said that the baby would grow up to be a great emperor or would turn his back on privilege and power to become a great spiritual leader. So they put him in theas walls having no contact with the outside world. Soon he married a princess named Yashodhara and they had a son named Rahula. Then the prince saw this old man and a sick man and dead man so he was sent out to lean the way of finding salvation and understanding he did go into a forest and he found a old man but this did not help him so he moved on so then he got under a tree and stared to meditate and some demos came to tempt him. After that he achieved enlightenment and then known as the Buddha.
Task 2: Geography. The terrain of India varied ofthen presented great challenges. Drought and monsoons were part of life in this land. Many rivers flowed through which made the land have very fertile soil.
Task 3: Early Hinduism. Agni is the god of fire. Ashwins are the twin gods of the morning. Brahma is the creator of the universe and the god of wisdom.

However, they also happened upon a feeble old man who was lying on the side of the rode. Siddhartha had asked someone to explain what was wrong with the man. He journeyed out into the city three more times and saw a sick man, a dead man and a sage. Siddhartha left his wife and son at the palace and set out to learn the way of finding salvation and understanding. At the edge of the city, he took off his princely robes, cut his hair and sent his groom back to the palace with his horse. Siddhartha wandered through the forests seeking understanding from wise men and ascetics. However, this did not bring him satisfaction or greater understanding. Finally, Siddhartha settled under a tree to meditate.
While he sat under the tree, demons came to tempt him.
He resisted them. After many days of meditating, Siddhartha achieved Enlightenment. From that point he was known as the Buddha.
The Buddha delivered his first sermon.
For the rest of his life, the Buddha travelled around sharing his teachings with many people. The Buddha died in 483 B.C. at the age of 80. Upon his death he attained Nirvana.
Task 2: The terrain was varied and often presented great challenges
Occasional extremes of weather such as droughts and monsoons were also part of life in India.
Many rivers also flowed through ancient India making the land fertile.
Task 3: Agni is the god of fire. He is shown as a man with red skin, three flaming heads, seven tongues, seven arms and three legs. Agni wears a garland of fruit. Agni is the messenger of the gods and always tells the truth. Ashwins are the twin gods of the morning. Ashwins are young, handsome and athletic. Ashwins are horsemen who are known for their goodwill towards humans. They are also the physicians to the gods. Vayu is the god of air and the wind. He rides in a chariot pulled by deer.
Vayu is seen as the god who brought life to all the gods and humans.

Task #1
This story is about a boy named Siddhartha Gautama. The prince grew up inside of the walls of the palace. He did not see the outside world while growing up. Siddhartha married a princess named Yashodhara and they had a son. They all lived in wealth and didn't know what it was like to be poor. This was until one day Siddhartha's father finally let his son, Siddhartha, outside the walls of the palace. When he went out,he saw a sick old man lying on the street. This made Siddhartha go out into the street three more times. Siddhartha set out on a journey and settled under a tree to meditate without all of his wealthy clothes on. He meditated for many days and achieved enlightenment. He then became known as the Buddha.

Task #2
India's terrain was different in different spots and gave great challenges.

Sometimes droughts would happen in their lifetime.

India's land was fertile because many rivers flow through it.

Task #3
Agni is the god of fire.

Shiva is the god who destroys the world.

Ushas is the goddess of the dawn.

2.the cloud-cattle brought rain to earth which made crops grow so we can eatthe demon hated people.One day the demon tricked the cloud- cattleand put them in a cave. The people didn't have water because of the cloud-cattle.3 Narayana was laying on the leaf.He created the speech.He created the rain and theclouds.He created lightning,rock
moutians,and then the universe was created.

#1. Siddhartha goutama was a prince who lived in a palace. He did not know about the city or sick or old man and learned that sick or old people existed. He sought aduise from wise men but got no help. He meditated under a tree . Demons tempted him but he didn't give in. He got enlightenment and became the Budda.

#2India is the land of extremes. it has two rivers the Indus and the Ganges .City's bult along the rivers .

#3 Duyaus is the god of the sky. agri is the god of fire . lakshmi is the godest of wealth.

#2 The people of ancient India lived in a land of extreames. The terrain was varied and often presented great ghallenges. Many rivers also flowed through ancient India making the land fertile.

Task #3. #1 Agni hes the god of fire. #2 Indra god of gods and god of thunder. #3 Shiva god of destroyer.

Task #1 The Buddha: The story of Buddha started when a boy was born and his name was Siddhartha Gautama and astrologers predicted that he would grow up to a great emperor or he would turn his back on privilege and power to become a great spiritual leader.
He grew up inside the palace walls with no contact with the outside world. Later he finally persuaded his father to let him go outside the palace walls to see the city. But, what Siddhartha did not know was that his father had ordered the city streets cleared of anyone who was old or sick. So when Siddhartha went outside the palace walls he saw only happy and young people. But he passed by an old man and he asked someone to explain what was wrong with the man. Siddhartha was very moved by the suffering of the old man.
Siddhartha left his wife and son at the palace and set out to learn the way of finding salvation and understanding.At the edge of the city, he took off his princely robes, cut his hair and sent his groom back to the palace with his horse. He wandered through the forests seeking understanding from wise men and ascetics. However, this did not bring him satisfaction or greater understanding. Finally, Siddhartha settled under a tree to meditate.
While he sat under the tree, demons came to tempt him. However, he resisted them. After many days of meditating, Siddhartha achieved Enlightenment. From that point, he was known as the Buddha. The Buddha delivered his first sermon at Sarnath. In this sermon he shared the knowledge he had gained through meditation and set the Wheel of the Law in motion. For the rest of his life, the he travled around sharing his teachings with many people.
He died in 483 B.C. at the age of 80. Upon his death he attained Nirvana. After his body was cremated, his ashes were divided up and taken to eight different sites. At each of these sites, a mound-like structure called a stupa was built to contain the ashes.Over time, many stupas were built and rebuilt, serving as centres of worship for the Buddha's followers.
Task #2 Geography: The people of ancient India lived in a land of extremes. The terrain was varied and often presented great challenges. Occasional extremes of weather such as droughts and monsoons were also part of life in this land. However, great civilizations developed and flourished amidst the rivers, mountains, plains and deserts of the subcontinent. Many rivers also flowed through ancient India making the land fertile. One of the main rivers to be used in ancient times was the Indus river in the north-west (what is now north-western India and Pakistan). It was on the banks of the Indus river that the earliest civilization in India to use writing, build large buildings and organise cities flourished for nearly one thousand years.
Another important river in ancient India was the Ganga. Settlements, cities and towns developed on the banks of this powerful river from as early as prehistoric times.
Task #3 Early Hinduism: Vishnu: Vishnu was a minor deity in early times. Later on, he became one of the main Hindu gods. He appears as a man with four arms riding on a mythical bird or resting on a serpent. In his four hands, Vishnu holds a conch shell, a discus, a lotus and a mace.
From time to time, Vishnu descends to earth in a human, animal or creature form to restore the balance of good and evil in the world. It is thought that he has descended nine times already. Some of his more well-known incarnations are the hero Krishna, the hero Rama, a tortoise and a fish.Shiva: Shiva is the god who destroys the world when it is in a state of chaos and ungodliness. He is also the lord of the beasts. Shiva is associated with meditation.
Shiva wears a snake coiled round his neck and hair. He holds a trident in his hand and sits on a deer skin in a yogic position. Shiva rides on a bull called Nandi.
Ganesha: Ganesha is the god of wisdom.

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#1 Siddhartha Goutama was a prince who lived inside a palace.One day he went outside the palace and discovered a new thing. That was Buddisum.

#2India is a land of extreme. There were cities built along the two rivers called the Indus and Ganges.

#3 Agri the god of fire,Dyraus the god of sky.Lakshmi godess of wealth

Along time ago sixth century bc in a city called Kapilavastu there as a king named Suddhodana and a queen named Mahamaya .One day the queen was in the palace dreamt that a white elephant carring a white lotus.

Task 1: Siddhartha started to achieve enlightment and then he became known as Buddha. Buddha delivered his first sermon at Sarnath. In this sermon he shared the knowledge he had gained through meditation and set the Wheel of the Law in motion.

there was once a queen and she was dreaming that there was an elephant with white lotus on its trunk that was right by her. the next day she had a child. his name was siddhartha gautama.When he was growing up he married a beatiful princess. they had a child. his name was Rahula.Siddhartha was ever out of his parents sight so that might mean that he was never let outside. So one day he asked his dad if he can go outside. his dad said yes so they got chariots and went outside. they saw young and happy people but then they saw a feeble man. they could easliy see that he was exhausted so they went back to the palace and siddhartha told his wife that he is going to leave them and go and help other people.So for the rest of his life he was known as budda from then on.

1 when a kide was born he had to stay in his homeuntell he got outand left.

Beware of Literary Stockholm Syndrome

The book is popular. That’s not surprising given how good a con job it is. People are raving about it.

Stockholm Syndrome is where hostages develop a psychological bond with their captors. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Shambhala and Weingast have captured many minds. They’ve induced pleasant feelings in many readers. People bond with books they like.

But reveal to those readers that they’ve been conned by deceptive marketing, and they don’t like it. It’s unpleasant to know you’ve been misled. Tell them that the book hasn’t offered them any contact with the nuns whose poems it purports to contain, and they often don’t want to hear, because that knowledge threatens to undermine the pleasant feelings they’ve experienced. So they’re often tempted to defend the book and dismiss the deception and delusion surrounding it. It’s worth remembering that dynamic and being explicit about it, so that people can “unhook” from their bonding.

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it…”

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it”: This is just the start of a calamitous misreading of a famous passage from the Kalama Sutta. I’ve dealt with a libertarian mistranslation of this verse elsewhere, but this version is different.

But here’s the full quote, lifted from one of the well-known quotes sites that litter the web:

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
Buddha quotes (Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)

It’s ironic that this, one of the commonest Fake Buddha Quotes, is about not believing things just because you’ve read them somewhere, but for many people the assumption seems to be, “It must be true — I saw it on a website!”

So first let me state that the Buddha was not a “Hindu Prince.” He was not a “Hindu” and he was not a “prince.” We don’t know what, if any, religious tradition the Buddha-to-be followed in his youth, and the first mention that’s made of any religious endeavors is his encounters with the two teachers Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta. These two teachers followed meditative traditions, but it’s anachronistic to refer to them, or the Buddha, as Hindus. Certainly, by the time he was “Buddha” (The One Who Is Awakened) he’d rejected all of the major teachings derived from the Vedic tradition, including the caste system, the worship of the gods, the efficacy of sacrifice, the power of prayer, the notion that one can purify oneself through ritual, and so on. If we were to (anachronistically) describe those beliefs and practices as “Hindu” then the Buddha had thoroughly rejected Hinduism.

The Buddha himself came from a Republic in which there were, of course, no kings and no princes. In the early texts there is no mention of him being a prince or his father being a king. The Sakyan Republic from which he came was governed instead by a ruling council, probably comprising the heads of the most important families. His father may have been the elected head of this council. That’s very different from his father having been a king.

The Buddha lived at a time when the last republics (including the one in which he was born) were starting to be swallowed up by the newly-emergent monarchies. In his own lifetime his homeland was conquered by and absorbed into a neighboring kingdom. Several hundred years later, monarchies were well-established, the republics were largely forgotten and unimaginable, and so people imagined the Buddha as having been born in a kingdom. And because people like their heroes he was seen as an heir to that kindgom — an heir, no less, that rejected kingship for an even more noble spiritual “career.” This story, although powerful, if a myth.

But on to the quote. In the original Kalama Sutta, we have (in Thanissaro’s translation):

“Now, Kalamas, don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful these qualities are blameless these qualities are praised by the wise these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness’ — then you should enter & remain in them.”

I won’t go through a point-by-point comparison, but look at the two criteria for acceptance of teachings:

  • Fake Quote: But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
  • Scriptural Quote: When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful these qualities are blameless these qualities are praised by the wise these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness’ — then you should enter & remain in them.

In the original scriptural quote, accepting something merely because it “agrees with reason” would seem to be rejected, because “logical conjecture” and “inference” have been rejected, at least as sufficient bases for accepting a teaching as valid. It’s not that logic is rejected as such, just that it can’t be entirely relied on. What is needed is experience. We need to “know for ourselves.”

What we need to know for ourselves is not whether a teaching “agrees with reason” but whether when put into practice it is skillful, blameless, praised by the wise, and lead to welfare and to happiness.

This garbled version of the Kalama Sutta appeared in a 1956 book called “2500 Buddha Jayanti,” celebrating the 2500th anniversary of the Buddha’s parinirvana. I haven’t been able to get hold of this book, but I suspect that this recasting of the Buddha’s teaching may have been done to make Buddhism appear more “rational.”

The exact quote found in “2500 Buddha Jayanti” (page 39) is as follows (the typos and grammatical errors are in the original):

Do not believe in anything (simply) because you have heard it Do not believe in traditions, because they been handed down for many generations Do not believe in anything, because it is spoken and rumoured by many Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

However, it goes back further. A commenter below pointed out that the same quote is found in the first of three lectures given in 1951 by Sayagyi U Ba Khin, who was S. N. Goenka’s teacher. These lectures are available online here and are also published in a book called “What Buddhism Is” (download for free here).

Do not believe in what you have heard do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations do not believe in anything because it is rumoured and spoken by many do not believe merely because a written statement of some old sage is produced do not believe in conjectures do not believe in that as truth to which you have become attached from habit do not believe merely the authority of your teachers and elders. After observation and analysis, when it agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and gain of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

This is almost identical, the differences being mere changes in wording. This is no doubt the prototype of the “Buddha Jayanti” quote. Unfortunately my local library has been unable to get me a copy of “2500 Buddha Jayanti” through Inter-Library Loan, so I can’t tell if Sayagyi U Ba Khin was the speaker at the conference who used this quote. However, I have searched the Google Book version linked to above, and no results appear for his name.

In “What Buddhism Is” Sayagyi U Ba Khin gives a reference for his quote. In a footnote he says it’s from the Pali Text Society’s “Book of the Gradual Sayings Vol I” (Anguttara Nikaya), page 171 onward. But his version of the quote doesn’t at all resemble that found in the “Gradual Sayings.” That translation, by F. L. Woodward, has:

Now look you, Kalamas. Be ye not misled by report or tradition or hearsay. Be not misled by proficiency in the collections [pitakas], nor by mere logic or inference, nor after consider­ing reasons, nor after reflection on and approval of some theory, nor because it fits becoming, nor out of respect for a recluse (who holds it). But if at any time ye know of yourselves: These things are profit­able, they are blameless, they are praised by the intelligent: these things, when performed and undertaken, conduce to profit and happiness,—then, Kalamas, do ye, having under­ taken them, abide therein.

Although the language is archaic, it’s not hard to see that this closely resembles Thanissaro’s translation above, and that it disagrees with Sayagyi U Ba Khin’s fake quote because it too recognizes that reason is not a sufficient basis for accepting something as true. Here again the criteria for accepting or rejecting a truth are knowing for oneself that it is profitable (in terms of long-term human happiness), blameless, and praised by the wise.

So at the moment my hypothesis is that Sayagyi U Ba Khin changed the wording of the Kalama Sutta in order to make it appear more rationalistic, or that he use an altered version created by someone else.

And then subsequently, a speaker at the 2500 Jayanti Conference (probably not Sayagyi U B Khin himself) tidied it up a little and presented it in the context of a talk, leading to it appearing in this book and thus gaining wider currency. Who the actual speaker is remains unknown to me, and will do until I can get hold of the 2500 Buddha Jayanti text.

4Out of the Myth-Smokec520&ndashc320 BC

M APS PRINTED AFTER 1947 sometimes show the republic of India not as &lsquoIndia&rsquo but as &lsquoBharat&rsquo. The word derives from Bharata-varsha, &lsquothe land of the Bharatas&rsquo, these Bharatas being the most prominent and distinguished of the early Vedic clans. By adopting this term the new republic in Delhi could, it was argued, lay claim to a revered arya heritage which was geographically vague enough not to provoke regional jealousies, and doctrinally vague enough not to jeopardise the republic&rsquos avowed secularism.

In the first flush of independence &lsquoBharat&rsquo would seem preferable, because the word &lsquoIndia&rsquo was too redolent of colonial disparagement. It also lacked a respectable indigenous pedigree. For although British claims to have incubated an &lsquoIndia consciousness&rsquo were bitterly contested, there was no gainsaying the fact that in the whole colossal corpus of Sanskrit literature nowhere called &lsquoIndia&rsquo is ever mentioned nor does the term occur in Buddhist or Jain texts nor was it current in any of South Asia&rsquos numerous other languages. Worse still, if etymologically &lsquoIndia&rsquo belonged anywhere, it was not to the republic proclaimed in Delhi by Jawaharlal Nehru but to its rival headed by Mohammed Ali Jinnah in Pakistan.

Partition would have a way of dividing the subcontinent&rsquos spoils with scant reference to history. Pakistan inherited the majority of the main Harappan sites, so depriving India of the most tangible proof of its vaunted antiquity. Conversely, India inherited most of the subcontinent&rsquos finest Islamic architecture, so depriving Muslim Pakistanis of what they regard as their own glorious heritage. No tussle over the word &lsquoIndia&rsquo is reported because Jinnah preferred the newly coined and very Islamic-sounding acronym that is &lsquoPakistan&rsquo (see p. 496). Additionally, he was under the impression that neither state would want to adopt the British title of &lsquoIndia&rsquo. He only discovered his mistake after Lord Mountbatten, the last British viceroy, had already acceded to Nehru&rsquos demand that his state remain &lsquoIndia&rsquo. Jinnah, according to Mountbatten, &lsquowas absolutely furious when he found out that they [Nehru and the Congress Party] were going to call themselves India&rsquo. 1 The use of the word implied a subcontinental primacy which Pakistan would never accept. It also flew in the face of history, since &lsquoIndia&rsquo originally referred exclusively to territory in the vicinity of the Indus river (with which the word is cognate). Hence it was largely outside the republic of India but largely within Pakistan.

The reservations about the word &lsquoIndia&rsquo, which had convinced Jinnah that neither side would use it, stemmed from its historical currency amongst outsiders, especially outsiders who had designs on the place. Something similar could, of course, be said about terms like &lsquoBritain&rsquo, &lsquoGermany&rsquo or &lsquoAmerica&rsquo when first these words were recorded, all were objects of conquest. But in the case of &lsquoIndia&rsquo this demeaning connotation had lasted until modern times. &lsquoHindustan&rsquo, &lsquoIndia&rsquo or &lsquothe Indies&rsquo (its more generalised derivative) had come, as if by definition, to denote an acquisition rather than a territory. Geographically imprecise, indeed moveable if one took account of all the &lsquoIndians&rsquo in the Americas, &lsquoIndia&rsquo was yet conceptually concrete: it was somewhere to be coveted &ndash as an intellectual curiosity, a military pushover and an economic bonanza. To Alexander the Great as to Mahmud of Ghazni, to Timur the Lame as to his Mughal descendants, and to Nadir Shah of Persia as to Robert Clive of Plassey, &lsquoIndia&rsquo was a place worth the taking.

The first occurrence of the word sets the trend. It makes its debut in an inscription found at Persepolis in Iran, which was the capital of the Persian or Achaemenid empire of Darius I, he whose far-flung battles included defeat at Marathon by the Athenians in 490 BC . Before this, Darius had evidently enjoyed greater success on his eastern frontier, for the Persepolis inscription, dated to c518 BC , lists amongst his numerous domains that of &lsquoHi(n)du&rsquo.

The word for a &lsquoriver&rsquo in Sanskrit is sindhu. Hence sapta-sindhu meant &lsquo[the land of] the seven rivers&rsquo, which was what the Vedic arya called the Panjab. The Indus, to which most of these seven rivers were tributary, was the sindhu par excellence and in the language of ancient Persian, a near relative of Sanskrit, the initial &lsquos&rsquo of a Sanskrit word was invariably rendered as an aspirate &ndash &lsquoh&rsquo. Soma, the mysterious hallucinogen distilled, deified and drunk to excess by the Vedic arya, is thus homa or haoma in old Persian and sindhu is thus Hind[h]u. When, from Persian, the word found its way into Greek, the initial aspirate was dropped, and it started to appear as the route &lsquoInd&rsquo (as in &lsquoIndia&rsquo, &lsquoIndus&rsquo, etc.). In this form it reached Latin and most other European languages. However, in Arabic and related languages it retained the initial &lsquoh&rsquo, giving &lsquoHindustan&rsquo as the name by which Turks and Mughals would know India. That word also passed on to Europe to give &lsquoHindu&rsquo as the name of the country&rsquos indigenous people and of what, by Muslims and Christians alike, was regarded as their infidel religion.

On the strength of a slightly earlier Iranian inscription which makes no mention of Hindu, it is assumed that the region was added to Darius&rsquo Achaemenid empire in or soon after 520 BC . This earlier inscription does, however, refer to &lsquoGadara&rsquo, which looks like Gandhara, a maha-janapada or &lsquostate&rsquo mentioned in both Sanskrit and Buddhist sources and located in an arc reaching from the western Panjab through the north-west frontier to Kabul and perhaps into southern Afghanistan (where &lsquoKandahar&rsquo is the same word). According to Xenophon and Herodotus, Gandhara had been conquered by Cyrus, one of Darius&rsquo predecessors. The first Achaemenid or Persian invasion may therefore have taken place as early as the mid-sixth century BC . That it was an invasion, rather than a migration or even perhaps a last belated influx of charioteering arya, seems likely from a reference to Cyrus dying of a wound inflicted by the enemy. The enemy were the &lsquoDerbikes&rsquo they enjoyed the support of the Hindu people and were supplied by them with war-elephants. In Persian and Greek minds alike, the association of Hindu with elephants was thereafter almost as significant as its connection with the mighty Indus. To Alexander of Macedon, following in the Achaemenids&rsquo footsteps two centuries later, the river would be a geographical curiosity, but the elephants were a military obsession.

If Gandhara was already under Achaemenid rule, Darius&rsquoHindu must have lain beyond it, and so to the south or the east. Later Iranian records refer to Sindhu, presumably an adoption of the Sanskrit spelling, whence derives the word &lsquoSind&rsquo, now Pakistan&rsquos southernmost province. It seems unlikely, though, that Sindhu was Sind in the late sixth century BC , since Darius subsequently found it necessary to send a naval expedition to explore the Indus. Flowing through the middle of Sind, the river would surely have been familiar to any suzerain of the region. More probably, then,Hindu lay east of Gandhara, perhaps as a wedge of territory between it, the jana-padas of eastern Panjab, and the deserts of Rajasthan. It thus occupied much of what is now the Panjab province of Pakistan.

Under Xerxes, Darius&rsquo successor, troops from what had become the Achaemenids&rsquo combined &lsquosatrapy&rsquo of Gandhara and Hindu reportedly served in the Achaemenid forces. These Indians were mostly archers, although cavalry and chariots are also mentioned they fought as far afield as eastern Europe and some were present at the Persians&rsquo bloody victory over Leonidas and his Spartans at Thermopylae, and then at the decisive defeat by the Greeks at Plataea. Through these and other less fraught contacts between Greeks and Persians, Greek writers like Herodotus gleaned some idea of &lsquoIndia&rsquo. Compared to the intervening lands of Anatolia and Iran, it appeared a veritable paradise of exotic plenty. Herodotus told of an immense population and of the richest soil imaginable from which kindly ants, smaller than dogs but bigger than foxes, threw up hillocks of pure gold-dust. The ants may have intrigued entomologists, but the gold was what registered in political circles. With rivers to rival the Nile and behemoths from which to give battle, it was clearly a land of fantasy as well as wealth.

Herodotus, of course, knew only of the Indus region, and that by hearsay. Hence he did not report that the land of Hindu was of sensational extent, nor did he deny the popular belief that beyond its furthest desert, where in reality the Gangetic plain interminably spreads, lay the great ocean which supposedly encircled the worldHindu or &lsquoIndia&rsquo (but in fact Pakistan) was therefore believed to be the end of terra firma, a worthy culmination to any emperor&rsquos ambitions as well as a fabulous addition to his portfolio of conquests. In abbreviated form, Herodotus&rsquoHistory circulated widely. A hundred years after his death it was still avidly read by northern Greeks in Macedonia, where a teenage Alexander &lsquoknew it well enough to quote and follow its stories&rsquo. 2

The traffic that resulted from the Achaemenid incursion into India was not all one-way. It may well have been from contacts between Indian troops and the enemies of the Achaemenid empire that Sanskrit acquired a name for the Greeks. Long before Alexander&rsquos arrival on the scene, they became known in India as Yona or Yavana, words derived from a Persian spelling of &lsquoIonian&rsquo but which would thereafter serve to designate almost any people belonging to the lands west of the Indus who were alien to India&rsquos traditions. Such peoples were also by definition mleccha (foreign and unable to speak properly), and hence despicably casteless. But caste being assimilative as well as exclusive, they might, as overlords, aspire to the status of vratya ksatriya, or &lsquodegenerate&rsquoksatriya. Macedonians, Bactrians, Kushans, Scythians and Arabs would all at some time be called Yavanas, and many would eventually be awarded vratya caste status.


On the frontier of the Achaemenids&rsquo Indian satrapy lay the city of Taxila (Takashila). Some thirty kilometres from what is now Pakistan&rsquos capital of Islamabad, it was not agriculturally disadvantaged, although in the absence of major irrigation schemes the Panjab was scarcely the land of wheat, sugarcane and canals which it is today. Indeed, Taxila seems to have owed its early urbanisation more to its economically strategic location. Here, by way of rugged trails like that of the Khyber from Afghanistan, passed all trade &ndash horses, gold, precious stones and luxury textiles &ndash between the Achaemenid world and the emerging Gangetic states. The city prospered as did the satrapy. According to Herodotus, the latter yielded to the Achaemenids a tribute of &lsquoant-gold&rsquo which was nearly five times more than the tribute extracted from Babylon and seven times that from Egypt.

Such wealth attracted to Taxila artisans and scholars as well as merchants. Sir John Marshall, who excavated the site in the 1940s, found three cities, the oldest of which lay beneath the Bhir Mound. There rubble walls indicated several levels of occupation, beginning with one which certainly belonged to the Iron Age and probably to &lsquothe close of the sixth century BC &rsquo.

&hellipit would follow that this, the earliest settlement on the Bhir Mound, was little, if at all earlier than the invasion of Darius I and it may even be plausibly conjectured, though there is no tangible evidence to support the conjecture, that Taxila owed its foundation to the Persian conqueror. 3

Amongst Taxila&rsquos imports from the west came the Aramaic script, which may have been the first script to be used in India since that of the Harappans. Whether or not the city was founded by the Achaemenids, it began heavily in debt to its western contacts, and would later become something of a showcase for imported western and even Mediterranean ideas and artefacts.

Yet it was also revered as a citadel of orthodoxy by the janapadas in the east. In the Ramayana it is claimed that Taxila was founded by one of Lord Rama&rsquos nephews in the Mahabharata it is said that it was actually at Taxila that the story of the great Bharata war was first told. Clearly the place was highly regarded throughout northern India. Students went there to learn the purest Sanskrit. Kautilya, whose Arthasastra is the classic Indian treatise on statecraft, is said to have been born there in the third century BC . It was also in Taxila that, in the previous century, Panini compiled a grammar more comprehensive and scientific than any dreamed of by Greek grammarians. &lsquoOne of the greatest intellectual achievements of any ancient civilisation&rsquo, 4 it so refined the literary usage of the day that the language became permanently &lsquofrozen&rsquo and was ever after known as Samskrta (&lsquoperfected&rsquo, hence &lsquoSanskrit&rsquo). Given the defining role of language in arya identity, ritual observance and social differentiation, the importance of Panini&rsquos work and of Taxila&rsquos patronage can scarcely be exaggerated.

From Panini&rsquos examples of different grammatical forms some historical information may also be garnered. &lsquoEastern Bharatas&rsquo, for instance, is Panini&rsquos example of tautology and verbosity the &lsquoeastern&rsquo, he implies, is a superfluous qualification since everyone knows that Bharatas live in the east. It follows that by the fourth century BC all clans claiming Bharata descent must long have been located to the east of Taxila &ndash like the Kuru in the Doab. Incidentally, by this chance example Panini also hinted at a definition ofBharata-varsha which, as &lsquoBharat&rsquo, would nicely serve the purposes of twentieth-century nationalists in a Pakistan-less India.

Legitimacy as conferred by descent from the Bharatas, or one of the other arya clans, was yet more critical to emerging dynasties of dubious origin in the late first millennium BC . It accounts for the emphasis on genealogy in the much-revised epics and for the manipulation of descent lines in the Puranas it may also account, along with trade, for the primacy accorded to Taxila located in the heartland of the arya&rsquos original &lsquoland of the seven rivers&rsquo.

Nowhere was this need for legitimacy more acutely felt than amongst the thrusting new states and cities far away to the east in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. By way of the uttarapatha, the &lsquoNorthern Route&rsquo along the base of the Himalayas, they maintained close contacts with Taxila and, judging by the punch-marked coins found in the Bhir Mound, were soon financing much of its trade. To them the city owed its prominence quite as much as to Achaemenid enterprise. For while Gandhara and &lsquoIndia&rsquo remained under Achaemenid suzerainty well into the fourth century BC , another would-be imperium, India&rsquos first and much its proudest, had begun flexing its muscles in the distant plains of southern Bihar.

Here, in the kingdom of Magadha, between the south bank of the sprawling Ganga and the rolling forests of Chota Nagpur, in a region today of the bleakest rural poverty with cities of almost unendurable squalor, the historian&rsquos patience is finally rewarded. From a pre-historic dawn as shrouded in myth as any, the smoke of burnt offerings and ancient obscurities begins at last to lift. A sparsely featured but genuinely historical landscape is briefly revealed.

At the easternmost extremity of the uttarapatha, the kingdom of Magadha, with its capital at Rajagriha (Rajgir), occupied the region between today&rsquos unlovely cities of Patna and Gaya. Its location coincided with that of the sacred trails trodden by the Buddha and Mahavira and its rise coincided with their followers&rsquo concern for an accurate record of the masters&rsquo lives and teachings. In consequence, a succession of authentic historical figures, together with a chain of related events, at last looms dimly from the myth-smoke.


Only the dates remain problematic. Buddhist sources show a healthy respect for chronology, and usually disdain the mathematical symmetries and astronomical exaggerations found in Vedic and Jain texts. Like Christians, they count the years to, and then from, a major event in the life of their founder. Thus, just as Christians measure time from the birth of Christ, so do Buddhists from the death, or parinirvana (achievement of nirvana ), of the Buddha. Neither of these benchmarks can be determined with absolute precision. But because the Christian BC /ad system has become something of an international convention, it matters little that Christ may in fact have been born, not in zero AD , but several years later. On the other hand, it matters much that, depending on the tradition endorsed, the Buddha may have died either 350 to 400, 483 to 486, or even 544 years &lsquoBefore Christ&rsquo.

Obviously, if the Buddhist chronology had commanded international regard, an agreed date for the parinirvana would long since have emerged, and it would then be the uncertainties about when Christ was born in terms of the Buddhist reckoning which would be considered unsettling. Euro-centric, or Christo-centric, assumptions about the measurement of time should be viewed with caution. Like those map projections which give mid-sheet prominence to Europe or the Americas, they carry an inherent distortion.

Nevertheless, the widely divergent dates adduced for the Buddha&rsquos parinirvana do pose serious problems. That of 544 BC derives from a much later Sri Lankan tradition and is usually discarded. As between the 486 BC of Indian tradition and the 483 BC of a Chinese record, the difference is slight and not too important. Indeed, it was the near congruence of these two dates which led the majority of scholars to accept their validity one or other was used to deduce a date for the Buddha&rsquos birth of c566&ndash3 BC , which thus became &lsquothe earliest certain date in Indian history&rsquo. Recently, however, opinion has swung towards a much later dating for the parinirvana, in fact &lsquoabout eighty to 130 years before Ashoka&rsquos coronation [in 268 BC ], i.e. not a very long time before Alexander&rsquos Indian campaign [327&ndash5 BC ], i.e. between c400 BC and c350 BC &rsquo. 5 This reappraisal of the evidence, mainly by German scholars, shunts the Buddha forward by around a century. Besides promoting the Achaemenid conquest of Hindu in c520 BC to the status of India&rsquos first (more or less) certain date, it carries potentially devastating consequences for the chronology of just about every development in India of the first millennium BC . The Vedic period may have to be extended into the sixth century, state-formation and urbanisation brought forward to the fifth century, and the chronology of Magadha before the appearance of Ashoka condensed into a hundred years.

Alternatively, it may be taken to suggest a much longer time-lapse between the India of later Vedic texts, like the Upanisads, and that of the earliest Buddhist and Jain texts. Even a cursory acquaintance with these sources leaves the reader wondering whether they can possibly refer to the same society. The Sanskrit texts evoke a mostly agrarian way of life in which states play a minor part and status is governed by lineage and ritual observance. Buddhist and Jain texts, on the other hand, portray a network of functioning states, each with an urban nucleus heavily engaged in trade and production. Here wealth as much as lineage confers status. Indeed, the Buddhist concept of &lsquomerit&rsquo as something to be earned, accumulated, occasionally transferred and eventually realised seems inconceivable without a close acquaintance with the moneyed economy. By interleaving between these two societies a further century, Buddhism&rsquos newly revised or &lsquoshort chronology&rsquo allows for a more gradual and credible evolution of state and city without unduly taxing the archaeological record.

Similarly, it allows room for the evolution of a tradition of heterodoxy and dissent. Buddhist texts in particular portray a society that was already in religious ferment when the Buddha was born. Rival holy-men swarm across the countryside performing feats of endurance, disputing one another&rsquos spiritual credentials and vying with one another for followers and patronage. That this was not simply the impression of partisan hotheads is shown by the dispassionate Kautilya whose compendium on statecraft, theArthasastra, recognises such renunciates as an important constituent of any state they are to be given legal protection and free passage special forest areas are to be allotted to them for meditation, and special lodging-houses in the city. Saints or charlatans, they evidently mirrored a society to which the paranormal, the supernatural and the metaphysical had a strong appeal. Many of them went naked or unwashed and they cheerfully flouted the taboos of caste status. Defying social convention, they yet enjoyed society&rsquos indulgence. Renunciation had become an accepted way of life in which asceticism was seen as a prerequisite to spiritual enlightenment.

The philosophies on offer from this rag-tag army of reformers ranged from mind-boggling mysticism to defiant nihilism and blank agnosticism, from the outright materialism of the Lokayats to the heavy determinism of the Ajivikas, and from the rationalism of the Buddha to the esotericism of Mahavira. Most, however, agreed in condemning the extravagance of Vedic sacrifice, in sidelining the Vedic pantheon, and in ignoring brahmanical authority. Moreover many, including the Jains, Buddhists and Ajivikas, recognised an assortment of antecedents whose teachings or experiences had in some sense anticipated their own. In other words, Mahavira, the Buddha, and Gosala of the Ajivikas acknowledged well established traditions of heterodoxy and as one might infer from their own reception, they were able to capitalise on an already existing thirst for spiritual and moral guidance, as well as on an abiding credulity. Clearly the new sources of wealth and authority associated with state-formation and urbanisation had plunged society into a crisis which the rigidities of the varnasramadharma (the organisation of society into caste varnas and into social vocations based on age) could scarcely accommodate, and to which the ritual oblations of the Vedas seemed irrelevant as well as wildly extravagant.

Adopting, then, not the conventional 486&ndash3bc for the parinirvana but some date between 400 and 350 BC , one may place the birth of Siddhartha Gautama, the &lsquoBuddha&rsquo, some time in the mid-fifth century. Like his contemporary, Mahavira Nataputta of the Jains, he was a ksatriya, the son of Suddhodana,raja of the Sakyas. The Sakya state being one of those republican gana-sanghas, it had many rajas. And since their chief was elected, the &lsquoPrince&rsquo Siddhartha of later legend must be considered a fabrication. Moreover, Kapilavastu, the Sakya capital, was not a major political centre. Just within the southern border of present-day Nepal, it may have served as a staging post on the uttarapatha. Trade and craftsmanship were more the Buddha&rsquos milieu than royal ceremonial. The affluence against which he eventually reacted by renouncing his wife and family to begin an enquiry into the human condition may have been real equally it may have been the perceived luxury of more celebrated urban centres like Vaisali, capital of the Licchavis, or the Koshalan metropolis of Sravasti, or Rajagriha in Magadha.

In the course of his quest, Siddhartha visited all of these places and studied under a variety of distinguished but ultimately unconvincing teachers. On one occasion, while traversing Magadha, he met its king. His name was Bimbisara and the date (given the Buddhist &lsquoshort chronology&rsquo) must have been around 400 BC . Bimbisara&rsquos origins are uncertain, but he is said to have lived for over fifty years. He was now in the middle of his reign, and had already added to his domain the important kingdom of Anga.

Anga lay to the east, with its famed capital at Champa in west Bengal. Thence Magadha gained access by river to the Bay of Bengal, where Tamluk (Tamralipti, near Calcutta) would become a thriving port for trade with the peninsula, Burma and Sri Lanka. Having inherited access to the rich copper and iron deposits of southern Bihar, Bimbisara had thus in effect laid another of the foundations of Magadhan supremacy. Seemingly a just and practical ruler, he married much but not always wisely. Dealings with Koshala, Avanti (Malwa), Taxila and the Licchhavis are recorded and, with the exception of the last, they were generally amicable. A rudimentary administrative system is evident and, possessed of a ready source of both elephants and metals, it has been suggested that Magadha&rsquos military establishment was well equipped and professionally organised. Whether Bimbisara worried about manpower being drained off by the ferment of heterodox sects is not recorded. But he did advise the wandering Siddhartha to return to his proper ksatriya station, and offered to provide him with a suitable establishment.

The advice was rejected. For the next few years Siddhartha remained in Magadha but was much on the move. Like those earlier exiles in the epics, he had forsaken the security of a settled, civilised life for the uncertainties of the vagrant and the outcaste. Austerities, whether unavoidable or selfimposed, cowed the appetites, cleared the mind, and let the spirit soar. After prolonged meditation beneath a tree at the place henceforth called Buddh Gaya, the now thirty-five-year-old Siddhartha Gautama at last isolated the nature of suffering and transience, formulated a scheme for over-coming it, and so attained Enlightenment. As the Buddha, the &lsquoEnlightened One&rsquo, he hastened to Varanasi, and in the Deer Park at nearby Sarnath, evidently one of those forest areas reserved for ascetics, he propounded his reasoning to five erstwhile companions in what is known as the First Sermon.

The imagery of the Buddha&rsquos &lsquoMiddle Way&rsquo (between the extremes of indulgence and asceticism) with its &lsquoNoble Eightfold Path&rsquo, as also that of the &lsquoWheel of Dharma&rsquo and of the &lsquoThree Refuges&rsquo (the Buddha, the dharma or teaching, and the sangha or monastic community), clearly reflected the itinerant&rsquos experience. Buddhism began as a code for the road, a set of rationalised precepts designed to direct and smooth man&rsquos progress along life&rsquos unhappy highway. Suffering came from within, from desire and indulgence. By mastering desire, restraining indulgence and yet eschewing extreme asceticism, the human condition became bearable, and merit might be accumulated whereby release (nirvana) might eventually be attained. The notion of continuous rebirths and the challenge of escaping from their endless cycle were common to both orthodox teachings derived from the Upanisads and to the Buddha&rsquos teaching. Buddhism was not a belief system, not a rival faith to the post-Vedic cults and practices which prevailed under brahmanical direction, but more a complementary discipline. About gods, worship, offerings, prayers, priests and ritual, the Buddha claimed no special knowledge. He offered merely heightened insight, not divine revelation. It was his followers in the generations to come who would elevate the Buddha and other semi-enlightened ones (Boddhisatvas) into deities, thus claiming for Buddhism the authority and the supernatural paraphernalia of a religion.

For the remaining forty-four years of his long life the Buddha continued as a wandering ascetic, criss-crossing the states bordering the middle Ganga. Teaching and elaborating his ideas to an ever-growing band of followers, especially merchants and artisans, he also won the support of kings, this being a prerequisite for the establishment of the communities of followers and the monastic institutions which would continue his mission after his parinirvana.

Amongst the kings who patronised the new teaching were Prasenajit, king of Koshala, and Magadha&rsquos Bimbisara. In the Koshalan capital of Sravasti the Buddha delivered numerous discourses and, since his own Sakya republic had been overrun by Koshala and remained under its suzerainty, he may have felt some allegiance to Prasenajit. But it was Bimbisara&rsquos patronage that would prove crucial. When the Buddha died (at Kushinara in the Malla republic), it was Bimbisara&rsquos Magadha which made good its claim to most of his hotly contested relics and, immediately afterwards, it was in the Magadhan capital of Rajagriha that the first Buddhist council was convened. Magadha&rsquos economic expansion provided a social ambience particularly favourable to Buddhism. In the wake of Magadha&rsquos political expansion Buddhism would prevail over most of the other heterodox sects (although not brahmanical orthodoxy) and spread throughout the subcontinent.

Meanwhile, Bimbisara had predeceased the Buddha. His long reign came to an end when Ajatashatru, one of his sons, either seized the throne and starved his father to death or was nominated his successor so that the aged Bimbisara, having renounced the throne, could starve himself to death. Both practices appear to have been standard. But Ajatashatru&rsquos elevation was not uncontested and his conduct not unchallenged. He was soon involved in warfare with both Koshala and a powerful coalition of republics headed by the Licchavis. Magadha was about to take another giant stride towards hegemony in the middle Ganga region.

The trouble with Koshala seems to have arisen over a piece of land in the vicinity of Varanasi. It had passed to Bimbisara as the dowry of his Koshalan bride. When she died of grief over Bimbisara&rsquos death, Prasenajit of Koshala, her father, revoked the grant of this land and resumed control of it. Ajatashatru endeavoured to retake it but seems at first to have been defeated. His claim to the disputed enclave was, however, enhanced when the aged Prasenajit, falling prey to the usurpation of his own son, headed for Magadha as a supplicant. Alone but for a devoted servant, the old king reached the walls of Rajagriha and there, while waiting overnight for the gates to open, died of exhaustion and exposure. Despite their past differences, Ajatashatru of Magadha promptly honoured the memory of this Indian Lear and vowed to avenge his treatment by the Koshalans. But he bided his time, first dealing with another major threat to his kingdom and then benefiting from the chance annihilation of the Koshalan army encamped in the dry bed of the river Rapti, it had been suddenly over-whelmed by a flash flood. Thereafter, although the sources are silent on the details, Ajatashatru seems to have overrun Koshala, which promptly disappears from the record.

This important conquest was made possible by a decisive Magadhan victory in the protracted struggle with its other principal neighbour, namely the Licchavi republic. The Licchavis, with their capital at Vaisali wherein lived those innumerable Licchavi rajas, headed a confederation of republics to the north of Magadha. As with the defeated Sakyas, their defiance has been seen as part of a last stand by the &lsquoknights-raja&rsquo of the republican gana-sanghas of the east against the professional armies of the centralised monarchies of the Ganga valley. Here again, though, Magadha&rsquos problem seems to have started back in the reign of Bimbisara and to have been greatly complicated by an affair of the heart.

As one might expect in a republic, the beautiful Amrapali (or Ambarapali) was not a princess. In fact she was a courtesan whose physical perfection and outstanding skills had secured her elevation to the status of a national asset. In other republics an elaborate beauty contest was held to select the principal courtesan, and this may also have been the case in Vaisali. But Amrapali, as befitted one of the Buddha&rsquos most devoted future followers, was shrewd as well as comely. Though her favours were supposedly reserved exclusively for those 7707 (or &lsquotwice 84,000&rsquo) Licchavi &lsquoknights-raja&rsquo, she also wielded great political influence and became, in effect, Vaisali&rsquos &lsquofirst lady&rsquo. It was therefore a crushing blow to Licchavi self-esteem when it was discovered that, in the midst of desultory fighting with Magadha, the Magadhan king had entered Vaisali in disguise and, undetected, had there enjoyed a week&rsquos dalliance in Amrapali&rsquos delectable company. Bimbisara had to be made to pay for his indiscretion, and the Licchavis had duly multiplied their attacks on Magadhan territory.

Admittedly the detail of this story survives only in a later Tibetan source. Better known, it would surely have inspired poignant verse and operatic libretti. But from other Buddhist texts it is clear that Bimbisara did indeed incur the wrath of the Licchavis and that &lsquosomething really harmful and injurious&rsquo 6 provoked his son Ajatashatru to seek revenge. The subsequent war seems to have lasted on and off for at least twelve years. Initially it was compounded by a succession struggle between Ajatashatru and one of his brothers. The brother, who was domiciled in Anga (presumably as its governor), refused to surrender a priceless necklace. He also withheld an even more priceless elephant which had been trained to act as a shower-hose, sprinkling the ladies of the Magadhan household with a deliciously scented spray when they were bathing. No doubt both necklace and elephant were seen as in the nature of regalia. Ajatashatru&rsquos acquisition of them was therefore essential to the legitimacy of his rule. But his brother remained defiant and, fearing attack, eventually fled to Vaisali where he secured the support of the hated Licchavis.

Another account makes the item of dispute a mountain from which oozed a highly prized, because highly scented, unguent yet another seems to indicate a disputed island in, or port on, the Ganga, which formed the Magadha&ndashLicchavi frontier. We know of such details because Ajatashatru saw fit to consult the Buddha about the impending hostilities and because later Buddhist commentators therefore saw fit to record them, albeit variously. Buddhist sculptors followed suit. In a relief panel from the secondcentury BCstupa at Bharhut (now in the Calcutta Museum) a demure and most unwarlike Ajatashatru is depicted arriving on elephant-back with a retinue of wives and then making obeisance before the throne of the Buddha. Well preserved in the hard russet sandstone of Bharhut, this eloquent scene may rate as the earliest depiction in Indian art of a genuine historical figure. Buddhist texts also mention that on his last journey north the Buddha, after his meeting with the king but before crossing the Ganga, passed a building site where a new Magadhan fort was being erected. The place was called Pataligrama. To it the Magadhan court would remove under Ajatashatru&rsquos successor and, greatly extended and beautified, the city by the Ganga at what is now Patna would become, as Pataliputra, the metropolis of the Magadhan empire under the Mauryas.

In its infancy the fort at Pataligrama failed to overawe the Licchavis. Initially the war seems to have gone badly for Ajatashatru, who may even have been forced to seek terms. Further hostilities, as recorded in Jain sources, produced two epic battles with echoes of the great Bharata war, except that Ajatashatru eventually won both thanks to some precocious mechanisation. A new catapult capable of firing massive rocks was developed, and then a heavily armoured robot equipped with club-wielding arms and powered by some invisible means of propulsion &ndash &lsquoIt has been compared to the tanks used in the two great world wars.&rsquo 7 Before this veritable blitzkrieg the Licchavis withdrew to their capital and prepared for a siege. Evidently even the tank made no impression on Vaisali&rsquos fortifications. The siege dragged on, and Ajatashatru was obliged to try psychological warfare. Insinuating into the Licchavi counsels a particularly wily brahman, or suborning the city&rsquos tutelary ascetic with an irresistible prostitute, he either reduced his enemies to discord or duped them into surrender. Magadhan forces occupied Vaisali unopposed, the Licchavi republic was finally reduced, and the 7707 rajas were dispersed, although not eliminated. When the Second Buddhist Council was convened in Vaisali some time in the latter half of the fourth century BC the city was under Magadhan control.

Thus, in the space of two reigns which conveniently straddled the long life of the Buddha, Magadha had emerged from comparative inconsequence to dominate the lower Ganga with a territorial reach that extended from the Bay of Bengal to the Nepal Himalayas. Further up the Ganga, the kingdom of Vatsya, possibly the successor state to that of the Kuru of Hastinapura, still flourished with its capital at Kaushambi (near Allahabad). So did the kingdom of Avanti, based on Ujjain (near Indore) far to the south on the banks of the Narmada river. Kaushambi and Ujjain were engaged in their own power struggle. Into it Magadha seems occasionally to have been drawn, and from it Ajatashatru&rsquos successors were able to profit, although it is unclear when Magadhan supremacy was recognised in these distant regions.

In fact the grave uncertainty which surrounds the history of Magadha immediately after Ajatashatru extends even to the succession. Between Ajatashatru&rsquos death some time between c380 BC and c330 BC (according to the &lsquoshort chronology&rsquo) and the accession of Chandragupta Maurya in c320 BC the sources speak mainly of court intrigues and murders. Evidently the throne changed hands frequently, perhaps with more than one incumbent claiming to occupy it at the same time. Eventually it was secured by Mahapadma Nanda, the son of a barber and therefore not only a usurper but also a low-caste sudra. According to the orthodox Puranas, he invoked his caste status to conduct a vendetta against all ksatriyas. Since most existing kings were, or claimed to be,ksatriyas, this represented a declaration of war on the entire political order. Remarkable conquests resulted. By 326 BC the Nanda family was ruling over a greatly extended kingdom which included the whole of the Ganga valley plus Orissa and parts of central India.

Mahapadma Nanda himself may have been responsible for these conquests. He is the first to be described as a &lsquoone-umbrella sovereign&rsquo, a concept closely related to the Buddhist idea of a pan-Indian cakravartin or &lsquoworld ruler&rsquo and implying the association of all existing polities under a single sovereign. Patriotic Indian historians tend to pounce on this early evidence of national integration and to hail Mahapadma Nanda as &lsquothe first great historical emperor of Northern India&rsquo. The wealth of the Nandas also became legendary, and was supposedly buried in a cave in the bed of the Ganga. Their exactions and unpopularity were remembered too, although this may have been the result of failing to placate either brahmanical or Buddhist opinion with the munificence expected of royal patrons.

The Nanda family undeniably commanded the most formidable standing army yet seen in India. Military statistics readily lend themselves to exaggeration, especially when provided by a disappointed adversary. Yet the Nandas&rsquo army of 200,000 infantry, twenty thousand cavalry, two thousand four-horse chariots and three to six thousand war-elephants would have represented a formidable force even if decimated by roll-call reality. It was certainly enough to strike alarm in stout Greek hearts, to awaken in them fond memories of Thracian wine and olive-rich homesteads beside the northern Aegean, and to send packing the age&rsquos only other contender as a &lsquoone umbrella&rsquo world ruler.


Alexander the Great&rsquos Indian adventure, though a subject of abiding interest to generations of classically-educated European historians, is not generally an episode on which historians of Indian nationality bother to dwell. They rightly note that it &lsquomade no impression historically or politically on India&rsquo, and that &lsquonot even a mention of Alexander is to be found in any [of the] older Indian sources.&rsquo 8 &lsquoThere was nothing to distinguish his raid in Indian history [except &ldquoperfidious massacres&rdquo and &ldquowanton cruelty&rdquo] &hellip and it can hardly be called a great military success as the only military achievements to his credit were the conquest of some petty tribes and states by instalment.&rsquo 9

Alexander&rsquos great achievement was not invading India but getting there. A military expedition against the Achaemenid empire, originally planned by his father, became more like a geographical exploration as the men from Macedonia triumphantly probed regions hitherto undreamed of. Anatolia, the modern Turkey, was overrun in 334&ndash3 BC. To protect his southern flank before invading Persia, Alexander then swept down through Phoenicia (Syria and Palestine) to claim Egypt and Libya. That was in 333&ndash2. In 331&ndash0 the last Achaemenid ruler was chased from his homeland and Persepolis was sacked. The twenty-five-year-old Alexander was now master of all that had comprised the largest empire the world had yet seen &ndash all, that is, except for its easternmost provinces, including Gandhara and &lsquoIndia&rsquo.

Although Indian troops still served in the Achaemenid forces, it seems that Gandhara and &lsquoIndia&rsquo had probably slipped from direct Achaemenid rule some time in the mid-fourth century BC. For Alexander it was enough that once upon a time these provinces had indeed been Persian to excel Darius and Xerxes, he must needs take them. First, though, another long detour was necessary, this time along his northern flank. In 329&ndash8 he pushed north-east into Arachosia (Afghanistan) and then crossed in succession the snows of the Hindu Kush, the swirling Oxus river and the parched scrubland of Sogdia (Uzbekistan). He then laid claim to the Achaemenids&rsquo central Asian frontier on the distant Jaxartes (Syr) beyond Samarkand. It was not till late 327 BC that, returned to the vicinity of Kabul, he was ready with a force of fifty thousand to cross India&rsquos north-west frontier.

Determined now to upstage not only the empires of Darius and Xerxes but also the mythical conquests of Heracles and Dionysos, Alexander seems increasingly to have seen his progress in terms of a Grail-like quest for the supposedly unattainable. He sought the &lsquoocean&rsquo, the ultimate limit of terrestrial empire. Through knowledge of this great &lsquobeyond&rsquo, he aspired to a kind of enlightenment which, although very different from that of the Buddha, would become a cliché of Western exploration. More crudely, he hankered after sheer bloody immortality. &lsquoHis motives need a little imagination,&rsquo writes the best of his biographers, who then quotes one of Alexander&rsquos companions: &lsquoThe truth was that Alexander was always straining after more.&rsquo 10

More was precisely what India offered. Like a tidal wave, news of Alexander&rsquos prowess had swept ahead of him, flattening resistance and sucking him forward. Indian defectors from the Achaemenid forces primed his interest and paved the way local malcontents promised support and provided elephants judicious potentates sought his friendship. Principal amongst the latter was a king known to the Greeks as &lsquoOmphis&rsquo or &lsquoTaxiles&rsquo. As the latter name implied, he was the ruler of Taxila, reportedly the largest city between the Indus and the Jhelum and from a chance mention in an appendix to Panini&rsquos grammar he has since been identified as Ambhi, an otherwise enigmatic figure in Indian tradition.

&lsquoThe first recorded instance of an Indian king proving a traitor to his country&rsquo 11 seems an over-harsh judgement on the ambiguous Ambhi of Taxila. Alexander had divided his forces so that half marched largely unopposed down the Kabul river and across the Khyber Pass, while he himself led the remainder by a northerly route through the wintry hills to Swat. There, up among the pine forests of the supposedly impregnable hill fort of Aornos (Pir-i-Sar), he inflicted one of several vicious and salutary defeats on the mountain tribes. By the spring of 326 BC, when back in the plains he crossed the Indus to join up with the rest of his forces, the Macedonian&rsquos reputation stood high.

A city built on trade and scholarship with little in the way of natural defences stood no chance. Taxila had survived the Achaemenids, indeed was a part-Achaemenid city. It could manage the Greeks in the same way. When Alexander descended to the Indus he found thousands of cattle and sheep, as well as elephants and silver, awaiting him. Ambhi, with nought to gain by resistance except the annihilation of his illustrious city and the applause of a very remote posterity, was playing safe. Alexander confirmed him as his satrap and generously repaid his liberality.

At the time Taxilan territory extended modestly from the Indus to the Jhelum. Beyond, occupying the next sliver of the Panjab between the Jhelum and the Chenab, the kingdom of &lsquoPorus&rsquo lay across the invaders&rsquo line of march. In Greek as in Indian tradition, Porus is all that Ambhi is not. A giant of a man, proud, fearless and majestic, he may have owed his name to Paurava descent, the Pauravas being only slightly less distinguished than the Bharatas in the pecking order of Vedic clans. Alexander had summoned him, along with other local rulers, to meet him and render tribute. Porus welcomed a meeting, adding casually that an appropriate venue would be the field of battle.

As good as his word, and despite the fact that the monsoon had already broken, Porus massed his forces on the banks of the Jhelum. Normally the monsoon brought all campaigning in India to an end. Indian troops were ill-equipped to fight in the rain, and Porus probably trusted to the flooding Jhelum to halt the enemy. But Alexander, well used to river crossings, organised boats, duped the enemy as to his crossing place, and between torrential downpours gained the further bank. The battle that followed was anything but a formality. Porus&rsquo chariots slithered uncontrollably in the mud and his archers could find no purchase for their massive bows, one end of which had to be planted in the ground. Yet the Indian forces, though outnumbered as more of the enemy crossed the river, fought valiantly. Abristle with spearsmen, the elephant corps trundled across the battlefield like towering bastions on the move. Their repeated charges drove all before them, the Greeks merely peppering them with missiles as they reformed. But Alexander now knew enough of elephants to bide his time. His tactical skills were unmatched, and his cavalry easily outmanoeuvred their rivals. As the battle wore on, the Indians found themselves penned into an ever smaller circumference. Enraged elephants now trampled friend and foe alike. Exhausted, &lsquothey then fell back like ships backing water, and merely kept trumpeting as they retreated with their face to the enemy&rsquo. With shields linked, the Macedonian phalanx then pressed in for the kill. &lsquoUpon this, all turned to flight wherever a gap could be found in the cordon of Alexander&rsquos cavalry,&rsquo according to the account compiled by Arrian.

Porus, wounded but still conspicuously fighting from the largest of the elephants, was captured. &lsquoHow did he expect to be treated?&rsquo asked Alexander. &lsquoAs befits a king,&rsquo he famously replied. To the Greeks it sounded, under the circumstances, like an extraordinarily noble and fearless request. Alexander responded magnanimously, reinstating him as king and subsequently augmenting his territories. But Porus&rsquo words could as well have been those of Lord Krishna, whose advice to Arjuna in theMahabharatamade much the same point. Each must live according to his dharma it was the dharma of a ksatriya to fight and to embrace the consequences. Probably Porus was not boldly appealing to Alexander&rsquos clemency, nor presuming on some brotherhood of sovereignty he was simply stating his dharma.

After exceptionally elaborate celebrations, the Macedonians moved on, continuing east and south across the grain of the Panjab river system. The rains ended and the land blossomed. They crossed the Chenab, then the Ravi. Countless &lsquocities&rsquo capitulated, others, some evidently republican ganasanghas, offered a short-lived resistance. Even to Alexander it was becoming apparent that &lsquothere was no end to the war as long as an enemy remained to be encountered&rsquo. Rumours of the vast forces commanded by the Nandas of Magadha (the &lsquoGangaridae&rsquo and &lsquoPrasii&rsquo to the Greeks) now began to infiltrate the ranks. &lsquoThis information only whetted Alexander&rsquos eagerness to advance further,&rsquo says Arrian. The Ganga, mightier even than the Indus, must surely carry them to the ocean at the end of the world. Its plain was reported as exceedingly fertile, its peoples excellent farmers as well as doughty fighters, and its governments civilised and well organised. Alexander sniffed the prospect of an even more glorious dominion.

But his men were unimpressed. They crossed what is now the frontier between Pakistan and India somewhere in the vicinity of Lahore. Then, near Amritsar, they reached the Beas, fourth of the Panj-ab, the &lsquofive rivers&rsquo. In this weird and interminable land where the clothes were all white and the complexions all black, it was as good a place as any for a showdown with their commander.

Alexander sensed the mood of mutiny. In a lengthy appeal to his commanders he invoked their past loyalty and stressed the consequences of retreat. Extricating themselves would be difficult. Were the tide of conquests now to ebb, they would find the sands sucked from under their feet. New friends would review their allegiance and old enemies would take their chance. Trumpeting an empty defiance, the Greeks would find themselves backing away amidst a shower of missiles just like Porus&rsquo exhausted elephants.

But to men who had been on the march for eight years, such arguments had little appeal. They had bathed in the Tigris and the Indus, the Nile and the Euphrates, the Oxus and the Jaxartes. Across desert, mountain, steppe and field they had trudged for over twenty-five thousand kilometres. Of victory, booty, glory and novelty they had had their fill. With respect and real affection, they listened to their leader, moved but unpersuaded.

Alexander withdrew to his tent like his hero Achilles. A three-day sulk made no greater impression on the men&rsquos resolve, while a sacrifice for safe passage of the river produced only adverse omens. In the end Alexander had no choice but to announce a withdrawal. The banks of the Beas erupted with cheers of relief many wept but all rejoiced. As Arrian noted, Alexander was vanquished only once &ndash and that by his own men.

To round off his conquests, complete his explorations, and disguise his failure, Alexander opted to return by sailing down the Jhelum and the Indus to the ocean. Ships were readied and he sailed in late 326 BC. The voyage downriver took six months. Stern opposition came from numerous riverine peoples, some of whom have been tentatively identified, and from sizeable townships which clearly included well established brahman communities. Some of these townships no doubt occupied sites beneath which the Harappan cities had already lain, cocooned in alluvial oblivion, for 1500 years.

In an engagement with the &lsquoMalloi&rsquo Alexander himself was seriously wounded. An arrow struck him in the chest and may have punctured his lung. He barely recovered. The wisdom of forgoing a contest with the Nandas&rsquo multitudinous cohorts was amply demonstrated so were the dangers of withdrawal. With few regrets, in September 325 BC the fleet sailed out of the Indus into the Arabian Sea. Meanwhile Alexander led the rest of his men west on what proved to be, for many, a death-march to Babylon along the desert coast of Gedrosia (Makran). There was still some talk of returning to India, of resuming the march with fresh troops, and of consummating the ultimate conquest. But other appetites proved Alexander&rsquos undoing. Within two years he died from hepatoma following a massive banquet in Babylon.

With him from India had gone the wherewithal for a vastly enriched Western image of the land beyond the Indus. He had prised open a window on the East through which emissaries would pass, ideas would shine, and prying eyes would covet. With him too went all those Hellenised personae and places &ndash Omphis, Aornos, Porus, the Malloi and countless others &ndash never to be heard of again in India&rsquos history. The &lsquoinvasion&rsquo had amounted to little more than a hasty intrusion, scuffing a corner of the carpet but neither baring its boards nor troubling its political furniture.

With Alexander there had also gone one &lsquoCalanus&rsquo, a figure worth remembering in that he seems to be the first Indian expatriate to whom a name and a date can confidently be given. One of a group of ascetics encamped near Taxila, Calanus had accepted Alexander&rsquos invitation to join him in that city and subsequently accompanied him back to the west. There, in Persia shortly before his patron&rsquos death, his own death would cause a sensation.

Calanus&rsquo doctrinal persuasion is uncertain. As one of his companions at Taxila had put it, trying to explain one&rsquos philosophy through a wall of interpreters was like &lsquoasking pure water to flow through mud&rsquo. In that Calanus and his friends went naked, a condition in which no Greek could be persuaded to join them, they may have been nigrantha or Jains. Jain nudity was dictated by that sect&rsquos meticulous respect for life in all its forms. Clothes were taboo because the wearer might inadvertently crush any insect concealed in them similarly death had to be so managed that only the dying would actually die. Jains bent on ending their life, therefore, usually starved themselves to death. Yet Calanus, a man of advanced years, chose to immolate himself on his own funeral pyre. Though an extraordinarily stoical sacrifice in Greek eyes, this was a decidedly careless move for one dedicated to avoiding casual insecticide. Evidently the Persian winter had induced a chill, if not pneumonia, and Calanus had decided it was better to die than be an encumbrance. No one, not even Alexander, could dissuade him from his purpose. He strode to his cremation at the head of an enormous procession and reclined upon the pyre with complete indifference. This composure he maintained even as the flames frazzled his flesh.

Visibly shaken by such an exhibition, the Greeks held a festival in his honour and drowned their sorrows in a Bacchanalian debauch. Calanus, though he had made no converts, had won many friends. He also left a profound impression well worthy of India&rsquos first cultural emissary. &lsquoGymnosophists&rsquo, or &lsquonaked philosophers&rsquo, henceforth became stock figures in the Western image of India. As &lsquoPythagoreans&rsquo, they were also identified with Greek traditions of abstinence and the conjectures of Pythagoras about rebirth and the transmigration of the soul. Lucian, Cicero and Ambrose of Milan all wrote of Calanus and his naked companions. Much later, as the epitome of ascetic puritanism, India&rsquos gymnosophists would be revered by, of all people, Cromwellian fundamentalists. And later still, as mystics, gurus and maharishis, they would come again to minister to another spiritually impoverished Western clientele.


Curiously enough we have no extant version of the Tipitaka here in India. No original manuscript of the Tipitaka is at our hand anywhere. So we donot know the alphabet in which it was written Brahmi or Kharorostri in which it was written The work known as Tipitaka was retrieved by the Europeans from below Buddhist stupa or temple in Ceylone It was found there in Sinhalese alphabet In that case my earlier contention that whether Pali was at all a language widely known in ancient India seems to be a relevant question.

Let us now try to trace back the adventures undergone by the Tipitaka. Presently after the Buddha’s maha parini bbana the Rajagaha get- together took place and the Tipitaka was compiled Centuries passed by and towards the 2nd century BC. Asok embraced the Buddha’s faith. His son Mahendra became a Buddhist monk and it was he who carried the Tipitaka from here to Ceylone. There the Tipitaka was put down in Sinhalese transcriptiont. The same was carved in copper plates and
the plates were buried under a stupa. It waited there in the cool of
the earth forlorn for more than thousand years till the Europeans
came. They retrieved the Tipitak and revealed it to the world in
Roman transcripit. In India however Pali is nowadays being written in Devnagri script And that suggests as it were that studies in Pali has been a continuous practice in India and Pali. Buddhism is our heritage through the ages. But that is a myth Even we did not know anything about Asoka till the British discovered the same for us

Another important information needs to be communicated Although I told earlier that the sermons of the Buddha were only enshrined in the Tipitaka the Tipitaka we encounter has more speakers or authors than the Buddha Therigatha and Theragatha are clear instances Therigatha has a special niche in Indian literature It is an anthology of poems composed by nuns who were followers of the Buddha Think of ancient Indian literature It is also pronouncedly patriarchal. If Kalidasa wrote poems and plays did’nt his daughter if any or his wife or his sister in law try her hand at poetry? But women have been simply erased from human history and this patriarchal history is no history at all. Like Therigatha Theragatha is also an anthology of poems They were composed by saints of the Buddhist order.

Now let us come to the Jataka As it has been already observed the
Jataka is a part of the Tipitaka and it is an anthology of tales told
by the Buddha himself. But, alas! the so called original Jataka even
in Sinhalese transcript has not been found What they got was a note on the Jataka tales called the Jatakatthavannana. It was edited by
Fausboll. So I want to remind the readers of Sefirah that the
Tales that are being retold by Nandita here are being retrieved from the aforesaid note on the Jataka The style of the Jatakatthavannana is as it seems to me rough and rugged I fancy Buddhavacana or the parole of the Buddha was made of the stuff of honey from heaven. But we are doomed never to have the taste of the same.
Another prescience about the Jataka tales might be of help to the readers of Sefirah To tell that I had better go back to Gaya where Siddhartha attained Buddhahood or enlightenment Siddhartha the prince of Kapilavatthu had proved himself in a tourney and got married When his son was born he called the son an obstruction or Rahula and at once he stealthily left his palace for a life of a recluse in search of indeterminate some which could save the mankind from groans Does it not remind of the demon Gaya who wanted that all things both great and small be liberated from the groans of the existence? No wonder that after a lot of sojourn here and there Siddhartha reached the city of Gaya. In my last write up submitted today only I discussed how the mind body dichotomy was explored by Descartes. The write-up does not appear yet in the Sefirah.

Descartes posited that mind and matter are different substances While mind is recognised through its faculty of thought matter is known through its extension So Descartes wondered how come that they do work together .

With us there cannot be any mind without the body. So body's existence testifies the existence of the mind But at the same time body is understood through the mind Thus body testifies mind and mind testifies the body. But is their any third thing that stands witness to either mind or body or both? None. So may be there is neither body nor mind.

May be Mukta Vasudev might posit that the is ness of the dichotomy suggests their reality and the reality of our existence She seems to be Cartesian in her assertion that once you doubt you exist. But my contention is that we might be the function of a dichotomy. When there is the dichotomy both cannot be true as per Aristotlean logic. Either this is true or that is true. In our opinion either both are true or neither is true .So with this present author reality is indescribable. It beggars description
I read twice the rejoinder of to my earlier installment on the Jataka and found that both of us see eye to eye on the issue that reality begsscription. Both of us are aware of the limitations of Descarte’s approach. We have our differences too. But let us overlook the point so that we are focused on the Buddha.

We were talking of the frame of references as to the self into which the Buddha was born. Unlike Descartes the ancient Indians did not separate mind from the body With them mind is physical A few days back the scientists felt that the seat of the mind is in the brain and it could be the function of the network of nerves where neurons are nodal points Well the inventor of the guillotine used to save the skulls of those who died being guillotined with the hope that one day he would be able to discover the seat of mind. But when the son leaves home getting newly married mothers heart breaks She does not have any pain in her head When the teddy boys threaten an Indian in the down town of Liverpool his knees shiver. Nothing happens in the head.May be the mind is every where in the body and not at any particular place. Although most of the illnesses now a days are described by the doctors as psychosomatic they do not know how to set the mind right with their needles and scissors
Be that as it may the ancient Indians used to speak of four planes of mind in mind intellect ego and consciousness just as those of us who use Freudian paradigm speak of conscious pre -conscious and unconscious mind and according to them mind is physical unlike consciousness . And the Buddha was born into this kind of thought and he out rightly rejected the notion of any permanent self On the surface this is where. Buddhism it is claimed differs from the traditional Indian religion or call it Hinduism to get rid of periphrasis and ambiguity. But ironically enough the Jataka tales under study launched by Mitu and Mousumi are but the tales told by the Buddha culled from his experiences of earlier births If the Buddha did not believe in a permanent self how is it that he could tell us the stories of previous births.

Tarry here a little. It is commonly presumed that while Hinduism believes in a soul or a permanent self that can journey through myriads of births and deaths Buddhism does not pin its faith on a permanent self or soul One of the distinguishing features of Buddhism is its middle path Middle path does not mean walking along the middle of a road in Calcutta so that you can be easily run over Middle path means not being logo centric.

What is not being logo centric? Well we have already introduced our readers with Ananda. Ananda had a friend named Bachhagotra. Bachhagotra was an intellectual who had thousand and one queries Ananda told him that the lord Buddha was capable of satisfying any query whatever So Bachhagotra met the Buddha Bachhagotra------Sir is there any thing called soul? Buddha-----I do’nt know whether there is any soul . Bachhagotra -----Is there no soul in that case?
Buddha------ I did not say that there is no soul. On the surface the Buddha either simply did not answer. Bachhagotra. Or else he did not know the answer to the questions that Bachhagotra raised. Later he told Ananda that if he had told Bachhagotra that soul is permanent then Bachhagotra would believe that the soul is permanent. On the other hand if he had told that there is no soul then Bachha would believe that there is no soul This is how the Buddha stuck to the Middle Path and avoided logo centrism.
On the surface while Hinduism pins its faith on a permanent self or soul Buddhism claims that nothing is permanent whatever. The so called soul or the self is an agglomeration of the five Skandhas in (1) form (2) feeling (3) cognition (4) formation (5) consciousness .
The five skandhas or heaps that one finds in a living body of man is (1) the body which is the form skandha (2) As soon as the body or the form is there, their is the feeling skandha. (3) Feeling skandha leads one to think which feeling is a joy and which feeling is a pain. Thus thinking gives rise to cognition the third skandha. (4) The cognition of weal and woe impels one to seek happiness this is the fourth skandha known as formation.(5) Acting requires a certain amount of wisdom or consciousness which is a kind of small intelligence – it is the fifth skandha. According to the Buddha each one of the constituents of the self is impermanent and hence there can't be a permanent thing called the self or the soul.

On the surface though Hinduism believes in a soul that transmigrates from one body to another it is also permanent only in relation to the plane of the mundane world where we are engaged in getting and spending. But on another plane the so called permanent souls are like bubbles in the air. Because I have already referred to the causal sea where from the soul leaps up like oil film on oil and wherein the souls are dissolved. In fact seen from a particular plane nothing exists but the causal sea. Thus from the stand point of Hinduism the souls are permanent seen from one level and impermanent seen from another.

There are many other salient features which they say distinguish Hinduism from Buddhism. But it is only true on the surface and we may touch on them if opportunity comes.

Let us fire point blank at the question – if the Lord Buddha had not believed in the permanence of the soul or self how come that the Buddha speaks of his experiences of his eariler lives in the Jataka tales.
Well the Buddha says that the self or the soul does not exist after death. But the desire or the tanha – Sanskrit trishna that the self cherished lingers even after one dies. It seeks gratification.
And to that end it enters into a particular womb and undergoes a fresh lease of life on earth or any other plane in the multiverse.

One wonders whether there is any real distinction between the traditional philoshopy of Hinduism and the philosophy of the Buddha as to the notion of the soul or the self. Suppose there is a beautiful boy or a handsome girl dancing in the yonder court –yard. Instead of exclaiming – what a handsome girl '- one might exclaim – what a beauty or handsomeness. Is there any real difference between these two expressions? According to Hindu tradition the soul leaps up from the causal sea impelled by desire. Goaded by desire it under goes- myriads of births and deaths. In that case if the word soul or atman were replaced by tanha or desire it makes no difference. Mind can not exist without a body. Mind gives birth to body. Body is the manifestation of mind. The essence of mind is desire. If desire lingers after the demise of the physical body it must be itself another body- call it the astral self or soul or atman whatever name you choose.

In my last installment, I observed that mind was prior to the body both as per the notions of Buddha and traditional Indian notion Well that might scandalise a few whose perceptions are different But think of a human body which has no life in it Don’t we shudder from it? Even the husband or the wife of a person who is dead fears to touch the dead body of his or her once upon a time better half Don’t we either put the dead body in the grave or else destroy it? If body were the fountain head of life why destroy it ? The truth seems to be otherwise Life or prana dawns earlier and living body follows suit Well life implies eros and thanatos. Eros means zest for life and thanatos means desire for death. These eros and thanatos would not be there if there were no mind So mind appears before life prana. But if mind did not have the intelligence to perceive the dichotomy of life and death there would be no mind. So intelligence appears before mind. But how could the intelligence be there if there were no ego to tell us—this is how you must survive. So ego --the invisible or the imperceptible unless in a living body is at the origin of body. Dont call it fantastic If you pin your faith on Big Bang as a sensible hypothesis, you will tell us that at the outset there was a dot. A dot has neither length nor breadth and still it exists. And the dot exploded into an expanding balloon called the multiverse where we live. Here it should be kept in mind that if the universe or the multiverse were at the outset a mere dot its density was infinite and unthinkable. Science also expresses itself in metaphors. If you ask me wherefrom the dot or the ego did appear for the time being I remain silent. I am not the omniscient one or the enlightened one. I am simply trying to explain the larger mindset or the language where from the Jataka tales sprang In my earlier installment I sought to point out that there is noqualitative difference between the notion of soul and what the Buddhists call tanha that transmigrates from one body to another. A person lives in this world being born into a society. He has to struggle here for survival. And there this man’s scope and that man’s talent haunts him .Man cannot eat the cake and have it too. This is a queer world. Think of Mrs Indira Gandhi at her height. She was worshipped by the whole nation perhaps and her every moment was under public scrutiny. May be she was tired of her busy life and longed for the peaceful life of an ordinary clerk In that life she would be able to enjoy a film or a family life rid of public attention. Such tanha would goad her to another birth where she might find herself far from the ignoble strife of politics.

I am back at the type writer. In my last installment which I wrote today in the morning I told you that although the Buddha did not believe in the permanence of the soul he pinned his faith on the odysseus of tanha. As I have tried to explicate how mind has to appear before the emergence of body if you take that for granted to pursue the present game of discourse then you will admit that tanha may incarnate into human body And that gives the Jataka tales viability.

Now the Buddha of Kapilavatthu is the narrator of the tales of the Jataka. He claims that the tales hark back to his earlier life. From this it logically follows that the Buddha of Kapilavatthu had undergone numerous births and deaths before he became the Buddha or the enlightened one. This is important for understanding the Jataka tales. But before dwelling on the aforesaid important motif let me tell how Buddha came to know of his earlier birth Well may be I told you earlier Siddhartha left his home when his child Rahula was born. He became a wandering monk He met many people who claimed to have attained the absolute truth as to the existence He followed their prescriptions. But they were of no avail to him. In fact everyone has to make his road to truth As soon as.he reaches truth the road built by him vanishes. When another man ventures a journey towards truth and freedom he cannot trace the steps of his forerunner. He must build a fresh road to reach salvation So having not found any proper preceptor who could
guide him through the encircling gloom to perpetual light Siddhartha came to Gaya. I have already told you about the great demon Gaya. His body has hallowed the region of Gaya. There only on the banks of Niranjana Siddhartha sat under a tree and burst into a soliloquy-- Let my body be sapless here. Let my skin and bones and flesh go to utter destruction. Unless I attain the enlightenment. I will not budge from here. And then an epic battle started between Mara and Siddhartha. Mara stands for the attachment to the worldly life. Siddhartha overcame Mara the
way Jesus overcame Satan. When the battle was lost and won enlightenment dawned upon Siddhartha and Siddhartha became the very Buddha-the Buddha of Kapilavatthu.

Mind you the Buddha at the hour of enlightenment could see myriads of lives that he had undergone till he became Buddha or the en lightened one He saw them as it were in a flash. Don’t say that it is impossible. You can see a whole life story of a boy growing into man and die in a dream that might have covered 15 minutes only here on earth. So the Buddha may have seen myriads of his life in all its details within the span of two and half hours And Buddha recollects only 547 births of his in the Jataka tales.
It must be rememberd however that all these stories belong to Buddha’s journey through births and deaths only when the Buddha was a Bodhisattva. Believe it or not according to traditional Hindu and Buddhist faith a soul or tanha has to undergo 86 lakhs of births and deaths before it takes a human birth And after myriads of human birth one is qualified as Bodhisatta. Now the question arises what is Bodhisattva? Who is Bodhisattva?

The concept of Bodhisattva is very important in the context of the Jataka Tales. Literally bodhi means enlightenment and sattva means being '. Bodhisattva means an enlightened being. In earlier Buddhism bodhisattva was an appellate of Siddhartha the prince of Kapilavatthu as long he was a seeker As soon as he achieved his enlightenment he was a Buddha In other words Buddhas merit the designation of Bodhisattva prior to their attainment of Buddhahood or full enlightenment Later there was a schism in the Buddhist church and the followers of the Buddha were either Mahayanis or Hinayanis. The followers of Mahayana or the Great Vehicle announced that only those seekers who work hard for the salvation of all things both great and small in the world and who take vows to that end are Bodhisattvas. They only are earmarked to be Buddhas in times to come On the other hand those who work for their personal liberation also attain Buddhahood .But they are known as PratyekBuddha In the context of us therefore Buddhas are nobler than Pratyek Buddhas. But when someone attains enlightenment does he not have good will for every atom in this existence? Let us not join issue with that. So the Jataka must be read as the leaves from the life stories of the very Bodhisattva that was destined to be Siddhartha Buddha. Here I would like to humbly point out that the demon Gaya was also dedicated to the achieving of the salvation of every living being and every particle on earth. No wonder therefore that the Siddhartha Bodhisattva whose vow was also achieving the salvation of the whole existence as such would get at his enlightenment at the hallowed place where the great demons body is at rest that is Gaya in Bihar. Thus it could be safely argued that Siddhartha Buddha’s life story is in consonance with the traditional faiths or so called Hindu faith And will it be too far-fetched to infer that our lord Siddhartha Buddha was but an incarnation of the great demon Gaya.

Even if we do not pay heed to the theoretical disputes that cropped up between the Mahayanas and the Hinayanas and closely read the texts of the Jataka Tales we find that the Siddhartha Buddha in all his earlier births was dedicated to the well being of his fellowmen and of everything on earth. And no doubt he was a Bodhiusattva in the literal sense of the term----not in the Mahayana sense.
As I have already told you according to Buddhist tradition there were many a Buddha before the advent of Siddhartha Buddha According to Hinayana texts six Buddhas previous to Siddhartha Buddha wereVipasyin Sikhin Viswabhu Krakuchhanda Kanakamuni and kasyapa. Earlier than them there was Dipankar Buddha. As the Nidana katha or the introduction of the Jatakatthavannana or the Jataka tales observes our Siddhartha
Buddha was born of rich parents and his name was Sumedha at the time when Dipankar Buddha shone in the world in all the effulgence of an enlightened self.

Well when Dipankar Buddha was on earth the Siddhartha Buddha was born of very rich parents and his name was Sumedha Sumedha lost his parents early in his life and he inherited untold wealth. He did not join in any so called economic activity. He felt the meaninglessness of earning money and amassing wealth So what he did was to give away his inherited wealth to the poor. Poor people rushed to him from far and wide and Sumedha entertained them with great enthusiasm. Despite that, his treasury did not wane. Tired of giving away one day he renounced the world for a life in the forests. One day to his utter surprise, he found that there were people in the forlorn place where he used to lead a life of penance. He asked the people as to what made them come to his place. They said in reply that Dipankar was coming that way. The place where Sumedha practised his meditation was a plot of marshy land. The men requested Sumedha to use his esoteric powers so that the marsh did not pose any hindrance to the journey of Dipankar Buddha and his followers. Sumedha agreed to the proposal. But when he found Dipankar Buddha approaching he himself lay down on the marsh instead of developing the land. And Dipankar Buddha did not hesitate. He and his 60000 followers walked on the body of Sumedha and crossed the marsh. Sumedha was so charmed with the person of Dipankar Buddha that he
also thought that he would also strive to achieve Buddhahood. Dipankar was already miles away from Sumedha. But he knew what was taking place in Sumedha’s mind and he said --Yes Sumedha will be a Buddha in times to come And the earth danced and the nature laughed in glee. Mind you when Sumedha thought that he would strive for Buddha= hood he was already a very great person who could easily give away all his wealth and inheritance and who could stand the pressure of a Buddha and his 60000 followers trampling upon him. Despite that he had to pass through myriads of births and deaths .In the meantime many other Buddhas appeared and vanished. The Jataka tales only recollect 547 births and deaths of Sumedha who finally became our much loved Siddhartha BuddhaMitu alias Nandita a social worker of great repute will be doing us great service if she could read the Jataka tales from the standpointof social work. In every birth of his Buddha in his Bodhisattva stage was a leader and his only object was to lift up the groaning humanity from the mire of pain and sorrow Practically such tales as the Jataka tales that have been handed down to us from the antiquity could be visited over and over again for fresh ideas on any and every field. And Prof Mausumi Ghose sojourns in the realm of the Jataka tales in search of economic thoughts. Nandita’s recounting of the Jataka tales serve Mousumi as the material largely. Besides Nanditas point of view also provokes her and enriches her. Mukta’s searching questions also provoke our thought .I have myself tried to give an introduction to the Jataka Tales from the standpoint of Buddhist faith so that the readers can understand the context of the Jataka Tales from Buddhist standpoint. Thus does it not seem that collaboration is already aworking in Sefirah and may be it might bear great fruits in times to come.

It should be noted here that the Jataka tales are in the margin in the world culture today although with the followers of the Buddha they are at the centre and whatever modernity preaches is in the margin Mitu and Mousumi are venturing into the realms of the margin in search of fresh ideas if any.

In my introduction to Jataka tales I told that the Siddhartha Buddha did not think that he was propounding any new religion different from the traditional religion or Hinduism. In course of our discussion I have tried to point out that Siddhartha Buddha’s enlightenment at Gaya seems to have direct link with the traditional faith regarding the sacredness of the place. I have also tried to show that there is no qualitative difference between the notion of soul in Hinduism and tanha of Buddhism. Let me tell you further according to the received opinion the Siddhartha Buddha did not believe in caste system. But this is not true He believed that the ksatryas were noblest of all the castes. By the by Mahavira at first entered into the womb of a Brahmin woman But since ksatryas seemed to be the higher caste Mahavira’s foetus was transferred to the womb of a ksatrya woman. Further Buddhism apparently does not believe in any supreme god. So does Hinduism at its core. On the surface we speak of the Brahman But the Nasadya Sukta of the Vedas say---Is Brahman conscious or unconscious who knows? Does Brahman himself know whether it is conscious or unconscious? To quote Mukta Vasudev---Reality begs description. So we can not reach it through inference. And when I say while commenting on a poem published in Sefirah----I know therefore I exist Mukta’s ready retort is -------You do not know and therefore you exist. Either both of us are true or none of us are true Reality is something absurd—isn’t it? Mukta always keeps us away from logo centrism with the aid of her peerless wit. And neither Hinduism nor Buddhist faith is at heart logo centric.

Now I have tried to show that there is no great difference between Hinduism and Buddhist faith. But I have already referred to Mahendras missionary activities. He went to Ceylone during the reign of Asoka. It was during Asoka and Kanishka the Buddhist faith was institutionalized and it was spread beyond the borders of India While in course of time Buddhism was almost wiped out from the face of India it was the religion of the majority of the people of Ceylone, Thailand, Burmah etcetera. No wonder that the foreigners could not appreciate the organic link between Hinduism and Buddhism. And Buddhism became a separate religion indeed.


The Pali Suttas have their beginning in the Deer Park at Sarnath, not far from Benares (present-day Vārānasi), where the Buddha first taught to others that which he had himself already realized through proper attention and right effort. The five monks who heard that first discourse would have had to pay close attention in order for understanding to arise. Thus, when they were thereby led to see for themselves that which the Buddha had already seen—“whatever is of a nature to arise, all that is of a nature to cease”—they would not forget the words which had so stirred them. Having now overcome—at last!—that aversion to seeing (as it actually is, rather than—mistakenly—as something else,) what had always been there to be seen, they would naturally delight in those words which had led them to this release from the inner tension of that aversion and, delighting therein, [8] they would remember them well. [9] They might for their own pleasure call to mind what they had heard they might for their mutual pleasure repeat it to each other [10] —as we ourselves might often recall and recount something which has given us delight—but they would not yet be doing so in order to instruct for there was as yet but one teacher: the Buddha. All that was taught was what he taught and there was therefore as yet no variance in the expression of that Teaching.

There came a time—probably a few weeks later—when as many as sixty, having been instructed, had come to full realization and now lived the holy life (brahmacariya) fulfilled as monks in the Buddha’s Order. It was at this time that the Buddha spoke his oft-quoted instructions:

“Monks, I am freed from all shackles, both heavenly and human. Monks, you too are freed from both heavenly and human shackles. Wander, monks, for the benefit, the happiness of the manyfolk, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the benefit, the happiness of royalty and men. Let not two go by one way. Teach the Teaching, monks, that in both word and spirit is wholesome in its beginning, wholesome its middle, wholesome in its conclusion. Proclaim a holy life that is utterly perfect and pure. There are beings with little dust in their eyes who, not hearing the Teaching, will be lost. But some will understand…” [11]

Thus the monks dispersed, to teach according to their individual abilities and proclivities. [12] At first they may have repeated, for the most part, what they remembered. Surely they would differ in what they recalled. Surely they would differ in what they chose to repeat. Here a discourse would be repeated only in summary there it would be given in full elsewhere it would be expanded and expounded upon. As the monks gained in communicative skills, as they learned to recognize which facets of the Teaching best suited various auditors, they would—at least some of them—have supplemented or supplanted the remembered words of the Buddha with their own descriptions of “the way things are”, and many discourses by disciples have been preserved for us. The insight would be the same, but the descriptions would differ, depending on both the occasion and the individuals. [13] And thus as the Teaching spread there would have been, unavoidably, a growing diversity in what was taught and remembered.

It could not have been long before there came to be monks in the Order who, though earnest, had not yet seen the Teaching for themselves. These would not have taken the same delight in the discourses as those whose insight had penetrated the Teaching thoroughly. Nor would they have had the same faculties for remembering them, for knowing the essentials, and for avoiding mis-remembering them. And hence there arose the need not only for listening but for learning. For unless the talks were memorized—in those days there was neither paper nor ink—those new monks might have, between themselves, exchanged naught but misconceptions and, in solitude, foundered in confusion. Thus we find throughout the Suttas dozens of passages in which the need for learning, repeating and committing to memory is stressed and praise is given those with such learning, usually with the warning that mere learning, without application is inadequate. [14]

There were some who excelled at teaching, who were particularly inclined to do so, and who possessed those outward qualities which attract followings. Thus there arose large companies of monks each of which became separated from the others both by geography and by lifestyle. Some were forest dwellers, others lived near a town some were sedentary, others roamed about and so on according to the preferences of each teacher. Many monks, of course, did not join companies: after completing the training, they went off and spent the rest of their lives in solitude or with a few like minded companions. These monks certainly fulfilled the Buddha’s Teaching, but they would have played no role in the gathering and preserving of the outward expression of that Teaching, etc., and are not further considered in this account.

Each company would have developed its own body of memorized discourses, with its own framework of summations and expansions, each group of teachings possessed of its own set phrases, conventions, and methods of exposition. Certain aspects of this variance and diversity would have been, among the as-yet-unenlightened, a source for confusion and disagreements. Indeed, some of these differences have been recorded. See, for example, the Bahuvedanīya Sutta, MN 59/M I 396–400 = SN 36:19/IV 223–28, wherein the Buddha settles a doctrinal dispute by explaining how it is that the various teachings he has set forth about feelings are, though different, not contradictory.

The Teaching was at this time established it was well-remembered it had spread. But it was as yet uncoordinated, unstandardized it was as yet not gathered together.

The Venerable Ānanda

Within the first year after the Buddha’s enlightenment, there entered the Order that individual who, apart from the Buddha himself, was best equipped to influence the development of the Suttas as an organized body of teachings, and to whom we therefore owe an immense debt. Without Venerable Ānanda it is possible that we would not have the Suttas today at all.

Venerable Ānanda, cousin of the Buddha, went forth from the lay life not long after the Buddha had visited his kinsmen, the Sakyans, at Kapilavatthu, where both had grown up and from the time of his going forth it would seem that Venerable Ānanda spent most of his time near the Buddha. Indeed, for the last twenty-five years of the Buddha’s ministry Venerable Ānanda served as the Buddha’s devoted personal attendant, following him “like a shadow”—Th 1041-1043. He did many services for the Buddha, and he also did one for us: he listened.

At that time many people called on the Buddha: monks and nuns, lay followers, kings and ministers, even adherents of other teachers. Some asked for guidance or explanations, some made conversation or put to him prepared questions just to hear what the Buddha might say, and some even challenged and debated with him. To all, the Buddha taught about suffering and about the way to put an end to suffering. Some of these people became enlightened [15] right then and there, while listening to the Buddha: MN 140 (III 247), etc. Others would bear in mind what had been said and, thinking it over and applying it, would achieve enlightenment at some later time: AN 8:30 (IV 228–35), etc. Still others never succeeded to this extent but improved themselves and obtained a bright rebirth: SN 40:10 (IV 269–80), etc. And some, of course, went away without having benefited at all by their meeting: MN 18 (I 109), etc.

To all these people the Buddha spoke only about suffering and the path leading to the end of suffering, but he did so in many different ways, explaining himself using various approaches. We must all begin from where we are but we are not all in the same place, spiritually, when we begin. Different people will respond to different forms of expression. It is important to remember, when reading these Suttas, that they were not spoken in a vacuum: there was an actual person, or people, sitting before the Buddha, and what the Buddha said was spoken with the aim of resolving a particular conflict, usually internal. If we forget this point, we leave ourselves open to the danger of misconceiving the Teaching in mechanistic terms as an impersonal explanation rather than as good advice on how to live, and on how to develop a view of things that is free from attachment and unhappiness.

So the Buddha explained about ignorance, conceit and suffering in many different ways and Ānanda was there. And he not only listened, he also remembered. So he did two services for us.

Among the monks the custom arose of teaching each other their favorite discourses through the techniques of sequential and simultaneous recitation (practices still found today). Venerable Ānanda took a particular interest in talks worthy of preservation, and with his quick wits [16] he learned many discourses delivered by his fellow monks, as well as those given by the Buddha, thereby increasing his value as a repository of the Teaching. [17] Since, further, he was well known as a monk who had heard much, learned much, and was approachable, willing to help whenever he could, there can be no doubt that he was often asked by others to teach them discourses or just to recite them so that they might be heard. So he taught others—e.g. SN 22:90 (III 133–4) AN 9:42 (IV 449)—and helped to spread the Teaching among both his contemporaries and those who followed after. This is a third service by which we are indebted to Venerable Ānanda.

The question had to arise: in what form should these discourses be taught? Clearly they could not include every word that had been spoken [18] —at least not in the case of every single Sutta—lest the learning become so cumbersome as to be self-defeating. Although mindfulness is central to the practice of the Buddha’s Teaching (SN 46:53 (V 115)), monks were not all equally gifted in the ability to memorize: the discourses had to be put into a format conducive to their being accurately remembered, while at the same time preserving their essence as teachings.

The solution that was chosen [19] was to remove superfluous matters, to condense what had been said, to crystallize those aspects of the Teaching which are found repeatedly—the four noble truths, the eightfold path, the method of right conduct, restraint of the faculties, mindfulness, the various levels of meditation, the five aggregates, dependent origination, and so on—into the most concise descriptions possible, to couch the whole of this into a set pattern conducive to memorization, and to introduce as much repetition and re-iteration as possible. A typical Sutta, then, will begin by telling where the discourse took place, it will introduce the person or persons concerned and provide us with any other information necessary then the theme will be stated concisely each aspect of the theme will then be brought forward in its turn, repeated, developed (with a copious use of synonyms,) expanded, summarized and re-iterated. Similes may be introduced, in which case by means of parallel construction with the subject matter their relevance will be unmistakable. Each possible permutation will be dealt with in turn, the opening thematic statement will be recapitulated, and the Sutta will then conclude with remarks usually of approval and pleasure. The purpose is clear: to make absolutely certain that the matter at hand is stated so clearly that an intelligent person, open-minded, willing to listen, not bent on his own views, could not possibly misunderstand. [20] Thus the arising of stock material and techniques, and also their spread, as they came into usage among the various companies of monks that flourished, took place during (and not only after) the Buddha’s ministry—although, as we shall see, their influence was with limitations: there were those companies that kept to their own forms.

Some find the Suttas, with all of their re-iteration, excruciatingly boring. “This,” they suggest, “could hardly be the message of a Fully Enlightened One.” They suppose that because they themselves are not enthralled that therefore the message cannot be that of a Buddha. Not only do they fault the method, but the message as well for were the message—renunciation—delightful to them, its repetition would hardly be objectionable. But when the idea of non-attachment is appreciated and approved of, then in both their message and their method the Suttas will be found to be both memorable and rememberable. [21]

Chapter 17: Religion & Philosophy

The relationship between religion and philosophy has been an intimate one and hence their growth and development need to be studied in an interrelated manner.

Religion is the science of soul. Morality and ethics have their foundation on religion. Religion played an important part in the lives of the Indians from the earliest times. It assumed numerous forms in relation to different groups of people associated with them. Religious ideas, thoughts and practices differed among these groups, and transformations and developments took place in the various religious forms in course of time. Religion in India was never static in character but was driven by an inherent dynamic strength .

Every system of philosophy in India is a quest for Truth, which is one and the same, always and everywhere. The modes of approach differ, logic varies, but the purpose remains the same – trying to reach that Truth.

“I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world tolerance and universal acceptance .. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true.”

– Swami Vivekananda at Parliament of world Religions in Chicago 1893

Indian spirituality is deeply rooted in ancient philosophical and religious traditions of the land. Philosophy arose in India as an enquiry into the mystery of life and existence. Indian sages called Rishis or ‘seers’, developed special techniques of transcending the sense and the ordinary mind, collectively called yoga. With the help of these techniques, they delved deep into the depths of consciousness and discovered important truths about the true nature of human being and the universe.

The sages found that the true nature of the human being is not the body or the mind, which are ever changing and perishable but the spirit which is unchanging, immortal and pure consciousness. They called it the Atman .

The Atman is the true source of human’s knowledge, happiness and power. The rishis further found that all individual selves are parts of infinite consciousness which they called Brahman . Brahman is the ultimate reality, the ultimate cause of the universe. Ignorance of human’s true nature is the main cause of human suffering and bondage . By gaining correct knowledge of Atman and Brahman, it is possible to become free from suffering and bondage and attain a state of immortality, everlasting peace and fulfillment known as Moksha.

Religion in ancient India meant a way of life which enables a human to realize his true nature and attain Moksha.

Thus philosophy provided a correct view of reality, while religion showed the correct way of life philosophy provided the vision, while religion brought about the fulfillment philosophy was the theory, and religion was the practice. Thus in ancient India, philosophy and religion complemented each other.

The philosophy must give a theory which will be simplest in its nature and, at the same time, will explain all the principles which are left as insoluble by science. At the same time will harmonize with the ultimate conclusions of science as well as establish a religion which is universal and is not limited by sects or doctrines or dogmas.

When we are concerned with philosophy as a science, it means a set of thoughts put into a system, such that one of them does not contradict another in the set and the entire set as a whole is coherent.

‘Science means knowledge partially unified, while philosophy means knowledge completely unified …. Beyond the knowable is the unknowable, but in that realm of the unknowable laid the solution of all the principles regarding the nature of the soul, of the heavens, of God and everything.’

‘May we hear that which enlightens our minds, may we see Divinity everywhere, may we feel the presence of the Almighty within us and all the actions of our bodies and minds be in the service of that Almighty Being may we have peace unending’.


From the archaeological findings in the pre and proto-historic sites it seems that these people believed in the sanctity of the creative force and venerated the male and female aspects of divinity .

It appears that they were worshippers of the forces of nature like the sun and the moon. This belief is also partly substantiated by the early literature of the Aryans. The nature of the religious beliefs and practices of the Aryans is also known from the Rig Veda,They believed in many gods like Indra, Varuna, Agni, Surya and Rudra. Sacrifices, and ritual offering of food and drink to fire in honour of the Gods, constituted the main religious practices. The Sama Veda and the Yajur Veda elaborated the different aspects of the sacrificial acts and this ritualism was further elaborated in the Brahmanas . The Atharva Veda contained a great deal of animistic beliefs . The seers entertained doubts about the utility and efficacy of the Vedic ritualism. Polytheism was challenged by monotheistic ideas and the various deities were introduced as different ways of naming one eternal entity.

The Aranyaka and Upanishad sections of the Vedic literature envisage a progressive outlook .

  • The Upanishads, represent the early stage in the origin and development of the religions- metaphysical concepts which were used later by the religious leaders and reformers of ancient and medieval India. Some of them followed the traditional lines while others proceeded along the paths of unorthodoxy.
  • India down the ages attempted to grapple with the fundamental problems of life and thought. Philosophy in India began with a quest after the highest truth- truth not as mere objective certitude, but as being closely linked with the development of personality and leading to the attainment of the highest freedom, bliss and wisdom. It demanded, therefore, not only a philosophical discipline of reasoning, but also a discipline of conduct and the control of emotions and passions.
  • Thus the synthesis between deep philosophical analysis and lofty spiritual discipline is an abiding feature of Indian philosophy and its outlook is entirely different from that of western philosophy.
  • It is hoped that it will serve not only to make plain the spiritual aspirations of an ancient nation, but also to show the relevance of those aspirations to the modern world and thus forge a powerful link in the chain of human fellowship and universal concord.
  • Philosophy in India is not a product of speculation but of experience, direct and personal. A true philosopher is he whose life and behaviour bear testimony to the truths he preaches.


The religious movements associated with persons like Mahavira and the Buddha in about the middle of the first Millennium BC fall under this category. There were many other creeds during this time as well. The creeds preached by some of them contained elements that were not in keeping with the Vedic tradition. They ignored the infallibility and supernatural origin of the Vedas. Unlike the Vedic seers who were Brahmin sages, many of these new teachers were Kshatriya. Both Buddhism and Jainism were atheistic creeds in the beginning. However, Buddhism endorsed the doctrine of the Law of Karma and upheld the belief in rebirths of the embodied skandhas and the inevitability of suffering in the very existence of beings. Many of these view points are also found in the major Upanishads.

Creeds of theistic character evolved almost simultaneously with the non-theistic religions. The important deities of these religions were not primarily Vedic ones but those that came from unorthodox sources . Influence of pre-vedic and post-vedic folk elements were most conspicuous in their origin. The primary factor that motivated these creeds was Bhakti, the single-souled devotion of the worshipper to a personal god with some moral link . This led to the evolution of different religious sects like Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Saktism, which came to be regarded as components of orthodox Brahminism. These sects in course of time came to have a significant impact on the popular forms of Buddhism and Jainism.

The worship of Yakshas and Nagas and other folk deities constituted the most important part of primitive religious beliefs, in which Bhakti had a very important role to play. There is ample evidence about the prevalence of this form of worship among the people in early literature as well as in archaeology.

Vasudeva/Krishna Worship : A Sutra in Panini’s Ashtadhyayi refers to the worshippers of Vasudeva (Krishna). The Chhandogya Upanishad also speaks of Krishna, the son of Devaki, a pupil of the sage Ghora Angirasa who was a sun-worshipping priest. A large number of people worshipped Vasudeva Krishna exclusively as their personal God and they were at first known as Bhagavatas. The Vasudeva-Bhagavata cult grew steadily, absorbing within its fold other Vedic and Brahminic divinities like Vishnu (primarily an aspect of the sun) and Narayana (a cosmic God). From the late Gupta period the name mostly used to designate this Bhakti cult was Vaishnava, indicating the predominance of the Vedic Vishnu element in it with emphasis on the doctrine of incarnations (avataras).


Worship of the female principle (Shakti) and of Surya did not achieve equal importance as the other two major brahminical cults. The female aspect of the divinity might have been venerated in the pre-Vedic times. In the Vedic age respect was shown also to the female principle as the Divine Mother, the Goddess of abundance and personified energy (Shakti). However, clear reference to the exclusive worshippers of the Devi is not to be found until a comparatively late period. As mentioned earlier, Surya has been venerated in India from the earliest times. In Vedic and epic mythology, Sun and his various aspects played a very important part. The East Iranian (Shakadvipi) form of the solar cult was introduced in parts of northern India in the early centuries of the Christian era. But it was only at a comparatively late period that god figured as the central object in religious movements.

Religion of the Rig Vedic people was very simple in the sense that it consisted mainly of worship of numerous deities representing the various phenomena of nature through prayers.

It was during the later Vedic period that definite ideas and philosophies about the true nature of soul or Atman and the cosmic principle or Brahman who represented the ultimate reality were developed.

These Vedic philosophical concepts later on gave rise to six different schools of philosophies called shada darshana. They fall in the category of the orthodox system as the final authority of the Vedas is recognised by all of them . Let us now find out more about these six schools of Indian philosophy.

    1. The Samkhya philosophy holds that reality is constituted of two principles one female and the other male i.e. Prakriti, Purusha respectively.
    2. Prakriti and Purusha are completely independent and absolute.
    3. Purusha is mere consciousness, hence it cannot be modified or changed.
    4. Prakriti is constituted of three attributes, thought, movement and the change or transformation of these attributes brings about the change in all objects.
    5. The Samkhya philosophy tries to establish some relationship between Purusha and Prakriti for explaining the creation of the universe.
    6. The propounder of this philosophy was Kapila, who wrote the Samkhya sutra.
    7. Infact Samkhya school explained the phenomena of the doctrine of evolution and answered all the questions aroused by the thinkers of those days.
    8. The early Samkhya philosophy denied the need of a divine authority for creation of universe . Instead, it said, everything was derived from nature or prakriti.
    9. Around 4th century AD, concept of spirit or purush was added and creation of universe was attributed to both prakriti and purush together. Thus it became spiritualistic from being materialistic.
    10. Salvation can be attained bytrue knowledge which can be acquired through hearing (shabd), perception (pratyaksh) and inference (anumana). This was a scientific way of enquiry.
    1. Yoga literally means the union of the two principal entities .
    2. Control over sense, body and mind is the key.
    3. The origin of yoga is found in the Yogasutra of Patanjali believed to have been written in the second century BC.
    4. By purifying and controlling changes in the mental mechanism, yoga systematically brings about the release of purusha from prakriti .
    5. Yogic techniques control the body, mind and sense organs. Thus this philosophy is also considered a means of achieving freedom or mukti.
    6. This freedom could be attained by practising
        1. self-control (yama),
        2. observation of rules (niyama),
        3. fixed postures (asana),
        4. breath control (pranayama),
        5. choosing an object (pratyahara) and
        6. fixing the mind (dharna),
        7. concentrating on the chosen object (dhyana) and
        8. complete dissolution of self, merging the mind and the object (Samadhi).
        1. Vaisheshika system is considered as the r ealistic and objective philosophy of universe .
        2. Vaisheshika means to explore the particularities in all things. They identify 7 categories of things which exist out of which substance is one . And then go on to say that all substance is made of atoms. Earth, fire, water, air and ether are the five elements space, time, mind and self are 4 more.
        3. Vaisheshika School of philosophy explained the phenomena of the universe by the atomic theory, the combination of atoms and molecules into matter and explained the mechanical process of formation of Universe.
        4. All atoms are indestructible and join together to form the various things we see around.
        5. It later diluted its scientific view and put its faith in God and salvation.
        6. The reality according to this philosophy has many bases or categories which are substance, attribute, action, genus, distinct quality and inherence.
        7. It concerns mainly with dharma which is that thing which gives highest good. Since Vedas deal with dharma, Vedas have authority .
        8. Vaisheshika thinkers believe that all objects of the universe are composed of five elements–earth, water, air, fire and ether.
        9. They believe that God is the guiding principle.
        10. The living beings were rewarded or punished according to the law of karma, based on actions of merit and demerit.
        11. Creation and destruction of universe was a cyclic process and took place in agreement with the wishes of God.
        12. Kanada wrote the basic text of Vaisheshika philosophy.
        13. A number of treatises were written on this text but the best among them is the one written by Prashastapada in the sixth century AD.
        1. Nyaya is considered as a technique of logical thinking . It was a system based on logic. It took many ideas of Vaisheshika and expand them. It gives a system of logic to explain the particularities of the plurality of things Vaisheshika seeks to explain.
        2. According to Nyaya, valid knowledge is defined as the real knowledge, that is, one knows about the object as it exists . For example, it is when one knows a snake as a snake or a cup as a cup.
        3. There are 5 stages in Nyaya style of argument –
            1. State the hypothesis
            2. Give the reason for hypothesis
            3. Give an example which serves as a rule to support the hypothesis
            4. Connect the rule to the hypothesis
            5. Restate the hypothesis.

            Eg. (i) There is fire on the hill. (ii) We can say this because there is smoke there. (iii) Where there is smoke, there is fire. (iv) There is smoke, which is associated with fire, on the hill. (v) So, there is fire on the hill.

            1. Nyaya system of philosophy considers God who creates, sustains and destroys the universe.
            2. Gautama is said to be the author of the Nyaya Sutras.
            1. Mimamsa philosophy is basically the analysis of interpretation, application and the use of the text of the Samhita and Brahmana portions of the Veda . Mimamsa means reasoning or explaining. It sought to explain the Vedas from the point of view of nature and the goal of Vedic rituals.
            2. Vedas contain eternal truth. In early Mimamsa, God was irrelevant and Vedic sacrifices were central. Later on it came to accept God as supreme.
            3. A person enjoys heavens as long as his accumulated good deeds last. When they expire, he comes back to earth. And to do good deeds, one must perform Vedic sacrifices.
            4. According to Mimamsa philosophy Vedas are eternal and possess all knowledge, and religion means the fulfilment of duties prescribed by the Vedas .
            5. This philosophy encompasses the Nyaya-Vaisheshika systems and emphasizes the concept of valid knowledge.
            6. Its main text is known as the Sutras of Gaimini which have been written during the third century BC.
            7. The names associated with this philosophy are Sabar Swami and Kumarila Bhatta .
            8. The essence of the system according to Jaimini is Dharma which is the dispenser of fruits of one’s actions, the law of righteousness itself. This system lays stress on the ritualistic part of Vedas.
            9. Salvation can be achieved only through performance of Vedic rituals.
            1. It focuses on knowledge and interpretation of Upanishads . Where it departs from Mimamsa is its stress on knowledge as opposed to Vedic sacrifices .
            2. Brahma is the only real thing and every thing else is unreal or maya. Self(atma) and brahma are eternal, unchanging and indestructible.
            3. A person’s current life is a result of his deeds in past life. So whatever miseries he is facing are not a fault of this world, so he should keep doing whatever he is supposed to.
            4. Knowledge of self (atma) is knowledge of brahma. By attaining knowledge, one can attain salvation.
            5. Vedanta implies the philosophy of the Upanishad, the concluding portion of the Vedas.
            6. Shankaracharya wrote the commentaries on the Upanishads, Brahmasutras and the Bhagavad Gita.
            7. Shankaracharya’s discourse or his philosophical views came to be known as Advaita Vedanta . Advaita literally means non-dualism or belief in one reality. Shankaracharya expounded that ultimate reality is one, it being the Brahman.
            8. According to Vedanta philosophy, ‘Brahman is true, the world is false and self and Brahman are not different , Shankaracharya believes that the Brahman is existent, unchanging, the highest truth and the ultimate knowledge. He also believes that there is no distinction between Brahman and the self . The knowledge of Brahman is the essence of all things and the ultimate existence.
            9. Ramanuja was another well known Advaita scholar.
            10. Among different schools of philosophy was found one philosophy which reached the climax of philosophic thought that the human mind can possibly reach, and that is known as the Vedantic philosophy.

            Vedanta philosophy has ventured to deny the existence of the apparent ego, as known to us, and in this respect Vedanta has its unique position in the history of philosophies of the world.

            Vedanta is a philosophy and a religion. As a philosophy it inculcates the highest truths that have been discovered by the greatest philosophers and the most advanced thinkers of all ages and all countries. Vedanta philosophy teaches that all these different religions are like so many roads, which lead to same goal.

            Vedanta (the end of the Vedas or knowledge) refers to the Upanishads which appeared at the end of each Veda with a direct perception of reality.

            The core message of Vedanta is that every action must be governed by the intellect – the discriminating faculty. The mind makes mistakes but the intellect tells us if the action is in our interest or not. Vedanta enables the practitioner to access the realm of spirit through the intellect. Whether one moves into spirituality through Yoga, meditation or devotion, it must ultimately crystallize into inner understanding for atitudinal changes and enlightenment.

            1. The worldly objects are similar to things seen in a dream. Reality is one (a-dvaita) and plurality is maya. Maya is a product of ignorance .
            2. Using this, he united the seemingly multiple philosophies of upanishads into one.
            3. He held knowledge of upanishads superior to the brahmanical sacrifices .
            4. He held brahma to be one and the ultimate reality which is without attributes and is unchanging.
            5. The purpose of the philosophy is to attain salvation which is possible only via true knowledge and true knowledge is realizing oneness of atma and brahma .
            1. He considers brahm to have attributes like men. The relationship between brahma and atma is like rose and redness. Both are distinct, yet cannot exist without each other. This was his rejection of Shankara’s advaita and his vishistadvaita.
            2. The path of bhakti was open to all irrespective of caste. He accepted the special privileges of the higher castes but opposed the exclusion of shudras from worshipping in the temples . He promoted monotheism and communal harmony. Although the temple was not opened to the shudras a number of subsidiary gods and rituals crept in.
            3. He thinks devotion / love is a more effective way to salvation compared to Sankara’s knowledge. Some of his followers argued that one must strive for this forgiveness (of the deity) but others believed that the deity selects those who are to be liberated – and it may be a random process. However his follower Madhava believed that the selection was not so arbitrary and the deity selects the person based on his purity of the soul .
            4. Ramanuja was like a bridge between bhakti and the brahmanical religion . He drew some of his ideas from upanishads like the concept of soul and the brahma and the unison of both for the attainment of nirvana from rebirth. The emphasis on the individual was a feature of the bhakti perhaps borrowed from the shramanic religions.

            Vishistadvaita of Ramanujacharya

            Vïshistadvaita means modified monism . The ultimate reality according to this philosophy is Brahman (God) and matter and soul are his qualities.

            Sivadvaita of Srikanthacharya

            According to this philosophy the ultimate Brahman is Shiva, endowed with Shakti. Shiva exists in this world as well as beyond it.

            Dvaita of Madhavacharya

            The literal meaning of dvaita is dualism which stands in opposition to non-dualism and monism of Shankaracharya. He believed that the world is not an illusion (maya) but a reality full of differences.

            Dvaitadvaita of Nimbaraka

            Dvaitadvaita means dualistic monism . According to this philosophy God transformed himself into world and soul. This world and soul are different from God (Brahman). They could survive with the support of God only. They are separate but dependent.

            Suddhadvaita of Vallabhacharya

            Vallabhacharya wrote commentaries on Vedanta Sutra and Bhagavad Gita. For him. Brahman (God) was Sri Krishna who manifested himself as souls and matter. God and soul are not distinct, but one. The stress was on pure non-dualism. His philosophy came to be known as Pushtimarga (the path of grace) and the school was called Rudrasampradaya.

            1. Brihaspati is supposed to be the founder of the Charvaka School of philosophy.
            2. Materialistic Philosophy (Lokayat) of Charvak
            3. It concerns with this world only and doesn’t believe in the next
            4. There is no divine agency, no soul, no salvation, no life-birth cycle. All these things are inventions of Brahmans.
            5. One must live in this world only
            6. It finds mention in the Vedas and Brihadaranyka Upanishad . Thus it is supposed to be the earliest in the growth of the philosophical knowledge .
            7. It holds that knowledge is the product of the combination of four elements which leaves no trace after death.
            8. Charvaka philosophy deals with the materialistic philosophy .
            9. It is also known as the Lokayata Philosophy – the philosophy of the masses.
            10. According to Charvaka there is no other world. Hence, death is the end of humans and pleasure the ultimate object in li fe. Charvaka recognises no existence other than this material world. Since God, soul, and heaven, cannot be perceived, they are not recognised by Charvakas.
            11. Out of the five elements earth, water, fire, air and ether, the Charvakas do not recognise ether as it is not known through perception. The whole universe according to them is thus consisted of four elements.

            Except for Charvaka school, realisation of soul has been the common goal of all philosophical schools of India.

            According to Victor Cousin, the great French Philosopher, ‘India contains the whole history of philosophy in a nutshell’. Again he says: ‘When we read with attention the poetical and philosophical monuments of the East, above all those of India, which are beginning to spread in Europe, we discover there many a truth and truths so profound, and which make such a contrast with the meanness of the results at which the European genius has sometimes stopped. That we are constrained to bend the knee before the philosophy of the East, and to see in this cradle of the human race the native land of the highest philosophy.’

            I am sure you would like to know more about Buddhism. We will go to Bodhgaya in Bihar. Tread reverently along this ancient path. Begin with the Mahabodhi tree where something strange happened – realization of truth or spiritual illumination. Tradition states that Buddha stayed in Bodhgaya for seven weeks after his enlightenment.

            There you must also see the Animeshlocha Stupa which houses a standing figure of the Buddha with his eyes fixed towards this tree. Bodhgaya is also revered by the Hindus who go to the Vishnupada temple to perform ‘Pind-daan’ that ensures peace and solace to the departed soul.

            You can also visit Rajgir and empathise with the Chinese traveller Fa-hein who visited this place 900 years after the death of Buddha. He wept over the fact that he was not fortunate enough to listen to the sermons of Buddha that were delivered here. Many stories which you might have read about Buddha have their origin here. Imagine Buddha on his first alms begging mission while staying in a cave here. It was here that the Mauryan king Bimbisara joind the Buddhists order. Remember reading the story how a mad elephant was let loose by Devadutta to kill Buddha. Well, this incident took place here. Finally it was from Rajgir that Buddha set out on his last journey. The first Buddhist Council was held in the Saptaparni cave in which the unwritten teachings of Buddha were penned down after his death. Even the concept of monastic institutions was laid at Rajgir which later developed into an academic and religious centre.

            In your lesson on Architecture, you will read about Nalanda university. It was established in the 5th century BC. It is the world’s earliest university. Since Buddha encouraged learning, monks and scholars gathered here for discourses. So much so that by 5th B.C., Nalanda acquired the position of a well established monastery under the Guptas.


            Do you know the medieval period in India saw the rise and growth of the Sufi movement and the Bhakti movement. The two movements brought a new form of religious expression amongst Muslims and Hindus. The Sufis were mystics who called for liberalism in Islam. They emphasised on an egalitarian society based on universal love. The Bhakti saints transformed Hinduism by introducing devotion or bhakti as the means to attain God. For them caste had no meaning and all human being’s were equal. The Sufi and Bhakti saints played an important role in bringing the Muslims and Hindus together. By using the local language of the people, they made religion accessible and meaningful to the common people.

            Vaishnavism / Bhagwatism

            Evolution of Bhagwatism

            1. Assimilation of Non-Vedic Traditions :
                  • Vishnu was a minor god in Vedic times who represented sun and the fertility cult. By 2nd cent BC, he merged with a god called Narayan. Narayan was a non-Vedic tribal god and was also called bhagvat and his followers were called bhagvatas.
                  • Later the Vishnu-Narayan god was associated with Krishna – a legendary hero of Vrishni tribe in West India . The epic of Mahabharata was recast to show Krishna as Vishnu.
                  • These three streams together led to the birth of Bhagwatism / Vaishnavism by 200 BC.
                  1. Changes into Brahmanism :
                        • Many new doctrines like the doctrines of avatars, holy trinity, preservation of social order and practices like devotion, personal worship, pilgrimage etc. came into being to adapt brahmanism to the changing needs. By the early medieval age, the doctrines of avatars was firmly in place . Pantheons of gods were built like Vishnu-Lakshmi-Shesnag etc. By 12th century, the character of Radha came up perhaps as an influence of Bhakti movement.
                        1. Interactions with Major Traditions :
                              • These religions interacted and borrowed liberally from each other.
                              • Idol worship was borrowed from Jainism and Buddhism . Shrines of various religions shared common pool of auspicious symbols, ornamentation, sculpture styles etc.
                              • Ahimsa became a major theme in Vaishnavism. Now even in sacrifices no animals were killed and people increasingly took to vegetarian food.
                              • Even Buddha and Jain tirthankara Rishabh began to be considered as Vishnu avatars by the early-medieval age.
                              1. Interaction with Minor Traditions :
                                  • The span of Hinduism was grown by assimilating the various minor traditions in its fold. The gods were usually assimilated as minor gods or assistants / gatekeepers to Vishnu while the religious practices were inculcated in a slightly modified form. There were some traditions, however, particularly the Tantric traditions which were outrightly criticized by the mainstream religion and shunned.
                                  1. Royal Patronage:
                                    • Association with Vishnu became a major source of royal legitimacy.
                                    • The kings began to use emblems associated with him (garuda seal of Guptas, boar emblem of Chalukyas) , began to call themselves ‘the foremost worshipper’ (parambhagvata by CG II), donate land to Vishnu temples (Bhitari inscription of Skandagupta).
                                    1. Construction of Temples :
                                      • Vishnu temples had begun to be created from Mauryan age (Nagari in Chittorgarh).
                                      • In post-Mauryan age, the temples increased but were still built of mud and wood super- structure and had oblong and apsidal architectures (e.g. ).
                                      • In Gupta age, many temples came up – the famous being Deogarh, Bhitari etc. These temples and shrines shared space and themes with other religions as well.

                                      The Concept of Bhakti

                                      1. The tribal god, Bhagvat, was thought to be the divine counterpart of the tribal chief. Just as the tribal chief received gifts from his kinsmen and distributed it among the tribals, the god too bestowed good fortune on his bhaktas on receiving their love and devotion .
                                      2. Bhakti means offering loyalty and devotion to God. Ahimsa was a part of it as non-violence was associated with the fertility cult of the Vedic god Vishnu. People began to take only vegetarian food.

                                      Reasons for its Spread

                                      1. The concept of Ahimsa was suited to the need of the age in order to protect animal wealth from sacrifices for agriculture.
                                      2. The new religion was liberal enough to offer space to foreigners and women, vaishyas, shudras, merchants etc. Anybody could seek refuge in the god.
                                      3. It rejected austerities and the priestly domination as well. It was easy enough to be practiced by the masses.
                                      4. The new religion received patronage from many kings both in N and S India.
                                      1. This movement, called the Vaishnavite movement, centered around the worship of Rama and Krishna, who were seen as incarnations (avatars) of Lord Vishnu.
                                      2. Its main exponents were Surdas, Mirabai, Tulsidas and Chaitanya . Their path to salvation was expressed through the medium of poetry, song, dance and kirtans.
                                      3. Surdas (1483-1563) was a disciple of the famous teacher, Vallabhachara . He was a blind poet, whose songs are centered around Krishna . His Sursagar recounts the exploits of Krishna during his childhood and youth with gentle affection and delightfulness.
                                      4. The love for Krishna was also expressed through the songs of Mirabai (1503-73). Widowed at an early age, she believed in a spiritual marriage with her Lord. Her poems have a quality of their own and are popular even today.
                                      5. The Vaishnavite movement spread in the east through the efforts of Chaitanya ( 1484- 1533). Chaitanya considered Krishna not as a mere incarnation of Vishnu but as the highest form of God. The devotion for Krishna was expressed through Sankirtans (hymn session by devotees) which took place in homes, temples and even street processions. Like other Bhakti saints, Chaitanya too was willing to welcome everyone, irrespective of caste, into the fold. The saints thus promoted a sense of equality amongst the people.
                                      6. The worship of Rama was popularised by saints like Ramananda (1400-1470). He considered Rama as the supreme God. Women and outcastes were welcomed. The most famous of the Rama bhaktas was Tulsidas (1532-1623) who wrote the Ramacharitmanas .
                                      7. The Vaishnavite saints developed their philosophy within the broad framework of Hinduism. They called for reforms in religion and love amongst fellow beings. Their philosophy was broadly humanist.

                                      VAISHNAVA MOVEMENT IN THE SOUTH

                                      The history of the Vaishnava movement from the end of the Gupta period till the first decade of the thirteenth century AD is concerned mainly with South India .

                                      Vaishnava poet-saints known as alvars (a Tamil word denoting those drowned in Vishnu-bhakti) preached single-minded devotion (ekatmika bhakti) for Vishnu and their songs were collectively known as prabandhas.

                                      Unlike Vaishnavism, Shaivism had its origin in antiquity.

                                      Panini refers to a group of Shiva- worshippers as Shiva-bhagavatas, who were characterised by the iron lances and clubs they carried and their skin garments.

                                      1. The Pasupati seal recovered from Harappan civilization has been associated with Harappa.
                                      2. Rudra was a Vedic god who grew in importance during the later Vedic age and subsequently multiple minor gods / traditions got integrated with Siva.
                                      3. By 200 BC, the linga / phallic / fertility cult began to be closely associated with Siva and he was worshipped in the linga form. Gradually all religious texts began to worship Siva in this form. Evidences of linga worship emerge in this period. At Bhuteshwar in Mathura, earliest evidence of linga worship has been found (linga on a platform under pipal tree enclosed by railing and two winged creatures worshipping it) . Mukhalingas and anthromorphic form worships also became popular. Guddimalam, Nagarjunkonda show early evidences of linga worship in temples.
                                      4. By the Gupta age, many Shiva purans and other texts were composed and the pantheon of Shiva i.e. Shiva, Shakti, Parvati, Ganesha, Kartikeya, Ganga, Nandi were completed. Siva began to be worshipped in human form (idols from Kosam), in linga / mukhalinga form (important idol is from Nagod), in Ardhanarishwar form and in Harihar form (which is a reflection of Siva and Vishnu bhakti strands coming together). That the concept of the trinity of gods gained tremendous influence in Gupta period reflects the assimilatory character of the bhakti strands and the society in the age.
                                      5. Shiva and Shakti coming together led to deep influence of tantric ideas.
                                      6. As a result of Bhakti movement, Agamas were composed which attached prime importance to bhakti. There were 3 sects which recognized the authority of Agamas – Shiva Siddhanta (in S India), Kashmir Shivaism and Lingayat (in Karnataka). The Shiva Siddhanta believes Shiva to be the creator of universe along with Shakti, the Kashmir Shivaism believes he created the universe by his creative will and the universe is mere mirror reflection of him. Siva and soul are one and same. The lingayats rejected all the brahmanical distinctions and believed in supremacy of bhakti.
                                      7. Other sects were Pasupati sect who were against the Vedic traditions .
                                      8. Then there were kapaliks who were influenced by tantricism and had many questionable practices including human sacrifice, eating in skulls.

                                      Shaiva Movement in the South

                                      The Shaiva movement in the South flourished at the beginning through the activities of many of the 63 saints known in Tamil as Nayanars (Siva-bhakts) . Their appealing emotional songs in Tamil were called Tevaram Stotras, also known as Dravida Veda and ceremonially sung in the local Shiva temples. The Nayanars hailed from all castes. This was supplemented on the doctrinal side by a large number of Shaiva intellectuals whose names were associated with several forms of Shaiva movements like Agamanta, Shudha and Vira-shaivism.

                                      1. They differed from bhakti as they didn’t merely preach monotheism but also actively attacked religious hypocrisy.
                                      2. They questioned brahmanism, theory of rebirth, norms of caste system, untouchability.
                                      3. They encouraged certain practices disapproved in the dharmashastras like late post puberty marriages, remarriage of widows.
                                      4. They advocated better status of women (but barred their women from becoming priests).
                                      5. Shiva was worshipped in the form of the phallic cult or the linga.
                                      6. They resorted to burial instead of cremation.
                                      7. They won the support of the lower castes but themselves became a caste later on.
                                      1. Goddess worship had been an integral part of Indian religion since stone ages and continued through Harappan civilization and later chalcolithic communities.
                                      2. In the Purans , attempt was made to bring together some of these traditions into the brahmanical fold under the name of shakti. Later on Durga, Kali etc. were merged into it.
                                      3. Since female worship was popular among tribes, she is shown to be associated with hills, rivers, caves, gardens. All this was done as a part of the brahmanisation of these tribes . As the number and influence of these tribes grew, so did the forms of the goddess, her powers and importance and the forms of worshipping her. Multiple Durga images have been found in Mathura region (pre-Gupta) along with an image of her depicted as killing Mahisasur.
                                      4. By Gupta age, she came to be associated with Siva probably because both gods had a fierce side and a kind side.
                                      5. By early-Medieval age, the forms had firmly extended to include Matrikas, Yoginis etc. That it was mainly an object of worship in the tribal and forest areas can be inferred from the fact that all the 64 yogini temples are located in Chattisgarh, MP and Odisha in the tribal areas.
                                      1. Shakti (Energy) is the central theme of universe according to Tantricism. It formed many secret sects and was based on secret mantras, rituals, magic and questionable practices. A paraphernalia of symbols, altars etc. was maintained .
                                      2. Tantricism was divided into many sects, the principle ones were associated with worship of Vishnu, Siva and Shakti.
                                      3. It affected buddhism specially and led to its quick disappearance. Even Huen tsang tells us that in a place called Udyan there were thousands of monks and multiple viharas once but now most of them had fallen into disuse and whatever monks were left believed more in tantricism and knew little about buddhism. As a result of the influence of tantricism the form of buddhism changed from Mahayana to Mantrayana and Vajrayana in the east (in the west it was already finished). Then in opposition to Vajrayana, Sahajayana developed in Bengal (who believed in simple living and denounced the multiple rituals) . Apart from the influence of tantricism (which reduced its difference from Hinduism), Buddhism also suffered because its message of ahimsa didn’t resonate with the warlike needs of the feudal society.
                                      4. Tantricism was not a new phenomenon and had been prevalent since ages including its influence on Atharva Veda. It became specially popular in Bengal, Assam, Punjab, Kashmir, Nepal, Odisha, Central India and S India. Hilly areas were special centers.
                                      5. One of the reasons it grew so quickly in early medieval age was the spread of brahmanism into the various tribal areas of India. Thus it denounce casteism and many of its gurus came from lower castes. Naturally it was condemned by brahmanism but later on attempts were made to integrate it and we can see its impact on many temple sculptures – specially in Odisha and central India and also in tantricism texts which began to recognize caste differences.
                                      1. The Sikhs, who mostly belong to Punjab, form a sizable group of our population. The orthodox Sikhs believe that their religion was revealed by God to Guru Nanak, whose spirit entered the second and the subsequent gurus till the tenth Guru .
                                      1. Guru Gobind Singh, ordained the Sikhs to treat the Adi Granth, popularly known as the Guru Granth Sahib, as their Guru.
                                      1. But the students of history and religion think that the seeds for the birth and growth of this religion were present in the Bhakti movement, in its nirguna branch. The Sikhs basically believe in a formless God, equality of all mankind, need of a guru and the pahul tradition . Sometimes, the gurudom was conferred on the son and sometimes on the best disciple.
                                      2. The fifth guru, Guru Arjun Dev, gave the Sikhs three things.
                                          1. The first was in the shape of the Adi Granth , which contains the sayings of five gurus and other allied saints.
                                          2. The second was the standardised script for Gurmukhi in which the Adi Granth was first written.
                                          3. And finally, the site and the foundation of the Har Mandir sahib or the Golden Temple and the Akal Takht at Amritsar, the highest seat from where the dictats for the entire Sikh community are issued.
                                          1. The tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa, which means “the pure”, in 1699.
                                          2. He also ordained the Sikhs to take five vows, namely, keeping of
                                                1. kesh (long hair and a beard),
                                                2. kangha (comb),
                                                3. kada (a metallic bangle),
                                                4. kirpan (a sword) and
                                                5. kaccha (an underwear extending to a little above the knees).
                                                1. Consequently, these symbols became the distinguishing marks of a Sikh. He further added that after his death the Adi Granth will be the guru of the Sikhs and they have to pay obeisance to this holy book.
                                                1. Music has always been an important feature of Sikhism and they believed that through music one can attain ecstacy or samadhi.
                                                1. The Parsi or Zoroastrian religion was founded by Zarathushtra or Zoroaster , in the eighth century BC. He preached monotheism in the region now known as Persia.
                                                      1. He taught the worship of fire and the presence of good and bad in the form of Ahura Mazda and Ahura Man .
                                                      2. He also taught the ethical doctrine of kindness and charity. These doctrines are enshrined in the Zend Avesta .
                                                      1. The Zorastrian religion spread over the whole of Persia and remained the dominant religion till the eighth century AD when Muslims conquered this region. Most of the Parsis migrated to different parts of the world. They also came to India and settled at Navsari in Gujarat , and later on spread to almost all parts of India.
                                                      2. They have contributed a lot to Indian culture. It was Dadabhai Naoroji, the famous nationalist leader and a Parsi, who exposed the hollowness of the British claim of civilizing India and not exploiting it.
                                                      3. Another outstanding figure, who belonged to this community, was Jamshedji Tata, a pioneering Indian industrialist. He established an iron and steel industry in India in the face of the toughest competition posed by the British steel mills and yet continued to prosper. The Parsees also established a large number of public charities.
                                                      1. Zorastrianism is not a proselytising religion and no new entrants are accepted into its fold under any circumstances.

                                                      Thus, we can see that the cultural stream in India continued to assimilate all the newcomers and the resulting cultural interaction gave Indian culture its characteristic multidimensional, multilingual, multireligious and yet composite nature.

                                                      1. Mother goddesses – two types. Slim type and pregnant type. Both indicate fertility beliefs. Phallus. Male and female fertility organs.
                                                      2. Pipal tree and the tree spirit shown in some seals. Bulls and is associated with Nandi and similarly the Siva. Instead of imposing the later Gods on such evidences it is more appropriate to see them as a contributory factor in the evolution of later concepts.
                                                      3. Animal sacrifice indicated by a seal. Another seal indicates human sacrifice. Kalibangan fire altars (though they could equally well be hearths). Temples were absent.
                                                      1. There is a clear absence of large monumental burials indicating absence of kings.
                                                      2. The burials of Harappans are simple with fewer grave goods. Only simple pottery of daily use and some scattered objects are kept indicating Harappans didn’t expect the dead to have huge demand and also such occasions were not a means of wealth and social status demonstrations.
                                                      3. Even after the decline of Harappan civilization, Harappan style burials continued (specially in H cemetery culture) indicating their contribution.

                                                      Sangam Age Religion in South India

                                                      1. It was strongly animistic in character . Hero stones, trees, water, stars etc. were worshipped as symbols of greater forces. These practices continued for a long time.
                                                      2. The Sangam literature tells us Madurai was a city of temples even in Sangam age . Some N Indian deities began to be worshipped as well.

                                                      Yaksha and Yakshini / Naga and Nagini

                                                      1. Yakshas were initially associated with nature and wealth and yakshis with fertility . They were benevolent powerful deities who were worshipped with offerings and devotion.
                                                      2. But later they were absorbed in dominant religions and demonized by them and dismissed as localized rural deities .
                                                      3. But historical evidence shows otherwise. The colossal image of yaksha @ Parkham (Mathura) shows it was an urban work meant for large number of people. It was specially worshipped by traders indicating association of yaksha with wealth. Similarly the yakshas of Besnagar and Pawaya hold a money bag in their hands. Female deities are still worshipped today for child protection – something done by yakshis earlier.
                                                      4. Even though in later the colossal images disappeared, the private images continued in homes indicating continuation of private worship.
                                                      5. Similarly colossal figures of nagas and nagis have been found in Jamalpur (Mathura), elaborate brick and stone naga temple at Sonkh (Mathura), iron naga figurine at Peddabankur (Karimnagar) indicate that naga worship too was widespread.

                                                      Svetambara-Digambar Schism in Jainism

                                                      1. The traditions of both sects recall a sudden split although in different manners and of course blaming each other. The archaeological evidences suggest otherwise. The split was a gradual process.
                                                      2. The move from total nudity to wearing clothes was a slow one. All the early images of Jain tirthankaras from Mathura were naked. Only in 5 cent image was a tirthankara shown wearing lower garment and with time, the images shown wearing clothes became more in proportion. The council of Valabhi in 5 cent AD may have hardened the divide between the two sects. It was purely a svetambara gathering and no digambar was present there.

                                                      1. Everything-down to the most insignificant thing-is predetermined .

                                                      Quotes Against!? Wisdom

                                                      I prefer the folly of enthusiasm to the indifference of wisdom. Anatole France Click to tweet

                                                      The most important lesson of New Labour is this: Every time we made progress we did it by challenging the conventional wisdom. Ed Miliband

                                                      Sometimes one likes foolish people for their folly, better than wise people for their wisdom. Elizabeth Gaskell

                                                      All human wisdom works and has worries and grief as reward. Johann Georg Hamann

                                                      Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. Ludwig van Beethoven Click to tweet

                                                      Learning and wisdom are superfluities, the surface glitter merely, but it is the heart that is the seat of all power. Swami Sivananda

                                                      Ideal World – Ram Rajya – Hinduism

                                                      August 21, 2014 Comments Off on Ideal World – Ram Rajya – Hinduism

                                                      However it’s to be noted that the legend of Ram whose exemplary character and governance more than 10,000 years ago, makes it the most popular text book on moral living and righteous polity.

                                                      In post-colonial India, Ram Rajya as a concept was first projected by Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji announced that Ram Rajya would be brought once Independence arrived. When he was asked about the ideal State, he talked about Ram Rajya. By using the Ram Rajya slogan, Gandhiji implied an ideal Rajya (without being communal) where values of justice, equality, idealism, renunciation and sacrifice are practised.

                                                      To quote Mahatma Gandhi on Ram Rajya, he said and wrote on February 26, 1947, “Let no one commit the mistake of thinking that Ramrajya means a rule of Hindus. My Ram is another name for Khuda or God. I want Khuda Raj which is the same thing as the Kingdom of God on Earth.” Obviously this meant an ideal society where everybody follows a code of righteous living and more or less happy, meeting all their essential needs.

                                                      Ram Rajya according to many scholars meant that the state (Rajya) was the sole legitimate agency wielding power (force), which imposes limits upon its exercise of power, either for the greater happiness of the people, or to evade a greater tyranny that could be caused by moral outrage or self-righteousness.

                                                      Historically, from the Ramayana, the chapter on Ayodhya gives a majestic description of Ram Rajya, where peace, prosperity and tranquility reigned, for there was no one to challenge the seat of Ayodhya, literally the land without wars. Incidentally in Hindi, “Ayodhya” means “a place where there is no war.” Hence “Ram Rajya” is described as an ideal society. Is there any country that doesn’t want peace, prosperity and tranquility?

                                                      According to many authors who have researched the Indian epic (Itihaas) Ramayana have concluded that Ram Rajya is not a myth or imagination, it is an historic truth of it times and for the time to come. It is not a proletysing concept and not a dystopian relic.

                                                      Lord Rama was Maryada Purushottama. He was a Prema Murti. He was an ideal son, an ideal brother, an ideal husband, an ideal friend, and an ideal king. He can be taken to embody all the highest deals of man. He led an ideal life of a householder to teach humanity. He ruled His people so nicely that His rule came to be called Rama Rajya, meaning the rule of righteousness, the rule which bestows on all happiness and prosperity.

                                                      Rama was an ideal king. He ruled the kingdom in a wonderful way. He was just and righteous. He was courageous and kind. He was endowed with a gentle and generous disposition. He was civil and courteous.

                                                      Therefore His subjects loved Him immensely. Not a single man was unhappy during His regime. He often used to say, “I will do anything and everything to please My subjects and, if necessary, I can even abandon My dear wife for their sake.” That is the reason why His reign was called “Rama Rajya.” There were not dacoits during His regime. All led a virtuous life. Nobody spoke any untruth. Anybody could place a bag of gold or jewels even in the main street. No one would touch it even.

                                                      Rama Rajya was based on truth. Dharma was its foundation. Shastras were the guiding principles. Rishis, Yogis, Munis and Brahma Jnanis were the guiding lights. The Vedas were respected and followed. Therefore, Rama Rajya endured and prospered. And it is even now spoken of as the most perfect form of government.

                                                      The government of Sri Rama was an ideal one. Rama’s kingdom was free from evil-doers, thieves and dacoits. People did not put locks to the doors, nor bars to their windows. A bag of gold could be kept quite safe even in the highways. No calamity ever befell anyone. The aged people never performed the funeral rites of the young. No one injured another. Everyone was devoted to Dharma, righteousness or duty. All the people always narrated Sri Rama’s stories. They always uttered Rama, Rama. The whole world reverberated with the Name of Rama.

                                                      In due season, rain and shine came. The air was fresh and cool. The trees were laden with plenty of fruits. There were abundant flowers of sweet fragrance. There were plenty of crops in the fields.

                                                      Every man had a long life. He had children and grandchildren. Wives were devoted to their husbands. They were chaste and pure.

                                                      All the people were hale and hearty. They were rich, contented and virtuous. They were free from disease, greed and sorrow. They were truthful, righteous and self-controlled. They led a pure and taintless life.

                                                      The Brahmins were well-versed in the Vedas. They were virtuous. They stuck to their own duties. The Kshatriyas were brave. The Vaishyas and Sudras did their Svadharma. They were free from passion, greed and envy. The twice-born were faithful to the rites and scriptures. They were truthful in their words and deeds. They had God-fearing nature. They had love for all creatures.

                                                      The troops were very strong and brave. They were fierce like fire. They never retraced their steps in battle. They guarded the ramparts well.

                                                      There were neither want nor fear nor pain anywhere. The sons were noble and manly. The daughters were handsome, modest and pure.

                                                      Every town and province had plenty of gold and corn. Fathers never lost their children, nor did wives their husbands.

                                                      Poverty was unknown in Rama’s kingdom. Everybody had horses, cattle, gold and grain. Nobody spoke falsehood. No one envied others’ wealth. The poorest man was richly blessed with wealth and knowledge.

                                                      Sri Rama’s dominion was free from fire, flood, storm, fever, famine and disease.

                                                      Watch the video: Why Does the West Love Buddhism? (July 2022).


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