Why did Buddhism disappear from India?
The antics of Adi Shankara in the 8th century assuming he was born in 788 and died in 820 CE are well known and part of history. Sankara postulated the Vedas as authority; and hence was ranked as a Sanatani. Later on, the priestly class appropriated this and Max Muller called it Hinduism. Thus Hinduism dates back to to the 8th century.
He was the arch foe of Buddhism and the principal architect of its downfall in India (Pande 1994: p. 255). Adi Shankara, along with Madhva and Ramanuja, was instrumental in the revival of Hinduism through aggressive and violent means.
The historians like Vincent Smith suggested that it was due to Adi Sankaracharya there was decline of Buddhism in India. Others argue that it was due to the Muslim invasion (of Bakhtyar) that Nalanda was routed and the library there was burned and thousands of Buddha viharas were destroyed subsequently. Much of this is described in The Book of Thoth(Leaves of Wisdom).
Shashanka was the Shaivite Brahmin. He was manipulated by the Brahmins to become a ferocious oppressor of the Buddhists. He had destroyed the Bodhi tree of Bodh Gaya and ordered the mass destruction of all Buddhist images and monasteries in his kingdom.
2. Jaini, P.S., Narain A.K., ed., 1980. The Disappearance of Buddhism and the Survival of Jainism: A Study in Contrast. Studies in History of Buddhism. Delhi: B.R. Publishing Company:181-91.
3. Ahir, D.C. 2005. Buddhism Declined in India: How and Why? Delhi: B.R. Publishing.
The hold of Buddhism on the masses of India could be seen from the writing of celebrated Chinese pilgrim Faxian (334-420 AD). He made a journey that marked the high point of the first wave of Chinese pilgrims in India. He left China in 399 AD and returned in 414 AD. We see that even two centuries later the religion was hardly weakened as may be gleaned from the detailed historic accounts of the reign of Harshavardhana (606-647AD). The sources for such accounts are: coins and inscriptions, the reports of pilgrims, official Chinese documents and writings by well-known personalities like the Chinese traveler Huien Tsang.
1) The Divyavadana (ed. Vaidya, 282). The most important of the murderous Hindu bigots who carried out their systematic campaign of violence against the peaceful followers of Lord Buddha was Pushyamitra (184-48 B.C.), the founder of the Shunga dynasty. For details and refrences do see BELOW
2) Goyal  “The culprit in this case was Toramana, a member of the same dynasty as the Shaivite Mihirakula who did “immense damage to the Buddhist shrines in Gandhara, Punjab and Kashmir.” For details and refrences do see BELOW
3) Mihirakula is said to have razed 1600 viharas, stupas and monasteries, and “put to death 900 Kotis, or lay adherents of Buddhism” [Joshi, 404].
4) The Aryamanjushrimulakalpa tells us that Pushyamitra “destroyed monasteries with relics and killed monks of good conduct.” [Jayaswal, 18-19]
5) As Goyal  notes, “According to many scholars hostility of the Brahmanas was one of the major causes of the decline of Buddhism in India.”
7) The Brhannaradiya-purana lays it down as a principal sin for a Brahmana to enter the house of a Buddhist even in times of great peril.
8) The drama Mrchchhakatika shows that in Ujjain the Buddhist monks were despised and their sight was considered inauspicious.
9) The Vishnupurana (XVIII 13-18) also regards the Buddha as Mayamoha who appeared in the world to delude the demons. Kumarila is said to have instigated King Sudhanvan of Ujjain to exterminate the Buddhists.
11) The Chinese traveller Yuan Chwang (Huen Tsang), who visited India in the seventh century records the oppressions of Shashanka, the king of Gauda, who was a devotee of Shiva.
12) Yuan Chwang’s account reads, “In recent times Shashanka, the enemy and oppressor of Buddhism, cut down the Bodhi tree, destroyed its roots down to the water and burned what remained.” [Watters II p.115] He also says that Shashanka tried “to have the image (of Lord Buddha at Bodhgaya) removed and replaced by one of Shiva”.
14) Another prominent seventh century murderer of Buddhists was Sudhanvan of Ujjain, already mentioned in the quotation from Goyal above as having been supposedly instigated by Kumarila Bhatt.
15) Madhava Acharya, in his “Sankara-digvijayam” of the fourteenth century A.D., records that Suddhanvan “issued orders to put to death all the Buddhists from Ramesvaram to the Himalayas”.
nine-storeyed library of the Nalanda University“. [Prakash, 213]. Numerous destroyed Buddhist shrines were converted into Hindu temples after their destruction.
17) Ahir  notes that “The Seat of Buddha’s Enlightenment was in the possession of a Hindu Mahant till 1952.
Cunningham discovered the site in 1860-61.
20) The temple of Madhava at Sal Kusa, opposite Gauhati in Asam, was once a sacred shrine of the Buddhists. …
21) And the famous Jagannatha temple at Puri in Orissa was also originally a Buddhist shrine.
22) Similarly, the Vishnupada temple at Gaya was also once a Buddhist shrine.” As Rajendralal Mitra notes in his famous work of 1878 [quoted in Ahir, 59] the feet of Buddha at Gaya were rechristened the feet of Vishnu and held as the most sacred object of worship in the new Vishnupada temple.
Jawarhalal Nehru in his book Glimpses of World History says (Page 103 and 104) “Chandragupta proclaimed his holy war “against all foreign rulers in India. The Kashatriyas and the Aryan aristocracy, deprived of their power and positions by the aliens (Kushans), were at the back of this war. After a dozen or so years of fighting, Chandragupta managed to gain control over Northern India including what is now called UP. He then crowned himself king of kings. Thus began the Gupta dynasty. It was a period of somewhat aggressive Hinduism and nationalism. The foreign rulers-the Turkis and Parathions and other Non-Aryans were rooted our and forcibly removed. We thus find racial antagonism at work. The Indo-Aryan aristocrat was proud of his race and looked down upon these barbarians and malachas. Indo-Aryan States and rulers were conquered by the Guptas were dealt with leniently, But there was not leniency for non-Aryans.
26) Jawarhalal Nehru in his book Glimpses of World History says “Chandragupta’s son Samadugupta was an even more aggressive fighter than his father….the Kushans were pushed back across the Indus…Samadugupta’s son, Chandragupta II was also a warrior king, and he conquered Kathiwad and Gujrat, which had been under the rule of a Saka or Turki dynasty for a long time. He took the name Vikramaditya…..The Gupta period was a period of Hindu imperialism in India. There was a great revival of old Aryan culture and Sanskrit learning. The Hellenistic, or Greek and Mongolian elements in Indian life and culture which had been brought by the Greeks, Kushans and others were not encouraged, and were in fact deliberately superseded by laying stress on the Indo-Aryan traditions. Sanskrit was the official court language. But EVEN IN THOSE DAYS SANSKRIT WAS NOT THE COMMON LANGUAGE OF THE PEOPLE.
offered a more suitable outlook–with its story of Ramachandra immortalized in Valmikis epic.
Jawarhalal Nehru in his book Glimpses of World History says “The Gupta revival of Aryanism and Hinduism was naturally not very favorably inclined towards Buddhism. This was partly because this movement was aristocratic, with the Kashatriya chiefs backing it, and Buddhism had more democracy in it; partly because the Mahayana form of Buddhism was closely associated with the Kushans and other alien rulers of northern India….but Buddhism declined in India…Chandragupta the first was a contemporary of Constantine the great, the Roman Emperor who founded Constantinople. “
The Buddha was a true revolutionary—and his crusade against Brahminical supremacy won him his most ardent followers from among the oppressed castes. The Buddha challenged the divinity of the Vedas, the bedrock of Brahminism. He held that all men are equal and that the caste system or varnashramadharma, to which the Vedas and Other Brah’minical’ books had given religious sanction, was completely false. Thus, in the Anguttara Nikaya, the Buddha is said to have exhorted the Bhikkus, saying,“Just, O brethren, as the great rivers, when they have emptied themselves into the Great Ocean, lose their different names and are known as the Great Ocean Just so, O brethren, do the four varnas—Kshatriya, Brahmin, Vaishya and Sudra—when they begin to follow the doctrine and discipline propounded by the Tathagata [i.e. the Buddha], renounce the different names of caste and rank and become the members of one and the same society.”The Buddha’s fight against Brahminism won him many enemies from among the Brahmins. They were not as greatly opposed to his philosophical teachings as they were to his message of universal brotherhood and equality for it directly challenged their hegemony and the scriptures that they had invented to legitimize this. To combat Buddhism and revive the tottering Brahminical hegemony, Brahminical revivalists resorted to a three-pronged strategy.Firstly, they launched a campaign of hatred and persecution against the Buddhists. Then, they appropriated many of the finer aspects of Buddhism into their own system so as to win over the “lower” caste Buddhist masses, but made sure that this selective appropriation did not in any way undermine Brahminical hegemony. The final stage in this project to wipeout Buddhism was to propound and propagate the myth that the Buddha was merely another ‘incarnation’ (avatar) of the Hindu god Vishnu. Buddha was turned into just another of the countless deities of the Brahminical pantheon. The Buddhists were finally absorbed into the caste system, mainly as Shudras and ‘Untouchables’, and with that the Buddhist presence was completely obliterated from the land of its birth. Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar writes in his book, The Untouchables, that the ancestors of today’s Dalits were Buddhists who were reduced to the lowly status of ‘untouchables’ for not having accepted the supremacy of the Brahmins. They were kept apart from other people and were forced to live in ghettos of their own. Being treated worse that beasts of burden and forbidden to receive any education, these people gradually lost touch with Buddhism, but yet never fully reconciled themselves to the Brahminical order. Many of them later converted to Islam, Sikhism and Christianity in a quest for liberation from the Brahminical religion.
To lend legitimacy to their campaign against Buddhism, Brahminical texts included fierce strictures against Buddhists. Manu, in his Manusmriti, laid down that, “If a person touches a Buddhist […] he shall purify himself by having a bath.” Aparaka ordained the same in his Smriti. Vradha Harit declared entry into a Buddhist temple a sin, which could only be expiated for by taking a ritual bath. Even dramas and other books for lay people written by Brahmins contained venomous propaganda against the Buddhists. In the classic work, Mricchakatika, (Act VII), the hero Charudatta, on seeing a Buddhist monk pass by, exclaims to his friend Maitriya— “Ah! Here is an inauspicious sight, a Buddhist monk coming towards us.”
The simplicity of the Buddha’s message, its stress on equality and its crusade against the bloody and costly sacrifices and ritualism of Brahminism had attracted the oppressed casts in large numbers. The Brahminical revivalists understood the need to appropriate some of these finer aspects of Buddhism and discarded some of the worst of their own practices so as to be able to win over the masses back to the Brahminical fold. Hence began the process of the assimilation of Buddhism by Brahminism.
The Brahimns, who were once voracious beef-eaters, turned vegetarian, imitating the Buddhists in this regard. Popular devotion to the Buddha was sought to be replaced by devotion to Hindu gods such as Rama and Krishna. The existing version of the Mahabharata was written in the period in which the decline of Buddhism had already begun, and it was specially meant for the Shudras, most of whom were Buddhists, to attract them away from Buddhism. Brahminism, however, still prevented the Shudras from having access to the Vedas, and the Mahabharata was possibly written to placate the Buddhist Shudras and to compensate them for this discrimination.
The Mahabharata incorporated some of the humanistic elements of Buddhism to win over the Shudras, but, overall, played its role of bolstering the Brahminical hegemony rather well. Thus, Krishna, in the Gita, is made to say that a person ought not to violate the “divinely ordained” law of caste. Eklavya is made to slice off his thumb by Drona, who is finds it a gross violation of dharma that a mere tribal boy should excel the Kshatriya Arjun in archery.
The various writer of the puranas, too, carried on this systematic campaign of hatred, slander and calumny against the Buddhists. The Brahannardiya Purana made it a principal sin for Brahmins to enter the house of a Buddhist even in times of great peril. The Vishnu Purana dubs the Buddha as Maha Moha or ‘the great seducer’. It further cautions against the “sin of conversing with Buddhists” and lays down that “those who merely talk to Buddhist ascetics shall be sent to hell.”In the Gaya Mahatmaya, the concluding section of the Vayu Purana, the town of Gaya is identified as Gaya Asura, a demon who had attained such holiness that all those who saw him or touched him went straight to heaven. Clearly, this ‘demon’ was none other the Buddha who preached a simple way for all, including the oppressed castes, to attain salvation. The Vayu Purana story goes on to add that Yama, the king of hell, grew jealous at this, possibly because less people were now entering his domains. He appealed to the gods to limit the powers of Asura Gaya. This the gods, led by Vishnu, were able to do by placing a massive stone on the “demon’s” head. This monstrous legend signified the ultimate capture of Budhdhism’s most holy centre by its most inveterate foes. Kushinagar, also known as Harramba, was one of the most important Buddhist centres as the Buddha breathed his last there. The Brahmins, envious of the prosperity of this pilgrim town and in order to discourage people from going there, invented the absurd theory that one who dies in Harramba goes to hell, or is reborn as an ass, while he who dies in Kashi, the citadel of Brahminism, goes straight to heaven. So pervasive was the belief in this bizarre theory that when the Sufi saint Kabir died in 1518 AD at Maghar, not far from Kushinagar, some of his Hindu followers refused to erect any memorial in his honor there and instead set up one at Kashi. Kabir’s Muslim followers were less superstitious. They set up a tomb for him at Maghar itself. In addition to vilifying the fair name of the Buddha, the Brahminical revivalists goaded Hindu kings to persecute and even slaughter innocent Buddhists. Sasanka, the Shaivite Brahmin king of Bengal, murdered the last Buddhist emperor Rajyavardhana, elder brother of Harshavardhana, in 605 AD and then marched on to Bodh Gaya where he destroyed the Bodhi tree under which the Buddha had attained enlightenment. He forcibly removed the Buddha’s image from the Bodh Vihara near the tree and installed one of Shiva in its place. Finally, Sasanka is said to have slaughtered all the Buddhist monks in the area around Kushinagar. Another such Hindu king was, Mihirakula, a Shaivite, who is said to have completely destroyed over 1500 Buddhist shrines. The Shaivite Toramana is said to have destroyed the Ghositarama Buddhist monastery at Kausambi.
According to the Charyapada (First Bangla Book)and Sankara’s Digvijaya book havoc played in Kerala, Bangladesh, West Bengal, Bihar and all South Asia. Kumarila Bhatta instigated king Suddvannan of Ujjaini to exterminate the Buddhists. From the Mirchakatika of Sudraka we learnt that King’s brother-in-law in Ujjain persecuted the Buddhist monks and nuns. They were treated as bullocks by passing a string through their noses and yoking them to carts. The keralopathi documents refer to the extermination of Buddhism from Kerala by Kumarila Bhatta.
In 1906 Pandit Haraprasad Sastri discovered the first Bangla book the “Charyapada” from the Royal Library of Nepal and he declared that Bangla language was started from the Buddhist thoughts. Dr. Mohammad Shahidullaha and Dr. Suniti Kumar Chatterjee discovered that Brahmanism was started to destroy Buddhism. Hindu politics pays respect to the Buddha as the “Vishnu’s 9th Avatar.” Hindu rulers did not convert to Buddhism but they convert the Buddha as the Hindu god and the sinister conspiracy was started to destroy Buddhists in India. Hindu and Brahmin politics could not tolerate at all as the separate Buddhist existence in India.
There are hundred of places in Keral, Bangladesh, Bihar, West Bengla and Uttar Pradesh having the names like Buddha vihar, (Dharma Thakur), palli (or Buddha Vihar in Kerala) either affixed or suffixed with them. In Kerala karungapalli, Karthikapalli, Pallickal, Pallipuram are some of the examples of these places. The term palli means a Budhist Vihara in Kerala. It should be noted that Kerala had 1, 200 years Buddhist tradition. Till recently schools in Kerala had been called as Ezhuthupalli or Pallikoodam. Our Christian and Muslim brothers use the term Palli to donate their place of worship in Kerala. The Buddhist Temples or Palli were wantonly smashed by the Hindu Nazis under the leadership of Sankaracharya and Kumarila Bhatta. They exterminated 1, 200 Buddhist tradition and transformed Kerala into a Brahmanical State. Original inhabitants of Kerala like the Ezhavas, Pulayas etc. were crushed under the yoke of cateism. Many Buddhist Temples or Viharas transformed into Hindu temples and the majority of the people were prevented from entering the temples under the pretext of tragedy of caste system. A number of the Buddha statues have been found at places like Ambalapuzha, karungaoalli, Pallickal, Bharanikkavu, Mavelikkara and Neelamperur. They are all in disfigured state.
A large number of Buddhist temples were usurped by the Fanatic Brahmins and were converted into Hindu temples where the poor Hindus and Untouchables, Srisailam of Karnataka and many others as they were originally the Buddhist temples. Anti-Brahmanism is particularly discussed in the context of the Human Enlightenment of the Buddha and Racial Harmony. Lord Buddha’s enlightenment and his Noble Community are a movement that opposes the Vedic Tragedy of Caste system. We pray to Lord Buddha for peace in the world as the great poet Rabindranath Tagore writes, “Buddha, my Lord, my Master, they birthplace, is truly here where cruel is the world of men, for thy mercy is to fill the blank of their utter failure, to help them who have lost their faith and betrayed their trust; to forget themselves in thee an thus forget their malignant were given no entrance. The Buddhist places were projected as the Hindu temples by writing puranas which were concocted myths or pseudo-history. Badrinath, Mathura, Ayodhya, Srinegeri, Buddhagaya, Saranath, Delhi, Nalanda, Gudiallam, Nagarjuna konda, Srisailam and Sabarimala (Lord Ayyappa) in Kerala are some of the striking examples of the Brahmanic usurpation of the Buddhist centres. At Nagarjunakonda, the Adi Sankara (8th century) of Kerala played a demon’s role in destroying the Buddhist statues and monuments. Longhurst who conducted excavations of Nagarjuna Konda has recorded this in his book Memoirs of Archaelogical Survey of India No. 54, The Buddhist Antiquites of Nagarjuna Konda (Delhi, 1938, page 6).
In this way, Hindu scholars including Swami Vivekananda discovered that the temples of Lord Jagannath of Puri, Vithula of Pandharpur, Ayyappa of Keraladay. The Master Lord Buddha to whose inspiration he owed his greatness needs to be invoked today even more fervently than in his day. The cruel stupidity of wicked racial discrimination and caste and color bars, parading as religion, has stained the earth with blood and deep hatred more than mutual violence, outrages humanity at every step. Today, in this hapless land poisoned by fratricidal malice, we yearn for a word from him who had proclaimed love and compassion for all creatures as the path to salvation.”
Gautam Buddha is not the enemy of Hindu society and now Hindu politicians use the Buddha as the Hindus’ trade mark. India emphasizes her mother India abiding Lord Buddha’s teaching and Great Emperor Asoka’s Buddhist heritage. The wheel in the centre of the Indian national flag is the wheel of the Law of the Buddha’s Teaching – the Dharma, and the state emblem of India is an adaptation of the famous Lion Capital was erected by the Great Emperor Asoka at Saranath, where the Buddha –Enlightened One first delivered his teaching of compassion and wisdom to the world.
Buddhism invites anyone to come and see for himself and permits him to accept only those facts which agree with reason, logic and truth. It encourages the seeker of a new way to discard heresies, blind faith, miracles and magic. So scientist Einstein expressed this appreciation of Buddhism, “The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experiences of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description.”
It is well documented in several books that Buddhism was never and is not a part of Hinduism. Because of its uniqueness and noble teachings Buddhism spread almost all over the world, especially in the South and South-East Asian countries where the peoples still regard “South Asia” as the ‘Land of Buddha’ who had unfolded to them a new path, a new direction for a better life. In fact from the 5th century BC to the 8th century AD India had passed through a golden period of history in all spheres of human activities in ethics, art, architecture, sculpture, trade and commerce, interactions with the peoples of different countries.
Can Hindus compare the Buddha with other leader of India? Puri’s Jagannath Temple belongs to Buddhists. When the Indian Government tested nuclear bombs then the government broadcasted “The Buddha laughs.” Please do not loss your temper in showing your spirit of brotherhood in human rights system. In Buddhagaya even now there is a Shiva Linga hole which is worshipped by Hindu priests every day on the original floor stone just in front of the statue of Lord Buddha main hall of the Mahabodhi temple in Bihar. As the Daily Telegraph of Kolkata dated May 9, 2009 reported that Indian Buddhist community wanted freedom in Buddhagaya. You are ignorant relating to freedom of Buddhists in India. Hindu politicians kidnapped Buddhism and they boast it sings the glory of Hindu politicians and scholars who scarcely reveal an awareness of the delicate difficulty in understanding the faith of other men. Hindu scholars write the Allah Upanisad during the reign of Emperor Akbar- the great. Have you read it? Try your best to read again and again in the Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru “How did Brahmanism absorb Buddhism? Have you found Human Rights in the Bhagavad Gita (in the chapter 18) and slokas: 41, 42, 43 and 44. You are a stupid by your ego and delusion. Please find more from “Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas by Romila Thapar.”
United Nations marks the International Buddha Purnima in Bangkok, Thailand. World Buddhists New year’s Buddha Jayanti of Buddhist Era 2553 in the Asian Heritage Month May – begins with the Buddha’s blessings and tribute of Vaishaki – Buddha Purnima in Asia. Over 2553 years through out the world history, Buddhism was started with boundless tolerance and compassion. The very identity of independent Bangladesh the Charyapada (An Anthology of Buddhist Tantric Songs), emphasize mother Bangladesh abiding Bangla language and its democratic heritage. Buddha Purnima holds most glorious significance for the millions of Buddhists who – comprise half of the world’s total population.
Buddha Purnima commemorates three great events: The Birth, Supreme Enlightenment and the Great Passing Away of Gautama – the Buddha. On this day all Buddhists are expected to reaffirm their faith in the Buddha Dharma and to lead a noble religious life. It is a day for meditation, and radiating loving kindness. In thousands of temples across the world from Tokyo in the East to San Francisco in the west, Buddhists will pay homage to an Indian Prince who renounced the pleasures of a royal household to bring peace and happiness to mankind. The Buddha or the Supremely Enlightened One was born in 623 B.C. on a Boisakhi Full –Moon day. The young Prince was named Siddhartha or “the one who has brought about all good.” The parents, King Sudhodana and Queen Devi Mahamayaa, ruled a Sakya kingdom called Kapilavastu in Nepal.
Finally, on the 35th Anniversary of his (Prince Siddhartha) birth, again on the full moon day of Vesak, and seated under the Bodhi tree in Buddha Gaya the ascetic prince (in Nepal) Siddhartha became the Buddha, the Fully Enlightened One. For the next forty five years the Buddha traveled around Northern India preaching his message of universal loving kindness for all beings and the realization of the nature of existence with the Four Noble Truths (1. sufferings of life 2, causes of sufferings : Desires 3. Removal of sufferings is Nirvana), 4.The Noble Eightfold Path. Scientist Albert Einstein great genius of the 20th century found that among religious only Buddhism emphasizes the importance of the scientific outlook in dealing with the problems of morality and religions. This threat has been leveled against religious conceptions of man and the universe from the time of Galileo, Bruno and Copernicus (17th century) who instrumental in altering erroneous motions of the universe. However, in a world of darkness and distress, the Buddha Dharma still shines across the gulf of twenty five centuries and it is not yet too late for us to follow its guiding beams and emerge triumphant into a brighter and happier future. At no time in history has the message of the Buddha been more relevant than it is now to present day society of the 21st century.
Psychology & Philosophy relating to Right understanding of life, 2. Right Thought, 3.Right Speech, 4.Right Action, 5.Right Livlihood, 6.Right Effort 7.Right Mindfulness & 8.Right Concentration. The Principles of Buddhism concern the Four Noble Truths, the first being that existence of full of sufferings or unsatisfactoriness. The second Boble is that all suffering has a cause. The third noble is that suffering can be made to come an end and the fourth noble Truth that there is a way to end suffering – the Noble Eightfold Path. According to Buddhism Karma (intentional action) is not predestination imposed on us by any mysterious creator to which we must helplessly submit ourselves. The karma or deed may be mental, oral or physical. Its nature judged by the accompanying volition. The Buddha teaches, “Every living being has karma as its master, its inheritance, its congenital cause, its kinsman, its refuge. It is karma that differentiates all beings into low and high states. Nirvana, the ideal requires constant spiritual exercise and mind-development. The Buddha imbued the robber Angulimala’s mind with metta (universal love) and the robber was converted into a spiritual wayfarer. In this effect, even in the Nuclear Age Buddhists the world over owe a duty to cooperate and coordinate their efforts in spreading the principles of Buddhism which has love peace, human rights, happiness, and right understanding for all mankind. The Buddha teaches, “A good ruler is delighted in righteousness, a good person is endowed with wisdom, a good friend does not betray his friends and happiness is achieved by not doing evil.” In the violent world through all dangers and difficulties not a single drop of blood was shed in the name of Buddhism. Human beings are walking with the Dharma light of the Buddha as His followers (monks and Nuns) and pilgrims in the Buddhist Pilgrimages at home (India) and abroad. Spiritual enlightenment develops in our human minds and consciousness systems by practicing universal love with donation, right meditation and insight wisdom. India’s Buddhism invites anyone to come and see for himself and permits him to accept only those facts which agree with reason, logic, and truth. Buddhism encourages the seeker of a new way to discard heresies, blind faith, miracles and magic. Principles of Buddhism invite criticism and testing. Buddhism is therefore, the most appealing and most compelling factor that leads the modern minds in the East and West. The Buddha then points out that to hold any kind of fixed view about the past or the future is to be trapped in a net like fish. Suffering lies in clinging to views.
Guru Nanak’s birth day is the government holiday in West Bengal government’s calendar. Mr. L. K Advani, former minister of Home Affairs, Government of India, a statement wherein him self had mentioned that Buddhism is nothing but an integral part of Hinduism and Buddha’s teachings were derived from the holy Gita which was, in fact, compiled much later than the advent of Buddhism. Such type of Brahman conspiracy statement has wounded not only the Buddhists of India, but also those of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, China, Japan, Korea, Tibet, Mongolia, Burma, (Myanmar), Combodia, Laos, Singapore, Bhutan, Nepal, Mongolia and all over the world where Buddhism is still a living faith. Indian Buddhists have already received from those countries many complaints regarding this statement which has tarnished the image of India there.
6. Beal, S. 1884. Si-Yu Ki: Buddhist Records of the Western World. London: Trubner & Co., reprint ed., Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint Corporation.
But the exact reasons for his hostile attitude towards Buddhism were not known. It was believed that the Brahminical revivalists had goaded the Hindu kings like him to persecute and even slaughter innocent Buddhists.7 It was reported that Shashanka had destroyed the Bodhi tree of Bodh Gaya and ordered the mass destruction of all Buddhist images and monasteries in his kingdom. This biased and sectarian policy of Shashanka had broken the backbone of Buddhism in India. Shashanka had also murdered the last Buddhist emperor Rajyavardhana, elder brother of Harshavardhana, in 605 AD. He had marched on to Bodh Gaya and destroyed the Bodhi tree under which the Buddha had attained enlightenment. He forcibly removed the Buddha’s image from the Bodhi Vihara near the tree and installed one of Shiva in its place. Shashanka is alleged to have slaughtered all the Buddhist monks in the area around Kushinagar. After the rule of Shashanka, the Pala kingdom was established in Bengal. Though the Palas of Bengal had been hospitable to Vaishnavism and Saivism, but nonetheless they were major supporters of Buddhism. However, when Bengal came under the rule of the Senas (1097-1223), Saivism was promulgated and Buddhism was neglected. Another hostile Shaivite king like Shashanka was Mihirakula who had completely destroyed over 1500 Buddhist shrines. His hostile action was followed by the Shaivite, Toramana who had destroyed the Ghositarama Buddhist monastery at Kausambi.7
The despotism of Shashanka and his hostile behavior towards the Buddhists was carried forward by the revival of Hinduism that led to the further decline of Buddhism in India. Many scholars often relate this Vedic revival as a tyrannical faith that caused massive destruction of the Buddhist monasteries.
But this matter is however, far more complicated than this. A recent study of the Bengal Puranas proved that the Buddhists were mocked and projected as mischievous and malicious in Brahminical narratives as well as subjected to immense rhetorical violence. This rhetorical violence should be interpreted as both physical and mental violence perpetrated upon the Buddhists. The extermination of Buddhism in India was hastened by the large-scale destruction of Buddhist shrines by the Brahmins. The Maha Bodhi Vihara at Bodh Gaya was forcibly converted into a Shaivite temple.
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I don’t think the information given is completely reliable; in fact, it may be the case that Shankara’s brand of Vedanta has been popular only from the recent past (it owes more to Swami Vivekananda and Indian nationalism than to any philosophical reasons).
Masterpieces of Buddhist philosophy have been composed in India even centuries after Shankara. It seems he was not very successful as a philosopher in his time, since he barely figures in texts about Siddhaanta until much later. The Vedaanta authors quoted by even a late writer like Advayavajra are others – who seem to have been more popular and successful than Shankara.
Nehru’s historical writing is outdated as it relies on a very limited number of sources. And obviously, we cannot use the Shankaradigvijaya so uncritically; not only because it was composed much later than the time of Shankara, but also because we have several alternative accounts that it is unreasonable to discard without reading.
It is sad how a certain specific nationalistic rhetoric has linked India’s past to Shankara and Advaita; even worse is to see how many modern Indian citizens buy into that. Until recently, many different philosophies co-existed in India, and the absence of modern notions of nation-state did not require anyone to come up with this idea of a specific ‘national spirituality’ (=Advaita according to Swami Vivekananda). The close coalescence of nationalism and religion is one of the saddest post-colonial heritages of the sub-continent, which makes any account of India’s religious past become a politically charged landmine. It is as if nobody cares for the actual content of those philosophies and religions – they just wish to assert their social and political identities.
I would like to suggest to the author of this article to consider more carefully Sanskrit philosophical texts (especially Buddhist) composed between the 8th and the 11th century. Anyone reading these texts will be rather surprised to notice how marginal a figure Adi Shankara was, and how marginal his philosophy may have been. Also, you may be surprised to find how many rich and profound Buddhist philosophical texts kept being composed much after Shankara. Basically, he had very limited impact upon the Buddhist world of medieval India (unless we decide to trust the Shankaravijaya texts, the earliest of which was written in the 14th century!).
Buddhist authors did not neglect to refute various forms of Vedanta, but the philosophies they concentrated upon are usually Saamkhya, Nyaaya and Miimaamsaa, which seem to have been much more popular in ancient India. Shankara’s Vedanta is fundamentally an exegetical system (uttaramiimaamsaa) based on the authority of the Veda; the Veda is the only valid means of knowledge (pramaa.na) in order to know the supreme Brahman (please check the Catuhsuutrii if you don’t trust what I just said). It follows that once the authority of the Veda is refuted, the whole system collapses – and Buddhist philosophers have refuted the authority of the Veda time and again.
Let me repeat this; I don’t think Shankara was ever even a threat to Buddhism. Ancient sources do not corroborate this, and offer accounts of his debates with the Buddhist that differ drastically from what we find in later Shankaravijaya texts – which were written 600 years later. The very least that we can say is that we have many divergent account and therefore there is no way to propose such clear-cut historical accounts. Even in recent history, some argue that most of South India was Shaiva Siddhanta rather than Advaita until very recently (basically, until the rise of Indian nationalism). I believe most manuscripts produced in the South up to the 18th century are Shaiva Siddhanta texts rather than Advaita, but you can sure double-check for yourself.