DECLINE AND FALL OF BUDDHISM
(A tragedy in Ancient India)


Author's Preface
On the verge of Third Millenium

The begining of third millenium coincides with golden jubilee of our so called "independence"? Is it not time, we evaluate our achievements and failures in the light of promises made to ourselves in the Constitution, that there will be Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity for each and every citizen irrespective of their caste, creed, religion or gendre, so that dignity of individual and unity and integrity of nation be preserved?

After fifty years of self rule and democracy, has the developement reached the huts of the common man? Have the masses from deprived and neglected classes of the society, on whose strength the battle of freedom struggle was fought by the leaders, got a taste of fruits of independence? In spite of financial prosperity of nation, have the disparities been reduced? In spite of development plans, is there any economic emancipation or social and political power in real sense for the SCs, STs, OBCs, landless labourers, small and marginal farmers, artisans, workers - the real producers of wealth?

What is the remedy?

The history of India is the history of struggle between higher and lower castes since centuries. All the tensions among the society are the results of graded inequality of Brahmanic Social Order. To get relief from the oppression from the "savarna" dominance, the only remedy is political power. What is the meaning of Independence? To the multitude of masses it means the relief from the "savarna" oppression. The economic emancipation is definitely a part of aim in the struggle. But the crux of the matter is mainly the social aspect. One must make a differentiation between social justice and social transformation.

Only by comprehension of Brahmanism one can understand the past history of this country. Brahmanism is the social system of graded inequality but is supported and justified on the basis of religion. The majority of masses, the bahujans, donot understand this and they become meek supporters of oppressive social system in the name of religion. There are two strong weapons in the hands of Brahmanism to oppress the bahujans. They are the concepts of destiny and god. The false ideas of hell and heaven deny the bahujans the achievements of this world, they become inactive and get oppressed by the BSO. The brahmanic system has made the original inhabitant of this land the most depressed and reduced them to a deplorable condition by breaking them into innumerable small castes and deprived them of all wealth, prosperity, human dignity and happiness.

What is the gist of Brahmanism

We have been using various terms like "Brahmanism, brahmanya, brahman vaad, manuvaad, sanatanism, orthodoxy" etc. Now a days, all these words are replaced by "hindutwa" or some new terms like "bharatyatwa" or "rastriyatwa" or "national" and so on and so forth. Unfortunately each author uses the term in a sense known to or understood by him only and his interpretation is either unknown to the masses in general or unaccepted by them. Under these circumstances, it becomes imperative to depict the exact meaning of the word.

The cardinal tenets of "Hindutwa"

There are some who clasify "Hindutwa" in three types, (1) of Aribindo and Vivekananda, (2) of Sawarkar and (3) of RSS propounded by Golwalkar. We feel all this discussion is an eyewash to hoodwink the masses. Neither of them started it, and their interests in interpreting it differently, if at all they did as claimed, had arisen out of political needs of the time. Those interested may see writings of Raosaheb Kasbe against this thinking. For our purpose, "Hindutwa" of any and all types have certain cardinal points, and they are:

1. Chaturvarna: This is the main feature. The society must be divided into four water tight compartments called Brahmin, kshatriya, vaishya and shudra, and that the entry to them is only through birth. It is like a tower with four floors without any staircase. There are many conceptions for this system. It is a devinely ordained system, it was made by god. It is the duty of human beings to follow this system without expecting any returns from it. Your duty is only to do the "karmas," i.e. the deeds related to following the "chaturvarna". This is the devinely ordained "dharma". When this "dharma" gets dormant, god takes birth to puninish the evil, i.e. those who disturbed the "dharma" and preserve those who are "sadhus", i.e. those who follow this "dharma". It must not be confused with the division of labour. This is not the division of labour but division of labourers. Under this system you are allowed to marry only within your own caste, and you are also required to follow the calling of your ancesters, how so ever it may be fearsome. It is better to die in the calling of your ancesters than to follow others' profession. Because it is alwys better to die in your own inferior "dharma" than a better one of others', which is always fearsome. It means the daughter of a prostitute must become a prostitute and son of a pimp must become a pimp. A scavenger's son may take education and become a doctor but he must earn his living not by working as a physician but must earn his livelihood by scavenging. Only he must become an expert in scavenging. This is the summary of "Chaturvarna." Even now there are supprters to this theory.

2. Supremacy of god: As the theory of caste is put forward by god almighty himself, it can not be challenged. Afterall god is the one who has created the universe. Nothing moves in this world without his wish. Not even a leaf of a tree moves without his wish. How is this theory put into action by god? Ofcourse according to the deeds of the past life's deeds. If you have folloewd the "chaturvarna" in the past life, you have accumulated enough virtue to make you, that is your "atma", to have a body of a higher "varna". Afterall, you are of no consequence. It is your "atma" that is the thing of great importance. It is your "atma" which is "real you". It is separate from your body. Though you are not your "atma", the "karmas", that is the deeds of chaturvarna, have to be followed by the body. It is very simple theory. When you die, it is the body that dies. The "atma" goes to another body, just like you change your shirt, "atma" changes its garment. This "atma" does not die, it can not be cut by weapons, neither it can be burned by fire, nor it can be desicated by wind. What ever physical birth you are having now is due to your deeds in previous birth. If you did "good deeds" meaning respecting caste rules, you would be born in higher caste, otherwise you would be born in a lower one. The idea is that you must not grumble about your present situation, it is all arranged by the God himself taking into consideration the deeds of your previous birth.

3. Belief in Infaliability of "Sastras": It is very essential to make this rule so that God and Chaturvarna could be supported, because all the above is stored in Brahmin's books, prohibited to others.

4. Belief in visit to holy places: Also neccesary to keep the supply line of provisions to piestly class, so that they can go on writing "sastras" for the governing of rest of the society, and

5. Bath in "Ganga" washes all sins: Very essential to empower the priests to lure masses to visit the "tirthas", the places of pilgrimae, spread all over the country. Very useful device to deprive the bahujan of what ever has been accumulated by him and also to indoctrinate him in Manu's way of thinking.

These were the mehanisms used by the Brahmins to dominate the Bahujans. And these were the very things opposed by the Buddhists from times immemorial.

Indian History

Ancient Indian History is not only illuminating, but it throws ample light on the happenings of today. One finds that from times immemorial, the struggle between the so called upper caste "savarnas" on one side and the rest of population on other side is going on. It had assumed different names, shapes and forms during the course of different periods of history, and the history of India is nothing but the history of conflict between these two ideologies, as is well demonstrated by Dr. Ambedkar. The present day protagonists of these are Phuley, Shahu and Ambedkar on one side and Tilak, Gandhi and Golwalkar on the other. These are the only two ideologies in present day India, and sooner the people understand this, earlier they will be freed from their slavery.

Bahujan philosophy

To relieve the humanity from suffering, in India, the remedy is to develop the spirit of Bahujan Samaj. We cannot progress by merely "Dalit Unity", or by only "Dalit Muslim Unity", or by only "Dalit Christian Unity", we have to build a Bahujan Samaj, which is not an easy task. One has to understand the mechanics of Bahujan Samaj. One has to understand Bahujan Philosophy with all its intricacies, for which the study of life and literature of "Great Heroes" of Bahujan Samaj like Phule, Shahu, Ambedkar, Periyar, Ayyankali, Gurucharan Thakur, Narayana Guru and hundreds of others who fought for the cause and showed the way, and follow it with study of Kanshiram and his movement.

Social service and social transformation

This is the important point which one must understand. Medical ethics says, prevention is better than cure. Instead of curing a disease give more attention to its prevention. To mend a fracture is social service, to create environment so that fractures do not take place is social transformation. To give vitamin pills to malnourished Adivasi children is social service, to give their parents employment so that they can buy wholesome food for their children is social transformation. To give charity to a beggar is social service, to create social atmosphere so that nobody has to beg is social change. To give rice at Rs. two per kilo when market price is Rs.7/- is social service, to raise the income of the person so that he can buy the rice at market price is social change. To feed the hungry is social service, to create situation where nobody remains hungry is social change. To teach an illiterate is social service, to destroy the social structure which made him illiterate is social change. To open a new school in thee vicinity of an illiterate poor colony of "zopadpatti" could be social service, to motivate the poor hungry and illiterate man to send his child to school walking five kilometers away even on an empty stomach is social transformation. To protect a weak person by giving him weapons is social service, to make him strong enough to let him manufacture and use his own weapons is social change. To teach an egalitarian prayer to a school child may be social service, to dynamite the scriptures spreading inequality among human beings is a social change. To assure protection to scared minorities may be social justice, to give them power so that they can defend themselves is social transformation.

I have a great respect for missionaries who did a tremendous amount of good work. If there were no missionaries, there would have been no Phule, no Shahu and no Ambedkar, let alone Kanshiram and Mayawati. In my humble opinion, missionaries in India are doing social service, and are the very best at that, even at the cost of their own lives. But still it is not social transformation. I think here lies the importance of a movement which stands for not social service or social justice alone but for social transformation and economic emancipation.

Supporters of Child Labour

There was an international demand that all goods to be exported should be certified to the effect that no child labour was involved. The then Prime Minister of India, Narsimha Rao, had refused to sign such an understanding. Why? Because it did not concern his people. Even in recent times, talks in International fora on Trade broke down on Child Labour and Enviornment, both the problems of masses.

Caste System contributed to child Labour in India : UNICEF

The above is the heading of a small news item published some time back in news papers. It reflects a lot on the ills India is facing. It is only a survey of child Labour problem, but if one ponders over it one would know the real problem India is facing. The news item runs as under:

NEW DELHI, Jan. 7, (UNI) The rigidity of the caste system in India has, among other things, contributed to the mushrooming of child labour in the country, says the UNICEF. In the report "The state of the world's children", the UNICEF said the dominant cultural group in India might not wish its own children to do hazardous labour but it would not be so concerned if young people from racial, ethnic or economic minorities did it. Citing the magnitude of child labour, it said, "In India, the view has been that some people are born to rule and to work with their minds while others, the vast majority, are born to work with their bodies." "Many traditionalists had been unperturbed about lower-caste children failing to enroll in or dropping out of school," the UNICEF said, adding "and if these children end up doing hazardous labour, it is likely to be seen as their lot in life." The UNICEF's observation came against the backdrop of the recent supreme court judgment banning child labour in hazardous and non-hazardous industries. He said the technique being used in glass industry should be upgraded. The Government of India had sanctioned an amount of Rs. 12.86 lakh on the basis of a report by the ITI Kanpur. According to a survey conducted to find out labours engaged in glass industry of Faizabad, 18,126 child labourers and 316 suspected were found, in which 13,199 were boys and 7,843 were girls. The number of affected families was 15,919. The meeting was also informed that 12,900 of five development blocks of Ferozabad had been admitted to various educational centres and they were getting benefit mid-day scheme." ["Hitavada", Nagpur, 8th Jan.97]

Cultural Groupism in India

Before we understand the problem, we analyze the various cultural ethnic groups mentioned above. Dr. Ambedkar, who was an authority on caste, has clarified the population of India is divided into (A) avarnas and (B) savarnas. Savarnas are 1. dwijas i.e. Brahmins, Ksatriyas and Vaisyas, the so called Upper Castes (UCs) and 2. the Shudras, the so called BCs, a whole lot of miscellaneous amorphous castes. The Avarnas are a. Scheduled Castes (SCs) b. Scheduled Tribes (STs) c. Criminal (ex) tribes (VJ) and Nomadic Tribes (NT) and d. minorities like Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists. The UCs are about 15% and the rest are about 85%. and these days are called 'bahujans'.

The UNICEF Report only deals with problem of Child Labour, but it alludes to many problems eg. Problem of Illiteracy, malnutrition, prostitution and that too having sanction of religion, beggary, disease. The report shows why the benefits of planning are not reaching the masses. It should show why judicial results are not doing justice, it could show the root cause of corruption. It shows the main reason, why the Indian elite think the way they do. It shows why there was a struggle going on for centuries between two ideologies. It shows why India smarted under foreign yoke for centuries. It shows all the ills of India originated from the Caste system with graded inequality, with the Brahmin at the helm of affairs and the rest suffering under these 15 percent so called higher castes.

The literacy rate of India is so poor that she has the largest number of illiterates in the world. Why is it so? From times immemorial, Brahmins taught to the masses that all knowledge was stored in Vedas. In consequence, those who were not supposed to read the Vedas had no purpose of learning to read and write. Hence the preponderance of illiteracy. That you find a few literates among the non-Brahmins these days, is due to work of Fuley, Shahu and Ambedkar. And one has to thank the British rule also for that. But the fundamental point remains, that the upper castes do not like the other castes to get education. Many policies adopted by the rulers emanate from this feeling. Even a caste war was fought in Gujarath on the point of reservations to Backward castes in Educational Institutes. The war over Mandal Commission is not yet over. The problem of illiteracy is not the problem of upper castes, it is the problem of backward castes, and unless it is addressed as such, it cannot be solved.

India has got the largest number of blinds in the world. Nearly half the blind population of the World is in India. Why the proper treatment facilities are not made available? Because, again most of these people are backward castes, and the upper castes do not bother to ameliorate the conditions of these people for they are not their "own" men.

The problem of malnutrition and deaths due to hunger are typically problems of SCs and STs, and so is the problem of beggary. Almost all the beggars are backward caste people. Almost all the prostitutes are similarly of the same castes. The hutment dwellers in urban slums, the "refugees within the same country", i.e. migration from villages to cities, is the problem of "zopadpatti" (slums), which again is a problem of "bahujans". The problem of landless labours is also same. So is the problem of juvenile delinquency.

All these are real problems for the masses, but these are always ignored by the ruling class. But the things are changing fast. All the backward caste people are opening their eyes. They are awakening. They can now understand what Phuley, Shahu, Ambedkar have advised them. The days of Brahmin supremacy and Chaturvarna domination are numbered, and that number is a small one. No amount of Gobel's propaganda by supporters of Child labour like Zunzunwalas and his kind is now going to work.

Tricks employed by BSO to divert the attention of the oppressed

It is well known but not well realized by the leaders is the fact that BSO always tries to divert the attention of Bahujans away from the real issues. The issue of population explosion, or environment, or women liberation, or "mandir" and "masjid" were regularly used for this purpose. But recently they are discussing reservation and review of the Constitution under this scheme. Various questions are raised and their answers depicting both pro and anti arguments are advanced by the same people, construed for their own benefit. The aim is to divert the attention of gullible "Bahujans" away from real issues, they should not try to find out and know the alternative institutions, concepts and social order, so that they should keep away from the revolutionary politics, they should not even dream of historical and social possibilities, they should not realize the realistic comprehension of socio political scenario, they should not realize the dark inside of the political and bureaucratic decisions and policies and not realize the castiest and selfish motives of the rulers. In light of this the bahujans always forget that the rulers have purposefully refrained from implementing land reforms, implementing banning of bonded labour practices, implementing labour laws for uniform and minimum basic wages, implementing labour laws for landless labours, enforcing anti-child labour laws, implementing strict free and compulsory primary and secondary education, prevent drop outs from the schools, provide free health, shelter and potable water and sanitation facilities for all. If these things were implemented, the bahujans would have been in a much better position than they are now.

The crux of the matter is that the main reason for this is that there is no political will, and why so? The only reason is, as is now realised by masses that the rulers have caste prejudices. The problems given above are not their problems. Has anyone seen an illiterate, or a bonded labour, or school drop out, or a malnourished child, or a child labour, or a street beggar, or a commercial sex worker from the ruling castes? Has anybody wondered why the Chakma refugees had to suffer but Kashmiri Pundit refugees received a much better treatment, to the extent of sending them to represent "Indigenous People" of India, to UNO?

Since how long the Problems are present?

The problems are present not since the British regime started. As a matter of fact the problems got alliviated since the Britishers came. The British Rule, though a foreign rule, was much liked by masses than the Brahmin Raj, of Peshawas for example in Maharashtra, where not only non-Brahmins, but even the Brahmin women became happy when "Peshawai" ended. Actually, the problems started with the decline and fall of Buddhism, the greatest tragedy in the anals of Indian Nation.

The purpose of this writing is to show that real causes of ruin of Indian nation was fall of Buddhism, and the various means adopted by Brahmins to keep the supremacy of their caste and the sequllae of it which haunted this land for centuries and perhaps are going to haunt for another few centuries. This is an humble effort to highlight some of the ills faced by Indian masses, and suggest the historical back ground of their suffering so that they could find the solutions for future. As is explained by an eminent scholar from University of Miami:

"Historical Research can provide us not only with hypotheses for the solutions of current problems, but also with a greater appreciation of the culture and of the role which education is to play in the progress of society. ... An understanding of historical background should save education from making the same mistakes. Thus historical research can act as a control in policy making. ... historian generally would not be satisfied with mere discovery of truth, but would conceive his primary resposibility as a scientist to be the interpretation of the data in order to link the past to the present and to the future." [Mouley:1963:205]

Dr. Ambedkar tried to educate the masses by writting a number of books on socio-cultural history, some of which were published years after his death. It was expected a healthy debate would ensue to go to root of the ills. One of them was "The Riddles of Hinduism" written to show how Brahmins have put the OBCs in a great quagmire. But on one riddle, heat was raised by the supporters of "Chaturvarnya" and a number of lives were lost on sentimental issues. But no debate ensued on the real issues and no answers are found to the riddles raised by him even after so many years. The solutions to these "Riddles" are not going to be found by the UCs, they have to be found by those who are suffering.

I am sure such solutions will be found. The masses are awakening. They are realising the causes of their suffering, and they are trying to fight. The fight has not finished as yet, It is just starting. To quote the final verse of a marathi song:-

"The final class war has not yet come to Bharat; when it does we will fight not on the side of the Kaurus nor the Pandavas but the long neglected Eklavya will take up bow and arrow to establish his state." [Translated from a Marathi poet's song by Gail Omvedt, "Oppressed Indian", August 1980, p.24]

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