DECLINE AND FALL OF BUDDHISM
Depicting Buddha as Hindu
For a last few years, Sangha activists are trying to depict to the international community, that they respect the Buddha. While doing that they use terminology depicting him as a Hindu. About Ambedkar also, similar thing is seen, books are written to show the work of Hegdewar and Ambedkar was same. We find Shankaracharyas garlanding the photo of Dr. Ambedkar. We find Brahmanic dignitaries like Sankaracharya paying a visit to Nagpur Diksha-bhoomi to pay tributes. And the recent incident is well known that RSS supremo Sudarshan garlanded the statue of Ambedkar - the maker of the Indian Constitution - on Deekshabhoomi at Nagpur, and the Ambedkarites have washed and "purified" the statue "poluted" by touch of someone who condemns the Constitution.
Declaring Buddha as an avatara of god was the beginning
They declared the Buddha as an avatara of Vishnu, some times around eighth century, as a verse to this effect from Matsya Purana is engraved in a monument at Mahabalipuram. The process seems to be completed by the time of Jaydeo writing "Gita Govind" in 12th century, including Buddha's name in it as an "Avatara". We are also aware that an average Brahmin takes a great pride that Buddhism was driven away from this land by Adi- Sankara.
How a non-existent religion can die?
Declaring the Buddha as ninth avatara of Vishnu, L. M. Joshi observes, was a "remarkable cultural feat", achieved by the Brahmanic Puranas, which later caused confusion in the minds of people with the result that Buddhism came to be treated as a "heretical" and "aesthetic" branch of Brahmanism. The present scholars like P. V. Kane, Radhakrishnan and even Swami Vivekanand, have pushed this confusion further back to the time of origin of Buddhism, by saying that Upanishadas are the origin of Buddhist thought. To this list must be added the name of B. G. Tilak, who devoted a full chapter in "Gita Rahashya" to prove that Buddhism was an off-shoot of Hinduism, (and one more chapter for proving that Christianity arose from Buddhism and hence eventually from Hinduism). Commenting Swami Vivekanada's statement that the Swami and other Hindus did not understand Buddha's teachings to be an honest confession, Joshi observes:
"... Not only the ancient and medieval brahmin teachers did not understand Buddhism; modern scholars born into the Brahmanical tradition have not shown any better understanding. Shankara, Kumarila, Udayana, and Sayana- Madhava did not understand Buddhism. This is true also of Tagore, Gandhi, Coomaraswamy and Radhakrishnan. ..." [L.M.Joshi:1973:12]
Showing a great surprise of Brahmanic scholars claiming both that Buddhism was just a refined "Hinduism", and also claiming with pride that Buddhism was driven away by the Brahmanas and it has died down, he sarcastically observes:
"... The causes of the decline of Buddhism in India are attributed either to Tantrika practices or to Muslim invasion, or to both. Nobody even imagines that if Buddhism were only a "reformed" or "refined" version of "Hinduism" how it could be said to have declined and died away while "Hinduism" is still flourishing and is the faith of majority of Indians. Buddhism can be said to have declined only when there was evidence for its existence at a certain period in Indian history apart from the existence of "Hinduism". If Buddhism did not exist apart from Brahmanism or "Hinduism" it did not die at all. A non-existent tradition or way of life does not die. The theory of decline of Buddhism, from the standpoint of "traditional" history is a false theory. On the other hand, if the decline of Buddhism in India was a historical fact, the theory of its origin as a "reformed" Brahmanism is a false one and must be discarded." [Ibid. p.14]
If Buddhism was a sect of "Hinduism", then one may well ask the proud supporters of Shankaracharya, what was that religion which was "driven out by Adi Sankara", as they claim? Was it also Hinduism?
Buddhism is not a sect of Hinduism
As Swami Dharmatirtha observed, in an answer to those writers, who have treated Buddhism as a sect of Hinduism, that we do not know of any Hinduism having existed before the Buddha and if Hinduism did not exist, Buddhism could not have been a sect of it. There was the Brahman religion of sacrifices, confined to a small Aryan community, and the common people had their ancient religion of some sort of hero worship and ancestor worship and images. Both these were domestic, neither the public yajnyas of Brahmins nor the temples of tribal Indians were in existance. Swamiji feels:
"... Buddhism was a revolt against both the prevailing systems. In fact it was the first organized religion in the modern sense of the term "religion". It succeeded in driving out the Brahman religion of sacrifices, but gradually succumbed to the influences of the popular religion. Its final absorption in the primitive religion was due to the fact that the Brahmans favoured the religion of gods and goddesses and rituals, and not the religion of righteousness. [Swami Dharmatirtha:1946:109]
Buddhism was the national Religion of India
Well, inspite of what these elitits say, decline of Buddhism is a historical fact, and was the cause of all ills, India had to face in the past. That the ills of common people of India today are due to the decline and fall of Buddhism in historical times, is not well understood by the masses, and how it affected the life of common people and what kind of miseries the subsequent generations had to suffer, is a subject which not many scholars have given much thought to.
The fact that at one time Buddhism was the national religion of India and was followed by the majority of population, is almost forgotten. There is a feeling in the minds of many, that India is and was a Hindu country having always had a majority of Hindus. This again is a misconception. In historical times the population of India never had majority of Hindus. Swami Vivekananda, estimated Buddhists to be two thirds of population [L.M.Joshi:1977:358] and Dr. Ambedkar says Buddhist were in majority. [W&S,vol.7,p.345] Then there were Jains and Veerashaivas and Tribal religions in addition to Muslims, Sikhs and Christians coming in the later times.
That Buddhism was not only the faith practiced by majority of people but had eclipsed Brahmanism to a great extent and the Brahmins had lost all the respect of masses as well as princely rulers. They were smarting under this defeat. [W&S,vol.7,p.346] They did everything in their power to finish off Buddhism and after Muslim invasion, succeeded in it. Thus Buddhism disappeared to a great extent from the land of its origin. Buddhism was the national religion of India, not only because the Buddha was an Indian, descended from an Indian king of the Sakya clan, but as observed by Swami Dharma Teertha:
"... because Buddhism was the source and inspiration of the national awakening witnessed in the Indian empires and kingdoms which controlled the destinies of the country for over a thousand years; because Buddhism, for the first time, united India in a common cultural synthesis and organization; because unlike Brahmanism, which was the religion of the privileged classes, Buddhism was the first religion of the common people, not forced on them, but accepted by their free will and pleasure; because Buddhism brought out in the fullest measure the immense potentialities of the nation in all its manifold aspects - science and art, literature and religion, commerce and industry, internal progress and international reputation; and lastly, because no other religion has till this day been able to make India a great nation as Buddhism did. [p.76]
Brahmins usurped Buddhism
Brahmans became the leaders of Buddhism because of their learning, and first disfigured it thoroughly with ritualism and images, and then destroyed its separate organization of monasteries and monks with the help of the foreign masters who came into power. But the Buddhism of Harsha and Nagarjuna did not disappear, it formed the nucleus of the later Hinduism, superadded with horrors of caste. To become the sole leaders of the country and to enforce their system of castes, has always been the prime motive of Brahmanism, and if Buddhist order of monks and monasteries had survived, the Brahmins could not have achieved this goal. So they completely destroyed the external institution of Buddhism, the monks and monasteries. Brahmins became the undisputed leaders, and a new popular religion, Hinduism, emerged with important aspect of caste, as Dharmatitha observed:
"... Caste is an entirely independent social order which was neither in the ancient Aryan religion nor in primitive Indian religion nor in Buddhism. It is the unique contribution of the Brahman priests, and none else ever wanted it, until the country lost its national religion and political freedom, and the Brahmans succeeded in imposing the system upon the people almost at the point of the bayonet with of alien masters. [p.110]
Brahmanism does not mean Brahmins alone
Lest there should be any misunderstanding about the term Brahmanism and other derivatives of it, it must be clearly understood, what is meant by this term. Swami Dharma Teertha made it clear:
"British Imperialism does not mean the British people; it symbolizes a vast system and has numerous votaries among Indians also. Brahmanism, similarly, does not signify the Brahmans exclusively, but an ancient order of things of which the Brahmans are the leaders and champions. It stands for the aggregate of ideals, institutions and past history of the socio-religious constitution of the Hindu society. At the same time, we should not lose sight of the fact that the cause we have to serve is the welfare of the entire nation and not the sentiment of separate classes or castes. If, therefore, some of us Brahmans, or Kshatriyas or others have to accept a larger share of the blame for the disaster which has befallen us all, we should not hesitate to welcome the opportunity. That circumstance should be an incentive to put forth still greater efforts to right the wrong we have done. It is the system which is throttling us all equally, it is that pernicious system that is the subject of our criticisms. [p.11]
A prominent thinker of Maharashtra, Raosaheb Kasbe, has elaborated the subject by saying that, Brahmins are fortunte that, "Brahmin" is a name of Caste as well as of a "Varna", thereby implying Class, this status being bestowed upon them by Smritis. As a class and as a power structure, Brahmins have developed vested interests. Dalit writers divide the history as Brahmin Vs. non-Brahmin, instead of Vedic Vs. non-Vedic, and when the words having Brahmin as one of their components are used by them to criticise these vested interests, the meaning implied is against the power structure and not agaist the caste. If this is a blameworthy mistake, the mistake is committed by the authors of Smritis, specially "Yama smriti", and they and the later authors desrve the blame. [Kasbe Raosaheb:1994:242]
Causes of fall of Buddhism
Before coming to the effects of fall of Buddhism, which is the main subject matter of this tract, we will briefly the discuss the various causes that led to this tragedy which befell on this country. As exclaimed by L. M. Joshi, this "tragedy" is mostly "overlooked or confused", [L.M.Joshi:1977:xvii] and ignored or distorted by the elite of this land for selfish caste motives.
M. M. Kane's views
Maha Mahopadhyaya Dr. P. V. Kane summarizes the various reasons for the decline and ultimate fall of Buddhism from the land of its origin. Like all other Brahmanic scholars, he denies the Brahmanic crusade against Buddhism as the main cause. He mentions various reasons important being the following: [Kane:1980:400]
1. The debates in four Buddhist councils one after the other till Kaniska and the resultant differences of opinion within the Buddhist scholars.
2. End of royal patronage after the reign of Harshavardhana.
3. Important scholars of Buddhism left the country.
4. The high moral set up by the Buddha were found to be too cumbersome for the followers. The monasteries of bhikkus and bhikkunis became the places of laziness and immoral behaviour and lowly tantric practices. Sexual intercourse became the part of their 'yoga saadhanaa'.
5. To oppose Buddhism and to popularize Hinduism, Brahmins had to make revolutionary changes in the nature and practices of their religion, in the early and later centuries of Christian Era and make changes in their religion having long lasting effects.
6. Gods and goddesses in Vedic pantheon were discarded and yadnyas were almost abandoned. Puranic mantras were being used even in the shraadhha. The tenets of ahimsa, daana, tirth yaatraa, and vratas got more importance than the yajnyas. By these changes, importance of Buddhism was reduced to a great extent.
7. People started liking the stories in Puranas in preference to those in Buddhist Jatakas.
8. From about 7th century, Buddha was included in the list of Avataras and by about tenth century, the fact was acknowledged all over India.
9. Around 1200 A.D., the destruction of Buddhist Universities and killings of Bhikkus, the lay Buddhist got confused. Some of them became Muslims and some became "Hindus".
10. It is mentioned in "Chulla vagga", that some times, in big monasteries, the bhikkunis used to quarrel and fight amongst themselves.
11. Apart from these causes, the main reason was in reality different according to Dr. Kane. And it was that the people at large did not find it possible to follow the Buddha's advice of accepting asceticism, which according to Hindu sastras was denounced.
12. When Buddhists started worshiping Buddha as God, and accepted bhakti denouncing old eight fold Buddhist path, the differences between Hinduism and Buddhism gradually vanished.
13. Brahmins incorporated among their religion such as sanyas, worshiping of many gods, 'karma marg' as a means of higher spiritual stage. Thus Brahmins gave their religion very broad character.
14. Puranas and dharma sastras gave so much importance to 'ahimsa' that not only Brahmins, but also vaishyas and shudras accepted vegetarianism. On the contrary, in no other country the Buddhists are purely vegetarians.
Views of other scholars
Before Harshvardhana of seventh century, Buddhism had suffered a lot at the hands of Brahmanism. However, Jagdish Kumar, rather unjustifiably, likes to exclude the persecution of Buddhists by Pushyamitra Shunga (184 B.C.), saying that there is uncertainty about it, mentioning an essay by Nalinaksha Dutta in "Mahabodhi" of June 1955. But he also agrees about religious persecution by Nara, a Kashmir ruler of first century B.C. and by Huna ruler, Mihirkula (510-530 A.D.) [Jagadish Kumar:1981:13]
After Harsha, the situation became very harassing for the Sangha, which was used to lead a life under royal patronage, as per "2500 years of Buddhism". (p.65) This was rather a life of comfort, if not of luxury, avers Jagdish Kumar. [p.14].
We get the glimpses of this decline from Chinese travellers. "The latter (I-Ching) frankly deplores the decay of the faith, which he had witnessed in his own life (i.e. about 650-770 A.D.) but his travels in India were relatively of small extent and he gives less local information than previous piligrims. Hsuan Chuang describing India in 629-645 A.D. is unwilling to admit the decay, but his truthful narrative lets it be seen." [Hinduism and Buddhism, vol II, pp.107-8, quoted by Jagdish Kumar, p.14]
Caliber of Vajrayani Buddhists
As Dr. Rupa Kulkarni Bodhi, a Sanskrit scholar from Nagpur University, who has adopted Buddhism, very aptly observed that the Buddhist Sanskrit literature is the most neglected. Brahmins hate it as it is anti-Brahmanic, scholars of Pali Prakrit or Buddhist studies keep away from it, and Ambedkarites feel it is meant for a dust bin, as it is Mahayanist. [Bodhi:1999:7] Anyway, Tibetans do not consider Vajrayan and Mahayan different from each other. Under these circumstances, Siddha Literature has been neglected by all, and because of its esoteric teachings, it condemned by everyone. This is not proper. It definitely deserves more attention, as it was the literature of "masses" rather than "classes" and secondly it was the last Buddhist literature in India, before its disappearance and has historical importance.
It is claimed by the Brahmanical scholarship of the present day, that the quality and caliber of Buddhist leadership declined after seventh or eighth century. This could be true partially as far as the reading of Vedas is concerned. If you consider that the leadership of Buddhist Sangha was in the hands of people of higher castes and the Bhikkus had a background of knowledge of Vedic studies along with the reading of Tripitakas. This was the situation even in the times of Itsing. But as far as principles of Buddhism are concerned, these leaders made no compromises. One appreciable difference in leadership of Buddhism that can be seen palpably is that when the leadership passed on to the Vajrayani Siddhas of esoteric Buddhism, these leaders almost all belonged to lower castes, in contrast to Mahayanis, who mostly came from Brahmin caste.
Though Buddha never believed in supremacy of any caste, and also the caste distinctions were not acute in earlier times, the Brahmins by this time had enclosed themselves into an endogamous group and became a caste from a varna. By the time of Gupta rule, the untouchability was added to this caste consciousness. It had started as an outcome of contempt and hatred towards Buddhists, as is well shown by Dr. Ambedkar. Most of the later leaders of Buddhism hailed from these non-Brahmanic castes as can be seen from the list of Siddhas. This is perhaps the cause of blame by higher caste scholars.
The Vajrayani Siddhas might have had dislike for Vedic so called knowledge but they fererntly follwed the tenets of Original Buddhism, even in those so called degraded conditions. Dharmakirti, a Buddhist scholar of seventh century, in a famous verse in "Praman Vartik", enumerates five differences in the tenets of Buddhist and Brahmanic creed. These were, as elaborated earlier:
1. belief in chatuvarna with supremacy of brahmins and graded ineqality,
2. belief in scritpures strengtheing this inequality,
3. belief in God and atma and all that goes with it together with the sanctions by this God to these books propagating inequality.
4. belief in acumulatimg of 'punya' i.e. virtue by visiting the places of worship situated mostly near the banks of river and belief in bath in these rivers like Ganga can wipe out all accumulated sins and theeby ensuring a fixed and perineal sourse of easy and effortless income for priestly castes, and lastly,
5. belief in extreme austerities of torturing the bodies by some 'yogis' to obtain salvation.
In following these aspects, none of the Siddhas were in any way inferior to their earlier counterparts of Mahayanis, and their zeal of fighting with Brahmanic supremacy and all that goes with it, was in no way of lesser intensity than their predecessors. Therefore, to ascribe the poor caliber of Buddhist religious leaders, who were now called Siddhas, to fall of Buddhism is not correct.
So the real reason or the decline was the hostilty of the brahmins and the final blow was by the conquest by the Muslims, leading to fall of Buddhism. Therefore, Dr. Ambedkar made a distinction between the causes of decline and cause of fall.
Buddhist Siddhas were the forerunners of Bhakti cult
L. M. Joshi avers that the present Bhakti movement, of which the present day Brahmanic scholars are so proud of, and they feel this is the legacy of Aryan/Brahmanic/Vedic tradition and not of Buddhistic origin, and go on congratulating each other for its survival during the Muslim onslaught, was in fact, the gift of the Siddhas, labled by Brahmins as 'corrupt'. While referring to the activities of the saint poets of Karnataka and Maharashtra like Basaveswara and Namdeva, and of North India like Raidas, Kabir and Nanak etc. and of Sufi Muslim saints, he says:
"The Buddhist message of social equality and communal harmony had left a deep impression on the mind of Indian people which continued after the transformation of the classical Buddhist movement. ... The task of fighting the evils of casteism and untouchability was continued by the Buddhist Siddhas, the adepts of Tantrika culture, during the early medieval centuries. A large number of these Siddhas came from lower caste families, but their greatness was assured by their success (siddhi) in esoteric culture (sadhana). This mission of social reform was then resumed by the saint poets of the bhakti movement throughout the Middle Ages. Though these saint poets (sants) were, generally speaking within the fold of the Brahmanical "Hindu" religious tradition, yet they revolted freely against many fundamental dogmas and authentic customs of traditional Brahmanism. Their social and moral teachings were more in keeping with Buddhism than with Brahmanism. All of them disregarded the rules of the varna-ashram-dharma scheme and attacked social distinctions based on birth and profession. Many of them were born in shudra families. They became exalted through their pure character, sincere devotion and magnanimity, ..." [L.M.Joshi:1973:53]
Views of Rahul Sankrutyan
However, Rahul Sankrutayan blames Vajrayanis for decline of Buddhism, saying that decline of Buddhism started with the rise of Vajrayana and was completed after Turkish invasion. [Rahul:1973:71] He opines that the use of women and wine by the Vajrayani bhikshus also could have been a contributory factor in fall of Buddhism. [Ibid., p.79]
He says, it is a wrong propaganda that Shankaracharya, in eighth century, drove away Buddhism from India. On the contrary, Buddhism was flourishing during this time. This was the time of glory of Nalanda University and of foundation of Vikramshila University. This was the time when the most powerful Buddhist Dynasty of Palas was established. This was the time that the great Buddhist philosophers like Shantirakshita and Dharmottara emerged from the University of Nalanda. [Rahul:1973:77]
Even four centuries after Shankaracharya, till the end of twelfth century Buddhism was not vanished from North India. The Gaharwad dynasty not only supported Brahmanism, they also supported Buddhism. Gahadwar queen Kumar Devi built the "Dharma chakra maha vihara" at Sarnath. Govindachandra gave gifts of several villages to the Jetvan Mahavihara. [Rahul:1973:77]
Jaganmitrananda (Mitrayogi), the preceptor (dikshaguru) of last Gahardwad king Jaychanda, was a Buddhist saint. His letter to his disciple king Jaychanda is still available in Tibetan language as "Chandraraja- Lekh" in Tibet. [Rahul:1973:77] This king is being defamed in Brahmanic literature as a traitor to have invited Md. Ghori. The Buddhist scholar Bhikshu Dharmarakshit feels that the real reason for his being termed as such was because of his Buddhist leanings. ["sarnath-varanasi", p.63 ff.]
Pala kings in East remained Buddhist till end of their dynasty. [Rahul:1973:77] In south, the Shilahar Dynasty of Konkan, was purely Buddhist. [Rahul:1973:78] Even in Kerala, the mother land of Shankaracharya, Buddhist influence persisted. They did not restrict the Buddhist learning, but on the contrary, it were they who preserved the "Manjushri mula kalpa" and handed over to us. [Ibid.,p.78]
That the Tamil word "Cherai" means "Naaga" in Sanskrit [Nair:1959:8] is to be remembered, and that Naagas were the followers of Buddhism is well known.
The bhikshus could be easily spotted because of their Yellow robes, which had became a kind of death warrant for them. It was due to massacre of bhikhus, the leaders of Buddhist laity, and the destruction of their Viharas, by the Muslims, the fall of Buddhism occurred. The Chief of Indian Buddha Sangha, a Kashmiri pundit, Shakyasribhadra, had to migrate to Bengal after the devastation and sack of Vikramshila University. Later when Muslims reached Bengal, he left for Tibet with his disciples. He was respectfully invited by King Kirtidwaja. There, he stayed for many years and ultimately came to his mother land, Kashmir, and died there in 1226 A.D. Similarly many Bhikshus had to run away from India. [Rahul:1973:79]
Brahmin books must not be relied upon
Prof. Rhys Davids has aptly warned the scholars, either in Europe or in India, of the falacy of believing in Brahmanic books to understand the affairs in India. He is referring to the social condition of India in the sixth and seventh centuries B.C., but it applies also, rather more so, to later times. He observes:
"...They have relied for their information about the Indian peoples too exclusively on the brahmin books. And these, partly because of the natural antipathy felt by the priests towards the free republics, partly because of the later date of the most of the extant priestly literature, and especially of the law books, ignore the real facts. They convey the impression that the only recognized, and in fact universally prevalent, form of government was that of kings under the guidance and tutelage of priests. But the Buddhist records, amply confirmed in these respects by the somewhat later Jain once, leave no doubt upon the point. [Rhys Davids:1993:2]
Phuley, Shahu, Ambedkar Versus Tilak, Gandhi, Golwalkar
It is well known fact that there existed in ancient India a conflict between two ideologies one that supported chatrvarnya system and the other who opposed it. In various times this strugle assumed different forms and different names with different personalities. History of India is nothing but the history of this strugle. In modern times this strugle is going on with no less zeal and fervour. The leaders of one group are Phuley Shahu and Ambedkar and their opponents are Tilak Gandhi and Golwalkar.
Brahmanic tendency to find faults with Buddhism
That the mentality of Indian elite has always been to find faults with the Budha, His techings, the Buddhist people, and everything they stand for. This is not on any solid ground but just to show them down, just out of spitefulness. Because the Buddhist school of thought always went against vested interests of Brahmins, they were always hostile to the Buddhists. In modern times, they take delight in believing that the cause of all ills in modern India is the Buddhist period of about fifteen centuries, when whole of India was under Buddhist influence. They blame Buddhists for their defeat at war with all the foreigners all throughout the span of history, they blame Buddhists for state of affairs of women, now I came accros a prominent doctor of Nagpur blaming Budhist ahimsa for decline of Surgical skill and knowledge in India, a subject discussed by us elsewhere.
Two Orphans in the world of Nations
Swamiji compares condition of Indians with Jews. Only that presently, the Jews have progressed, but we did not. This is what Swamiji said some sixty years ago:
"The Jews of Palestine gave birth to a Jesus Christ; but they crucified him and rejected his religion; and their country passed into the hands of the Muslims where Britain now holds the balance between the Jews and the Muslims. India produced a Buddha, but when she rejected his religion of righteousness, she passed into the hands of the Muslims and Britain now holds the balance between the Hindus and the Muslims. The Jews became the kingless people of the world and the Hindus the only civilized nation that is not master of its own country. The two great religions, Buddhism and Christianity, rejected in the land of their birth, spread far and wide, and now sustain the religious life of the greatest nations of the East and the West, whereas the Hindus and the Jews rank as the orphans of humanity." [Swami Dharmatirtha, p. 110]
As Dharmatirtha observes, Hindus always preach about the unique greatness of Hindu philosophy and religion and culture, proclaiming that Vedanta alone can save the world and humanity. However, we know as a grim truth of past history and present reality that it has not saved India, it has not saved Hindus. It has not during any known period of history prevented the Hindus from committing the sins, horrors, and oppressions, or to have social existence any higher standard of happiness and freedom than other nations. Even in modern times, the Hindus have not cultivated any superior virtues and ideals, and have ignominiously failed to prove themselves true to own professed culture or to the aspiration of modern civilization. No other peoples deny justice and humanity to their own kith and kin, their own coreligionist and compatriots, without rhyme or reason as the Hindu do even today. [Swami Dharmatirtha, p. 302]
Failure of Socialist Reformers
How Swamiji's prophesy has come true, can be seen by his words that, India has seen more saints and reformers and teachers than any other country, but they could not save her. The masses were led to the path of national suicide by their native exploiters and priests. The Socialists and leaders of to day do not educate the people to adjust their lives to the new ideas, or remove the worst anomalies of the country's life. So long as the Hindu classes, rather than the masses, are steeped in the culture of caste and the religion of deception and exploitation, their words achieve nothing. They themselves think and assure us that Socialism has nothing to do with Hindu customs and beliefs, which will remain intact even after Swaraj, or invent new ways to justify and preserve these diabolical distinctions and insults in the name on the sanctity of religion. [Dharmatirtha, p.304]
There is another group of people, the Nationalists, for whom "our unique culture" is important, and this is leading to increased regionalism, though they keep on hankering "Unity in Diversity", i.e. the unique culture of Bengal, the Punjab, the Maharashtra, the Andhras, the Tamils, the Kerala and so forth. For them, Dharmatirtha remaks:
"...God alone knows wherein lies the uniqueness and glory except it be in the castes and their disastrous ramifications. In the ultimate analysis, this separate culture will be found to consist of exclusiveness in marriage, in eating and drinking, in the superstitions and customs, which divide one people from another and help them to organize distinct groups for mutual exploitation at the sacrifice of national unity and freedom. ... a good number of our Socialists and Nationalists will turn out to be rank Capitalists and fanatical Communalists. They cannot be otherwise, born and brought up as they are in the atmosphere of Hindu Imperialism, inured to the slavery of caste and the untruths of priestcraft." [Dharmatirtha, p. 305]
How true his prophecy has come out, is there for everyone to see.
The work of Guru Govind Singh
Of many revolutions against Brahmanism, only Sikhism seems to have survived, at least to some extent. Guru Govind, tenth from Guru Nanak took the reigns of Sikhism, in 1675, and organised his religion on egalitarian basis, commensurate with the saints of northern India, who are now acknowledged as being influenced with the spirit of Buddhism, which has visibly disappeared. It was Kabir, who led the torch, more than others, in boldly assailing idolatry, denying the divine authority of the Quran and Vedas, and protesting against neglect of local languages and use of Sanskrit. Guru Nanak took the lead to found a new order, a new nation free from superstitions of Hindus. His teachings were liked by Hindus as well as Muslims. It was the last Guru Govind who gave Sikhs a religious, social and political constitution. Brahmins tried to impose upon him the authority of goddess Kali, but it failed and his followers were saved from priestcraft and idolatry. He preached against caste, elevated women to equal status, stopped idolatry, among other precepts. His faith was disliked by Brahmins but liked by masses, and
"In a short time, 80,000 men became his followers and the number went on increasing. A large number of Brahmans and other twice-born Hindus deserted the Sikh-fold when he insisted on the observance of these disciplines. Guru Govind welcomed the departure of the incorrigibles who clung to their old customs and castes, and in their place, admitted thousand of the humble peasants and hill tribes who were thus enabled to realise their manhood, and become the respectable citizens of the Khalsa State. "Govind Singh thus appealed to the eternal instincts of equality, liberty and brotherhood, broke for ever the caste prejudices and received into the Khalsa people of all classes who had hitherto been debarred from bearing arms and participating in religion. The Singhs on the Khalsa felt themselves at once elevated and equal to the proud and martial Rajputs. Personal pride and strength were infused into them, and Sikhism knitted them together into one common brotherhood, animated by a common faith, one social life and national longing. The effect of the new teachings, it is said, was immediate and profound. The Sikhs began to manifest great chivalry and courage and live in sweet social love and harmony among themselves. Wherever there was oppression or cruelty, the Sikhs were there, and with ready heart and brave arms, helped the persecuted. Among themselves, they lived like brothers, they used to feed one another, shampoo one another when tired, bathe one another, wash one another's clothes, and one Sikh always met another with a smile on his face and love in his heart." (G. A. Natesan & Co., Guru Govind, p.22), [Swami Dharmatirtha, p. 161]
For those who imagined that Sikhs were meant for protection of Brahmins, the above account would make aware of the real position and in this light, if we perceive the recent descison of Authorities of Sikh "Panth", that Sikhs are not Hindus, we can highly appreciate their thinking. If the idea that Sikhs are Hindus, is to disappear from the minds of everybody once for all, we feel that the Sikh authorities must stop the use of the phrase "Sikh Panth" and instead use "Sikh Dharma" for their way of life. This word "Panth" has caused a lot of confusion among the masses.
Hindus became Hindus by Conversion
The word Hindu has no relevance for Indians before the Muslim conquest. It is they who gave Indians this name, rather in a derogatary sense. To those who find fault with Christian missionaries for encouraging mass conversion, Swamiji reminds:
"... Hindus became Hindus by a sort of mass conversion or mass classification by the Muhammadans, and the various castes acquired their status by a similar process of mass classification behind their backs by the Brahman first and lastly by the British Government. Sectarian legislative enactments and judicial decisions based on so-called immemorial customs, fixing the rights of succession, inheritance, family management, marriage, etc., of different groups gave the finishing touches to the caste structure." [Swami Dharmatirtha, p. 174]
How Brahminism was helped by the British
Swamiji enumerated ten ways, in which Britishers helped establish the Brahmin Raj.
Firstly, they raised the Brahmans to the highest posts of power, profit and confidence.
Secondly, they chivalrously championed the cause of the decaying temples, idolatrous festivals, and charming dancing girls with the hearty patronage and protection of the company's government, to the mutual advantage and recreation of the company and the priests.
Thirdly, they established the caste Kutcheries, the most dreaded tribunal of the Hindus,
Fourthly, they unearthed from their oblivion Manu Shastra and other spurious texts, which the vast majority of the Hindus had never heard of, and elevated them to the status of authoritative works of Hindu law.
Fifthly, they handed over the temples to the controls of trustees, and thus facilitated the aggrandisement of Brahmanisn and deprivation of the rights of the lower orders.
Sixthly, through judicial decision and administrative classification and even by legal enactments, the so-called Hindu law has been applied to all Indians who are not Christians or Muhammadans.
Seventhly, they gave caste distinctions royal recognition, state protection, enhanced dignity, positive value and significance, and even political importance.
Eightly they blasted the hopes of reformers and teachers by making it impossible for them to alter the status quo by any practicable means.
Ninthly, in the name of non-interference, they have actively strengthened and perpetuated the evils of society which it was their duty to fight.
Lastly Christian antiquarians have added insult to injury by flattering the non-British castes and unchristians idolatry as meritorious cultural achievements to be preserved for the delectation of humanity.
Swamiji concludes by saying:
"There is only one more thing which Britain has to do to discharge her trust to the dumb millions of her subjects and to fill the cup of unhappy India's suicidal bliss, and that is to hand over the seal and emblem of Indian Empire to the temple priests and give a farewell kiss or kick to the blissful fool Independent India." [Dharmatirtha, p.177]
It seems, the Brahmins have since achieved their goal, under the guise of "Swaraj", and succeeded in establishing Brahmin dominance under the name of "Hindutva".
What is meant by a Hindu
Swamiji explains that the world "Hindu" must not be confused to have an unity of creed or faith. "Unfortunately, or as some believe fortunately", it is not so, and Hinduism is not a religion in the sense in which Buddhism Muhammadanism and Christianity are. The aggregate of the traditions, beliefs and customs and institutions of multitude of tribes and castes of India, is called Hinduism, though they may be mutually irreconcilable themselves. The questions, who is a Hindu and what is Hinduism have been considered again and again by eminent scholars, and so far no satisfactory answer has been given. Therefore, all those who are not Muhammadans or Christians are treated as Hindus. All types of worship is allowed, as long as Brahin supremacy is maintained, such as Theism, Atheism, Polytheism, Adwaitism, Dwaitism, Saivism, Vaishnavism and so forth. It contains nature worship, ancestor worship, animal worship, idol worship, demon worship, symbol worship, self worship, and the highest god worship, with confounding and conflicting philosophies. It allows all barbarous practices and dark superstitions and mystic rites and sublime philosophies, and covers all population with half barbarian wild tribes, and depressed classes and untouchables, along with cultured gentle natures and highly evolved souls. Hindus are amorphous mass of people, as a prominent scholar of Hinduism observed:
"Though the Hindus are thus separated from other religious communities, it should not be imagined that they are united by a bond of a common system of doctrines. There is in fact no system of doctrines, no teacher, or school of teaching, no single god that is accepted by all the Hindus. Again no amount of deviation from the established doctrines, or disregard of any book or even of some custom, would cause a person to fall from Hinduism, that is become liable to exclusion from the Hindu community." [S.V.Kelkar, Essay on Hinduism, p.34, quoted by Swami Dharmatirtha, p.194 ff.]
Even those Christians and Mohamedans, they have plans to incorporate in Hinduism and terms like "Mohemadi Hindus" are already coined for them, and full preparations are going on for its implementation.
Also plans are afoot to create new 'Swastika' temples for such "purified" Christians.
Vagueness of Hindus is a virtue for them
This vagueness and the absence of all restraints of form and scope, is a boon for some leaders to declare a deceptive slogan of "Unity in diversity", in this "unique vacuity and brilliant disorganisation". Swamiji comments:
"...The honest truth, however, seems to be that the various attempts made by successive teachers and kings in the past to restore order and some sort of uniformity have not succeeded to any considerable extent..."
The obvious reason of this failure, is the desire of Brahmin elites to govern the OBCs. Hinduism is a wild forest with good and bad things thriving together, and needs to be converted into an orderly well planned garden to suit human needs and practical issues, with a good deal of clearing and planning and pruning. Swamiji concludes:
"...If the Hindus want to function as an organised nation along with the other nations of the world, as an independent nation in the midst of other independent nations, they will not be able to do it in their present disorganisation and chaos." [Swami Dharmatirtha, p. 196]
Arrogance of Brahmins, who rule Hindus
Swamiji belives that the arrogance of Brahmins did not change since the times of Abbe Dobois, who wrote:
"There is a well known Hindu proverb which says, a temple mouse fears not the gods! This exactly applies to the Brahmans who enter their temples without showing the slightest sign of serious thought or respect for the divinities who are enshrined therein. Indeed they often choose these particular places to quarrel and fight in. Even while performing their numerous religious fooleries, their behaviour shows no indication of fervour or real devotion." [Abbe Dubois, p.299, Swami Dharmatirtha, p. 217]
Swamiji feels that these remarks are letter by letter true of the temples of the present day also, perhaps with the additional force that the irreverence is manifest among the worshippers also. It may however be added that the "secular" Brahmins are no different than these "sacred" ones.
Attitude towards women
The learned Frenchman also wrote: "To have any connection with a courtesan or with an unmarried person is not considered a form of wickedness in the eyes of the Brahmans. These men, who look upon the violation of any trivial custom as a heinous sin, see no harm in the most outrageous and licentious excesses. It was practically for their use that the dancers and prostitutes who are attached to the service of the temples were originally entertained, and they may often be heard to intone the following scandalous line: Vesya darsanmnam punyam, papa nasanam! which means, "Looking upon a prostitute is a virtue which takes away sin." (p.213)
Swamiji observes that though the "Dancing girls have been dismissed from some of the temples in recent years, otherwise the priestly mentality is not much different to-day from what it was when the above lines were written." [Swami Dharmatirtha, p. 217]
Suggestions for nation building
Discussing the constructive thoughts and efforts and guiding as to what must be done, Swamiji considers Nationality as the capacity of a people to function and develop as an organic unit. It is a dynamic impulse to realise a common individuality than of a static unity already attained. It is not a feature but a feeling. It is not merely a heritage of the past but a power of the present. Its importance is not in what has been achieved but in its hopes of future achievements. Swamiji compares those who seek consolation in the records of bygone ages to an insolvent pauper delighting himself in browsing old account books. It lies not in glorifying moutains, lands, rivers and the like but in "Man" and his attitude towards "fellow men", as Swamiji observes:
"... The true national spirit is to be seen in a persistent desire to effect closer union and association among the individuals and groups constituting society, in a growing sense of community of interests, social, religious, economic, political and other, in an instinctive opposition to forces within and without the nation which tend to endanger its solidarity, and in the ability to evolve new ideals and institutions to embody the spirit of the collective life. ..." [Swami Dharmatirtha, p. 258]
Instead of an obstinate clinging to mere existence and past glories, Nationalism implies capacity to grow and to expand, to assimilate the helpful, and oppose the harmful influences. It is not a passive sentiment of love for a great past, but an active yearning for a greater future, through a collective will. Political nationality is an idea of recent growth, and is result of a new consciousness of territorial and political unity due to the impact of European thought, literature, political ideals and institutions, and for the first time in her history of all India, to a central rule under the British. [Swami Dharmatirtha, p. 258]
Tests of Hindu Nationalism
India has been suffering under the two imperialisms, "Brahmanical and British placed one above the other", and true nationalism should be tested by the criteria, which are:
"... the three tests of Hindu Nationalism:- (1) Opposition to caste, (2) opposition to priestcraft and idolatry, and (3) Inter-religious tolerance and fraternisation." [Swami Dharmatirtha, p. 262]
More nationalism persisted in the past
Nationalist spirit is said to have started since British arrived. But in reality, there was more fellow feeling in teachings of saints, inspired by Buddhism, and as Swamiji exclaims that during the days of Akbar, Kabir, Nanak, Chaitanya, Tukaram, Eknath and Shivaji, there seemed to be greater fellow feeling and brotherhood between Hindus and Mohemedans than after the arrival of the British and manifestation of national spirit. [Swami Dharmatirtha, p. 288]
Modus operandi of Brahmins to enslave Hindus
That the kalivarjya was the method of brahmins to tackle the Buddhist influence over the masses and impose their supremacy. They changed their laws without actually condemning them. All laws and rules, were amended including Civil, Criminal, Revenue and Personal laws. It is not properly realized by the masses, that King was not the Law maker; he had no legislative power, contrary to the popular belief. He was only the executive head and had a responsibility to implement the laws made by the brahmins. At the most he could only legislate on revenue matter, that too, as per the rules already laid down. He had some judicial powers, but that too, he could not pass judgement against the law given by the brahmins.
Who suffered in Kalivarjya
In Kalivarjya, main law was against sea voyage. That is how the sea worthy races of Pallava and Chola countries suffered. All the trade that was being conducted through the sea stopped. Who suffered? Not the brahmins, surely. It will be clear, if we take a look at the products of export. Most of the the products of export were based on the agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandary and forest economy. Even the textile industry which had reached a high acclaim in foreign lands, was based cotton, silk and wool. All these occupations were in the hands of working classes, who were all doomed to be shudras. All these industries suffered. All these castes in the village econoomy suffered. All these groups, which were prosperous during the Buddhist rule, were degraded into castes, due to rigid caste rules imposed.
The mobility of the professions was stopped. Telis, who extracted oil from oil seeds, Malis, who grew the vegitables, the Dhangars, who reared the goats and lamb, Sutars, who made and repaied the farmers impliments, Kumhars, those who suppled earthen pots to villagers and Mahars and Mangs who protected the villages from strangers. All these proffessions became heriditary and social intercourse among them stopped.
Aim is to awaken the masses
These are the masses of which Indian society is made of, and it is the need of the day to educate them. The process of emancipation of masses was started by Mahatma Phule, strengthened by Shahu, and put in Indian Constitution by Dr. Ambedkar. Now it is the duty of masses to protect the Constitution, if they want to protect themselves from oncoming Brahmanic tyranny. This is an humble effort to aid the education of masses, as Dr. Amdekar has warned that only when a slave is made to realize his slavery, he can revolt against it. In one of his neglected messages to the "Maratha Mandir", 53 years ago, he had observed that, the middle class is not as liberal as upper one, and has no ideology as lower one, which makes it enemy of both the classes. The middle class Marathas of Maharashtra also have this fault. They have only two ways out, either to join hands with upper classes and prevent the lower classes from progress, and the other is to join hands with lower classes and both together destroy the upper class power comming against the prrgress of both. There was a time, they used to be with lower classes, now they seem to be with upper ones. It is for them to decide which way to go. The future of not only Indian masses but also their own future depends upon what decision the Maratha leaders take. What he said about Marathas, equally applies to all OBCs, and still holds true after half a century. Dr. Ambedkar wrote much to educate the OBCs. May be, it is now bearing fruits after fifty years. Those days Swami Dharmatirtha had also observed:
"Object in this volume is to trace the causes and course of India's enslavement, and awaken the conscience of all parties. There is no desire to wound anybody's feelings. There is no rancour in our heart. We believe that the socio- religious order which has brought the whole Hindu race to their knees is more satanic than the worst foreign imperialism and must be crushed before India can be free. We have renounced everything in order to be able to serve the lowliest of the Hindus. Our life is dedicated to the cause of Hindu emancipation. We searched for the causes of thraldom. The results of our investigation and thinking are expressed in this volume without any effort to conceal unpleasant facts. The spirit of lamentation is also entirely absent. The Hindu masses are getting infected with a grim determination to re-establish the free-born rights on the rock of true liberty rather than on self-deception, feigned unity and disguised exploitation. [Swami Dharmatirtha, p. 12]Previous Chapter