(A tragedy in Ancient India)

Chapter 2
Decline and fall of Buddhism

As Dr. Ambedkar has explained, the causes of fall and decline are different. Muslim invasion was the cause of fall of Buddhism, not only in India, but also all over the world. Before Islam, countries like Bactria, Parthia, Afghanistan, Gandhar and Chinese Turkasthan, as well as whole of Asia were Buddhists. It had also spread to Europe and the Celts in Britain were Buddhists, according to Donald A. Mackenzie. [W&S, vol.3, p.230]

As The reasons why Buddhism was destroyed but Brahmanism survived the massacre by Muslims must be understood. There are three reasons enumerated by Ambedkar, (1) support of State to Brahmanism, (2) Buddhist Bhikkus, once perished had be created from scratch by rigorous training, while Brahmin priests are ready made by birth and (3) that Buddhist lay worshipers were driven to Islam by Brahmanic persecution. [W&S, vol.3, p.230]

Prof. Surendra Nath Sen very rightly observed, during the Indian History Congress held at Allahabad in 1938, that there were no satisfactory answers as yet to two problems concerning medieval history of India, one connected with origins of Rajputs and the other to the distribution of Muslim population in India. [W&S, vol.3, p.236]

The common belief that Islam followed the route of conquest forcing its faith over the subjugated people, Prof. Sen said, cannot explain Muslim conversion in eastern Bengal having no racial affinity with the conquerors, though it might explain conversions in western regions like Afganisthan and Punjab, which had some racial affinity since Kushana times. So the reasons are to be found elsewhere. That the reasons were persecution by Brahmins of the converted masses, who were predominantly Buddhists. Ambedkar thinks, Sen's following passage is very significant:

"It cannot be an accident that the Punjab, Kashmir, the district around Behar Sharif, North-East Bengal where Muslims now predominate, were all strong Buddhist centres in pre-Muslim days. It will not be fair to suggest that the Buddhists succumbed more easily to political temptations than the Hindus and change of religion was due to the prospects of the improvement of their political status." [W&S, vol.3, p.236]

That brings us to the real cause of the fall of Buddhism in India was persecution of the Buddhists, which went on for centuries causing gradual decline, and ultimately lead to its fall. Ambedkar gives examples of many kings persecuting Buddhists and concludes that the fall of Buddhism was due to the Buddhists becoming Muslims for escaping the tyranny of Brahmanism. "If it has been a disaster, it is a disaster for which Brahmanism must thank itself." [W&S, vol.3, p.238]

Before coming to the effects of fall of Buddhism, which is our main subject, we have briefly discussed the various causes that led to this tragedy which befell on this country. As exclaimed by L. M. Joshi, this tragedy is mostly ignored or distorted by the elite of this land for selfish motives. [L.M.Joshi:1977:xvii] Here we like to discuss the techniques used by Brahmanism.

Violent Methods of Brahmanic Conquest

One of the methods of spread of Brahmanism was by slow cultural Invasion. Question some times is asked why they did not resort to armed struggle. As a matter of fact, when the situation permitted, they even did that. The cultural invasion was the best means adopted by them, though armed aggressions were attempted throughout, right from the times of the Buddha. Even before Pushyamitra Shunga, Chanakya seems to have brought in Chandragupta Maurya on throne to annihilate Nanda kings. Unfortunately for Brahmins the coup backfired as Chandragupta became a Jaina and Ashoka became a Buddhist monk first and later upasaka. His images as a Bhikshu, were seen by Chinese traveler I-Tsing, and his rock edicts mention about his becoming a Buddhist. Major armed offensive was launched in times of Pushyamitra under guidance of Patanjali. Still the masses accepted Kushanas rather than submit to Brahmana rule. Brahmanas had to bring in the Guptas, and under Samudragupta Brahmin supremacy prevailed. It was after Harshavardhana in seventh century A.D., that Brahmins got the real chance of perpetrating their supremacy. One of the means was by creating the Rajputs. Those were the means of armed struggle arranged by Brahmins.

Conquest by peaceful means

During this period they spread to Kerala. The evidence for study of their invasion on Buddhist social culture is more easily available in south India and specially Kerala, where Brahmin penetration was much later and more difficult than in North India. Here their method was more of Cultural Invasion. It is therefore, necessary to concentrate on South India and presume the same techniques must have been employed in the entire country, which requisite regional adjustments. Mr. Nair explains as follows:

"Theoretically then we might ask why the Brahmins could not achieve a military conquest and achieve ethno- expansionism ... The answer is the Brahmins in the initial stages of their cultural conquest had only an intense apostolic motivation unaccompanied by the resources to organize themselves into armed bands. Indeed it is much later history when they were finally successful in entrenching themselves as a religious oligarchy within the kingdom of a "Kshatriya" prince and goading him to undertake religious wars and expansion through "Aswamedhayagas". [emphasis ours] Similarly the Nambudiri Brahmin in ancient Malabar could have only attempted a peaceful cultural conquest through astute ways and not through force as he was himself bereft of the means to compel the Nayars to follow his ways except that of persuasion through example and precept. [Nair:1959:10]

Story of Parshurama

But the stories in Puranas speak of armed struggle. For example story of Parashurama can be quoted. In recent times, a particular group of people have started celebrating Birth Anniversary of Parsurama, who is supposed to have avenged his father's murder by overpowering the Kshatriyas by their own military weapon. Nair mentions:

"...Dr. G. S. Ghurye reads into the story the desire of the Brahmins to show that the Brahmin's wrong would not go unavenged. Second, to impress the fact that the Brahmins if they took to arms, would prove themselves immensely superior to the Kshatriyas in warfare and last to humiliate the Kshatriyas." [See "Caste and Class in India", Bombay, 1957, p.70.] Dr. D. D. Kosambi's interpretation is equally interesting: "The excessive and self contradictory annihilation (of Kshatriyas) is clearly psychological overcompensation for Brahmin helplessness in the face of Kshatriya dominance. Parsurama is promoted in the Bhrugu inflated Mahabharat to the status of a Vishnu incarnation. The tension between priest and chief is an undercurrent in Vedic literature thereafter, though both combined against the other two castes." [Dr.D.D. Kosambi in "An introduction to the Study of Indian History", (Bombay, 1956), p.113. [Nair:1959:11]

Domestic and sexual invasion in Kerala

The invasion of Brahmins, in Kerala, was domestic. Unlike the Christian proselytisation, the cultural conquest of the Brahmin was peculiarly intimate process in Kerala, Nair observes and avers that, "it was in fact such, wherever it took place in India." This was essential for the status-value without which success was impossible. Nambudiri Brahmins not only married Nayar women but also kept only Nayar servants at home and Nayar women in company of their women, in order to enforce social control over the leading Nayar communities. [Nair:1959:16]

Why Brahmins could not manage to keep dominance in current times, Nair says was due to, modern education, inability to hold enormous estates under feudal lords and biological degradation, which was because of:

"...The closed upper-class family system with its undue emphasis on primogeniture and contemptuous negligence of the sexual rights of female members by condemning them to life long maidenhood if the Nambudiri husbands were not forthcoming to marry them, accelerated their degeneration. ..." [Nair, p.18]

Nair agreeing with Lewis A.W., opines, that a healthy upper class biologically is one which allows its weaker members to fall into lower classes and which in each generation recruits the more successful members of the lower classes into its own ranks. He contrasts Kerala Brahmins with those in Tamilnad, who under the leadership of Ramanujacharya, accepted vertical mobility as an article of faith for purposes of sheer survival, which permitted it to survive economic changes and adapt itself, in some measure at least, to altered modes of earning livelihood, different at any rate form their traditional mode of life as the priesthood, but the Nambudiri did not and hence his days were numbered even during the first decade of the present century due to economic changes. [Nair, p.18]

Brahmin non-Brahmin relationship

Nair believes, Nayar community adapted Brahminical ideas through stages during several centuries, and still now the psychological resistance to Brahminical ideas and intrusion has not ended. Nambudiris could continue to impregnate Nayar women wantonly only for a few generations and only within a few Nayar Tharawads. Later diffusion during successive generations must have taken place through inter-marriage between families under Brahminical influence and those without it, gradually diluting Brahminical social tradition among Nayars and render it insignificant during the beginning of this century. The local spread of Hinduism was reinforced by institutions and Brahmanic ways of regional and all India Brahmanism at a later date. The social control of Brahmins through the spread of local Hinduism was similar in other parts of India especially South India. The Vellalas, the Reddis, the Naidus and several other communities posed similar problems like Nayars did to the Brahmin cultural conqueror. [Nair, p.26]

However, the Vellala or Reddi never allowed the Brahmin to enter into the family fold under the guise of a divinely inspired progenitor, so the Brahmin did not succeed in breaking up their social system. As family is the psychological agent of society and once it was kept outside the pale of Brahmin influence, the group did not succumb to Brahmanical social tradition. Neither the Vellalas nor the Reddis had thus passively adapted new cultural pattern which the Brahmins had attempted foisting on them. However, what they succeeded in averting within the family they could not avoid facing outside it. [Nair, p.27]

Why Hinduism could not spread among Adivasis

Nair believes Hinduism could not spread among the aborigines because their tribal organization was far too strong to accept such intrusions, and it is one of the reasons why a racial theory of Untouchability cannot be advanced. He mentions Ambedkar's theory that although the tribes have become castes, the tribal organization remains intact, divided into clans having some object animate or inanimate as a totem, with restriction of marriage within gotra. Ambedkar, in "The Untouchables", stresses the importance of an examination of the distribution of the totems among different castes and communities as a good test for determining race, as anthropometry has been. [Nair, p.28]

Why Shankara fought Buddhism

The aim of Brahmins under Shankara, was to regain their hegemony, and the relentless and unceasing efforts of the Brahmins to put down Buddhism were solely calculated to regain their lost monopoly as religious oligarchy. Until the rise and spread of Buddhism, Brahmins faced no competition in their religious business. There was no powerful religio-social movement in Indian history before the advent of Mahabira and Gautama. Brahmins were smarting about their defeat among the masses because of Buddhism. The revival of Brahmanism under the spiritual leadership of Shankara was thus an effort for survival of Brahmins, and was entirely dependent on the defeat of Buddhism and Jainism in the religious field. [Nair, p.34]

However, the revival of Brahmanism in India after the advent of Shankara was complete during the subsequent centuries. There are sufficient historical evidences to show that the Brahmins used coercion throughout against the Buddhists and the Jains and that they have used every means at their disposal to spread their influence throughout India. The Advaita philosophy of Shankara was unsuitable for the crowd and being still beyond the comprehension of ordinary Hindus, how did it serve as the instrument for the revival of popular Hinduism? Shankara was tolerant towards them, propagated through songs, fought with Mimansakas and broke down barriers between Buddhist deities and Brahmanism, making it indistinguishable from secular Buddhism. As Pannikar has pointed out, Buddhist temples like famous Jagannatha temple of Puri became Hindu temple, and with the laity accepting Hinduism, i.e. supremacy of Brahmins, recruitment to Buddhist Sangha became more and more difficult. ["Survey of Indian History", p.102, Nair, p. 231]

The revival of a personal religion in the form of Advaita philosophy was necessary to change the outlook of the masses who were attracted towards more secular religions such as Buddhism. [Nair, p.35] Brahmins evolved a complicated mythology for the common people to follow, they adopted many Buddhist and pagan festivals and details into their mythology, in order to neutralize all resistance from the Dravidians. Shiva, a Dravidian deity was cleverly incorporated into the Brahmanical pantheon, and Muruga was adopted as Subramanya, and many Dravidian religious rites and festivals were incorporated in Brahmanism, and complex theologies, rituals and ceremonials consciously evolved to make their polytheism as comprehensive as possible. [Nair, p.36]

Religion of Brahmins was different from that of masses

Nair observes that, even though the Brahmins created the institutional religion for the masses they had not given up their personal religion, for example the Manthras were not taught to the common people, not even to those members of tribes or groups who accepted their supremacy. The ceremonials and rituals were kept as their exclusive privilege, which was disgusting to non-Brahmins. [Nair, p.38]

Buddhist teachings had a powerful reaction against the corrupt practices of the Brahmins and led to the decline in their power and social control. Hence the Brahmin revolted and successfully overthrew Buddhism, and Brahmanism under such circumstances was bound to improve on the previous system and prepare itself for all the unpleasant eventualities of the future. There are two phases in the post-Shankara development of Brahmanism, viz, (a) the development of the highest form of personal religion and philosophy and (b) the development of institutional aspect of Hinduism in an unprecedented fashion. Nair observes:

"...Let us, however, recall that both these developments were the outcome of the effective assimilation of Buddhistic ideas and practices so that the approval of the masses was easily obtained for the new form of religion, viz., popular Hinduism. On the personal plane the conceptual content of God not known or recognized by Buddhist was reemphasized and reinstated in Hindu thought in all its undying glory. This satisfied a great spiritual need of those times. ..." [Nair, p.38]

As Creedy had observed, from the social psychologic standpoint, there can be no doubt that the term "God" functions as one of our most powerful trigger phrases producing a feeling of reverence and profound submission, and conception of salvation and of another world is a powerful aid to feelings in resisting the crafts and assaults of the crowd. "The purpose of the poetic or metaphysical structure of religious doctrine is to falsify our wills to resist the temptation of the crowd." [Creedy, "Human Nature, writ large", Nair, p.38]

Techniques of Brahmanic controls

Nair finds it fascinating to study the strategic methods employed by the Brahmins to impose their social control over the Tamilians and rendering socially integrated communities such as the Vellalas amenable to the passive acceptance of Brahmanical Hinduism. These techniques had ultimately led all Indian Hinduism to coalesce with regional and peninsular Hinduism while local Hinduism continued to flourish as a wheel within a wheel activating the entire mechanism of the social control of the Brahmins. [Nair, p.41]

It is the need of the day that the well to do, the educated, the elite among the Bahujans must try and understand the mechanisms, techniques and the means by which they have been pushed into the darkness of slavery and have been retained there for centuries. The group of people which understands its history, and can revive its identity, can fight for its existence, that group only can sustain the onslaught over its existence and remain viable.

Difference between Local and Regional Brahmanism

Locally only one caste of one individual language was to be subdued but in regional sphere multiple castes and multiple languages had to be tackled. Brahmins had to face the opposition and resistance. Salient features of their techniques of enslaving are summarized by Mr. Nair as follows:

1. Admission of kings to the Varna system
2. Extension of the Varna system
3. Extension of Sanskritic deities
4. Creation and development of ceremonial
5. The rise of plebeian mystagogues in support of Brahmanical social traditions
6. Sanskritisation of names of places
7. Social self of Brahmin

Admission of kings to Varna System

Prof. P. T. Srinivas Iyengar, "one of the rare examples of a Brahmin with the highest intellectual honesty", mentions that after the arrival of Brahmins to south India on invitation from local rulers to perform yagas, they could not be successful in establishing chaturvarna unlike they could in north India because their religious oligarchy could not mix well with the social democracy of locals. [Nair, p.44] Dr. S. S. Bharati mentions that Tholkappiyam oldest grammar of Tamil, has not a single reference to practice of any yagams by any non- Brahmin Tamils. [Nair, p.45] Brahmins admitted locals, whom they needed to fight against Buddhists, usually to Ksatriyahood but some times they were compelled to admit them as low grade Brahmins also. Nair says:

"Generally speaking, the technique of the Brahmins have been to admit the ruling chiefs to kshatriyahood but there are instances to show that under compulsion of circumstances, mainly to bring about vertical mobility in order to strengthen the ranks of their dwindling numbers, they have admitted certain ruling princes belonging to socially integrated communities to the "Bharadwaja gotra" and considered them as "inferior Brahmins. Dr. Srinivas, for instance, speaks of the Lingayat Rajahs of Coorg who have been in former days "responsible for the Sanskritisation of the customs, manners and rites of Coorgs". This must have been due to the fact that these Rajahs were raised to the status of the Brahmins and were fired by the zeal for the spread of ritualistic Brahmanism. Let us remember that the Lingayats of Mysore even today consider themselves to be Brahmins and retain their socially integrated modes of life with considerable exclusiveness of spirit which is at once the strength and weakness of the Hindu society of Mysore today. [Nair, p.45]

Extension of Varna system

It is well known that social rank of a person depends on his caste. But ancient Tamils before coming of Brahmins were free of all caste prejudices, as mentioned by A. L. Basham. Nair feels betrayal of the masses by the Brahmins began with the extension of the caste system to the multitudes of people who had never known anything like it. Ancient Tamilnad knew only classes and not castes:

"... The entire population lived in five natural division of the country, viz, (1) Kurinji or Hills and hill tracts, (2) Mullai, Forest glades and pastoral lands, (3) Marutham. Valleys and fields of arable lands, (4) Palai, Steppes or Stretches of deserts, (5) Neithal, Maritime tracts or coast lands on the sea board. The inhabitants of these lands were divided into seven classes as the caste system was unknown to them. [Nair, p.47]

How did the Brahmins succeed in converting a class based society into a caste based one? Maxweber explained, it was due to material wealth acquired because of skills of yadnyas they rose in status and the life style preferred property and gainful pursuits. [Nair, p.47] The process was explained by Dr. Ambedkar as early as 1916, that Brahmins as a class enclosed themselves as an endogamous group meaning they stopped entering into matrimony with others. Thus "some closed the door; Others found it closed against them." [W&S, vol.1, p.18]

How Vellalas were subdued

There were Brahmins doing priestly jobs (Andanars) and others doing secular jobs (Parpars). As the status of both had to be elevated in caste hierarchy, caste system based on birth was clamped by them on the masses. They had no problem of accepting Arivars as secular Brahmins but the Vellalas resisted strongly. As Nair mentions, they were traditionally land owners, farmers and chieftains. They were the cultivated inhabitants of 'Marutham' and had a distinct social tradition of their own. They were prominent in Chera, Chola and Pandya kingdoms and had still then retained their powers and prestige till the time of Brahmanical agression. Nair observes:

"...In the Vellala therefore the Brahmin found the same obstacle as the Nayar of Kerala. Ingenuity demanded that the strength of this class had to be weakened through hypergamous unions just as the Nayar community was initially weakened by the Nambudiri's Connubium with the Nayar maiden. To what extent the Vellalas like the Nayars of Kerala intermarried with the Brahmins is a subject on which we have not much historical data. All the same the possibility cannot be ruled out that there might have been in the early days of Brahmin infiltration numerous intermarriages between the two communities as a result of which this socially integrated community gradually took to Brahmanical ways of living and customs. [Nair, p.48]

Careful selection of people to be elevated

They were very careful in not extending the acceptance to all. They were very choosy, as Nair says:

"Another interesting poser now is that if the Vellalas were then so powerful and that their position was so widely recognised over all the three important Tamil Kingdoms of Chera, Chola and Pandya why is it that the Brahmins did not confer on them Kshatriyahood especially as many ruling chiefs at that epoch may have been Vellalas themselves? The fact is that the Brahmins did not confer on the Vellalas Kshatriyahood exactly in the same way as they did not regard the Nayars as Kshatriyas even after having penetrated the Nayar household and produced many prototypes of their own kind. For it is a fundamental principle of Brahmanical strategy that even in the extension of the Varna system they were careful not to extend the dimension of the upper castes under some unforeseen eventuality or circumstances. [emphasis ours] Let us go back to the study of local Hinduism in Kerala. Had the Nambudiris raised the Nayars to Kshatriyahood, they would have outnumbered them very much and threatened them later. ..." [Nair, p.50]

The story of Parshurama has been utilized by the Brahmins for very many purposes, as we will see later. As a matter of fact it can form a basis for a detailed research study. But even here, it has the purpose, as Swamiji mentions:

"... In fact the fiction of Parasurama's inveterate hostility to Kshatriyas may have been invented just to appease the dissident Nayars who after admitting the Namboodiri into the anterooms of his Tharawad and allowing love-play with the Nayar maiden, must have clamoured for Kshatriyahood in return! This must explain the way in which the Nayars themselves were subdivided into castes, the upper strata being closer to Nambudiris and enjoying the theoretical status of Kshatriyas and living up to that tradition by accepting fighting as a profession. The parallel is complete when we find that both communities were slyly brought within the fold of the Varna system and dubbed as 'Shudras' instead of as Kshatriyas which their social rank and position warranted. ... [Nair, p.50]

Why Vellalas were not treated as Kshatriyas

Nair explains that it was not alone the unwillingness of the Brahmin cultural conqueror to admit the Vellalas to Kshatriyahood, but there was also the inherent difficulty in changing a class situation into a caste hierarchy that prevented such an elevation. Nair quotes and agrees with Prof. P. T. Srinivas Iyengar, who wrote:

"The scheme of four Varnas necessary to a people every detail of whose life for rite, could not well spread among Tamils whose life for many millenniums (sic.) previously was mainly secular and based on social democracy and among whom the Arya fire-rite, as it had lost its vitality before the Brahmanas migrated to Southern India, did not spread. It only led to the confusion of caste and the prevalence of social jealousies that have characterised the life of South India for a thousand five hundred years". [Srinivas Iyengar, P.T., "Pre-Aryan Tamil Culture", p.20, Nair, p.50]

It may be noted that Tamils were free from Caste tyranny till about 8th century A.D., because of spread of Buddhism as early as pre-Ashoka times, a fact accepted by scholars like I.K.Sarma. [I.K.Sarma:1988:9] It is worth noting that when Peshawa Bajirao, in later times in Maharashtra, married a Muslim woman Mastani, neither she nor her son got any recognition, whereas when King Akabar married a Rajput princess, she became the Principal Queen and her son Jehangir the Emperor of India. This is the difference between Brahmanic and non-Brahmanic ideology.

Extension of Sanskritic deities

Local deities were given Sanskritic labels, rivers compared to Ganges, e.g. Kaveri was called "Dakshin Ganga". Dr. Somasundar Bharati believes that Agathian, a sage of order of Arivars was turned into Agastya. Nair gives many examples:

"Who does not know how the Tamil Muruga came to be installed as the Subramania and how the Tamilian Avai was metamorphosed into the Durgai and Parvathi in the Aryan pantheon. Even Mayon and Mal are believed to be old pre-Aryan Tamil names subsequently identified with the later Aryan Sun god, Vishnu. In the course of aryanising Tamil culture in the post-Tholkappian Tamilakam, not only deities lost their Tamilian identity and got merged with some corresponding Aryan Gods but futile ingenuity never spared itself in finding even for many a familiar name of Tamil lands, river and person, fancied Aryan correlatives and inventing elaborate heraldic pedigree, in high sounding Aryan phraseology, 'Ven-kadu' or white forest is transformed into 'Svetaranyam' 'Tan-Porunai' becomes 'Tembraparni'. The oldest Tamil dynasty of the 'Pandians' derivable from the Tamil root 'Pandai' meaning old is now linked with the Aryan 'Pandavas'. Therefore, that the Tamil 'Agathiyan' also could easily be turned into the Sanskrit 'Agasthya' need not tax our faith very considerably." [Nair, p.51]

"An ancient 'Muruga' temple situated in the eastern ghats popularly known as "Ayyappa Swami" (also considered as Buddhist in origin) became Sanskritised as 'Shastha' and therefore the son of Vishnu.

"Deities are similarly married and the new relative assumes equal importance in a new place like the older deity whose spread encompassed the new also. The bride, of course, in this case is usually the Dravidian deity and the bridegroom is mostly Shiva e.g. marriage of goddess Meenakshi of Madurai with Shiva. [Nair, p.52]

"The very word 'puja' (Tamil- poo + chey ) which is the keyword meaning worship is a Dravidian word. The use of turmeric and vermillion is also probably a practice borrowed from the Austric speaking proto Australoid people. Ref. J, Przyluski on 'Emprunts anaryans en Indo-Aryan' quoted by Dr. S. K. Chatterjee in 'Race Movements and Pre-historic Culture'. Chap. VII, The Vedic Age, 1951. [Nair, fn. p.52]

"In the extension of Sanskritic deities and rituals the Brahmin showed a consummate mastery of mass psychology. In doing so the Brahmin consolidated his social control a great deal better among the simple Tamilians than he could ever do in any other part of India. The humanization of deities was the first step for the creation of popular Hinduism." [Nair, p.53]

Creation and development of ceremonial

It must be understood that ceremonials depend upon the mythology. There are hardly any ceremonials in Buddhism specially in Thervada form, which was the original religion taught by the Buddha Himself. Even there was no ceremony to initiate a lay Buddhist, only for Bhikshus there were ceremonials. We know for sure that Buddhism had reached South India much before Ashoka's times. [I.K.Sarma:1988:9] During pre-Tholkapian days, the mythology of Tamil country was so simple that no complicated ceremonial was required. With complicated mythology of Brahmanical Puranas, ceremonials became complex. As Creedy commented, Brahmanical ceremonials were created for aesthetic satisfaction in itself, a show in fact just like a ballet. Such ceremonial became complex and remained merely a means of pleasing eye and ear. [Nair, p. 54]

Creation of ceremonials in modern times

It is not properly realized that the process is still going on. Tilak introduced two ceremonials. One was Ganesh festival to be celebrated publicly in Maharashtra, in 1893. In the beginning there were protests against it and the British Governor Sandhurst was approached in 1897, against this festival specially by the activists of Satyashodhak Samaj founded by Mahatma Phule, from Pune and Bombay, and people like Narayan Madhji Lokhande, had signed the petition. The petition mentioned that the movement started by Brahmins of Pune is a corrupt imitation of Mohuram festival of Muslims and is hurting the feelings of all the Muslim population of the subcontenent. But not much action was taken by the British Govt. [Amrendra Gadgil:1968:vol.6, p.28] The present day "Satya Shodhaks" are silent on the issue. What a triumph of Brahmanism!

Second was starting of celebrating "Shivaji Jayanti". Raosaheb Kasbe comments: it was ironical that Tilak, on one hand, promoted Shivaji's Birth Anniversary, but on the other, he supported the Neo Shankaracharya Brahmanalkar of Sankeswara pitha, who at foot of hill Raigad - the capital of Shivaji - had venomously uttered that, though Shivaji was not a Kshatriya he got himself declared as such by bribing Gagabhatta, and so his clan was degraded and Gagabhatta died in Latrine. [Kasbe:1994:210 ff.]

Some of more recent examples could be cited of creation of "Santoshi mata", puja of "Satyanarayana", "Sriram shobhayatra" in Maharashtra. The "sansthan" of Saibaba at Shirdi, which had no murthi about fifty years back, has now a murthi and all rituals like a Hindu temple. Various Babas and Mathas have sprung all over the country with assumed "Mahatmyas".

Development of fine arts

The ceremonials helped developing fine arts of dance, music and sculpture. We have dealt with the subject of how dance and music were Buddhist arts and were copied by Brahmins in early twentieth century by people like Rukmini Arundale, elsewhere. We know original dancers were Devadasis, who were degraded Buddhist nuns.

The art of sculptor and architecture was the art of Buddhists. These artists were reduced to castes, as Nair says. Brahmins, being a leisure class, did not practice the strenuous varieties of these arts like Architecture and sculpture, which got passed over to those classes of people who agreed to their injunctions and abided by the rules of the caste hierarchy. Brahmins had developed sastras from practical knowledge of these Buddhists artists. This sastric knowledge was not passed over, leading to whole sets of castes developing around professions like temple building, house building and sculpture without knowing anything considerable about the theoretical basis of their practical knowledge as contained in the Sanskrit works. [Nair, p.55]

Sanskritisation of names of places

Cultural conqueror usually likes to give names to places of their choice. But in south India condition was different. Here people could not be persuaded to accept new artificial names given by Brahmins. Only newly established towns could be named in Brahmanic style, after the newly installed Sanskritic deities. Mr. Nair mentions that, Tamilnad is full of "self-suggestive and significant appellations of habitations" like Agaram, Kottam, Kottai, Pallai, Puri, Oor, Patti etc., and names ending in Nagar or Nagari or Nagaram, Mangalam are manifestly new Brahmanic creations. Sanskritic name in place of Dravidian could be given only with consent of ruling chief. [Nair, p.60]

The social self of Brahmin

Thus Brahmins gained control over what was predominantly a Buddhist population. Sanskrit and mythology had conditioned the thought process of masses. As success breeds courage, with each success in cultural domination, Brahmins acquired more and more conviction of his personal superiority. [Nair, p.61]

Buddha's Sangha was captured by Brahmins

Brahmins reacted to Buddhist revival both internally as well as externally. Earlier they joined hands with Buddhist in Sangha, to obtain benefits from royal patronage.

"Already in Ashoka's time the Brahmans had probably captured the whole machinery of the Sangha as effectually as in modern times they have controlled the inner working of British departmental machinery." [E. B. Havell's Aryan Rule in India, p. 148, q/b Dharmatirtha, p.99]

Their caste mentality was preserved even after becoming a Buddhist monk, and the priestly practices were brought into the Sangha, which in due course divided it into two schools, and paved the way of its own destruction.

Brahmins destroyed Buddhism from outside also

In addition to internal mechanism, converting the Sangha to a debased organization, Brahmins launched full attack from outside. In Dharmatitha's words:

"But there was deliberate Brahman opposition outside the Sangha. When the whole country was basking in the sunshine of great ideals of brotherhood and a virtuous and beneficent life, when the king and the commoner were co- operating in building up a great Indian nation, when the sacred feelings of religious devotion and patriotic benevolence roused by Buddhism were producing glorious blossoms in the field of science, literature, arts and architecture, when the people of India liberated from their bondage were carrying the joyful tidings of emancipation into distant lands and filling the world with the fragrance of the Buddha, the Brahman priests were studiously engaged in polishing the chains of imperialism and replenishing the armoury of aggression and exploitation with Manu Sastras, Sukra Nitis, Puranas, idolatrous temples, Kali worship and other literature and institutions of wily priestcraft. The Manu Sastra gave the finishing touches to the caste system and made it a masterpiece of imperial spoilation for the use of all foreign exploiters, who became masters of the country ere long." [Swami Dharmatirtha, p. 102]

Brahmanical Crusade against Buddhism

This was the time, when Brahmanism started country wide crusade against Buddhism. Speaking of this age, L. M. Joshi observes:

"...It was the age when Buddhist logic and dialectics were perfected by Dharmakirti and Shantirakshita; when Buddhist moral and spiritual fervour received supreme expression at the hands of Shantideva and Kamalashila; when some of the master minds of ancient India including Shantideva, Chandrakirti, Dharmakirti, Shantirakshita, Uddyotkara, Kumarila and Sankara, were busy in a life and death struggle for the defence of their own doctrines; when Buddhist logicians like Samkarananda and Brahmanical teachers like Gaudapada were trying to harmonise the tenets of Buddhist and Brahmnical philosophies; when Tantrika adepts like Sarahapada, Nagarjuna II, and others began to broadcast that Esoteric Gospel which soon transformed Sakymuni's Gospel, dominated the whole medieval period of Indian culture, and which, through Gorakhanantha, Kabirdasa, Nanaka and others, was transmitted down to Ramakrishna, Raman Maharshi and Sri Aurobindo of our own days; it was during this most critical and decisive period in the history of Indian Buddhism, in fact, of Indian culture as a whole, that while a host of Buddhist Doctors of Indian Buddhist Universities were engaged in their scientific and cultural missions in distant parts of Asia, their Brahmnical counterparts at home were actively engaged in organising a countrywide intellectual and cultural crusade against Buddhist ideals and practices; when Brahmanism, re-armed with Buddhist arsenal, sacked its rival creditor; when Tantrikism washed off distinctive traits of Buddhism and swept all religious sects of the country in one massive stream of devotional mysticism; when Buddhism began to recede into background and Brahmanism reshaped itself into 'Hinduism'; considerably refined and enriched by constant contacts with Buddhist ideals and practices, and remodelled according to the new circumstances brought about by the growth and popularity of Shramanic ideologies for centuries, Brahmnism now emerged, under its Puranic garb as the undisputed national 'Hindu' culture. In the twofold process of assimilation and condemnation of Buddhism, the Brahmanical priests sacrificed at the altar of mythical Vishnu even the most historical and overwhelmingly non-Brahmanical personality of Buddha and mystified the historical existence of Buddhism as a delusive trick of a Puranic God. 'This well-conceived and bold stroke of policy', remarks R.C.Majumdar, 'cut the ground from under the feet of Buddhism which was already steadily losing ground and the ultimate result was the complete effacement of Buddhism from India as separate sect.' (The Cultural Heritage of India, 2nd edn., vol. IV,p.48) The transformation of Brahmnism or the birth of Hinduism, we may add, had been the eclipse of Buddhism in its homeland - one of the major tragedies in the annals of Indian culture - a fact frequently overlooked or confused by most of our historians." [L.M.Joshi:1977:xvii]

Kautilya checked growth of Buddhism

MSS of Arthashastra was found in 1904, and was translated and edited by Dr. R. Shyamshatri, the then Librarian of Mysore Oriental Research Institute, in 1909. [Kasbe:1996:460] There is a great controversy about its date. Shamshatri, N.N.Law, V.A.Smith and Jayswal etc. place it in times Chadragupta Maurya, whereas Winternitz, Jolly, Keith, and Bhandarkar etc. place it much later in Gupta times. [Mahajan:1972:251] The latter view is more reasonable. Without going into issue of identification of Vishnugupta, Kautillya and Chanakya, it could safely be presumed that the Arthashastra, even if might have been written earlier, must have been edited and recast in Gupta times like many other Puranas etc. For our purpose, it is sufficient to note that it contained clever provisions to check the growth of Buddhism:

"No ascetic other than a Vanaprastha (forest hermit) no company other than the one of local birth and no guilds of any kind other than local co-operative guilds shall find entrance into the villages of the kingdom." [Shama Sastry, Arthasastra, p.54, quoted by Swami Dharmatirtha, p. 107]

Thus Buddhist monks and Sanghas could not lawfully exist in the villages. Buddhist chronicles state that when Pushyamitra Shunga usurped the throne with the help of Brahmins, he burnt Buddhist monasteries and killed many monks. Many Indian rulers suffered martyrdom at the hands of Brahmins because of their love of Buddhism. Such black deeds do not generally come out, being done in secret, but what information has leaked through leads us to a strong conclusion that a king not supporting Brahmanism was not ever safe on his throne in those days. [Dharmatirtha, p.107]

Buddhism tried to thwart attempts of Brahmanism

Even after sustaining the persecution by Pushyamitra, and later by Mihirgula, the Huna king who ordered wiping out Buddhists, there was enough power among the masses, to resist the Brahmanic aggressions, as Swamiji oberves:

"But so long as India had at least a glimmer of national life and freedom, she made incessant efforts to assert her self-respect and thwart Brahman tyranny and it was only when the country ultimately fell a victim into the hands of foreigners the Buddhism was crushed to death and Brahmanism spread its fangs over the prostrate people." [Dharmatirtha, p.108]

Referring to Rajput period, Swamiji observes:

"For it was in the Dark Age that religious persecution began in India. Monasteries were demolished, monks were banished, and books were burnt: and wherever the Rajputs became rulers, Buddhist edifices went down and Hindu temples arose. By the end of the 10th century, Buddhism was practically stamped out from India, and the work of destruction was completed by the Muslims who succeeded the Rajputs as masters of India." [R.C.Dutt, Epochs of Indian History, quoted by Swami Dharmatirtha, p. 108]

Swamiji proceeds:

"So complete was the destruction that modern antiquarians and historians who have gathered Buddhist sacred books from all parts of Asia have not succeeded in gleaning any valuable text from India." [Swami Dharmatirtha, p. 108]

How Brahmanism crushed Nationalism

Whenever any Indian king patronised Buddhism, there appeared an usurper or invader favouring Brahmanism. When new dynasty understood craftiness of Brahmanism, and tried to appreciate Buddhism, he was also removed, repeating this process off and on, with the help of even foreigners. These treacherous methods were justified by writing the Puranas, e.g. Mahabharata, enjoins to welcome a new powerful king and end anarchy in a king who is weak (in supporting Brahmins), says C.V.Vaidya (Epic India, p.195) These powers in the hands of Brahmins were used to curb opposition against them.

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