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


Chapter 3
FOREIGN INVASIONS AND CASTE
Foreigners were assimilated by Buddhist ideals and not the Brahmanic

History of foreign invasions in India is so vast that we can touch only important points. When Dr. Ambedkar commented that the history of India is the history of defeats, agrieved Sawarkar had to write "saha soneri pane", to aver that their culture is so great that there is no trace left of invaders like Sakas, Kusahnas, Hunas etc. "Did the Hindus lead an honourable life?", retorted Ambedkar, back. Historical Writing of Sawarkar is considered more of a fantacy than history, by scholars like Raosaheb Kasbe, and rightly so, and needs to be ignored. In any case, the credit of assimilating foreigners goes to Buddhists, as L. M. Joshi, avers that the assimilation of foreigners into Indian society took place not because of Brahmanism but because of the tenets of Buddhism which preached equality, liberty and brotherhood in the following words:

"Another aspect of Buddhist contribution in ancient India lay in the area of social harmony and racial integration on a national scale, It was through Buddhist influence and teaching of social harmony and tolerance that foreign invaders such as the Greeks, Sakas, Pahlavas, Kusanas and Hunas who came to India and settled here in the course of centuries immediately preceding and following the Christian era, were assimilated by Indian society. This was a permanent contribution to social integration and national growth and it could not have been so easily accomplished in a strictly Brahmanical scheme of social gradation without the wholesome effects of the Buddhist disregard for varna- organization and respect for the liberty of the individual." [L.M.Joshi:1973:52]

Hindu Muslim Conflict would not have been there if Buddhism was alive at the time of Muslim invasion

Not only that but he laments that the assimilation of Muslims could not be done into Indian society, because of the feeling of supremacy of their caste that was being practiced by the Brahmins of those days, as he says:

"We are of the view that had Buddhism been a living force at the time of the Turkish invasions, the problems of Hindu- Muslim communal discord in medieval and modern India would not have taken such a strong turn as they did. Because of the revival of the traditional Brahmanical social scheme, reinforced with fresh religious injunctions, and because of the decline of Buddhism in India after the tenth century A. D., the mass of early medieval early Islamic followers in India could not be assimilated and digested by Indian Society. Arnold J. Toynbee has rightly remarked that, "If either Buddhism or Jainism had succeeded in captivating the Indic world, caste might have got rid of. As it turned out, however, the role of universal church in the last chapter of Indic decline and fall was played by Hinduism, a parvenu archaistic syncretism of things new and old; and one of the old things to which Hinduism gave new lease was caste." [A study of History, (abridged by D. C. Somerville) vol. I, New York, 1969, p. 350]

Indians under Brahmanic ideology lacked unity

To the question, why Indians were defeated by Alexander, V. A. Smith observed: "The triumphant progress of Alexander from the Himalayas to the sea demonstrated the inherent weakness of the Asiatic armies when confronted with European skill and discipline." Mahajan disagreeing with this view opined that armies of small republican states were defeated because they lacked leadership. Because they had no organization and no unity of direction, and there was no pooling of resources, various states were defeated one by one. On the contrary Chandragupta Maurya could drive away Greeks because of united front. [Mahajan, Ancient India, p. 244] But it means the same thing. They lacked leadership because under Brahmanic ideology, every tribe thought to be superior to another, and fought dividedly and lost. So if you avoid the play of words, what V. A. smith said seems to be true about inherent defect in Brahmanic culture. We will discuss the salient points about important invasions.

Alexander's Invasion

First big and remarkable invasion, after the Aryan Invasion, was the invasion by Alexander, who stayed only for 19 months in India (c.327 B.C.), but had tremendous indirect effects. How Alexander gained entry in India, is explained:

"... the idea of a common Indian nationality, in whose cause he and his brother kings might stand together against the stranger, did not even occur to him (raja of Taxila) : India was too large and too disunited for the mind to embrace it as a unity. ... His policy was largely governed by his antagonism to the rival princess of the Paurava house (Porrus). ... his safest course lay in allying himself with the European, riding on the crest of wave that would sweep his rival to destruction. ... but if the raja hesitated, his son Aambhi ... pressed his father to place his principality at the Yavana king's disposal. While Alexander was still in Bukhara, Aambhi began to negotiate on his own account. Envoys from Taxila made their way over ridges over Hindu Kush. They were charged with the message, that Aambhi was ready to march by Alexander's side, against any Indians who might refuse to submit. ..." [E. R. Bevan:1968:313]

Thus, it was Aambhi, the Prince of Taxila - a powerful Brahmanic stronghold - who welcomed Alexander and invited him to fight against Porus. How Brahmins wielded powers on the people and kings is described in next chapter. Suffice here to say that Brahmins had communications links with foreign forces, as Swami Dharmatirtha observed:

"The north-western region of India was the gateway of all invaders and here it was that the Brahmans had one of their most important strongholds for many centuries, holding constant communication with foreigners such as the Greeks, the Turks, the Scythians, the Chinese and the Huns." [Swami Dharmatirtha, p. 97]

Brahmins obtained foreign help to topple unwanted kings

Swamiji further observes:

"Whenever the Brahmans wanted the help of foreigners to bring about the downfall of a king or a dynasty which they disliked, their position of vantage in north-western India afforded facilities as well as a strong temptation to invite or encourage the invasion of foreigners, and as we shall see hereafter, they freely utilized this favourable situation to enforce their supremacy in the country. These temporal advantages in addition to the unique position they occupied as the exclusive custodian of religious lore and experts in many branches of learning, enabled them to control the leading strings in every sphere of life of a community, the vast majority of whom had been denied all learning and freedom for many centuries. In these and other ways the Brahman's grip on the destinies of the country was indeed greater than we can fancy form this distance of time. ..." [Swami Dharmatirtha, p. 98]

Ashoka was Buddhist even before the Kalinga War

Often Buddha's ahinsa is blamed for loss of virility of masses in India. It is a wrong malicious propaganda. That Ashoka converted himself to Buddhism after he got aggrieved by the loss of life during the war, and then he adopted Buddhism is the common belief. There is no proof to support this view. He was married to Vidisha Devi, when he was Governor of Vidisha. She was a Buddhist. This proves that he was Buddhist even before he became the Emperor.

No doubt, he mentioned in his edict XIII that he was grief stricken due loss of life, but it is note worthy that he did not put down the arms. He did not say war must not be resorted to. As a matter of fact, in the same edict, he warns people to stick to the "dhamma", or else face the consequences. The same edict mentions the regions under his control and concludes with a remark that this edict is written so that his heirs would not resort to war to annex more territories. And if it becomes necessary to resort to war, the restraint should be observed and punishment should be minimum, and to remember that victory by "dhamma" is the real victory. [Meshram:1998:55]

So the "ahimsa", taught by Buddha or by Ashoka was only against violence against animals in Vedic sacrifices. Neither Buddha was against war, nor Ashoka was against war in case it was necessary. But the fact remains, that the Brahmins made a strong propaganda that Ashoka laid down the arms. Perhaps Kallahana was responsible for it, in 12th century A.D. [Mahajan:1972:277]

Arab Invasion of Sind in early 8th century

Chach-Nama is the chronicle giving most of the history of this region. King Sahiras, son of Sahasi Rai ruled over areas extending to Kashmir in North, Kanauj in East and Makran in west, with capital at Alor. The account agrees with that of Huen Tsang, who has mentioned the king was a Sudra. After his death, his son Rai Sahasi II came on throne. A Brahmin minister, named Chach, usurped the throne after his death, some times after 640 A.D. The provincial Governors refused to acknowledge his supremacy, but were subdued. Chach married the widow of king and had two sons. One of them was Dahir, who was ruling when Md. Bin Qasim invaded. It is said that Buddhist priests were in contact with Hajjaj and now openly helped Md. Qasim. Superstitious beliefs were that the books mentioned conquest by Muslims. According to Chach-Nama, Qasim was called back and put to death by Hajjaj, because two daughters of Dahir told him that they were defiled by Qasim before sending them to him. [Majumdar:1988:170]

Tyranny of Brahmins over Buddhist population

Usually these days, the Brahmanic scholars blame the Buddhists, for helping the Muslims during Arab invasion of Md. Bin Qasim in 712 A. D. For example, K. M. Munshi, gives three reasons for Hindus' failure, viz. (i) unpatriotic character of the Buddhists, (ii) general superstition of section of people (iii) want of loyalty towards family of royal usurpers. [Munshi:1988:xxv] However, he accepts that machinery introduced by Guptas meaning chaturvanya was continuing, and King had just recently won a "Civil war" and was an usurper. And R. C. Majumdar avers that "all the Buddhists did not support the Muslims and some actually fought against them. On the other hand, many non- Buddhists also betrayed the king and country." [Majumdar:1988:170]

That the Buddhist population who did not accept the supremacy of Brahmins were condemned to be untouchables by boycott and torture by the Brahmins, is a fact in History. In this connection, Kosare narrates an example in Sind, and observes similar thing happened to Mahars in Maharashtra.

"The religious leaders of Brahmanism hated the Buddhists. At the same time, they were afraid of these valorous, brave, gallant Buddhist warriors. An example of such a society being reduced subservient is worth quoting from history.

"In 650 A.D., in Sind, when King Sahasi died, his kingdom was usurped by his Brahmin minister Chach. Sahasi was a Buddhist and so were his subject population. In the Southern Sind, the Jats and Luhana communities were controlling the affairs. Chach defeated them and reduced their social status and put many restrictions over them. Luhana and Jat communities considered themselves as Kshatriyas. Brahmin Chach issued an order against these brave people that they must not bear any arms unless in dire emergency. They must wear black and red clothes. They must ride the horse without a saddle. While walking through the streets, they must not wear any head dress or use any foot wear. While going out, they must carry a dog with them as symbol of their caste. Similarly, they must keep the supply of fuel wood to the Subhedar of Brahmanabad. They must show the way to him and act as a spy and be honest with him. The information that such an order was passed by Chach is available in "Chach- Nama". After death of Chach, these restrictions were continuing over them in the reign of his son.

"These people are referred to as Lakha and Samma in Chach- Nama. When Md. Bin Qasim captured this territory, he continued these restrictions over these brave Luhana and Jat communities on the recommendation of Brahmins." [C. V. Vaidya, "madhya yugin bharat", book 2, pp.5-10, 40, quoted by Kosare:1989:265]

Such was the attitude of Brahmins towards the Buddhist. Under such circumstances, what kind of loyalty can be expected from these Jat and Lohana Buddhists? R. C. Majumdar is shrewd enough to hide these facts and blame on Buddhists' idea of non-violence and their "ideal of religious fraternity" transgressing nation or country, [Majumdar:1988:170] conveniently ignoring that what we today call nationality was unknown in those days. The "Civil war" mentioned by Munshi above was actually a genocide against the Buddhists. If we study history, so that it may guide us in future actions, you should be honest enough to depict the truth. Mere hiding the facts can not keep a large section in slavery. It has happened all the time that the condemned masses always found liberation, wherever they could.

Let us remember what S. A. Dange said about evaluating the history of Muslim conquests, alluding that tyranny of the masses was the cause of their success. He observed that, present historians cannot really make proper assessment as to how this tide of Muslims spread through the wilderness of deserts all over the world just on the mere basis of a Divine Message, how this mere tribal society succeeded where the likes of Alexander, Ashoka or Napoleon failed. If it was merely an onslaught of hordes, then in the past the Greeks and Romans, Alexander and Caesar had also attempted, and our history is full of aggressions by Atila's White Hunas and Red Hunas, later, even Maratha hordes had down poured on Northern India. How do you correlate these historical facts to explain the Muslim conquest? Dange avers that these are the problems facing Indian historians and it would not be solved merely by hollow talk of nationalism. [Dange: 1998: thirteen]

Bahujan masses welcomed aliens to protect themselves from Brahmanical tyranny

A Christian Ambedkarite, Sunil Sardar, has very aptly remarked while delivering a keynote address at the state level "Ambedkarvadi Sahitya Sammelan" recently that, throughout the history of this country, at all times whenever the Bahujan society was tired of the tyranny of the then ruling classes, every time, we find that the Bahujans welcomed the 'alien' rulers. [Sardar:2000:9]

Gaznavid invasion

It is not necessary to speak of the repeated conquests of Muhammad of Gazani and the loot and massacre. That is well known. What was the purpose of this loot? It was money, riches stored by the Brahmins in their temples. For example the Somnath temple had a treasury adjacent to linga, under its pedestal. The income of the temple was derived from ten thousand villages endowed to the temple and offerings. All this public money was for use of one thousand Brahmin pujaris, who entertained a belief that Muhammad could demolish so many idols elsewhere, only because those deities had lost the support of Somnatha. So when Muhammad came there, in January 1025, the Brahmins were passing time merry making and thought that Somnatha had drawn the Muslims there only to annihilate them for their past sins elsewhere, all this superstition leading to massacre. [Ganguli:1989:5] Majumdar, discussing the general causes of Muslim victory, rightly observes:

"... The enormous wealth of the country was spent in building and enriching the temples which they proved unable to protect, whereas the most appropriate use of these resources should have been to organize a common defence against the invaders, backed by a national effort. On the contrary, it was the very fabulous wealth of these defenceless temples and sacred towns which invited the foreigners and contributed greatly to consequent disaster." [Majumdar:1989:128]

Have we learnt any lessons in 21st century. Do we still not adore the idols with crores worth of jewelry? Do we not still hesitate to derecognise the deities as holders of property? Should a common man lament upon the loss of property, which in any case was not meant for his betterment, to foreign invaders? The point is, that time, or for that matter even today, the 85 percent of population was not considered by the ruling class to be citizens. That is the reason why Chatrapati Shivaji was denied coronation, Shahu denied Vedic rites, Phule driven out from marriage procession, Ambedkar denied learning of Sanskrit. This is not only an inference, but when Shahu made the facilities for education available to the non-Brahmins, the Brahmin scholars were very much annoyed and their leader Tilak expressed the anger in a public speech made at town Athani where he said why the non-Brahmins have to obtain literacy, they don't have to participate in municipalities etc., the only avenues of politics for Indians, showing that in his opinion, after swaraj only Brahmins had the right to rule, and that is what exactly happened after swaraj.

For the tyrannical behaviour of Muhammad of Gazani, the privileged castes Hindus are responsible, believes L. R. Bali, who quotes Jawarlal Nehru's Discovery of India, p.247:

"Muhammad enrolled an army in India and placed it under one of his noted generals, Tilak by name, who was an Indian, and a Hindu." [Bali:1988:223]

Jaichandra was not a traitor

It is usually described that King Jaichandra was the one who invited Md. Ghori to invade Prithwiraj Chauhan. This injustice would not have been removed if we did not find the inscriptions of Jaichandra and a Tibetan version of text called "Chandraraj Lekh". Jaichandra was son of Vijaychandra (1155-1170 A.D.) and grandson of Govindchandra of Gahadval clan. His education was arranged by his grandfather and grand mother, the famous Buddhist Queen Kumardevi, at Varanasi under Bhikshu Jaganmitranand, who was the Head of Sangha and was also considered a "Siddha", though the 84 Siddhas' period was already over. The Tibetans even today consider him with respect just like Siddhas. The Tibetan translations of his 20 books are still available. In one of his texts, "Chandraraj Lekh" is also available. It describes the valour and religiosity of Jaichandra.

An inscription found in Buddha Gaya describes in detail the relationship of Jaichandra with Jaganmitranand, confirming that he was the Head of Sangha and was "diksha guru" of Jaichandra, i.e. he had given him "diksha" of Buddhism. He was highly influenced by his grand mothers Kumardevi and Basantidevi, who were great disciples of Mahayana, and had donated land and grants to viharas at Shravasti, Sarnath, Varanasi, Kanauj, Nalanda and Buddha Gaya. He used to visit viharas at Sarnath in childhood with his grand mother. [Dharmarakshit:1956:65]

His reign

He was well trained in art of war, and is mentioned in copper plates of Vijaychandra (1168 A.D.) as "Yuvaraja", and was coronated in 1170 A.D., when his father Vijaychandra died. His reign of nearly 24 years was glorious. He was patron of Buddhist Bhikkus and Brahmins, and creator of many forts. Though Gahadvals are mentioned as rulers of Kanauj, their main capital was Kashi. Sarnath inscription of Kumardevi mentions Govindchandra as "Kashi-Naresh", and Kanauj was their sub-capital. After fall of Prithwiraj Chauhan in 1192 A.D., Md. Ghori attacked his kingdom but was repulsed by him. At the same time, Senas from east invaded him and whole of Magadha was captured by them. End of this last great monarch of India came in a war of Chandawar near Etawa, fighting against Md. Ghori.

He was maligned without any reason

Many scholars have blamed him as traitor on the basis of "Prithwiraj Raso", a creation of a bard named Chanda Bardai. Raso says Prithwiraj had been loved by Jaichandra's daughter Sanyogita, as well as daughter of King Nahaddev of Abu, and he abducted them one by one. Raso also mentions King Samarsingh of Mewad being killed in a battle of Taravadi. But the researches by scholars have proved all this false. Samarsingh was 150 years later than Prithwiraj and King Nahaddev was centuries earlier than him. Sanyogita is thus an imaginary heroine of Raso.

Author of Raso calls himself as contemporary of Prithwiraj, but all genealogy given by him is wrong and M. M. Dr. Gaurishankar Hirachand Ojha has conclusively proved that Raso is not created before 16th century. "Prabandhkosh" also wrongly blames him. As a matter of fact, there was no friendship or enmity between Jaichandra and Prithwiraj. [Dharmarakshit:1956:63] Scholars like D. C. Ganguli also believe that Raso is a work of later period and the stories in it are highly unreliable, romantic and improbable. [Ganguli:1989:105]

The question nobody likes to deal with is why in the sixteenth century, Brahmins needed to eulogize the three centuries old Pruthwiraj as a hero and malign Jaychandra, the last great non- Muslim Monarch of India flourishing 300 years ago. Jaichandra being known to have Buddhist leanings, was it anti-Muslim propaganda or an anti-Buddhist one?

Singhal: Dalits creation of Islamic invaders

Long time back, Dr. Ambedkar has discussed how untouchability was imposed by the Brahmins because of hatred towards Buddhism, still there is a false propaganda against Muslims. Following two passages will be illuminating:

"VARANASI, June 15 (UNI)

"General secretary of the banned Vishwa Hindu Parishad Ashok Singhal has propounded a new historical theory claiming that "Dalits were the creation of non-Hindutva forces which ruled this country before the British."

"Addressing a press conference here last night, Mr.Singhal termed Dalits as "descendants of great freedom fighters who posed stiff challenge to Islamic invaders for hundreds of years".

"Mr.Singhal said that nowhere in Hindu scriptures Dalits as a caste had been defined as untouchables to subdue them", he claimed.

"Citing examples of various Dalit rulers of the past such as Suheldev Paswan and Stan Pasi, both former rulers of Behraich, he said such was the might of these Dalit rulers that Muslim invaders could not dare to enter their territory for more than 175 years.

"The VHP leader said it was time to restore the self-pride of Dalits and this could be done by putting their history in the right perspective." - The Hindustan Times, 16 June 1995

'Untouchability is a creation of Islam'

"Now I feel that as the BSP people and the Chief Minister, Mayawati, come in contact with the BJP and what is now known as the Sangh Parivar, they will begin to understand how discrimination against Dalits started and came into actual practice. We believe that all communities were equal and all enjoyed the same rights till the advent of Islamic and Christian rule.

"Humiliations began to be heaped only after the Islamic invasion of our country. It was because of the repression of different communities that fought the Islamic invaders and defined conversion into Islam that they had to suffer humiliation and tortures. These communities were uprooted from their home and hearth for defying the invaders and not giving up their religion.

"As a result: they became poor and had to suffer a lot. These suffering communities came to be treated as untouchables with the invaders perpetrating unspeakable horrors on them. Therefore, I say that untouchability is a creation of Islam." - The Sunday Observer, July 30-August 5, 1995 [Naim:1998]

Is there any necessity to comment on these remarks?

Causes of Muslim victory over the Hindus

R. C. Majumdar describes the collapse of Hindu Rule as "puzzling, nay, almost baffling" in a short time by invaders whose resources were "hardly equal to those of some of the bigger Hindu states, not to speak of a combination of them". Within limitations, of unavailability of Brahmanic sources, he explains the causes were:

"... The foremost among these seem to be the iniquitous system of caste and absence of contact with the outside world. The first resulted in a fragmentation of Indian society into mutually exclusive classes, among whom the privileged minority preserved their vested interest by depriving the masses of many civic rights, specially of education and of free intercourse and association on equal terms with their fellow men, and further, by imposing on them the most irritating disabilities on one hand, and a tremendous weight of innumerable duties and obligations towards the privileged classes on the other. ..." [Majumdar:1989:126]

Quoting Al-Biruni, on narrow mindedness of Hindus, he proceeds to say:

"... This spirit of exclusive superiority was created and maintained by a process of intellectual fraud, in as much as almost the entire literature of the period was utilized for this purpose and the masses were asked to follow it blindly in the name of Holy Writ, to question whose authority was an unpardonable sin. ... Then again, the false ideals of Kshatriya chivalry, taught them by their mentors, made the Rajput princes paralyse one another by perpetual internecine conflicts, and what was more fatal, made them oblivious of a broad national vision and patriotic sentiment. ... The utter and precipitate prostration of such a vast and ancient land endowed with resources far superior and greater to those of her invaders, can be the result of mainly of internal decay and not merely of external attacks, which were its effects rather than the cause." [Majumdar:1989:128]

In the light of above, coming from a proud proponent of Brahmanism, the cause of fall of India to Muslim, was the Decline and Fall of Buddhism, and the words of L. M. Joshi, at the beginning of this tract, are very apt.

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