Sunday, February 1, 2015


workshop on cultural Buddhism:
quick responses and exchanges.
For the theme-note and responses sets 1-4,

46.  Paneer Selvam:

The main reason for the emergence of Buddhism is te casteism and rituals which predominated Hinduism. The fact is that Vedic religion practised the casteism which cannot be denied. To say that there was no caste and varna deteriorated into caste and to say that it was based on division of labour and not colour is not at all acceptable. Even for the argument sake if we allow this, we have to see how it is used in the present context. To say that everything was perfect and now everything has deteriorated cannot be an argument because it has to be how it is meaningful to me or to you. Such arguments only show the drawbacks in Hindu religion and it will not save the religion. What we need is a religion with a human face where everybody is included and participation of all and not for selected few. Of course all religions have this problem. Hindus who convert themselves to Christianity also carry their caste with them. I was under the impression that at least in Buddhism there is no caste. Recently one Bikku told me that even in Buddhism, caste is prevalent. This means that the purpose of Buddhist philosophy/religion is lost. This perhaps gives us the idea that the best way is to come out of religion, any religion for that matter. It has to be noted that Buddha rejected the infallibility of the Vedas and priestly supremacy. He worked for the social equality among people. This also shows that there was no soical equality among the people during Vedic period.
In Tamil literature we find reference to Buddhism in Sangam literature. The Chinese pilgrim Hieun Tsang (650 AD) refers to the presence of sthupi in Pandiya Nadu. Buddhism was prevalent during the period of Tamil literature Silapathikaram (3 AD) and Manimekalai (5 AD). In the Theravada Buddhism the number of Buddhas was restricted. The Pali texts say that there were six Budhhas before the advent of Gautama Buddha. But the Buddhavamsa refers to 24 Buddhas. The Sukhavati-vyuhas, a Mahayana text refers to 81 millions Buddha. Buddha is also regarded as avatars. In the contemporary period, it was Ayothee dasa Pandithar, whose centenary is celebrated this year, is mainly responsible for making the Buddhist movement in Tamil Nadu more popular. Once an Advaitin, he was dissatisfied with the Hindu practice, he worked for the re-emergence of Buddhism in Tamil Nadu.
One important question that arises here is this: Is Sankara responsible for the exist of Buddhism in India? This is the question raised by Prof. Daya Krishna in the journal of ICPR. If Sankara is responsible, then is there a major difference between them. Sankara is known as “pseudo Buddha”. (See TM.P Mahadevan’s book, Gaudapada. The introductory part is important to see how Sankara has borrowed many concepts from Buddhist tradition). If a pseudo Buddha can become a dominating figure in Indian philosophical tradition, sidelining all other philosophical traditions and schools where did the “genuine” Buddha go? Can a tradition vanish like this? Can we say that the Advaitic culture has swallowed Buddhist culture?

47. Ajay Sekher:

Prof Paneer Selvam has touched upon some of the key issues related to the erasure of Buddhism in south India, especially under caste and Vedic Hindu Brahmanism. It is also highly relevant to discuss the revival of Buddhism in Tamilakam through Ayotheedasa Panditar and the dalit neo buddhist movement in Tamil Nadu, as he has aptly pointed out on the centenary of the great dalit leader.  A comparison with Kerala's neo buddhism in the 1920s and 30s led by Sahodaran and Mitavadi would be inevitable in this regard.  Also cross connections could be established with reference to Ambedkarism and the 1950s Marathi Neo Buddhist conversions that culminated in Nagpur Deeksha Bhumi, and still producing repercussions.


48. S. N. Chaoudhary:

Prof. Paneer Selvam has rightly put the problem with which I fully agree.Hence,Buddhism died a natural death in India with this fraternal embrace.

49. K. R. Remesh:

While Bouddha India flourished,  Sankara India perished.
For about 500 years after Buddha, Buddhism was a religion of Dharma. There was no discrimination. After that period there started devotion and it became Mahayana-Buddhism. It continued up to AD 500. During this period also there was no discrimination. Then came Vajrayana-Buddhism. This Buddhism and Tantric Brahmanism where identical. Slowly Brahmanism engulfed Buddhism.
There was no discrimination in Dharma. In Bhakti also there was no discrimination. In Tantric Brahmanism there was only discrimination. They destroyed Dharma and established Tantrism. Slowly Tantrism became sorcery in their hands. Such sorcerers divided the society in to castes and sub-castes. It was very easy for Muslim invaders to conquer such a divided society. Thus India perished. Everybody say that Sankara’s Vedanta is a philosophy of unification. But Brahmins were using that philosophy as mask for their sorcery.

50. Ajay Sekher:

The destruction of monuments like Nalanda was done by mistake by the raiding Islamic militia. Brahmanism also played the covetous mediating role in such erasures of Buddhist Stupas and Viharas by invaders from west Asia. Ambedkar has also pointed out the various reasons and processes of this catastrophe in the Rise n Fall of Buddhism in India. Thus it cant be as reductionist and simple as the note here but a  highly complex and conjectural problematic involving Brahmanical cheat n usurpation. 

51. Athena:

I do not know if my western culture perspective has any value to you, but to me the above argument looks an argument for who is responsible for giving us Protestantism? Martin Luther gets a lot of credit, but he is not at all to be credited for the equality we came to enjoy. Our equality seems more a will of the people, and plenty of them were killed in the struggle over the division of classes the west had. 

It really troubles me that your arguments seem to think the Hindu casts system is something totally different from the master/slave relationships of the west. I think the argument should be one of human nature, and the shared reasoning for why some are masters and others are slaves. To say Europe did not have a slave population is just wrong. A serf was a slave. It really doesn't matter the a slave was sold as human, and the serf was sold as part of piece of land. Nor the caste system institutionalized the division of people. It is all human nature acting out, and justifying the exploitation of humans with religion. 

However in the west, barbarians had a strong tradition of freedom and a tradition of war, and they did not take to being made slaves peacefully.


Interesting to see things in a context of social organization, possible enforced by political power, and consumerism which is a free market and may not exactly have the same religious meaning for everyone. I have several Buddhas because they are pleasing to the eye and remind me of peace and happiness, without having a greater religious meaning. I have had Hindu pictures, without thinking of myself as Hindu. I have Egyptian and Aztec art that also had religious meaning in the past. It so different when we think of these matters as art and commercialism, or social order and politics.

52. K. R. Remesh:

Mythri of Buddha and Brotherhood of Islam.

It was Buddhism that prevailed in Islamic countries before the origin of Islam. The great Bamiyan Buddha Statues proclaim this fact. The famous Thakshasila (Taxila) university was in present Pakistan.
It was mythri and karuna that Buddha taught as the reason for Ahimsa. This mythri became the brotherhood of Islam. Muslims also say – parama karunikanaya Allahu. Here we can see karuna also.


53. Ajay Sekher:

In Kerala Muslims call Allah the merciful as Padachavan the creator and constructor with an accent on the designing and sculpting part of it though the visual imaginary is taboo. This is a unique form of address using a pro visual and sculptural signifier. In Kerala the Muslims and Christians are often called Boudhar and Mapila. There is a Christian chronicle called Bouddha Charitram.  Mapila is often elaborated as those who are initiated into the realm of the ethical way or enlightened Marga. They also use Pali words like Pally, Pallykoodam, Achan, Pattam, Kathanar, Kappiar etc. The uses of ceremonial Kudam or Urns and Umbrellas or Kuda by both the sects also are relics of the Buddhist legacy.


No comments:

Post a Comment