sanjaychoudhry wrote:Well, if Islam can turn lambs into jackals, Buddhism has a tendency to convert jackals into lambs. Ultimately, every religion is a thought system that shapes your personality into a set mould. You cannot discount the heavy influence of religion in deciding what societies make of themselves down the line and whether they become agressive like newly Islamised Arabs or pacifists like newly Buddhist Tibetans.
Your earlier comment about bhakti and this one suggests that you consider religion primarily through sociological viewpoint.
A sort of necessary condition for any religion to flourish in a society is that it should not damage the society and still provide something of value. But that value is not alaways something which strengthens society, but could be something which is of individual value.
Indic religions (Daharma-s) give lot more importance to internal development. That internal development is not solely for societal benefit. Society benefits by individual development, but that benefit is peripheral to the main purpose of religion.
It all boils down to what is considered valuable. A jingo may consider it to be utmost importance to have a militarily strong society, wielding great power and enjoying its material fruits. But another person may hold a completely different value system.
A typical hindu/budhist/jain/sikh view is to consider this world as a school and every one needs to graduate by developing oneself over several lifetimes. Society is like the infrastructure of the school. School is important, but if the school fails to support its goal then there is no point to the school or its great architecture. Someone may believe in the value system that says that maintaining the school infra and running its affairs is the ONLY important thing. But others may believe that school is relevant only as long as it fulfills its goal of letting its students learn and eventually graduate.
Buddhist societies have generated a large number of good people according to their value system. And if their metaphysical views are based on any truth, they have managed to "graduate" a large number of souls to higher levels.
Muslims can similarly claim that by converting a large number of people, even if by sword, they have saved their souls, and set them on a path to jannat.
Now it boils down to who you believe. I would say Islam has been more succesful against Budhists militarily, but does it really mean it is superior to buddhism? A buddhist can as well argue that just as children can be lured into false and damaging but easy things and may be deviated from their goal of development, but when the reality hits, those souls will have to come back again and go through the grind. So, a buddhist value sytem may as well consider it of great value to convert a jackal into a lamb. since in their system, jackals can't graduate.
Hindus have many texts including Gita which allows violence as a tool to protect dharma, and doesn't prohibit violence as a principle as Buddhism and Jainism tend to do. A similar approach by taken by Guru Gobind Singh when he talked of "sant sipahis". So, it is 50-50, two of dharmic faiths admit violence as a tool, two don't. Given that hindus numerically dominate, given time it should be possible in India to remove any timidity , military or otherwise.
Tibet may find it necessary that to get its independence it also would have to accept violence as a tool. Or it may think that Mahatma Gandhi model could work in Tibet just as it "worked" in India. Although given the temperamental difference between British and current uling dispensation in China, Gandhi model has high likelihood of failure.