Hindu-Buddhist Relations

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Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 06:34

There used to be a thread of this name earlier. I can't find it now, so restarting it.

I'm currently reading the memoirs of Chinese travelers in India (Fa Hian, Hsuan Tsang, not yet got to Yi Zing). I expected, when reading these memoirs, to find that relations between Hindus and Buddhists were amicable in the India of those times. The memoirs told a different story. There seemed to have been a period of near-total Buddhist dominance up to the time when Fa Hian arrived in India. After that, Buddhist influence seems to have waned gradually, and by the time Hsuan Tsang arrived, Hinduism was back on the upswing. Hsuan Tsang came to India when Harshavardana was ruling from Kanyakubja (Kanauj). It seems Harshavardana was the last great emperor patron of Buddhism in India, and after his death, Buddhism went into terminal decline, and hasn't recovered to date.

Hsuan Tsang writes primarily from the Buddhist point of view. His coverage of Hinduism is minimal and superficial, he only notes the number of Devalayas in some of the kingdoms, the number of "heretics" who patronize those Devalayas (again, he only mentions these numbers for a limited number of kingdoms). He talks of the Saivites, being divided into Nirgranthas, Digambars, etc. (actually not sure if he's talking about Jains when he says "Digambaras" - seems like he was talking about Hindus, but he doesn't elaborate). He does mention caste a lot, A LOT - but there is absolutely no mention of any kind of caste persecution or discrimination. He pities the ignorant heretics, who haven't yet found the "true path" (i.e., Buddhism). He notes widespread rivalry between the two religions, not just bordering on hostility, but openly hostile relations (although this hostility never led to violence - per his accounts, Hindus and Buddhists did leave peacefully, though far from amicably). Kings and emperors did, at least nominally, strive for balance when patronizing these two religions, but for the most part, were partial to Buddhism. While they fed and enriched both Buddhists and Brahmins, the ratio was like 2:1 (Buddhist to Brahmin), or even 3:1.

I haven't finished my reading yet, not even of Hsuan Tsang - there's still a couple of other Chinese traveler accounts that I have in mind to read when I have the time.

In the meantime, something I said in one of the other threads about this intense (and not in a good way) rivalry between the two religions, seems to have touched a raw nerve among some of the members here. So one of the mods suggested opening a new thread for discussion.

Not to make an overly long post, I'll outline the aims of this thread in the next post below.

Hsuan Tsang's memoirs.
Last edited by sudarshan on 11 Dec 2018 07:46, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 06:56

Now, the idea was to explore the period between about AD 0 to AD 800 in India, to see what kind of relations existed between Hindus and Buddhists (and maybe Jains). Were the Buddhists of the era into proselytization? Was Buddhism considered a religion by itself? And so on.

My observations from reading Hsuan Tsang (and to a limited extent, Fa Hian):

    * Yes, Buddhism was very much a proselytizing religion, not just a "spiritual path"
    * This was within India, not something observed only in China or Japan or Korea - IOW, Indians of the era themselves were overwhelmingly converted to Buddhism, all the way up to AD 600 or so, and the monks made great attempts to "reform the heretic Hindus" as well - for their part, the Hindus (Brahmins) reciprocated, and eventually won out - but all of this happened with minimal (if any) violence (at least,that's the impression I get from Hsuan Tsang), mainly through the following means:
      * Debate
      * Co-opting the rulers and having them patronize and favor one or the other religion
      * Intense rhetoric against the other side and ridiculing of its practices
      * Maybe even demographic aggression - certainly through intensive conversion, if not through increased fertility or birth rates
    * Buddhism very much had a pantheon
    * Buddhism very much had idols
    * Buddhism was very much into ritual worship (I can quote several passages from Hsuan Tsang to this effect)

Now, members here have been going after me, saying "The Buddha was agnostic, he was against idols, he never hated Brahmins, he was against ritualism, all he did was to start a spiritual tradition, not a religion...."

My response: It doesn't matter what the Buddha said or did. Do you see any resemblance between the proselytizing intolerant version of Christianity today, and the original preaching of Christ? Did Christ sanction "church planting" and "soul harvesting?" What the people of India made of Buddhism centuries after Buddha passed away, had minimal relation to his original sermons.

We have multiple eye-witness accounts of India, written by foreign (Chinese) travelers who were under no compulsion to write what they did - in fact, they mostly wrote their memoirs after they were safely back in China - and these accounts support all the bulleted views above. In that case, what does it matter what the original doctrine of the Buddha was, and why do people here feel that because the Buddha preached something, that is exactly what Buddhism turned out to be?

I've also been told that "Buddhism is an Indic religion, to talk of conflict between Hindus and Buddhists is to play right into the hands of the EJs." I disagree. If there was conflict, so be it. Accept that fact, and see how to take advantage of it (I'll come to this, there are several massive positives that come from Hsuan Tsang's writings). What if Buddhism turned into something contrary to the Buddha's preachings? All that is needed today is for the surviving Buddhists to "go back to their roots" - who is going to hold them accountable for their ancestors' actions, or force them to "make amends?" Accept the conflict of the past, and move on. Once Hindus and Buddhists (or Jains) make it up, there is nothing the EJs can do.

OTOH, if it turns out that Hindus were aggressors and indulged in violence, I will be among the first to say "that is not the Dharma I know, and I disown it."

So, let's let go of dogmatic views of what we think Buddhism was or was not, what we think Hinduism was or was not, and try to get an honest idea of what relations were like back then.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 07:21

Positives from Hsuan Tsang's writings:

* He has written detailed and extensive records of many kingdoms of India, noted the perimeter of each kingdom, the perimeter of its capital, the general state of affairs, the number of Sangharamas (Buddhist schools) and Devalayas, the relative number of Buddhists and heretics, the general prosperity of the lands he visited.
* From his accounts, the India of the times was undoubtedly a land of great wealth, little hunger, good education, and peaceable ways of settling religious disputes (i.e., through debates).
* Despite his general contempt of Hindus, despite the numerous stories which ridicule Brahmins and label them as "jealous" and "cunning" and even "evil," despite his descriptions of the desperation of Brahmins to overcome Buddhism (and general failure to do so), there is NO MENTION of any kind of caste discrimination or persecution, or even of these notions of "low castes" or "high castes." And he has traveled all around India, so this is a general phenomenon all over India.
* In fact, he has noted the castes of the rulers of many kingdoms, and it seems the kingdoms of the age were not only not ruled exclusively by Kshatriyas, but even, in many instances, ruled by Brahmins, Vaisyas, and Sudras (basically, a kingdom could be ruled by a member of any caste).
* He has collated a vast number of stories of the Buddha's life (or, most likely, stories which were later built around the Buddha).

Let's learn to make use of these advantages, rather than arguing over whether or not there was conflict between religions, whether or not there were "religions" to begin with, or just spiritual paths, whether or not the Buddhists of the age were "true followers of the Buddha." But that need not stop us from honestly collecting and documenting answers to all of the above (i.e., let's collect and document, but not get hostile about it).

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 07:31

sudarshan wrote:Reading Fa Hian/Hsuan Tsang currently. It seems that practically *everything* which the EJs are currently trying in India, has been tried in the past, 2000 years ago, with massive success, by the Buddhists. Denigrating and ridiculing the "heretic" Hindus, going after them for conversion, using rhetoric to shame Hindus, latching onto the superficial aspects of Hinduism and ridiculing them, using demographics and targeted conversion, targeting the rulers and getting them to patronize Buddhism over "Brahmanism," identifying, isolating, and mocking the Brahmins, etc. Hsuan Tsang's memoirs are filled with references to "jealous Brahmins," "evil Brahmins," "cunning Brahmins," and he has lots of stories about how these Brahmins tried to a. chop down a tree planted by the Buddha, but it kept coming back to life b. murder a harlot and put the blame on the Buddha, only to have it backfire c. have a heretic (Hindu) woman accuse the Buddha of getting her pregnant, only to have Indra himself come down from heaven and show her up (after which she went straight to hell) d. constantly engage the Buddhists in debate, only to have their arguments demolished with ease etc. etc. During Fa Hian's time, it seemed like India was irrevocably converted to Buddhism (all of it, all the way down to the south, and beyond to Sri Lanka). Two hundred years later, during Hsuan Tsang's time, Buddhism was already in deep decline, and Hinduism was reviving, all the way up to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Adi Sankara simply completed the process of wiping out Buddhism, it seems like he didn't initiate it.

Reading Hsuan Tsang, I'm beginning to be firmly convinced of the viewpoint (don't remember who put forth this view) that Christianity is simply Buddhism repackaged around Christ. The proselytising methods adopted by both religions seem to be exactly the same. With the exception, of course, that Buddhism was solidly into logic, while Christianity scores practically zero in that field. Christianity has also used violence extensively, but I'm not sure that this is really a difference as compared to Buddhism - while Hsuan Tsang doesn't mention any violence on the part of the Buddhists, it can't be ruled out either.

The one refreshing notion I get from reading those memoirs, is this: there is *NO* mention anywhere in his book (despite all the venom and malice directed against Brahmins, not just by these Chinese travelers, but by (the majority Buddhist) Indians themselves) - repeat - NO mention of any kind of caste persecution practised by the Brahmins. NO mention of "low castes" vs "high castes" - the text only says "four castes exist, with the first caste being Brahmins, the second being Kshatriyas, etc. Hsuan Tsang even mentions kingdoms which were ruled by Sudras, Vaisyas, and Brahmins. Not Buddhist kingdoms, but Hindu ones (there goes another myth against Hinduism). The (European) translator has occasionally inserted footnotes, questioning whether Vaisyas and Sudras could have really ruled kingdoms in India. Those footnotes also refer to "high" vs. "low" castes. The main text does not.

How did Hinduism revive so successfully after almost dying out? It might be instructive to study that period (200 to 800 AD) for clues.

I also strongly encourage members here to delve into these memoirs written by Chinese travelers (Fa Hian, Hsuan Tsang, Yi Zing), Arabian travelers (Al Beruni, Ibn Batuta), and European travelers (Bernier, Tavernier) in India. There is enough material there to work against this notion of a "rigid, discriminating caste system."

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 07:31

sudarshan wrote:
JE Menon wrote:... depends heavily on the existence and perpetuation of caste, as well as the regular highlighting of it and constant reiteration of it through divisive approaches, in order to maintain their relevance ...


Regarding caste, which was the original intent of my post, and which is still on topic here....

The travel accounts of India that I mentioned - it is actually better to read the translations of those, rather than the originals, for one simple reason. The translated text of the originals (I've so far read a little Fa Hian, most of the translation of Hsuan Tsang, most of Bernier's translated work, and a little of Tavernier) do not contain these references to discriminatory caste hierarchies in India of those times (400 AD for Fa Hian, 600 AD for Hsuan Tsang, 1600's for Bernier/Tavernier). But *the footnotes inserted by the European translators do.* That tells its own story. In fact, in some places, the main text says things which fly against the notion of a discriminatory caste system, and *the translator has inserted footnotes questioning the original text.* (Bernier and Tavernier both wrote in French, and their works have been translated into English). IOW, the translator feels that the guy who was actually in India hundreds or thousands of years ago did not know what was what, and that this translator from the 19th century knows better, and needs to clarify to the modern reader, what India was "really like in those times!" How interesting!

All of these works talk volumes about the caste system in India. They even pour bile and scorn on the Brahmins. But none of them mention anything about Brahmins "persecuting the other castes!" Not even Bernier or Tavernier, who wrote as recently as 400 years ago. Most of the time, these original texts (by which I mean English translations of the original texts) don't even refer to "high castes" or "low castes" - there was probably no such thing in old India. High and Low castes are a recent European invention about India.

Buddha rebelling against the discriminatory Hindu caste system and establishing a new religion on that basis - nope, nothing to that effect in these travel accounts.

The other thing that these travel accounts consistently mention is that Indians were near-fanatic about cleanliness and personal hygiene. How did a nation like that so thoroughly change its national character within two hundred years of European occupation, to the point of open urination and defecation? Does that reflect badly on India, or on the occupiers? Food for thought.

Untouchability could simply have been born of the practical need to segregate the food and water supplies of those classes of society, whose duty was to dispose of fecal matter and dead bodies. In a country which was obsessive about personal hygiene, especially in a tropical country where water-borne diseases could wipe out entire villages, doesn't this segregation and avoidance of physical contact make sense? The rest of course was the product of the colonial European mind and its need to find some pressure point in Indian society, which they could exploit to their own ends.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 07:32

krisna wrote:Wrt caste
Caste never a word in any Indian languages including Sanskrit for centuries
It is a portuguese word. Caste common in europe for centuries. It was based on birth right. A noble remains noble, a poor remains poor irrespective of wealth in europe.

Europeans came to India. They being christians could not understand the myriad customs and beliefs of Indians.
Named them caste etc for jaati varna etc. Made mish mash of it.

To better understand Indians, british did census to capture this element. Created caste based census. They legalised "caste by birth right". from 1880s onwards to by 1921, virtually every Indian has been mapped into caste identity which worsened post Independence.
They simply divided Indians into 1000s of castes which morphed x3 times post Independence for political reasons.


for the First time in centuries in India, some outsider legalised as birthright.

Previously we only had profession based varna on the work one did. Jaati is conglomerate of similar profession based families. this was very fluid and dynamic.


The new govt under JLN took lock stock barrel everything from british including caste census.
Unfortunately JLN and his advisors probably did not know the story of Hinduism. Believed the European nonsense and foisted on India esp Hindus.

------------
During census collection data by british, even muslims and christians got included. Hence they got caste just like Hindus. there were protests by all Indians but not much success.


---------------
Indians who were taken as slaves by british to their far flung territories do not have this caste problem.
Hindus living in other parts of world in those times were untouched by caste as seen in India.

-----------

Lot of research has been done which says the above.

Simple internet search for british census and caste system is a starter.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 07:32

krisna wrote:Nicholas Dirks mentions that british writings till late 18th century virtually made no mention of caste in India.
He has written a book called "castes of mind". Available in Amazon

Colin mackenzie a British historian says that many Indian sources prior to 18th century had no mention of caste.

Cynthia Talbot professor of history and Asian studies mentions that in Andhra pradesh even varna was rarely mentioned in extensive Indian medieval records. In fact says probably even varna was not significant in daily life of Indians.
Jaati rarely mentioned prior to 13th century.

Richard Eating prof of history says evidence is clear in kakathiya population 11-14 century records that shudra were part of nobility. It was earned but never by birthright. Many Indians in same family father sons uncles etc were of different professions hence varnas etc.

Susan Bayly writes that even in northern India people were unconcerned regarding caste issues. It became solidified in British times(thru census).


Peter Jackson prof of medical history and muslim India debunks the hypothesis that caste made Hindus turn to islam in medieval era.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 07:32

krisna wrote:
sudarshan wrote:Reading Fa Hian/Hsuan Tsang currently. It seems that practically *everything* which the EJs are currently trying in India, has been tried in the past, 2000 years ago, with massive success, by the Buddhists. Denigrating and ridiculing the "heretic" Hindus, going after them for conversion, using rhetoric to shame Hindus, latching onto the superficial aspects of Hinduism and ridiculing them, using demographics and targeted conversion, targeting the rulers and getting them to patronize Buddhism over "Brahmanism," identifying, isolating, and mocking the Brahmins, etc. Hsuan Tsang's memoirs are filled with references to "jealous Brahmins," "evil Brahmins," "cunning Brahmins," and he has lots of stories about how these Brahmins tried to a. chop down a tree planted by the Buddha, but it kept coming back to life b. murder a harlot and put the blame on the Buddha, only to have it backfire c. have a heretic (Hindu) woman accuse the Buddha of getting her pregnant, only to have Indra himself come down from heaven and show her up (after which she went straight to hell) d. constantly engage the Buddhists in debate, only to have their arguments demolished with ease etc. etc. During Fa Hian's time, it seemed like India was irrevocably converted to Buddhism (all of it, all the way down to the south, and beyond to Sri Lanka). Two hundred years later, during Hsuan Tsang's time, Buddhism was already in deep decline, and Hinduism was reviving, all the way up to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Adi Sankara simply completed the process of wiping out Buddhism, it seems like he didn't initiate it.

Reading Hsuan Tsang, I'm beginning to be firmly convinced of the viewpoint (don't remember who put forth this view) that Christianity is simply Buddhism repackaged around Christ. The proselytising methods adopted by both religions seem to be exactly the same. With the exception, of course, that Buddhism was solidly into logic, while Christianity scores practically zero in that field. Christianity has also used violence extensively, but I'm not sure that this is really a difference as compared to Buddhism - while Hsuan Tsang doesn't mention any violence on the part of the Buddhists, it can't be ruled out either.

The one refreshing notion I get from reading those memoirs, is this: there is *NO* mention anywhere in his book (despite all the venom and malice directed against Brahmins, not just by these Chinese travelers, but by (the majority Buddhist) Indians themselves) - repeat - NO mention of any kind of caste persecution practised by the Brahmins. NO mention of "low castes" vs "high castes" - the text only says "four castes exist, with the first caste being Brahmins, the second being Kshatriyas, etc. Hsuan Tsang even mentions kingdoms which were ruled by Sudras, Vaisyas, and Brahmins. Not Buddhist kingdoms, but Hindu ones (there goes another myth against Hinduism). The (European) translator has occasionally inserted footnotes, questioning whether Vaisyas and Sudras could have really ruled kingdoms in India. Those footnotes also refer to "high" vs. "low" castes. The main text does not.

How did Hinduism revive so successfully after almost dying out? It might be instructive to study that period (200 to 800 AD) for clues.

I also strongly encourage members here to delve into these memoirs written by Chinese travelers (Fa Hian, Hsuan Tsang, Yi Zing), Arabian travelers (Al Beruni, Ibn Batuta), and European travelers (Bernier, Tavernier) in India. There is enough material there to work against this notion of a "rigid, discriminating caste system."



me thinks lot of bs in the post above.

Buddha never coined or invented new religion. Nor do its followers claim it so. Infact Buddhism is nothing but refined form of Hinduism. something like if orange is Hinduism then orange juice is Buddhism removing the skin fiber etc etc. (as an example only).

Actually Buddha has praised learned class brahmans(not caste) in his times. He never talked about castes as there were no castes.
.

Buddhism was first seen by europeans/christians outside India. found that buddhists had Gautama Buddha as the first person etc similar to jesus. some buddhist principles etc which they were familiar as in christianity. hence they named it a religion. They initially thought it to be different from Hinduism. of course Hinduism is so vast and myriad with all cultures traditions with no single point of reference to person event or book unlike Buddhism.


---------------------------------------------
"Caste" and "religion" are not Indian words never seen in any Indian languages. These have crept into usage according to european definition .
Hinduism does not fit the definiton of religion by any means. caste created by britshit is a mish mash of everything and has really damaged Hinduism .

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 07:33

Neshant wrote:Buddhism is great in theory.
On the practical side, it falls down however.
Passiveness and non-violence in the face of violence does not work.
When India became Buddhist under Emperor Ashoka, India's military shield was set aside and the end result was massive foreign invasions and looters to the subcontinent.
That is the reason India went from Hinduism to Buddhism and back again to Hinduism.

Buddhism can only exist when there is a great power with military strength protecting it.
It cannot exist otherwise because the world is filled with wicked people bent on exploiting peaceful, non-violent ones.

But I am glad India is the originator of two of the world's great religions - Hinduism & Buddhism.

Modern secular Christianity (not Evangelical BS) is a good philosophy compatible with Hinduism.
It accepts that there are many ways to God and no one religion has the sole monopoly on truth.
Hinduism reached that understanding many millennia ago however.
Modern Christianity is only just arriving at that destination.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 07:33

sudarshan wrote:
krisna wrote:

me thinks lot of bs in the post above.

Buddha never coined or invented new religion. Nor do its followers claim it so. Infact Buddhism is nothing but refined form of Hinduism. something like if orange is Hinduism then orange juice is Buddhism removing the skin fiber etc etc. (as an example only).

Actually Buddha has praised learned class brahmans(not caste) in his times. He never talked about castes as there were no castes.
.

Buddhism was first seen by europeans/christians outside India. found that buddhists had Gautama Buddha as the first person etc similar to jesus. some buddhist principles etc which they were familiar as in christianity. hence they named it a religion. They initially thought it to be different from Hinduism. of course Hinduism is so vast and myriad with all cultures traditions with no single point of reference to person event or book unlike Buddhism.


---------------------------------------------
"Caste" and "religion" are not Indian words never seen in any Indian languages. These have crept into usage according to european definition .
Hinduism does not fit the definiton of religion by any means. caste created by britshit is a mish mash of everything and has really damaged Hinduism .


Saar, Buddha did not coin a new religion, nor did he "rebel against caste discrimination." I agree. I was only faithfully reporting what I read in Fa Hian's and Hsuan Tsang's memoirs. I can quote passages if necessary. Here are some bullet points from the book(s):

    * Hsuan Tsang's book: he repeatedly refers to Hindus as "heretics" and "unbelievers" and pities their way of life
    * He talks about how the Buddha converted the Devas themselves, and how the Devas became subservient to him and accepted his superiority
    * He has many, many stories of how the "evil," "cunning," "jealous" Brahmins kept trying to wean people away from the "true path," only to be foiled every time
    * Many stories like this:

      * Brahmins tried to chop down a tree planted by the Buddha, but that tree kept coming back to life
      * Brahmins tried to murder a harlot woman and blame the Buddha, but were exposed
      * Brahmins tried to get a woman to declare that the Buddha got her pregnant, but Indra himself came down to show her lie
      * Jealous Brahmins tried to move a stone which had been set down by spirits who came to visit the Buddha, but no matter how many of them tried, they couldn't move that stone
      * There was a temple next to a Buddha vihara - when the sun was in the west, the vihara's shadow fell on the temple (devalaya), but when the sun was in the east, the temple's shadow bent to the north to avoid covering the vihara
      * This same temple - the priests lit lamps for their gods, but in the morning, those lamps were found in the vihara, so the priests set a night watch, and found that their own idols came to life in the night, took the lamps, circumambulated the vihara, and placed the lamps within, before disappearing - so the priests realized that the Buddha was the ultimate truth and all converted
      * Brahmins kept trying to debate the Buddhists, and miserably failed each time, losing more and more converts each time
      * Hinduism is repeatedly referred to as "Brahminism," as in - "there are two religions in India, Buddhism (the true path) and the heretic Brahminical path"
      * Many, many more stories like this

    * Buddha's personality came to be associated with supernatural powers, like flying in the air, reaching out through solid rock, etc.
    * Brahmins are reviled throughout the book - Fa Hian was worse than Hsuan Tsang, at least Hsuan Tsang had some respect for Hindus
    * Hsuan Tsang himself debated and converted Hindus during his stay in India
    * The Buddha was repeatedly portrayed as being served by Indra and Brahma, there are statues like this, and king Harshavardana and the Assam raja both reenacted this scene just before Hsuan Tsang returned to China
    * King Harshavardana was almost assassinated by a wild man, and it turned out that the "jealous Brahmins" had hired this assassin, being enraged by how Harshavardana and the Assam raja were both performing so much service to the Buddha, but none for Hindus
    * Harshavardana's court demanded the extermination of the "heretics" for this assassination attempt, but Harshavardana pardoned the Brahmins, except for the ring-leaders
    * Many many more anti-Hindu, anti-Brahmin tirades like this throughout the book

What do you make of all this? All BS as well? It has all been faithfully recorded, and all these attitudes were prevalent in India of the time, not brought in by the travelers - Fa Hian and Hsuan Tsang, while both being anti-Hindu, were only recording what Indians themselves were saying and doing.

Like I said, the Buddha's true teachings were forgotten, and people built their own religion around him, with him as the ultimate truth. Not people outside India, like Chinese or Koreans or Japanese, but Indians themselves. And all of these anti-Brahminical Buddhist attitudes within India had hardened by 400 AD, Fa Hian's time, long before the Europeans got on the scene - Fa Hian's and Hsuan Tsang's memoirs are both just recordings of these attitudes.

The same thing is happening with Christ now, which is why I said it would be instructive to study what went on about 1500 years ago, and how India was reclaimed for Hinduism.

If you think I'm lying or spreading propaganda, please read the book for yourself, I even posted a link where you can download it. I don't understand why I'm getting all this skeptical attitude when people don't bother to check out the source of what I'm saying, instead go with their own dogmatic beliefs of what Buddhism was or was not and refuse to accept any other notions.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 07:34

JE Menon wrote:People, please stick to the topic of the thread. The divergence into a discussion on Hinduism vs Buddhism, while it can be useful in terms of understanding how Buddhism was basically debated and ritualled out of dominance, does not address the thread topic except for observational purposes. However, it is a worthy topic for another thread if anyone has the stamina to start, manage and guide it.

It will be instructive, to begin with, to record precisely when the terms "Hinduism" & "Buddhism" came into the English/French/German languages. Just before the Europeans arrived, I don't think the non-Muslim Indians called themselves "Hindus" and "Buddhists". There was just Dharma, and its multiple branches, a strong one of which was the Dhamma (let's say). It was a set of beliefs, rituals and philosophical constructs that functioned within the overall Dharmic milieu - to the extent that it was allowed to by the absolutists of the time.

So please, do take that discussion to another thread.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 07:34

JE Menon wrote:>>I'm beginning to be firmly convinced of the viewpoint (don't remember who put forth this view) that Christianity is simply Buddhism repackaged around Christ.

This point of view is not new, and there are plenty of theories as to how this could have come about - there are quite a number of books by European writers suggesting this: (a) one thread suggesting he picked it up from the Essene sect, which seems to have had some contact with Buddhist monks (perhaps in nearby Egypt); and (b) while others have propagated the idea that Jesus himself came to India and got the ideas from here.

There is no solid evidence for any of this, except some tantalising circumstantial bits and pieces which can suddently concretize into something substantial if even one solid bit of real evidence (say an old text - like the Dead Sea Scrolls) is found again, or if one of the hundreds of thousands of ancient manuscripts in India describe someone identifiable as Jesus Christ.

The broad theory, as it exists, goes like this: In his youth, Jesus was a precocious child, who had something to say, even to the priests in Jewish temples (no one knows if this is actually true, but this is a recurrent theme in mainstream Christianity). The narrative then implies that about the age of 12 he took the ancient overland route to India, via the Khyber presumably, or possibly by sea, and even went to Jagannath in Puri. Undoubtedly, on the way he must have met a vast number of Dharmic gurus, swamis and others who basically proliferated throughout the land at the time.

From them, he picked up a number of key concepts and even some of their behavioural traits (gentleness, a certain detachment, perhaps a sense of quiet authority, etc). Gradually, having picked up all that, he returned home, stewed in the local milieu for about a year and - given the warzone that Judea & Samaria were a the time, not to mention riven with poverty and Roman & Elite injustice - stepped out of Nazareth speaking some of what he had learned during his years in India, largely what seems to the West as "Buddhist" concepts now.

On the other side, it is speculated that he engaged with people of the Essene sect, who were regarded as more zealous and "outre" by the regular Jews and that he may have imbibed some of their supposed "Buddhist" ideas and transmitted them.

It is of course more than a little curious that the Buddha, born over 600 years prior, was also born of a virgin and that the Buddha's mother's name was Maya, which is interchangeable with Maria in Greek (i.e. Mary in the English language bibles). In the Greek bibles, it is still Maria.

As I said, I have read several of these books, listened to innumerable lectures on related subjects, but have not come away convinced in the slightest, even though our own Government of India put this out (in 2007 - when you know who was in power).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9w-xJfSOyc

Jesus in Kashmir, no less! The poor man, if he actually ever existed, is probably the most over-used political tool so much so that the cult which he started and became a global faith is now a blunt instrument, used primarily by crude evangelists and cynical churchmen.

>>The proselytising methods adopted by both religions seem to be exactly the same.

I disagree quite vehemently about this. Buddhism is not an absolutist "my way or the highway to hell" sort of faith system, indeed it is hardly even a faith system. At best it is a form of Spiritual Atheism at heart (even though the Buddha has become deified over time). They debated others, mainly Brahmins, because they were the keepers of the Sanatana Dharma, but not only Brahmins. They took on all comers, as did the Brahmins. Within India, I have yet to hear of a Buddhist army on the march in order to impose its faith on others, where as you have

"Onwards Christian Soldiers, Marching as to War,
Looking Unto Jesus, Who has Gone Before,
Christ the Royal Master, Leads against the Foe,
Onwards into Battle, See his Banners Flow!"

Buddhist proselytization has been of a passive sort, i.e. people spread out and started talking - and it was essentially take it or leave it. The sophistication of its doctrine and the inherent philosophical concepts (bounded firmly by reason) was such that rulers, and then the general public, gradually accepted it over time; and when a more (or equally) substantial line of reasoning (Advaita Vedanta) came to the fore, people who liked their rituals, their daily worship, their visits to the temple and the chants of the Brahmins as well as other services they provided, simply kept on doing it under the Upanishadic rubric, rather than those of the teachings of the Buddha - although many held on to that too, until the Muslim hordes came in and started slaughtering all and sundry. In my personal view, one of the key reasons why Buddhism dissipated within India itself is because Adi Shankara did not prohibit or even proscribe the Brahminical practices, the ordinary folks daily rituals, the worship, and the temple customs.

In the absense of Hinduism outside India, at least not in great societal depth, Buddhism caught on like wildfire and spread to Japan in the East and most probably across the Levantine and North African plans (but in much smaller numbers because of the inhospitable climates and the desert terrain). There was no real challenge to its doctrine. People only had to speak, and eventually, everywhere, the elite will subscribe to the most sophisticated doctrine, i.e. the one with which the can most easily bamboozle the lower rungs of society; and such doctrines, if they have the greatest component of truth in them, eventually are the most useful also. In India, Buddhism was sorted out by Advaitism, which is truly the crest-jewel of refinement in the search for truth.

The rest of the world has had no exposure to Advaitism yet, not in any substantial way. But, it is beginning. Over the last 60 odd years, steadily and slowly numerous gurus have gone out and spoken. The idea is powerful, and fundamental, and vital - and it holds the force of a very close alignment with the sciences (just as Buddhism does). Eventually, it will make its mark on the world. Check out the interest these days for "Non-Dualism" (which is basically Advaita, with the spices reduced so Europeans can consume it). But it is the elite who eat it first. Let them pick this little, dense, unendingly energising morsel of truth from the buffet of philosophical concepts that India has to offer and taste it. Properly. It will enable them to be people of "faith" to the lower-minds among their societies, and it will enable them to think of themselves as "understanders" of the ultimate - better explained than anywhere else, by anyone else. And quite finely cut for the 21st century and beyond.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 07:34

sudarshan wrote:
JE Menon wrote:However, it is a worthy topic for another thread if anyone has the stamina to start, manage and guide it.

It will be instructive, to begin with, to record precisely when the terms "Hinduism" & "Buddhism" came into the English/French/German languages. Just before the Europeans arrived, I don't think the non-Muslim Indians called themselves "Hindus" and "Buddhists". There was just Dharma, and its multiple branches, a strong one of which was the Dhamma (let's say). It was a set of beliefs, rituals and philosophical constructs that functioned within the overall Dharmic milieu - to the extent that it was allowed to by the absolutists of the time.

So please, do take that discussion to another thread.


Let me finish my reading first, and then I might do just what you say.

>>The proselytising methods adopted by both religions seem to be exactly the same.

I disagree quite vehemently about this. Buddhism is not an absolutist "my way or the highway to hell" sort of faith system, indeed it is hardly even a faith system. At best it is a form of Spiritual Atheism at heart (even though the Buddha has become deified over time). They debated others, mainly Brahmins, because they were the keepers of the Sanatana Dharma, but not only Brahmins. They took on all comers, as did the Brahmins. Within India, I have yet to hear of a Buddhist army on the march in order to impose its faith on others, where as you have

"Onwards Christian Soldiers, Marching as to War,
Looking Unto Jesus, Who has Gone Before,
Christ the Royal Master, Leads against the Foe,
Onwards into Battle, See his Banners Flow!"

Buddhist proselytization has been of a passive sort, i.e. people spread out and started talking - and it was essentially take it or leave it.


And I'm saying, that reading those travel records by those Chinese men, it does seem like Buddhism had become that absolutist faith system back in 400 AD. There are stories in there about how Buddha banished some of the heretics to the lowest depths of hell.

Passive proselytization vs. marching armies - I guess I was talking more of the way Xtianity is currently trying to (or rather constrained to) spread. Do you see marching Xtian armies today? They are no longer pulling that sword and fire/inquisition stuff (mainly because they no longer can get away with it), instead they are reduced to more passive proselytization methods, such as: a. demographic aggression, b. co-opting the rulers and getting them to impose a state religion, c. rhetoric against Hindus/ Brahmins, d. offering money for conversion, e. bamboozling people with fake "miracles" etc. From my reading, it seems like, except for d., the Buddhists in India did all of this. That's what I was getting at. But enough of this in this thread.

My main take was on the caste system, and how, despite all this virulent anti-Brahminical rhetoric in those travel memoirs, there is still NOT ONE SINGLE MENTION OF CASTE PERSECUTION THAT THE BRAHMINS INDULGED IN, OR OF LOW Vs. HIGH CASTES, in all the hundreds of pages of those memoirs. That, to me, is the most telling point, and one which can be immediately and effectively used against the caste rhetoric today.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 07:34

JE Menon wrote:>>And I'm saying, that reading those travel records by those Chinese men, it does seem like Buddhism had become that absolutist faith system back in 400 AD.

I have only read bits and pieces, arbitrarily, of the Chinese visitors - and it was quite a while ago, so I do not recall. But is this true of Indian writings of the period? I am not so sure that is the impression I get, although again, I have not specifically checked out the doctrinal posture of Buddhism vis a vis Sanatana Dharma 500 BC-800 AD.

>>Do you see marching Xtian armies today?

Yes, mainly in the Middle East & North Africa. This is not short-term, in my view. And of course, they do not call them Christian armies. However, if you ask around in the Middle East, the view is almost unanimous. It is the Crusades

On the matter of caste, I have no disagreement whatsoever with what you have written.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 07:35

Sridhar K wrote:Had typed a long post that got lost while posting. There are similar stuff in Tamil epics and poetry which talks about how Tamizh country got converted to Buddhism and Jainism in the manner mentioned in Sudharsans post primarily though coopting the king, black magic practices against Shaiva Saints like Sampandhar etc. Kamakshi temple in Kanch was converted to a Tantric Tara Devi temple by the Buddhist which was then reestablished by Adi Sankara

Have read similar stuff during school days about how Terevada buddhist from SL built a similar narrative against Vedic sects in Thailand.

I guess Buddhism had many denominations, co opted by Constantine equivalents in India who used the religion to spread the power.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 07:35

sudarshan wrote:The stories I heard from my Tamil teacher in school regarding Buddhism/ Jainism in TN are diametrically opposite to what you will find in Wikipedia or other sources online today. Let's leave it at that for now, if it gets to the point of starting a new thread on this topic, I will post more there about this.

In the meantime, have a look at the sweet and innocent Wiki entry on Sakkiya Nayanar. If one takes my Tamil teacher's account of this same story as the truth, it would mean that the Wiki entry is highly sanitized.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sakkiya_Nayanar

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 07:35

disha wrote:^I do not know what stories your Tamizh teacher said in school regarding Buddhism/Jainism. To state that there was 'conversion' between buddhists and hindus and jains and each treated other badly is basically buying into the western concept of religion and evangelism hook, line and *stinker*.

In effect neither Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist are 'religions'. Not in the western sense of God, his father an the holy ghost and the giver of books through his "messengers". That concept itself is flawed leading to all sorts of illogical twists and turns and much heart beard.

Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhists are 'philosophies'. If viewed from that angle, a Hindu is no different from a Jain or a Buddhist other than in following a ritual. One can easily listen to a Sikh 'Ek Omkar' and easily understand the sayings of Alwars and Nayanars. The fight if at all there is, is superficial.

Take the example of Dandi Adigal Nayanar, it superficially seems to be a fight between Jains claiming land along a temple and the blind nayanar planning to build a temple tank. Point is at a philosophical level who is blind? Who gains sight and who loses sight?

Hence to give into to this belief of "conversion" business between indic philosophies is to believe in the entire non-philosophical illogical western propagandu.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 07:42

Disha-ji, my post on that Tamil teacher stuff was incidental to the main point, and only made in response to Sridhar's post above. It is not of much importance.

Please see my bulleted list (reproduced again in the post below), which is more to the point. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Specifically, this list, collected from Hsuan Tsang's memoirs, explicitly mentions:

a. Conversions, with extreme pity/ contempt on the part of the Buddhists for the "heretic" Hindus (probably and most likely Hindus had similar pity/ contempt for the Buddhists, but since Hsuan Tsang's coverage of the Hindu side of affairs is minimal, we do not see this in his writings)

b. Extreme hostility on both sides (though no mention of violence)

c. Hsuan Tsang very much regards Buddhism and Hinduism as "religions" (i.e., as distinct in practice, with the Buddha being the ultimate truth, and Hindus denying this obvious truth), not as "spiritual practices which are somewhat different from each other"

What, then, is the point of quoting dogma and doctrine, and saying "the Buddha never sanctioned this or that?" Buddhism, from Hsuan Tsang's memoirs, was very much a personality-based religion in those times. Please read his writings for yourself. Again, regardless of any hostility or animosity back then, there need not be similar animosity now, and the current generation need not and should not be held accountable, so long as both sides are willing to move on.
Last edited by sudarshan on 11 Dec 2018 07:47, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 11 Dec 2018 07:47

    * Hsuan Tsang's book: he repeatedly refers to Hindus as "heretics" and "unbelievers" and pities their way of life
    * He talks about how the Buddha converted the Devas themselves, and how the Devas became subservient to him and accepted his superiority
    * He has many, many stories of how the "evil," "cunning," "jealous" Brahmins kept trying to wean people away from the "true path," only to be foiled every time
    * Many stories like this:

      * Brahmins tried to chop down a tree planted by the Buddha, but that tree kept coming back to life
      * Brahmins tried to murder a harlot woman and blame the Buddha, but were exposed
      * Brahmins tried to get a woman to declare that the Buddha got her pregnant, but Indra himself came down to show her lie
      * Jealous Brahmins tried to move a stone which had been set down by spirits who came to visit the Buddha, but no matter how many of them tried, they couldn't move that stone
      * There was a temple next to a Buddha vihara - when the sun was in the west, the vihara's shadow fell on the temple (devalaya), but when the sun was in the east, the temple's shadow bent to the north to avoid covering the vihara
      * This same temple - the priests lit lamps for their gods, but in the morning, those lamps were found in the vihara, so the priests set a night watch, and found that their own idols came to life in the night, took the lamps, circumambulated the vihara, and placed the lamps within, before disappearing - so the priests realized that the Buddha was the ultimate truth and all converted
      * Brahmins kept trying to debate the Buddhists, and miserably failed each time, losing more and more converts each time
      * Hinduism is repeatedly referred to as "Brahminism," as in - "there are two religions in India, Buddhism (the true path) and the heretic Brahminical path"
      * Many, many more stories like this

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby Supratik » 11 Dec 2018 22:04

What was the relative proportion of Hindus and Buddhists in the areas they visited? My enquiries suggest that Buddhism was destroyed by the invading Huno-Turks and finished by the Islamic invasions in the north-west. In mainland India most got absorbed into the Hindu fold but conversion to Islam cannot be ruled out. There were Buddhist communities extant in the region of Bdesh in substantial numbers which got absorbed by the invading Muslim armies.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 12 Dec 2018 06:02

Supratik wrote:What was the relative proportion of Hindus and Buddhists in the areas they visited? My enquiries suggest that Buddhism was destroyed by the invading Huno-Turks and finished by the Islamic invasions in the north-west. In mainland India most got absorbed into the Hindu fold but conversion to Islam cannot be ruled out. There were Buddhist communities extant in the region of Bdesh in substantial numbers which got absorbed by the invading Muslim armies.


Hsuan Tsang gives some numbers regarding number of sangharamas vs. devalayas, and some limited numbers about the number of priests (Buddhists) vs. heretics. It's hard to get a good estimate, but some relative estimate can be made. I've posted some examples below. From my understanding, it seems a li is a Chinese unit of distance, being roughly half a kilometer:

MO-LA-P'O (MALAVA).
This country is about 6000 li in circuit. The capital is some 30 li round. It is defended (or supported) by the Mahi river on the south and east.57 The soil is rich and fertile, and produces abundant harvests. Shrubs and trees are numerous and nourishing. Flowers and fruit are
met with in great quantities. The soil is suitable in an especial manner for winter wheat. They mostly eat biscuits and (or, made of) parched corn-flour. The disposition of the men is virtuous and docile, and they are in general of remarkable intelligence. Their language is elegant and clear, and their learning is wide and profound.

Two countries in India, on the borders, are remarkable for the great learning of the people, viz., Malava on the south-west, and Magadha on the north-east. In this they esteem virtue and respect politeness (humanity). They are of an intelligent mind and exceedingly studious ; nevertheless the men of this country are given to heretical belief as well as the true faith, and so live together.

There are about 100 sangharamas in which some 2000 priests dwell.58 They study the Little Vehicle, and belong to the Sammatiya school. There are 100 Deva temples of different kinds. The heretics are very numerous, but principally the Pasupatas (the cinder covering
heretics).


'O-CH'A-LI (ATALI) ,
67
This country is about 6000 li in circuit ; the capital of the country is about 20 li or so in circnit. The population is dense ; the quality of gems and precious substances stored up is very great ; the produce of the land is sufficient for all purposes, yet commerce is their principal
occupation. The soil is salt and sandy, the fruits and flowers are not plentiful. The country produces the hutsian tree. The leaves of this tree are like those of the Sz'chuen pepper (Shuh tsiau] ; it also produces the hiun-lu perfume tree, the leaf of which is like the thang-li.
68 The climate is warm, windy, and dusty. The disposition of the people is cold and indifferent. They esteem riches and despise virtue. Eespecting their letters, language, and the manners and figures of the people, these are much the same as in the country of Malava. The greater part of the people have no faith in the virtue of religious merit ; as to those who do believe, they worship principally the spirits of heaven, and their temples are some thousand in number, in which sectaries of different characters congregate.


K'IE-CH'A (KACHHA).70
This country is 3000 li or so in circuit, the capital about 20 li. The population is dense. The establishments wealthy. There is no king (great ruler) amongst them; the country is an appanage of Malava, and the climate, products of the soil, and manners of the people are very similar in both countries. There are some ten sanghdramas, with about 1000 priests, who study alike the Great and the Little Vehicle. There are also several tens of Deva temples with very many unbelievers (sectaries).


FA-LA-PI (VALABH!).
This country is 6000 li or so in circuit, the capital about 30. The character of the soil, the climate, and manners of the people are like those of the kingdom of Malava. The population is very dense ; the establishments rich. There are some hundred houses (families) or so, who possess a hundred lakhs. The rare and valuable products of distant regions are here stored in great quantities. There are some hundred sanghdrdmas, with about 6000 priests. Most of them study the Little Vehicle,72 according to the Sammatiya school. There are several hundred Deva temples with very many sectaries of different sorts.


SU-LA-CH'A (SuRASHTRA).
78
This country is 4000 li or so in circuit, the capital about 30 li. On the west the chief town borders on the Mahi river ; the population is dense, and the various establishments (families) are rich. The country is dependent on Valabhi. The soil is impregnated with salt; flowers and fruit are rare. Although the climate is equable, yet there is no cessation of tempests. The manners of the people are careless and indifferent ; their disposition light and frivolous. They do not love learning and are attached both to the true faith and also to heretical
doctrine. There are some fifty sanghdrdmas in this kingdom, with about 3000 priests ; they mostly belong to the Sthavira school of the Great Vehicle. There are a hundred or so Deva temples, occupied by sectaries of various sorts. As this country is on the western sea
route, the men all derive their livelihood from the sea and engage in commerce and exchange of commodities.


TJ-SHE-YEN-NA (UjJAYANl).
This country82 is about 6000 li in circuit ; the capital is some 30 li round. The produce and manners of the people are like those of the country of Surashtra. The population is dense and the establishments wealthy. There are several tens of convents, but they are mostly
in ruins ; some three or five are preserved. There are some 300 priests ; they study the doctrines both of the Great and the Little Vehicle. There are several tens of Deva temples, occupied by sectaries of various kinds. The king belongs to the Brahman caste. He is well versed
in heretical books, and believes not in the true law.


There are many passages like this throughout the book, and as you can see, it is difficult to estimate the actual numbers of Buddhists or Hindus. But you can get some idea that Buddhism was already waning and Hindus were becoming more numerous. The Huno-Turks or Islamists would have probably finished the process of finishing off Buddhism, the Hindus already had a good handle on it (though in a peaceful manner) by about 600 AD (no offense to anybody), from my reading.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby Yagnasri » 12 Dec 2018 10:48

Mango post alert:

As per the traditional Indian oral history, Buddha Dhamma was defeated by Poorva Memamsa Darshana followers i.e. Kumarila Bhatta. The first major commentary on Poorva Memamsa Suthras were written by Shabara Swamy who had to go and stay in forest for his personal safety and write his commentary. We also have a story of Kumarila Bhatta learning Buddha mata from Buddhas and later defeating them in Vaada. There is also a well known story of him being thrown from a mountain top and he losing an eye.

As per the Shankara Vijaya, which may not be a great historical text as such Adi Shankara done Vaada with Mandana Misra a direct student of Kumarila and defeated him. Adi Shankara is proponant of Uttara Mimamsa. Mandana later became one the main Sishya of Adi Shankara. Though Shankara Vijaya may not be acceptable historically accurate text, Aad Shakara's Vaada with Mandana and Mandana becoming sishya are now universally accepted events.

The Poorva Mimamsa mainly deals with Karma Kaada and a ritualistic Buddha Dhamma may not have been sufficiently equipped to take on Mimansakas. Further we find Buddhas required royal support as they are making huge number of people materially unproductive and also might have led to other perversions like Vajrayana.

We may have to study more about the interplay of Mimamsa - both purva and uttara - and Dhamma to know how they played against each other.

End of Mango post:

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby disha » 12 Dec 2018 11:40

sudarshan wrote:* Hsuan Tsang's book: he repeatedly refers to Hindus as "heretics" and "unbelievers" and pities their way of life


Sudarshan'ji

1. Do you know chinese and particularly classical chinese? Have you translated Huen Tsang's translations from Budha sutras to Chinese to English?

2. Have you translated Huen Tsang's own written travelogues from classical chinese to english?

If not, then I have to point out that all your observations are based on false premise. In fact you might even be propagating anti-Hindu communist ideology or evangelist viewpoint unknowingly!

What we know of Huen Tsang is from secondary sources. Here are the persons who brought Huen Tsang to the western world

Arthur Waley’s The Real Tripitaka, pp. 11–130 (1952)
René Grousset, Sur les traces du Bouddha (1929; In the Footsteps of the Buddha),

The later one is more of an historian and that too primarily of crusades and central asia.

Lately there has been other sources, some of them are:

Nancy Elizabeth Boulton (her 1982 PhD dissertation)
Latika Lahiri (co authored book with a chinese counterpart @1986)

Further, all of Huen Tsang's statements attributed to him never mention the original chinese texts from where it is translated.

So to tarnish entire set of indic philosophies because they do not purport to be identified as part of "hindu religion" based on some communist or missionary ideology interpretation is plain wrong.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby disha » 12 Dec 2018 13:17

Yagnasri wrote:Mango post alert:

As per the traditional Indian oral history, Buddha Dhamma was defeated by Poorva Memamsa Darshana followers


Here the 'defeat' is a very strong word. In ancient and middle India, there would be discourses and debates. And if you lose a debate you have to either accept the winner as your guru or leave the town and do more studies.

This is opposed to the medieval treatment in the gospel-land., one would be beheaded. There would be no debate. Just chop-chop.

Mimamsa to me means reflection, inquiry, examination, consideration & discussion leading to profound thought. This investigation can be applied to all spheres of life.

I do not think an adherent of Mimamsa will be 'violent' in any way and neither the followers of Buddha will be violent as well.

Hence we have to be careful on how the words is perceived. Instead of saying Buddha Dharma was 'defeated' by poorva memamsa darshana, one could say that the adherents of won over the layman from the buddhism by well argued philosophical debates.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby Masaru » 12 Dec 2018 13:33

sudarshan wrote:There used to be a thread of this name earlier. I can't find it now, so restarting it.

I'm currently reading the memoirs of Chinese travelers in India (Fa Hian, Hsuan Tsang, not yet got to Yi Zing). I expected, when reading these memoirs, to find that relations between Hindus and Buddhists were amicable in the India of those times. The memoirs told a different story. There seemed to have been a period of near-total Buddhist dominance up to the time when Fa Hian arrived in India. After that, Buddhist influence seems to have waned gradually, and by the time Hsuan Tsang arrived, Hinduism was back on the upswing. Hsuan Tsang came to India when Harshavardana was ruling from Kanyakubja (Kanauj). It seems Harshavardana was the last great emperor patron of Buddhism in India, and after his death, Buddhism went into terminal decline, and hasn't recovered to date.



Why the relationship between two primary ancient Indian philosophies needs to be judged based on the writings of the handful Chinese travelers, whose recordings have eventually been interpreted and translated by westerners. Can Indians not rely on their history and judge, validate what the relationships were 1500 years ago?

Were these Chinese travelers intellectually, linguistically and culturally equipped better than the native philosophers to understand what they saw in contemporary Indian society and correctly understand fine points of philosophy? How is the bias and mis-interpretation of the western translators of these Chinese texts is being discounted?

Wish Indians give up the fetish for external validation for their own civilizational ethos via the eyes of alien 3rd parties and sponsor/conduct research on local sources to create a true and authentic narrative.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 12 Dec 2018 18:00

disha wrote:
sudarshan wrote:* Hsuan Tsang's book: he repeatedly refers to Hindus as "heretics" and "unbelievers" and pities their way of life


Sudarshan'ji

1. Do you know chinese and particularly classical chinese? Have you translated Huen Tsang's translations from Budha sutras to Chinese to English?

2. Have you translated Huen Tsang's own written travelogues from classical chinese to english?



That is a valid point, and not one which escaped me. I'm very much aware that any translation or interpretation of oriental sources by westerners is suspect and to be approached with caution. Maybe I should have inserted this disclaimer at the top of this thread, but it never occurred to me, because I take it as self-evident that one should be cautious when reading any translation of anything from its original source, especially when the translator is of colonial European origin. Please credit me with a little intelligence of my own on this :).

If not, then I have to point out that all your observations are based on false premise.


Correction: all my observations *could be* based on false premise. The likelihood is rather high, but then there's always the counter possibility as well.

In fact you might even be propagating anti-Hindu communist ideology or evangelist viewpoint unknowingly!

What we know of Huen Tsang is from secondary sources. Here are the persons who brought Huen Tsang to the western world

Arthur Waley’s The Real Tripitaka, pp. 11–130 (1952)
René Grousset, Sur les traces du Bouddha (1929; In the Footsteps of the Buddha),

The later one is more of an historian and that too primarily of crusades and central asia.

Lately there has been other sources, some of them are:

Nancy Elizabeth Boulton (her 1982 PhD dissertation)
Latika Lahiri (co authored book with a chinese counterpart @1986)

Further, all of Huen Tsang's statements attributed to him never mention the original chinese texts from where it is translated.


What I'm currently reading is the translation of Hsuan Tsang by Samuel Beal. Not that it makes much difference, "Samuel Beal" is just another name. However, the original sources are very much mentioned:

Fa Hian: Translated from the original "Fo-kwo-ki"
Fa Hian's life history: Translated from the original "Ko-sang-chuen"
Hsuen Tsang's work: Translated from the original "Si-yu-ki" (travels to the Western World?)

So to tarnish entire set of indic philosophies because they do not purport to be identified as part of "hindu religion" based on some communist or missionary ideology interpretation is plain wrong.


Like I said, there's a definite possibility of misinterpretation. I did try and keep that in mind. As best as I could make out, the main text of the work seems to have been faithfully translated without bias by the European guy, and any biases have been inserted into the footnotes. Not knowing classical Chinese, this is unfortunately the best I can do, and is presented with that disclaimer.

If you have access to Indian works from the same time, please do present them, I'd much prefer to draw inferences from those. That is anyway the purpose of this thread. But I can raise the same concerns you did - viz. - are you proficient in classical Sanskrit or Pali/ Prakrit, or are you relying on translations?

Also to point out - when I say something sourced from my Tamil teacher (which could be considered as folk memories of long ago), you don't like that either!

Again, Hsuan Tsang is only one viewpoint, one which, after reading much of it (in translation of course), I'm reasonably convinced has been passed down faithfully (but I have my own fallibilities and gullibilities, so I could be much mistaken on this). Other view points are welcome, preferably Indian ones, so please do post them if you have them.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 12 Dec 2018 18:30

Couple of points:

* If the European translator had a lot of anti-India bias, one would expect to find liberal references to caste-discrimination and persecution in the text. I do not see that (this is not offered as proof of anything, only as a negative indicator).

* In many instances, the translator has presented the original Chinese word or phrase which was translated, and sometimes indicated conflicting interpretations. Names of places especially - for example, Po-lo-she-po-lo would be "Purushapura" (modern-day Peshawar). Please note that since Chinese doesn't have an "r" sound (which we make fun of even today), the "r" sounds in Sanskrit names would have been replaced with "l" sounds when the word was transcribed into Chinese.

* Likewise, the word for "Brahmin" is "Po-lo-men" (you can read it as Poromen). "Sudra" is "Su-to-lo" (can be read as Sutoro). So when the translated text refers to "Brahminism" in place of "Hinduism," I'm reasonably sure that the original Chinese text did refer to "Brahminism," and that this wasn't just inserted by the European translator.

Now more to the point: I have a Chinese colleague who is into reading old Chinese historical accounts. I believe he has also read Fa-Hian and Hsuan Tsang in the original Chinese (his family used to be strongly Buddhist). I could try presenting him with the English translation I'm reading (or a few choice excerpts from it), and ask him for his opinion on how faithfully the text has been translated from the original.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby Supratik » 12 Dec 2018 19:53

Thanks Sudarshan. It is clear from your quotes that Buddhism was thriving in the subcontinent in substantial numbers on the eve of the invasions. You should also find out what they say about the north-west as your quotes are from mainland India. From what I gathered Buddhism was widespread in the north-west, Afghanistan and central asia but in the north west/Afghn it was first destroyed by the Hunno-Turks who routinely demoilshed Buddhist places and killed monks which led to a general decline and was finally finished off by Islam. The invaders prior to these like Yavanas, Sakas, Kushans, etc were opposite as they promoted Buddhism heavily. Due to a decline in patronage and physical destruction Buddhism died in that part.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby Arima » 12 Dec 2018 20:01

sudarshan wrote:
krisna wrote:Wrt caste
Caste never a word in any Indian languages including Sanskrit for centuries
It is a portuguese word. Caste common in europe for centuries. It was based on birth right. A noble remains noble, a poor remains poor irrespective of wealth in europe.

Europeans came to India. They being christians could not understand the myriad customs and beliefs of Indians.
Named them caste etc for jaati varna etc. Made mish mash of it.

To better understand Indians, british did census to capture this element. Created caste based census. They legalised "caste by birth right". from 1880s onwards to by 1921, virtually every Indian has been mapped into caste identity which worsened post Independence.
They simply divided Indians into 1000s of castes which morphed x3 times post Independence for political reasons.


for the First time in centuries in India, some outsider legalised as birthright.

Previously we only had profession based varna on the work one did. Jaati is conglomerate of similar profession based families. this was very fluid and dynamic.


The new govt under JLN took lock stock barrel everything from british including caste census.
Unfortunately JLN and his advisors probably did not know the story of Hinduism. Believed the European nonsense and foisted on India esp Hindus.

------------
During census collection data by british, even muslims and christians got included. Hence they got caste just like Hindus. there were protests by all Indians but not much success.


---------------
Indians who were taken as slaves by british to their far flung territories do not have this caste problem.
Hindus living in other parts of world in those times were untouched by caste as seen in India.

-----------

Lot of research has been done which says the above.

Simple internet search for british census and caste system is a starter.



Indians who where taken out of India as laborers or workers had caste.
be it tamils in Malaysis or Burma. one thing missing was discrimination.
marriage used to happen between caste but based on caste of father kids get caste assigned.
dalit caste is mostly missing in overseas Indian taken by british.

we see caste even in sri lanka tamil population. but not like in TN where number of caste is in hundreds.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 12 Dec 2018 20:12

Arima wrote:Indians who where taken out of India as laborers or workers had caste.
be it tamils in Malaysis or Burma. one thing missing was discrimination.
marriage used to happen between caste but based on caste of father kids get caste assigned.
dalit caste is mostly missing in overseas Indian taken by british.

we see caste even in sri lanka tamil population. but not like in TN where number of caste is in hundreds.


That quote in your post was from Krisna, not from me. But I agree, even Bali (Indonesia) has caste.

Now here's what I say - let's consider some possibilities:

1. Fa Hian and Hsuan Tsang were unbiased, but the translator was not. GOOD! This means that even this biased translator was unable to find anything in Fa Hian's or Hsuan Tsang's writings, which could be interpreted in terms of "caste persecution" or "caste discrimination."

2. Fa Hian and Hsuan Tsang themselves were biased. GOOD! Even these biased visitors have reported ZILCH on "caste persecution" or "caste discrimination."

3. Fa Hian's and Hsuan Tsang's writings have reached us today without bias. GOOD! This means that there was a time in India's past, before 400 AD, when a massive fraction of the population (80% to 90%) were heavily into a personality-based cult (that the personality on which that cult was based, would not have approved of the cult, is immaterial). This massive fraction also ridiculed the original dharmic faith and referred to it as heresy. And this massive fraction was brought back to the dharmic fold, without violence, and without the benefit of any "saint" or "sage" figure, by about 600 AD to 700 AD (Adi Sankara came later). Fast forward to today, when a significant fraction (though not yet as high as 80%) of India's population are in the thrall of personality-based cults - studying the past will yield fascinating insight on how to counter this.

This is not so much about the PAST, as it is about the FUTURE, and there are many advantages to studying this part of India's past. Do posters here not see this?

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby Varoon Shekhar » 12 Dec 2018 20:45

Fa-Hien came into India anytime between 390-405 CE, the ruler at the time was Chandragupta Vikramaditya, a Hindu. That could not have escaped his attention. If Buddhists suffered any disabilities, the reigning king and his ministry would have implemented them, at the least excused them.

Nalanda University, with its strong Buddhist inclination, started its construction under Kumaragupta, a Hindu, sometime between 415-455.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby Varoon Shekhar » 12 Dec 2018 21:14

"This is not so much about the PAST, as it is about the FUTURE, and there are many advantages to studying this part of India's past. Do posters here not see this?"

If you are specifically referring to Hindu-Buddhist relations, there won't be a problem. Hindus have no issue in self-identification with Buddhism, and Buddhists in the present are not hostile, aggressive or openly contemptuous of Hindus and Hinduism. There will be mutual accommodation and tranquility. Sour or motivated individuals will bring up Brahmin this and Brahmin that, as an historical subject, but such moaning won't significantly affect the inter-communal harmony that will undoubtedly exist.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby Supratik » 12 Dec 2018 21:35

That there was considerable friction and competition between Sanatanis and Buddhists in the past is well documented from multlple sources. This extended to subcontinent influenced regions e.g. in south-east asia and Sri Lanka where Buddhism gradually replaced Hinduism except in Indo-Malay-Philipino regions. However, there was not much physical violence involved like other later faiths.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby Varoon Shekhar » 12 Dec 2018 21:40

^
Interesting- notice how critics and opponents, are only too willing to accuse Hindus and Hinduism of "absorbing"( if not eliminating) other independent religions like Buddhism and Jainism, and putatively of Sikhism! But what did Buddhism do in actuality in South-East Asia and Sri Lanka. Absorb or eliminate Hinduism! And the record of Islam and Christianity on the matter of wiping out other religions and modes of worship is absolutely atrocious.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby Supratik » 13 Dec 2018 23:15

Prior to the advent of Islam and Christianity people in the subcontinent did not have an Abrahamic concept of religion. Everything was different paths to Dharma. There is no word for conversion but initiation. There was considerable friction even between different sects of Sanatanis e.g. between Shaivas and Vaishnavas with patronage and temples changing between sects. The experience for these people of Islam must have been shocking. Buddhism lacking concepts of retributive physical violence got decimated when patrons, viharas and monks got decimated. In Hinduism you fight back and die to protect dharma. Hindus fought back and survived. However, Buddhism survived in SE Asia/SL and replaced Hinduism due to largely change of patronage except in the islands where it fell to Islam and later Christianity.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby disha » 13 Dec 2018 23:55

^It will be wrong to state that Buddhism did not fight back. Maybe it did not exist in a form that could fight back!

Any fight back happens only if there is a governance in place that actually fights back. If the kings & their kingdoms are shattered, if their finances & economies are shattered - then fightback never happens.

What caused the end of the Gupta reign? But before that what caused the wipeout of Buddhism in Gandhara region? What weakened those kingdoms? Post Harsha what happened in the N. India?

Post Gupta what happened? What happened to several dynasties that sprung upon the fall of Gupta and later demise of Harsha?

And here is why I hate any interpretation made by outsiders and re-interpreted by Indians:

Early scholars like Fleet had misread copperplate grant and considered Maitrakas as some foreign tribe defeated by Bhatarka. Bhagwanlal Indraji believed that Maitrakas were foreign tribe while Bhatarka, who defeated them, belonged to the indigenous dynasty. Later readings corrected that Bhatarka was himself Maitraka who had succeeded in many battles. The earlier scholars had suggested the name Maitraka is derived from Mithra, the Sun or solar deity, and their supposed connection to Mihira and their sun-worshiping inclination.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13]


PS: To me there is only one true knowledge and hindu, baudha, jaina, sikh are rooted in the same source philosophy and offering a path to salvation (attaining that one true knowledge). Thus acceptance of diverse philosophies and making sure that adherents of all Indic philosophies are cared for is thus natural. Just because I bow equally in gurudwara and give respect to guru granth and equally give respect to the teachings of nayanars or azhvars as being converted and seen from the prisms of 'conversion' and 'religion' is dogmatic and abhorent. 'Conversion' and 'Religion' are dogmatic traditions of the gospel religion. And yes, I have studied those books as well and can re-interprete very well to adherents of the gospel based religions as well (if they care to listen and if I still have a head on my shoulders after that).

On Emperor Harsha
Like many other ancient Indian rulers, Harsha was eclectic in his religious views and practices. His seals describe his ancestors as sun-worshippers, his elder brother as a Buddhist, and himself as a Shaivite. His land grant inscriptions describe him as Parama-maheshvara (supreme devotee of Shiva), and his play Nagananda is dedicated to Shiva's consort Gauri. His court poet Bana also describes him as a Shaivite.[19]


PPS: Although I have big umbrage with some of the divya prabhandams. I was told that one of the divya prabhandam says thus:

If you concern yourself only with food, we will not include you among our devotees


Well my only concern (and primary concern) then was food! Still is.

PPPS: I will respond only once to author of this thread. And that will be my last response on this thread.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby Supratik » 14 Dec 2018 00:35

Read what I said. Unlike Hinduism, Buddhism did not have an ideological institution to "physically" fight back. So when the institutions and patrons were eliminated it died. The Gupta empire collapsed due to weakening finances from constant warfare with the Huns over several generations. Unlike the Yavanas, Sakas, Kushan who were invaders but patronized Buddhism and became Indianized (many jatis today originate from them) the Huns regularly destroyed Buddhist places of worship and killed monks. This led to a decline in Buddhism in Afghn/NW India. The Huns came back again after 300 years but this time as Muslims under Mahmud Ghazni. Harsha had a smaller empire and it was brief. By the time Mahmud Ghazni came the Gurjara-Pratiharas, Rashtrakutas and Palas had weakened due to constant warfare. The Ghaznavid empire and Ghorids destroyed whatever was left of Buddhism in NWI and NI.

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby Muns » 14 Dec 2018 12:11

I hope the below video is relevant. For a long time I have stuggled with the genocide of Tamil Hindus by the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka. I simply could not reconcile the fact, about the teachings of Dhamma, Ahimsa and of Right action by the Buddha and then the violent videos that we had to watch on frontline regarding the Tamil Hindu Genocide as well as other news media of the time.

Watching and reading about the story of the Buddha, is nothing I feel but Vedanta teachings that the Buddha must have surely come across in his travels, around India. Knowledge of the Veda and Upanishads was readily taught at in the time. In any case what we study now under teachings of Shankaracharya have a great similarity to Buddhism I feel. In any case they all stem from the Upanishads is my thinking.

We recently released this video asking the same question to a Tibetan monk regarding the genocide by Buddhists in Sri Lanka to Tamil Hindus. I also had to call a spade a spade with regard to the genocide as well occurring in Myanmar, by Buddhist Monks leading political parties there.

The Tibetan monk, answer was quite diplomatic. Simply not Buddhism but human nature. I also tried to bring out other topics regarding the spread of Buddhism under Ashoka the great, for I feel it was really he who really spread Buddhism to far-flung areas of Bharat at that time.

In any case I would appreciate any feedback regarding the video below...

Tibetan Buddhist Monk Calls Sri Lanka, Myanmar Genocide 'pathetic'


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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby sudarshan » 15 Dec 2018 19:52

JE Menon wrote:It will be instructive, to begin with, to record precisely when the terms "Hinduism" & "Buddhism" came into the English/French/German languages. Just before the Europeans arrived, I don't think the non-Muslim Indians called themselves "Hindus" and "Buddhists". There was just Dharma, and its multiple branches, a strong one of which was the Dhamma (let's say). It was a set of beliefs, rituals and philosophical constructs that functioned within the overall Dharmic milieu - to the extent that it was allowed to by the absolutists of the time.


Bernier refers to India as Hindoustan (the French spelling). But he does not refer to the local population as "Hindus." Instead, he refers to them as "Gentiles" (commoners in French?) or "idolators" or even "heathens." This was back in the 1650's. It seems the term "Hindus" had not yet come into being to refer to Indians in the French language back then, although the term "Hindustan" was very much there.

I do not remember seeing the term "Buddhists" or any references to the Buddha in Bernier's work.

One interesting thing in Bernier's work is his account of how Dara Shikoh (Aurangazeb's eldest brother) was on the point of converting to Christianity, and how, if he'd become the Mughal emperor instead of Aurangazeb, India would have got her first Christian ruler right then. Apparently, just before he was murdered, Dara Shikoh kept murmuring "Mohammed has betrayed me, but the son of Miriam will save me."

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Re: Hindu-Buddhist Relations

Postby Muns » 22 Dec 2018 13:33

One interesting thing in Bernier's work is his account of how Dara Shikoh (Aurangazeb's eldest brother) was on the point of converting to Christianity, and how, if he'd become the Mughal emperor instead of Aurangazeb, India would have got her first Christian ruler right then. Apparently, just before he was murdered, Dara Shikoh kept murmuring "Mohammed has betrayed me, but the son of Miriam will save me.


Sudarshan, not to divert from the thread, but I had earlier written a article on this regarding Dara Shikoh and what he wrote called the Majma Ul Bahrain ; ie mingling of two oceans. Copies I believe are available online, for which you can readily delve into his mind of what he was thinking and what he really try to equate between Islam and Sanathan Dharm.

Unfortunately what I got out of it was he was really trying to hold the gold standard of the Quran and trying to do an equal equal of a patchwork of Indian sources to reach this gold standard in morality.

Not sure how much he would've really thought in his final movements,

Aurangzeb quickly convened a mock trial by some Ulema who deemed him Takfir (apostate) thereby sealing his fate.
Imprisoned, Dara was cooking his evening Dal with his young son, when four assassins sent by Aurangzeb fell upon them. Apparently he tried to fight with all he had, a small kitchen knife, before he was held down and quickly decapitated in front of his young son. His head was taken to Aurangzeb who exclaimed; ‘Ah wretched one! let this shocking sight no more offend my eyes, but take away the head, and let it be buried in Humayun’s tomb.’


Majma Ul Bahrain ; Mingling of two Oceans

https://www.india-aware.com/opinion/maj ... wo-oceans/


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