In the glut of saffronised whim in writing over the issues of the Buddha and Buddhism some fanatic Brahmanical scholars of Indology have deliberately tried to mislead the lovers and admirers of Buddhism by assigning epithets of god and incarnation (Avatara). As a matter of fact this type of writing is an outburst of their wild sentiment which is not at all an alternative of truth or talent. It may create an aura of scholarship for a moment. But in reality such scholarship as noted above is an exercise in futility about the real identities of the Buddha, the Enlightened One and his masterpiece contributions to humanity. Rahula Sanskrityayana in his book entitled, D.arsana-Digdarsana (Hindi), has amply described this issue of Buddha as god and incarnation in negative manner and has refuted and condemned Sir Radhakrishan who forcibly has imposed ideas of soul, Supreme Being on concept of the Buddha for non-soul (anatma), anitya and samutpanna. The personality of the Buddha is glowing with non-violence, compassion and serenity. It does not appear armed with any weapon. On the contrary the Brahmanical heroes dignified in the row of the Avataras appear fully armed with weapons and other media of declaring war etc. for reforming the society of the Hindus adhering to the Vedic tradition i.e., Sanatana Dharma.
On the basis of the deep investigation it has transpired that a well calculated campaign has been started by the transpired Brahmanical scholars for portraying the Buddha as a god and the tenth incarnation of Vishnu with an ulterior motive. In the debris of the history of the Vedic orthodoxy, which cropped up after the Nirvana (demise) of the Buddha, arose a well-cooked scheme for demolishing the originality of the Buddha’s discovery of the Middle Path, Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path. This is the most malignant and callous effort of the fanatic Brahmanas in order to foil the rising image and credibility of Buddha and Buddhism on international level. By this time every learned man in true sense of the term has come to know the indelible impact of the Buddhistic renaissance on Indian society. After a gap of about three centuries from the time of the Buddha, Asoka the great Maurya had sacrificed the total assets of his vast Empire for reforming an ailing Indian society rotten by the Vedic tradition, through his missionary zeal in order to spread the message of peace and the universal brotherhood free from the blemishes of caste-ridden Indian society. In fact, a dubious social ideal was projected by the orthodox Indian Brahmans of the purpose of manifesting pseudo sovereignty of the blood-stained Vedic sacrificial tradition.
It is a well-established fact that an enhanced fact that an anti Buddhistic Vedic revivalism has been started with an enhanced vigour after Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedlkar’s crusade waged against a rigid Hindutva for the sake of arousing the morale of untouchables, Dalits had voluntarily accepted Buddhism in 1956 at the famous Diksha Bhumi of Nagpur . It was really the unique step of Babasaheb to encounter the anti-Buddhistic challenges of the Brahmanas. After more than 2500 years of the Buddha, his doctrine of The Middle Path by dint of his Patica Samuppada (theory of causation) had regenerated a new light of equality, liberty and fraternity. A wave of global ethics had swept over length and breadth of our country in particular and over the Buddhist countries of the world in general. The personality of the Buddha was of a mortal and humane nature. His doctrine popularly known as Buddhism appeared as anti-pode of the Brahmanical orthodoxy and saffronised Hindutva. It is this revolutionary force which stings the conscience of the vested Brahmanical interests and the saffronised ideologues. Consequently they have become restless before the new sunrise of a world view and as such they now intend to dislodge and destabilized the increasing and rising Buddhist community at the outset of this 21 st century when, in fact, the Buddhist countries of the world are on the way to coordination and union for building an international world order.
A few years back a book entitled, Hiduism and Buddhism Are The Same Aryan Religion (by Tek Nath Gautam, Translated by Ramsurat Tripathi, M.A., Lt. and Sushil Gautam, Shastri, M.A., published by Vishwa Hindu Maha Sangha, Rashtriya Nagar Samiti, Tribhuvan Nagar, Dang, Nepal; Pp. iv + 46) was published to publicize that Hinduism and Buddhism are the same religion. A detailed discussion of controversy in respect of Sankaracharya’s role in Nepal against the renaissant Buddhist com-unity has been presented in A History of Buddhism in Nepal : A.D. 704-1396 (pp. 63-75) and in this connection the notion of Buddhism has been falsified. This hypothesis is not correct in case of Buddhism, because it is not strictly a religion in the same sense in which that word is commonly understood, for it is not a system of faith and worship, owing any allegiance to supernatural god. Buddhism does not demand blind faith from its adherents. Hence mere belief is dethroned and for it is substituted Ã¢â‚¬Ëœconfidence based on knowledge’. It is possible for a Buddhist to entertain occasional doubts until he attains the first stage of sainthood (sotapatti) when all doubts about the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha are completely resolved, one becomes a genuine followers of the Buddha only after attainting this stage.
In the Dhammapada Buddha says:
By oneself alone is evil done;
By oneself alone is one defiled,
By oneself alone is evil avoided;
By oneself alone is one purified.
Purity and impurity depends upon himself.
No one can purify another. (V. 165)
There is an excellent interpretation of these issues in the Dhammapada (Hindi) edited by the late Bhikkhu Dharmarakshita of Sarnath. He has thoroughly demolished this notion of god and incarnation imposed on the Buddhist doctrine.
One the contrary, Hinduism according to the Brahmanical scholarship stands for complete self surrender before deities incarnated as gods and goddess. Krishna in the Gita has assumed a very boastful image and he has uttered before Arjuna to surrender completely under his shelter and he guaranteed that he would remove all designs of sins committed by Arjuna. By dint of nine methods of worship (Navadha Bhakti) a devotee does not make any effort to stand on his own knowledge and only the gods are supposed to salvage him. Antecedents of orthodox Indian Brahmanical legacy shows quite a revengeful and zealous campaign vomiting venoms against the Buddha and his glorious discovery of the unique knowledge. The Bhagvata Purana states that after coming of the Kali age the son of Ajna, known as the Buddha appears in the Kikata region ( Magadha ) Gaya as an incarnation of Vishnu to delude the Asura foes. Its commentary indicates that many demos have intruded into the Vedic tradition and as such it has been polluted by them. So it has become a task to purify it through escalating them from the Vedic tradition. In the later Vedic texts of the Brahmanical scholarship, Magadha has been dubbed as the region of the Kikatas who were demons eating flesh of the crows. In fact, Magadha has been the cradle of Buddhism where the Buddha had to undergo a brave pursuit of life struggle in order to attain the supreme Enlightenment at the historical works are replete with the myth and reality. One can witness very interesting account of the life struggle in the Suttanipata the Dhammapada and the Mahaparinibbansutta etc. the Buddha had come across through debates, discourses and questions-answer sessions held regularly with Brahamanas of his time around Magadha (Bihar) and Kosala (the region of the Uttar Pradesh).
Nowhere did the Buddha ever try to project himself as god and incarnated heroes for the sake of putting his views against any ideas or issues of social evils, against sacrificial and violent practices of the Vedic tradition of the priestocrat Brahmanas. Never did the Buddha take resort to miracles or false assurance of giving resurrection to others from time to time in crisis. The Buddha always moved as a mortal but as an Enlightened being for the sake of arousing the untouchables, Dalits and marginalized lots of our society spoiled and polluted by the caste and Varna system manufactured by the Brahmanas for their personal and sectarian welfare. The Buddha stood for the Bahujana hitaya and the Bahujana sukhaya (for the welfare of the many, for the good of the many). The Buddha constantly and continuously advocated the cause of the down trodden and exploited people of our society through illustrating examples of his life style enshrined in the Middle Path (Pancasila Dasasila, five and ten precepts). He encouraged the people to examine the ethical norms by dint of logic and experience. He turned to an extent of exhorting that even his own ideas should not be approved through blind beliefs and superstitions, they too deserve an examination by two touchstones noted above.
The Buddha said in Dhammapada:
“You must make the effort yourself,
the Tathagatas are only teachers”. (V. 276).
2300 Years ago, Asoka the Great Maurya Emperor, as his Edicts show, made unique programme of spreading renaissant doctrine of the Buddha. Rock Edict XIII of Asoka treats this issue elaborately and has indicated a long list of the countries of Asia where his missionaries carried the messages of Buddhism. Pillar Edict II defines the Dhamma without any reference to god or incarnation notions in the Buddha’s preachings. Asoka (Hindi) authored by the late Yogendra Mishra, is a comprehensive work to this point. He sent messages of peace and universal brotherhood to different regions of the world, west Asia , north Asia , Nepal , Myanmar and Sri Lanka . Historicity of the Buddha and Buddhism as international phenomenon has amply been discussed by the late Lala Hardayal in his research work entitled, Bodhisatva Doctrine in the Sanskrit Literature (a Ph.D. thesis published by Oxford University Press, London , as early as 1928). He has emphatically asserted that Theravada Buddhism in pre-Christian era influenced mode of thinking and life style of the people around the coastal regions of the Mediterranean Sea where the Greeks and Buddhist monks used to meet and discuss. Maurice Winternitz, in his book, A History of Indian Literature Vol. II (the Buddhist Literature and Jaina Literature) has amplified this issue of the world religion (Buddhism) and has discussed it in detail (pp. 402-433) and has concluded: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Nevertheless our views of the new Buddhist movement may be, we cannot but admire the vitality of Buddhism and of the works of Buddhist Literature, which have ever and again inspired the minds of thinkers poets of all nations, and still continue to do so. I hope, too that I have succeeded in showing in the above chapters that there is still much in the Buddhist literature which well merits being introduced into European literature and made the common property of universal literature. Thus unlike the Brahmants the Buddhists always believed in manhood free caste, creed and regionalism.
It was because of this global image and spirit of the Buddha and Buddhism centuries later the Brahmana scholars formulated rules through their scriptures prohibiting sea voyage and journey to foreign lands and vociferously declared and polluted ones. This step was a deliberate attempt to close the door to acceptance of Buddhism, of giving freedom of religion. Under these circumstances those who talk of worls as a global family’ (Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam) or process of united call and united march’ (samvadadhvam, samgacchadhyam) are mocking with propriety and reality. The famous legal text of the Manusmriti and the sacred text o f the Brahmasutra of Sankaracharya regulate that the Sudras have no soul and they have no right to read, recite and think over Vedic hymns. In case the Sudras would do so, molten lead and lac should be poured down their ears, if they try to listen to Vedic hymns, their tongues should be cut off and if they try to recite the hymns, iron dagger should be pierced into their bosom if they try to think or meditate over the Vedic tenets. In face of these illiberal and sectarian evocations, idealization of world brotherhood is a brazen and impudent act of mockery with the concepts of truth, justice and global ethics.
In no case the Brahmanical concepts of god and incarnation can be applicable to the Buddha’s spiritual and meditative ideals based on his personal experiments and Enlightment. Main motive of the advocates of Hindutva and saffronished ideologues behind the campaign of proving the Buddha as god or incarnation of Vishnu is to denigrate and denounce the originality of the Buddha. This is clear cut a conspiratorial gesture of the Brahmanical school of religious theocracy expressed in the Padmapurana, Vishnupurana and the Ramayana . The Ramayana boldly states that the Buddha is a thief and as such he should be punished for his atheistic or nihilist approach to the Vedic tradition. The Buddha, however, fearlessly and frankly admits in the Majjhimanikaya and in the Anguttaranikaya and gloriously declared before an orthodox Brahmana:
No, indeed, brahmana, a Deva am I not.
as a louts, fair and lovely,
by the water is not soiled,
by the worlds am I not soiled,
therefore, brahmana, am I Buddha.
In this way the Buddha decries to be an (Avatara) incarnation of Vishnu who is claimed to have born again and again in different periods to protect the righteous, to destroy the wicked for establishing the Dharma, which is actually an act of ruthless restoration of the rules of caste, creed and regionalism in the name of Varna system. On the contrary, the Buddha states that countless are the gods who are also a class of beings subject to birth and death, but there is no one supreme god who controls the destinies of human beings and who possesses a divine power to appear on the earth at different intervals employing a human form as a vehicle. He empathetically exhorts in the Dhammapada that one should depend upon his own self for his deliverance since both acts of defilement and purification depend on oneself. One cannot directly purify or defile another being. One should himself make an exertion. The Tathagatas are only teachers.
The Vedic ethics and religious norms do not permit the Kshatriyas or non-Brahmanas to preach or indulge in religious or philosophical discourse and so long as the Buddha hails from the non-Brahmanical clan, the Sakya clan he has been taken to task by the sacred scriptures of the Vedic school not to preach. But the Buddha did not care to pay any heed to it in the least, he took bid to assert over his discovery of the Middle Path he preached freedom of thought, freedom to refute any authority including his own. The Buddha has been considered to be an atheist for transgressing the established norms of the Vedic sacrificial culture. The well known Brahmanical thinker Kumarila Bhatta has ruthlessly criticized the Buddha and has mentioned that the ideals of non-violence, benevolence and restrains over the sense-organs are good but his anti-Vedic views deserve total rejection. Similarly Sankaracharya has dubbed the Buddha as a Vainasaka, the destroyer of the past tradition.
However, there is no place for god in the Dhamma preached by the Buddha. He supported the concept of rebirth but that also denies any place to soul or Atmaparamatma combination. He does not give any ascent to an idea of supernatural entity. The Buddha was cent-per-cent in favour of the dialectics of change. In a straight forward manner he admitted that he, in course of his life-struggle, took an aid to boat for crossing the river but did not carry it for ever as his property. In the Majjhimanikya , the Buddha states about his life-style based on Sila, Samadhi and Prajna and says- “this doctrine is profound, hard to see, difficult to understand, calm, sublime, subtle to be understood by the wise”. The famous biographer of the Buddha, Narada Mahathera mentions that the base of Buddhism is Sila or morality and beyond morality is wisdom or Prajna which is an apex. He states that to understand exceedingly high standard of morality, the Buddha expects from his followers a serious perusal to the Dhammapada, the Sigalavadasutta, Vyagghapajjasiutta, Manglasutta, Dhammika sutta etc. In the Visuddhimagga , the Buddha asserts:
no god, no brahma can found,
no matter of this wheel of lifel
just bare phenomena roll,
dependent on conditions all!
Winternitz has interpreted it very clearly, “the Nidanasamyutta (xiii), consists of 92 speeches and conversations, all of which, with endless repetitions, deal with the subject of the twelve Nidanas of the concatenation” of causes and effects (Paticcasamuppada). The Anamataggasamyutta (XV), contains twenty speeches, of which all begin with the words: “The beginning of this samsara, O monks, is entirely unknown (anamatagga)”, and explains this sentence by setting forth in ever varying comparisons and images the dreadful accumulation of suffering in the cycle of migration from innumerable ages of the world history.
“Early Buddhism has explained the origin of suffering or the discord of existence by the Paticcasamuppasa, i.e. the formula in which it is shown that all elements of the being originate only in mutual interdependence” there is no independent and permanent ego, but merely a succession of corporal and physical phenomena which change every moment. The Mahayana derives from the same formula the doctrine of Sunyata, i.e. the doctrine that “all (is) void (Sarvam Sunyam) meaning “devoid” of independent reality (Winternitz)”. Through this materialistic approach the Buddha throws light on the process of birth and death. He simply shows the cause of rebirth suffering with a view to helping men to get rid of the ills of life. He does not propound philosophy of any evolution of the world. He does not claim to solve the riddle of an absolute origin of life. He merely explains the simple happening of a state, dependent on its antecedent state.
In the Itivuttaka , the Buddha states, “Those who have destroyed delusion and have broken the dense darkness will wander no more. Causality values no more for them”Â. This scientific and serious view has been elaborated by Sariputta and Moggallana who were his contemporary chief disciplines. There followed a row of Buddhist scholars such as Mahakasyapa, Mahakatyayana, Asvaghosha, Nagarjuna, Asanga, Vasubadhu, Dhamakirti etc. Of all, Dhamakirti has exposed five traits of ignorance (Jadata) of the Vedic tradition. These five traits are uncritical reliance on the evidence or the credibility of the Vedic authority, creativity of god, obsessive desire of realizing Dharma by taking bath in the Ganga , a conceited pride in casteism and tortuous penance for eradicating sin. Contrary to this superstition an elaborate system of ethics of the Buddha is there which forbids taking of life, theft lying, abuse, slander, malice, covetousness, pride and a variety of forms of conduct and behaviour designed to make man morally whole. The Buddha inculcated the virtues of kindness, charity, goodwill and tolerance. In course of national movement in India in the wake of nationalism, Surendaranath Banerjee, instead of Vedic hymns and so-called the strong heritage of Hinduism (Brahmanism), declared the Buddhism could well be a means of realizing India’s political and spiritual rejuvenation. Romesh Chunder Dutt, in his Lays of Ancient India emphasized over moving inspiration emanated from Buddhism. There was a strong feeling among pro-Buddhist Hindus that Buddhism with its emphasis on self-reliance, endurance and sacrifice of property, personal assets could be a source of inscription to Indian nationalism. In the famous book, entitled the decline and fall of Hinduism, S.C. Mukherji, an eminent barrister, argued that with the decline of Buddhism the degeneration of Hindus had begun. He described the Buddhist period of Indian history as Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthe Golden Age’ and the periods following with exceptions only to Asoka were periods of comparative decadence. In this way in socio-political aspects of our national life Buddhism leads us to the path of compassion, unity, justice and to global ethics free from caste, creed and regionalism. It teaches us lessons of self confidence and self reliance.
REFERENCES FOR RELEVANT STUDY:
- Maurice Winternitz, A History of Indian Literature , Vol. II (Buddhist Literature and Jaina Literature), 1 st Ed. (English). Prague , 1933; Indian reprint ed. Oriental Books Reprint Corporation, New Delhi , 1977.
- Narada Maha Thera, The Buddha and his Teaching , Colombo , 1973.
- Ananda Wickremeratne, The Genesis of an Orientalist , Motilal Banarasidass, Delhi , 1984.
- Suttanipatta (Hindi), Ed. And Tr. By Bhikshu Dharmarakshita, Motilal Banarasidass, Delhi , 1988.
- The Suttanipatta , Ed. By P.V. Bapat (with an Introduction in English), 1 st Ed., Poona , 1924, 2 nd Reprint by Satguru Publications, Delhi , 1990.
- Rajendra Ram., A History of Buddhism in Nepal : A.D . 704-1396, Motilal Banarasidas, Delhi , 1978.
- Rahula Sankrityayana, Darsana Digdarsana (Hindi), Kitab Mahal, Allahabad , 1 st Ed. 1944. 2 nd Reprint, 1992.
- Rahula Sankrityayana Mahamanava Buddha (Hindi), Buddha Vihara, Lacknow, 1956.
- Mahaparinibbanasuttam (Hindi), Ed. and Tr. By Bhikshu Dharmarakshita, Gyan Mandal Ltd. Varanasi , 1958.
- Buddhacarita of Asvaghosha (Hindi), Tr. By S. Choudhary , Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi , 2000.
- Yogendra Mishra (Ed. & Tr.), i (Hindi), Granthmala Karyalaya, Patna , 1 st Ed. 1965.
- S K Biswas, Buddhism: The Religion of Mohenjodaro and Harappa Cities , Dalitbahujan Intellectual Forum of India , 1999 (Produced and Marketed by Orion Books, Delhi ).