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Chủ nhật - 15/10/2017 13:49

There are a lot of controversies regarding the time and the cause of the decline of Buddhism in India. Some scholars perceive that it was just a result from old age or sheer exhaustion. Some others feel that it was the multiplicity of different causes that must have been in operation for a pretty long time. Some scholars have traced the decline of Buddhism from the seventh century AD. However, all agree that the collapse of Buddhism in India was about the end of C. 1200 AD.

Decline of Buddhism may be enumerated here such as:

1. Moral degeneration of the Sangha:

Almost scholars admit that one of the most important causes in responding for the decline of Buddhism in India was the moral decadence of Buddhists. Large number of monks neglected the moral precepts. The Buddhist monks killed animals, reared cattle and maintained wives and children. They will be without shame, without virtue, haughty, intoxicating themselves with alcoholic drinks. They even visited sex-workers, indulged in theft, robbery; some accumulated individual or community wealth. Monasteries started owning land, villages, pasturage and cattle etc.

2. Social failure of Buddhism:

Another factor placing an important role in the decline of Buddhism was its social failure or insufficient cultivation of the laity-community, or the remark of Nutt that “Buddhism never was a social movement.” Indeed, there is reason to believe that in the history of Buddhism in India, the Laity-community never quite acquires the state of a separate and distinct “Buddhist” community. Therefore, one the monastic communities disappeared from the surface of life, the lay-supporters also gradually became assimilated into the general “Hindu” community.

3. Assimilation of Buddhism into Hinduism:

The adaptability of Mahayana Buddhism led to its success and spread in foreign lands but at the same time changed its complexion beyond recognition in India. The Mahayanists laid emphasis on the image-worship, prayers and incantations, pompous ceremonies and rituals, incorporated many folk-beliefs…, and in doing so, they made a near and clear approach to Hinduism. This process ultimately led to the destruction of distinction between the two faiths. The acknowledgement of the Buddha as an incarnation of Visnu.

4. Animosity of Brāhmanism:

Some Brāhmanical kings didn’t favour Buddhism and under their reigns, Buddhist monks were persecuted, despised and even killed. Some monasteries were destroyed. The malevolence appears to be directed primarily at the monastic movement. However, some scholars say that the case of persecution was not very strong, and survival of Jainism at the same time as Buddhism, as well as Hinduism at a later time belies this hypothesis.

5. Muslim invasion:

No one can negate that Muslim invasion to India was the direct and major factor in the disappearance of Buddhism in India. It delivered the final blow to Buddhism about and after C.1200 AD by ruining the famous Buddhist Universities such as Nalanda, Vikramasila, and by killing mercilessly a large number of Buddhist Monks. Their holy books were also destroyed. Some managed to save themselves by running away to the interiors of the Himalayas, Nepal and Tibet. The Buddhist institutions were pillaged and torched by the invaders resulting in the disappearance of Buddhism.

Some scholars think that these attacks only worked as a coup-de grace. In fact, by the time the Islamic onslaught began, Buddhism had already become an endangered species.

6. Elite characteristic of Buddhism:

From the beginning, Buddhism appears to have been popular among royalty, businessmen and bureaucrats. It was primarily confined to urban centers, where only a small percentage of the population lived. Besides, Buddhism generally failed in establishing an organized group of lay devotees as socially different from the rest of the community. Distinction could be made only at the monastic level and once the monastic communities disappeared, the lay supporters gradually got absorbed into the general Brahmanical community.

In brief, the causes leading to the decline of Buddhism in India are a combination of both internal and external causes in which the internal factors perhaps is the deepest and the most important ones to bring out this remarkable event. Though, now, Buddhism has come back and recovered at the place of its birth, this must be a historical experience for the Buddhist all over the world to think about the maintenance and development Buddhism in the presence as well as the future.

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