Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Sanjay PS » Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:21 pm

Shaswata_Panja wrote:anyways If my posts came as confrontational or abrasive, I would like to apologize..there were some misrepresentations in my eyes which I wanted to correct!!

Aum!


What difference does it make if one belongs to this community or that community , this religion or that religion , this country or that country . Its always an inspiration to feel a noble hearted person irrespective of such ignorant brackets .

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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Shaswata_Panja » Thu Nov 14, 2013 5:21 pm

Sanjay PS wrote:What difference does it make if one belongs to this community or that community , this religion or that religion , this country or that country . Its always an inspiration to feel a noble hearted person irrespective of such ignorant brackets .

sanjay



The difference is if views that misrepresent India and Hinduism become the norm, it will hurt the long term interests of a huge amount of people.

People who criticize Hinduism also criticize the social,cultural milieu from which Buddha came up and that's also an affront against Buddhism

Do people really think that Buddha would have born in USA, Europe, Middle East or Israel?

India was always a spiritual powerhouse that gave birth to such giants and Buddha only continued that Parampara
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Nov 14, 2013 6:11 pm

Shaswata_Panja wrote:As a Hindu that too an OBC (Other Backward Caste), I have to call you out on this one...this seems to be thoroughly ignorant post....How come somebody's caste be a lifelong curse if he or she can go to the same school, write the same entrance examinations and go to the same college?

That is largely thanks to the efforts of Dr Ambedkar. It was not the case for his generation. He was unusually fortunate in getting a foreign education with the help of a wealthy benefactor.

The fact that you identify yourself by your caste is a clear sign that casteism is alive and well in India. Take a look at the marriage ads in any newspaper, and tell me if any of them still mention caste. If most do not, I might accept your statement that being from the scheduled or backward¹ castes makes no difference.

I am sure that things have improved a great deal in India since Colonial times, as they have in the UK in respect of racial discrimination (though it is still a significant problem).

¹ What does that mean in Indian society? In English "Backward" means "Retarded in intellectual development" or "Having made less than normal progress" — as in "an economically backward country."
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Shaswata_Panja » Thu Nov 14, 2013 6:29 pm

Wow so all of India's development in Universities down to Dr. Ambedkar? Thats quite a bit of stretch...Is it standard procedure of Buddhists and Christians to appropriate all the good things of India for themselves and heap all the bad on Hindus? I had to mention my caste else people would have been under the impression that may be Forward Caste Hindus are oppsing the views here.....Its just a holdover tradition those marriage proposal columns...Are you even an Indian? Do you know the ground realities of India? 60-70 percent of the marriage in India are Love Marriages which cut across caste, language, economic and even religious barriers....

and let me remind you the country you are so fond of, UK, did its utmost best to forment caste and religious tensions so that they could hold on to power and exploit the people...Where would India have been if it was not colonized?
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby SarathW » Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:35 pm

Hi Shaswata
You said:
I would say this doctrine of birth to a low status(well a euphemistically way of putting caste) because of previous karma is more harmful in terms of perpetuating the caste system than anything else..

What I think:
The problem is not the doctrine of Kamma.
The problem is majority Buddhist do not understand Kamma and how it operates.
The best book I read about Kamma see attached:
http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/kamma.htm#Contents

You said:
The modern University, technical college and urban and rural life situation in India makes caste system irrelevant..and given another 20-30 years it will disappear completely

My thoughts are:
Anyone who think that the thousands of year old cast system is irrelevant in 30 years is berry his/her head in sand!
Does Indian government take any positive action to educate its children and the general public against discrimination?
Is there a prominent leader like Gandhi in India who challenge against discrimination?
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby SarathW » Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:50 pm

Shaswata_Panja wrote:Wow so all of India's development in Universities down to Dr. Ambedkar? Thats quite a bit of stretch...Is it standard procedure of Buddhists and Christians to appropriate all the good things of India for themselves and heap all the bad on Hindus? I had to mention my caste else people would have been under the impression that may be Forward Caste Hindus are oppsing the views here.....Its just a holdover tradition those marriage proposal columns...Are you even an Indian? Do you know the ground realities of India? 60-70 percent of the marriage in India are Love Marriages which cut across caste, language, economic and even religious barriers....

and let me remind you the country you are so fond of, UK, did its utmost best to forment caste and religious tensions so that they could hold on to power and exploit the people...Where would India have been if it was not colonized?

You guys got independent 60 years ago.
You still could not get the house in order!
Blame yourself not some one else.
Look at Hong Kong for example.
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Shaswata_Panja » Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:19 am

Did I ever blame UK? Nopes never...But then 40 Billion dollars worth of gold was recovered from one non-descript Hindu temple a few years back..now that goes without saying how much would the Christians and Muslims would have looted given that there were thousands and thousands of such temples all over India...and comparing a 1.2 billion nation to a city that was a trading post used by Christians to make hundreds of millions of Buddhists and Taoists in China addicts is all too fair I guess...and things are on the right track..20-30 years from now Hindus and India will be one world power to reckon with..There was a Mars Mission last week..If the Christians and Muslims didnot meddle I suspect it would have been achived a few centuries back

and the Next Buddha will also be born in India to the Brahmnin caste---words of Buddhists not mine

So it goes without saying there is very little to be gained by denigrating the social milieu and the culture which Lord Buddha himself revered..granted with a few obvious exceptions
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Shaswata_Panja » Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:21 am

SarathW wrote:Hi Shaswata
You said:
I would say this doctrine of birth to a low status(well a euphemistically way of putting caste) because of previous karma is more harmful in terms of perpetuating the caste system than anything else..

What I think:
The problem is not the doctrine of Kamma.
The problem is majority Buddhist do not understand Kamma and how it operates.
The best book I read about Kamma see attached:
http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/kamma.htm#Contents

You said:
The modern University, technical college and urban and rural life situation in India makes caste system irrelevant..and given another 20-30 years it will disappear completely

My thoughts are:
Anyone who think that the thousands of year old cast system is irrelevant in 30 years is berry his/her head in sand!
Does Indian government take any positive action to educate its children and the general public against discrimination?
Is there a prominent leader like Gandhi in India who challenge against discrimination?



There are modules in equality in Moral Science classes...again I suspect a Non-Indian berating Indians?

and Hindu leaders and organizations are at the forefront in abolishing caste..they have got all the priest sangathans to agree on it..in many states so called Dalits have become temple priests..women are being given training to become temple priests
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Sanjay PS » Fri Nov 15, 2013 6:46 am

Shaswata_Panja wrote:Did I ever blame UK? Nopes never...But then 40 Billion dollars worth of gold was recovered from one non-descript Hindu temple a few years back..now that goes without saying how much would the Christians and Muslims would have looted given that there were thousands and thousands of such temples all over India...and comparing a 1.2 billion nation to a city that was a trading post used by Christians to make hundreds of millions of Buddhists and Taoists in China addicts is all too fair I guess...and things are on the right track..20-30 years from now Hindus and India will be one world power to reckon with..There was a Mars Mission last week..If the Christians and Muslims didnot meddle I suspect it would have been achived a few centuries back

and the Next Buddha will also be born in India to the Brahmnin caste---words of Buddhists not mine

So it goes without saying there is very little to be gained by denigrating the social milieu and the culture which Lord Buddha himself revered..granted with a few obvious exceptions



It does no good in glorifying a particular religion or a country , nor does it do any good in berating any religion or a country and its people . People who choose to be ignorant will continue to be ignorant , whether born in a particular country , caste or religion . People who opt to become wise , will put in right efforts to become wise , sooner or later , whether they be born anywhere .

It is for us to go beyond the belittling fomentation that the unwise cling to .

It was the priestly community of the Hindu settings during the Buddhas time , in seeing their popularity dwindling , incorporated the Buddha as a reincarnation of the Divine God Vishnu , which the Buddha outrightly rejected . Later in a further attempt to gain back the popularity of the priestly community , it was added that Vishnu in the form Buddha had actually come on the earthly plane , so as to draw away the asuras (demons ) who were found to be mastering the vedas , and would consume the divine world . Hence , anyone who followed the Buddhas teachings were asuras , in order to be drawn away from the teachings of Hinduism , thereby enabling to preserve its sanctity .

Therefore in Hinduism , the Buddha is revered owing to the reincarnation of Vishnu , but his teachings is shunned due to the above mentioned ploy that the priestly community doctored in the Hindu teachings .

Again , India and the world at large are extremely fortunate to have the Late Shree SN Goenkaji who brought back the pristine teachings of the Buddha to its country of origin , and not only did that , but also met the Shankracharayas ( Chief revered priests of the Hindu community ) ,and after a personal closed door meeting , the Shankaracharyas issued a public statement withdrawing the mention of the Buddha being a reincarnation of Vishnu . I had read of this milestone happening about a decade ago , but do not have its reference with me at this point of time . Nevertheless , this happened .

Irrespective of the above mentions , what is of paramount importance for each of us, is to always introspect , whether our attachments to conceit , belonging , jealousy , lust , agitation , hatred is abating or not . If its still the same or the progress is not meaningful , its always wise to continue working , rather than engaging in arguments and counter arguments .

Realize truth for oneself, and be done with it .

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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby himalayanspirit » Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:21 pm

As a Hindu that too an OBC (Other Backward Caste), I have to call you out on this one...


Why dont you still understand that you do not have to identify yourself with a caste (OBC)? Only then will the caste system end. The problem with Hindus is that they purport to speak against caste based discrimination but they are still okay with caste. As an Indian, I can say honestly that I have met many cosmopolitan Brahmins who are modernized and progressive than the OBCs who are most Hindu among all Hindus.

How come somebody's caste be a lifelong curse if he or she can go to the same school, write the same entrance examinations and go to the same college?


Just because the outsiders do not live in India and do not know how important caste plays a role in various facets of every day life, doesn't mean you can fool them by giving the above logic. Even the African-Americans can go to universities but does it mean that they do not feel discrimination in their life? And that is supposedly a developed society. In the third world society, caste is not easily forgotten. When a new Brahmin judge of Allahabad court took office a few years ago, he first conducted a purifying ritual to purify the environment because a Dalit was his predecessor. Caste is very important in Hindu society. It is an essential part of identity.

and really Buddha really rejected the caste system?


Buddha rejected discrimination based on one's birth based identity. He was basically against racism because during his time, caste system was more or less the same as racism. Brahmins, the Indo-Aryan people, looked much distinct from the rest of the people.

I feel caste system was relevant in a day and age when sons used to learn their trade skills from their father..may be they could enroll under the apprenticeship of someone else early in life if they really wanted another career but which father in his right ind would let his son learn another trade for several more years when he can support the family with the trade skills already learnt from his father?


This was indeed the case but only before the resurgence of Hinduism by the likes of Shankara and Kumaril Bhatta. So you dont have to take credit for it. You know what your (Brahmanism) position is on this, dont you?

2500 years ago Buddha was opposing the arrogance of Brahmin superiority.
1000 years ago the likes of Kabir were dealing with Brahmin arrogance and superiority complex.
50 years ago Dr. Ambedkar was fighting Brahmin caste system.

Nothing has changed in these many years, and you think caste system will disappear in the next few years? All through the course of Indian history, many things have changed, there have been many invasions and migrations (Hunas, Scythians, Mughals etc) and yet it could not affect the superiority complex of Brahmins, and you thinking globalization will pose it such a challenge to decimate it in the next few years?

If you proudly proclaim to be an OBC, you yourself are yet to shed the concept of caste, much less the remaining Indians.
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Shaswata_Panja » Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:34 pm

go through my posts..I never proudly proclaimed that I am an OBC...I said it because generally all the neo-Buddhist types may accuse that I am am some brahmin or pandit who his presenting the opposing views here


regarding Buddha and caste very little seems to be known by this commeunity..Why do Buddhists play up the word Shakyamuni so much? why the caste of all Buddhas have been specified?

by Koenraad Elst..I will tackle the question of Buddha and caste in detail

Was the Buddha a Hindu? Are Buddhists Hindus?




In a past article, we had argued that the Buddha lived and died as a Hindu and that Bauddha Dharma is nothing but one of the sects within Hinduism. Ambedkarite neo-Buddhists and Ambedkar-touting secularists are understandably furious when their ambitions for a separate identity or their schemes for pitting Hindus against Hindus are thwarted. So we received a number of questions meant as rhetorical and as exposing the hollowness of our claim. Six are from a certain S. Narayanaswamy Iyer, then three more by a Dr. Ranjeet Singh. We reproduce them and then answer them. First Mr. Iyer’s questions:


(1) Which of our four Vedams did Buddha follow in his teachings?


Throughout his text, Mr. Iyer presupposes one of the most common weapons which the enemies of Hinduism use: changing the definition of “Hinduism” to and fro, depending on their own best interest. Thus, the Christian mission lobby swears that “tribals are not Hindus”, except when tribals defend themselves against encroachment by Bengali Muslim settlers or take revenge on the Christians for having murdered Swami Lakshmananda and four of his assistants; then they are suddenly transformed into “Hindus”. Here, as long as convenient, “Hindu” is narrowed down to “Brahmanical”. The Vedic tradition, started among the Paurava tribe established in Haryana, was the most prestigious tradition, first to take the shape of a fixed corpus and learned by heart by a class of people set apart just for this purpose. Tribe after tribe adopted this tradition, all while maintaining its own identity and religious practices. Kings in Bengal and South India imported the Vedic tradition and gave land to settle Brahmin communities just to embellish their dynasties with this prestigious Vedic tradition. But other traditions existed alongside the Vedas, both among speakers of Indo-Aryan and among Dravidians and others. Many non-Vedic elements come to light in a corpus collected in the first millennium CE, the Puranas. Many more were incorporated by the later Bhakti (devotion) poets or have subsisted till today as part of oral culture. All these Pagan practices together, Vedic and non-Vedic, constitute “Hinduism”.



When the Muslim invaders brought the Persian geographical term “Hindu” into India a thousand years ago, they meant by it: an Indian Pagan. In Islamic theology, Christians and Jews count as a special category, and Parsis were often considered as Persian and not Indian Pagans. But all the other Indians were called “Hindus”. Whether tribals, Buddhists (“clean-shaven Brahmins”), atheists, polytheists, Brahmins, non-Brahmins, the Lingayats, even the not-yet-existing Sikhs or Arya Samajis or Ramakrishnaites,-- all of them were Hindus. It is now a mark of anti-Hindu polemicists that they manipulate the meaning of “Hinduism”, and interpret it more broadly or more narrowly as per their convenience. The first rule of logic is “a = a”, i.e. “a term retains the same meaning throughout the whole reasoning process”. So, against these manipulations, we will stick to one meaning for Hinduism, viz. the historically justified meaning of “all Indian Pagans”



The Buddha had, according to Buddhist scripture, received a Kshatriya upbringing. That means his outlook was formed by an at least passive initiation into the Vedas. Never in his long life did he repudiate this. On the contrary, he only developed ideas that were already present in the Vedic tradition. Thus, “liberation” was a goal that the Upanishadic thinkers had invented and that set them apart from practically all others religions (certainly from Christianity and Islam). Meditation or yoga as the technique to achieve this liberation was first mentioned in the Upanishads. Buddhist scripture mentions two meditation teachers with whom the Buddha studied. At most he invented a new meditation technique, Vipassana (now vulgarized as “Mindfulness”), but meditation was an existing tradition into which he was initiated by older masters, and to which he contributed his own addition, like others did. Reincarnation and karma are at the heart of Buddhism, and is the first thing which outsiders associate with Buddhism; but these concepts were introduced in the Upanishads. Even the repudiation of what the Vedas had become, particularly the repudiation of ritualism, is already found in the Upanishads. And so is the rejection of desire, the extolling of the value of compassion (daya), and the first options for celibate monkhood. When Buddha became a recluse, he followed a path that was already well established, and that is already mentioned in the Rg-Veda, though only in the third person (the Vedic poets themselves were elite figures and a different class from the renunciates). The Buddha rightly said that he had not invented anything new, that he was only treading an ancient path formerly trodden by the earlier Buddhas.



Hindu attitudes to the Vedas varied greatly. Some had never heard of them, some had heard the names but knew little of their contents, some thought they were interesting literature but not a guiding light for moral decisions or choosing a way of life, some adopted practices which they called Vedic though they were not, some paid lip-service to the Vedas, and some really practised Vedic rituals or learned the Vedas by heart. Within this continuum, the Buddha took his place, without this ever being a problem for the Brahmins. The only two attempts on his life were committed by a jealous pupil of his own, a leading Buddhist. Still, he died at an advanced age.




(2) Which of our 330 devathaas did Buddha worship?



The more usual number is 33, but modern tourists (and therefore also the secularists) have opted for 330 million. This number is based on a mistranslation of “33 big gods” as “33 crore (= ten million) gods”. Anyway, the number can vary, but yes, there are quite a few, let us settle for “a lot”. Like many elite characters and thinkers, the Buddha is reputed to be into other things than worship, as were many people in Vedic society. Sankhya was an atheist school, as was early Vaisheshika, and so were Jainism and the Charvaka school. The Mimansa school, orthodox par excellence, taught that Vedic rituals are effective alright, but the gods invoked during the ritual proceedings are mere cog-wheels in the magical mechanism set in motion by the priests. These gods have no reality in themselves and only exist in so far as they are invested with existence by the human beings who “feed” them. So, atheism was a recognized option among the Hindu elite, of which prince Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, was a prominent member.



All the same, he paid homage to the gods on some occasions. His breakthrough to liberation was followed by an intervention of the supreme gods Brahma and Indra, asking him to share his bliss and teach his way to liberation with others – the very start of Buddhism. Had the Buddha or even the later editors of the Pali Canon been as anti-Vedic as the present neo-Buddhists imagine, they could easily have censored this episode out. At the end of his life, during which he was regularly consulted on political matters because he was after all very at home in statecraft, he was asked by the authorities of a republic to formulate the qualities by which a state prevents decline. In reply, he listed the “seven principles of non-decline”, and among them is an abiding maintenance of ancient religious traditions, including rituals and pilgrimages. The ancient religious practices which he knew, were Vedic or at any rate Hindu ones. Buddhist monks later carried Vedic gods such as Indra, Brahma, Ganapati and Saraswati to foreign lands. Japanese temples are dedicated to Benzai-ten or Saraswati, some house the “twelve Adityas/Ten”. The Shingon sect of Buddhism has a quasi-Vedic ritual called “feeding the gods”, exactly the same conception as in the Vedas. Thai and Indonesian Buddhists have adopted the cult of Rama, whom the Buddha did not really worship but whom he venerated as a great scion of the Aikshvaku lineage to which he himself belonged, and of whom he claimed to be a reincarnation. Neo-Buddhists object to the long-established Puranic teaching that both Rama and the Buddha are incarnations of Vishnu, but the germ of this teaching was planted by the Buddha himself when he claimed that Rama and he were the same person.






(3) Which of our samskaarams did Buddha tell his followers to observe and perform?



Samskaarams (life rituals) are meant for people living in society, as the Vedic poets did. Renunciates are living outside society, often they perform their own funeral upon “leaving the world”, and after that the samskaarams no longer apply to them. The Buddha founded a monastic order, an organized form of renunciation. He did not found a separate non-Hindu religion (the way the first Christians did), for his lay followers were part of Hindu society. Mostly we are informed of their caste provenance, their families, their marriage situations. Whatever customs or rituals applied in their respective Hindu communities applied to them as well. Jains developed a separate lay community, but even these lay Jains are part of Hindu society. They observe caste, often intermarrying with non-Jains belonging to the same caste but not with Jains belonging to another caste. In Buddhism, even this much separateness did not exist. Buddhism was nothing but a monastic community within Hindu society. So the Buddhist order did not observe Hindu lay society’s life ritual, just as many non-Buddhist renunciates didn’t.



(4) Which of our varnaashrama rules, duties and practices did Buddha teach his followers, and which of those do they perform today?



Caste is a part of lay society, not applicable to renunciates. Their names revealing their caste provenance are replaced by monastic names. The questioner also betrays his short-sighted assumptions by projecting the caste relations of recent Hindu society on that of the Buddha’s time. Social order was in flux at the time, with the Buddha e.g. defending caste as defined by the paternal line regardless of the mother’s caste against king Prasenadi disowning his wife and son when he finds out his wife (and therefore, he assumes, his son) isn’t a true Kshatriya. Clearly, both conceptions of caste, viz. in the paternal line vs. full endogamy, were competing at the time, with the Buddha taking the then more conservative position, while later the principle of full caste endogamy (only marriage within one’s own caste) was to prevail. Mind you, the Buddha didn’t use this excellent opportunity of a king’s question on caste matters to fulminate against caste. If he was an anti-caste revolutionary, as Dr. B.R. Ambedkar imagined, he would have seized this opportunity to condemn caste itself, but he didn’t.



Caste was in existence but considerably more relaxed than in later centuries. For this reason, the Buddha’s attitude was more relaxed too, unlike the obsession with caste among the neo-Buddhists. Moreover, he had chosen not to rock the boat in a society that tolerated and maintained his monastic order. In every country where Buddhism found a place, it accepted whatever social arrangement prevailed. In Thailand, it didn’t abolish hereditary monarchy though this is a casteist phenomenon par excellence. In China it didn’t abolish the centralized-bureaucratic empire. On the contrary, when the Buddhist White Lotus sect drove out the Mongol dynasty, its leader, who had started out as a Buddhist monk and was deemed the Maitreya Buddha, established a new imperial dynasty, the Ming, replacing the Mongol ruling class by a Chinese ruling class but leaving the exploitative system in place. In Japan, it didn’t abolish militaristic feudalism; instead, its Zen school became the favourite religion of the Samurai warrior class. So, in India too, it fully accepted the arrangement in place, recruited mainly among the upper castes (most Buddhist philosophers were born Brahmins), and concentrated on its spiritual mission. Buddhism as an anti-caste movement is just a figment of the secularist imagination.



(5) Which Hindu priests initiated Buddha into sannyaasam?

Any lineage is founded by someone who takes the jump. Later on, it is continued by followers who go through an initiation ceremony; and when succeeding their guru, they go through an investiture ceremony. But the founder just has his moment of enlightenment. Asking about the founder’s initiation is the mediocre mind’s imposing his humdrum norms onto a genius. Thus, Ramana Maharshi was unprepared when suddenly, the insight overcame him; he didn’t receive it from a teacher. Even so, when Siddhartha Gautama went to the forest, he did become a pupil of at least two meditation masters. Probably they put him through some kind of initiation, though we don’t have the details on it.



The questioner means “Vedic” whenever he says “Hindu”, and projects everything we now know as Hindu (decried by the Arya Samaj as “Puranic”) onto the Vedic age. The institutionalization of Sannyaasa (renunciation) took on a shape recognizable till today with Shankara in ca. 800 CE. In the Vedic age itself, the current formalities of Sannyaasa did not exist. When Yajnavalkya retired to the forest (the occasion on which he pronounced his famous exposition of the Self to his wife Maitreyi), he did not have to take anyone’s permission. Valmiki of Ramayana fame set up his own hermitage, as did seer Vasishtha and his wife Arundhati. So he starts imposing current Hindu norms on the Buddha twenty-five centuries ago. This just illustrates the over-all unhistorical character of the neo-Buddhist rhetoric.





(6) When and where did the initiation take place?



As a youngster, the Buddha must have gone through the thread ceremony making him a full Kshatriya. This was unlike most modern Kshatriyas, who leave it only to the Brahmins to don the thread. Then, he went through the marriage ritual, at least according to the Pali Canon. Some scholars doubt that he had a wife and son and think that later scholars have merely turned a particular nun and a particular monk into his mother and son. Be that as it may, Buddhist scripture makes no effort at all to deny that he had gone through whichever appropriate Hindu rituals were part of the life of anyone belonging to his class and age group.



Later, when he became a renunciate, we are vaguely told that first he searched alone, then he had some companions (though we don’t have all the details about their relations), then he had two successive teachers. To be a renunciate at that time, he did not have to go through specific rituals, but he may have. Then, after he reached his awakening, he became the topmost man in his universe and didn’t recognize any living human being above him and empowered to put him through further ceremonies. His pupils became monks through a ceremony (dharmam saranam gacchami, “I take refuge in the dharma”), just as every other Hindu sect has its own procedure for allowing new members in. The relation of his pupils to him was the same as that of other renunciates to their guru. The institution of guru-dom was, again, exported by Buddhism as far as Japan.




Then we consider Dr. Singh’s additional questions:



1) Which were the rules, duties and practices he himself followed at that particular time, had followed and used to follow before in the youth and pre-Buddhahood mendicant life?

As the Pali Canon explains, he was the son of the President-for-life of the Shakya tribe, a Kshatriya by birth and upbringing. After he became a renunciate, he practiced asceticism and several meditation techniques of which names are given, though we cannot be sure which techniques are meant by these names. At any rate, they are the same names and probably refer to the same techniques which are incorporated in the Buddhist training scheme before the meditation technique that brought the Buddha his awakening.



2) Was his marriage with Yashodhara, his first cousin, in accord with the Vedic rules: as per Shaastra injunctions?

Writing only came to India after Alexander, i.e. well after the Buddha. Though the Shaastras contain older material, they were at any rate written centuries later than the Buddha. In the age of the Vedic seers, they were totally non-existent. So, unless Dr. Singh insists that the Vedic seers were un-Hindu, it is not a defining trait of a “Hindu” to follow the Shaastras. Like most anti-Hindu polemicists (and, alas, quite a few pro ones too), he displays a most unhistorical conception of what “Hinduism” means, projecting recent notions onto ancient history.

What this question alludes to, is the difference in marriage customs between the Shakya tribe and the Brahmanical injunctions. The Brahmins practise, and their Shaastras prescribe, rules of “forbidden degrees of consanguinity”. By contrast, certain other peoples, such as the ancient Dravidians or the contemporaneous Muslims, practice cousin marriage. In this case, we find that the Shakya tribe practiced cousin marriage. The Buddha’s father and mother had been cousins, and his own reported union was also between cousins. The Shakyas were apparently aware that within the ambient society, they stood out with this custom, for they justified it with the story that they had very pure blood, being descendants of patriarch Manu Vaivasvata’s repudiated elder children, who had arrived at sage Kapila’s hermitage in the forest and built a town there, Kapilavastu (where the Buddha grew up). So, to keep Manu’s blood pure, the Shakyas had to marry someone with the same blood.

Some scholars say this is just a story made up to convince their neighbours. The true account, according to them, is that the Shakyas were originally an Iranian tribe that had moved along with the great migration eastwards, from the Saraswati plain into the Ganga plain. The prevalence of cousin marriages was one of the main differences between Iranians and Indians. That contemporaries describe the Buddha as tall and light-skinned seems to conform to the Iranian identity. Nowadays also, after twelve centuries in India, Parsis are still physically distinct. Well, be that as it may, the custom of cousin marriage was at any rate in existence among the Shakyas, whatever its provenance.

What we have here, is a typical case of Brahmanical norms being overruled by caste autonomy, another defining feature of Hindu society. For comparison, consider two rather dramatic examples. Widow self-immolation (sati) is forbidden in Brahmanical writings since the Rg-Veda, where a woman lying down on her husband’s funeral pyre is told to rise, to leave this man behind and re-join the living; yet the custom flourished among the Kshatriyas, particularly the Rajputs. Brahmins could lay down norms all they wanted, and ambitious lower castes might well imitate these Brahmin norms; but if a caste decided to defy these norms, there was little that could be done about it. For another example: abortion is scripturally condemned as one of the worst sins. Yet, some castes, such as notoriously the Jats, could kill their unwanted children before or even after birth. If today’s India has a problem with the balance between the sexes because so many girl children are being aborted, this is very much against the Shaastras (though secular feminists addressing ignorant Western audiences will still blame “Hinduism”). But caste autonomy means that the caste Panchayat (council) and not the Shaastric law is the ultimate arbiter. So, if the Shakyas insisted on maintaining their own non-Brahmanical marriage customs, Hindu society allowed them to do so.


3) How; on what authority and provision of the scriptures, Hindu Shaastras, had he entered the fourth aashrama and entered sanyaasam, a born prince as he was? Was it dharma for him, a born prince? Was it in accord with and as per the teachings and provisions of the scriptures and enjoined for princes, members of the Kshatriya varna? Is it and has it been so prescribed and postulated? If yes; could we know how and where? On what scriptural grounds: what pramaanas, words and provision of the scriptures?

Here again, we have a lot of projection of later Hindu scripture onto Hindu society during the Buddha’s life. First off, the notion of a “fourth aashrama” is – and here I break ranks with most Hindus and most Indologists – a confused compromise notion. The Vedic system very sensibly distinguished three stages of life: before, during and after setting up one’s own family, i.e. Brahmacharya/student, Grhastha/householder and Vanaprastha/forest-dweller. The first stage is devoted to learning, the second to founding and administering your family (until your daughters are married off and you first grandson born), the third is devoted to renunciation. This renunciation could take different forms and have differently conceived goals, but at least since Yajnavalkya, it was understood as looking for the Self, working on your liberation. This is not split into two, Sannyaasa is not more renounced than the Vanaprastha stage. It is only when ascetic sects introduced renunciation not as a sequel but as an alternative to family life, that Brahmins fulfilled their typical function of integrating new things by extending the aashrama scheme to include Sannyaasa. So, what Buddha entered was not a “fourth stage” (he was still in the second stage and had never even entered the third stage), but an alternative to the second stage (family life), viz. renunciation as a full-time identity and lifelong profession. Just as Shankara was to do, and as Hindu monks mostly still do. Being pluralistic, Hindu society recognizes different forms of renunciation, both after family life and instead of family life..

As a Kshatriya, it was not considered the Buddha’s dharma to renounce the world. His father hoped his son would succeed him to the throne and made every effort to keep him from renouncing the world (including his caste vocation). Similarly, Shankara’s mother tried to dissuade and prevent her son from becoming an early renunciate, as he was her only hope of her having grandchildren. Hindu society recognizes the option of monkhood as an alternative to family life, but this doesn’t mean that individual Hindu lives and schemes cannot be adversely affected by this option. Both Siddhartha and Shankara disappointed their families and renounced their caste dharma to become monks.



Conclusion

Neither of the questioners has been able to pinpoint a moment in the Buddha’s life or preaching when he made a break with Hinduism. He inherited most of his ideas from the ambient Hindu tradition, and stands out mostly by the institution he founded, the Buddhist monastic order. His meditation technique may be his own, though with a canon written two centuries after his death and by scribes who were less than impartisan, we don’t really know what happened. His intellectual system mostly systematized ideas which were in the air and had already found mention in the Upanishads. Among his monks, Brahmin philosophers gradually refined and perfected his philosophy, ascribing most of their new ideas to the master himself.

When Dr. B.R. Ambedkar “converted” to Buddhism in 1956, he made his co-“converting” followers promise that they would renounce Hinduism and specific Hindu practices. It was the first time in the history of Buddhism that this happened. The Buddha had never renounced, or made his novices renounce, any religion they formerly practiced – in fact, the notion of “a religion” (as opposed to “religion”, a very approximate translation of “dharma”) hardly even existed. Ambedkar’s involved the typically Christian notion of conversion as “burning what you have worshipped, worshipping what you have burned”. The box-type notion of religious belonging, with rejecting one identity in order to be able to accept another, is fundamentally un-Hindu. In other countries too, entering Buddhism did not entail any formal renunciation of Daoism, Shinto or any other tradition. So, when Ambedkar and his hundreds of thousands of followers (mostly caste-fellows from his own ex-Untouchable Mahar caste) “converted” to Buddhism, most Hindus saw this as just an entry into a particular Hindu sect. As V.D. Savarkar commented, Ambedkar “conversion” was a sure jump into the Hindu fold.

Buddhism was classed as a separate religion from Hinduism because travelers and then scholars had first become aware of it outside India. When separated from its Hindu roots, it did take on a life of its own. Yet in India, it was not more than one of the many Hindu sects, although numerically the most successful one.

Finally, the Buddhist separatist polemic is fundamentally unhistorical in projecting contemporary Hindu traits onto ancient Hindu society. Unfortunately, this also counts for much Hindu activist polemic. Shaastric norms are absolutized, when in fact they were changing throughout history. And most importantly, devotional theistic forms of Hinduism, now long predominant, are projected onto ancient Hinduism which had several distinct conceptions of the divine, including atheism. It is common for Hindus to lambast non-Hindus as “atheists”, as if there were no atheist Hindus. The category “atheists” would naturally include Buddhists, who can therefrom deduce a separate non-Hindu identity. This way, narrow-minded Hindus themselves reinforce the unhistorical neo-Buddhist separatism.
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Shaswata_Panja » Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:35 pm

The Buddha and Caste by Koenraad Elst

The Buddha and Caste

Indians and Westerners who know Buddhism through Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar and other modern pamphlet literature, sometimes believe that the Buddha started a movement of social reform, mobilizing against caste and recruiting among low-caste people. As against this, Chinese and Japanese Buddhists who have studied their religion only through its source texts, think that Buddhism was an elite movement, recruiting among the upper castes and patronized by kings and magnates. We will argue that these believers are right, while the neo-Buddhists in India and outside enthusiasts in the West are wrong.

A good place to start is the Buddha's use of the term Ārya. Buddhists claim that when the Buddha lived and taught, the term Ārya had a general psychological-ethical meaning “noble”, a character trait larger than and not dependent on any specific cultural or religious tradition or social class (let alone linguistic or racial group). It is used in the famous Buddhist expressions, the “four noble truths” (catvāri-ārya-satyāni) and the “noble eightfold path” (ārya-astāngika-mārga). However, we must look at the historical data without assuming modern and sectarian preferences.

Firstly, we must take into account the possibility that the Buddha too used the term Ārya in the implied sense of “Vedic”, broadly conceived. It no longer meant “Paurava”, the ethnic horizon of the Veda-composing tribes (whereas in Anatolian and Iranian it would retain this ethnic meaning, “fellow citizens” against “foreigners”, “us” against “them”), but in the post-Buddha Manu Smrti and in general Hindu usage, it would retain the association with the Vedic tradition, hence the meaning “civilized” in the sense of “observing Vedic norms and customs”. The Buddha too may have conceived of his personal practice as restored-Vedic and more Vedic than the “decadent” formalism around him. “Back to the roots” is of all ages, and it may have affected the Buddha as well. What speaks in favour of this thesis is that the Buddha himself, far from being a revolutionary, appealed to the “ancient way” which he himself trod, and which “the Buddhas of the past” had also trodden.

After Vedic tradition got carried away into what he deemed non-essentials, he intended to restore what he conceived as the original Vedic spirit. After all, the anti-Vedicism and anti-Brahmanism now routinely attributed to him, are largely in the eye of the modern beholder. Though later Brahmin-born Buddhist thinkers polemicized against Brahmin institutions and the idolizing of the Veda, the Buddha himself didn’t mind attributing to the Vedic gods Indra and Brahma his recognition as the Buddha and his mission to teach. His disciples took the worship of the Vedic gods as far as Japan.

As Luis Gómez [1999: “Noble lineage and august demeanour. Religious and social meanings of Aryan virtue”, in Bronkhorst & Deshpande: Aryan and Non-Aryan in South Asia, Harvard, p.132-133] points out, the Buddhist usage of Ārya is subject to “ambiguities”, e.g. in the Mahāvibhāsā: “The Buddha said, ‘What the noble ones say is the truth, what the other say is not true. And why is this? The noble ones […] understand things as they are, the common folk do not understand. […] Furthermore, they are called noble truths because they are possessed by those who own the wealth and assets of the noble ones. Furthermore, they are called noble truths because they are possessed by those who are conceived in the womb of a noble person.’”

At the end of his life, the Buddha unwittingly got involved in a political intrigue when Varsakāra, a minister of the Magadha kingdom, asked him for the secret of the strength of the republican states. Among the seven unfailing factors of strength of a society, he included “sticking to ancient laws and traditions” and “maintaining sacred sites and honouring ancient rituals”. [Dīgha Nikāya 2:73] So, contrary to his modern image as a “revolutionary”, the Buddha’s view of the good society was close to Confucian and indeed Brahmanical conservatism. Far from denouncing “empty ritual”, he praised it as a factor of social harmony and strength. He wanted people to maintain the ancestral worship of the Vedic gods, go to the Vedic sites of pilgrimage and celebrate the Vedic festivals. In this light, his understanding of Ārya may have been closer to the Brahminical interpretation of the term as “Vedic” than nowadays usually assumed.

This even applies to the Buddha’s view of caste. Of most of the hundreds of men recruited to the Buddha’s monastic order, we know the provenance, hence the caste. More than 80% of the hundreds of men he recruited, were from the upper castes. More than 40% were Brahmins. The Buddha himself was a Ksatriya, son of the President-for-life of the proud Sākya tribe, and member of its senate. His lay patrons, who had their personnel or their feudal subordinates build monasteries for the Buddha, included most of the kings and magnates of the nether Ganga region. Indeed, this patronage is the main reason why Buddhism succeeded in becoming a world religion where most other contemporaneous sects dwindled and disappeared.

The successor-Buddha prophesied for the future, the Maitreya, is to be born in a Brahman family, according to the Buddha himself. When the Buddha died, his ashes were divided and sent to eight cities, where the elites had staked their claims purely in caste terms: “He was a Kshatriya and we are Kshatriyas, so we are entitled to his ashes.” Clearly, his disciples, after undergoing his teachings for forty-five years, were not in the least hesitant to display their caste in a Buddhist context par excellence.

In his study of caste and the Buddha (“Buddhism, an atheistic and anti-caste religion? Modern ideology and historical reality of the ancient Indian Bauddha Dharma”, Journal of Religious Culture, no.50 (2001)), the German Indologist Edmund Weber quotes the biographical source-text Lalitavistara and concludes: “The standpoint which caste a Buddha should belong to has not been revised in Buddhism up to the present day. It is dogmatised in the Lalitavistara in the following way: a Bodhisattva can by no means come from a lower or even mixed caste: ‘After all Bodhisattvas were not born in despised lineage, among pariahs, in families of pipe or cart makers, or mixed castes.’ Instead, in perfect harmony with the Great Sermon, it was said that: ‘The Bodhisattvas appear only in two kinds of lineage, the one of the brahmanas and of the warriors (kshatriya).’”

A word returning frequently in Buddhist texts is “nobly-born”. Buddhists were proud to say this of their Guru, whose noble birth from the direct descendants of Manu Vaivasvata was an endless object of praise. Birth was very important to the Buddha, which is why his disciples wrote a lot of hagiographical fantasy around his own birth, with miracles attending his birth from a queen. The Buddha himself said it many times, e.g. of the girls who should not be molested: they should be those of noble birth, as distinct from the base-born women who in the Buddha’s estimation were not equally delicate.

The Buddha also didn’t believe in gender equality. For long he refused to recruit women into his monastic order, saying that nuns would shorten its life-span by five hundred years. At long last he relented when his mother was widowed and other relatives, nobly-born Kshatriyas like the Buddha himself, insisted. Nepotism wasn’t alien to him either. But he made this institution of female monastics conditional upon the acceptance that even the most seasoned nun was subordinate to even the dullest and most junior monk. Some Theravada countries have even re-abolished the women’s monastic order, and it is only under Western feminist influence that Thailand is gradually reaccepting nuns.

The Buddha’s ascent to Awakening was predetermined by physical marks he was born with, according to his disciples. Buddhist scripture makes much of the Buddha’s noble birth in the Solar lineage, as a relative of Rāma. The Buddha himself claimed to be a reincarnation of Rama, in the Buddhist retelling of the Rāmāyana in the Jātakas. He also likened himself to the mightily-striding Visnu. Later Hindus see both Rama and the Buddha as incarnations of Vishnu, but the Buddha started it all by claiming to by Rama’s reincarnation.

To play devil’s advocate, we could even extend our skepticism of the Buddha’s progressive image to an involvement in the racist understanding of Ārya. Some pre-WW2 racists waxed enthusiastic about descriptions by contemporaries of the Buddha as “tall and light-skinned”. [Schuman, H.W., 1989: The Historical Buddha, London: Arkana, p.194] That would seem to make him “Aryan” in the once-common sense of “Nordic”.

Nowadays, some scholars including Michael Witzel [on his own Indo-Eurasian Research yahoo list] suggest that the Buddha’s Śākya tribe may have been of Iranian origin (related to Śaka, “Scythian”), which would explain his taller stature and lighter skin in comparison with his Gangetic fellow-men. It would also explain their fierce endogamy, i.e. their systematic practice of cousin marriage. Indeed, the Buddha himself had only four great-grandparents because his paternal grandfather was the brother of his maternal grandmother while his maternal grandfather was the brother of his paternal grandmother. The Brahminical lawbooks prohibited this close endogamy (gotras are exogamous) and, like the Catholic Church, imposed respect for "prohibited degrees of consanguinity"; but consanguineous marriages were common among Iranians. (They were also common among Dravidians, a lead not yet fully exploited by neo-Buddhists claiming the Buddha as “pre-Aryan”.) The Śākya tribe justified the practice through pride in their direct pure descent from the Ārya patriarch Manu Vaivasvata, but this could be a made-up explanation adapted to the Indian milieu and hiding their Iranian origin (which they themselves too could have forgotten), still visible in their physical profile. So, that would make the Buddha an “Aryan” in the historically most justified ethnic use of the term, viz. as “Iranian”.

At any rate, nothing in Buddhist history justifies the modern romance of Buddhism as a movement for social reform. Everywhere it went, Buddhism accepted the social mores prevalent in that country, be it Chinese imperial-centralistic bureaucracy, Japanese militaristic feudalism, or indeed Hindu caste society. Buddhism even accepted the religious mores of the people (a rare exception is the abolition of a widow’s burial along with her husband in Mongol society effected by the third Dalai Lama), it only recruited monks from among them and made these do the Buddhist practices. In “caste-ridden India”, the Buddhist emperor Aśoka dared to go against the existing mores when he prohibited animal-slaughter on specific days, but even he made no move to abolish caste.

Buddhism wasn’t more casteist than what went before. It didn’t bring caste to India anymore than the Muslims or the Britons did. Caste is an ancient Indian institution of which the Buddha was a part. But he, its personal beneficiary, didn’t think of changing it, just as his followers in other countries didn’t think of changing the prevailing system.
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Shaswata_Panja » Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:36 pm

by Koenraad Elst

When did the Buddha break away from Hinduism?







Orientalists have started treating Buddhism as a separate religion because they discovered it outside India, without any conspicuous link with India, where Buddhism was not in evidence. At first, they didn’t even know that the Buddha had been an Indian. It had at any rate gone through centuries of development unrelated to anything happening in India at the same time. Therefore, it is understandable that Buddhism was already the object of a separate discipline even before any connection with Hinduism could be made.





Buddhism in modern India



In India, all kinds of invention, somewhat logically connected to this status of separate religion, were then added. Especially the Ambedkarite movement, springing from the conversion of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar in 1956, was very driven in retro-actively producing an anti-Hindu programme for the Buddha. Conversion itself, not just the embracing of a new tradition (which any Hindu is free to do, all while staying a Hindu) but the renouncing of one’s previous religion, as the Hindu-born politician Ambedkar did, is a typically Christian concept. The model event was the conversion of the Frankish king Clovis, possibly in 496, who “burned what he had worshipped and worshipped what he had burnt”. (Let it pass for now that the Christian chroniclers slandered their victims by positing a false symmetry: the Heathens hadn’t been in the business of destroying Christian symbols.) So, in his understanding of the history of Bauddha Dharma (Buddhism), Ambedkar was less than reliable, in spite of his sterling contributions regarding the history of Islam and some parts of the history of caste. But where he was a bit right and a bit mistaken, his later followers have gone all the way and made nothing but a gross caricature of history, and especially about the place of Buddhism in Hindu history.



The Ambedkarite worldview has ultimately only radicalized the moderately anti-Hindu version of the reigning Nehruvians. Under Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, Buddhism was turned into the unofficial state religion of India, adopting the “lion pillar” of the Buddhist Emperor Ashoka as state symbol and putting the 24-spoked Cakravarti wheel in the national flag. Essentially, Nehru’s knowledge of Indian history was limited to two spiritual figures, viz. the Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, and three political leaders: Ashoka, Akbar and himself. The concept of Cakravarti (“wheel-turner”, universal ruler) was in fact much older than Ashoka, and the 24-spoked wheel can also be read in other senses, e.g. the Sankhya philosophy’s worldview, with the central Purusha/Subject and the 24 elements of Prakrti/Nature. The anglicized Nehru, “India’s last Viceroy”, prided himself on his illiteracy in Hindu culture, so he didn’t know any of this, but was satisfied that these symbols could glorify Ashoka and belittle Hinduism, deemed a separate religion from which Ashoka had broken away by accepting Buddhism. More broadly, he thought that everything of value in India was a gift of Buddhism (and Islam) to the undeserving Hindus. Thus, the fabled Hindu tolerance was according to him a value borrowed from Buddhism. In reality, the Buddha had been a beneficiary of an already established Hindu tradition of pluralism. In a Muslim country, he would never have preached his doctrine in peace and comfort for 45 years, but in Hindu society, this was a matter of course. There were some attempts on his life, but they emanated not from “Hindus” but from jealous disciples within his own monastic order.



So, both Nehru and Ambedkar, as well as their followers , believed by implication that at some point in his life, the Hindu-born renunciate Buddha had broken away from Hinduism and adopted a new religion, Buddhism. This notion is now omnipresent, and through school textbooks, most Indians have lapped this up and don’t know any better. However, numerous though they are, none of the believers in this story have ever told us at what moment in his life the Buddha broke way from Hinduism. When did he revolt against it? Very many Indians repeat the Nehruvian account, but so far, never has any of them been able to pinpoint an event in the Buddha's life which constituted a break with Hinduism.





The term “Hinduism”



Their first line of defence, when put on the spot, is sure to be: “Actually, Hinduism did not yet exist at the time.” So, their position really is: Hinduism did not exist yet, but somehow the Buddha broke away from it. Yeah, the secular position is that he was a miracle-worker.



Let us correct that: the word “Hinduism” did not exist yet. When Darius of the Achaemenid Persians, a near-contemporary of the Buddha, used the word “Hindu”, it was purely in a geographical sense: anyone from inside or beyond the Indus region. When the medieval Muslim invaders brought the term into India, they used it to mean: any Indian except for the Indian Muslims, Christians or Jews. It did not have a specific doctrinal content except “non-Abrahamic”, a negative definition. It meant every Indian Pagan, including the Brahmins, Buddhists (“clean-shaven Brahmins”), Jains, other ascetics, low-castes, intermediate castes, tribals, and by implication also the as yet unborn Lingayats, Sikhs, Hare Krishnas, Arya Samajis, Ramakrishnaites, secularists and others who nowadays reject the label “Hindu”. This definition was essentially also adopted by VD Savarkar in his book Hindutva (1923) and by the Hindu Marriage Act (1955). By this historical definition, which also has the advantages of primacy and of not being thought up by the wily Brahmins, the Buddha and all his Indian followers are unquestionably Hindus. In that sense, Savarkar was right when he called Ambedkar’s taking refuge in Buddhism “a sure jump into the Hindu fold”.



But the word “Hindu” is a favourite object of manipulation. Thus, secularists say that all kinds of groups (Dravidians, low-castes, Sikhs etc.) are “not Hindu”, yet when Hindus complain of the self-righteousness and aggression of the minorities, secularists laugh at this concern: “How can the Hindus feel threatened? They are more than 80%!” The missionaries call the tribals “not Hindus”, but when the tribals riot against the Christians who have murdered their Swami, we read about “Hindu rioters”. In the Buddha’s case, “Hindu” is often narrowed down to “Vedic” when convenient, then restored to its wider meaning when expedient.



One meaning which the word “Hindu” definitely does not have, and did not have when it was introduced, is “Vedic”. Shankara holds it against Patanjali and the Sankhya school (just like the Buddha) that they don’t bother to cite the Vedas, yet they have a place in every history of Hindu thought. Hinduism includes a lot of elements which have only a thin Vedic veneer, and numerous ones which are not Vedic at all. Scholars say that it consists of a “Great Tradition” and many “Little Traditions”, local cults allowed to subsist under the aegis of the prestigious Vedic line. However, if we want to classify the Buddha in these terms, he should rather be included in the Great Tradition.



Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha was a Kshatriya, a scion of the Solar or Aikshvaku dynasty, a descendant of Manu, a self-described reincarnation of Rama, the son of the Raja (president-for-life) of the Shakya tribe, a member of its Senate, and belonging to the Gautama gotra (roughly “clan”). Though monks are often known by their monastic name, Buddhists prefer to name the Buddha after his descent group, viz. the Shakyamuni, “renunciate of the Shakya tribe”. This tribe was as Hindu as could be, consisting according to its own belief of the progeny of the eldest children of patriarch Manu, who were repudiated at the insistence of his later, younger wife. The Buddha is not known to have rejected this name, not even at the end of his life when the Shakyas had earned the wrath of king Vidudabha of Kosala and were massacred. The doctrine that he was one in a line of incarnations which also included Rama is not a deceitful Brahmin Puranic invention but was launched by the Buddha himself, who claimed Rama as an earlier incarnation of his. The numerous scholars who like to explain every Hindu idea or custom as “borrowed from Buddhism” could well counter Ambedkar’s rejection of this “Hindu” doctrine by pointing out very aptly that it was “borrowed from Buddhism”.





Career



At 29, he renounced society, but not Hinduism. Indeed, it is a typical thing among Hindus to exit from society, laying off your caste marks including your civil name. The Rg-Veda already describes the Muni-s as having matted hair and going about sky-clad: such are what we now know as Naga Sadhus. Asceticism was a recognized practice in Vedic society long before the Buddha. Yajnavalkya, the Upanishadic originator of the notion of Self, renounced life in society after a successful career as court priest and an equally happy family life with two wives. By leaving his family and renouncing his future in politics, the Buddha followed an existing tradition within Hindu society. He didn’t practice Vedic rituals anymore, which is normal for a Vedic renunciate (though Zen Buddhists still recite the Heart Sutra in the Vedic fashion, ending with “sowaka”, i.e. svaha). He was a late follower of a movement very much in evidence in the Upanishads, viz. of spurning rituals (Karmakanda) in favour of knowledge (Jnanakanda). After he had done the Hindu thing by going to the forest, he tried several methods, including the techniques he learned from two masters and which did not fully satisfy him,-- but nonetheless enough to include them in his own and the Buddhist curriculum. Among other techniques, he practised Anapanasati, “attention to the breathing process”, the archetypal yoga practice popular in practically all yoga schools till today. For a while he also practised an extreme form of asceticism, still existing in the Hindu sect of Jainism. He exercised his Hindu freedom to join a sect devoted to certain techniques, and later the freedom to leave it, remaining a Hindu at every stage.



He then added a technique of his own, or at least that is what the Buddhist sources tell us, for in the paucity of reliable information, we don’t know for sure that he hadn’t learned the Vipassana (“mindfulness”) technique elsewhere. Unless evidence of the contrary comes to the surface, we assume that he invented this technique all by himself, as a Hindu is free to do. He then achieved Bodhi, the “Awakening”. By his own admission, he was by no means the first to do so. Instead, he had only walked the same path of other Awakened beings before him.



At the bidding of the Vedic gods Brahma and Indra, he left his self-contained state of Awakening and started teaching his way to others. When he “set in motion the wheel of the Law” (Dharma-cakra-pravartana, Chinese Falungong), he gave no indication whatsoever of breaking with an existing system. On the contrary, by his use of existing Vedic and Upanishadic terminology (Arya, “Vedically civilized”; Dharma), he confirmed his Vedic roots and implied that his system was a restoration of the Vedic ideal which had become degenerate. He taught his techniques and his analysis of the human condition to his disciples, promising them to achieve the same Awakening if they practiced these diligently.





Caste



On caste, we find him is full cooperation with existing caste society. Being an elitist, he mainly recruited among the upper castes, with over 40% Brahmins. These would later furnish all the great philosophers who made Buddhism synonymous with conceptual sophistication. Conversely, the Buddhist universities trained well-known non-Buddhist scientists such as the astronomer Aryabhata. Lest the impression be created that universities are a gift of Buddhism to India, it may be pointed out that the Buddha’s friends Bandhula and Prasenadi (and, according to a speculation, maybe the young Siddhartha himself) had studied at the university of Takshashila, clearly established before there were any Buddhists around to do so. Instead, the Buddhists greatly developed an institution which they had inherited from Hindu society.



The kings and magnates of the eastern Ganga plain treated the Buddha as one of their own (because that is what he was) and gladly patronized his fast-growing monastic order, commanding their servants and subjects to build a network of monasteries for it. He predicted the coming of a future Awakened leader like himself, the Maitreya (“the one practising friendship/charity”), and specified that he would be born in a Brahmin family. When king Prasenadi discovered that his wife was not a Shakya princess but the daughter of the Shakya ruler by a maid-servant, he repudiated her and their son; but his friend the Buddha made him take them back.



Did he achieve this by saying that birth is unimportant, that “caste is bad” or that “caste doesn’t matter”, as the Ambedkarites claim? No, he reminded the king of the old view (then apparently in the process of being replaced with a stricter view) that caste was passed on exclusively in the paternal line. Among hybrids of horses and donkeys, the progeny of a horse stallion and a donkey mare whinnies, like its father, while the progeny of a donkey stallion and a horse mare brays, also like its father. So, in the oldest Upanishad, Satyakama Jabala is accepted by his Brahmins-only teacher because his father is deduced to be a Brahmin, regardless of his mother being a maid-servant. And similarly, king Prasenadi should accept his son as a Kshatriya, eventhough his mother was not a full-blooded Shakya Kshatriya.



When he died, the elites of eight cities made a successful bid for his ashes on the plea: "We are Kshatriyas, he was a Kshatriya, therefore we have a right to his ashes". After almost half a century, his disciples didn’t mind being seen in public as still observing caste in a context which was par excellence Buddhist. The reason is that the Buddha in his many teachings never had told them to give up caste, e.g. to give their daughters in marriage to men of other castes. This was perfectly logical: as a man with a spiritual message, the Buddha wanted to lose as little time as possible on social matters. If satisfying your own miserable desires is difficult enough, satisfying the desire for an egalitarian society provides an endless distraction from your spiritual practice.







The Seven Rules



There never was a separate non-Hindu Buddhist society. Most Hindus worship various gods and teachers, adding and sometimes removing one or more pictures or statues to their house altar. This way, there were some lay worshippers of the Buddha, but they were not a society separate from the worshippers of other gods or Awakened masters. This box-type division of society in different sects is another Christian prejudice infused into modern Hindu society by Nehruvian secularism. There were only Hindus, members of Hindu castes, some of whom had a veneration for the Buddha among others.



Buddhist buildings in India often follow the designs of Vedic habitat ecology or Vastu Shastra. Buddhist temple conventions follow an established Hindu pattern. Buddhist mantras, also outside India, follow the pattern of Vedic mantras. When Buddhism spread to China and Japan, Buddhist monks took the Vedic gods (e.g. the twelve Aditya’s) with them and built temples for them. In Japan, every town has a temple for the river-goddess Benzaiten, i.e. “Saraswati Devi”, the goddess Saraswati. She was not introduced there by wily Brahmins, but by Buddhists.



At the fag end of his long life, the Buddha described the seven principles by which a society does not perish (which Sita Ram Goel has given more body in his historical novel Sapta Shila, in Hindi), and among them are included: respecting and maintaining the existing festivals, pilgrimages and rituals; and revering the holy men. These festivals etc. were mainly “Vedic”, of course, like the pilgrimage to the Saraswati which Balaram made in the Mahabharata, or the pilgrimage to the Ganga which the elderly Pandava brothers made. Far from being a revolutionary, the Buddha emphatically outed himself as a conservative, both in social and in religious matters. He was not a rebel or a revolutionary, but wanted the existing customs to continue. The Buddha was every inch a Hindu.
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby mahat » Sat Nov 16, 2013 12:53 am

Lazy_eye wrote:Dear friends,

I was very interested in this comment on the "being nicer" thread:

Surnath wrote:As with most Hindus, my respect for Buddha is notable, and I am coming from the perspective of a continuing crisis within Hinduism, there are examples of Hindus "converting" to Buddhism.

This crisis has origins in birth-based caste doctrines, it continues today and due to fear of a decline of Hinduism is actually surfacing once again as some within Hindu schools are building walls around themselves in an attempt to protect their interests and to hide.


I have heard similar comments before. My question is: why specifically is Buddhism seen as a relief from birth-based caste doctrines?

Hindus and Buddhists both believe in kamma. Although I don't know much about Hinduism, I assume that kamma is used as a way to justify the castes -- i.e. you are born into a particular caste because of events and actions in past lives.

Why is kamma in Buddhism not seen as justifying the caste system? At least at first glance, the Hindu account of kamma does not seem very different from the Buddhist one. Isn't being born into a particular caste just more evidence that you are "heir to your kamma"?

Or are there other teachings in the Dhamma which come into play here?

Would like a better understanding of the distinction between the two worldviews.


Hi,

As someone coming from a Hindu background, I investigated Buddhism and the caste system. A brief description follows:

What is today called Hinduism, Buddha called religion of the Brahmins. In this religion the three top castes were initiated differently- Brahmins were initiated earliest, around 7 or 8 and then the Kshatriyas after 11 or 12 years and finally the Vaishyas.

This was an unfair advantage - it's like saying Brahmins can go to school beginning at 7, Kshatriyas at 12, Vaishyas at 15.
Each caste was given a different mantra for initiation, different rituals as well.

Buddhism- there is one initiation for all regardless of birth and the taking of The Five Precepts. This for the first time included women!!!

Buddhism also teaches one to love all equally, Metta sutta.

Buddhism is for merit and merit systems but with social mobility -- as long as you practice hard for it- an example is the story of Matanga where in the Mahabharata Matanga, an untouchable, wants to be a Brahmin - he practiced for hundreds of years and was told by Indra to give up and that one of low birth can NEVER attain brahmin hood.

Buddha makes another Matanga, probably a descendant, into a Brahmin in just a few years having been called a son by Brahma himself.

The Sangha of Monks and Nuns however completely does away with the caste system.

Buddha is the first person to completely clobber the priesthood. The good Brahmins converted to Buddhism.

Was Buddha a Hindu? No, Hinduism did not exist as such. Also there is no logic to that argument, first you say Buddha is God-- are you saying you taught God and God is a Hindu and owes Brahmins or the other way? Buddhism came from Buddha's realization of the Dharma Chakra, or wheel of natural law known as The 4 Noble truths that confounded the Greeks and the Brahmins who did not convert did not even know the significance of his finding or it's beauty.

Dharma for Brahmins was mantras and a vague understanding of good behavior of body, speech and mind and a whole bunch of rituals on how to sit, how to eat.. Etc.
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Kusala » Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:37 am

Lazy_eye wrote:Dear friends,

I was very interested in this comment on the "being nicer" thread:

Surnath wrote:As with most Hindus, my respect for Buddha is notable, and I am coming from the perspective of a continuing crisis within Hinduism, there are examples of Hindus "converting" to Buddhism.

This crisis has origins in birth-based caste doctrines, it continues today and due to fear of a decline of Hinduism is actually surfacing once again as some within Hindu schools are building walls around themselves in an attempt to protect their interests and to hide.


I have heard similar comments before. My question is: why specifically is Buddhism seen as a relief from birth-based caste doctrines?

Hindus and Buddhists both believe in kamma. Although I don't know much about Hinduism, I assume that kamma is used as a way to justify the castes -- i.e. you are born into a particular caste because of events and actions in past lives.



Why is kamma in Buddhism not seen as justifying the caste system? At least at first glance, the Hindu account of kamma does not seem very different from the Buddhist one. Isn't being born into a particular caste just more evidence that you are "heir to your kamma"?

Or are there other teachings in the Dhamma which come into play here?

Would like a better understanding of the distinction between the two worldviews.


You might want to take a look at this link -----> http://www.theravada-dhamma.org/blog/?p=3513
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Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby chownah » Sat Nov 16, 2013 12:07 pm

Shaswata_Panja wrote:.Why do Buddhists play up the word Shakyamuni so much? why the caste of all Buddhas have been specified?

by Koenraad Elst..I will tackle the question of Buddha and caste in detail


Shaswata Panja,
I think that generally speaking Buddhists do not "play up" the word Shakyamuni....I think only certain kinds of Buddhists use the term at all. Did you know that according to the Pali scriptures the Buddha declared to his father that he was no longer of his families lineage? This happened when his father told him that his behavior was not fitting of a descendant of his tribe whereupon the Buddha declared that he was no longer of that lineage but was now of the lineage of the Noble Ones.

As to the Buddha teaching about cast, I think it best to actually go to the Buddha's teachings instead of relying on Koenraad Elst. A good place to start is tha Assalayana Sutta ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html ). I wonder appreciate it if you would go and read this and think about it a bit and then come and post what you think it means.
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Shaswata_Panja » Sat Nov 16, 2013 1:35 pm

thanks chownah for the link and I wil definitely go through it...Buddhism as Buddha envisioned it was first and foremost a monastic religion/order..90 percent of the Suttas are meant for the Bhikkhus..I can count a handful of Suttas like Sigolvada and seven factors of Non-decline where his main target audience are worldly people and keeping their worldly persuasions and worries in HIS mind...well don't monastics in India from time immemorial come out of their castes? and what Koenraad Elst wrote is not a figment of his imagination..there is very little, almost none of what he has wrote that can be falsified....


All I am saying is that the Buddha took birth in India(Birth was right on Indian border in Nepal but since Nepal is also Hindu/Vedic you get the point)----All of Buddha's 554 previous births in the Earth plane was in India...All the previous Buddhas including Dipankara Buddha also took birth in India..The Next Buddha will also take birth in India (Varanasi I believe and the Suttas didnot forget to mention that he will come from a Brahmin family)
the same
Buddha when he expounded his philosophy, metaphysics, theology and way of liberation ..He never faced opposition from the Vedic society..Never was there an attempt on His life from the Sanatana Dharmics(Vedics)..only attempt on His life was from fellow Buddhists


Given that time and again all the Buddhas take their birth in India and that Vedics with open welcomed Buddha's truth and Buddha said in seven factors of non-decline to continue with Vedic rituals ---I want to ask you ,isn't India fused with spirituality and isn't it a bit out of order to show disprspect to the Vedics and their religious cultural ethos, the same Vedics who provided the groundwork for making Buddhism the foremost religion in Asia


and isn't it a bit obnoxious to pervade a religious theory that birth to low status/caste is related to bad karma of previous birth? Isn't this a way of perpetuating the caste system when a huge chunk of Hindus have taken a supreme vow of dismantling caste system since it had rigid, moribund decaying self-defeating from the last few thousand years?

There MAYBE was a merit to caste system when sons could only pick up their trade skills from their father-

All I am saying is appreciate the huge amount of good work Hindus themselves are doing to dismantle the caste system through encouragement of inter-marriage, full scale women's rights. encouraging women to choose their own romantic destiny, education, target developement, well meaning affirmative action and so on



Have you seen the huge push in Gujarat and Rajasthan to induct Dalit priests and female priests?


Then why do Christian fanatics (the usual suspects) and sadly sadly , the most unfortunately Buddhists are trying to deride Hinduism using the caste system when Hindus are trying their best to do away with it?


and its a bit insulting to say that India's progress in education and other areas is just down to a single Buddhist comvert..Its laughable if it was not done in an attempt to rub salt in the wound...


See so many Christo-Buddhist types who wasted no time to wholesale deride India that it has not fully developed yet in 60 years norwithsatnding the amount of genocidal brutalities India had to endure from their former co Abrahamic religionists

One might very wel make himself fashoinable among his peers of Abrahamics by claiming that he follows the very best of India's religions, but old racist habits of Abrahamics die hard!
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby chownah » Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:57 pm

Shaswata Panja,
I believe that you are mistaken when you say that the Buddha envisioned a mostly monastic order. First let us be clear that neither you nor I have access to the Buddha' s thoughts so we can never know with certainty what was on his mind.......and secondly did you know that the Buddha never claimed to be a monk or even part of a monastic order nor did he even mention that a monastic order existed nor did he ever mention a lineage of monks. All of this is based on the Pali scriptures as far as I have been able to determine and if you can show me a reference that can shed some light on any of these please let me know as I would be very interested in adding it to my studies. In fact the Buddha never claimed to be of a lineage of monks....he did, however, claim to be of the lineage of Noble Ones..................this reminds me, you have not commented on his having declared to no longer be of the lineage of his family which seems to be at variance with what your reference seems to have claimed......would you like me to find the reference which contains the buddha's statements to that effect?

I would like to point out that India has only existed for less than 100 years so any claim that people who died over 100 years ago lived in India are clearly mistaken.

Your posts contain so many things which from my experience seem to be either mistaken or inconsequential concerning what the Buddha taught that I have neither the time nor energy to address them all so I'm going to try to stick with just two issues now namely the buddha's teachings which bear on caste and the second being that the Buddha denounced his familial lineage and claimed to be of the lineage of Noble Ones.
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Shaswata_Panja » Sat Nov 16, 2013 4:50 pm

India has always existed...there was a always an understanding about what is India and what is not since about 4000 BC...of course the borders of India increased and decreased...I have to remind you that the unity of all Vedic civilizations and the adjacent borders of India under Chandragupta Maurya is what let to the expansion of Jainism,Ajvikas and Budddhism..expansion of India's borders also led to expansion of India's philosophy...of course many times India came under the reime of Iranics like Sakas,Hunas,Kushanas or even Mongol-Turkic type Central Asians....But there was always a cultural unity in the lands on the other side of the Indus bounded by Mountains and seas...to say India has only existed a 100 years is to perpetuate and further inadvertently the ideas of racist Christians like Winston Curchill...the racists Christians very exquisitely used this doctrine of non-existent nationhood on the Indian and African peoples to suck their blood dry..So as a heartfelt sugestion please donot go there!!



and rearding caste I fully aree what you said about Buddha!! I think Buddha's words are inerrant...and though I had to struggle what to consider as Buddha vachana though I consider Pali Canon to be sacred I used to dismiss Mahayana canons outright!! but the articles on the 100 BC Gandhara texts giving me some doubts..We have to consider Buddha had a 45 year od teaching career...may be everybody he taught and reached Nirvana could not be present in Rajgir? and for different people he might have used different teachings? which thread should I use to post these questions? Is the ongoing Theravada Mahyana thread a good choice?

and almost all of the 5 million strong Hindu monastics leave their caste when they enter sannyas..and many of them are forest, cave or mountain dwellers..many of their practices would resembele dhitanga and corpse or charnel ground practices of Thervada of Ajahan Chah

so that was my point..sannaysis be they Buddha or anybody else of course donot belong to their caste, their family, their parents or children or their job or profession..how could they? I thin Christian monastics are also like that



This is a very good map on the historical permanency of various borders of India..in that sense no country is country..no nation has the exact same border of 2000 years ago!! show me one!!

Image

OR

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1d/Cultural_regional_areas_of_India.png


few yogis!


It has to be remembered that that strict Brahmin Chanakya and the Brahmin community championed a so called orphan "Shudra" (I loath to use such words but for the sake of discussion) Chandragupta as the emperor of Magadha...

and even the Nanda empire that Maurya replaced was from "Ugra-Kshatriyas" (again a so-called low caste)

History of Hinduism is littered with Brahmin priesthood supporting many so called low-caste royalties who held not only small monarchies but million-square kilometre plus empires

and that very strict of Hindu law books..Dharma Manu Shastra take a very Buddha-like attitude about who should be considered a Brahmin (basically somebody learned in all the Vedas and shows that with his unimpeachable noble behaviour)


Okay last question that nobody answered..werenot the 27 Buddhas prior to Gautama born in India? Didnot he say that he is not bringing something new but rather something that the Noble Ones already taught and discovered and were eventually forgotten? So that means Vedics were alway encouraging amon themselves to learn the teaching of Noble Ones..show me one Brahmin who spat on Buddha or planned to kill Him or tried to dishonour his teachings or conspire against him..it was always bad apples in is own Sangha (Devadutta) or from some other monastics (like that female nun who claimed to have been impregnated by Gautama Buddha)



and that you are saying Buddha never founded a monastic order is just semantic sophistication that you are employing...I mean the Sangha looked, felt and behaved like a monastic order!! if Buddha didnot found a monastic order then why were all the monks brahmacharis (strict celibate to the point of restraining all types of seminal ejaculation in all circumstances except perhaps deep sleep).....

arenot most of the suttas addressed to the Bhikkhus? aren't the Bhikkhus monastics?

See Christianity and Buddhism and Jainism were founded by people who were perfect celibates..they always thought (rightly so) that a level of sexual purity is critical to even start a monkish or Bhikkhu/Bhikshuk life--Christianity had all its problems because it tried to box the message of Christ into a worldly householder/grihastha like situation..see all the problems that Protestants get into? Catholics can be a lot cooler ...and Catholic monks have less problem than priests.because the priests only focus on celibacy at the cost of other monkish practices...Buddhism because of its constant focus on monkhood has avoided many problems of Christianity

Hinduism although has a huge monastic order, much much bigger than all the celibate monastic priestly orders of all other religions combined, it is still a family oriented religion and Buddha himself recommended those aspects of Hinduism to be strongly supported in his speech on Seven factors of Non-decline

Judaism and Islam have family and marriage at the centre of their religion, Jesus eschewed marriage and sexuality and did away with them in a way only a celibate monk can..donot know whther Buddhism has anything to say on marriage


So I original contention remains..Buddhism is nothing without its monkhood, and presence or absence of a dedicated monkhood is what will make or break Western Buddhism

Both Buddha and Mahavira were monastics

and Ohh yes the Aryan invasion theory proposed by some Chrsitian and later Christo-Buddhist types here is also total honky--totally falsified go here to see detailed account from genetics to archaelogy to everything to see that Aryan Invasion theory was an invention of Chrstian racists to further their aim of sucking India dry


http://forums.bharat-rakshak.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6381

See the article below by Koenraad Elst about the history of the word Arya--which should be very relevant to Buddhism

These are my closing comments on this thread---I donot think arguing back and forth on internet forums has solved any problem in the world, but in my reckoning there were some serious misrepresentation regarding Hindus here, so I HAD TO CORRECT THAT...Those who want a balanced view and along with the Buddhist perspective also want to see a Hindu perspective(Sanatana Dharmic perspective)..please go through all my posts here in this thread...which are 12 in total...especially those four where I quote the very knowledgeable and often deliberately misunderstood by left-liberals--Koenraad Elst

Aum,

Shanti to everybody


PS: Chownah I went through the entire text of Assalayana Sutta...beautiful really!! This only confirms my point that a Great Sage like Buddha would systematically cut down anybody's pride regarding caste!! I liked the excellent hisorical references in this Sutta to Kamboja and Yana which were like trans region between full Vedicism and outer "Mleccha" areas of North-West frontier Province and Afghanistan..if you are curious Kamboja was situated on the western banks of Jhelum...don't know the reference to Yana...I again reiterate that caste system even in its original well meant form (when its definition was fluid and there were lot of mobility between the castes) was one of the stupidest things to ever come out of Hinduism...the Hindu Rishis from the beginning should have seen that this system would decay and would be susceptible to rampant exploitation...totally doing away with the caste system (as modern India has) and encouraging full fledged women's rights as in Europe (be it sexual, romantic,financial and otherwise) will be a recipe of a full scale rejuvenation of Indian culture and Hinduism...but as I said, just like Buddha there were too many Hindu saints like Ramakrishna and others who spoke out against the stupidity of caste system or even Lalon Fakir or Kabir



But these days the problem is slowly morphing away from caste into other areas like status, money, posessions and above all education background and what stream you specialized in----


It seems doctors and engineers are the new Brahmins...as if other professions donot matter..What pains my heart is how systematically farming as a profession is denigrated...come on everybody cannot be doctors or engineers!! and everybody cannot make their way into good colleges!! too much emphasis on merit also robs us of our humanity....how lowly the farming profession is seen in India, I sometimes wonder if all farmers changed profession and all of their sons became engineers then who will feed 1.2 billion ppl? farming, daily labour and soldiering are the three most noble professions...and I can proudly proclaim that i have engaged in two of them to earn my daily bread...granted India needs lesser farmers managing more land individually, but not at the cost discrediting farming as a profession!


But what Koenraad Elst wrote can definitely be supported by other Suttas..His research is always minute and thorough...so those views still stand
The ethnic meaning of "Arya"

by Koenraad Elst

In debates on the politically controversial term Arya, we keep hearing from Hindus and Buddhists that it only means "noble", as in the Buddha's "four noble (Arya) truths". This bespeaks a deficient sense of historicity, i.c. the realization that terminology is susceptible to change.



While the term had no racial ("Nordic") or linguistic ("Indo-European") meaning, it did originally have an ethnic meaning. On this, invasionist linguist JP Mallory and anti-invasionist historian Shrikant Talageri agree. At least, it has a relative ethnic meaning, not designating a particular nation, but being used by several Indo-European nations (viz. Anatolians, Iranians and Paurava Indians) in the sense of "compatriot", "one of us". This term, in India, then evolved to "one who shares the civilizational norms of the Vedic Paurava tribes", "Veda-abiding", "civilized". And thence "noble".

The use of Arya cognates in Hittite and Lycian (Anatolian) in the sense of “compatriot, fellow citizen” is given in standard textbooks of Indo-European linguistics, such as JP Mallory’s, and in the On-line Etymological Dictionary http://www.etymonline.com/

The same in Iranian is beyond dispute. Iran itself is from Airyanam Khshathra. In 2006, Tajikistan hosted the UNESCO-sponsored World Aryan Fair, where “Aryan” in effect meant “Iranian”, including Baluch, Kurd, Osset (Scythian), Pathan and Tajik. Non-Iranians including Indians were Anairya to them, regardless of whether they called themselves Arya.

The evidence for Arya used in the Rg-Veda in the sense of “compatriot” is given at length in Talageri’s latest two books, The Rg-Veda, a Historical Analysis and The Rg-Veda and the Avesta, the Final Evidence. He arrived at his conclusions without any knowledge of the linguists’ findings. What he shows is that the Paurava tribe, in which (particularly, in whose Bharata clan) the Veda hymns were composed, referred to its own members as Arya. All others, including Iranians (“Dasa”, “Dasyu”, “Pani”) and non-Paurava Indians (Yadava, Aikshvaku et al.), were counted as Anarya.

Contrary to Arya Samaji and other modern-moralistic interpretations, Arya does not mean “good” nor Anarya “bad”: even a hostile reference to a traitorous fellow-Paurava calls him Arya, even non-Paurava friends whose virtues are praised remain Anarya. It is only when Paurava Vedic tradition become normative for the neighbouring tribes that Arya gradually loses its Paurava exclusiveness and acquires the non-ethnic meaning of “Vedic”, “partaking of Vedic tradition”, “civilized”, “noble”; and “Anarya” becomes “barbarian”.

One resultant semantic development is "upper-caste", meaning those people who received the Vedic initiation. Since Kshatriyas and Brahmins had their own more specific titulature, the general honorific Arya often designated the Vaishya. It is also used as a form of address to any honoured person, which is probably the origin of the present-day honorific suffix -ji, evolved through the Prakrit forms ayya, ajja, 'jje. In South India, the term Arya designated the Northern immigarnts who described themselves as such: Buddhist and Jaina preachers and Brahmin settlers. They latter's caste names Aiyar and Aiyangar are evolutes of Arya.

It is in the sense of "noble" that the Buddha spoke of the Arya 4 truths and 8-fold path. However, we must take into account the possibility that he used it in the implied sense of “Vedic”, broadly conceived. That after Vedic tradition got carried away into what he deemed non-essentials, he intended to restore what he conceived as the original Vedic spirit. After all, the anti-Vedicism and anti-Brahmanism now routinely attributed to him, are largely in the eye of the modern beholder. Though later Brahmin-born Buddhist thinkers polemicized against Brahmin institutions and the idolizing of the Veda, the Buddha himself didn’t mind attributing to the gods Indra and Brahma his recognition as the Buddha and his mission to teach; and when predicting the future Buddha Maitreya, had him born in a Brahmin family; and had over 40% Brahmins among his ordained disciples.

I haven’t looked into original sources about this yet, but surmise that pre-war racists waxed enthusiastic about descriptions by contemporaries of the Buddha as tall and light-skinned. That would be “Aryan” in the then-common sense of “Nordic”. Nowadays, some scholars including Michael Witzel suggest that the Buddha’s Shakya tribe may have been of Iranian origin (from Shaka, “Scythian”), which would explain their fierce endogamy. They practised cousin marriage, e.g. th Buddha himself had only four great-grandparents because his paternal grandfather was the brother of his maternal grandmother while his maternal grandfather was the brother of his paternal grandmother. The Brahminical lawbooks prohibited this close endogamy (gotras are exogamous) and like the Catholic Church, imposed respect for "prohibited degrees of consanguinity"; but it was common among Iranians. (It was also common among Dravidians, a lead not yet fully exploited by neo-Buuddhists claiming the Buddha as “pre-Aryan”.) The Shakya-s justified it through pride in their direct pure descent from Arya patriarch Manu Vaivasvata, but this could be an explanation adapted to the Indian milieu hiding their Iranian origin (which they themselves too could have forgotten), still visible in their physical profile. Thus far the “Iranian Buddha” theory.

It is possible and indeed likely that other Indian tribes contemporaneous with the Vedic Paurava-s also called themselves Arya (and the Paurava-s Anarya), but they have left us no texts to prove it. Such usage may have facilitated the adoption of the term Arya in the (to them) new meaning of “Vedic”.

The 19th-century claims of the use of an “Arya” cognate as ethnic self-designation in Celtic (“Eire”) and Germanic have been abandoned, as well as the relation with German Ehre, “honour” (which is from *aiz-, cognate with Latin aes-timare, whence English esteem). There is no firm indication that it ever was a pan-Indo-European or Proto-Indo-European self-designation and thus a valid synonym for “Indo-European”.
Last edited by Shaswata_Panja on Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:13 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Kusala » Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:40 am

British Indians seek legal protection from caste system http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/british-in ... -1.2224275
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Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.
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Kusala
 
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