Services (Prelims) Examination Special
Quick Revision Notes
Ascedancy And Beyond (Indian
Jainism was atheistic in
nature, the existence of God being irrelevant to its doctrine. It believes
that universe functions according to an eternal law and is continually passing
through a series of cosmic waves of progress and decline. Everything in the
universe, material or otherwise, has a soul. The purification of the soulis the
purpose of living, for the pure soul is released from the body and then
resides in bliss.
Jains believe that by following
the three-fold path of right Belief, right Knowledge and right
Conduct, souls will be released from transmigration and reach the pure and
blissful abode or Siddha Sila.
Jainism spread rapidly among the
trading community. The emphasis on non-violence prevented
agriculturists from being Jainas, since cultivation involved
killing insects and pests.
According to the tradition of the Svetambara Jains,
the original doctrine taught by Mahavira was contained in fourteen old texts
Close to 4th century B.C., due to
a famine in south Bihar, important sections of Jains, headed by Bhadrabahu,
fled to Mysore.
To revive the knowledge of sacred
texts, which was passing into oblivion following the famine in south Bihar and
fleeing of majority of Jains, a council was convoked by those who were left
behind in Pataliputra, which resulted in compilation of the 12 Angas which
are regarded as the most important part of the Jain canon. Another
council was held at Valabhi in Gujarat in 5th or 6th century A.D.
which made a final collection of the scriptures and reduced them to writing.
The followers of Bhadrabahu, on
their return to the north, refused to acknowledge the Angas and came to be known
as Svetambaras (clad in white) as they wore white garments
notwithstanding the injunctions of Mahavira. The original followers
came to be called Digambaras (sky-clad or naked).
Gautama Buddha was born as Siddhartha
to Suddhodana, a Raja or noble of Kapilvastu (in the Nepal Terai to
the north of Basti district of Uttar Pradesh) and Maya, a princess of
Devadaha, a small town in the Sakya territory. Maya died while giving
birth to Siddhartha and he was brought up by his aunt and
step-mother Prajapati Gautami.
The site of nativity of Gautama
Buddha is marked by the celebrated Rummindei Pillar of Ashoka.
Siddhartha was marriedto Yashodara
at the age of 16. Yashodara was also known as Bhadda
Kachchana, Subhadraka, Bimba or Gopa.
The Great Renunciation took
place when Sidhartha reached the age of 29. For six years he lived as a homeless
ascetic. At Uruvila he practiced the most rigid austerities only to find
that they were of no help to him to achieve his goal.
Sidhartha finally sat under a pipal
or Banyan tree at modern Bodh Gaya, after taking a bath in the
stream of river Nairanjana, modern Lilajan. Here he attained the supreme
knowledge and insight and became known as Buddha or the Enlightened One,
Tathagata (â€œhe who attained the truthâ€) and Sakya-muni or
the sage of the Sakya clan.
The first sermon by Buddha
was given in the Deer Park near Sarnath, in the neighbourhood of
Benaras. This sermon was called the Turning of the Wheel of
Law, and was the nucleus of the Buddhist teachings.
Among Buddhaâ€™s early converts
was his cousin Devadatta who, subsequently broke away and founded a rival
sect that survived in parts of Oudh and western Bengal till the Gupta
The Buddha is said to have died at
the age of 80 at Kusinagar, modern Kasia in the Gorakhpur district
Buddha taught his followers the
four â€œNoble Truthsâ€ (Arya Satya) concerning suffering, the
cause of suffering, the destruction of suffering and the way that leads to the
destruction of sorrow.
As per Buddhist teachings,
salvation is possible through the Eightfold Path, which consisted
of eight principles of action, leading to a balanced, moderate life (right
views, resolves, speech conduct, livelihood, effort, recollection and
meditation, the combination of which was described as Middle Way).
The doctrine of karma was
essential to the Buddhist way of salvation. Unlike the brahmanical idea, karma
was not used to explain away caste status, since Buddha rejected
Buddhism was atheistic, in
as much as God was not essential to the Universe, there being a natural cosmic
rise and decline.
The acceptance of nuns in
the Buddhist monasteries was a revolutionary step from the point of view of the
status of women.
The earliest surviving form of
Buddhism, called Theravada, is still predominant in Sri Lanka and
South-East Asian countries.
Shortly after the death of Buddha
a great Council (Sangiti) was held at Rajagriha to compile the religious
doctrine (Dharma) and the monastic code (Vinaya). A second council
was convoked a century later at Vaishali which condemned the rules in respect of
the ten points and revised the scriptures.
A fresh condemnation of heresy
took place during the reign of Ashoka, under whose patronage a third council was
summoned at Pataliputra by a learned monk, Tisaa Moggaliputta, 236 years
after Buddhaâ€™s death.
The fourth council was held
under Kanishka which prepared elaborate commentaries (Upadesh Shastras
and Vibhasha Shastras) on the sacred texts.
According to Sri Lankan tradition,
the sacred texts and commentaries were written down in books in
first century B.C. during the reign of King Vattagamani Abhaya. Later,
the texts, as distinguished from the commentaries, came to be known as Pali.