(Sample Material) IAS Mains History (Optional) Study Kit "Religious Movements"

Sample Material of Our IAS Mains History Study Kit

Subject: History (Optional)

Topic: Religious Movements

The period between 7th and 5th century BC was a turning point in the intellectual and spiritual development of the whole world, for it witnessed the emergence of early philosophers of Greece, the great Hebrew poets, Confucius in China and Zoroaster in Persia. It was at this time that Jainism and Buddhism arose in India,each based on a distinctive set of doctrines and each laying down distinctive rules of conduct for attaining salvation.

We come to know of about 62 religious sects, many of which were based on local customs and rituals.Both Jainism and Buddhism are organised as ascetic orders and brotherhoods.Asceticism in fact, has its origin in the Vedic thought and has been directly encouraged by the Upanishads. Some of these were Ajivikas, Nirgranthas, Jatilakas, etc. Some of the promi­nent teachers of these sects were Purana Kasyapa, Makkhali Gosal, Ajitkeshakambalin, Nigantha Natputta and Sanjaya Belatthaputta.

Causes of New Movements

The Vedic philosophy had lost its original purity. The Vedic religion had become very complex and degenerated into superstitions, dogmas, and rituals. Supremacy of the Brahmans created unrest in the society and Kshatriya reacted against the Brahmanical domination. Introduction of a new agricultural economy in eastern India. The desire of Vaishyas to improve their social position with the increase in their economic position due to the growth of trade.

Gautam Buddha

Buddhism was founded by Gautam Buddha.. He was born on the vaisakha purnima day at Lumbini, near Kapilvastu, capital of the Sakya republic in 563 B.C. His family name was Gautama who was born in Sakya clan. His father, Suddhodhan, was the king of Sakya republic. His mother was Mayadevi who died after seven days of his birth. The popular legend has it that an astrologer predicted that Gautama would either be a great chakravartin samrat or a great sanyasin. Fearing his son’s reflective cast of mind, his father married him at an early age to beautiful Yasodhara from whom he had a son, Rahul. Gautama was horrified at the sight of an old man, a diseased person, a dead by, and then being attracted by the saintly appearance of an ascetic.

One night he left his home, wife and son and renounced the worldly life. Thereafter, six years of profound meditation led to the discovery of truths, Gautarna became the Buddha i.e. the enlightened ore. Left home at the age of 29 and attained Nirvana at the age of 35 at Bodh Gaya. The Buddha extended the teaching of two elder contemporaries, Alara Kalama, and Udlaka. According to Buddhism there is no-self, no God, no soul and no spirit. Once Buddha himself said “If women were not admitted into the monasteries, Buddhism would have continued for a thousand years, but because this admission has been granted, it would last only five hundred years.” Buddha delivered his first sermon at Sarnath. He attained Mahaparinirvana at Kusinara in 483 BC

Five Great Events of Buddha’s Life and their Symbols

  • Birth: Lotus and Bull

  • Great Renunciation: Horse

  • Nirvana: Bodhi tree

  • First Sermon: Dharmachakra or wheel

  • Parinirvana or Death: Stupa

Buddhist Scriptures

  • The Vinaya Pitaka: (a) mainly deals with rules and regulations, which the Buddha promulgated, (b) it describes in detail the gradual development of the Sangha. Ý An account of the life and leaching of the Buddha is also given.

  • The Suta Pitaka: (a) Consists chiefly of discourses delivered by Buddha himself on different occasions, (b) Few discourses delivered by Sariputta, Ananda. Moggalana and others are also included in it. Ý It lays down the principles of Buddhism.

  • The Abhidhamma Pitaka: Contains the profound philosophy of the Buddha’s teachings, (b) It investigates mind and matter, to help the understanding of things as they truly are.

  • The Khandhakas: contain regulations on the course or life in the monastic order and have two sections - the Mahavagga and the Cullavagga. The thud part - the Parivara is an insignificant composition by a Ceylonese monk.

  • Among the non-canonical literature Milindapanho, Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa are important. The later two are the great chronicles of Ceylon.

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The Profounders

  • Asvaghosha—Contemporary of Kanishka. He was poet, dramatist. musician, scholar and debator.

  • Nagarjuna—He was a friend and contemporary of Satavahana king Yajnasri Gautamiputra of Andhra. He propounded the Madhyamika School of Buddhist philosophy popularly known as Sunyavada.

  • Asanga and Vasubandhu—Two brothers who flourished in the Punjab region in fourth century AD. Asanga was the most important teacher of the Yogachara or Vijnanavada School founded by his guru, Maitreyanatha. Vasubandhu’s greatest work, Abhidharmakosa is still considered an important encyclopaedia of Buddhism.

  • Buddhaghosha — Who lived in the fifth century AD was a great Pali scholar. The commentaries and the Visuddhimaga written by him are a great achievement in the Post- Tripitaka literature.

  • Dinnaga—The last mighty intellectual of the fifth century, is well known as the founder of the Buddhist logic.

  • Dharmakirti—lived in the seventh century AD was anther great Buddhist logician. He was a subtle philosophical thinker and dialectician.

Buddhist Philosophy

  • Idealism: Two source of valid knowledge: (a) Perception and (b) Inference.

  • Doctrineof dependent origination (Pratisamutpada): Central theory of Buddhist Philosophy. It tells us that in the empirical worid dominated by the intellect, everything is relative, conditional. dependent, subject to birth and death and therefore impermanent.

  • Theory of momentariness {Kshanabhanga or Impermanence): It tells that everything, in this world is merely a conglomeration of perishable qualities. According to it. Things that can produce effect exist and whatever can not produce effect has no existence.

Four Noble Truths

  • The world is full of sorrows.

  • Desire is root cause of sorrow.

  • If Desire is conquered, all sorrows can be removed. Desire can be removed by following the eight-fold path.

The Eight Fold Path

  • Right understanding

  • Right speech

  • Right livelihood

  • Right mindfulness

  • Right thought

  • Right action

  • Right effort

  • Right concentration

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