Ancient India

Jainism and Budhism

NUMEROUS, religious sects, arose in the middle Gangetic plains in thesecond half of the sixth century B.C. We hear of as many as 62 religious sects. Many of these sects were based on regional customs and rituals practised by different people living in north-east India. Of these sects Jainism and Buddhism were the-most important and they emerged as the most potent religious reform movements.

Causes of Origin

In post-Vedic times society was clearly divided into four varnas: brahmanas, Kshatriyas, vaishyas and shudras. Each varna was assigned well-defined functions, although it was emphasised that varna was based on birth and the two higher varnas were given some privileges. The brahmanas, who were given the functions of priests and teachers, claimed the highest status in society. They demanded several privileges, including those of receiving gifts and exemption from taxation and punishment. In post-Vedic texts we have many instances of such privileges enjoyed by them. The kshatriyas ranked second in the varna hierarchy. They fought and-governed and lived on the taxes collected from the peasants. The vaishyas were engaged in agriculture, cattle-rearing and trade.

They appear as principal taxpayers. However along with the two higher varnas they were placed in the category of dvija or the twice-born. A dvija was entitled to wearing the sacred thread and studying the Vedas from which the shudras were kept out. The shudras were meant for serving the three higher varnas and along with women were barred from taking to Vedic studies. They appear as domestic slaves, agricultural slaves, craftsmen and hired labourers in post-Vedic times. They were called cruel, greedy and thieving in habits and some of them were treated as untouchables. The higher the varna the more privileged and purer a person was. The lower the varna of an offender, the more severe was the punishment prescribed for him.

Naturally the varna divided society seems to have generated tensions. We have no means to find out the reactions of the vaishyas and the shudras. But the kshatriyas, who functioned as rulers, reacted strongly against the ritualistic domination of the brahman as and seem to have led a kind of protest movement against the importance attached to birth in the varna system. The kshatriya reaction against the domination of the priestly class called brahmanas, who claimed various privileges, was one of the causes of the origin of new religions. Vardhamana Mahavira who founded Jainism and Gautama Buddha, who founded Buddhism belonged to the kshatriya clan and both disputed the authority of the brahmanas.

But the real cause of the rise of these new religions lay in the spread of a new agricultural economy in north-eastern India. North-east India, including the regions of eastern Uttar Pradesh and northern and southern Bihar, has about 100 cm of rainfall. Before these areas came to be colonized on a large scale, they were thickly forested. The thick jungles could not easily be cleared without the aid of iron axes. Although some people, lived in this area before 600 B.C., the) used implements of bone, stone and copper and they led a precarious life on lakes and river banks and river confluences, where land was opened to settlement through the process of erosion and flooding. In the middle Gangetic plains, large-scale habitations began in about 600 B.C., when iron came to be used in this area. On account of the moist nature of the soil in this area, too many iron tools of earliest times have not survived, but quite a few axes have been recovered from the layers belonging to circa 600-500 B.C. The use of iron tools made possible clearance, agriculture and large settlements. The agricultural economy based on the iron ploughshare required the use of bullocks and it could not flourish without animal husbandry. But the Vedic practice of killing cattle indiscriminately in sacrifices stood in the way of the progress of new agriculture. The cattle wealth slowly decimated because the cows and bullocks were killed in numerous Vedic sacrifices. The tribal people living on the southern and eastern fringes of Magadha also killed cattle for food. But if the new agrarian economy had to be stable, this killing had to be stopped.

The period saw the rise of a large number of cities in north-eastern India. We may refer, for example, to Kaushambi near Allahabad, Kusinagar (in Deoria district of Uttar Pradesh).


Banaras, Vaishali (in the newly created district of the-same name in north Bihar), Chirand (in Saran district) and Rajgir (situated at a distance of about 100 km south-east of Patna). Besides others these cities had many artisans and tracers, who began to use coins for the first time. The earliest coins belong to the fifth century B.C. and they are called punch-marked coins. They circulated for the first time in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The use of coins naturally facilitated trade and commerce, which added to the importance of the vaishyas. In the brahmanical society the vaishyas ranked third, the first two being brahmanas and kshatriyas. Naturally they looked for some religion which would improve their position. Besides the kshatriyas, the vaishyas extended generous support to both Mahavira and Gautama Buddha. The merchants, called the setthis, made handsome gifts to Gautama Buddha and his disciples. There were several reasons for it. First, Jainism and Buddhism in the initial stage did not attach any Importance to the existing varna system. Second, they preached the gospel of non-violence, which would put an end to wars between different kingdoms and consequently promote trade and commerce. Third, the brahmanical law books, called the Dharmasutras, decried lending money on interest. A person who lived on interest was condemned by them. Therefore, the vaishyas, who lent money on account of growing trade and commerce, were, not held in esteem and were eager to improve their social status.

On the other hand, we also notice a strong reaction against various forms of private property. Old-fashioned people did not like the use and accumulation of coins made certainly of silver and copper and possibly of gold. They detested new dwellings and dresses, new systems of transport, which amounted to luxury and they hated war and violence. The new forms of property created social inequalities and caused misery and suffering to tire masses of the people. So the common people yearned to return to primitive life, They wanted to get back to the ascetic ideal which dispensed with the new forms of property and the new style of life. Both Jainism and Buddhism preferred simple, puritan ascetic living. The Buddhist and Jaina monks were asked to forego the good things of life. They were not allowed to touch gold and silver. They were to accept only as much from their patrons as was sufficient to keep body and soul together. They, therefore, rebelled against the material advantages stemming from the new life in the Gangetic basin. In other words, we find the same kind of reaction against the changes in material life in the mid Ganga plain in the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. as we notice against the changes introduced by the Industrial Revolution in modern times. The advent of the Industrial Revolution made many people thinks of return to the pre-machine age life; similarly people in the past wanted to return to the pre-iron age life.

Vardhamana Mahavira and Jainism

According to the Jainas, the origin of Jainism goes back to very ancient times. They believe in twenty-four tirthankaras or great teachers or leaders of their religion. The first tirthankara is believed to be Rishabhadev who was born in Ayodhya. He is said to have laid the foundations for orderly human society. The last, twenty-fourth, tirthankara, was Vardhamana Mahavira who was a contemporary of Gautama Buddha. According to the Jaina tradition, most of the early tirthankaras were born in the middle Ganga basin and attained nirvana in Bihar. The twenty-third tirthankara was Parshvanath who was born in Varanasi. He gave up royal life and became an ascetic. Many teachings of Jainism are attributed to him. According to Jaina tradition, he lived two hundred years before Mahavira. Mahavir is said to be the twenty-fourth.

It is difficult to fix the exact dates of birth and death of Vardhamana Mahavira and Gautama Buddha. According to one tradition, Vardhamana Mahavira was born in 540 B.C. in a village called Kundagrama near. Vaishali, which is identical with Basarh in the district of Vaishalf in north Bihar. His father Siddhartha was the head of a famous kshatriyg clan called Jnatrika and the ruler of his own area.Mahavira’s mother was named Trishala, sister of the Lichchhavi chief Chetaka, whose daughter was wedded to Bimbisar family was connected with the royal family of Magadha.

In, the beginning, Mahavira led the life of a householder, but in the search for truth he abandoned the world at the age of 30 and became an ascetic. He would not stay for more than a day in a village and for more than five days in a town. During next twelve years he meditated, practised austerities of various kinds and endured many hardships. In the thirteenth year, when he had reached the age Of 42, he attained kaivalya (Juan). Through kaivalya he conquered misery and happiness. Because of this conquest he is known as Mahavira or the great hero or jina, i.e the conqueror and his followers are known as Jainas. He propagated his religion for 30 years and his mission took him to Koshala, Magadha, Mithila, Champa, etc. He passed away at the age of 72 in 468 B.C. at a place called Pavapuri near modern Rajgir. According to another tradition, he was born in 599 B.C. and passed away in 527 B.C.

Doctrines of Jainism

Jainism taught five doctrines: (i) do not commit violence, (ii) do not speak a lie, (iii) do not steal, (iv) do not acquire property and (v) observe continence (brahmacharya). It is said that only the fifth doctrine was added by Mahavira: the other four were taken over by him from previous teachers. Jainism attached the utmost importance to ahimsa or non-injury to living beings. Sometimes it led to absurd results, for some Jain kings ordered execution of persons guilty of killing animals. Although Parshva, the predecessor of Mahavira, had asked his followers to cover the upper and lower portions of their body, Mahavira asked them to discard clothes altogether. This implies that Mahavira asked his followers to lead a more austere life. On account of this in later times, Jainism was divided into two sects; shvetambaras or those who put on white dress and digambaras, or those who keep themselves naked Jainism recognized the existence of the gods, but placed them lower than the jina. It did not condemn the varna system as Buddhism did. According to Mahavira a person is bom in a high or in a lower varna in consequence of the sins or the virtues acquired by him in the previous birth. Mahavira looks for human values even in a chandala. In his opinion, through pure and meritorious life members of the lower castes can attain liberation. Jainism mainly aims at the attainment of freedom from worldly bonds. No ritual is required for acquiring such liberation.

It can be obtained through right knowledge, light faith and right action.

These three are considered to be the Three Jewels or triratna of Jainism. Jainisrn prohibited the practice of war and even agriculture for its followers because both involve the killing, of living beings. Eventually, the Jainas mainly confined themselves to trade and mercantile activities.

Spread of Jainism

In order to spread the teachings of Jainism, Mahavira organized an order of his followers which admitted both men and women. It is said that his followers counted 14,000 which is not a large number. Since Jainism did not very clearly mark itself out from the brahmanical religion, it failed, to attract the masses. Despite this Jainism gradually spread into south and west India where the brahmanical religion was weak According to a late tradition, the spread of Jainism in Karnataka is attributed to Chandragupta Maurya (322-298 B.C.). The emperor became a Jaina, gave up his throne and spent the last years of his life in Karnataka as a Jaina ascetic. But this tradition is hot corroborated by any other source. The sec bird cause of the spread of Jainism in ‘south India is-said to be the great famine that took place in Magadha 200 years after the death of Mahavira. The famine lasted for twelve years and in order to protect themselves many a Jaina went to the south under the leadership of Bhadrahahu, but the rest of them stayed back in Magadha under the leadership of Sthalabahu. The emigrant Jamas spread Jainism in south India. At the end of the famine they came back to Magadha where they developed differences with the local Jainas. Those who came back from the south claimed that even during the famine they had strictly observed the religious rules; on the other hand, they alleged, the Jaina ascetics living in Magadha had violated those rules and had become lax. In order to sort out these differences and to compile the main teachings of Jainism a council was convened in Pataliputra, modern Patna, but the southern Jainas boycotted the council and refused to accept its decisions. From now onwards, the southerns began to be called digambaras and the Magadhans shvetambaras. The tradition which refers to drought as the cause belongs to a later period and is considered doubtful. But it is beyond doubt that the Jainas were divided into two sects. However, epigraphic evidence for the spread of Jainism in Karnataka is not earlier than the third century A.D. In subsequent centuries, especially after the fifth century, numerous Jaina monastic establishments called basadis sprang up in Karnataka and were granted land by the king for their support.

Jainism spread to Kalinga in Orissa in the fourth century B.C. and in the first century B.C. it enjoyed the patronage of the Kalinga king Kharavela who had defeated the princes of Andhra and Magadha. In the second and first centuries B.C. it also seems to have reached the southern districts of Tamil Nadu. In later centuries Jainism penetrated Malwa, Gujarat and Rajasthan and even now these areas have a good number of Jainas who are mainly engaged in trade and commerce. Although Jainism did not win as much state patronage as Buddhism did and did not spread very fast in early times, it still retains its hold in the areas where it spread. On the other hand, Buddhism practically disappeared from the Indian subcontinent.

Contribution of Jainism

Jainism made the first serious attempt to mitigate the evils of the varna order and the ritualistic Vedic religion. The early Jainas discarded Sanskrit language mainly patronized by the brahmanas. They adopted Prakrit language of the common people to preach their doctrines. Their religious literature; was written in Ardhamagadhir and the texts were finally compiled in the sixth century A.D. in Gujarat at a place called Vaiabhi, a great centre, of education The adoption of Prakrit by the Jainas helped the growth of this language and its literature. Many regional languages developed out of Prakrit languages, particularly Shauraseni, out of which grew the Marathi language. The Jainas composed the earliest important works in Apabhramsha and prepared its first grammar. The Jaina literature contains epics, Puranas, novels and drama. A large portion of the Jaina writing is still in the form of manuscripts, which have not been published and which are found in the Jaina shrines of Gujarat and Rajasthan. In early medieval times the Jainas also made good use of Sanskrit and wrote many texts in it. Last but not the least, they contributed to the growth of Kannada, in which they wrote extensively.

Initially, like the Buddhists, the Jainas were not image worshippers. Later they began to worship Mahavira and also the twentyrthree tirthankards. Beautiful and sometimes massive images in stpne were sculpted for this purpose, especially in Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Jaina art in ancient times is not as rich as Buddhist art, but Jainism contributed substantially to art and architecture in medieval times.

Gautama Buddha and Buddhism

Gautama Buddha or Siddhartha was a contemporary of Mahavira. According to tradition he was bom in 563 B C. in a Shakya kshatriya family in Lumbini in Nepal near Kapilavastu, which is identified with Piprahwa in Bast! district and-close to the foothills of Nepal. Gautama’s father seems to have been the elected ruler of Kapilavastu and headed the republican clan of the Shakyas. His mother was a prince from the Koshalan dynasty. Thus, like Mahavira, Gautama also belonged to a noble family. Born in a republic, he also inherited some egalitarian sentiments.

Since his early childhood Gautama showed a meditative bent of mind. He was married early, but married life did not interest him. He was moved by the misery which people suffered in the world and looked for its solution. At the age of 29, like Mahavira again, he left home. He kept on wandering for about seven years and then attained knowledge at the age of 35 at Bodh Gaya under a pipal tree. From this time onwards he began to be called the Buddha or the enlightened.

Gautama Buddha delivered his first sermons at Sarnath in Banaras. He undertook long journeys and took his message far and wide. He had a very strong physique, which enabled him to walk 20 to 30 km a day. He kept on wandering, preaching and meditating continuously for 40 years, resting only in the rainy season every year. During this long period he encountered many staunch supporters of rival sects including the brahmanas, but defeated them in debates. His missionary activities did not discriminate between the rich and the poor, the high and the low and the man and woman. Gautama Buddhav passed away at the age of 80 in 483 B C. at a place called Kusinagar, identical with the village called Kasia in the district of Deoria in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Doctrines of Buddhism

The Buddha proved to be a practical reformer who took note of the realities of the day. He did not involve himself in fruitless controversies regarding the spill (atman) and the Brahma which raged strongly in his time; he addressed himself to the worldly problems. He said that the world is full of sorrows and people suffer on account of desires. If desires are conquered, nirvana will be attained, that is, man will be free from the cycle of birth and death.

Gautama Buddha recommended an eight-fold path (ashtangica marga) for the elimination of human misery. This path is attributed to him in a text of about the third century B.C. It comprised right observation, right determination, right speech, right action, right livelihood right exercise, right memory and right meditation. If a person follows this eight-fold path he would not depend on the machinations of the priests and will be able to reach his destination. Gautama taught that d person should avoid the excess of both luxury and austerity; He prescribed the middle path.

The Buddha also laid down a code of conduct for his followers on the same lines as was done by the Jaina teachers. The main items in this social conduct are: (i) :do mot covet the property of others, (ii) do not commit violence, (iii) do not use intoxicants, (iv) do not speak a lie and (v) do not indulge in corrupt practices. These teaching’s are common to the social conduct ordained by almost all religions.

Special Features of Budhism and the causes of its spread

Buddhism does not recognize the existence of god and soul (atman), This can be taken as a kind of revolution in the history of Indian religions. Since early Buddhism was not enmeshed in the clap-trap of philosophical discussion it appealed to the common people. It particularly won the support of the lower orders as it attacked the varna system People were taken into the Buddhist order-without any consideration of caste. Women also were admitted to the sangha and thus brought on par with men. In cornparison with Brahmanism, Buddhism was liberal and democratic.

Buddhism made a special appeal to the people of the non-Vedic areas where it found a virgin soil for conversion. The people of Magadha responded readily to Buddhism because they were-looked down upon by the orthodox brahinanas. Magadha was placed outside the pale of the holy Aryavarta, the land of the Aryas, covering modern Uttar Pradesh. The old tradition persists; sad the people of north Bihar would not Like to be ere mated south of the Ganga in Magadha.

The personality of the Buddha and the method adopted by him to preach his religion helped the spread of Buddhism. He tried to fight evil by goodness and hatred by love. He refused to be provoked by slander and abuse. He maintained poise and calm under difficult conditions and tackled his opponents with wit and presence of mind. It is said that on one occasion an ignorant person abused him the Buddha, listened on silently and when the person had stopped abusing, the Buddha asked; “My son, if a person does not accept a present what will happen to it His adversary replied: It remains with the person who had offered it The Buddha then saidMy son! do not accept your abuse”.

The use of Pali, the language of the people, also contributed to lire spread of Buddhism. It facilitated the spread of Buddhist doctrines among the common people. Gautama Buddha also organized the sangha or the religious order, whose doors were kept open to everybody, irrespective of caste and sex. The only condition required of the monks was that they would faithfully observe the rules and regulations of the sangha. Once they were enrolled as members of the Buddhist Church they had to take the vow of continence, poverty and Faith. So there are three main elements in Buddhism: Buddha, sangha and dhamma. As a result of organized preaching under the auspices of the sangha, Buddhism made rapid strides even in the lifetime of the Buddha. The monarchies of Magadha, Koshala and Kausbambi and several republican states and their people adopted this religion.

Two hundred years after the death of the Buddha, the famous Maurya king Ashoka embraced Buddhism. This was an epoch-making event. Through his agents Ashoka spread Buddhism into Cental Asia, West Asia and Sri Lanka and thqs transformed it into a world religion. Even today Sri Lanka Burma (Myanmar), Tibet and parts of China and Japan profess Buddhism. Although Buddhism disappeared from the land of its birth, it continues to hold ground in the countries of South Asia, South-East Asia and East-Asia.

Causes of the Decline of Budhism

By the early twelfth century A.D. Buddhism became practically extinct in India. It had continued to exist in a changed form in Bengal and Bihar till the eleventh century but after that this religion almost completely vanished from the country. What were its causes? We find that in the beginning every religion is inspired by the spirit of reform, but eventually it succumbs to rituals and ceremonies it originally denounced. Buddhism underwent a similar metamorphosis. It became a victim to the evils of Brahmanism against which it had fought in the beginning. To meet the Buddhist challenge the brahmanas reformed their religion. They stressed the need for preserving the cattle wealth and-assured women and shudras of admission to heaven. Buddhism, on the other hand, changed for the worse. Gradually the Buddhist monks were cut off from the mainstream of people’s life they gave up Pali, the language of the people and took to Sanskrit, the language of intellectuals. From the first century A.D. onwards, they practised idol worship on a large scale and received numerous offerings from devotees. The rich offerings supplemented by generous royal grants to the Buddhist monasteries made the life of monks easy. Some of the monasteries such as Nalanda collected revenue from as many as 200 villages. By the seventh century A.D., the Buddhist monasteries had come to be dominated by ease-loving people and became centres of corrupt practices which Gautama Buddha had strictly prohibited. His new form of Buddhism was known as Vajrayana. The enormous Wealth of the monasteries with women living in them led to further degeneration. Buddhists came to look upon Women as objects of lust. The Buddha is reported to have said to his favourite disciple Ananda: if Women were not admitted into the monasteries Buddhism would have continued for one thousand years, hut because this admission has been granted it would last only five hundred years.

The brahmana ruler Pashyamitra Shunga is said to have persecuted the Buddhists. Several instances of persecution occur in the sixth-seventh centuries A.D the Huna king Mihirakula, who was a worshipper of Shiva, killed hundreds of Buddhists. The Shaivite Shashanka of Gauda cut off the Bodhi tree at Bod ha Gaya, where the Buddha had attained enlightenment. Hsuan Tsang states that 1600 stupas and monasteries were destroyed and thousands of monks and lay followers killed; this may not be without some truth. The Buddhist reaction can be seen in some pantheons in which Buddhist deities trample Hindu deities. In south India both the Shaivites and Vaishnavites bitterly opposed the Jainas and Buddhists in early medieval times. Such conflicts may have weakened Buddhism.

For their riches the monasteries came to be coveted by the Turkish invaders. They became special targets of the invaders; greed. The Turks killed a large number of Buddhist monks in Bihar, although some of the monks managed to escape to Nepal and Tibet In any case by the twelfth century A.D. Buddhism had practically, disappeared from the land of its birth.

Importance and Influence of Budhism

Despite its ultimate disappearance as an, organized religion, Buddhism left its abiding mark on the history of India. The, Buddhists showed a keen awareness of the problems that faced the people of north-east India in the sixth century B.C. The new iron ploughshare agriculture, trade and the use of coins enabled tire traders and nobles to accumulate wealth and we hear of people possessing eighty kotis of wealth. All this naturally created sharp social and economic inequalities. So Buddhism asked people not to accumulate wealth. According to it poverty breeds hatred; cruelty and violence. To eradicate these evils the Buddha advised that farmers should be provided with grain and other facilities the traders with wealth and the labourers with wages. These measures were, recommended to remove poverty in this world. Buddhism further, taught that if the poor gave aims to the monks, they would be born wealthy in the next world.

The code of conduct prescribed for the monks represents a reaction against the material conditions of north-east India in the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. It imposes restrictions on the food, dress and sexual behaviour of the monks. They cannot accept gold and silver and they cannot take to sale and purchase. These rules were relaxed after the death of the Buddha, but the early rules suggest a return to a kind of primitive communism, a characteristic of the tribal society in which people did not practise trade and advanced agriculture. The code of conduct prescribed for monks partially reflects a revolt against the use of money, private property and luxurious living, which appeared in the sixth century BC. in north-east India. In those days property and money were regarded as luxuries.

Although Buddhism tried to mitigate the evils resulting from the new material life in the sixth century B.C. it also tried to consolidate the changes in the social and economic life, of the people. The rule that debtors were not permitted to be members of the sangha naturally helped the moneylenders and richer sections of society from whose clutches the debtors could not be saved. Similarly the rule that slaves could not join the sangha helped the slave owners. Thus the rules and teachings of Gautama Buddha took full account of the new changes in the material life and strengthened them ideologically,.

Although the Buddhist monks had renounced the world and repeatedly criticized the greedy brahman as, in several ways they resembled the brahamnas. Both of them did not participate directly in production and lived on the alms or gifts given by society. Both of them emphasised the virtues of carrying out family obligations, protecting private property and respecting political authority. Both of them supported the social order based on classes; for the monks, however the varna was based on action and attributes but for the brahmanas it was based on birth.

Undoubtedly the objective of the Buddhist teaching was to secure the salvation of the individual or nirvana. Those who found it difficult to adjust themselves to the break-up of the old tribal society and the rise of gross social inequalities on account of private property were provided with some way of escape, but it was confined to the monks. No escape was provided for the lay followers, who were taught to come to terms with the existing situation.

Buddhism made an important impact on society by keeping its doors open to women and shudras. Since both women and shudras were placed in the same category by Brahmanism, they were neither given sacred thread nor allowed to read the Vedas. Their conversion to Buddhism freed them from such marks of inferiority.

With its emphasis on non-violence and the sanctity of animal life, Buddhism boosted the cattle wealth of the country. The earliest Buddhist text Sattanipata declares the cattle to be givers of food, beauty and happiness (armada, vannada, sukhada) and thus pleads for their protection. This teaching came significantly at a time when the non-Aryans slaughtered animals for food and the Aryans in the name of religion. The brahmanieal insistence on the sacredness of the cow and nonviolence was apparently derived from Buddhist teachings.

Buddhism created and developed a new awareness in the field of intellect and culture. It taught the people not to take things for granted but to argue and judge them on merits. To a 1 certain extent the place of superstition was taken by logic. This promoted rationalism among people. In order to preach the doctrines of the new religion, the Buddhists compiled a new type of literature. They enormously enriched Pali by their writings. The early Pali literature can be divided into three categories. The first contains the sayings and teachings of the Buddha, the second deals with the rules to be observed by members of the sangha and the third presents the philosophical exposition of the dhamma.

In the first three centuries of the Christian era, by mixing Pali with Sanskrit the Buddhists created a new language which is called Hybrid Sanskrit. The literary activities of the Buddhist monks continued even in the middle Ages and some famous Apabhramsa writings in east India were composed by them. The Buddhist monasteries developed as great centres of learning and can be called residential universities. Mention may be made of Nalanda and Vikramashila in Bihar and Valabhi in Gujarat. Buddhism left its mark on the art of ancient India. The first human statues worshipped in India were probably those of the Buddha. The faithful devotees portrayed the various events in the life of the Buddha in stone. The panels found at Gaya in Bihar and at Sanchi and Bharut in Madhya Pradesh are Illuminating examples of artistic activity. From the first century K.D. onwards the panel images of Gautama Buddha began to be made. The Greek and the Indian sculptors worked together to create a new kind art on the north-west frontier of India, which is known as the Gandhara art. The images made in tills region betray Indian as well as foreign influence. For the residence of the monks rooms were hewn out of the rocks, and thus began the cave architecture in the Barabar hills in Gaya and in. western India around Nasik. Buddhist art flourished in the Krishna delta in the south and in Mathura in the north.


  1. Explain the meaning of the following terms and concepts:Aryavarta, Varna-divided society, Dvija, Tirthankara, Nirvana, Jina, Ahimsa, Sangha, Dhamma.
  2. Discuss the causes of the origin of new religious sects in the sixth century B.C.
  3. Describe the main teachings of Jainism. Discuss its impact on Indian society.
  4. Describe the main teachings of Buddhism. Discuss its impact on Indian society.
  5. Discuss the social and economic background of the rise of Jainism and Buddhism and the social aspects of the two religions.
  6. Discuss the reasons for the spread of Buddhism. Describe the organization and the role of the Buddhist Sangha.
  7. Why did Buddhism decline while Jainism continued to be influential in some parts of India?
  8. Why had Magadha become the centre of the new religious movements?
  9. Discuss how and in which aspects the impact of Buddhism in.India continued even after its decline.
  10. Why are Buddhism and Jainism considered as religious reform movements?
  11. Describe the contribution of Jainism and Buddhism to Indian literature and art Compile a list of Jaina and Buddhist literature and pictures of Jaina and Buddhist art as part of a project.

Leave a Reply

error: Content is protected !!