Factors that account for the rapid expansion of Buddhism during Buddha’s lifetime
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Royal Patronage & Lay Supporters
Personality of the Buddha
- Born to be a king and was given a princely education so he used this skills in His teaching and in His organization of the Sangha.
- He was a great teacher and went out of His way to convert those he knew had the latent wisdom and mental qualities to realize the Dhamma.
- He was a first class debator and speaker. He possessed the ability to discern minds of the listeners and piched His lessons at their level.
- He uses gradual talk to convert the people.
- The people were impressed by Him and looked upon Him as an ordinary person; very approachable and gentle.
Appeal of the Dhamma
- The teaching was very simple compared to the Brahmanical traditions and practices of that time. It did not advocate elaborate sacrifices and exorbitant expenses. There were no supernatural do’s and don’ts.
- The Dhamma was easy to understand and is accessible to the masses.
- The language of the Dhamma was the language of His audience and it was easy to understand. It was the language of the lay people and not the language of the god like Sanskrit as claimed by the Brahmins.
- The Dhamma emphasized morality and ethics and the Sangha was the role model of what the Dhamma preached so people were convinced by the teaching.
Strength of the Sangha; role of the chief disciples; role of women
- The Sangha played an important role in contributing to the spread of the Dhamma as it was their duty to do so.
- Buddha alone could not spread the Dhamma so he sent his disciples all over to spread the Dhamma. The Vinaya Rules formulated was to ensure that the monks conduct themselves properly so as to increase the faith of the believers.
- The role of His disciples – His disciples had different specializations e.g. Sariputta was an expert in the Dhamma whilst Moggallana was foremost In psychic power.
- Duties or role of the disciples was to safeguard and purify the Buddha’s words.
- The women who joined the order were mainly from the royal families e.g. Maha Pajapati Gotami. There were also strong female lay supporters like Visakha and Queen Mallika. Unlike Brahmanism, women had no religious roles and were considered inferior.
- People at that time were more receptive to alternative philosophical and religious explanation.
- Some were not strict Brahmanic followers.