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Why did Buddhism disappear from South Asia? Brahmin atrocities that destroyed Buddhism in the Subcontinent

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By Sawmeer Khan

Many wonder why Buddhism disappeared from the Subcontinent but thrives in China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and in Sri Lanka. Many Hindus claim that Buddha was a Hindu God. Of course Buddhists in China, Thailand and other countries and in India do not accept that doctrine. In fact Buddhism was hounded out of its birthplace.

Prince Sidharta’s rejection of the hand of the illegitimate daughter had angered Vidudabha, son of Prasenadi, king of Koshala ostensibly because of their caste pride. They had withheld their legitimate daughters from the Prince. Hence began the war between Buddha and the Brahmans, and between Buddhism and Brahamanism.

“Despotic state power persecuted Buddhists for centuries as Brahminical Hinduism held sway in large parts of India. Buddhism was all but banished from this land and found refuge in Sri Lanka, Tibet, Myanmar, Thailand and eastwards.” Dr. Praful Bidwai. Praful Bidwai: “Hindutva’s fallacies and fantasies”, Frontline, 21-112001.

Various theories have been put forward which seek to explain the tragic eclipse of Buddhism from India. According to one view, corruption in the Buddhist sangha or priesthood precipitated Buddhism’s ultimate decline. While it is true that with time the Buddhist priests became increasingly lax in the observance of religious rules, corruption alone cannot explain the death of Buddhism. After all, Buddhism was replaced by an even more corrupt Brahminism. Another theory is that Buddhism disappeared from India in the wake of the Arab and Turkish invasions in which many Buddhists were said to have been killed. However, this theory, too, seems not to be convincing as a complete explanation of the extinction of Buddhism in India .


A must-read is Buddhist scholar Davidi Kalupahana, who rejects the inclusion of Buddhism in Hinduism, is irritated with Western scholarship.

“The history of India is nothing but a history of a mortal conflict between Buddhism and Brahmanism.” (Dr. Ambadekar. B.R. Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, vol.3, p.267 (in the Chapter: “The triumph of Brahminism: regicide or the birth of counter-revolution”).

V.T. Rajshekar in his fortnightly Dalit Voice describes the Brahamnic atrocities in detail. Also elucidated by Dalit leaders like Bahujan Samaj Party president Kanshi Ram.

Arya Samaj’s writings are an eye-opener. They are bitter critics of Buddhism.

Buddhism has made a remarkable but heavily politicized come-back in India, first with the conversion of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar and millions of his Scheduled Caste followers (1956), and soon after with the settlement of a high-profile Tibetan refugee community and a Tibetan Government-in-Exile (1959).

For those interested in scholarly research, please view the enterprise by “two well known academicians of Kerala – Prof KM Bahauddin, former pro-vice chancellor of Aligarh Muslim and Osmania universities, and Dr MS Jayaprakash, professor of history at Kollam – throw some deep insights into the dark history of India when Buddhism was systematically eliminated by Brahminical forces who control Hinduism, then and now.”


Jayaprakash elaborates:

‘Hundreds of Buddhist statues, stupas and viharas have been destroyed in India between 830 and 966 AD in the name of Hindu revivalism. Both literary and archaeological sources within and outside India speak volumes about the havoc done to Buddhism by Hindu fanatics. Spiritual leaders like Sankaracharya and many Hindu kings and rulers took pride in demolishing Buddhist images aiming at the total eradication of Buddhist culture.

After all, in places such as Bengal and Sind, which were ruled by Brahminical dynasties but had Buddhist majorities, Buddhists are said to have welcomed the Muslims as saviours who had freed them from the tyranny of ‘upper’ caste rule. This explains why most of the ‘lower-caste’ people in Eastern Bengal and Sind embraced Islam. Few, if any, among the ‘upper’ castes of these regions did the same.

Veer Savarkar describes the sharp contrasts between Hinduism and Brahamanism. He was highly critical of Buddhism.

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, devoted a part of his influential book “Hindutva” to Buddhism and attacks Buddhism’s “lack of martial involvement in society, and its lack of nationalist identification with India”.

Under pressure, he makes a few genuflections before the Buddha, but then reverts to his negative judgment. “We fear that the one telling factor that contributed to the fall of Buddhism more than any other has escaped that detailed attention of scholars which it deserves.”

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Savarkar explains that “Philosophical differences” and the “inanitation and demoralization of the Buddhistic Church”, with Viharas attracting “a loose, lazy and promiscuous crowd of men who lived on others”, are insufficient. V.D. Savarkar: Hindutva, p.18.

“Thus it was political and national necessity that was at once the cause and the effect of the decline of Buddhism. Buddhism had its centre of gravity nowhere. So it was an imperative need to restore at least the national centre of gravity that India had lost in attempting to get identified with Buddhism.” Savarkar. V.D. Savarkar: Hindutva, p.28

They would have been inconsequential “had not the political consequences of the Buddhistic expansion been so disastrous to the national virility and even the national existence of our race”

Savarkar crticises Buddha, his teachings, and Buddhims –would give proof of downright “treason”:

“The reaction against universal tendencies of Buddhism only grew more insistent and powerful as the attempt to re-establish the Buddhist power in India began to assume a more threatening attitude. Nationalist tendencies refused to barter with our national independence and accept a foreign conqueror as our overlord. But if that foreigner happened to be favourably inclined towards Buddhism, then he was sure to find some secret sympathisers among the Indian Buddhists all over India, even as Catholic Spain could always find some important section in England to restore a Catholic dynasty in England. Not only this but dark hints abound in our ancient records to show that at times some foreign Buddhistic powers had actually invaded India with an express national and religious aim in view.” V.D. Savarkar: Hindutva, p.25


Savarkar states that the Greco-Bactrian and Kushana invaders adopted Buddhism, supported by native Buddhists. He questions the loyalty and collaboration of native Buddhists.Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, Savarkar gives other instances of Buddhist treason.

“these Indian Buddhists were elated to see the Muslim foreigners march against the Hindu kingdom. These Buddhists, who bore malice towards the Hindus, perhaps thought that these new Muslim aggressors might embrace their Buddhist cult, as did their forerunners, the Greeks under Menander or the Kushans under Kanishka, and establish a Buddhist empire over India. So they went and greeted the Arabian-Muslim leader when he captured Port Deval from the hands of King Dahir.” V.D. Savarkar: Six Glorious Epochs, p.133-134. Savarkar wrote this book in Marathi: Bhâratiya itihâsâtîla sahâ sonerî pâne, it was translated into English by S.T. Godbole.

Sarvarkar thinks that the Buddhists sent this message to Qasim:

Savarkar imagines what the message they brought to Qasim sounded like: “We have nothing to do with Dahir and his Vedic Hindu cult. Our religious faith differs very widely from theirs. (…) Never suspect for a moment that we shall even enlist ourselves in King Dahir’s armed forces or help him in any way. So we pray that the Buddhists should not be subjected to any indignities or troubles at your hands.” Savarkar also imagines this response. “which amounted to complete surrender” was that he “gave them temporary assurance of safety”. V. D. Savarkar: Six Glorious Epochs, p. 134.


Savarkar asks and answers the question: “But what were the Buddhists doing in this national catastrophe? At the news of the fall of King Dahir and the victory of the Muslims, these Buddhists began to ring bells in their vihars to greet the Muslim conquerors, and prayed in congregations for the prosperity of the Muslim rulers!” V.D. Savarkar: Six Glorious Epochs, p. 136. Vihâra = Buddhist monastery. Notably those by C.V. Vaidya, S.N. Dhar, A.L. Srivastava, Henry M. Elliot, M. Titus, and the original testimonies, the Chach-Nâmah and Al Baladhuri’s Kitâb Futûh-ul-Baldân, both in English translation in H.M. Eliot & John Dowson: History of India as Told by Its Own Historians, vol.1.

S.T. Godbole translates how Al-Baladhuri mentions that “two Samanis, or priests” (apparently Shramanas, Buddhist monks) went all the way to Qasim’s employer Hajjaj “to treat for peace

“His [Qasim’sl work was greatly facilitated by the treachery of certain Buddhist priests and renegade chiefs who deserted their sovereign and joined the invader" R.C. Majumdar, H.C. Raychoudhary, Kalikinkar Datta: An Advanced History of India, p. 172.

"Budhiman comes to Muhammad Kasim, and receives a promise of protection"?Quoted in Elliot & Dowson: History of India as Told by Its Own Historians, vol.1, p.157.


These authors believe that "one thousand Brahmans" who came to surrender are described as having "shaven heads and beards" and being "dressed in yellow clothes", the typical look of Shramanas.

Buddhist point of view: "Buddhism is a movement of anti-Hindu revolt then groaning under Hindu oppression, and the Muslim invaders came as liberators of those whom the Hindu regime oppressed, including the Buddhists."

"Brahminical orthodoxy having overwhelmed the Buddhist revolution, India of the eleventh and twelfth centuries must have been infested with multitudes of persecuted heretics who would eagerly welcome the message of Islam."M.N. Roy: Historical Role of Islam, p.81

Romila Thapar has said: "In an often horrible way, religious forms of expression like Buddhism and Jainism have been persecuted and even exterminated [by Hindus]. (…) The trauma for the Brahmins was that, in the time of the Moghuls, they were counted among ‘the rest’, i.e. the non-Muslims. Bad for them was also that Islam was more able to have a dialogue with the inheritors of Shramanism.” Interview with Romila Thapar by Marc Colpaert in Wereldwijd, March 1986. There is no information about this “dialogue” in Romila Thapar: A History of India, vol.1, which covers the period when these religions encountered each other.

Buddhism was hostile to Hinduism to the extent of collaborating with the Arab invasion.

Nowhere can one find evidence to say that some Indian Buddhist army or some Buddhist organization fought with the Muslim invaders any battle worth the name.” V.D. Savarkar: Six Glorious Epochs, p. 143.

Savarkar hates the Buddhists for their non-violence and he glrifies Hindu militarism. “Buddhism has conquests to claim but they belong to a world far removed from this our matter-of-fact world, where feet of clay do not stand long and steel could be easily sharpened, and trishna/thirst is too powerful and real to be quenched by painted streams that flow perennially in heaven. These must have been the considerations that must have driven themselves home to the hearts of our patriots and thinkers when the Huns and Shakas poured like volcanic torrents and burnt all that thrived. (…) So the leaders of thought and action of our race had to rekindle their Sacrificial Fire to oppose the sacrilegious one and to re-open the mines of Vedic fields for steel, to get it sharpened on the altar of Kali, ‘the Terrible’, so that Mahakal, the ‘spirit of the time’, be appeased. Nor were their anticipations belied. The success of the renovated Hindu arms was undisputed and indisputable. Vikramaditya who drove the foreigners from the Indian soil and Lalitaditya who caught and chastised them in their very dens from Tartary to Mongolia were but complements of each other. Valour had accomplished what formulas had failed to do.” V.D. Savarkar: Hindutva, p.20-22.


“…if I were to say that Hinduism and Buddhism are totally different, it would not be in conformity with truth.” Dalai Lama. Interview in Organiser, 22-11-1992.

“that the conflict against Brahmin supremacy had, in fact, started before Buddhist period, between Vasishta Muni, a Brahmin, and Viswamitra, a non-Brahmin. ‘The dispute was about the learning of ‘Vedas’, the right to conduct religious ceremony, to receive gifts, and to perform coronation of King. Vasishta Muni insisted that these were the exclusive privileges of Brahmins, while Viswamitra was opposed to such exclusive rights. This dispute lasted for long period, and even Kings joined in it (Writings and Speeches of Dr. Ambedkar, vol. 7, p. 148-155. It was won by Brahmins.’: Prof. Bahauddin Quoting Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.

A slightly immature presentation by ANKUR BARUA, M.A. BASILIO, Buddhist Door, Tung Lin Kok Yuen, Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2009 also touches upon the subject: