The great religions of India: Buddhism –

We previously mentioned in about history the development of jainism as a reaction to the excesses of the religion of the Brahmins in the India of the sixth century.

Next to jainismthe other great reformist religion of the time appeared: the buddhism.

According to tradition, its founder, Gautam Buddha (566 – 478 BC, approximately), initially wanted to achieve enlightenment based on extreme mortifications according to the model of other ascetics, but failed in his attempt.

For this reason, he totally retired to solitude to surrender to meditation and managed to overcome the temptations of the devil. Marawho tried to dissuade him from the search for eternal truth.

One night, being under a fig tree, “enlightenment” came to him. From this moment, Buddha He consecrated his life to teaching his doctrine accompanied by a group of disciples and, until his death, he toured North India preaching. His followers claim that he performed miracles and that, upon his death, he entered into Nirvana (the total absence of desire, the end of the cycle of reincarnations).

Buddha and his followers under a fig tree

The similarities, in many points, with Christianity, are not mere chance. The movement led by Jesus in the Near East, he was strongly influenced by this type of Eastern currents of thought.

The doctrine buddhist part of human pain and is based on the liberation of it. It preaches that, since all life is suffering, it is necessary to suppress this suffering through the elimination of desire, which is the source of pain, although without resorting to extreme solutions, but adopting a necessary moderation that will lead to salvation (moksha).

In the sum of the acts of an individual, good and bad, charity acquires great importance, and accumulates from one life to another. There is, therefore, a possibility for the individual to arrest the course of samarathe cycle of reincarnations.

The buddhism it is presented as a liberation of the individual, who thus becomes the owner of his salvation. This is the goal that man must set for himself, and it is only possible to reach it through personal purification.

The individual achieves catharsis over the course of innumerable existences. Today the buddhism has little effect on Indiabut it is the dominant religion in Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), or Burma.

After the death of Buddha, the teachings of the prophet were doctrinally fixed in various councils. After a century, there was a split in the buddhism from which two branches would emerge: Orthodox Buddhism Hinayanaor the “Little Vehicle”, and Buddhism mahayana, or of the “Great Vehicle”. Both branches differ in various aspects, one being, for example, the idolatry of Buddha (mahayana) or its prohibition (Hinayana).

The importance of buddhism it began to decline at the end of the 4th century, coinciding with the rise to power of the Gupta dynasty. Taking advantage of the fact that the population that identified the buddhism with foreign monarchies, Gupta they turned to Hinduism in their eagerness to recover the Indian national identity and returned to the original traditions, which had been preserved by the brahmins.

Finally, the Hinduism he recovered the brahmanical tradition, but attenuated its rigidity, leaving open the hope of salvation. This religion lives in the desire to escape from the ineluctable cycle of samara through the daily practice of individual, family or collective religious rites. But the influence of buddhismin aspects such as non-violence, respect for life, and asceticism, were forever recorded in the dogma of Hinduism.