In modern perception today Buddhism is regarded as a religion distinct and apart from Hinduism. It is our view that such an understanding lacks historical validity and is also logically flawed. In the enterprise of clarifying Buddhism's relationship with "Hinduism" we will in the essay below adopt the following strategy:
1. Show the inadequacy of the modern understanding of the word "religion" in representing Indian religious traditions.
2. Understand the historical context of the definition of "Hinduism".
3. Understand the inadequacy of the arguments, which distinguish Buddhism as a religion distinct from "Hinduism".
4. Understand why Buddhism is regarded as a religion distinct from "Hinduism" today.
5. Attempt to understand the true relationship between Buddhism and "Hinduism".
Some fundamental problems with regards defining "religion" in India
A religion in the modern sense is generally understood in the Semitic mould as a faith distinguished by its belief in a historical prophet and a holy book. Thus the combination of Jesus and the Bible or Mohammed and the Quran establish the distinct identity of Christianity and Islam. According to these religions salvation or access to God is possible only if you accept the authority of their prophet and holy book. So each of these religions hold that theirs is the only true path and the claims of all other religions are false and invalid. At a secondary level apart from theological distinctions the adherents of these religions also distinguish themselves by their distinct cultural traits - like naming themselves after the holy men of their religions, dressing in a distinct way or observing cultural practices particular to their own religion. So it is in these factors - primarily the exclusive belief in prophet and holy book and secondarily in theological beliefs and distinct cultural practices - that the individual identity of a religion and its adherents rests.
But if we look at India the concept of a prophet is totally lacking - no saint has ever claimed that "he is the only way". With regards the scriptures, a few streams of the Miimaamsaa consider the Vedas to be infallible and the sole authority on matters spiritual - but even here they're careful to stress on the importance of reason in interpreting the scriptures. Simply put: even the Vedas cannot make fire cold. But the majority of the religious streams were agreed about the relative value of their scriptures and accepted the authority of other sources too - logic, the views of enlightened men etc. So no religious stream in India has ever claimed that they and only they represent the sole way to God based on their prophet and holy book and all others are false. Simply put the argument is that God/reality is not validated by a prophet or a holy book and is open to anybody with the right inclination. So each religious stream at best claims to be a better and more effective path to access God/reality.
With regards theological views, all religious streams of India consider man to be caught in an endless cycle of rebirths, where each life is inevitably sunk in suffering due to the transient nature of the world. Salvation is escape from the cycle of rebirths. Knowledge of the true nature of ones own self is what brings about salvation (even for Buddhism the "I" is without substance and it is on understanding its true nature that the root of the bonds which tie a human being to samsaara - "I" and "mine" - are erased and thus liberation effected). This saving knowledge can arise either by intuition or by the grace of God. But it is imperative that one must lead a life of control of the psycho/physical faculties and practice compassion and charity. This is fundamental dharma and no religious stream has ever disputed it.
Where the various spiritual streams differ is in their metaphysical worldviews (whether there is one or many souls, where there's a primal matter or infinite atoms etc) and their own particular path to effect liberation - but this path is not anything totally new but an emphasis on a particular set of spiritual practices of the fundamental dharma. For e.g. Advaita might lay greater emphasis on self-introspection, while Mahaayaana Buddhism might give more importance to ethics and meditation or Yoga, which teaches mind control.
With regards cultural practices, it is to be noted that only serious practitioners of the Indian spiritual streams, who in most cases were monks, did anything significant to distinguish themselves from the adherents of other spiritual streams. For example the Saamkhya ascetics wore red robes and the Buddhist and Jainaa monks named themselves in a particular way. But the laity of the various streams existed together with little to distinguish between themselves. For a Shaivite or a Vaishnavite or a Nyaaya logician to become a Buddhist only meant abandoning a few of his existing views and practices on spirituality and adopting new ones as taught by Buddhism. To embrace a new path only meant adopting a slightly different way of life more conducive to one's own spiritual inclinations. Sometimes those who converted to a new path, not satisfied with their current path, went back to their original fold - the great Purva Miimaamsaa philosopher Kumaarilla Bhatta being a notable example. But this seldom involved any change in existing cultural practices as they were all born/married/died the same way, ate similar food, dressed similarly, enjoyed similar past times and upheld similar ideals about the purpose of life. It was not unusual for an orthodox Brahmin family to have a son who was a Buddhist, married to a woman who believed in the teachings of the Mahaaveera. They all belonged to the same civilization and lived as one people under the shade of the dharma.
So considering all these it is a flawed theory that considers Buddhism as a religion distinct from "Hinduism" based on modern notions of religion.
If we see in the four thousand years worth of religious literature in India we cannot find a single reference to the word "Hinduism" anywhere! "Hinduism" is a word concocted by Europeans to refer to the myriad streams of religious faiths in the land of Hindustan. "Hindu" only means an inhabitant of the sub-continent east of the river Sindhu. The Persians pronounced "Sindu" as "Hindu" which the Greeks in turn pronounced as "Indu" - thus the word to refer to the denizens of the sub-continent. Even "India" is but a Greek word for Hindustan.
Only after the advent of Islam and later Christianity in India, the natives of the sub-continent who did not belong to either of these religions, used the word "Hindu" to distinguish between themselves and the adherents of these alien religions. Though the definition is strictly geographical in nature but interpreted in the religious sense a "Hindu" can be a Shaivite or a Vaishnavite or an Advaita Vedaanti or a follower of one of the numerous such sects - each with their own set of Gods and Goddesses, their own holy book(s), their own spiritual founder/teachers and their own specific way of effecting liberation. And historically we do not see even heterodox streams like Buddhism or Jainsim being excluded from such a definition. Neither in the works of the aastika nor naastikaa schools do we find any distinction like "Hindu and Bauddha" or "Hindu and Jainaa". Within themselves it is always "Vedaanti and Bauddha" or "Naiyaayika and Jainaa". Only when there's a reference to Christianity or Islam does the word "Hindu" come into play. So to both the adherents of the alien and native religions "Hindu" meant a follower of one of the native religions of India, including Buddhism and Jainism.
But even then before the advent of Europeans into the sub-continent nobody is known to have clubbed together the myriad spiritual streams of India under a single definition of "Hinduism". Under this definition all the adherents of the aastika and assorted miscellaneous sects excluding the Jains and Buddhists, were classified under "Hinduism". Though there's is no problem with regards what constitutes "Hinduism" itself, still if you look at the reasons why Buddhism and Jainism are identified as separate religions distinct from "Hinduism", then we find that the definition of "Hinduism" itself becomes untenable.
Problems in distinguishing between Buddhism and "Hinduism"
There're seven main factors, which are normally used to distinguish Buddhism as an entity apart from the various sects that make up "Hinduism”:
1. Repudiation of the authority of the Vedas: It is generally held that the Buddha repudiated the authority of the Vedas. But it is very important to understand level this "repudiation" extended to. Nowhere do we find the Buddha saying that the teachings of the Vedas are false. He only questioned whether those who revered the Vedas had experienced/seen the reality which they claimed that the Vedas talked about - so he was not disputing the validity of the Vedas per se, but only those who claimed to know the reality that the Vedas talked about.
The Vedas have traditionally been divided into the karma kaanda and the jnaana kaanda - the ritualistic and the knowledge sections. By the time of the Buddha the ritualistic section had gained prominence with Brahmins performing elaborate rituals and sacrificing animals in the name of Vedic karma. The Buddha was not opposed to rituals per se as we find in the Nikhaayas that he has no problem in participating in a Vedic ritual with a Brahmin - he only opposed the prominence given to the Vedic rituals in the scheme of spiritual liberation and the sacrifice of animals in this process.
As has been noted by a lot of scholars, both ancient and modern, the Buddha's teachings compare very favorably the to jnaana kaanda of the Vedas - the Upanishads. In contrast to the orthodoxy who tried to present the whole Vedas as absolutely valid, the Buddha only shifted the emphasis on the knowledge section. In this he considered the teachings of anybody who had "crossed the further shore", including himself, to be as authoritative as the Vedas.
The "relativity" in the Buddha's approach to the Vedas is not unique to him. All the orthodox schools except the two Mimaamsaas too pay only lip service to the Vedas - where their doctrines agree with the Vedas they are eager to show it off - but where it doesn't they ignore such contradictions. For each school, only the Sutras of the founder truly play the part of the scripture. The Naiyaayikas dilute the validity of the scripture by accepting anything that's proved by logic.
Even with respect to the two Miimaamsaas, it is only the Purva Miimaamsaa, which can be said to accept scriptural injunctions as absolute. In contrast the schools of the Uttara Miimaamsaa exhibit various positions regarding the scripture: Advaita accepts the relativity of the Vedas and asserts that scriptural teachings are only to "instruct" - also from the ultimate standpoint Advaitins consider even the Vedas to be in the realm of ignorance. The Visishtadvaita school considers the Divya Prabandham to be on par with the Vedas. The Saiva Siddhaanta school considers the Saiva Aagamaas to be more authoritative than the Vedas.
Regarding Vedic rituals with the exception of the Miimaamsaas, all the orthodox schools too are interested mainly in the jnaana kaanda and are indifferent to the karma kaanda. Even with the Mimaamsaas, it is only the Purva Miimaamsaa for which rituals form a very vital aspect of spirituality - the Vedaantic schools in contrast emphasize on the importance of the jnaana kaanda over the karma kaanda. Also historically the Saamkhya and Dvaita Vedaanta too were strong in their opposition to animal sacrifices in the name of religion.
Considering all these it is very difficult to establish Buddhism as a religion distinct from "Hinduism" merely on the basis of the Buddha's "repudiation of the Vedas". It is also to be noted that historically Buddhist universities like Takshila and Nalanda didn't teach Buddhist philosophy alone - the Vedas and the philosophies of aastika schools were also taught in these institutes.
2. The caste system: it is generally held that the Buddha rejected the caste system in contrast to the other schools, which accepted the varna system. This too is not really true.
• In the Ambatta Sutta we find the Buddha scorned as a lower caste Kshatriya by a Brahmin. The Buddha in response points out to the Brahmin that while the Brahmin was born of wedlock between a Brahmin and a lower caste woman, the Buddha's ancestors resorted even to incest to preserve the purity of the race of the Saakhyaas! Thus the Buddha declares himself to be superior to the Brahmin.
• The practical implication of the doctrine of karma itself is that one is born in a higher caste due to the virtues of past lives. The Buddha himself admits that to be born as a Brahmin in a spiritually conducive environment reflects a life of dharma lived in past lives.
• Nowhere in the dialogues of the Buddha do we find him declaring all castes to be equal - nor is it supposed to be so even after they join the Buddhist order. In the Nikhaayas we find Brahmin disciples of the Buddha addressed as Brahmins even after they have joined the sangha.
• Even after the Buddha, his followers in many instances have harped on his "royal" birth to assert the validity of their religion - quite like Jainism it is a regular practice in Buddhist literature to assert the superiority of the Kshatriya caste over the Brahmin caste.
• The Jaatakaas too assert that the Buddha in all his past and future existences will be born only as a Brahmin or a Kshatriya and never in a caste lower than these two. According to Buddhist prophecy even the future "Buddha-to-be" - Maitreya - is supposed to be born as a Brahmin.
Due to the reasons given above we find it hard to accept that the Buddha was against the caste system. The Vedic religion allowed only the dvijas (the top three castes) access to spiritual knowledge - the Buddha only opened up such knowledge for the lower castes and women. So this does not necessarily mean that the Buddha was opposed to the caste system per se, but only disputed the claims of spiritual supremacy of the Brahmins and asserted that anybody with the right inclination can take up spirituality. Also the Buddha was not particularly against Brahmins - for we find recurring instances in the Nikhaayas where the Buddha affirms that it is a virtue to give alms to Brahmins. So in reality the Buddha was only against the exaggerated claims of the spiritual prowess of Brahmins, but not against Brahmins or the caste system per se.
On a related note, we'd like to point out that this is the exact case with respect to the Bhakti saints too. If the bhakti saints can be accommodated within the ambit of Hinduism, then why not the Buddha?
It is also to be noted that even for the Saamkya and Yoga systems anybody who's enlightened is considered a guru irrespective of caste. The Visishtadvaita and the Saiva Siddhaanta reveres many non-Brahmin teachers as saints.
Considering all these it is very difficult to establish Buddhism as a religion distinct from "Hinduism" merely on the basis of the Buddha's alleged "repudiation of the caste system".
3. Philosophical views: It cannot be said that just because of distinct metaphysical views Buddhism is a distinct religion - for the same can be said about all the schools which constitute "Hinduism" too. They all have distinct metaphysical views, which distinguish them from each other. Here it is sometimes pointed out that Buddhism does not accept a creator God - but the same applies to even orthodox schools like classical Saamkhya and the Purva Miimaamsaa.
4. Anatta: it is sometimes said that while the traditional view of "Hinduism" is based on the Atman (Self), the Buddha in contrast taught the anatta.
But here it is to be noted that anatta only meant that which is not the Self - the non-self. It doesn't mean "no self". Nowhere do we find the Buddha denying the reality of the Atman. He just maintained silence when questioned about the Atman.
The Buddha's attitude to philosophy was that it was more meaningful to understand the known than wasting time speculating about the unknown. Thus it is the non-self - the skandhas or aggregates -, which should be contemplated on and understood. But his stress on the non-self doesn't mean that the Buddha negated the self - Naagaarjuna puts anatta in the right perspective when he questions in his Mulamaadhyamaka Kaarikaa : without the self how can the non-self exist? The Buddha only taught the insubstantiality of the individual self, but not no-substance or no-soul.
It is also to be noted that the great Advaitin teacher Gaudapaada quite in line with Mahaayaana Buddhism asserts that it is only those who go beyond the notions of the existence or non-existence or both or neither of the Self, are truly omniscient.
So Buddhism cannot be distinguished from "Hinduism" based merely on simplistic notions of the concept of anatta.
5. Teachings: Even with regards his teachings there's nothing in what the Buddha taught that cannot be found in texts earlier to Buddhism. The four noble truths are unanimously accepted right across the Indian philosophical spectrum - right from the Upanishads to the darshanas these truths are accepted as fundamental reason for a life of the spirit.
The origins of the theories of anatta, kshanikavaada (momentariness), pratitya samutpaada (dependant origination) can all be found in the Upanishads (this has been noted by as orthodox a thinker as Kumaarilla Bhatta in his Tantravaartikam). Schools generally picked out what they could relate to in the scriptures and expanded on them. The Buddha too only did the same thing.
Even with regards to later Buddhist philosophy it didn't develop in isolation and only developed in relation to other schools of philosophy. Naagaarjuna was primarily responding to Gautama's Nyaaya Sutras. Vaatsyaayana the classical commentator of the Nyaaya Sutras addresses many of Naagaarjuna's concerns. Likewise the Buddhist logician Dignaaga answers Vaatsyaayana; the Naiyaayika Udhyotakaara responds to Dignaaga; and Dignaaga's disciple Dharmakirti addresses the concerns of Udhyotakaara. This was the way Indian philosophy developed. So directly or indirectly each school influenced the philosophy of other schools. So Buddhism developed only in relation to its native cousins and thus its identity itself depends on its cousins to a great extent.
6. Aastika vs. Naastika: as noted above many of the so-called aastika schools stood for the same things that Buddhism did. So it is not easy to identify aastika schools with Hinduism either. Also historically even schools like Saamkhya and Advaita Vedanta have been branded "naastika" in certain quarters.
Further the hostility we observe in the texts of aastika schools against Buddhism itself cannot be used as a point to establish Buddhism as an independent entity apart from the aastika schools. Because even as the aastika schools were opposed to Buddhism, they were mutually antagonistic to each other too. Also we find many aastika scholars like Gaudapaada who are sympathetic to Buddhism and revere the Buddha. As traditional a scriptural text as the Devi Bhaagavatham considers the Buddha as the Lord descended in human form to prevent cruelty to animals in Vedic sacrifices.
So it is not possible to distinguish Buddhism with "Hinduism" based on simplistic notions of aastika and naastika.
7. Vihaara vs. Temple: Apart from these technical distinctions it is also pointed out that Buddhists have their own temples or vihaaraas. But the same applies to even traditional Shaivites, Vaishnavites, Shaaktaaists etc - each will go only to temples which house their deity and none other. Vaishnavites will not go to a Shiva temple nor will Shaivites go to a Vishnu temple.
In conclusion we find that it is not possible to distinguish Buddhism as a religion distinct from "Hinduism" on the basis of the reasons given above. It is true that at the time of the Buddha, he did preach something quite distinct in the prevailing environment with regards caste, philosophy, spiritual practice etc. But it did not take long for the other spiritual streams to accept and reconcile the validity of these teachings with their own worldview. In some cases even Buddhism itself wasn't able to live up to the original world view of the Buddha: Departing from the original monastic tradition, Mahaayaana with the intent to increase the scope of the sangha in spreading the dharma tried to reconcile spirituality with worldly life - thus the introduction of the bodhisattva ideal in the model of the brahmin householder to spread the dharma. This naturally compromised Buddhism's traditional opposition to the Brahmins; in the religious sphere it embraced theism; philosophically it accepted reality to be pure consciousness. So as time passed the differences narrowed so drastically that Buddhism could no more sustain its individual identity in any meaningful sense and thus could no more be distinguished from other religious streams. The same is the case with the non-Miimaamsaa schools, which were all assimilated into one or the other form of the Vedanta. Jainism quite like Buddhism dominated certain parts of India at certain points in time - but it too met the same fate as Buddhism. Jainism has all but disappeared from its one-time strongholds and survives only in tiny pockets mainly near its historical birthplace in Northern India, where it is held together more by clannish loyalties rather than any meaningful religious distinction with the sects of Hinduism. But for all practical purpose most Jains today consider themselves as Hindus only.
So why is Buddhism regarded as a religion distinct from "Hinduism" today?
By the time modern Indologists started their enquiries into Indian culture, Buddhism was no more a living religion in India and so these scholars couldn't evaluate it as a living religion on its own in its native soil. Jainism too had lost its once dominant position in India and survives only in tiny pockets in North Western India. Influenced by their own exclusive Christian backgrounds western Indologists seem to have viewed Indian religious streams in the same mould - basing it on the validity of a single scriptural text - the Vedas, or a prophet - the Buddha or the Mahaaveera. The ancient distinction between aastika and naastika based on the acceptance or otherwise of the validity of the Vedas and the supremacy of the Brahmin in the chatur varna system seems to have strengthened their opinion on the validity of such distinctions between "Hinduism" and Buddhism/Jainism. Plus what they saw of Buddhism in practice in countries like Tibet, China and Japan, obviously influenced them to identify Buddhism as a religion distinct from "Hinduism".
But as noted, we cannot distinguish between Buddhism and "Hinduism" the way the latter can be distinguished from Christianity or Islam. Also historically the development of Buddhism in India is different from the way Buddhism developed in other countries. Buddhism in India grew only in relation to its native cousins and its relationship with them is different from its relationship with the religions of the alien lands it spread to. So while it might be meaningful to distinguish between Buddhism and Taoism or Shintoism as distinct religions primarily because of the native cultural and philosophical contexts in which each religious stream developed, the same doesn't hold for its relationship with the so-called "Hinduism".
Understanding the relationship between Indic spiritual streams: Dharmic Substratum
One of the important questions to be asked in understanding Buddhism's relationship with Hinduism is: Did the Buddha consider himself to be starting out a totally new tradition apart from the Vedic tradition?
This cannot be so because the Buddha accepted that what he was doing was only continuing the ancient arya tradition - puraana aarya dharma. It is in this spirit that though his name was Siddhaartha, the Buddha let himself be addressed to by his Vedic gotra name - Gautama - and also in many cases took care to refer to other people by their Gotra names - Vaccha (Vatsa), Kaashyapa etc. This clearly indicates that he considered himself to be a part of the existing tradition.
Also the very fact that Buddha accepted that he had gone through various births and it was due to adherence of the dharma in past lives that he has come to the present stage of Buddhahood, itself implies that there was dharma prior to him and he was an integral part of it. But like various teachers prior to and after him, he only gave that extra individual addition to the dharma, which was his own individual contribution to the understanding of the dharma. But this doesn't make his school a totally new tradition divorced from its cultural ancestors and contemporaries - if this is so then all other schools too have to be considered likewise.
So there is little doubt that even as other spiritual streams the Buddha considered himself to be a part of an age-old tradition. And historically too all the spiritual streams were acutely conscious of their traditional connection to the underlying age old religious tradition of the land and took care to emphasize it - in fact each school claimed that they were the true representatives of the tradition.
With regards to the identity of this tradition there are two possibilities:
1. The Buddha considered himself part of the Vedic tradition, but disputed the Brahmanical interpretation of the Vedas. OR
2. There's an even earlier dharmic substratum of which even the Vedic tradition is but a part - and it is this ancient dharmic substratum that the Buddha considered himself as reviving/following.
Either way there is little doubt that the Buddha considered himself to be following in the footsteps of his civilizational ancestors in spreading the dharma. The same is the view of his rivals too. It is due to this common dharmic ancestor that all religious streams of India share many common beliefs in philosophy and spiritual practice: that there's a cycle of rebirths and each life is filled with suffering due to the transient nature of the world; karma which conditions each existence based on past actions; salvation is knowing the reality inherent in oneself which is effected by living a life of dharma (control of the psycho/physical faculties, compassion and charity) in combination with meditation or devotion - thus does one escape the cycle of rebirths.
The underlying civilizational unity underlying all the spiritual streams of India is more than evident in the shared philosophical heritage that they all subscribed to. All streams predominantly worked under the same philosophical framework and mainly used Sanskrit as the lingua franca amongst themselves. In this regard it is to be noted that Panini's Ashtadhyaayi and Patanjali's Mahaabaashyam, the classical works on Sanskrit grammar, have been commented upon by both Buddhist and Jaina authors too.
Thus the various spiritual streams of India are better understood from the standpoint of the dharma. It is from the same dharmic tree that all the great spiritual streams of India, including Buddhism, sprung as branches to teach their own brand of dharma with the common goal of salvation from the cycle of rebirths. It is in this spirit that each school referred to other schools only as a darshana (school of philosophy) or a siddhaanta (spiritual philosophy) and not as independent religions. Hence the significance of works like Sarva Darshana Samgraha or Sad Darshana Samuccaya.
In conclusion given the civilizational/dharmic unity underlying all the spiritual streams of India we have to find a more integrative way to define and represent the various spiritual streams of India.
You could write to him at Nandakumar Chandran: [email protected]
Also read excerpts from Swami Vivekananda address to Parliament of Religions
Buddhism: The Fulfilfilment of Hinduism
26 September 1893
“I am not a Buddhist, as you have heard and yet I am. If China, or Japan, or Ceylon follow the teachings of the Great Master, India worships him as God incarnate on earth. You have just now heard that I am going to criticize Buddhism, but by that I wish you to understand only this. Far be it from me to criticize him whom I worship as God incarnate on earth. But our views about Buddha are that he was not understood properly by his disciples. The relation between Hinduism (by Hinduism, I mean the religion of the Vedas) and what is called Buddhism at the present day is nearly the same between Judaism & Christianity. Jesus Christ was a Jew, and Shakya Muni as a Hindu, The Jews rejected Jesus Christ, nay, crucified him, and the Hindus have accepted Shakya Muni as God and worship him. But the real difference that we Hindus want to show between modern Buddhism and what we should understand as teachings of Lord Buddha lies principally in this: Shakya Muni came to preach nothing new. He also, like Jesus, came to fulfill and not to destroy. Only, the case of Jesus, it was the old people, the Jews, who did not understand him, while in the case of Buddha, it was his own followers who did not realize the import of his teachings. As the Jews did not understand the fulfillment of the Old Testament, so the Buddhist did not understand the fulfillment of the truths of the Hindu religion. Again, I repeat, Shakya Muni came not to destroy, but he was the fulfillment, the logical conclusion, the logical development of the religion of the Hindus.
The religion of the Hindus is divided into two parts: the ceremonial and the spiritual. The spiritual portion is specially studied by the monks.
In that there is no caste. A man from the highest caste and man from the lowest may become a monk in India, and the two castes become equal. In religion there is no caste; caste is simply a social institution. Shakya Muni himself was a monk, and it was his glory that he had the large-heartedness to bring out the truths from the hidden Vedas and throw them broadcast all over the world. He was the first being in the world who brought missionarising into practice-nay; he was the first to conceive the idea of proselytizing.
The great glory of the Master lay in his wonderful sympathy for everybody, especially for the ignorant and the poor. Some of his disciples were Brahmins. When Buddha was teaching, Sanskrit was no more the spoken language of India. It was then only in the books of the learned. Some of Buddha’s Brahman disciples wanted to translate his teachings into Sanskrit, but he distinctly told them, ‘I am for the poor, for the people: let me speak in the tongue of the people’. And so to this day the great bulk of his teachings are in the vernacular of that day in India.
Whatever may be the position of philosophy, whatever may be the position of metaphysics, so long as there is such a thing as death in the world, so long as there is such a thing as weakness in the human heart, so long as there is a cry going out of the heart of man in his very weakness, there shall be a faith in God.
On the philosophic side the disciples of the Great Master dashed themselves against the eternal rocks of the Vedas and could not crush them and on the other side they took away from the nation that eternal God to which everyone man or woman clings so fondly. And the result was that Buddhism had to die a natural death in India. At the present day there is not one who calls oneself a Buddhist in India the land of its birth.
But at the same time Brahminism lost something-that reforming zeal that wonderful sympathy and charity for everybody that wonderful leaven which Buddhism had brought to the masses and which had rendered Indian society so great that a Greek historian who wrote about India of that time was led to say that no Hindu was known to tell an untruth and no Hindu woman was known to be unchaste.
Hinduism cannot live without Buddhism, nor Buddhism without Hinduism. Then realize what the separation has shown to us that the Buddhists cannot stand without the brain and philosophy of the Brahmins nor the Brahmin without the heart of the Buddhist. This separation between the Buddhists and the Brahmins is the cause of the downfall of India. That is why India is populated by three hundred millions of beggars and that is why India has been the slave of conquerors for the last thousand years. Let us then join the wonderful intellect of the Brahmin with the heart, the noble soul, the wonderful humanizing power of the Great Master.”