How did Buddhism start in India. Lord Buddha found Nirvana in Bodh Gaya in India and started his teachings from different places of India and Nepal . Therefore, India was core center of Buddhism and many legends state that Buddhism eventually spread throughout the Asia and Buddhism became the dominant religion in many Asian countries such as Burma , Tibet , China , Japan etc. In the 3rd Century, the Buddhism was considered as the official religion of India during the reign of Great Mauryan Emperor Asoka since he was devout of Lord Buddha and Buddhism . Buddhism reached its peak under the rule of Asoka and Buddhism still continued to flourish and had a steady growth until the rule of Gupta and Pala Empire .
During the rule of A shoka the Great , Buddhism flourished greatly and spread in many Asian countries and even reached many Western Countries too. During his empire, Asoka banned various Vedic practices like sacrifices since such practices contradicted the principle of Buddhism . But after the last Mauryan King was defeated and assassinated, most parts of India was controlled and ruled by Shunga Dynasty . That era became quite hard to Buddhism since Shunga Dynasty strongly followed Brahmanism than Buddhism and started killing Buddhist monks and burned many Buddhist temples and monasteries .
But in the early 12th century Buddhism started to disappear and faded from the faces of India . It has become quite news about the disappearance of Buddhism in India since India was the starting point of Buddhism . Many theories have been proposed by many scholars on the disappearance of Buddhism . But the main cause of the decline of Buddhism was the slacking of Nalanda Monastery in 1197. Many people believed that Nalanda Monastery was considered as the Milestone and became the stroke that killed Buddhism in India in early 12th century.
Buddhism is one of the most important Asian spiritual traditions. During its roughly 2.5 millennia of history, Buddhism has shown a flexible approach, adapting itself to different conditions and local ideas while maintaining its core teachings. As a result of its wide geographical expansion, coupled with its tolerant spirit, Buddhism today encompasses a number of different traditions, beliefs, and practices.
During the last decades, Buddhism has also gained a significant presence outside Asia. With the number of adherents estimated to be almost 400 million people, Buddhism in our day has expanded worldwide, and it is no longer culturally specific. For many centuries, this tradition has been a powerful force in Asia, which has touched nearly every aspect of the eastern world: arts, morals, lore, mythology, social institutions, etc. Today, Buddhism influences these same areas outside of Asia, as well.
BUDDHISM IN INDIA
Buddhism began in what is now India and Nepal but today only about 7.5 million people practice the religion in India. Most Indian Buddhists live in the Himalayan region or southern India or near the Myanmar border. The Buddhism practiced in the north is mostly Tibetan Buddhism, similar to the form practiced in Tibet, and the Buddhism practiced in the south is Theravada Buddhism, similar to form practiced in Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar.
Why did Buddhism disappear from IndiaIn 500 B.C. Prince Buddha forsook his life of wealth and privilege for a spiritual life, and rejected the sacrificial rites of the Hindus and the caste system. He spent most of his life in India. Buddhism emphasizes meditation, the sanctity of life and non-violence. Some of its tenets influenced Mahatma Gandhi.
The forms of Buddhism practiced by Himalayan communities and Tibetan refugees are part of the Vajrayana, or “Way of the Lightning Bolt,” that developed after the seventh century A.D. as part of Mahayana (Great Path) Buddhism. Although retaining the fundamental importance of individual spiritual advancement, the Vajrayana stresses the intercession of bodhisattvas, or enlightened beings, who remain in this world to aid others on the path. Until the twentieth century, the Himalayan kingdoms supported a hierarchy in which Buddhist monks, some identified from birth as bodhisattvas, occupied the highest positions in society.
Most other Buddhists in India follow Theravada Buddhism, the “Doctrine of the Elders,” which traces its origin through Sri Lankan and Burmese traditions to scriptures in the Pali language, a Sanskritic dialect in eastern India. Although replete with miraculous events and legends, these scriptures stress a more human Buddha and a democratic path toward enlightenment for everyone. Ambedkar’s plan for the expanding Buddhist congregation in India visualized Buddhist monks and nuns developing themselves through service to others. Convert communities, by embracing Buddhism, have embarked on social transformations, including a decline in alcoholism, a simplification of marriage ceremonies and abolition of ruinous marriage expenses, a greater emphasis on education, and a heightened sense of identity and self-worth.
Places in India Associated with Buddhism
Bodh Gaya (160 miles from Varanasi) is where Buddha attainted spiritual enlightenment. Commemorating the spot is the vast Mahabodhi temple complex, which has been called the “Jerusalem of the Buddhist world.” Here Siddhartha Gautama meditated beneath the Bodhi Tree while being tempted by the demon Mara in an episode similar to Jesus’s encounter with the devil on the Mount of Temptation. After casting off the demon the prince was transformed into Buddha—the enlightened one. A marble enclosure surrounds a Bodhi tree said to be a descendant of the original. Saffron robed monks with shaved heads and tourist with nunlike gowns and white mats can often be seen lighting red candles with gilded foil that amplify the light at the base of the temple and the enclosure. [Source: Harvey Arden, National Geographic, May 1990]
When Buddhism grew and prospered after Buddha’s death, great temples and monasteries were built on Bodh Gaya. These were destroyed or fell into ruins when Buddhism died out in India in the Middle Ages and the region was racked by invaders. In the 19th century the holy Buddhist sites were rediscovered by pilgrims from Sri Lanka and Burma and temples and monasteries were rebuilt and pilgrims began returning in large numbers. Almost every country with a sizable Buddhist population has built a temple or monastery in the city.
Pilgrims have been coming here since Buddha’s time and Buddha himself said that visiting places associated with episodes in his life would help win them merit. Aravind Adiga wrote ein Time, “ You go around the temple, and you wonder at once if that is the tree: an ancient-looking, sprawling tree, with a massive trunk and a zone of deep, hypnotizing shade at its center. A middle-aged Japan man dressed in white, wearing a mask, is meditating in its shadow. Behind him two Tibetan monks are counting off their prayer beads and whispering. But as you walk to the back of the temple, you see another tree, even larger with green metal beams holding up the branches. There is a stone fence around it: a sign says, PRINCE SIDDHARTHA ATTAINED BUDDHAHOOD FULL ENLIGHTENMENT…SITTING UNDER THE PEEPUL (BODHI) TREE.
From Bodh Gaya Buddha walked 130 miles to Saranth near Varanasi where he gave his first sermon in 500 B.C. after experiencing enlightenment to five skeptical followers. In later sermons he revealed the eight-fold path for inner peace and Nirvana. Sarnath is the second most important Buddhist site in the world after Bodh Gaya. Today the site of the first Buddhist sermon is marked by the Dhamek Stupa, a 34-meter-tall domed shrine that looks like giant hump. Built during the Mauryan period and added to over the years, it is covered by elaborate engravings. There is also a deer park, gardens, and the ruins of a monastery that once housed 1,500 monks. Near a statue of Buddha preaching to his first five disciples, people gather to listen to a monk read Buddha’s first sermon. The museum in Sarnath contains the Ashoka Pillar with its four guardian lions. The pillar once was 66-feet-tall and according to some people it was erected by Buddha. Other say it was brought from southern India by the famous emperor Ashoka, who converted himself and later all of India to Buddhism after killing thousands in a bloody battle.