(14)Historical background of India where Buddhism was born - What is the history and worldview of the ancient Indian religion of Brahmanism? And a word about the caste system.

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[The life of Buddha (Sakyamuni) as seen through local photographs] ⒁
 The historical background of India where Buddhism was born - What is the history and worldview of the ancient Indian religion of Brahmanism? And a word about the caste system.

Previous ArticleThe Four Noble Truths: The Four Fundamental Truths of Buddhism. The Buddha's First Dharma Wheel," in "The Buddha's Path to the Destruction of Suffering and the Path to Salvation.In the past, I have talked about the "Four Sacred Truths," which are the contents of the "Four Sacred Truths of the Buddha. At first glance, the Four Noble Truths may have seemed too simple, but in fact, they were a revolutionary teaching in India at that time.

So in this article, I would like to take a break from the life of the Buddha and talk about the historical background of India. If you know the historical background, you will understand how unique Buddha's teachings were. Although this is a large scale story about the history of India, I will try to keep it as brief as possible, so I hope you will bear with me.

Note that in this article, we have referred to the Hazime Nakamura.Gautama Buddha.Not only,A History of Buddhism in New Asia 01 India I: Background to the Emergence of Buddhism.I also greatly appreciate the commentary on the

In addition, the following"For those who want to know more about Indian Buddhism, here are some books I highly recommend - from introductory to specialized books."Please also refer to the article "The Hindu World in India" for recommended reference books on Buddhism, historical background, and the Hindu world in India.

So, let's get started.

End of the Indus Civilization and Aryan Invasion

Some of you may be surprised to learn that the life of the Buddha suddenly leads back to the Indus civilization and the Aryans, but in fact, the relationship between the Indus civilization and the Aryans is also useful for understanding Buddhism.

The Indus Civilization was an ancient civilization that flourished in the Indus River Valley from around 2600 BC to 1900 BC. The famous Mohenjo-daro and Harappa ruins can be found in history textbooks.

Mohenjo Daro, a representative site of the Indus CivilizationWikipedia.

And as you can see on this map, the Indus River is the great river that flows through what is now Pakistan. However, there are many mysteries surrounding this civilization, and only a few letters have been excavated. There are also various theories as to why this civilization died out, and none have yet been settled.

In any case, the Indus civilization was the first civilization to emerge in the vast Indian region, and although the Indus civilization as a huge urban structure died out around 1900 B.C., it does not mean that all the people living there died out. Each of them must have survived with their own small settlements. What is more, many indigenous people still continued to live throughout India.

The Aryans were the first people to come to India.

Some believe that they may have originated in the area around present-day Georgia, but in any case, the Aryans are a people who are also said to have been the roots of the European people, as they are called the Indo-European speaking people. These Aryans began to invade India via the area around present-day Iran and Afghanistan.

And it is the topography of India that we want to focus on here. See the brown line on the map above? This is a very rough map, but it shows a mountain range. India has a unique topography, with the south surrounded by the sea, and the east, west, and north surrounded by steep mountain ranges, almost cut off from the outside world. The light blue line on the left is the Indus River and the right is the approximate flow of the Ganges River.

These topographies made India one independent world.

However, although India is surrounded by mountains and the sea, there is only one route of entry. This was the gap in the mountain range known as the Khyber Pass, circled by the red square. This is also a severely difficult place, but it is a route that barely allows people to enter India by land. It was here that the Aryan invasion began, and later Islamic invasions began as well. For India, this was a place to be constantly worried about as a fearful place for foreign invaders to invade.

Eh, but why not just go from the ocean?

Many people may think so, but of course, exchanges through the sea were quite active in later periods. Trade with the Roman Empire was so prosperous. However, this was only a business story, and it was impossible for them to invade inland with a large army.

So, around 1500 B.C., Aryans gradually began to invade India through a gap in this mountain range.

In the past, the prevailing theory was that the Aryans migrated while using force to suppress the local population, but it is now believed that migration may have taken the form of coexistence and co-prosperity, and not just force. The Aryan people are not a huge group that migrated all at once, but rather small groups that moved little by little, so even the same Aryan people are very different. Therefore, the Aryan people cannot be easily lumped together. However, this is how the Aryan power gradually spread from northern India.

Aryans and Brahmins - Vedic beliefs and caste system

The Aryans began to invade India around 1500 B.C., gradually expanding their territory deep into India as they grew in power.

They believed in numerous gods such as Indra. Indra was the god of war and had the power to defeat evil demons. In Japan, he is known as Teishakuten. Scriptures praising these Aryan gods were compiled by a priestly class of people called Brahmins. They became known as the Vedas. The most famous of these is said to have been established around 1200 B.C.The Rig Veda."This is a scripture that says.

A wide variety of deities appear in this scripture, and hymns are offered to each.

Thus the Aryans sought to rule the world by praising various gods and performing rituals. In other words, they hoped for the grace of the gods.

Here again, the Aryans, whether by force of arms or by coexistence, became the ruling class in each region. They would then position the local peoples they conquered below them. In this way, the groundwork for caste was laid.

Eventually, over time, caste was systematized and divided into four basic classes in India.

From the top, the Brahmins (priestly class), Kshatriyas (royalty, nobility, and warriors), Vaishyas (common people), and Shudras (slave people). Precisely below this, there were further outcastes, the untouchables, who were subjected to harsh discrimination.

Now, in this caste, it is noteworthy that the Brahmins come above the Kshatriyas. Normally, it would not be surprising if royalty and nobility, with their military might and financial resources, would be higher in rank, but here, Brahmins are the highest in rank. This is based on the idea that Brahmins, who are able to communicate directly with the gods, are higher in rank than human beings. It is the gods who control natural phenomena and the course of war. It is the human beings who pray to the gods, and it is to the gods that the Aryans have triumphed. In other words, they believed that no matter how much military power or financial resources they had, they would not prosper without the help of the gods. This would explain why Brahmins are at the top of the list.

This is why Brahmanism, a religion that worshipped gods of Aryan origin and emphasized rituals centering on Brahman, was followed under Aryan rule.

This caste is formally a very complicated issue that I cannot discuss in this introductory article on Buddhism, so I will skip it. If you are interested, please contact Tsuyoshi FujiiCaste in History: Self-Portrait in Modern India.and Ikemeki AyaIndia's Cruelest Tales: The World's Toughest PeopleWe strongly recommend that you read books such as

Upanishat Philosophy and Brahman

Brahmanism, which carried the beliefs of the Aryans, was gradually systematized and the Upanishadic philosophy began to emerge around 800 BC.

Upanishadic philosophy is the oneness of the essence of the world (Brahman) and the Self (Atman)..Brahman is the ideal of the state of being. This Brahman is the deified personality of Brahman, who also appeared in the Bontenkanzyou

It was under the influence of this philosophy that Brahman is regarded as the supreme deity in Brahmanism. The Atman (Self) is the unique soul of each one of us. The "whole world" and "the..The perfect harmony of the "I who am". This was the ideal and salvation of ancient Indian religion.

In this way, we can see the significance of the fact that Brahman, the Truth of the world, went out of his way to visit Buddha and encourage him to preach to the people. The supreme deity of the Indian world at that time came all the way to visit Buddha. We can see that Buddha was such a man.

The Upanishadic philosophy of Brahma-self-unity is very difficult to understand and is too profound to be described in a very brief summary. Therefore, I would like to leave this as a clue to understanding the worldview of Indian society at that time.


Well, at any rate, this was the religious situation in India before the Buddha was born.

The Aryans invaded India, and Brahmanism, their main religion, gradually spread throughout the country.

At the same time, caste became entrenched, and the concepts of Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra, and outcaste also took root in daily life.

As seen in the map above, the Aryans began to invade from northwestern India, and this region became particularly powerful. The Aryans began to invade from northwestern India, and the Aryans became particularly powerful in this region. As time went by, the rituals became more sophisticated and required extremely specialized skills. This trend further increased the power of the Brahmins to communicate with the gods, and the authority of Brahminism grew.

This is the religious situation and historical background of India before the Buddha was born.

Incidentally, Hinduism, which is the main religion practiced in India today, was born out of Brahmanism, which gradually changed its form around the 4th century B.C. So, although this is a rather rough view, there is a continuity between Brahmanism and Hinduism. Therefore, although this is a very rough view, there is a continuity between Brahmanism and Hinduism. In India, Buddhism existed from the birth of Buddha in the 5th century B.C. until the fall of Buddhism in the 13th century, while Brahmanism and Hinduism continued to be practiced by the people. Although there was a time when Buddhism flourished in India, Brahmin and Hindu culture is the dominant culture in the entire history of India.

As I will reiterate later, Buddhism is only an outsider to the Brahmin and Hindu world. I would like to emphasize that it is not mainstream in India, both ideologically and in people's lives.

In the following article, we will finally discuss the historical background of India in which the Buddha lived. In fact, the period in which the Buddha was active in India was a turbulent time in Indian history, and it could be said that the time period was exactly the one in which the Buddha was desired by the people. No matter how great a charismatic figure he may be, he cannot exist if he ignores the times. Many factors such as political economy, culture, and international situation of the time are intertwined, and new teachings are accepted by the people.

What I will discuss in the next article is very important to feel its dynamism. We hope you will continue to stay with us.

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