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Books > Buddhist > Buddha > The Gods and The Heretics (Crisis and Ruin of Indian Buddhism)
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The Gods and The Heretics (Crisis and Ruin of Indian Buddhism)
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The Gods and The Heretics (Crisis and Ruin of Indian Buddhism)
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About the Book

The Gods and the Heretics calls into question the mainstream idea of a unitary Indian history and investigates the fracture caused by the rise and structuring of Buddhism within the Brahmanical society, a fracture that would never be recomposed and would result-accomplice the Islamic advance in the twelfth century-in the disappearance of the Religion of Dharma. Buddhism may be seen as an antinomian system opposed to both vaidika and theistic Brahmans, capable of proposing a model of society and state antithetical to the agrarian horizon of the varna state society. For this very reason, it was doomed to be gradually, and often violently, reduced to impotence.

The attempt of the Mahayana to respond to the changed conditions was only partially effective. Eventually, the Buddhists disappeared or adapted themselves to the situation except for the north-eastern part of the Subcontinent. Doctrinal debates were instrumental in the suppression of the Buddhist elites, mainly formed by intellectuals of Brahmanical descent, this being proof of a dramatic rift in the brahmanavarna. The Vajrayana, which opened towards the outcastes and grew thanks to the protection of Pala rule, theorised the use of violence as the only means for the survival of the religion, this being actualised by way of a paradoxical recovery of the antinomian positions of early Buddhism. The compromise between the orthodox powers and the Muslims eventually issued in the suppression of all Buddhists institutions.

The book draws largely on the extremely numerous Brahmanical sources, both literary and iconographical. Equally essential are the archaeological sources, almost always over-looked and little understood.

About the Author

GIOVANNI VERARDI has been professor of Indian Archaeology and Archaeology of Central Asia at the University "L'Orientale" of Naples. On behalf of the Italian Institute for Africa and the East (Is.I.A.0.), active in Rome until 2012, he has been carrying out excavations in Afghanistan (Ghazni), Nepal (Kathmandu and at the Mokan site of Gotihawa) and China (Luoyang) as well as extensive territorial surveys and research work in India and Pakistan.

Preface

This book was first published in 2011 by Manohar in New Delhi with the title Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India, which received, as to be expected, mixed reviews. What surprised me most were the positive ones, especially when made with the intent to accurately pull all the threads of the discussion and understand the different levels of the enquiry. Many are the changes brought to the text, not considering the correction of mistakes and oversights that even the dedication of the publisher could not avoid. In some cases it is a matter of minor adjustments, but in several others of additions and even rectifications of perspectives, as in the third chapter, where I thought it necessary to distinguish with clarity between the changes observable in the samghas and the effort of the emerging Mahayana that, in a much changed situation, aimed at strengthening the religion - an issue fraught with problems that I hope someone shall be able to discuss in depth. The book, thoroughly revised, now has a new title, which, I think, better reflects the main thesis it presents.

One of the interpretive model I used in writing the book pointed directly towards its target, that of challenging the commonly accepted opinion that Indian Buddhism disappeared from the country where it had originated for reasons due to a poorly explained internal weakening, without violence having had any role in it; the second model was addressed at collecting the evidence from fields of research rarely visited by the students of Indian Buddhism: Hindu texts (especially the Puranas), Hindu iconography, and archaeological data. I have also tried to focus on the chronologies, with the aim of giving some order - within the limits of a study of this kind -to the interaction of the different social and religious groups present in a scenario as vast as, at times, convulsive. On the constrained limits of this search into, and interpretation of the sources, the reader is referred to the Introduction, practically unchanged with respect to the 2011 edition. Once again, I regret not having been able to supply the text, but for a single addition, with a larger number of illustrations, especially in relation to the evidence provided or suggested by the Purdnas and the Tamil literature, and to the processes set in motion by the Vajrayana.

Recently, contributions by Indian scholars have begun to appear that address the issue of violence: an obvious theme in any history but denied in modern India, which on the alleged lack of violence in its own history has built an actual foundation myth. Contributions have also appeared that rediscuss the relations between political-dynastic powers and what is traditionally attributed to them in terms of religious policy, patron-age, and chronological dynamics. If only a small part of these studies owes something to this book, having written it shall not have been useless.

I am grateful to the persons who helped me most in preparing this edition, which was made possible thanks to the concern of the Venerable Bhikkhuni Dhammadinna, to whom I am also indebted for having made accessible to me materials which otherwise I would not have been able to see. A very special thank goes to Margarita Vazquez Formoso of the Fundacion Bodhiyana of Buenos Aires, who carried out the typesetting with care and patience, and to the President of the same foundation, the Venerable Bhiksu Zhihan, for having allowed the space for the completion of this task. Thanks are also due to Claudine Bautze-Picron, Daniela De Simone, Minoru Inaba and Tiziana Lorenzetti. Last but not least, it is my pleasure to acknowledge Aditya Goel's readiness to embrace the project of publishing this book with Aditya Prakashan, once again, in New Delhi.

Introduction

This book is not so much about Buddhism, as about Indian history, a general knowledge of which is taken for granted. It is a kind of advanced history of India aimed at discussing the mechanisms that started to set in motion the events that, with increasing force, characterised the Indian middle age until the thirteenth century, and at examining the often elusive or disregarded evidence that document the weakening and collapse of Buddhism. I do not share the inclusive paradigm that assumes that in ancient India, for all the recognised differences, there was - we speak here of the structured systems - a single development model, broadly shared by all the forces in the field. I see India as the only civilisation of the ancient world that generated two opposing models of social and economic relations that coexisted for a long time in conflict, whatever the attempts to reduce or mask the incompatibilities. Far from being a history with a low level of conflict, it was highly confrontational. Despite the widespread tendency to underestimate historical discontinuities and create inclusive paradigms, it is possible to deconstruct Indian history entering it through the visible fractures that mark its surface. These fractures are comparable to those encountered in volcanic soils, where fumaroles and sulphurous deposits make one understand that an explosive magma is lying beneath. In many cases, fissures have unexpectedly widened, allowing a vision that, if not unprecedented, is nevertheless noteworthy.

The issues raised in this book are numerous, but two emerge, I think, with particular clarity. The first is that where-as the idea of state and society the Buddhists had in mind was compatible with the extremely varied peoples inhabiting the subcontinent, the Brahmanical model implied their forced in-corporation into the well-guarded perimeter of an agrarian so-ciety. It was not just a state society that, especially from the Gupta period onwards, started being established in vast por-tions of India but a varna state society, and this made the dif-ference. Its establishment caused the arising of an extremely strong opposition, generally underestimated by historians. The varna state was opposed not only by the natives who, against their will, saw themselves downgraded to the lower peasantry ranks, but also by the Buddhist brahmavas who were in favour of a trading society less dependent on agricultural resources, and consequently less bound to the strict rules of varna and jati. The second point is that the imposition of the rules of the varna state implied much violence. This appears most clearly in the non-brahmanised regions of central and north-eastern India where, from the eighth century onwards, the followers of the Vajrayana decided to play the card of social revolt, but is already clear from the very beginning of the process: hence the central position that Gupta policy is given in this book. Intimidation and violence also caused a number of transforma-tions in the religion of Dharma, where, rather early, a section of the :sramanas started organising themselves according to a community model paralleling the Brahmanical priesthood and lifestyle.

**Contents and Sample Pages**















The Gods and The Heretics (Crisis and Ruin of Indian Buddhism)

Item Code:
NAR641
Cover:
HARDCOVER
Edition:
2018
Publisher:
ISBN:
9788193462164
Language:
English
Size:
9.00 X 6.00 inch
Pages:
676
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Weight of the Book: 0.98 Kg
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About the Book

The Gods and the Heretics calls into question the mainstream idea of a unitary Indian history and investigates the fracture caused by the rise and structuring of Buddhism within the Brahmanical society, a fracture that would never be recomposed and would result-accomplice the Islamic advance in the twelfth century-in the disappearance of the Religion of Dharma. Buddhism may be seen as an antinomian system opposed to both vaidika and theistic Brahmans, capable of proposing a model of society and state antithetical to the agrarian horizon of the varna state society. For this very reason, it was doomed to be gradually, and often violently, reduced to impotence.

The attempt of the Mahayana to respond to the changed conditions was only partially effective. Eventually, the Buddhists disappeared or adapted themselves to the situation except for the north-eastern part of the Subcontinent. Doctrinal debates were instrumental in the suppression of the Buddhist elites, mainly formed by intellectuals of Brahmanical descent, this being proof of a dramatic rift in the brahmanavarna. The Vajrayana, which opened towards the outcastes and grew thanks to the protection of Pala rule, theorised the use of violence as the only means for the survival of the religion, this being actualised by way of a paradoxical recovery of the antinomian positions of early Buddhism. The compromise between the orthodox powers and the Muslims eventually issued in the suppression of all Buddhists institutions.

The book draws largely on the extremely numerous Brahmanical sources, both literary and iconographical. Equally essential are the archaeological sources, almost always over-looked and little understood.

About the Author

GIOVANNI VERARDI has been professor of Indian Archaeology and Archaeology of Central Asia at the University "L'Orientale" of Naples. On behalf of the Italian Institute for Africa and the East (Is.I.A.0.), active in Rome until 2012, he has been carrying out excavations in Afghanistan (Ghazni), Nepal (Kathmandu and at the Mokan site of Gotihawa) and China (Luoyang) as well as extensive territorial surveys and research work in India and Pakistan.

Preface

This book was first published in 2011 by Manohar in New Delhi with the title Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India, which received, as to be expected, mixed reviews. What surprised me most were the positive ones, especially when made with the intent to accurately pull all the threads of the discussion and understand the different levels of the enquiry. Many are the changes brought to the text, not considering the correction of mistakes and oversights that even the dedication of the publisher could not avoid. In some cases it is a matter of minor adjustments, but in several others of additions and even rectifications of perspectives, as in the third chapter, where I thought it necessary to distinguish with clarity between the changes observable in the samghas and the effort of the emerging Mahayana that, in a much changed situation, aimed at strengthening the religion - an issue fraught with problems that I hope someone shall be able to discuss in depth. The book, thoroughly revised, now has a new title, which, I think, better reflects the main thesis it presents.

One of the interpretive model I used in writing the book pointed directly towards its target, that of challenging the commonly accepted opinion that Indian Buddhism disappeared from the country where it had originated for reasons due to a poorly explained internal weakening, without violence having had any role in it; the second model was addressed at collecting the evidence from fields of research rarely visited by the students of Indian Buddhism: Hindu texts (especially the Puranas), Hindu iconography, and archaeological data. I have also tried to focus on the chronologies, with the aim of giving some order - within the limits of a study of this kind -to the interaction of the different social and religious groups present in a scenario as vast as, at times, convulsive. On the constrained limits of this search into, and interpretation of the sources, the reader is referred to the Introduction, practically unchanged with respect to the 2011 edition. Once again, I regret not having been able to supply the text, but for a single addition, with a larger number of illustrations, especially in relation to the evidence provided or suggested by the Purdnas and the Tamil literature, and to the processes set in motion by the Vajrayana.

Recently, contributions by Indian scholars have begun to appear that address the issue of violence: an obvious theme in any history but denied in modern India, which on the alleged lack of violence in its own history has built an actual foundation myth. Contributions have also appeared that rediscuss the relations between political-dynastic powers and what is traditionally attributed to them in terms of religious policy, patron-age, and chronological dynamics. If only a small part of these studies owes something to this book, having written it shall not have been useless.

I am grateful to the persons who helped me most in preparing this edition, which was made possible thanks to the concern of the Venerable Bhikkhuni Dhammadinna, to whom I am also indebted for having made accessible to me materials which otherwise I would not have been able to see. A very special thank goes to Margarita Vazquez Formoso of the Fundacion Bodhiyana of Buenos Aires, who carried out the typesetting with care and patience, and to the President of the same foundation, the Venerable Bhiksu Zhihan, for having allowed the space for the completion of this task. Thanks are also due to Claudine Bautze-Picron, Daniela De Simone, Minoru Inaba and Tiziana Lorenzetti. Last but not least, it is my pleasure to acknowledge Aditya Goel's readiness to embrace the project of publishing this book with Aditya Prakashan, once again, in New Delhi.

Introduction

This book is not so much about Buddhism, as about Indian history, a general knowledge of which is taken for granted. It is a kind of advanced history of India aimed at discussing the mechanisms that started to set in motion the events that, with increasing force, characterised the Indian middle age until the thirteenth century, and at examining the often elusive or disregarded evidence that document the weakening and collapse of Buddhism. I do not share the inclusive paradigm that assumes that in ancient India, for all the recognised differences, there was - we speak here of the structured systems - a single development model, broadly shared by all the forces in the field. I see India as the only civilisation of the ancient world that generated two opposing models of social and economic relations that coexisted for a long time in conflict, whatever the attempts to reduce or mask the incompatibilities. Far from being a history with a low level of conflict, it was highly confrontational. Despite the widespread tendency to underestimate historical discontinuities and create inclusive paradigms, it is possible to deconstruct Indian history entering it through the visible fractures that mark its surface. These fractures are comparable to those encountered in volcanic soils, where fumaroles and sulphurous deposits make one understand that an explosive magma is lying beneath. In many cases, fissures have unexpectedly widened, allowing a vision that, if not unprecedented, is nevertheless noteworthy.

The issues raised in this book are numerous, but two emerge, I think, with particular clarity. The first is that where-as the idea of state and society the Buddhists had in mind was compatible with the extremely varied peoples inhabiting the subcontinent, the Brahmanical model implied their forced in-corporation into the well-guarded perimeter of an agrarian so-ciety. It was not just a state society that, especially from the Gupta period onwards, started being established in vast por-tions of India but a varna state society, and this made the dif-ference. Its establishment caused the arising of an extremely strong opposition, generally underestimated by historians. The varna state was opposed not only by the natives who, against their will, saw themselves downgraded to the lower peasantry ranks, but also by the Buddhist brahmavas who were in favour of a trading society less dependent on agricultural resources, and consequently less bound to the strict rules of varna and jati. The second point is that the imposition of the rules of the varna state implied much violence. This appears most clearly in the non-brahmanised regions of central and north-eastern India where, from the eighth century onwards, the followers of the Vajrayana decided to play the card of social revolt, but is already clear from the very beginning of the process: hence the central position that Gupta policy is given in this book. Intimidation and violence also caused a number of transforma-tions in the religion of Dharma, where, rather early, a section of the :sramanas started organising themselves according to a community model paralleling the Brahmanical priesthood and lifestyle.

**Contents and Sample Pages**















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