Buddhism Part IV

Buddhism 4

The even more extensive literature of northern Buddhism is only available to a limited extent in Sanskrit and Middle Indian dialects, but numerous scripts originally written in Indian languages ​​are in Chinese, Tibetan and others. Translations before. These are translations of canonical texts from old Indian schools, those of teaching texts ( sutra) of the Mahayana, philosophical works and others. Writings dealing with ritual and magic. In addition, there is an immense abundance of writings by Chinese, Japanese and Tibetan commentators and school founders.


Before his death, Buddha had not appointed a successor, but told the disciples that the teaching (Dharma) should be their master from now on. As a result, the monks soon disagreed about the Buddha’s words and different schools formed. The most important, which still occurs today in Sri Lanka and in Southeast Asia, is that of the Theravadins, who refer to the views of the monks of the most ancient times. It claims that its canon and its teachings were established as authoritative at three councils and defended against erroneous views. The councils are supposed to take place immediately after the death of the Buddha in Rajagriha (today Rajgir in Bihar), 100 years later in Vaishali (Bihar) and around 245 BC BC (at the time of King Ashoka) met in Pataliputra. In the course of time, 18 different schools are said to have emerged, which differed from one another in their dogmatics and discipline. In the period that followed, the teaching expanded and even found strong support from the Indo-Greek king Menander (Milinda) and the Indoskythian ruler Kanishka.

At the turn of the ages a new direction emerged, called Mahayana (“large vehicle”) and looked down on the older teaching as Hinayana (“small vehicle”), as an imperfect preliminary stage. With its altruistic ethics, its belief in the healing grace of unearthly Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, its ritual and its profound philosophy, the Mahayana exerted such a great attraction that it not only pushed back the old schools in India, but also the leadership in the missionary areas won: in Southeast Asia, Afghanistan, East Turkestan and especially in China, where Buddhism, allegedly due to a dream of the Han emperor Mingdi (58–76 AD), introduced around 67 AD and flourished over the next few centuries. Indian monks were called to China to translate sacred texts; The patriarch Bodhidharma founded a school of meditation there in 520 AD (Chinese: Chan, Japanese: Zen, for Sanskrit: Dhyana), and Chinese pilgrims, according to Xuanzang, traveled to India to visit the holy places of Buddhism and to buy relics collect. From China, Buddhism was introduced to Korea in 372 and from there 552 to Japan.

In India itself, according to growtheology.com, Buddhism found a patron in Harshavardhana in the 7th century, created significant literary and artistic works and fertilized the colonial areas, where the Borobudur in Java around 750 and in the Khmer Empire after 800, today’s Cambodia (Angkor), Buddhist buildings emerged. The progressive adaptation of Buddhism to Hindu beliefs led to the decline of Indian Buddhism. Within the Mahayana, the Vajrayana, the “diamond vehicle”, arose in the second half of the first millennium, which sought to achieve supernatural salvation through an extensive cult practice. This soon also took the rites of sacred love enjoyment from Tantrism in itself. The decline of Buddhism in India was accelerated by the fact that, within Brahmanism in the Vedanta Shankaras and in the Vishnuit and Shivaite schools, competitors appeared who rivaled Buddhism. The teaching in India lost more and more ground and was finally suppressed by the Islamic invasion around 1200. Only in a few areas, e.g. B. in Bengal, Orissa and South India, it held for another 200 to 300 years.

The Tiandai School was founded in China in 580, which brought together the main elements of Chinese Buddhism, the belief in the Buddha Amitabha of the “School of the Pure Land” and the practice of the school of meditation in a higher synthesis. After a period of prosperity, Buddhism was pushed back by Confucianism, just as it was in Annam (Vietnam), who was missionary from China, and in Korea. In Japan, on the other hand, he has put down firm roots and adopted new forms: The “True School of the Pure Land” (Jōdo-shinshū) founded by Shinran Shōnin in 1224 broke with the celibacy of priests and advocated a doctrine of salvation that saw salvation as a gift of grace from Amida (Amitabha). By Nichiren The “Lotos Sutra” school founded in the 13th century has strong nationalistic traits.

In Tibet, where Buddhism came from Bengal in the 7th century, it became the basis of a monastic state in the form of Tibetan Buddhism. It was from here that the Mongols were evangelized in 1577, who then imparted the teachings to the Buryats and Kalmyks in the 17th century. With the latter, who settled in the area near Astrakhan and Stavropol, Buddhism came to Europe for the first time. The states of Sikkim and Bhutan also emerged under the influence of Tibetan Buddhism.

Buddhism 4