Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Age of the Buddha

The Age of the Buddha:

In the sixth century Be, Indian history emerges from legend and dubious tradition. We read of great kings, whose historicity is certain and some of whose achievements are known, and from now on the main lines of India's political development are clear. Our sources for this period-Bud­dhist and Jaina scriptures-are in many respects inadequate as historical documents. Their authors cared little for political affairs; like the Vedas, these texts were passed down from generation to generation orally for centuries, but, unlike the Vedas, they evidently grew and altered with time. Yet they contain authentic reminiscences of historical events, and though composed independently in different languages, they partially confirm one another.

This age was one of intellectual and spiritual ferment. Mystics and sophists of alI kinds roamed throughout the Ganga valley, all advocating some mental discipline and asceticism as a means to salvation. But it was also a time
of advance in commerce and politics. It produced not only philosophers and ascetics, but merchant-princes and men of action.

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