Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Contributions of Buddhism

Contributions of Buddhism Buddhism exercisedlmn­siderable influence in shaping the cultural, social; religious and political aspects of Indian Jife. Its' major contributions are as. follows:

(i) Buddhism gave the country a P9puIar religion which was devoid of complicated, elaborate and incomprehensible rituaIsand sacrifices. It made an important impact. on Indian society by keeping its doors open to 'shudrasand women who had been placed in the same category by brahmanism. By taking liberal stances for the lower classes of the society, it inspired the other future reformist leaders to take a similar view on these sections.

(ii) The doctrine of ahimsa (non-violence) is one of1he chief contributions of Buddhism. With its imphasis on non­violence and the sanctity of animal life, Buddhism'provided a great boost to the cattle wealth of the country. The religious sanctity to the protection of cattle came at a time when both the Aryans and the non-Aryans slaughtered animals, albeit for different purposes (Aryans in the name of religion and the non-Aryans for food). The later brahmanical insistence on the sacredness of the cow and non-violence was derived from Buddhism.

(iii) Buddhism laid the foundation of image worship in India. The first human statues worshipped in the country were probably those of the Buddha. Worshipping persoruiI gods and erecting temples in their honour are some of :the important practices adopted by the Hindus in: imitation of
the Mahayana Buddhists. "

(iv) It was perhaps in the realm of art and architecture that Buddhism made the finest contribution, the' most striking examples being (a) the stupas and stone -pillars depicting the life of Buddha at Sanehi, Bharhut and Gaya;
(b) the cave an:hitecture in the Barahar hills at Gaya and in westemlndia; (c) the art pieces of Amravati and Nagarjuna Konda;and (d) development of Gandhara art on the north.west frontier of India by the combined effort of the Greek and Indian Sculptors.

(v) Buddhism is credited with developing anew awareness in the field of intellect and, culture. It taught the people to judge things. on merit rather than taking them for granted. This promoted.rationalism amongtthepeople.

(vi) J3uddhism enriched the Pali language enormously.

(vii) Buddhism led to the establishment of residential universities such as _Natand~ !!Ild Vikramashila in Bihar, Vallabhiin Gujarat and Taxila.1 in the, north-west frontier region.

(viii) It promoted trade and commerce.

(ix) Through its missionaries in different parts of the world, Buddhism broke the isolation o[!Indiaand estab­lished an intimate contact betWeen India and the rest of the world. In fact, Buddhism proved to be one of. the, greatest civilising forces which India gave to its :1}eighbouring. countries.

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