Buddhist Revival in India: Aspects of the sociology of by Trevor Ling

By Trevor Ling

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Example text

Then, added to this, would have been the adverse economic conditions created by the influx of the invading Muslims. Armies did their campaigning in India in the dry season, after the rice harvest. At that time the cultivators of Bengal would have gathered the season's paddy into their barns, to use through the coming year until the next harvest. Ifjust at that time an army descended on the countryside, needing food, for horses as well as for men, this would have made very heavy inroads into the accumulated stocks, for such armies had no base in the rear supplying them with food and equipment; they lived off the land.

Part of this tradition, common throughout various regions of India, centred around what may be described briefly as the mysticism of sexual love, or the transcendence of individuality through the experience of conjugal union. Religious ideas and practices of this sort would appear to have a special appropriateness for Buddhism whose central concern was the transcending of the notion of individual self and the widening of the area of consciousness. A Buddhism that was out of touch with the people would have remained out of touch with these ideas.

By using the criteria of an exclusivist and intolerant theistic religion one might make out a case for saying that Buddhism, in so far as it had an open frontier with popular beliefs and practices, was (and always has been) in decline; but these criteria are not relevant to the psycho-social philosophy which was Buddhism. Sl For classical Buddhism to be in a state of decadence or decline would mean that the triangular pattern of relationships between Sangha, king and people was no longer functioning in the traditional way.

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