Feb 20, 2024
Feb 20, 2024
By 500 BC, Vedic society was slowly stratifying into a rigid class system of the familiar four Varnas which exist in some form in Indian society even today - the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. The former, being the priestly class, were gradually assuming dominance over society with a tenacious grasp over tedious rituals that controlled every aspect of life. This added a superfluous complication to the busy life of an increasingly urban social fabric.
In stepped two major reformers, Gautama and Mahavira, They made an impact on this scene when, almost contemporaneously, they founded new doctrines based loosely on existing Hindu precepts but denying the role of the priests as media between Man and God. In fact, Buddhism held that only the soul was of import - God was a metaphysical construct of Man's mind. Buddhism was destined to have mass appeal worldwide. Yet at the crucial point of its nascence, it was fortunate to initially receive the patronage of the mercantile class, and later, of a king who would provide vital support - Ashoka the Great. Ashoka proclaimed Buddhism as the state religion and spread its message to the four corners of the land through state-funded monasteries, grants, and his famous rock-edicts, which dot the face of modern Orissa and central India.
More by : Ashish Nangia