By Gail Omvedt

Textual content explores 2,500 years of the advance of Buddhism, Brahmansim, and caste in India. offers an account of the old, social, political, and philosophical elements of Buddhism; discussing a variety of very important present matters. Hardcover, softcover on hand from the writer. DLC: Buddhism--Relations--Brahmanism.

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Additional info for Buddhism in India: Challenging Brahmanism and Caste

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Who were the Brahmans? Around the 2nd century CE, a Satavahana king of western India was described in an inscription as ekakusas ekadhanudharas ekasuras ekabahmanas, translated as ‘a unique controller, an unrivaled bowman, a pre-eminent hero and a peerless Brahman’ (Mirasi Part II: 45–47). But ‘Brahman’ (bahman) in this list could not have had a caste meaning, but rather seems to be used in an elegiac way; the same king married his son to a ‘barbarian’ Saka ruler and the Satavahanas had regular marriage connections with and basically derived from the indigenous Marathas (at that time semi-tribal).

The previous one, Parshanatha, is a recorded historical person dating probably around the end of the 9th century BCE—before Buddhism and the Upanishads. Parshanatha apparently organised both men and women followers into groups of ascetics (munis or sadhus, and sadhvis) and groups of lay followers (shravakas The Background to Buddhism 41 and shravikas), building a solid organisational framework that some believe ensured the survival of the Jains up to today (Sangave 1997: 2; the later Jains were more male chauvinist).

Humanity appears to be poised on the threshold of an expansion into both external and internal space. The middle of the first millennium BCE similarly represented a new era and turning point, not only in India but throughout the The Background to Buddhism 25 world. It was an age of emerging consciousness of the individual in the backdrop of social upheaval, when from China to Greece new technologies, new social energies and cultural innovations burst forth. It was also a period which seemed to have aeons behind it.

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