Impact of Different Religions 1-2

Impact of Jainism and Buddhism.

Buddhism and Jainism arose as reactions to the Brahmanism about half a millennium before christ and had a great cathartic effect. Aiming primarily to remove the ills of Brahmanical Hinduism, they ended up being distinct religions in their own right. The Indians of 6th and 5th century BCE had become oppressed by the elaborate rituals and monopoly of Brahmins in religious matters. Hence the onset of both these religions had profound influences on society, polity, ideology etc of India.

  1. Religious Life - These religions exposed the evils of Hinduism at that time. Instead of Brahmin centred Yajnas individual based devotional worship was incorporated in which a person could pray to god directly, The detachment from material comforts and and a life of asceticism, proposed by H and J as ideals were included in the Hindu way of life as the third and fourth ashrama in a persons life cycle -  Vanprashtha and Samyasa. Like Nirvana, Moksa was accepted as the ultimate aim of life. A ban on animal sacrifice was enforced in a day-to-day life.
  2. Political Life - Insistence on Ahimsa - a major plank in both the religions - lessened the conflict between different classes of the society. Many kings and emperors adopted B or J and made it their state religion. THey also adopted the principle of non-violence as basis of state craft.  The majority of Buddhists and Jains formerly belonged to Vaishya and Shudra Varnas whee they were looked down upon. Their plight had been of no concern but now their welfare became the central point of state policy. The concepts of welfare state and non-violence became the cornerstone of Indian state policy which has survived till today.                               Negative Effects - Emphasis on ono-aggression and non-violence weakened the militancy of Indians and caused a decline in the military strength of India.  
  3. Social Life - The Varna order had already become birth based. Women, shudras, and poor vaishyas had no social status whatsoever. Deprived of education and facing a number of restrictions, these people readily adopted the new religions which not only professed equality, but also practised it. An important contribution is the inculcation of a high sense of ethics and morality in public and private life. The Noble Eightfold Path, the Ten Percepts and Four Cardinal Virtues were not only meant to attain Nirvana, but also to strictly guide the people's conduct.
  4. Intellectual Freedom and Literature - The assertion of B and J thoughts was that independent intellectual activity assists man's development and encouraged them to think for himself. Whereas Brahmanic religion had blunted man's intellectual perceptivity through excessive rituals and dogma. By the introduction of these thoughts, to some extent logic replaced superstition. They achieved immediate success since they used the language of common people - Prakrit or Pali, and not Sanskrit - which was only known to courtiers and Brahmins. Buddha And Mahavira themselves preached through the medium of these languages.     Apabhramsa writings were composed by Buddhists and Jains. Buddha's Mahaabhiyaana and Jataka - Pali prose.  Therigatha and Therigatha? - Pali poetry. Tirthankars of Mahavira - Prakrit. Buddhist monasteries developed as great centres of learning. Universities like Nalanda nad Vikramshila in Bihar and Valabhi in Gujrat drew international attention.
  5. Economic Life - Cleaning forests with plough was an important activity, particularly in Bihar and UP where these religions flourished. ANd domestication of animals was essential for the same. Brahmanical emphasis on animal sacrifice seriously threatened depletion of animal livestock. Whereas B and J's insistence on non violence was a boon for the growth of cattle wealth.
  6. Art and Architecture - The Hindu system of idol worship is the effect of Buddhism, when idols of Buddha came to be worshipped on a large scale. Idols, figurines, stupas, pillars, monasteries, sculpture were made in large number and with surpassing beauty and splendour.

In course of time, Jainism was only limited to Rajasthan and Gujrat, while Buddhism vanished from India and flourished in Sri Lanka, SE Asia, China and Japan.

Impact of Islam.  

The word islam has been derived from a root word which means "surrendering oneself to God". When Muhammed preached the doctrine of one God in polytheistic Arabia, he was suggesting a great social change. One God meant the concept of social equality. Muslim rule began in India in the 13th Century AD with the establishment of Slave Dynasty.

  1. Religion - The monotheistic philosophy of Islam affected polytheistic philosophy of Hindus. Moreover, idolatry of Hindus and beef eating of muslims was particularly repugnant to each other. There was also violence in the name of religion. The lower caste Hindus tired of untouchability and social and religious disabilities were impressed by humanistic concepts of egalitarian Islam. The sufi tradition was particularly responsible for the spread of Islamic religious beliefs and played a significant role in the spread of the religion. Swami Ramanuj and his deciples - Kabir, Raidas, Chaitanya, Tukaram advocated the essential unity of supreme God of both Hinduism and Islam. They proposed the approach - the Bhakti movement - preaching tolerance, universal brotherhood and love and tried to remove many superstitions of Hindus. Akbar too launched a synthetic religion Din-E-Illahi. His grandson Dara Sikhoh pleaded for synthesis of Upanishadic monotheism with that of Islam and prepared persian translation of upanishads -Majama-ul-Bahrain. Influence on Hindus - divided them into two groups. First accepted reforms and adopted a progressive outlook. The second one made their beliefs and practices mor orthodox and conservative.
  2. Art and Architecture - There is huge significance of Islam as not only new style of architecture was developed, new materials like marble and red sandstone were also used. Domes and turrets, arches and minarets adorn the buildings of India. Even the Hindu temple builders started using domes instead of stupas. The Mughals brought the Chughtai style of painting from Chinese background. During Jahangir's reign painting saw its zenith and a new school the " National Indian School of Painting" came into existence.
  3. Music - The Indian classical music in India has existed since the Gupta period. Tansen, Baiju Bawra, Baba Ram Das Sura Das were some of the musicians who gave birth to the synthetic Hindustani Music. Instruments like tabla, sitar, sarangi etc were Muslim inventions. Similarly, many exponents of Shastriya sangeet are still Muslim like ghazal, thumri, qawwali etc. New schools of music like Khayal developed.
  4. Language - The synthesis of Islam and Hinduism gave birth to Urdu, which was composed from Hindu and Persian words. Urdu became the lingua franca and from 18th century it became the court language and all official transactions were made both in Persian and Urdu. Urdu also became the medium of literature and great poets like Ghalib and Iqbal wrote in it.
  5. Social Life - THe Hindu mode of life, social manners, and forms of addresses were changed. The upper and middle class people being closer to the ruling group, adopted these dress patterns, food habits etc. The elaborate courtesy, courtly language of address and formality in speech were taken up. Mughal dishes like naan, biryani, tandoori items, pulao were well accepted. Tobacco became popular,  Many Muslim dresses like Sherwani, achkan, payjama, salwar, kurta etc became common dresses.