Editoral Comment

The following Essay by Subbrao Maradani MA, LLM, who is President of the Rationalist Forum of Hyderabad, is reproduced from Historical Buddhism, published by Rationalist Voice Publications in Nov. 2007.

The title of the Essay refers to the Namakharam brahamins of India who played a leading part in the destruction of Buddhisn in the country of its birth. The Essay contrasts the attitude of these brahamins to the rationalist and compassionate attitude inculcated in India by the Buddha and Emperor Asoka.

Namakharam
(An unscrupulous unfaithful person)

by Subbarao Maradani

Emperor Asoka

Here is what Asoka the great Mauryan emperor states in his Rock Edict XV (Kalinga edict): "All men are my children. Just as in regards to my own children. I desire that they be provided by me with all kinds of welfare and happiness in this world and the next same." In his Rock Edict No. VII, King Priyadarsi, beloved of the gods, wishes that all sects may dwell at all places because they all desire self restraint and purification of heart. In Rock Edit IV he gives as duties of his citizens: "Seemly behavior to relatives, seemly behavior to Brahmanas and Sramanas. Harkening to father and mother, harkening to elders."

The Rock Edict XII is so important as it faithfully portrays his attitude towards the different religions. Asoka says that he does not think of liberality and outward reverence to one's own religions so much as of the growth of its essential (saravadhi). This growth of the essential is of various kinds, but at the root of it is restraint of speech. In other words, a person must not make an exhibition of reverence to his own sect and condemn another's sect. By doing otherwise, he does harm to both. He who shows reverence to his own sect and condemns that of another because he is attached to his own sect and wants to illuminate it, inflicts in reality, a severe injury on it. What course of action then to illuminate it, inflicts, in reality, a severe injury on it. What course of action is then commendable in these circumstances? Asoka replies: "people shall hear and desire to hear further one another's Dhamma". He lavished gifts and honours on members of all sects without any distinction whether they were recluses or householders.

The Dharma Mahamatras also were ordered to promote the temporal and spiritual weal of all sects, not only of the Buddhist Sangha but also of Nirgranthas (Jain sects), Brahmanical Ajivikas, and so forth. During his visits and tours he gifted to both Brahmana and Sramana ascetics and gave gold to the aged. He desired that his descendants might follow in his footsteps for the promotion of the temporal and spiritual good of the people. It was in Asoka's time that the same degree of reverence was accorded to both Brahman religion and Sramanas (vide Pillar Edict VII).

With a view to erase the names of Buddha and Asoka from the pages of Indian history and the memory of Indians, the unscrupulous purohit community of Brahmins adopted all kinds of treachery.

Hiouen-Thsang

Hiouen-thsang states that Buddhism had considered itself very superior to the ancient faith. In its eyes Brahmanism was but the gross worship of spirits and devas. The brahminic pantheon was completely discredited and a belief in those strange and impotent divinities were regarded as a kind of shame.

Here is what J.B. Saint-Hilaire states in his book The Buddha and his Religion (pp. 65-66).

Notwithstanding the protection of kings and the enthusiasm of the populace, it appears that the Buddha had to contend with a most violent and stubborn opposition from the Brahmans. Their rivalry proved often dangerous to him. It is true that the Buddha was not sparing in his criticisms of his adversaries. Not only did he expose the ignorance and error of the very basis of their system, but he reproached them with being hypocrites, charlatans, and jugglers, censures which wounded them the more that they were not undeserved. The Brahmans are said to have exacted a promise from the citizens of Bhadramkara, whom they ruled at their will, that they would not admit the Buddha who was then approaching. When, however, the Bhagavat entered the city, a Brahman woman of Kapilavastu, who had married in the country, disobeyed the order, got out at night, scaled the walls with a ladder, and threw herself at the Buddha's feet to be taught the Law; her example was soon followed by one of the richest inhabitants of the city, named Mendhaka, who harangued the people, and at once gained them over to the Liberator, whom the Brahmans wished to humiliate and to exile. Matters were sometimes carried still further, and if we may judge by the traditions quoted by Fa-Hian and Hiouen-Thsang, the Buddha must often have been personally threatened and attempts made upon his life. This is not in itself astonishing, and the only wonder is that the Buddha escaped all the ambushes that were laid for him.

Buddhism is perfectly original, in the sense that it has not borrowed from strange nations or higher civilizations, precepts and theories that are not corrupted; it is exclusively Indian, and is an integral outcome of ancient India; without Brahmanism. Hioeun-Tsang states that the ancient philosophy possessed little life or influence. He had an utter contempt for brahminism (pp. 178-179).

Now read what D.C. Ahir author of Asoka states.

"For the expression Devanampriya Priyadarsi, V.A. Smith's translation 'His Sacred and Gracious Majesty' seems to me to be an epithet of contempt under a rule of Panini (vi. 3, 21) but is mentioned as among the exceptions to the rule by Katyayana (about 350 BCE), according to Sir R.G. Bhandarkar, supported by Patanjali (150 BCE) and even by Kasika (650 CE). The exception is not, however, allowed by the later grammarian Bhattoji Dikhita who insists on taking Devanampriya as a term of contempt, implying a fool murkha devoid of the knowledge of Brahma; (vide Tattvabodhini and Balamanorama). Thus a title which was complimentary during the Nandas, Mauryas and Sungas suffers a deterioration in sense under later Brahmanical prejudice against the most Distinguished Buddhist monarch".

This prejudice and contemptuous attitude towards Asoka was not an individualistic bias on the part of Bhattoji Dikshita but it was part of a deep-rooted Brahmanical conspirary against Buddhism, the religion which Asoka had adopted and patronized. The advent of Buddhism was an eye sore to the reactionary Brahmins as it had toppled the priest-class from its high place which had for centuries assured for them all sorts of privileges and material comforts. So when the hold of Buddhism weakened, they retaliated and attacked Buddhism in various ways to avenge their loss. They used the meanest language and the meanest tactics to defame and run down Buddhism in the eyes of the general pubic. They even twisted the meaning of certain words and phrases which were peculiar to Buddhism.

The Brahmin fanatics did not stop at that. They continued relentlessly the propaganda of hatred and abhorrence against the Buddhists for centuries and perpetuated this spirit in the literature as well. Quoted Below are few instances from such literature:—

As a part of their offensive strategy, the Hindus adopted yet another method of discrediting the Buddhists and their shrines. They gave abusive and filthy names to Buddhist shrines. The Buddhists were even subjected to prosecution at the hands of rulers as well as religious fanatics.

Pushyamitra, Brahmin Commander-in-Chief of Brihadratha, the last Mauryan King, was the first royal persector of the Buddhists. He murdered the King in about 185 BCE; usurped the throne of Magadha, and let loose a reign of terror. Pushyamitra set a price of one hundred gold piece on the head of every Buddhist monk. He destroyed Kukuturama Monastery (Asokarama) in Pataliputra. He destroyed monasteries as far as Skata (modern Sailkot) in West Punjab (Pakistan). Kanvas another Brahmin dynasty ruled in continuation to Sunga dynasty. Another Hindu King to persecute the Buddhists was Sasanka, the king of Gauda (Bengal), whose first teacherous act was the murder of Rajyavardhana in 605 CE, elder brother of Harsha, the last Buddhist Emperor. Sasanka was a Brahmin by caste and a Saiva by faith. He was so fanatic that in his anger he almost destroyed the Bodhi Tree. Hiuen Tsang who visited Buddha Gaya in 637 CE, about three decades after the incident, records as follows: "In late times Sasanka-raja (She Thang-kia) being a believer in heresy, slandered the religion of Buddha, and through envy destroyed the convents and cut down the Bodhi Tree, digging it up to the very springs of the earth: but yet he did not get to the bottom of the roots. Then he burnt it with fire and sprinkled with the juice of the sugarcane, desiring to destroy it entirely, and not leave a trace of it behind". He also removed a Buddha image from a temple near the Bodhi Tree and replaced it by that of Siva. He also threw into the Ganga a sacred stone bearing the footprints of Buddha, in Pataliputra."

One of the greatest persecutors of Buddhism in India was the Huna chief, Mihirakula, who did immense damage to the Buddhist shrines in Gandhara, Punjab and Kashmir. Mihirakula was a Saiva and great patron of the Brahminical faith. In his madness, he is said to have razed to the ground as many as 1600 viharas, stupas and monasteries, and put to death nine hundred Kotis of lay adherents of Buddhism. Toramana, another member of the same tyrannical dynasty is said to have destroyed the Ghositarama monastery at Kausambi.

About the persecution of Buddhists in Kashmir, E. M. Hussanian, says "It was Nara, who started the process which resulted in the extinction of Buddhism from Kashmir. He got burnt the Buddhist viharas of Kashmir and uprooted the Buddhist population by confiscating their lands and bestowing them to the Brahmins. What happened in Kashmir was a part of similar process of elimination of the Buddhists in the country. In the struggle between Brahminism and Buddhism, the former was victorious. Under such circumstances, extinction of Buddhism from Kashmir was a question of time".

Anbther avowed enemy of Buddhism, who went to the extent of saying that "the teaching of the Buddha was useless" was Kumarila Ithatt, a Brahmin. He appears to have lived in the eighth century CE. At his instance, Suddhanavan the king of Ujjain, is said to have exterminated the Buddhists. The ruthless persecution of the Buddhists by Suddhanavan, at the instigation of Kumarila Bhatt, is recorded in two biographies of Sankaracarya, that is the Sankaravijaya by Anandagiri, a direct disciple of Sankaracarya, and Sankara-digviyayam by Madhava (fourteenth century CE). In fact, Madhava Acharya asserts that, at the instigation of Kumarila Bhatt, Suddhanavan "issued orders to put to death all the Buddhists from Kamesvaram to the Himalayas. He further ordered that any one who does not kill a Buddhist would be slain".

Sankaracarya the Vedanta teacher, was also responsible for the persecution of Buddhists. In fact, he struck a terror into the hearts of the Buddhists. According to a Tibetan tradition, at his approach, "the Buddhists in the monasteries began to disperse pell-mell". He himself says at one place in the Bhashya on Brahma Sutra that "Buddha bore hatred and illwill towards the people and did this with the intention of confusing them. Those who wish for ultimate good should entertain absolute disregard to this system of philosophy".

The emergence of Buddhism apart from down-grading the Brahmins, had also given a death blow to the divine right of the Kshatriya Kings. No wonder, there fore, the Kshatriya, who were in initial stages the supporters of the creed of the Buddha, in later times, became antagonistic towards it. As a writer puts, "the Kshatriyas were afraid of Buddhism because it threatened the very foundation of their existence as a class as oppressed people encouraged by it equality preachings were trying to rise". Thus to safeguard their interests, the ambitious Kshatriyas entered into conspiracy with the Brahmins and took steps to fortify the caste system. By mutual arrangement, the Kshatriyas agreed to be the Kings and to have the Brahmins as their Chief Ministers. This unholy alliance ensured power and prestige for both these classes and permanent lower position for others, which Buddhism could never tolerate. To retain the political power in their hands, therefore, these classes formed a united front against Buddhism and thus circumvented its development.

As a result of all such persecutions and reactions, Buddhism ultimately declined in India. And whatever was left unfinished by the Hindu reactionaries was accomplished by the Muslim fanatics who mercilessly destroyed the Buddhist Universities in Bihar in the twelfh century, and massacred thousands of monks. As a writer aptly puts, "The last scene of the Buddhist drama in the theatre of its homeland began in terror and ended in silence, the silence of the forgotten. The holy places fell into decay, overgrown by jungle, their shrines converted to another faith. The Buddha disappeared into the vast assemblage of the Hindu gods and form the memory of men."

Destruction of Nalanda the premier Buddhist University

It is sitiuated 7 miles of North of Rajagraha. It is a very ancient Buddhist University. Nalanda became respected throughout India. Buddhist scholars from all parts of India and Tibet began to study at Nalanda university. It was a very prestigious university. It is located on 30 acres of land Hioeun-Tsang studied here later. He became its principal. According to Hoieun-Tsnag there used to between three thousand and five thousand students.

It was the store house for rare manuscripts. It had a compound wall 9 feet in height. In the year (1197-1206) Mahammed Bhuktyar of the Turkkish tribe invaded India and proceeded up to Bengal. The Brahman priestly community gave an impression to these Turkish tribe that it was s fort. There upon the Turkish invading tribe attacked the Nalanda University destroyed the university, burnt the precious Buddhist manuscripts and innumerable number of Buddhist monks were massacred.

Basava a Brahmin minister of king Bijjala Kaluchuri usurped the throne by killing the king in the year 1156 CE and propagated Saiva cult in a very aggressive manner rooting out the established Jaina religion. The Gometeshwara statue had been constructed during heyday of Jainism in Mysore State. Thus he established Saiva religion other wise known as Lingayat religion. He is another Namak haram of Mysore State (Southern India).

Impaling of 8000 Jains

Now this is what Periyar the leader of self respect movement of Tamilnadu has to say in his book (Man and Religion, page 27) regarding the massacre of Jains and Buddhists in Tamilnadu: The Impalling of 8000 Tamil Jains on a single day by the Tamil Brahmin Thiruguna Sambandha at Madhurai at about 600 CE is a matter which is even now celebrated by an annual festival in the Meenakshi Temple at Madhurai and at many other Temples. The Vaikunta Permal Temple in Kanchipuram is only one among numerous Temples containing base relief sculptures of the murder and torture of Tamil Buddhists and Jains. Many present day Hindu Temples were originally constructed by Tamil Buddhists or Jains. There are archaeological grounds to believe that Varadaraja Temple in Kanchipuram was originally devoted to the Buddha under the name Arulala Perumal and the Buddhist Sanctum was walled up and now the Brahminical deity is on the first floor. The Kamashi Temple and Ekambareshwara Temple in Kanchipuram are believed to have been originally Buddhist or Jain. Periyar has been exposing these facts, (Man and Religion by Periyar, p. 36).

There is a 12 century ancient Jain's temple in Kolanpak at Alier 30 kms from Hyderabad of Andhra Pradesh. Do you know how it was built there? Originally the Kakatiya of Warangal kingdom were Jains. Later on they were converted to Saivas; when they were Jains the village accountant posts were held by the goldsmith community. After their conversion to Saivaisam they were replaced by Brahmins of North India. Besides these Brahmins, they invited Brahmins from Tamilnadu and accommodated them in Amalapuram, Godavari delta area and bestowed fertile lands to them. These brahmins are called Dravida Brahmins. Besides this Kolanpak temple the Bhadra Kali temple located by the side of Warangal lake is that of Jaina's. They plastered the walls and installed Kali stone figure, wherever possible they converted Buddhist and Jaina temples into Hindu temples other wise destroyed completely.

Whatever little memory of Asoka had survived in the minds of the people was also obliterated after the demise of Buddhism in India in the 12th to 13th century. No wonder, even the association of Asoka with the monolithic pillars was forgotten. Instead, the ignorant masses acribed them to Bhim, one of the Pandavas brothers. According to Sham-i-Siraj, at the time of shifting of the Asokan pillars at Topra, near Ambala, from Meerut to Delhi in 1356CE by Sultan Ferozshah, the local Tradition about these pillars was that "these columns of stone had been the walking sticks of he accursed Bhim (one of the Pandava brothers in the Mahabharata), a man of great stature and size". To buttress the story, another absurdity was told that, "In those days, beasts were much larger than they are now and that the Bhim used these stone pillars as goads while tending his cattle. He and his brother lived near Delhi, and when he died, these columns were installed there as memorials to him".

As for the inscriptions on these pillars, less said the better. When Ferozshah summoned some Indian scholars to decipher their contents, no one was able to read them. However, some selfish and foolish Brahmin told the Sultan that the inscriptions stated that "no one would be able to remove the object from its place till there should arise in the latter days, a Muhammden king named Sultan Feroz."

Thus by the 14th century, even the name of Asoka was unknown in India, and his association with mighty pillars had also been forgotten. Hence, James Prinsep who first of all deciphered the Asokan lipi in 1837 was misled to believe that these pillars had been erected by King Devanampiya Tissa of Sri Lanka.

Now read what Late Prof. Hanumanth Rao, honorary Professor of Centre for Buddhism of Nagarjuna University states.

Now Buddhism was wiped off from Andhra Desa in the whirlwind campaign of militant Saivism led by stalwarts like Mallikarjuna and Somanatha. Both are Brahmins Mallikarjuna and Somanadha proudly announced that Buddhists in Andhradesa were killed by placing them in oil extracting machines. On the other side, the Smartas like the above Gangadhara started a vicious campaign of vilification, as attested by the above Karimnagar inscription, against the Buddha. They gave wide currency to the malicious Puranic propaganda that Buddha was a cheat who by distraction the Raksasas from the righteous path of Vedic ritualism, led them to moral decay and ultimate destruction. The Vedas are a collection of Mantras which are invocations to Indra, Varuna, Agni, Soma and others. They are prayers with rituals for help and gifts and for acceptance of offerings.

The Buddhists could not withstand the double pronged attack on them by the Hindu sectarians and from the 13th century even Buddhadeva does not figure in inscriptions. The Buddhism was driven out of the land and its erstwhile glorious places of abode were converted into dust bins by the pious Hindus of the neighboring villages (Buddhism and Jainism in Andhra Desa, pp. 22-23).

This priestly community after getting control over the Buddhist monasteries named them as Lanja Debbalu (Prostitute Mounds). Chanta Mulludu of Ikshaavaku dynasty converted Buddhist monasteries into Hindu ritual places. Similarly is the case with Pallava Kings. They converted Buddhist monasteries at Vijayapuri into Hindu temples. They invited Brahmin priests from North and with the connivance of Nayanars and Alwars they harassed Buddhist Bhikkhus and physically eliminated both Buddhists and Jains.

Kumar Bhatt a Brahmin carried a vicious campaign against Buddhists. In continuation Sankara Charya carried out a campaign against Buddhists and drove them away from their monasteries. Yajnavalka says it is a sin to see Buddha in dreams. As per smratyarthasara Buddhists are untouchables, (see Boudham in Andhra by B.S.L Hanumantha Rao).

Nagarjuna a Brahmin from Deccan who was a Hindu later became a Buddhist and settled near Vijayapuri. His (sishyas) followers propagated that he is the real Buddha. The Original Buddha was a shadow of Nagarjuna. Nagarjuna sishyas (followers) who are Brahmins have propagated that Buddha has told that he has hidden some secrets with Nagas. Another Buddha will emerge 800 years his death. He will take the secret from Nagas hidden by him. He will become another Buddha. It is just like Puttaparthi Saibaba claiming that he is Saibaba reborn Buddha told: "The Tathagata has no such thing as the closed first of teacher who holds something. back". Why did Nagarjuna choose to write books is Sanskrit instead of Pali then the spoken language of common people? There is some mystery and ulterior motive in Nagarjuna choosing to write his books in Sanskrit. (Vide Misim May, 2006).

Here is what Baba Saheb Ambedkar States:—

Buddhism was in the first place over powered and suppressed by the Brahmins. It is now sufficiently known that the last Mauriya Emperor, defendant of Emperor Asoka, was murdered by his Brahmin Commander-in-chief by name Pushya Mirta who usurped the throne and established Brahminism as a State religion. This led to the suppression of Buddhism in India which is one of the causes of its decline. While the rise of Brahminism brought about its complete destruction, by the violence it practiced in destroying Viharas and killing Bhikkhus.

A Brahmin will remain a Brahmin no matter what colour he assumes or what party he joins. That is because Brahmins want to maintain the system of graded social inequality. It is quite possible that if the Brahmins are allowed to lead the movement of revival of Buddhism they may use their power to sabotage it or misdirect it. The precaution to exclude them from position of power at least in the early stages of our movement is, therefore, very necessary. In the Buddhist religion 75% Bhikkhus were Brahmins. 25% were the Sudras and others.

Here is what H.G. Wells states in his book A Short History of the World:—
The priestly caste of the Brahmins, the highest and most privileged caste in the Indian social body, has always been opposed to the frank and open teaching of Buddha. Gradually they undermined the Buddhist influence in the land of its birth. The old monstrous gods, the innumerable cults of Hinduism, resumed their sway. Caste became more rigorous and complicated. For long centuries Buddhism and Brahminism flourished side by side, and then slowly Buddhism decayed and Brahmanism in a multitude of forms replaced it. But beyond the confines of India and the realms of caste Buddhism spread until it had won China and Siam and Burma and Japan, countries in which it is predominant to this day.

Erstwhile English authors on Buddhism are T. W.Rhys-Davids, Mrs. Rhys-Davids, Woodville Rockhill, Samuel Beal, Ernest J. Eitel, Paul Camus, J. B. Saint-Hilaire, E.L. Woodward, Klaus K. Klostermaier etc. They concur with the views of H.G. Wells.

Then you read my comments:

The first rule made it sin for a Brahmin even to touch a weapon. The second rule made the king's person sacred and regicide a sin. Pushyamitra transgressed both these rules. Bana the author of Harsha Charita (7th Century CE) is critical of Pushyamitra's act. He reviles Pushyamitra, as being base born and calls his act of regicide as Anarya, that is "contrary to Aryan Law".

He is nothing short of Namakharam Brahmins claimed authority even to kill king if he happiness to go against their law. To suppress Buddhism Kanishka was smothered to death in his bed. Pushyamitra had treacherously assassinated the last Mouryan Emperor.

The hostility between shramanic and brahminic system is so acute that it was likened by the second century CE grammarian Pattanjali to the enemity between the mangoose and the snake The snake survived contrary to the law of nature.

"Periyar" E.V. Ramaswamy has not allowed Brahmins to join his self respect movement when somebody questioned why he is keeping Brahmins outside self respect movement. He told why should I pick up a snake going on the street and keep it in my pocket and complain that it is biting.

I am at a loss to understand how can Brahmins who constitute 3% of Hindus could have upper hand over 97% of the population. How could they blunt the intelligence of 97% of the population. I think the ladder caste system in Hindu religion imposed by them and implemented by kings is responsible to a major extent. You know that Rama killed Sambhuka for trespassing the ladder system of caste. The punishment for trespassing the ladder system of caste is death penalty. You know very well that the son of Brahmin died due to Sambhuka crossing the ladder system of caste. Sri Ram went to Sambhuka and cut his head. Immediately the son of the Brahmin got up.

Another reason is they made the citizens unpad (illiterate). They suppressed Pali language and introduced Sanskrit. The Sudras should not learn Sankrit and thus remained illiterate. They put restrictions in learning. Only Brahmins and Kshariya should learn.

Now you read how they controlled the kings For example the daily routine of Gajapathi Kings. He get up at 2.00 hours before sunrise. He salutes two Brahmins. Then he perform Puja to their feet. He keeps the dust from their feet on his head, he washes their feet and then drinks that water. Thereafter he will present them with present (dakshina). (The culture history of Andhra Pradesh by Kambhapati Satyanarayana. p.14).

Now you read the magnanimous attitude of Asoka towards Brahmins and equal treatment given to both Brahmins and sravanas. And his advice to the people to accord respect to both Brahmins and sravanas. Asoka is not the missionary of one faith but exponent of tolerance for all faiths. But the crooked priestly Brahmin community quite contrary to Asoka were intolerant towards other faiths. The treatment given to sravanas after murdering Asoka's great grand son by Pushyamitra in the parade of soldiers and established brahminism as state religion. He persecuted Buddhist monks and bhikkus and got innumerable of them murdered and their religious books burnt. We could procure Buddhist books in Tihetian language and Chinese languages and from Ceylon.

Is it not enough for the livelihood of priestly community of Brahmins, what they earn in the normal course and live harmoniously with Sravanas and other sects. I am at a loss to understand why should they resort to the extreme step of elimination the other sects particularly Sravanas from India. Why should they resort to all unscrupulous acts and try to erase even the memory of Budha who teached in India for 45 years and Asoka who ruled India for 40 years.

Dear Readers: have a comparative study of the treatment given by Asoka to Brahmins and treatment given by Brahmin kings to Sravanas after usurping the kingdom.

Now you be the judge whether the purohit community of Brahmins are Namakharram or not.