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Describe The Social and Religious Conditions of India When Gautama The Buddha Was Teaching.

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Introduction

Describe The Social and Religious Conditions of India When Gautama The Buddha Was Teaching (33) Siddharta Gautama was born in North East India around the 6th century BCE. This was a time of great prosperity. The area was very fertile and much of the land remained forested ready for cultivation. There was a great trade in agriculture and there were many merchants. This prosperity brought peacefulness. There was a very structured civilisation with a caste system. Due to the prosperity there was a much more complex society. People had time to discuss life and religion without upsetting anyone. Unlike England and America in the past when people could be tried as 'witches' for the most minor of incidents. Especially in the main towns there was a much wider range of people; merchants, businessmen, nobles, teachers, intellectuals, musicians, actors dancers, and even prostitutes. There were quite a few religions around at the time of the Buddha's teaching. The oldest was the Vedic tradition; this was the main religion, It came with the Aryans when they moved into India around 1500 BCE. ...read more.

Middle

They would go from place to place and try to teach and convert people. They usually had their own set of ideas and beliefs and were supported with gifts of food or by their followers. Two opposite types of Shramanas were the ascetics and the materialists. The ascetics lived a life of minimum luxury. They often used self-punishment as a way to find enlightenment and learn more about the world. They would keep the body in fixed positions for long periods of time, wear little clothing in harsh climates, give themselves lashes or deprive the body of food. They believed that things that affected the body would not affect the soul and that the soul lived on. The Shramanas used techniques such as yoga and meditation to help them get closer to Brahman and enlightenment. On the other end of the scale the materialists believed that life was for the living. There was no afterlife all they had was here and now. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Buddah did not altogether condemn the folk religion but he did decrease its value and found nothing of value in it. The folk religion was too primal to be of any use to the Buddha. The Buddha borrowed parts of other religions and used his own knowledge and understanding in his teachings. What the Buddha taught was not a strict absolute religion like the Moslem religion, but more of a philosophy and way of life. To say that the Buddah found nothing of value in the religions of his time is not true as he was a great believer in the good yoga and meditation could do the soul, and both these practices came from existing religions. His teachings were not extreme like the ascetics or materialists, but tried to find the middle way the way that would help the soul most. Although he did use a lot of his own understanding and knowledge in his teachings, The Buddha was not to above himself that he could not see the good parts of other religions and was not afraid to adopt them. ...read more.

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