whose spacious knowledge penetrates every soul and encompasses all objects.
Representing neither an uncompromising rejection of brahmanical tradition nor yet another 'heterodox' current within 'Hinduism', the Buddha constituted no less than a fresh starting point and alternative cultural model for Indian civilization, that was necessitated and facilitated by the break-down of Vedic authority on the margins of the Âryan 'middle country'. The critical intellect spared no domain of experience: spiritual quest, philosophical inquiry, moral conduct, social intercourse, imperial politics, mass education, artistic creation, mercantile ethos, dietary habits, cultural sensibilities. These innovations won over even the best among the brahmin intelligentsia.
Though 'disenchanting' the (mythico-ritual Vedic) world and generalizing the thirst for transcendence enshrined in the esoteric UpaniSads, Buddhism, like Christianity, had to draw upon pre-existing 'secular' legacies for coping with life-in-the-world. Such renouncers at the prime of youth were ideally situated to co-opt and synthesize the life of extra-brahminical cultures within a larger 'Âryanizing' discourse. Hinduism thoroughly internalized the Buddhist outlook within a 'Vedic' frame of reference (explicitly in 12th C. Abhinavagupta) even as other Asian cultures were brought together and enriched by its universalism.
Join us in elaborating a Hindu-Buddhist acculturation model that sheds fresh light on India's forgotten role in the spiritual unification of Asia.
- Aug 10, 2002
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