Pre-Buddhist Indian Thought and Culture

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School of Theology > Department of Buddhist Studies[edit]

Pre-Buddhist Indian Thought and Culture[edit]

You are expected to posses a detailed knowledge on the Indian Culture from the age of the Indus Valley Civilization up to the time of the Buddha. This school has a special focus should be in the followings:

  • Indian culture before the advent of Aryans.
  • Evolution of the religious, social and literary aspects of the Vedic Brahmanic Culture upto the Upanishadic
  • Evolution of Sramanic culture and its characteristics
  • Political, economic and social conditions during the time of the Buddha
  • Nature of the Brahmanic thought during the time of the Buddha
  • Teachings of the six religious teachers contemporary to the Buddha

Indian culture before the advent of Aryans[edit]

Indian culture was dominated by Hinduism. Its origin can be traced to the beginning as early as the third millennium B.C.E. It has drawn in and adopted many influences, resulting to a diverse and varied beliefs systems. It ranges from a simple animism whereby the belief that every living creature, inanimate object, and wishful thought has a spirit; to some of the most elaborate philosophical systems. Its openness and diversity allows for literally millions of major and minor gods, deities, temples and priests with plentitude of possible and infinite religious views.

Hindusim has no identifiable founder. There was however, a mythological founder, Brahma, of the Vedic religion, a denomination of Hinduism. The word “Hindu” was derived from the Sanskrit name for the river Indus. The word “Hinduism” is a generic term that come into popular use in the eighteenth century coined by the British.

Evolution of the religious, social and literary aspects of the Vedic Brahmanic Culture upto the Upanishadic[edit]

Evolution of Sramanic culture and its characteristics[edit]

Political, economic and social conditions during the time of the Buddha[edit]

Throughout its history, India has undergone innumerable episodes involving military conquests and integration, cultural infusion and assimilation, political unification and fragmentation, religious toleration and conflict, and communal harmony and violence. A few other regions in the world also can claim such a vast and differentiated historical experience, but Indian civilization seems to have endured the trials of time the longest. India has proven its remarkable resilience and its innate ability to reconcile opposing elements from many indigenous and foreign cultures. Unlike the West, where modern political developments and industrialization have created a more secular worldview with redefined roles and values for individuals and families, India remains largely a traditional society, in which change seems only superficial. Although India is the world's largest democracy and the seventh-most industrialized country in the world, the underpinnings of India's civilization stem primarily from its own social structure, religious beliefs, philosophical outlook, and cultural values. The continuity of those time-honed traditional ways of life has provided unique and fascinating patterns in the tapestry of contemporary Indian civilization

Nature of the Brahmanic thought during the time of the Buddha[edit]

Teachings of the six religious teachers contemporary to the Buddha[edit]

Recommended Reading:[edit]

Hinduism and Buddhism, C.Eliot, London, 1957

The Wonder That was India, A.L.Basham, London, 1957

Indian Philosophy, Vol.1, S.Radhakrishnan, London, 1958

History of Indian Philosophy, Vol I S.Das Gupta, Cambridge, 1963

The Origin and the Early Development of Buddhist Monachism, Patricia Olivelle, Gunasena, Colombo, 1974

Indian Buddhism, A.K. Warder, Delhi 1980

Studies in the Origins of Buddism,G.C.Pande, Deihi, 1983

Early Buddhism and Its Origins, V.P.Verma, New Delhi, 1973