Queries: Diwali, Buddhism and Brahmins

Yashwant Malaiya malaiya at CS.COLOSTATE.EDU
Thu Mar 9 00:53:16 UTC 2000

I include two separate  queries here. I will appreciate any
help on them.

1. Diwali or Dipavali is celebrated on Amavasya of Kartika
(Purmimanta). I am looking for historical mentions of Diwali
in Indian texts. I will appreciate if someone has some
information on the history of Diwali.

I know that it was celebrated by Mughals as a popular Indian
festivals. It is also mentioned in Sandesh-Rasak of Addahamana
(Abdul-Rahman? 13th cent?).

2. There is a view that Buddhism arose in opposition to
the Brahmins. Does anyone know when this view first arose?
It does not appear to be correct.

That Buddhism arose in protest is certainly not the
Buddhist view. Gotama Buddha (Shakyamuni) was not the only
Buddha, majority of the former Buddhas were Brahmin
("Homage to  Konagamana, the Brahmin who lived the life
perfected", DN-32 etc). While their historicity has not been
established, monuments to  former Buddhas once existed.
Future Buddha Maitreya too will be born a Brahmin.

Gotama addressed his students by their gotra, which is the
name of associated Brahmanical Rishi. He often used
the term Shramana and Brahmin together, suggested they
were both considered respected. A large fraction of
his immediate followers were Brahmin, including the
agra-shravakas Sariputta and Moggalayana. Most of the
famous Buddhist authors were Brahmin. In Gandhari
Dharmapada, BrammaNa-varga is the very first chapter
(although not in the Pali Dhammapad). Buddhist universities
must have been dominated by Brahmins. According to
Dharmasvamin, the Tibetan visitor, the last teacher of
Nalanda was supported by a local wealthy Brahmin.

While Gotama was opposed to animal sacrifices and
superiority of Brahmins by birth alone, there is no
evidence that the Buddha or the Buddhists were ever
opposed to Brahmins. Throughout history Brahmins
performed the rituals when a Buddhist king ascended
the throne, as it is still done today in Thailand.

What is then the basis of the supposed opposition of
Buddhism to Brahmins?  It is so frequently mentioned
by historians. How did this view become popular?


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