In the following sections, we will explain why was Buddhism so popular in India.
Buddhism was widely accepted and its popularity spread like fire across India. Several causes were responsible for the growth and the spread of the religion.
As per the records, every single corner of the subcontinent has reverberated with the chanting of the monks (also known as bhikshus) and lay-worshippers (also known as Upasikas). But why was it so popular? Let’s take a look.
- Buddha’s personality
- Simple doctrines
- Easy-to-understand language
- Royal patronage
- Lack of any strong rival
Buddha’s personality made him very popular with the masses. In fact, he was friendly and without ego.
His calmness, his gentle words plus simple philosophy and his life of refutation provoked the masses. He was a glaring example of a prince who renounced the material world with the ambition of saving humanity from the vices, which definitely appealed to the public.
Moreover, his sermons and messages were able to evoke admiration and acceptance of the public for him as well as his religion. Consequently, it did not take much time for Buddhism to spread in India.
Unlike Jainism, Buddhism was rather simple and did not make the people confused. It’s ideal for nonviolence and “Eight-Fold path” were extremely easy to understand and follow. Moreover, the religion was not as severe as that of Jainism and the Vedic rituals.
The messages were spread by Buddha in a very simple language for the masses to understand properly. In fact, Buddha made use of the Prakrit language, which was actually the spoken language of the country.
On the other hand, the Vedic religion was only understood by the Brahmins given that it used the complicated Sanskrit language.
Buddhism was quite affordable without any costly ritual unlike the Vedic religion.
As a matter of fact, it was practical morality instead of costly rituals which became the tradition of the Indian society. It was able to advocate a spiritual path devoid of any material obligation of gratifying the Brahmins and the gods through expensive gifts and rituals.
As a result, the common people started embracing Buddhism.
This was in another significant factor for the rapid spread of Buddhism in India. Lord Buddha happened to be a Kshatriya. Buddhism was patronized by Kings like Bimbisara, Prasenjit, Ajatasatru, Kanishka, Asoka, and Harshavardhan who were responsible for the spread of the region throughout the country, as well as outside too.
Emperor Asoka sent his children to Sri Lanka with the intention of spreading Buddhism. Furthermore, Harshavardhan and Kanishka made every effort to spread the religion in India as well.
Lack of any strong rival
Buddhism did not face any strong rival since its introduction in the 6th century BC. Even though Jainism became quite popular, individuals did not like it because of its severity.
Additionally, the missionary passion of Buddhism was not present in contemporary Hinduism at the time.
Moreover, none took the responsibility of spreading the Brahminical faith amongst the masses in its pure form. Christianity and Islam were not yet born. Consequently, Buddhism did not have any rival and became immensely popular amongst the masses throughout India.