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Buddhism and cultural adjustability

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Author

Labh, Baidyanath

Date

2005

Volume

6

Pages

186-196

ISSN

1530-4108

Abstract

Being a philosophical thought and religious system based on rational thinking, Buddhism provides a practical way of life. Historically, Buddhism spread to different parts of the world through its message of love, amity, compassion and tolerance. Keeping the thread of ‘tolerance’ as a tool, it was welcomed almost in every nook and corner and gradually got adopted even in the alien lands. It adjusted and intermingled with different cultures keeping its own identity alive. In the process, Buddhism developed different forms in the shape of sects, sub-sects and schools of philosophical thoughts etc. Buddhism got split into two sects after the second Buddhist Council and multiplied to eighteen by the time of Aúoka. Aúoka dispatched missionaries to various regions of India and even to various other countries. Buddhism was received in countries like Sri Lanka and some other parts of the world in high esteem. Because of its liberal attitude, Buddhism assimilated the local cultural, social and religious elements into its fold; which brought serious changes in Buddhism as well. In India, too, with the rise of Mahâyâna, fundamental changes took place in Buddhism. The Buddha himself got deified and pantheon of gods came into existence. The wheel of development did not stop here and a time came when the Buddha declared himself as the Creator of this Universe. Different countries translated and reproduced the Buddhist scriptures into their own languages, which multiplied and diversified Buddhism. However, the basic elements of Buddhism such as, universal brotherhood, friendliness, compassion, humanism, equality, rationality, theory of karma and effect etc. have remained intact in all these sects-sub-sects, schools and sub-schools.

So far as the present global scenario is concerned, it is multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious, multi-philosophical and multi-cultural. Buddhism as a religio-philosophical system spread to almost the whole south, south-east, east, north-east and central Asia. However, it has spread to much larger part of the world as a friendly, humanistic and rational way of life. As a result, Buddhism has made inroads as a liberal way of life and even an academic discipline in western countries also which are pre-dominantly Christian. This shows Buddhism as a messenger of cultural adjustability in the present world. In the proposed paper, efforts will be made to elaborate these very points.