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Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara
By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".
The book says, "Central to (Hindutva) perception is the belief that Muslim rulers indiscriminately demolished Hindu temples and broke Hindu idols. They relentlessly propagate the canard that 60,000 Hindu temples were demolished during Muslim rule, though there is hardly any credible evidence for the destruction of more than 80 of them."
Presenting what he calls "a limited survey of the desecration, destruction and appropriation of Buddhist stupas, monasteries and other structures by Brahminical forces", Jha says, "Evidence for such destruction dates as far back as the end of the reign of Ashoka, who is credited with making Buddhism a world religion."
He adds, "A tradition recorded in a twelfth-century Kashmiri text, the Rajatarangini of Kalhana, mentions one of Ashoka’s sons, Jalauka. Unlike his father, he was a Shaivite, and destroyed Buddhist monasteries. If this is given credence, the attacks on Shramanic religions seem to have begun either in the lifetime of Ashoka or soon after his death."
According to Jha, "Other early evidence of the persecution of Shramanas comes from the post-Mauryan period, recorded in the Divyavadana, a Buddhist Sanskrit, which describes the Brahmin ruler Pushyamitra Shunga as a great persecutor of Buddhists. He is said to have marched out with a large army, destroying stupas, burning monasteries and killing monks as far as Sakala, now known as Sialkot, where he announced a prize of one hundred dinars for every head of a Shramana."
Bringing up "evidence" from famous grammarian Patanjali, Jha says, he "famously stated in his Mahabhashya that Brahmins and Shramanas are eternal enemies, like the snake and the mongoose. All this taken together means that the stage was set for a Brahminical onslaught on Buddhism during the post-Mauryan period, especially under Pushyamitra Shunga, who may have destroyed the Ashokan Pillared Hall and the Kukutarama monastery at Pataliputra—modern-day Patna."
Jha further says, "The possibility of a Shunga assault on Buddhist monuments is supported by the layers of debris and the evidence of desertion found at many centres of Buddhism, notably in Madhya Pradesh. For example, Sanchi, which was an important Buddhist site since the time of Ashoka, has yielded evidence of the vandalisation of several edifices during the Shunga period. Similar evidence comes from nearby places such as Satdhara, in Katni district, and Deurkothar, in Rewa district."
"The destruction and appropriation of Buddhist sites continued in Madhya Pradesh even after Shunga rule ended", says Jha. "At Ahmedpur, for instance, a Brahminical temple seems to have been constructed on a stupa base in the fifth century, and icons have been found at several sites around Vidisha, which were transformed into Shaivite or Jain places of worship around the eighth century."
Then, "more than 250 kilometres north-east of Vidisha, a Buddhist establishment existed at Khajuraho before it emerged as a major temple town from the tenth century onwards, under the Chandellas. Here, the Ghantai temple appears to have been built on the remains of a Buddhist monument in the ninth or tenth century by the Jains, who also may have had a strong presence in the region."
Providing evidence from Mathura, which was a flourishing town in western Uttar Pradesh during the Kushana period, Jha says, "Some present-day Brahminical temples, such as those of Bhuteshwar and Gokarneshwar, were Buddhist sites in the ancient period. Here, the Katra Mound, a Buddhist centre during Kushana times, became a Hindu religious site in the early medieval period."
Further, at Kaushambi, near Allahabad, "the destruction and burning of the great Ghositaram monastery has been attributed to the Shungas -- more specifically to Pushyamitra", says Jha, adding, "Sarnath, near Varanasi, where the Buddha delivered his first sermon, became the target of Brahminical assault. This was followed by the construction of Brahminical buildings, such as Court 36 and Structure 136, probably in the Gupta period, by reusing Mauryan materials."
Quoting Chinese pilgrim Fa-hsien, who visited India in the early fifth century, during the Gupta period, Jha says, at Sravasti, where the Buddha spent much of his life, "Brahmins seem to have appropriated a Kushana Buddhist site, where a temple with Ramayana panels was constructed during the Gupta period."
Jha notes, "In fact, the general scenario of Buddhist establishments in what is today Uttar Pradesh was so bad that in Sultanpur district alone no less than 49 Buddhist sites seem to have been destroyed by fire when, as described in a paper by the archaeologist Alois Anton Führer, 'Brahminism won its final victories over Buddhism'.”
In the post-Gupta centuries, says Jha, Chinese Buddhist pilgrim and traveller Hsüan Tsang, who visited India between the years 631 and 645, during the reign of Harshavardhana, "states that the sixth-century Huna ruler Mihirakula, a devotee of Shiva, destroyed 1,600 Buddhist stupas and monasteries and killed thousands of Buddhist monks and laity. He further tells us that 1,000 sangharamas in Gandhara were 'deserted'/and in 'ruins,' and describes 1,400 sangharamas in Uddiyana as 'generally waste and desolate'.”
Then, says Jha, "Hsüan Tsang tells us that the king Shashanka of Gauda cut down the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya in Bihar -- the place of the Buddha’s enlightenment -- and removed a statue of the Buddha from a local temple, ordering that it be replaced by an image of Maheshvara... Bodh Gaya came under Buddhist control again during the period of the Pala rulers, who were Buddhists, and the place has, in fact, remained a site of religious contestation throughout Indian history."
Referring to the internationally reputed Buddhist university at Nalanda, especially the its vast monastic complex where Hsüan Tsang spent more than five years, Jha says, it's library was set on fire by "Hindu fanatics", insisting, "The popular view, however, wrongly attributes this conflagration to the Mamluk commander Bakhtiyar Khilji, who never went there, but, in fact, sacked the nearby Odantapuri Mahavihara at modern-day Bihar Sharif."
Suspecting that even the Jagannath temple at Puri, one of the most prominent Brahminical pilgrimage centres in eastern India, built in the twelfth century during the reign of the Eastern Ganga ruler Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva, "is said to have been constructed on a Buddhist site" something which "may be contested", Jha says, "There is hardly any doubt that the temples of Purneshvara, Kedareshvara, Kanteshvara, Someshvara and Angeshvara, all in Puri district, were either built on Buddhist viharas, or made of material derived from them."

Comments

Nandini Oza said…
Very useful and important read.
Unknown said…
Useful, but blaming it all on Brahmins is a bit short-sided. Brahmins wouldn't have been able to pull it off without the military support of Kshatriyas and financial support of Vaishyas while even Jains were seemingly all to happy in seeing a rival shramanistic religion fail. And, the final nail on the buddhist coffin WAS contributed to by Turkic and Afghani islamist invaders as well...
Uma said…
Why hide behind anonimity? It is true that Kshatriyas destroyed Buddhist sites but they were directed by the Bhrahmins.
Anonymous said…
Moulded facts indeed.The author needs to do a bit more research than coming to direct conclusion.I could show you in mybhometown Patna that many mosques built after the ghaznavid era in Patna still have the name of buddhist monastery.For example the mosque in patna called Patther ki masjid still bears the name Sangi masjid which is just a misnomer of Sangha.These leftist historians had very shamelessly suppressed these kind of evidences to put forward their agendised historical perspective.
smitesh shah said…
less evidence is given that kings destroyed buddhist sites 1500 temples, false. Even when buddhism was advancing, buddhist followers have tried to destroyed hindu temples in past if we see. Now, lets comes to conclusion, at time of today hindu govt pm modi, no 1 is destroying buddhist culture, so its not needed that all hindu kings in times destroyed buddhist culture, in in times of maurya kings respect buddhism. Buddhism decline due to lack debates with hindu saints in past recoverting buddhist to hindusim. This converted buddhist might also destroyed the temples and made it hindus
Aniket Das said…
Nice article
Saurav Bhagat said…
Smitesh Shah, what logic man. We have secularism today, how can anyone under any PM even dare to destroy any religious structure. Secularism is a modern concept. Medieval and ancient world didn't think that way.
G R Srinivasa said…
India is an ancient country where VEDAS originated ( words from God himself) and Bhagavath githa is 6500 years old. Ancient traditions prevailed. Some rulers who did not believe in Omnipotent God started believing what humans started saying from their experience ( Man created). Many believe in Tharka and Vitharka having no sanctity. One such theory is Shunya philosophy. In India 82 percent are people following VEDIC CULTURE. They are Mature and sensible. MOst of them believe that God exists every where.
Unknown said…
Sowing seeds of discord where none exists.
DN Jha is one of those who defended Babri Masjid.
So should we say -- cat is out of the bag.
Unknown said…
DN Jha'a credentials are questionable.
Anonymous said…
The bogus ideas of him includes Hindus eat beef, his and fellow comrades failed in Ayodhya verdict. People like him are fruit of our academic system which teach us to condemn our own religion and culture. Hindu is a nasty word for these scavengers who under foreign money and influence belittle this great civilization. Badrinath temple was vandalized by Buddhists but Great Shankara resurrected it. Buddha is Lord Vishnu for us. Those who lost mental capacity to understand Vedic life in Kaliyuga were given a way by Buddha who is always addressed as 'Arya' by his deciples. Buddhism was also spreading a cult of vagabonds where young men and women donot work, under guide of bhikshu immoral acts were practicsed. The religion is reduced to soceerism and black magic. So the parent vedic religion guided it. Hindus venerates all gods and goddesses of Budhism, Jainism, all Gurus of Sikhism. This is possible when you are at very high level of maturity
Unknown said…
ashoka himself is a fake character , britishers have rewritten history of india to a extent that facts are far left behind ,radha is a fake character to defame krishna, agnipariksha of mata sita is a fake episode written by britishers to defame rama, and so much so on, if hindus were so intolereant or brhamins were so dangerous how come outsiders ruled india for 1000 years?? and yet could not destroy a hair of hindus?? how even are this people called scholars and how is their knowledge trustable???
Anonymous said…
Brahmins are the cancer of India
.. no wonder they are going extinct now.. they destroyed everything and made people their slaves for 2 millennia... they physically inferior, hence used Kshatriya to do the task for them. Tiny penis, feminine bodied (hairless) creatures called Brahmins are an abomination to human race.
The archaeological claims are all without a shred of evidence. Also.. most Buddhists in India were Kshatriya and Vaishya converts who never gave up their Varna identities. Shudras were never Buddhists or Jains in large numbers. There exists no evidence of a large population of India, particularly non-Dvijas, ever becoming "Buddhist" or "Jain". Also, apart from Kshatriyas and Vaishyas, it were the Greeks and Scythians who had become Buddhists in large numbers within India. Pushyamitra Shunga's persecution of Buddhists was intended against the Greco-Buddhists who were supporting the last Greek Buddhist invader Demetrius (Dhammamitta) who was eventually defeated by Pushyamitra. Also the claim that there were "thousands" of Buddhist stupas and other structures is a Buddhist claim and cannot be verified from neutral or non-Buddhist sources. The Chinese travellers were also all Buddhists and they clearly claim even Deva temples (obviously Hindu ij modern terms) to be Buddhist institutions.

Buddhism, Jainism and Brahmanism were always a minority in India and confined to the castes that achived elite classes alone. The vast majority followed local folk religious traditions which were more or less the same as the folk religion of Indians today.. and this is what we call as popular Hinduism a.k.a. Agamic/Laukic Hinduism.

Modern day descendants of untouchables and outcastes appropriating "Buddhism" and other Shramanic systems as their own are liars. The Indian equivalents of "we wuz kangz". The Brahmanical Hinduism vs Vedic Hinduism (almost extinct anyway by the time Brahmanism rose) vs vs Buddhism vs Jainism vs Ajivakism was an upper caste vs upper caste issue. Untouchable Pariahs or Chandalas who were always largely folk religionists/Agamic or Laukic Hindus (non-Brahmanical unorganized folk Shaivites, Shaktas etc.) should stop stealing upper caste movements. They should also stop appropriating Kshatriya (Vrishala though) lineages like Moriyas- whose actual descendants exist only among Mori Rajputs, More Marathas and probably Mori Jats.
Unknown said…
It has been a power game all through the history. Whoever, had the power propagated his religion by destroying the vanquished. It is still going on and will continue to be made only for reversal after some time. Hilarious but true...
Anonymous said…
Some gay brahmins here pissed off😂😂😂
Anonymous said…
Look some pissed off people in comments. 😂😂😂😂
being rational said…
buddhism which has its very origin in INDIA itself has how many buddhist temples and pilgrimage sites here and how many of the people here are follwing buddhism?? see China instead, how widely buddhism fluorished there. the Facts written here might not be digested by a few conservatists but remember religion has always been a way to conquer states an d show dominance, mughals did the same thing by destroying hindu temples, and same goes for modi govt, demolishing one masjid to please the majority hindus that too in a democratic country, where in a democracy no state can have any affiliation to any particular state( only theocratic state has such) . Brahmins are pissed off here but its true guys. your forefathers were !@##holes. same goes for muslims. killings, rapes, and create their own hells heavens to justify the wrongs.
We need unbiased narratives. Harping on one theme continuously is also biased. It is also against national interest and the interest of science. D N Jha is a pastmaster in the art of polarization.
mohammedbasha said…
It’s been Misconceptions About Islam and misunderstood by many that Islam was founded by Prophet Muhammed around 1400 years ago in the middle of Arabia and The holy book of Islam was certainly sent by Almighty.
Unknown said…
An excellent article by a distinguished historian. The 'upper' caste thugs, who have a strange notion of themselves as 'tolerant', while practicing the unparalleled social abuse of untouchability, can only quote some sacred book of theirs! Illiterate epsilon-minuses.
Asif said…
The religion of peace named Islam is one among the mightiest religion in this world. And also, the one that is misunderstood a lot for several reasons. Be it a propaganda of political or of economical unfolded at all times. Our mission is to spread Truth about Islam by clearing entire misconceptions and to disseminate virtuous good deeds that the Muslims actually practice. Islam, one among largest religions in the world also the one that is misunderstood all time. There are several sources including political, economic & media, framed Islam as misleading religion. And the Truth about Muslims are always hidden from the light.
Anonymous said…
Can see a few writhing in pain!
Unknown said…
A debate such as this about ancient Indian history will help in promoting tolerance and national cohesion.
I am from Bihar, India and have abiding reverence for Ashoka and Gautama Buddha. Please don't denigrate their contribution to human civilization.
Incidentally, it would greatly clarify thinking if one were to discuss Casteism, Untouchability, and concepts of God, in the socio-political context prevailing in ancient India.
Agreed.. Hindutva is infinitely more dangerous but Marxist historians must adopt to the times, and adopt a balaced approach.. they are a major part of the problem
Muntazir mehdi said…
and Buddhist kills thousands of Muslims in Burma and china several articles are present at The lawyer world
Anonymous said…
Is there any truth that Brahminical Characters or brahmins heading a kingdom? And they destroyed buddist shrines? Brahminism predates the Buddhism and Jainism. Why it cannot be other way? It always a victors take all and responsible for loot, destruction, slavery etc. The untouchables are the condemned people of such act of victors. No exception to the caste of Victor.
Anonymous said…
Brahmin supremacists' ass burned in the comment section
Anonymous said…
Thousands of Brahmins were killed on single days by desert invaders and the "janeu-sacred thread" collected from their dead bodies were collected in mountain like heaps to symbolize this demolition of Hinduism. But inspite of such bloody history and articles like above they survive...
Unknown said…
D N Jha has poor knowledge of Sanskrit and a half fed historian without historical common sense . His book myth of Holy cow is the best example of his poor knowledge in sanskrit and Indian culture . His comment on Jagannath Temple shows his poor knowledge on history , What happened to buddhists of Puri ? Buddhist monuments are plentifully available in Orissa . Why all Buddhist images are claimed to be converted as Shiva temple . Even Matchendra nath or Mina nath said to be converted himself from Buddhism to Shaivism . Without knowing anything mr jha is preaching hatred .
Article is full of "it appears" it "seems" this was done, that was done. This communist joker DN Jha does not present any evidence of destruction of buddhist structures. Where is the primary source of your propogandist narrative?
Sam said…
Sorry, but this article is light weight. According to who is PN Jha some great historian? If he is a credible historian then he has to provide credible evidence, not a book of fairy stories written hundreds of years later. Nothing provided here is first hand or second hand evidence. Patanjali's commentary is of philosophical differences. These claims are of awfully poor acedemic standard.
Sachin Kabir said…
The advent of "fake news" and historiography is not new to India. Since the Muslim invasion of India there have been attempts to redeem Islamic barbarism and put the blame on the Savarnas. Yes its is true that there has been much caste oppression however, never was there such directed barbarism towards Buddhists by Sanatani. By skilfully manipulating the debate that Hindus / Sanatanis /Aryans are anyway "invaders" and not original inhabitants of the Indus - Gangetic plains, its easy to ask for a balkanised Indian sub continent, because there are no original inhabitants so the area is up for grabs. Such dangerous historiography already enabled the balkanisation of India to make Burma, Bangladesh, Pakistan and now there is full steam ahead to divide the rest of Kashmir and declare the Indian part as an independent nation. We can directly see the connection between those who support the Islamic Kashmiri separatist movement and those who find this kind of write up appealing to their need to demean and destroy anything Sanatani and establish a so called "Secular" but Islamic state of India.
They forget that Buddha is one of the DasAvatar's of Vishnu and it is not the Brahmins and Kshatriyas who have been fond of burning down universities and temples of worship. I am sure the next narrative will be that it is the Savarna castes who destroyed Bamiyan and burnt the universities of Karbala, Taxila and Nalanda. There is a parallel fake narrative being spun and massive attempts to redeem Aurangzeb while discredit Shivaji, further redeem Akbar and discredit Maharana Pratap, there is no end to this "invasion" theory and "Hindus destroyed Buddhist temples" Ajanta, Ellora, Marla, Kanheri - the list is endless of Buddhist sites which were held in reverence and not defiles. There was actually only one religion which hated all other religions with open disregard for other cultures and that has been Islam, what is the confusion. This hatred and disregard for other theism is ongoing, Pakistan and its dwindling minorities is a perfect example, the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus has happened in our living memory.
I have personally seen many carvings of the "Varah Avatar" or the "Boar Avatar" in the Qutub Minor complex, so where did that come from? Muslims carved the wild pig in marble?
The likes of DN Jha, Romilla Thappar and others whose basic work was to discredit anything Sanatani and glorify anything Islamic are the result of state sponsored secular scholarships which were doled out during the so called Congress - Left parliamentary seat adjustment era, where roads were named after bigots such as Aurangzeb without batting an eyelid and much scholarship has been wasted trying to redeem him. We all know he was a bigot, yet this gang loves him and will spend hours arguing the contrary. Waste of good scholarship time, funds and energy all to create fake news.
Anonymous said…
Great article and his books are a must read. Those in the comments asking for "proofs" first read the books and check the sources before writing baseless comments.
Anonymous said…
Digging and collecting hard evidence is hard work. Speculation to confirm one’s political beliefs is easy. That is writing history is all about.
Unknown said…
Buddhism was never religion of people in whole south east Asia,with India , Cambodia Thailand etc(in Thailand and Cambodia it became after 13 th century).
In india people were follower of vedic and ancient Indian sects, Buddhism etc were followed by Only upper classes or kings, as previously they were too are followers of different sects of today's Hinduism. Even you can know it as Buddha's mother name was yashoda (mother of lord krishna in mahabharta). Ashoka started to spread and preach Buddhism in his regin after 200-300 years after death of buddha.
Unknown said…
Mr unknown you have lack of knowledge firstly you find the facts from the other sources your Vedas came on1500 ad and Buddhism is on 436bc don't put any logic that it is originally words of God before your dogma ,the Pali is the mother of
sankrit in the jambudesha now it is India if you don't belive go to youtube and search rationalworld or science journey.
ॐ 卐 Sree said…
Angkor Wat is an enormous Hindu temple complex located in northern Cambodia. It was originally built in the first half of the 12th century by Emperor Suryavarman II, who ruled the region from 1113 to 1150, as the state temple and political center of his empire, dedicated to the Bhagavan Vishnu, Angkor Wat became a Buddhist temple by the end of the 12th century. It sustained significant damage during the autocratic rule of the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s and in earlier regional conflicts.
Unknown said…
Fake book because given quotes from mentioned books are not correct, just go and read these books. In India one can be graduate,post graduate, PHD or even crack IAS exam in history by reading romila thaper, ramchandra guha and Irfan habib. Students are not promoted to read contemporary books written in Sanskrit, percian,Arabic and Urdu by contemporary writers, although their English translations are available. Don't put your views in students mind but let them analyse and make their own views and opinions.
Unknown said…
Full fake ..drunk writer ...jha...full hate bhramin ..created his own fake stories
Abdul Wahid S. said…
I knew that the andhbakhts will lable this as fake without cross checking anything said and I will not be supraised if they call the author as anti-Indian. Because they hate and disbelieve what they do not know or what they do not want to know. They love to believe the RSS twisted history. Once upon a time Buddhism and Jainism flourished in Tamilnadu. Here us another solid proof how Jain temples there were converted to Hindu temple.👇

https://youtu.be/M0ivLeLy5I0
Amit kumar arya said…
यूँ तो हिंदू धर्म बेहद स्त्रीविरोधी, जातिवादी, प्रगति विरोधी, यथास्थितिवादी, मानवता विरोधी और भेदभावमूलक धर्म है लेकिन मैं खुद उसकी बुराई नहीं करता।

दरअसल हमारे पुरखों कबीर, रैदास, तुकाराम, ज्योतिबा फुले, सावित्रीबाई फुले, नारायणा गुरु, अयन्नकलि, आयोथि थास, पेरियार, बाबा साहब ने इस धर्म की इतनी पोल खोल रखी है कि मैं नए सिरे से मेहनत नहीं करता। इन पुरखों से अच्छी पोल तो मैं खोल भी नहीं पाऊँगा। मैं हिंदू धर्म पर जो लिखता हूँ, इनके हवाले से लिखता हूँ। आपको भी यही करना चाहिए
Unknown said…
INTERESTING TO READ THE ARTICLE FOLLOWED BY DIFFERENT COMMENTS FROM DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES, WITH DIVERSE INTENTIONS.
HOWEVER, LET ME MAKE A POINT,"ANY RESEARCH BASED ARTICLE ARE WORTH TO BE NOTED, RATHER THAN BILLIONS OF ENDLESS OPENIONS".
scoophindi said…
good post giving us to knowledge of history because very less person has a knowledge of history
ARVIND KUMAR said…
1. Ashoka's son never came to power.
2. See the 'Life of Dharmaswami', a Tibetan traveler who was the eye witness of Nalanda destruction by musalmans.
3. Mihirkula was not Hindu.
4. Archaeological evidence is final which proves iconoclasm by musalman down to the Aurangzeb era; and this writer does not know abc of history.
5. Bamiyan destruction of ancient Buddha icon by afgani musalmaan is recent.
6. Destruction of Sasaram Ashokan inscription by local musalmans is a recent development in age old Muslim iconoclasm and attack of Hindu and Buddhist culture.
Many idiots now a days are having ambition of becoming famous by vomiting rubbish things.
Anonymous said…
Article full of substance.Must read for all.People should not support wrong things when authentic evidences are available.In this article roper evidences are avaipable for every historical event. This os called true research without manipulation. After all truth prevails.Always support Truth.Because manipulated and fabricated things to protect any culture or religion will not work. EVENTUALLY TRUTH PREVAILS BECAUSE GOD LOVES TRUTH .
Anonymous said…
Some hidden agenda for sure. Must be popular among leftists. Dilip Mandal school of thought
Anonymous said…
nice

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