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Introduction: Buddhism Before The New Brahmanism

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Chapter Summary

Buddhism, we are often told, was a reaction against Vedic Brahmanism. Vedic Brahmanism is the religion that finds expression in the Veda, an immense corpus of texts. Vedic Brahmanism, is much older than Buddhism and was indeed the dominant religion in northern India. However, the Brahmins, did not occupy a dominant position in the area in which the Buddha preached his message, and this message was not, therefore, a reaction against brahmanical thought and culture. As little as we know about the different rulers of the Nanda and the Maurya dynasties, one theme comes back with great regularity: most of them were well disposed toward the religions of Greater Magadha, primarily Jainism and Ajivikism. The surviving texts from those northwestern regions confirm that the ideas of the Buddhists who settled there did indeed change radically.

Keywords: Ajivikism; dharmas; Greater Magadha; Jainism; Vedic Brahmanism; Vedic Buddhism



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