[Reader-list] Did Hindus borrow concepts of Monasticism & Celibacy from Buddhists?

cashmeeri cashmeeri at yahoo.com
Sun Mar 14 16:16:40 IST 2010

Gautam Siddharth writes in the article "Sex and the Swami: Has saffron been irredeemably stained?" that "Hinduism borrowed the concept of monasteries - and its peculiar kind of celibacy - from Buddhism."
I would appreciate knowledgeable views on this, in agreement or in disagreement. Not to be confused with concept of Sanyas in old age.
............... aalok aima
from : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Sex-and-the-Swami-Has-saffron-been-irredeemably-stained/articleshow/5679189.cms
"But there is a need to first understand the monastic order in Hinduism and its provenance. Hinduism borrowed the concept of monasteries - and its peculiar kind of celibacy - from Buddhism. This was because Buddhism had grown to become one massive umbrella that held vast swathes of the Indian subcontinent in near-total control by the 8th century. When Adi Shankaracharya arrived on the scene to take Sanatan Dharma out of the morass, he selected some of the attributes of Buddhism to reinvent Hinduism. It was also his own tribute to the success of Buddhism. 

In other words, there was no concept of renunciation in Hinduism until Shankara arrived, at least not in any organised sort of way. The best that exists in Sanatani philosophy on the subject is Patanjali's statement, 'Swa-ang jugupsa, parai asansargah'. It means that with increasing spiritual insights, with greater realisation, with the mind's constant attachment with truth, there develops apathy for the physical body, and it loses its physical affiliation with others. This is considered a high state of spiritual being, and that is what has made celibacy the plinth of sanyas. Before Shankara, Indian rishis were known to have families and children. Shankara was merely following the "market leader" of the time, Buddhism, and in the process institutionalised renunciation to help Hinduism survive the crisis it was in because of Buddhism. 

What's truly lamentable about those donning saffron but flouting the principles they erroneously pledged to uphold - including celibacy - is that they have forgotten the deep Sanatani value that their raiment represents. 

Interestingly, in this as well, in the idea of a single-colour garment to represent a monastic order, the competitive interplay between Buddhism and Hinduism is evident. The Buddha had selected yellow as the colour of renunciation; yellow being the shade of falling leaves at the end of the Indian winter. Yellow signified a bhikshu's final departure from the world of desires. 

Shankara, too, wanted to give the Sanatani monastic order he had created a mark of distinction out of the cultural necessity to successfully compete with Buddhism. He found the colour saffron - a bright orange - from the sacrificial fire. He said anyone who wears this robe must imagine himself sitting on 'chitaa' or the funerary pyre, burning all his past samskaras and making sure that no new ones are added. For it was only after all the samskaras were burnt that vairagya or dispassion could develop, and with it the spiritual insights for which one had made the conscious decision to become a sadhu or a sanyasi." 


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