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Old 11-10-2012, 07:14 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Buddhism is now very much a minority religion in India. At one time, if history had gone differently, Buddhism might have become the dominant faith in the Sub-continent (hard as it is to believe). Hinduism, in my opinion, is so closely tied to Indian history, identity and civilisation that Buddhism never stood a chance.

Buddhism was introduced in Sri Lanka in the 4th Century BC, and Sri Lanka now maintains the oldest Buddhist tradition in the world. 70% of it's population are Buddhist, while only about 10% are Hindu. In contrast, in Tamil Nadu 88% are Hindu are less than 1% are Buddhist. Christianity is more common in every state of India than Buddhism is.

Is there a historical/political reason why Hinduism never dominated Sri Lanka (the dominant Sinhalese were Hindus as were the Tamils. I believe most Hindu Sri Lankans are Tamil)? Is it simply because it broke off early, and was one of the earliest Asian democracies, and they thought to preserve Buddhism over Hinduism?

 
Old 11-14-2012, 10:45 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
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At one point India was also majority Buddhist, but by the 8th century AD India reconverted to Hinduism, Sri Lanka never did that.
 
Old 11-15-2012, 02:30 AM
 
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According to the early chronicles relating the historical traditions of Sri Lanka, a prince named Vijaya and his followers who came from India and landed in Lanka on the day of the Parinibbaana of the Buddha were the first human inhabitants of this island. When they came the island was occupied by "yakkhas" (sprites, demons). "Yakkhas" and "naagas" are also said to have inhabited Lanka in the time of the Buddha. A legend relating the existence of a great civilization before this time, under a king named Raavana, is also current though the early chronicles make no mention of it.

The Vijaya legend of these chronicles is taken by modern historians as a poetic expression of the actual aryanization of Sri Lanka in about the sixth century BCE The term "yakkhas and naagas" may refer to the aborigines who occupied the island before their arrival. No traces of an advanced civilization, however, have yet been discovered to support the Raavana legend. Archaeologists have discovered chert and quartz implements and tools at various sites, believed to have been used by aborigines of Sri Lanka, and they indicate that these people were a primitive tribe who lived by hunting. These aborigines have not left traces of a strong political organization or an advanced culture. The present Veddas are believed to be their descendants.
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