Popularity of Buddhism during Buddha's time ( or Early Buddhism)

When Buddha got Enlightenment and started his Teachings, it gained popularity when compared to the Brahmanical or other sramana movements. There are many factors for its popularity. For example the practice of ahimsa ( non-killing) compared to the Brahmanas who killed animals for sacrifices to propitiate their gods. Buddhism also does not advocate the belief of Gods too. Buddhism too denounced superiority of man on grounds of birth as so acclaimed by the Brahmanas. According to Buddhism, social distinction between man and man is based on man's action and determined by karma. This was not so by the Brahmanas who practised the caste system which consisted of higher and lower classes of society. The Brahmins (priests) were the highest class, followed by the ksyatrias, Vaisyas and the Sudras. Buddhism emphasized on equality and Buddha's followers consisted of Brahmins and ordinary people like barbers ( Upali). Even the Order of the Sangha consisted of bhikkhus and bhikkhunis. The first female of the Sangha Order for bhikkhuni was Mahapajapati Gotami.

Great Personality of Buddha

Hello to all friends,
The great personality of the Buddha is one of the strong factors which to led to the fast popularity of Buddhism in India.
1. The people were really very impressed with the personality, ethical and spiritual life of the Buddha.
2. His quiet poise, sweet expressions of simple philosophy and His life of renunciation attracted the majority to Him.
3. He has battled evil with goodness and hatred with love.
4. The Buddha has always tackled his opponents with mind and good judgement.
5. He has always prepared good answers for the issues of people who came to him.
6. His example of renouncing the world to save humankind from sins and rebirth, and wandering from place to place to convince the people with his messages and sermons, came to naturally evoke awe, admiration and acceptance of the people for him and his religion.

May you all be well and happy !

With Metta,
Student Hiew Boon Thong

Additional reasons for the popularity

From the notes (Unit Seven, History of Indian Buddhism) given by Prof. Dr. Kapila, I noted 3 more reasons for the popularity of Buddhism during Buddha's time:

g.Formation of fourfold assembly (monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen) with no distinction of caste and gender.
h.The constant dedication of the Buddha to preach his Dhamma to all people in all places.
i.Ability of the Buddha to refute opposing religious views.

Popularity of Buddhism during the Buddha's time

There are more reasons for the popularity of Buddhism during the Buddha’s time other than mentioned above.

The following are further reasons (based on article shared by Sthiti Das on web):
a.Royal patronage.
b.Usage of simple language. Use of Prakrit language as spoken by the masses during the Buddha’s time instead of Sanskrit (only reserved for use by the Brahmins).
c.Personality of the Buddha. Approachable, kind, egoless etc.
d.Inexpensive. Unlike Vedic religion which engaged itself in ever expensive rite and ritual, only rich people can afford.

The following are mentioned by Prof. Dr Kapila in his IBC notes:
a.Support from members of high society.
b.Dedication of the Sangha. Members of the Order engaged themselves in missionary work by spreading Buddhism around the country.
c.Freedom of Inquiry. Like what mentioned in the Kalama sutta.
d.A new religion that make sense and suitable to all segments of the society.
e.Promote the middle doctrine, reject all extremist theories and practices.
f.Abilities of the Buddha to expound different dharmma to different people to suit their need.

From other source (cannot recall where)
a.That Indians and Brahmins are lovers of truth. As the Buddha always expounded truth, hence they readily accepted it.

Alejandro Cardeinte's picture

Do you have any personal discoveries?

It is very interesting to learn something from your post not only how Buddhism became popular but about the differences of Buddhism to Hinduism. Do you have any personal discoveries about what they have in common with each other?