What pushed Vaishnavism down from 2000 BC to 1000 AD?
History of India is very less known from 2000BC to 1000AD. What happened in this time? Especially what pushed Vaishnavism down….
(Transcript by Rupak Panigrahy Prabhu)
Q> Very little is known about the spiritual history of India from 2000 BC to 1000 AD. What happened in this time, especially what pushed vaishnavism down.
A> The main factor that pushed vaishnavism down from the spiritual point of view is the advent of kaliyuga. And from the historical point of view the advent of kaliyuga as we know from the scripture, started with a brahmana misusing his power, shringi abusing his power to curse a kshyatriya. So in general as the caste system became more and more stratified and became more rigid and the overall effect of kaliyuga is an overdose of excessive materialism. The brahmanas are ideally speaking are meant to be religious, not just religious but spiritual. But unfortunately when the brahmanas became less spiritual and more materialistically religious then they started using the influence and prestige they had because of their brahminical postion, to sort of push down or discriminate against and even sometimes oppress the lower castes. And because of this the foundation of the brahminical culture started weakening more and more. And along with that of course the kshyatriyas also became corrupted. We know that the 12th canto of shrimad bhagavatam talks about the symptoms of kaliyuga. And those symptoms are not something which suddenly appeared overnight. They are gradually in the state of decline. Even the kshyatriyas became more power hungry and they had some nominal religious motivation but deeply they were more hungry for power and wealth and material trappings of royalty. Because these two kshyatriyas and brahmanas are meant to protect the society materially and spiritually, when the two became disconnected from the spiritual purpose of life then the varnashrama became what we know as caste system. Became oppressive and suppressive. And that’s what led to the overall decline of vedic culture and the spreading of nonvedic religions like Buddhism, Jainism. Charvakism never really spread very far widely in India, because the religious instinct was deeply rooted in the religious instinct was deeply rooted in the indian psyche. Now one thing we need to understand is that even when the vedic culture was widespread, its not necessary that vaishnav culture was widespread. If you look at mahabharat and ramayan, even at those times there were vaishnavas and Lord Vishnu was understood to be supreme, but there were other deities also who were worshipped, so as I mentioned that vedic culture was conclusively monotheistic not exclusively monotheistic. That people understood the conclusion that there is one supreme god, but not that that god’s worship is the only way and all other god are false gods and whose worship will take one to hell. That is the conception of the abrahamic religions. But over a period of time the conclusive monotheism which was there that there are many gods that can worship for specific material desires but the highest god is Vishnu and his forms need to worshipped to get the highest gain. Gradually as the kaliyuga spread the philosophical clarity in understanding the multilevel system of worship got lost and then different sects started claiming their own deities to be supreme and that also led to a sort of confusion and disruption to some extent. So even in vedic culture vaishnavism was not necessarily universal form of worship. Because vedic culture became oppressive so gradually vedic culture went down and other cultures came up.
So there are two factors. From historical point of view, one is the uprising of the other religions and from the spiritual point of view, other religions arose because the vedic culture became less and less spiritual and became more and more materialistic because of the materialism that enveloped the brahmanas and kshyatriyas. Thank you.