*    The Sangha
     Both Mahavira and the Buddha held the view that those who left their homes could gain the true knowledge. They formed the Sangha, or an association for those who had left their homes.

    The rules for the Buddhist Sangha were compiled in a book called the Vinaya Pitaka. From this we come to know that the Buddha had two kinds of disciples – monks (Bhikshus) and lay worshippers (Upasikas). The former were organised in Sanghas to          popularise Buddhism and spread its teachings among the people in simple language.

*    The Monasteries 
    The permanent shelters of the monks, both Jains and Buddhists, were known as monasteries or viharas. The land for these monasteries were donated by the rich people or the kings. The local people offered food, clothings etc. to the monks and the nuns.      In return they taught the people.

*   Spread of Buddhism and its Causes
    Some of the causes that led to the popularity of Buddhism in India and other countries were as given below :

    1.    It was a simple religion as it laid no stress on useless rituals and costly sacrifices.

    2.    The Buddha and his monks preached in the simple language of the people which everybody could easily understand.
    3.    Buddhism did not believe in the practice of dividing the people into high and low castes. It preached equality of all men.

    4.    The ancient Indian universities of Taxila, Nalanda and Vikramshila became great seats of Buddhist learning. Scholars from India and abroad came there not only to learn but also to supplement the knowledge of others.

    5.    Above all, the royal patronage that Buddhism was able to acquire in India and abroad, made it popular. In India, kings like Ashoka, Kanishka and Harsha did a great job in carrying the message of the Buddha to other place.

*  Decline of Buddhism in India
    Gradually, some evil  practices crept into the religion of the Buddha as well. (i) With the passage of time, the Buddhist monks accumulated wealth and began to lead a degenerated life (ii) The split in Buddhism – Hinayanism and Mahayanism –  Also had        an evil effect. (iii) Vedic  Hinduism also tried to rid  itself of its  weaknesses  and ultimately there was a strong revival of the Vedantic  Hinduism under the leadership of Adi Shankaracharya, who established the supremacy of the old Vedic religion in India.

*    Buddhism and jainism : A comparison
    Points of Similarity – Both Buddhism and Jainism were reform movements. They were started to reform the Hindu religion. Both were in favour of Ahimsa or non-injury to animals. Both condemned the caste-system and were against the Vedas and                Sanskrit. Both of them challenged the superiority of the Brahmans.

    Points of Difference – While the Buddha was silent about the existence of God, Mahavira denied his existence. While Jainism laid much stress on hard penance, Buddhism followed the  Middle Path. Buddhism does not believe in remaining naked as            some of the followers of Jainism believe.

*    Effects and Contribution of Buddhism
    Buddhism influenced almost every aspect of Indian life. It promoted the feeling of peace and many projects for the welfare of the people were undertaken. By opposing the rigidity of the castesystem, it promoted the feelings of unity and brotherhood. In the     cultural field, Buddhism contributed the most. Many beautiful temples, Stupas, Viharas and Chaityas were built. For the first time, the life-size statues of any deity, i.e., the Buddha, were made and worshipped in India. The Buddhist monasteries became           great centres 'of learning. Buddhism encouraged the common languages of the people like Pali and Prakit.
   In one field, however, Buddhism proved harmful. It killed the martial spirit of the people and thus brought slavery to India.

*  Key Words

    1.    Tirthankara              :    A Jain teacher with divine powers.
    2.    Shvetambaras         :    Jains who put on white cloths.
    3.    Digambaras             :    Those Jains who keep themselves naked.
    4.    Sangha                    :    The religious order of the Buddhists
    5.    Ahimsa                    :    No injury to living beings.
    6.    Dhamma                 :    Pali word for Dharma, used by the Buddhists.    
    7.    Nirvana                   :    Salvation of an individual from death and birth.
    8.    Ashtamarga            :    Eight-fold path.