This volume focuses on Buddhism and Jainism, two religions which, together with Hinduism, constitute the three pillars of Indic religious tradition in its classical formulation. It explores their history and relates how the Vedic period in the history of Hinduism drew to a close around the sixth century BCE and how its gradual etiolation gave rise to a number of religious movements. While some of these remained within the fold of the Vedic traditions, others arose in a context of a more ambiguous relationship between the two. Two of these have survived to the present day as Buddhism and Jainism. The volume describes the major role Buddhism played in the history not only of India but of Asia, and now the world as well, and the more confined role of Jainism in India until relatively recent times. It examines the followers of these religions and their influence on the Indian religious landscape. In addition, it depicts the transformative effect on existing traditions of the encounter of Hinduism with these two religions, as well as the fertile interaction between the three. The book shows how Buddhism and Jainism share the basic concepts of karma, rebirth, and liberation with Hinduism while giving them their own hue, and how they differ from the Hindu tradition in their understanding of the role of the Vedas, the “caste system,” and ritualism in religious life. The volume contributes to the debate on whether the proper way of describing the relationship between the three major components of the classical Indic tradition is to treat them as siblings (sometimes as even exhibiting sibling rivalry), or as friends (sometimes even exhibiting schadenfreude), or as radical alternatives to one another, or all of these at different points in time.
Karam Tej Singh Sarao was born in a remote village in the district of Sangrur in Punjab (India) where he received his initial school education. His an alumnus of the universities of Panjab, Delhi and Cambridge. After doing his Pre-University from Panjab University, he joined the University of Delhi from where he received the degrees of Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in History with Economics, Master of Arts (History), Master of Philosophy (Chinese and Japanese Studies) and Doctor of Philosophy (Indian Buddhism). He was awarded the prestigious Commonwealth Scholarship in 1985 to study at the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) from where he received his second Doctor of Philosophy in Pali and Buddhist Archaeology in 1989. He began his teaching career in 1981 at Delhi University’s Kirori Mal College where he taught ancient Indian history for about twelve years. In 1993, he joined the Department of Buddhist Studies, Delhi University as a reader (associate professor) in Indian Buddhism and Pali. In 1995, he was selected to occupy a professorial chair in Buddhist Studies at Delhi University and has been teaching Pali and Indian Buddhism, its history and archaeology since then. In his capacity as a professor, Professor Sarao has also been working as a member of the Delhi University Court since 1993. Besides having worked as head of the Department of Buddhist Studies, Delhi University for over twelve years, he has also sat on the governing bodies of different colleges of Delhi University. Professor Sarao has also worked as a member of the Governing Committee of the Central University of Tibetan Studies (Sarnath) and member of the Academic Council of the Jaina Visvabharati University (Ladnun). Professor Sarao has also been a visiting fellow/professor at Dongguk University (South Korea), Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies, Jinshan (Taiwan), Sorbonne (Paris, France), Cambridge University (UK), Visvabharati (India), and PS Royal Buddhist University (Cambodia). He has written sixteen books and published more than 150 research papers and articles. Some of his important books are The Origin and Nature of Ancient Indian Buddhism (1989), Urban Centres and Urbanisation as Reflected in the Pali Vinaya and Sutta Pi?akas (1990), Pilgrimage to Kailash: The Indian Route (2009), The Dhammapada: A Translators Guide (2009), The Decline of Indian Buddhism: A Fresh Perspective (2012). Besides Hindi and English, his research work has been published in Punjabi and Chinese. He has successfully supervised more than fifty PhD theses and over seventy M.Phil. dissertations. The Preah Sihanouk Royal Buddhist University, Phnom Penh (Cambodia) conferred the degree of D.Litt. (Honoris Causa) on him in 2011 for his special contribution to Buddhist Studies. He takes keen interest in mountainous trekking, religious pluralism, and interfaith dialogue.
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