Updated August 15, 2022
The study on 6th Century BCE Religious Movements is crucial from exam points of view. However, the best idea would be to explore India around the movement so that you can connect many things together for a deeper understanding.
The Period of 6th Century BC to 4th Century BC is considered as Period of Religious Movements, primarily because various religious movements namely Buddhism, Jainism etc. were born and prospered. Historically, it was the Post-Vedic Period also sometimes known as the Period of Second urbanization or the Age of Buddha (6th Century BC to 4th Century BC).
Significance of 6th Century BC Religious Movements Era
The sixth century B.C. is regarded as an important epoch of world history. The time before that century is described as the Pre-Historic age. From sixth century B.C., however historical evidences came to exist. Thus, there began the historical period in sixth century B.C. This adds great significance to the period.
It was in the sixth century B.C. wherein, the founders of two great religions of mankind existed in India. They were Mahavira Jain and Gautama Buddha, the founders of Jainism and Buddhism. Enough of literature came to be written about Jain and Buddha and about their religions.
Though the Jain and the Buddhist literature were religious in character, they contain great information about political and social order of the era. In fact, history could be written from those literary sources. And, it was mainly, the rise of Jainism and Buddhism which made the sixth century B.C. great and glorious.
It was from that century that the political condition of ancient India began to take a clear shape. Several kingdoms came to exist at that time. Attempts were also made to build bigger kingdoms by uniting larger areas of the country. That added importance to sixth century B.C.
6th Century BCE Religious Movements & The Dimensions
Some of the Most Valuable and Interesting Points on Religious Movements (600 BC- 400 BC) are here. The compilation covers the Cause of Religious Movement, Buddha’s Life and Doctrine of Buddhism etc.
Causes of Religious Movements
This religious movement of 6th Century BC was in fact religious awakening. the wandering monks of the period expressed doubts about the existing faith on blind rites, animal sacrifices, and superstitions which had taken place pure spirituality of the earlier ages. Point wise enumerations are here:
1. The Vedic philosophy had lost its original purity.
2.The Vedic religion had become very complex and degenerated into superstitions, dogmas and rituals.
3. Supremacy of the Brahmans created unrest in the society and Kshatriyas reacted against the Brahmanical domination.
4. Introduction of new agricultural economy position due to the growth of trade.
5. The desire of Vaishyas to improve their social position with increase in their economic position due to the growth of trade.
Lord Mahavira’s Life
Historian believe that Mahavira ( c. 599 BCE- 527 BCE) was important pillar to religious awakening in 6th Century BC. And, a specific religious ideology started with his preaching which we know today as the Jainism.
The Jain believers however, believe that he was 24th teerthankara of the jainism. And, prior to him there have been 23 teerthankaras. To them teerthakaras mean the divinely person who has discovered and then showed the way to ultimate salvation.
It is almost impossible to verify the claims of jains in entirety but remnants of Harappa & Mohen Jodaro mention Teerthankaras. Meaning the religion could be as old as Hinduism.
Five Vows of Jainism
As per the Jain Agamas there are five vratas (vows) which believers must observe and Mahavira taught all these ethical principles
Ahimsa (Non-violence or non-injury): This principle mandates that you should respect the sanctity and dignity of every living being like you respect yours. The central to all vows applies to actions, speech, and thought.
Satya (truthfulness): It mandates that being truthful to others and yourself are equally important.
Asteya (non-stealing): The principle is about refuse “taking anything that has not been given”
Brahmacharya (chastity): It say that abstinence from sex and sensual pleasures is essential for monks. It also, says that faithfulness to one’s partner for householders is a vrat.
Aparigraha (non-attachment): This principle says that mendicants must stay away from attachment to property or worldly possessions or, owning anything
Gautam Buddha’s Life
6. Gautam Buddha ( c. 563 BCE to 483 BCE) the founder of Buddhism was born on Vaisakha Purnima day at Lumbinivana in Kapilavastu (now situated in the foothills of Nepal) in the Sakya Kshatriya clan.
7. His father Suddhodhana was the republican king of kapilavastu and mother Mahamaya was a princess of Kosala dynasty.
8. After his mother’s early death, he was bought up by his step mother and aunt Mahaprajapati Gautami.
9. His father married him at an early age to Yashodhara (princess of Kolli dynasty) from whom he had a son Rahul.
10. Four sights which proved to be a turning point in his carrier were an old man, a diseased person, a dead body & an ascetic.
Doctrine of Buddhism
11. Four Nobel Truth (Chatwari Arya Satwani) Which is the essence of Buddhism are:
I.Life is Full of sorrow (Dukh)- Sabbam Dukkam
II. There are causes of sorrow (Dukha Samudaya)- Dwadash Nidan / Pratitya Samutpada.
III. This sorrow can be stopped (Dukha Nirodha)- Nirvana
IV. There is a path heading to cessation of sorrow (Dukha Nirodha Gamini Pratipada)- Ashtangika Marga
12. Three Jwels (Triratna) of Buddhism
I. Buddha (the enlightened)
II. Dharma (doctrine)
III. Sangha (commune)