Ancient India Simplified: Religious movements in Ancient India (500 B.C.)

Around 62 religious cults came into existence in the 6th century B.C. in the middle Gangetic plains. Buddhism and Jainism were the most important amongst them.

Causes for the rise of new religious movements

1. The Vedic philosophy lost its original purity in the 6th century B.C. The vedic religion had become very complex and degenerated into superstitions, dogmas and rituals.
2. The caste system had become rigid and brutal. A person of low caste had a miserable life.
3. The supremacy of the Brahamanas made Kshatriyas uncomfortable.
4. All the religious treatises were written in Sanskrit, which was the language of the elite and not the masses.  
5. Large scale sacrifices of the livestock resulted in loss of livelihood for the lower caste as their livestock shrinked rapidly.
6. The rise of Vaishyas as traders and now wanted a higher position in the Varna system.
Mahavira and Gautama Buddha were two such great teachers who put before the people two such sects (Jainism and Buddhism respectively) as were devoid of all that was useless in the Hindu religion.

Detailed Explanation on Buddhism and Jainism provided in the next unit.

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