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Was there ever a time when Buddhism was dominant religion of India?

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Was there ever a time when Buddhism was the dominant religion of India? I thought it was during the time of Ashoka, but a guy with a Phd in religion just told me that is not true, that even when Ashoka was emperor the majority of Indian's were Hindu. I can't find anything on this. Does anyone here know.

RE: Was there ever a time when Buddhism was dominant religion of India?
Answer
10/16/10 4:04 PM as a reply to Tom Smith.
First, if my limited memory of history is anything like accurate, India was not a unified kingdom like we think of today, but more an area of city states and territories, though I believe that some put his empire as covering most of what we currently think of as India, solid central authority like we think of it today was harder to come by then owing to the vastness of the territory and issues of transportation.

Second, I don't think that Buddhism was every the dominant religion or even close, with Hinduism being predominant but it itself being very vast and complex and full of local variation, animism, etc. and lots of other religions around also, Jains, Zoroastrians, etc. Further, Buddhism itself is not a unified thing, having fractured early on into barely aligned groups that were as often as odds as working together if not more so.

I am no great scholar, so these are just my notions of these things.

RE: Was there ever a time when Buddhism was dominant religion of India?
Answer
10/17/10 1:43 AM as a reply to Tom Smith.
Tom Carr:
Was there ever a time when Buddhism was the dominant religion of India?

Your PhD friend is probably correct in his view that the religions influenced by the Vedas (the Brahmanical, Vedanta, and eventual Hindu traditions) were likely the predominate religions in what we think of as present-day India throughout most of its history. The time during King Asoka's reign was likely the height of Buddhism's influence in India.

See this link for more on the history of Buddhism's influence in India.
http://viewonbuddhism.org/india.html
"Initially, Buddhism remained one of the many small sects in India. The main breakthrough came when King Asoka (ca. 270-232 BCE) converted to Buddhism. He did not make it a state religion, but supported all ethical religions. He organised the spreading of Buddhism throughout India, but also beyond; most importantly to Shri Lanka. This occurred after the Third Council.

"With the conversion of King Asoka, Buddhism suddenly became a main religion in India; it had been just one of the many sects before him.

"After the death of Asoka, there followed a period of persecution under Pusyamitra Sunga (183-147 BCE)."