Well according to the history, every religion requires patronage from the local king and should be able to capture the minds of the people to flourish.
Both Buddhism and Jainism were equally popular, but were still in the nascent stage in India before the time of Ashoka. Ashok’s father Bindusara and probably his grandfather Chandragupta left the kingdom and adopted a simple Jain living. Then all of a sudden Ashok adopted Buddhism and spread it across the length and breadth of the world (known to him at that time) and Buddhism in India reached its peak.
A very good indicator (although an indirect one) is the mention of religious clashes. There were various places where Ashoka asked his people not to fight against each other and maintain religious harmony. Since such reference of clashes between Buddhist and Hindus were never heard before or afterwards, it directly refers to the growing chaos and changing demography of India. After the death of Ashoka, Hindu zealots led by the Gupta dynasty re-established the Hindu rule (within 50 years of end of Ashoka’s reign of 44 years).
Was loss of political patronage the only reason why Buddhism in India peaked and died within 50 years? A remarkable point to be noted is.. tough both religions ( jain and buddism) are quite similiar, Jain never had a patronage of a king during the period of his rule. This is the reason why Jain religion never peaked, and there was an attempt to wipe it out. In a way the attempt of Indian kings to wipe out Buddhism allowed it to break the cultural and demographic barriers and spread.
Chanakya’s views —–
Did Bhuddism in India die a natural death? I cannot to believe it. If you take a look around one still finds that jaininsm still exists in some parts of the country especially in rajasthan. In restaurants we get jain foods. Jains are so powerful in jaipur/jodhpur that they were able to stop the opening of a Macdonalds there. Yet the religion which far outstripped them vanished from the very face of the country in which it was born. I cannot remember a single ruler that has patronised jainism. the death of bhuddism coincides too much with the rise of the Hindu kings – the Guptas. State apathy cannot alone be the cause of the death of a religion.
Indians have resisted change against the greatest odds. While there were so many muslim rulers never once was there a decrease in the faith so drastic that an entire religion was wiped out from a singleplace. Bhuddhism spread rapidly through China. A look into their history shows the rise to be phenomenal and very fast without patronization from the kings. A mass exodus from this country seems to be the most plausible explanation for this (at least to me). An exodus because the unfavourable conditions in india seems to me he most likely explanation.
Don’t believe it when you heard it being said that India is a very peaceful country. A country which was never an agressor. If we always had friendly relations with our neighbors they why is it that we have 15 territorial disputes with China itself. Forget Pakistan. and Bangladesh ?? The country for whose independence so many indians laid down there lives happily shoots indian jawans on any pretext. We have a very voilent past. Our religion is anything but tolerant. Ok its tolerant with comparison to other religions but like all other reliions and other countries histories we have this wonderous belief that we have nor can do wrong (but we have bad politicans though — an oxymoron if i ever saw 1)
Bhuddhuism died out because we had an enthusiastic hindu ruler. Ever notice that before akbar everytime there was widespread peace between all religions,the dynasty got wiped out in half a centuary, Yes i admit 50 years is a long time especially in the history of this country, but for a religion to die out? i dont think so.