Buddhism rapidly spread throughout the world due to the following reasons:
• The disciples of Buddha founded an organization of monks called sangha who became teachers of dhamma. These monks lived simply, possessed only the essential requisites for survival. They spread the teachings of Buddha and Buddhism.
• Women also became part of a sangha and persuaded other women to follow Buddhism.
• Buddha attracted followers from various social groups such as kings, wealthy men and common folks including workers, slaves and craftspeople.
• Buddhism regarded everyone as equal. The social identities were not considered important.
• Buddhism appealed to those that were dissatisfied with the existing religious practices and rapidly changing social identities.
• Conduct and values were of greater importance than claims of superiority based on birth.
All these factors led to the growth of Buddhism.
The teachings of Buddha have been reconstructed in Sutta Pitaka. According to Buddhist Philosophy:
• The world is transient (anicca) and constantly changing.
• The world is soulless (anatta). There is nothing permanent and eternal in it.
• Sorrow (dukh) is intrinsic to human existence.
• Only when the person follows the path of moderation between severe penance and self-indulgence, he could rise above worldly troubles.
• Existence or non-existence of God is irrelevant to Buddhism. The world is the creation of humans.
• Humanity and ethical values are considered above everything.
• Buddha emphasized individuality and righteous action as the means to escape from the cycle of rebirth and attain self-realization and Nibbana, i.e, the extinguishing of ego and desire. This would thus end the cycle of suffering.
Stupas were sacred places that were associated with Buddhism. They contain relics of Buddha such as his bodily remains or objects used by him. Thus, they were an emblem of both the Buddha and Buddhism.
• Stupas were built by the donations received from the rulers. Inscriptions found on the railings and pillars of stupas record donations made for building and decorating them.
• Ashoka ordered the construction of Stupas.
• Satavahana rulers were the ones to offer a donation. Guilds such as that of the ivory workers also donated and financed one of the gateways at Sanchi.
• Hundreds of donations were made by women and men who mention their names, sometimes adding the name of the place from where they came, as well as their occupations and names of their relatives.
• Bhikkhus and bhikkhunis also contributed to building these monuments.
The stupa at Sanchi survived but not at Amravati because:
• Amravati stupa was discovered before the Sanchi stupa. Thus, the scholars were not aware of its significance and did not understand its importance.
• In 1796, when a local raja saw the ruins of Amravati stupa, he decided to use its stone for building a temple at the same place. Thus, the value of Amravati stupa was not recognized.
• Foreigners and other establishments took away the remains of Amravati stupa to their places. In 1854, Walter Elliot, the commissioner of Guntur (Andhra Pradesh), collected several sculpture panels and took them away to Madras.
• Some of the slabs from Amravati were taken to different places such as to the Asiatic Society of Bengal at Calcutta, to the India Office in Madras and some even to London. These sculptures adorned the gardens of British administrators.
• In case of Sanchi stupa, three of its gateways remained intact and the fourth was lying on the spot where it had fallen. The mound was also in good condition.
Thus, all these factors indicate why Sanchi Stupa was well preserved whereas Amravati stupa stumbled.
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