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So also at certain earlier periods of Indian history did those who were at the lowest levels of Hindu society. The expansion of Muslim rule in north India was one such period, and perhaps the most notable. One other factor has to be kept in mind here. Brahmanical hostility towards the Buddhist Sangha would have a better chance of succeeding in its aim, that of dislodging the Sangha from their position of respect and influence, if the common people were, for some reason, not in a position to be able to support the Sangha when it was under attack.

The householder may continue to believe in demons and spirits, in the local gods, or in 27 BUDDHIST REVIVAL IN INDIA some supreme god such as Brahma or Sakka. When he is ready to pass beyond such beliefs he will. Until then it is foolish to attempt to force him or to persuade him. Ot a feature of the classical pattern of Buddhist culture, although there have been attempts of that kind in the modern period. From the very beginning of Buddhist history the lay people who surrounded and supported the Sangha held a variety of beliefs in non-human, celestial beings.

They suffer from the limitations which beset all analogical reasoning (especially bad analogy) that while they may, if they have some appropriateness, stimulate thought, they do not in themselves explain anything, and may in fact mislead. The idea that Buddhism declined in India because of the loss of royal support on which it had come to rely certainly appears more plausible. But, in this case, one has to ask what is being referred to in the word 'Buddhism'. In such contexts it is generally used to mean the Buddhist culture of the classical Sinhalese kingdom with its triangular internal structure: Sangha-king-people.

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