Political, Social, Religious Impact of Central Asian Contact


Political Impact

The Central Asian conquerors imposed their rue on numerous petty native princes, Which led to the development of a feudatory organisation. The Idea of divine origin of kingship was further strengthened by the shakas and Kushanas. The Kushanas considered themselves to be the sons of God. They also introduced the system of government by the satraps. Certain practices, like hereditary dual rule, found their way into the Indian Polity.

Social Impact

We find a large scale assimilation of foreigners into Indian Society. The invaders ultimately lost their identities in India and became fully Indianised. Since, they came chiefly as conquerors, they were classified as Kshatriyas. The Shakas and the Kushanas introduced turban, trousers and long coat. The Sherwani grew out of this long coat, caps, helmets, and boots were also introduced in India by these People.

 Religious Impact

The Contacts with foreigners led to changes in Indian religion. A few rulers adopted Buddhism. Since, Buddhism in its original form was too puritanical and too abstract for the outsiders, they altered it in such a way as to satisfy their desire to have a more concrete and intelligible religion. The result was the rise of Mahayanism. Some of the foreign rulers embraced Vaishnavism and thereby, gave a fillip to its development.

Mahayana Buddhism

Formed – 100CE
Origin – India
Deity – None/ Pantheon of deities
Scared Textx – Palcanon, Mahayana Canon
Head – Quarters – None
Mahayana Buddhism, also known as the Great vehicle, is the form of Buddhism prominent in North Asia, including China, Mongolia, Tibet, Korea and Japan. Arising out of schisms- About both doctrine and monastic rules – in the 1st century of CE, the Great Vehicle considers itself a more authentic version of the Buddha’s teachings. The Mahayana accepts the canonical texts of the Theravada tradition (what they derisively call the Hinayana or the lesser vehicle), but also have a vast corpus of philosophical and devotional texts.
The Most distinctive teaching of the Mahayana is that the great compassion that is an inherent component of enlightenment is manifest in Bodhisattvas (enlightenment beings); these beings postpone Nirvana (final enlightenment) in order to assist and guide those beings still suffering in the cycle of rebirths. They employ what the Mahayana calls skilful means, which is the ability to know the particular mental and emotional capacity of each individual and to deliver guidance appropriate to those capacities.
The Mahayana developed a vast pantheon of Bodhisattvas, Buddhas and other powerful beings and a complex array of devotional and meditational practices directed towards them. As the Mahayana moved beyond India, it took typically adopted distinct local cultural characteristics; thus, the Mahayana pantheon in china is significantly different than that found in India or that in Japan.


Theravada means “the way of the elders” in pali, reflecting the Theravadins belief that they most closely follow the original beliefs and practices of the Buddha and the early monastic elders. It is dominant in southern Asia, especially in Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. For this reason, it is sometimes known as Southern Buddhism. The authoritative text for Theravada is the Pali Canon, an early Indian Collection of the Buddha’s teachings. The later Mahayana Sutras are not recognised. The purpose of life for Theravadins is to become an Arhat/ Arahant, A perfected saint, who has achieved Nirvana and will not be reborn again. There are four stages to becoming an Arhat/ Arahant
1.    Sotapanna (Stream-enterer) A convert, attained by overcoming false beliefs.
2.    Sakadagamin (once-returner) one who only be reborn once more, attained by diminishing lust, hatred and illusion.
3.    Anagamin (never- returner) One who will be reborn in heaven, where he or she will become an arahant.
4.    Arhat (worthy one) One who has attained perfect enlightenment and will never be reborn.
Because of this focus on personal attainment and its requirement that one must renounce the world to achive salvation, Mahayana, Bhuddhists refer to Theravada Bhuddhism as the Lesser Vehicle (Hinayana). In Theravada, it is thought to be highly unlikely, even impossible, that a lay person can achieve high unlikely, even impossible, that a lay person can achieves liberation, because Mahayana disagrees. It regards itself as providing a greater vehicle to liberation, in which more people can participate.

Political, Social, Religious Impact of Central Asian Contact
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