scents and other articles of personal decoration. The regulations for the nuns
were stricter. It was feared that if equality was promised to them it might lead
to indiscipline and immorality. Gautama Buddha was not in favour of
ordaining women as nuns, but he did so reluctantly at the repeated requests of
his chief disciple, Ananda.
Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism
Rise and Fall of Buddhism
First Phase It starts from the time of Buddha’s enlightenment (528 BC) and
covers his parinirvana (death) and the spread of Buddhism in eastern India.
The first two Buddhist councils were held during this phase.
Second Phase It starts with the conversion of Asoka to Buddhism. The
third Buddhist council was held during this period and the practice of sending
missionaries to different parts of the world also began.
Third Phase It covers the Sunga-Kanva period. Despite the loss of royal
patronage in eastern India, it made good progress due to the support given to
it by the rich merchant class, for instance large donations to Bharhut stupa,
Sanchi stupa and Karle caves; adoption of Buddhism by the rulers in the
north-western India and the development of Gandhara art. Buddhism spread
to south India due to the tolerant attitude of the Satavahanas, and Buddhist
centres like Amaravati and Nagarjuna Konda came into existence in the
south. However, Buddhism got divided into as many as 18 sects, which was
more due to the geographical factors rather than doctrinal differences.
Fourth Phase It starts with the conversion of Kanishka to Buddhism. The
fourth Buddhist council was held and Buddhism began to spread to Central
Asia and China. The major schism took place during this period, and
Buddhists got divided into Mahayanists and Hinayanists. The period also
witnessed the beginning of the practice of idolism by the Mahayanists.
Fifth Phase It covers the Gupta period. Despite the loss of royal patronage,
it remained popular due to its patronage by individuals. Fahien testifies to its
continuing popularity. A noteworthy development of this period was the
foundation of the Nalanda Mahavihara (university) by Kumaragupta I.
Sixth Phase In spite of Harsha’s patronage, it starts declining from the