Several Sramana movements are known to have existed in India before the 6th century BCE (pre-Buddha, pre-Mahavira), and these influenced both the astika and nastika traditions of Indian philosophy. Martin Wiltshire states that the Sramana tradition evolved in India over two phases, namely Paccekabuddha (pratyekabuddha) and Savaka phases, the former being the tradition of individual ascetic and latter of disciples, and that Buddhism and Jainism ultimately emerged from these as sectarian manifestations. These traditions drew upon already established Brahmnical concepts, states Wiltshire, to formulate their own doctrines. Reginald Ray concurs that Sramana movements already existed and were established traditions in pre-6th century BCE India, but disagrees with Wiltshire that they were non-sectarian before the arrival of Buddha
Rise of Heterodox Sects
600 BC was the age of an intellectual revolution in India. A number of new ideas & values, belief emerged during this age. 62 heterodox sects of 6th century BC represented the same. These heterodox sects like Buddhism & Jainism were response & reaction to evils of Brahmnical order and changing realities. The prevailing socio-religious-economy life was responsible for emergence of these sects.
The heterodox sects of 600 BC put forward new vision of life which was in tune with needs & aspiration of masses. It was because of this synergy between ideas of heterodox sects like Buddhism & Jainism & aspiration of people that transformed these sects into religion of masses.
Factors responsible for emergence of heterodox sects
600 BC was the age of remarkable progress in agricultural. Agricultural expansion took place as result of which the peasants wanted to use their bulls & calves in agriculture activities such as pulling the plough & carts. The Brahmnical religion of 600 BC emphasized killing of Bulls & cows in religious sacrifices. The violent sacrifices of Brahmnical religion obstructing program of people because of this peasant had started for looking new religion I which violent ritual / ceremony.
It was first need of non-violent religion free from rituals & ceremony that triggered rise of heterodox sects like Buddhism & Jainism that emphasize non-violence. Trade & commerce and Arts & Crafts witnessed rapid progress during 600 BC the groups involved in these act wanted to invest their resource in their business to ensure rapid progress but existing Buddhism religion was demanding the waste full expenditure resource in rituals & ceremonies.
This incongruity between needs of economy & ideas of Brahmanical order forced people to look for new religion free from costly ritual & ceremonies. This urge for change was responsible for emergence heterodox sects like Buddhism & Jainism which opposed Ritual & Ceremonies.
Brahmnical religion of 600 BC was not in tune with the merging urban life because Brahma opposed practice of money landing & public eating houses. Both of these were fundamental necessities of new urban economy. This dichotomy between needs of rapidly emerging urban economy & Buddhism idea forced people to look for new religion that would appreciate changing realities. Heterodox sects like Buddhism & Jainism were product of these necessities. That’s why Buddha & Mahavira not only approved the public eating houses but at the same they supported practice of money landing.
Rapid economy progress witnessed 600 BC had witnessed emergence of rich class of artisans & craftsman & merchants & traders. These groups were aspiring for higher social status in consonance with their economic strength but existing Brahmnical order. Provided no scope for upward social mobility. The social status of a person was based on birth & profession.
Dissatisfied with rigidity of Brahmnical order this rich class of merchants, traders’ artisan, and craftsman were looking for new socio-religious system in which they could enjoy higher status. This urge played important role in emergence of Buddhism & Jainism which accord higher status to groups involved in see & tertiary activities.
The Brahmnical religion of 600 BC was characterized by complex and costly rituals. Magical power was attached to hymns. It was demanded that hymns must be chanted in particular manner to get desired resulted improper chanting could be destructive.
Costly character of rituals & ceremonies had carried Brahmnical religion away from reach of common masses. The people were looking for a new religion free from costly rituals & ceremonies. This urge was responsible for emergence of heterodox sects like Buddhism & Jainism that emphasized simplicity. The complex rituals & ceremonies of Brahmnical religion were beyond comprehension of common masses. The people were looking for a new religion free from complexities. The simple & liberal heterodox sects like Buddhism & Jainism were the product of these needs. Leaders like Buddha & Mahavira put forward simple philosophy like 4 noble truths, 6 fold path, 10 teaching & 5 vows that could be understood by anybody.
The complex ritual of Brahmnical religion could not perform without the support of priest. The role of priest was in dispensable in Brahmnical religion because of this the people had started looking for new religion free from priestly mediation in heterodox sects like Buddhism & Jainism priestly class was completely absent.