T H H E teaching of Buddha was partly a reform and partly A an innovation. The result is that in the Buddhist
records an important place is taken up by polemical discussion both with the prevailing Brahminism and with other schools in revolt against orthodox views. We possess many Brahminical works of ritual and philosophy as old and older than Buddhism, but none of them were in direct contact with the new movements. The centre of brahmin culture was much further west, 1 and of this a picture has been drawn by Oldenberg. " The brahmins standing outside the tribe and the people were enclosed in a great society, which extended as far as the precepts of the Veda prevailed. They represented a caste of thinkers, whose forms of life with their strength and weakness included in germ the strength and weakness of their thought. They were hemmed in within a self-created world, cut off from the refreshing breeze of living life, unshaken in their boundless belief in themselves and in their own omnipotence, at the side of which all that gave reality to the life of others necessarily appeared small and contemptible." 2
This is Brahminism as portrayed according to the ideals of their sacred books, and we may doubt whether it faithfully represents the actual conditions even of their own caste. The brahmins were not ascetics, but had social and family duties as well. Still less can we apply it as a picture of social conditions in the time of Buddha. Much must remain problematical, as we are in fact dependent on the statements of Buddhists and Jains for the state of Brahminism among
the Magadhas and Kosalas. The essential question is that of the teaching of the brahmins as opposed to Buddhist dogmas, and brahmin views may have been partially misrepresented both through lack of knowledge and through polemical bias.