Buddha’s religion spread all over Asia except India, and still Buddha’s way of life has been accepted by India – to become more and more poor. Is there any way that India can accept your life-affirmative attitude and become rich, even without accepting your religiousness which is spreading all over the world?
There are many questions in your single question. First, Buddha’s religion never spread over Asia. It died in India because Buddha was not ready to compromise on anything. He was against God, he was against a permanent soul, he was against the Vedas. While he was alive his charismatic personality impressed millions of people. The moment he was gone they started falling back into the old traps, old consolations, old deceptions, hallucinations.
And the Brahmins, who had been completely shaken by Buddha’s assertions, took revenge. Buddhists were killed, burned alive. Those who survived escaped India to Tibet, to Burma, to Ceylon, to China, to Japan – all over Asia.
But what they spread there is not Buddhism. They had learned the lesson in India that Buddhism was completely finished there because Buddha would not compromise. They compromised in each country where they went – with the tradition, with their consolations. So what exists in Tibet is not Buddhism but Tibetan superstitions mixed with Buddha’s philosophy. It is a mixture, and only those parts of Buddhism are accepted which fit with the Tibetan mind.
The same is true about China, about Ceylon, about Japan, about Korea, about Thailand. All over Asia Buddhists reached and had to compromise with the tradition there. Only the name remained Buddhism; the content completely disappeared. The revolution died. The revolution was in the uncompromising standpoint of Buddha: to be absolutely devoted to experience and not to philosophies and theologies and words. That got lost. They saved the name but Buddhism died.
So the first thing, forget that Buddhism spread all over Asia. Buddhism died with the death of Buddha. And in fact that is how it should be. It is dangerous for any religion to survive without an enlightened master. Then that religion becomes a hindrance to human progress. And the unenlightened people start interpreting the enlightened one’s statements. This is sheer nonsense, this cannot be done.
The second thing, you say: “Although Buddhism disappeared from India, Buddha’s way of life was accepted, particularly his teaching about renunciation, living in poverty.” That too is not correct. Jainism is at least five thousand years older than Buddhism. And they have been teaching more poverty, more renunciation.
Jainas don’t accept Buddha as an enlightened person because he had three sets of robes as his possessions. That was enough to destroy his enlightenment.
Hinduism is far older; Hindu scholars themselves think it is ninety thousand years old. And Hinduism is in support of the status quo of the society. The rich man is rich because he was virtuous in his past lives; the poor man is poor because he committed something wrong in his past life. They have shifted the whole burden to the past life.