According to Bentley and Ziegler, after examining the religious philosophy of Siddharta Gautama, how did the basic tenets of Buddhism influence India?
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In terms of the analysis offered by Bentley and Ziegler, Siddhartha Gautama's experiences helped to enhance a universalized notion of salvation in India. Buddhism is shown to contain the tenets of egalitarianism. Bentley and Ziegler conclude that the Buddha's teachings of liberation and enlightenment are open to anyone. Buddhism's basic tenets repudiate caste distinctions and the rigid social hierarchy that became a part of the practice of Hinduism. This tenet becomes essential in both the religion and its influence in India: "The Buddha opened his teachings to anyone, regardless of caste or previous religious affiliation, and he never claimed to be a god or anything other than a human being." For Bentley and Ziegler, the teaching of spiritual peace and identity becomes a central tenet of Buddhism.
The idea of ensuring that anyone can reach a point of spiritual understanding of self is an element that serves as both base of the religion, but also as a critique of modern India. The quest for salvation in India eventually reflected the problem with conventional practice. Buddhism arises out of a place where the conventional notion of Hinduism's practice was not as open as it could have been. Siddhartha recognizes something lacking in a structure in which spiritual salvation was limited to a few. His quest and understanding reflects the fundamental difference between the spiritual and ceremonial. For Bentley and Ziegler, it is essential that this paradigm becomes both the base of the religion and a major influence in India. Buddhism ends up raising significant questions to the practice of Hinduism and reminds many of the need to reach out to all in any spiritual practice. This becomes one of the most profound influences that Buddhism has on Hinduism. It serves as a reminder that religious practice should not become victim to the ceremonial at the cost of the spiritual.
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