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Why did Buddhism leave India, the land of its birth?

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It is not entirely correct to say that Buddhism left India, as it is still practiced by about 8.5 million Indians. However, in a country with over a billion people, this still only makes up a tiny percentage of Indians. Buddhism nearly came to an end in India entirely with the Mughal invasion in the 13th century. The other answer here does a good job of explaining why Buddhism lost favor and popularity in India. Here I will explain how Buddhism spread to other places.

It is true that there are many more Buddhists outside of the philosophy's Indian homeland than within it. Much of the spread of Buddhism began in the 3rd century BCE when the Mauryan king Ashoka sent missionaries to neighboring provinces to spread the religion. During this period, Buddhism found a foothold outside of India, particularly in Tibet, Sri Lanka, Central Asia, and China. Later, in the 6th century CE, it would spread to Japan by way of Korea.

During this period, three schools of Buddhism developed. Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana Buddhism have different focuses, but they also share a significant amount of overlapping practice and philosophy. This variation allows the religion to appeal to different cultures and societies. By adopting and adapting the type of Buddhism that fit best into their society, different peoples in regions far from India were able to make the religion popular.

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Buddhism declined in India due to three primary factors: opposition from the Hindu Brahman caste, Muslim conquest, and governmental opposition.

Since its inception, Buddhism had been considered a religious, ideological, and social threat to a large segment of the Indian Brahman caste. The Hindu Brahman ruler Shashanka of Gauda was famous for burning Buddhist images, books and relics during his reign. The Hindu ruler Pusyamitra Sunga was even more aggressively anti-Buddhist; he ordered the murder of hundreds of Buddhist monks and burned the religious texts hidden in their monasteries.

Buddhism survived in pockets up to the 13th century, when Muslim conquest from the north wiped out the remaining Buddhist communities. Islam became the dominant religion of many major cities, while Hinduism continued to be widely practiced in southern India and in the rural areas of northern India.

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