The major reasons for the downfall of buddhism in Indian subcontinent are as follows:
- Corruptions in Buddhist Sanghas: In course of time, the Buddhist ‘Sangha’ became corrupt. The monks and followers came to be drawn towards luxury and enjoyment. Receiving and saving valuable gifts like gold and silver made them greedy and materialistic
- Reform in Hinduism: Buddhism had dealt a heavy blow to Brahminical faith. Threatened with extinction, Hinduism started to re-organize itself. Attempts were now made to give up the complex system of rites and rituals and make Hinduism simple and attractive.
- Division among the Buddhist: Buddhism faced divisions from time to time. Division into various splinter groups like ‘Hinayana’, ‘Mahayana’, ‘Vajrayana’, ‘Tantrayana’ and ‘Sahajayana’ led Buddhism to lose its originality.
- Use of Sanskrit language: Pali and Prakrit, the spoken language of most people of India, was the medium for the spread of the message of Buddhism. But Sanskrit replaced these at the Fourth Buddhist Council during the reign period of Kaniska. Sanskrit was a complex language, hardly understood by common people.
- Patronage of Buddhism: In course of time there was the rise of the Brahminical faith once again. Pushyamitra Sunga, the Brahmin commander of the last Maurya ruler Vrihadratha, assassinated the king and founded the Sunga dynasty replacing the Maurya dynasty.
- Role of Hindu Preachers: Harsavardhan drove away the Brahmins from the religious council held at Kanauj. These Brahmins, under Kumarila Bhatta, fled to the Deccan. Under Bhatta’s leadership, Brahmanism staged a come-back. Adi Sankaracharya also revived and strengthened Hinduism.
- Rifts in Buddhist order: The internal rifts and divisions in Buddhist order made the rise of any new apostle impossible. The earlier examples of Ananda, Sariputta and Maudgalayana became very rare. The spirit and missionary zeal of Buddhism was lost for ever.
- Buddha worship: Image worship was started in Buddhism by the Mahayana Buddhists. They started worshipping the image of the Buddha. This mode of worship was a violation of the Buddhist principles of opposing complex rites and rituals of Brahminical worship
- Loss of Royal Patronage: Image worship was started in Buddhism by the Mahayana Buddhists. They started worshipping the image of the Buddha. This mode of worship was a violation of the Buddhist principles of opposing complex rites and rituals of Brahminical worship