The changing features of social and economic life such as the growth of towns, expansion of the artisan class and the rapid development of trade and commerce in the 6th BC were closely linked with changes in the religious field. It was a period of religious upheaval not only in the history of India but also in the rest of the world. In India various sects and reformers came into existence. They protested against the existing social and religious evils and attempted to reconstruct a new socio-religious order. As a result there arose a conflict between the established orthodoxy and the aspirations of newly rising groups in the urban centres.
These sects were regarded with scorn and Brahmans were particularly harsh towards them. Of all these sects two such came to stay were Jainism and Buddhism which later became independent religions.
Causes for the emergence of new religions
Ø Complications and ritualism in Hinduism
Ø Vedic religion had become complex and degenerated into superstitions, dogmas and rituals.
Ø The sacrifices prescribed by the Vedas became complicated.
Ø The Vedic mantras were complicated and went beyond the understanding of common man.
Ø The supremacy of the Brahmans created unrest. They no longer led pure and holy life.
Ø All the sacred Vedic texts were written in Sanskrit which was the language of the elite and not the masses.
Ø The masses could connect with the new sects as Mahavira and Buddha spoke to them in their language.
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