The Rise of the Incarnation Idea in Indian Religion

Grainger, Oswald Joseph

     This thesis discusses the rise of the incarnation idea in Indian religion. . . . The period of time covered by this study begins with the entry of the Aryans into India and ends with the fourth century of the Christian era, a period of approximately two thousand years. It is argued that the incarnation idea in Indian religion arose as part of the development resulting from the interpenetration and assimilation to each other of two peoples, the Aryans and the Dravidians. The Aryans, a barbarian nomadic people, had invaded the country of the Dravidians, a more civilized agricultural people. This interpenetration resulted in some adoption of each others culture, but more in the creation of a new Aryo-Dravidian culture. A study of the geographic, climatic, economic, political and social situation in which these two peoples found themselves reveals the origin of those thought patterns which shaped the religious ideas of the time, among which is found the incarnation idea.
     This thesis also considers the following topics: the merger of Aryan and Dravidian religious ideas . . . as revealed in the Rudra-Siva development; the evolution of ideas about the devas and heroes; the race problem and its reaction on the priestly warrior group; the rise of the philosophy of the self; asceticism; thought patterns of the incarnation idea, set by the monarchical development; the incarnation idea in the Epics; and incarnations in Buddhism.
     The thesis concludes that the incarnation idea probably began in the third century B.C. It had gripped Indian minds by the first century B.C. and reached its highest intellectual development among Hindus in the second century A.D. in the Bhagavadgita. Among Buddhists it reached its highest development in the Dharmakaya, Trikaya concept.