Kosala is also famous as the early home of Buddhism, and of the kindred religion of Jainism, and claims to be the birthplace of the founders of both these faiths.
It was in the reign of Bimbisara that Vardhamana Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, and Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, preached in Magadha, and Buddhist missionaries issued thence to the conversion of China, Ceylon, Tibet and Tatary.
It is doubtful if Buddhism, and still more so if Jainism and Sikhism, all of which are commonly recognized as distinct religions, ever differed from Hinduism to a greater extent than did the tenets of the earlier followers of Chaitanya in Bengal or those of the Lingayats in Mysore; and yet these latter two are regarded only as sects of Hinduism.
Considerations of their history and past political importance have led to the elevation of Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism to the rank of independent religions, while the numerous other schismatic bodies are held to be only sects.
The actual proportion of the total population of India (294 millions) included under the name of "Hindus" has been computed in the census report for 1901 at something like 70% (206 millions); the remaining 30% being made up partly of the followers of foreign creeds, such as Mahommedans, Parsees, Christians and Jews, partly of the votaries of indigenous forms of belief which have at various times separated from the main stock, and developed into independent systems, such as Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism; and partly of isolated hill and jungle tribes, such as the Santals, Bhils (Bhilla) and Kols, whose crude animistic tendencies have hitherto kept them, either wholly or for the most part, outside the pale of the Brahmanical community.