For further details as to the development of the priestly caste and wisdom in India the reader must refer to Brahminism; here it is enough to observe that among a religious people a priesthood which forms a close and still more an hereditary corporation, and the assistance of which is indispensable in all religious acts, must rise to practical supremacy in society except under the strongest form of despotism, where the sovereign is head of the Church as well as of the state.
Though of later date than most of the canonical Buddhist books, they are held in veneration by the orthodox, and occupy much the same position with regard to Buddhism that the Puranas do towards Brahminism.
The Brahman holds all nature to be the vesture or cloak of indwelling, divine energy, which inspires everything that produces awe or passes man's understanding "(Sir Alfred C. Lyall, Brahminism).
One can already discern a movement in various quarters towards a recognition of impersonal theism, and towards fixing the teaching of the philosophical schools upon some definitely authorized system of faith and morals, which may satisfy a rising ethical standard, and may thus permanently embody that tendency to substitute spiritual devotion for external forms and caste rules which is the characteristic of the sects that have from time to time dissented from orthodox Brahminism."
The Great Vehicle arose in the very stronghold of Brahminism, and among a people to whom Sanskrit, like Latin in the middle ages in Europe, was the literary lingua franca.