The Buddha himself converted many kings and on his death several monarchs claimed the relics of the blessed one. Buddhism reached the zenith of its glory under the table leadership and patronage of Ashoka.
Soon after his conversion to Buddhism, the emperor set himself out to spread the new faith. Throughout the length and breadth of India he had stone pillars erected on which were engraved the moral commandments of Buddhism.
Colleges and monasteries were founded for the diffusion of knowledge. Missionaries trained in these institutions were sent to Ceylon, Burma and even to distant Syria, Greece and Alexandria for the propagation of the new faith.
The next great king who took interest himself in Buddhism was Kanishka, the Kushan Emperor. He sent out missionaries for preaching Buddhism and it was under his leadership that Buddhism started its long and successful pilgrimage towards central Asia and distant China.
Flourishing on the endowments of kings and growing extremely rich, the monasteries attracted a large number of ease loving monks who loved to lead an idle life of corruption at the expense of the people.
Secret cults, worship of Goddesses, midnight orgies, in fact all the vices the founder of the religion detested began to gnaw into the vitals of monastic life and some of the monasteries degenerated into dens of debauchery.
Devoid of the correcting hands of Ashoka or Kanishka, the monks tyrannised the people and became a burden to the country. The monastic orders which the Buddha had founded thus developed into a parasitic community.