Monday, January 6, 2014

Shambhala, Kapisa-Udyana and King Kanishka (78 AD)


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"Indeed, the era during which we must suppose these events to have occurred was in fact one of great social upheaval and turmoil. In 690 A.D. the lady Wu Chao had managed to usurp the throne of China and have herself made Emperor (Huang-ti), after having been proclaimed, by an ambitious court monk, as an Incarnation of the future Buddha Maitreya. By 669 the Western Turks were undergoing considerable political turmoil and Tri Du-srong, the emperor of Tibet, was actively extending his power in Central Asia by means of continuous bloody warfare and pillage. The neighboring Turkish Shahi kingdoms of Kapisa (Shambhala) and Uddiyana were also both being hard pressed on their southwesterly flank by the inexorable expansion of the southern Arab Moslems."….

"King Kanishka of the Kushan Empire (its capital, Bagram, is situated slightly east of Bamian) ruled over Central Asia from 78-144 A.D. (127-151 AD?) and is revered as a patron of Buddhism….."……

"in the old tradition of the 84 Mahasiddhas that the Kingdom of Uddiyana was divided between two countries, to the North and South. To the North, it bordered on the land of Shambhala (i.e., the Kingdom of Kapisa), while to the South was Lankapuri. A tenth century king of Uddiyana, named Indrabhuti, had a sister called Laksminkara, who married King Jalendra of Lankapuri. It was to this Lankapuri, with its famous Malaya mount, that Pramodavajra traveled when he left Uddiyana."….

"Bagram (بگرام Bagrām), founded as Alexandria on the Caucasus and known in medieval times as Kapisa, is a small town and seat in Bagram District in Parwan Province of Afghanistan, about 60 kilometers north of the capital Kabul. It is the site of an ancient city located at the junction of the Ghorband and Panjshir Valley, near today's city of Charikar, Afghanistan….The location of this historical town made it a key passage from Ancient India along the Silk Road, leading westwards through the mountains towards Bamiyan."

U.S. armored vehicles are seen blocked a road following a road side bomb blast on the outskirts of Charikar north of Kabul.

"According to the scholar Pliny, the city of Kapiśi (also referred to as Kaphusa by Pliny's copyist Solinus and Kapisene by other classical chroniclers) was destroyed in the 6th century BCE by the Achaemenian emperor Cyrus (Kurush) (559-530 BC). In later times, Kapisa seems to have been part of a kingdom ruled by a Buddhist Kshatriya king holding sway over ten neighboring states including Lampaka, Nagarahara, Gandhara and Banu, according to the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang who visited in 644 AD.Hiuen Tsang notes the Shen breed of horses from the area, and also notes the production of many types of cereals and fruits, as well as a scented root called Yu-kin."

"Fourth Buddhist Council is the name of two separate Buddhist council meetings. The first one was held in the 1st century BC, in Sri Lanka. In this fourth Buddhist council the Theravadin Pali Canon was for the first time committed to writing, on palm leaves. The second one was held by the Sarvastivada school, in Kashmir around the 1st century AD….The 2nd Fourth Buddhist Council (Sarvastivada tradition) is said to have been convened by the Kushan emperor Kanishka (r. 127-151 CE), perhaps in 78 CE at Jalandhar or in Kashmir. The Fourth Council of Kashmir is not recognized as authoritative in Theravada; reports of this council can be found in scriptures which were kept in the Mahayana tradition. The Mahayana tradition based some of its scriptures on (refutations of) the Sarvastivadin Abhidharma texts, which were systematized at this council."….

"Bagram….It is unknown when the site was originally settled. In the mid 500s BC, Cyrus the Great of the Persian Achaemenid Dynasty destroyed the city as part of his campaign against the Saka nomads in the region….In the 320s BC, Alexander the Great captured the city and established a fortified colony named Alexandria of the Caucasus. The new town, laid out in the "hippodamian plan" or iron-grid pattern—a hallmark of Greek city planning, had brick walls reinforced with towers at the angles….After his death in 323 BC, the city passed to his general Seleucus, who traded it with the Mauryans of India in 305 BC. After the Mauryans were overthrown by the Sunga Dynasty in 185 BC, the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom invaded and conquered northwestern India (present-day Pakistan) with an army led by Demetrius I of Bactria. Alexandria became a capital of the Eucratidian Indo-Greek Kingdom after they were driven out of Bactria by the Yuezhi in 140 BC…..Bagram became the capital of the Kushan Empire in the 1st century….."

Bagram Treasure…."Now the site of a huge U.S. base, Bagram was a city in ancient times. In the 1930s, French archaeologists found an astonishing cache of items there. It was either a royal treasury, hidden away in times of trouble or -- more likely - an art dealer's stock from the early centuries A.D. Among the objects was a Roman toy aquarium made of bronze, in which metal fish would float, waggling their fins, when it was filled with water……Glass beakers from Bagram are painted with figures resembling Pompeian frescoes. Most remarkable -- indeed the most beautiful exhibits in the show -- were a series of ivory carvings resembling the styles of southern India. It is easy to imagine what would have happened to these full-breasted, hip- swaying female figures if they'd been discovered by the Taliban…..The Bagram treasures make the point that Afghanistan is a point of cultural interchange, where currents from India, Europe, China, Iran, Central Asia and the Middle East all met." ….

"Kanishka personally seems to have embraced both Buddhism and the Persian cult of Mithra." ...

"Kanishka I is no doubt the most famous Kushan king and even perhaps the greatest, although his son Huvishka's empire was probably bigger….Establishing the date of Kanishka has been a major point of historical research for over 100 years….most authors have now accepted the argument that the Kanishka era should be dated to the year 127 AD….the most important inscription of Kanishka is the Rabatak Inscription……it shows Kanishka to be a nationalist: he explicitly states that he is recording this inscription in the Arian (or Bactrian) language…..Kanishka's coins switch to carrying Bactrian legends. For example, the word "King," rather than being recorded as the Greek BAΣIΛEΩΣ (Basileus), is now rendered Shao……Third, it suggests that, at least at the time his reign started, Kanishka was a follower of Iranian religion since he gives prime place among the listed pantheon to the Goddess Nana, but nevertheless honored deities from different traditions…..Bactrian legends and the Iranian versions of the same deities. In addition, deities from different traditions are featured on the coinage…Kanishka introduced Ardochsho on coinage for the first time ... she would go on to become one of only two deities featured on late Kushan coinage. Deities known to have appeared on Kanishka dinars are: Ardochsho, Athsho, Buddha, Lrooaspo (Druvaspa), Manaobago, Mao, Mazdoanao, Miiro (Mithra), Nana, Oesho (Shiva?), Orlagno, and Pharro."….

"Kapisa-Udyana….. Coins with the title Fromo Kesaro appear to refer to the successor of Sahi Tegin (700-738 CE:Chinese:烏散特勤灑:MC:uo-sân d'ɘk-g'iɘn ṣai=*Horsān tegin šāhi 'Tegin, king of Khurasan'), ruler of the Second Turki Śāhi dynasty at Kapisa-Udyana, whose reign was between 738 and 745 C.E., and who is identified with the 'Frōm Kēsar' (拂菻罽婆: Fúlǐn jìpó:North Western Tang pfvyr-lḭum-kḭe-sâ) of the Tang shu"……Vohra, Rohit (1996). "Early History of Ladakh: Mythic Lore % Fabulation: A preliminary note on the conjectural history of the 1st millennium A.D.".

Ardochsho ….Goddess of plenty Ardochsho standing right, holding cornucopia,

"A number of legends about Kanishka, a great patron of Buddhism, were preserved in Buddhist religious traditions. Along with the Indian kings Ashoka and Harshavardhana, and the Indo-Greek king Menander I (Milinda), he is considered by Buddhists to have been one of the greatest Buddhist kings.

"The once splendid region of Bamian remained a crossroads of cultural influence until it finally became subject to Western Turks in the 8th century. Changing hands several times, it was destroyed and its inhabitants exterminated in the 13th century, never regaining its central role in history. Bamian is now one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan."......

"Kanishka (Kanishka the Great), (Sanskrit: कनिष्क, Bactrian language: Κανηϸκι, Middle Chinese: 迦腻色伽 (Jianisejia)) was an emperor of the Kushan dynasty (127-151) who ruled an empire extending from Turfan in the Tarim Basin to Pataliputra on the Gangetic plain and famous for his military, political, and spiritual achievements."

"The Pāratas, an Iranian people and ruling dynasty from an area in present-day western Pakistan, are known essentially through their coinage, which typically exhibit the bust of a particular monarch on the obverse ( having long hair within a headband), and a swastika within a circular legend on the reverse in Kharoshthi (usually copper coins) and sometimes in Brahmi (usually silver coins). Coins depicting Pārata monarchs have been found in and around the district of Loralai, Balochistan, western Pakistan. This was the seat of their capital. The Pārata dynasty is thought to have started out as a satrapy of the northern Apraca Dynastical. Therefore both the Apraca and the Pārata dynasties appear to have been related. However, over time, a split occurs owing to the founding by Aprācan vassals, of the Pārata dynasty. Whether this split was attributed to feudal governance or to ideological differences [the Apracas eventually embraced Buddhism while the Pāratas retained Zoroastrianism albeit a form which seems to have been predicated on Mithra] is not fully known, though not beyond the realm of possibility."….

Kanishka was a Kushan of probable Yuezhi ethnicity. He used an Eastern Iranian, Indo-European language known as Bactrian (called "αρια," i. e. "Aryan" in the Rabatak inscription)...... Kanishka's era is now believed by many to have begun in 127 AD....

Kanishka's empire extended from southern Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, north of the Amu Darya (Oxus) in the north west to Northern India, as far as Mathura in the south east (the Rabatak inscription even claims he held Pataliputra and Sri Champa), and his territory also included Kashmir, where there was a town Kanishkapur, named after him not far from the Baramula Pass and which still contains the base of a large stupa.....Several coins of Kanishka have been found in the Tarim Basin......Controlling both the land (the Silk Road) and sea trade routes between South Asia and Rome seems to have been one of Kanishka's chief imperial goals.

Kanishka's reputation in Buddhist tradition is based mainly that he convened the 4th Buddhist Council in Kashmir. Images of the Buddha based on 32 physical signs were made during his time......He provided encouragement to both the Gandhara school of Greco-Buddhist Art and the Mathura school of Hindu art (An inescapable religious syncretism pervades Kushana rule). Kanishka personally seems to have embraced both Buddhism and the Persian cult of Mithra.

Kanishka is said to have been particularly close to the Buddhist scholar Ashvaghosha, who became his religious advisor in his later years. At the time of Kanishka's coronation and when India's first gold coin was minted, Yuz Asaf was the spiritual advisor to the king.

"Afghanistan’s reward for being “the crossroads of the ancient world” was to be invaded by some of the ancient world’s most active marauders. The first was Alexander the Great, who left colonies in Herat, Kandahar and Bagram, and who paid particular attention to the settlement of Bactria, in the Oxus Valley. In 1964, a French archeological team began digging here and discovered a lost city called Ai Khanum. What should begin popping out of the ancient Afghan ground but mound after mound of Hellenistic art treasures: finely carved Aphrodites, gold cups decorated with Dionysus, precisely minted imperial coins, muscular statues of Hercules? The surprised French archeologists had happened on a mini Greece."….

Kanishka was probably succeeded by Huvishka. How and when this came about is still uncertain. The fact that there were other Kushana kings called Kanishka is just another complicating factor.

"King Kanik (if Kanishaka) ruled (AD 78-101) not over Kabul but over Purushapura/Gandhara and his descendants could not have ruled for almost 900 years as a single dynasty over Kapisa/Kabul especially in a frontier region called the gateway of India. Pre Islamic Hindu and Buddhist heritage of Afghanistan is well established in the Shahi coinage from Kabul of this period.....

Vima Kadphises (Kushan language: Οοημο Καδφισης, Ancient Chinese: 阎膏珍) was a Kushan emperor from around 90–100 CE. As detailed by the Rabatak inscription, he was the son of Vima Takto and the father of Kanishka.....Most of Vima's coins feature the Buddhist symbol of the Triratana on the reverse (or possibly Shiva's symbol for Nandi, the Nandipada), together with representations of Shiva, with or without his bull......

"The Rabatak inscription is an inscription written on a rock in the Bactrian language and the Greek script, which was found in 1993 at the site of Rabatak, near Surkh Kotal in Afghanistan. The inscription relates to the rule of the Kushan emperor Kanishka, and gives remarkable clues on the genealogy of the Kushan dynasty......The first lines of the inscription describe Kanishka as: "the great salvation, the righteous, just autocrat, worthy of divine worship, who has obtained the kingship from Nana and from all the gods, who has inaugurated the year one as the gods pleased" (Trans. Professor Sims-Williams)."....

"Balkh came under Hepthalites or Huns by the of 4th Century A.D...... Kanishka had been the first Buddhist to rule Balkh. The early Huns followed a religion akin to Zorastrianism and worshipped fire and Sun. Subsequently, Hun Kings became followers of Buddhism...."

"The Kushana period saw a great resurgence of Buddhism in Kashmir, especially during the reign of Kanishka. The fourth Buddhist Council was held in Kashmir, under the presidency of Katyayaniputra, in Kanishka's time. The south Indian Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna lived in Kashmir during the Kushana period.".....


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….January 2014


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