Monday, May 4, 2015

Kundalvana, Kashmir: Kanishka & The Fourth Buddhist Council (72 AD)


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King Kanishka....Emperor of the Kushan dynasty...... 127–151 AD

"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."

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"The Fourth Buddhist Council was held at Kundalvana, Kashmir in 72 AD under the patronage of Kushan king Kanishka and the president of this council was Vasumitra, with Aśvaghosa as his deputy. This council distinctly divided the Buddhism into 2 sects Mahayan & Hinayan."....

"Another Fourth Buddhist Council was held in the Sarvastivada tradition, said to have been convened by the Kushan emperor Kanishka, in 78 AD at Jalandhar or in Kashmir. It is said that Kanishka gathered five hundred Bhikkhus in Kashmir, headed by Vasumitra, to systematize the Sarvastivadin Abhidharma texts, which were translated from earlier Prakrit vernacular languages (such as Gandhari in Kharosthi script) into the classical language of Sanskrit. "

"Manendar also called Millinda (165-145 B.C ) haf definitely incorporated into his kingdom Gandhra and some parts of the Punjab and made Sialkot as a capital......The Sakas who followed the Greek controlled a much larger part of northh-west india,including Gandhara,the swat vally and possible a part of kashmir .the sakas were overthrown in india by kushanas in the begining of the first century A.D. Under the later,small and fragmented atates were once again united .Their empire included not only the regions of northern and north-western indian but also of central Asia and Afganistan......According to kalhana among the kushan rulers whose sway extended to kashmir included Juska and Kanishka.Each one of them founded here a town after his name ,these were called Huskapura (Uskar),Juskapura(Zukur) and kanishka pura (kanispura) respectively......Kaniska is identified with the well-know kushan ruler of india of the same name.According to a Buddhist tradition he convened the fourth Buddhist council at a place called Kundalvana in kashmir,although some scholars opine that it was held at Jallundar in the Punjab."

"Ashoka called the Third Buddhist Council in 252 BC at Pataliputra and it was there that the Buddhist became divided into two sects—the Hinayana and the Mahayana.
Kanishka called the Fourth Buddhist Council at Kundalvana near Srinagar and Vasumitra was believed to have acted as President.:

"During the first to mid-third centuries CE, the empire of the Kushans (Mid. Pers. Kušān-šahr) represented a major world power in Central Asia and northern India. They were able to contend on equal terms with Parthia, and at times even gained the upper hand over these western neighbors. Their history has, however, until recently received minimal attention from Classical historians. This is because apparently their existence has been explicitly noted only once in Classical literature, by Bardaiṣan (see BARDESANES) of Edessa in his Book of the Laws of Countries, where he speaks of the “Laws of the Bactrians who are called Kushans” and remarks (allegations not yet confirmed elsewhere) on the luxurious lifestyle and promiscuous morals of their women. It is probable, too, that the celebrated allusions in Prologue 41 and 42 of Pompeius Trogus to the “Asiani (who became) kings of the Tochari” (Reges Thocarorum Asiani), is a reference to the Kushans. Other mentions in Classical literature from the Imperial period of “the Bactrians” (Bactriani) may also sometimes cover notices of the Kushans." ...

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"In general, the Kushan rulers seem to have acquired a reputation for humane and tolerant rule, an attitude that the religious eclecticism of their later coinage seems to substantiate. On the coinage of Vima Kadphises, however, only one deity is represented. This was the figure of the Hindu god S´iva, often accompanied by his vehicle, the bull Nandi. He was rendered with two or four arms, ithyphallic, and later frequently triple-faced, with some or all of his customary attributes: the trident (triśula) often with attached axe-blade, the water-pot, and the animal-skin. The Śiva image appears in every succeeding Kushan reign, and we know that his name in Bactrian, for the Kushans, was OHÞO Vēš, corresponding to the Iranian wind-god Vayu. Since Śiva “the Destroyer” had clearly some aspects of an underworld god, one may understand this aspect of the identification. On the Kushano-Sasanian coins with Pahlavi inscriptions, the corresponding deity seems to be Mithra, whose cult—at least when introduced into the Roman world—has likewise an esoteric character."........

"A recent article by Harry Falk (p. 126) reinterprets a passage of the early Sanskrit astronomical text Yavanajātaka, by Sphujiddhvaja, to signify that a Kushan Era commences 149 years after the start of the Śaka Era. Since the Śaka Era began in 78 CE, this Kushan Era would begin in 227 CE (78 + 149 = 227). It is now generally agreed, as we have seen, that at or about the year 100 of the era of Kanishka, a new count was begun by the succeeding Kushan rulers. Thus the era indicated by the Yavanajātaka should be this second Kushan Era, and the original era founded by Kanishka would be 100 years earlier. Thus the era of Kanishka would begin in 127/8 CE."..........

Gold coin of Kanishka I, with a depiction of the Buddha, with the legend "Boddo" in Greek script

"The patronage of Buddhism by the Kushan rulers is attested by the appearance of Buddha among the divinities portrayed upon the coinage of Kanishka. This image may celebrate the Third Buddhist Conference, which, according to Buddhist tradition, was convened during this reign. One should not, however, suppose that the Kushans themselves professed Buddhism, and the predominance of coin types reflecting a variety of Iranian religion suggests that they practiced an eclectic form of Zoroastrianism. Specific to that faith were renderings of three of the six Amahraspands (see AMƎŠA SPƎNTA), Šaoreoro (Šahrewar), Ashaeixsho, and Manaobago, if the last two are correctly identified with Ardwahišt and Wahman. At the same time, representations of “pagan Iranian” or possibly Mithraic deities, such as Mithra, Nana, Vərəƒraγna (Orlagno, Wahrām “Mars”), and Tīr “Mercury” (not Tistriya “Sirius,” as later conceived) are prominent. The figuring of Vēš “Vayu” in the form of the Brahmanical Śiva was already mentioned. Several classical deities appear, including Serapis (Göbl, p. 69; photo no. 185) and Heracles. Again, there are several enigmatic figures such as Mozdooano (probably not identical with Ahura Mazdā) with his two-headed horse. Ahura Mazdā, the supreme deity of Zoroastrianism, is in fact a rare type, if reported specimens are genuine at all (Göbl, p. 65)."...........

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" The Surkh Kotal temple (“Kanishka’s Victory Temple”) was restored in the year 31, presumably under Huvishka, but here the inscription does not name the ruler. Kanishka and Huvishka are also mentioned in the Kashmir chronicle, the Rajātaranµgiṇī, and credited with the foundation of the cities Kaniṣkapura, Juṣkapura, and Huṣkapura (Stein, tr., 1900, I, p. 30)."............

"Surkh Kotal (Persian: سرخ‌کوتل‎; Pashto: سور کوتل‎), also called Chashma-i Shir or Sar-i Chashma, (Chashma Spring means Water Spring in Persian and Urdu) an ancient archaeological site located in the southern part of the region of Bactria, about 18 km north of the city of Puli Khumri, the capital of Baghlan Province of Afghanistan."

" Despite of the cultural dominance of Buddhist religion coins with Buddha on the reverse have only been issued by Kanishka, probably in connection with the Fourth Buddhist Council (in the Mahayana tradition) in Kashmir: At the time of King Kanishka, five hundred years after the Buddha’s Nirvā na, an Arhat came from the country of Kashmir and went about converting men. He claimed to have been one of the five hundred who formed the Council summoned by King Kanishka......As noted above, Buddhism was introduced to Central Asia already earlier: A remarkable Buddhist coin / medal attributed to early first century AD was found in a tomb at Tillya Tepe (the “Gold Hill”), west of Balch / Bactria........On the obverse a naked ithyphallic god (probably Shiva) is turning the Wheel of Dharma with surrounding Kharoshthi inscription dharmacakrapravartana....(“the turning of the Wheel of Dharma”) and on the reverse there is a standing lion with the triratna / nandipada symbol and Kharoshthi inscription sihavigadabhaya (“fearless lion”). The religious and in this context cultural variety was greatly reduced during the reign of Vasudeva I leaving Shiva with his bull as the dominant reverse type, remaining the major coin type in the northern part of the Kushan empire and of the later Kushano-Sasanian kingdom..."..... Loeschner, Kanishka in Context with the Historical Buddha and Kushan Chronology....published in “Glory of the Kushans –Recent Discoveries and Interpretations”, pp. 137-194 edited by Professor Vidula Jayasval, Banaras Hindu Universiy (Aryan Books International, New Delhi, 2012

Buddhism: A Modern Perspective......edited by Charles S. Prebish


May 2015

John Hopkins....Northern New Mexico


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