Thursday, June 18, 2015

Balkh & Bactria: From Gautama Buddha (c. 563-483 BC) to Kujula Kadphises (30–80 AD)


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Gautama Buddha (c. 563-483 BC)

Alexander the Great & Roxana (Raoxshna; Persian: روشنک‎, "luminous beauty")....Roxane, was a Bactrian princess and a wife of Alexander the Great. She was born c. 343 BC....Roxana was the daughter of a minor Bactrian baron named Oxyartes of Balkh in Bactria (around modern-day Balkh province of Afghanistan), and married Alexander the Great in 327 a young age, after he visited the fortress of Sogdian Rock......Alexander spent several years in Bactria 'because it was so beautiful'......Balkh was captured by Alexander the Great about 330 BC."

Ashoka Maurya (304–232 BCE) Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who reigned over a realm that stretched from the Hindu Kush mountains in the west to Bengal in the East....

The Indo-Greek Kingdom or Graeco-Indian Kingdom was a Hellenistic kingdom covering various parts of the northwest regions of the Indian subcontinent (modern Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Western India) during the last two centuries BC, and was ruled by more than 30 kings......
Demetrius I (reigned c. 200–170 BC) Son of Euthydemus I. Greco-Bactrian king, and conqueror of India.
Menander I (reigned c. 150–125 BC). Legendary for the size of his Kingdom, and his support of the Buddhist faith.

Kujula Kadphises (30–80 AD)...a Kushan prince who united the Yuezhi confederation during the 1st century CE, and became the first Kushan emperor.


"Balkh, also called Vazīrābād, village in northern Afghanistan that was formerly Bactra, the capital of ancient Bactria. It lies 14 miles west of the city of Mazār-e Sharīf and is situated along the Balkh River. A settlement existed at the site as early as 500 bc, and the town was captured by Alexander the Great about 330 bc. Thereafter it was the capital of the Greek satrapy of Bactria. In succeeding centuries the city fell to various nomadic invaders, including the Turks and Kushāns, until it was decisively taken by the Arabs in the 8th century. Balkh then became the capital of Khorāsān; it enlarged greatly in size until under the ʿAbbāsids and Sāmānids its fame as a capital and centre of learning earned it the title of “mother of cities.” Balkh was completely destroyed by the Mongols under Genghis Khan in 1220 AD."....

"Gautama Buddha, ( born 563- 480 BC.....died 483- 400 BC).....also known as Siddhārtha Gautama, Shakyamuni, or simply the Buddha, was a sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is believed to have lived and taught mostly in eastern India sometime between the sixth and fourth centuries BC......The word Buddha means "awakened one" or "the enlightened one".......Various collections of teachings attributed to him were passed down by oral tradition and first committed to writing about 400 years later."

"Trapusa and Bahalika (alternatively Bhallika) are attributed to be the first two lay disciples of the Buddha. The first account of Trapusa and Bahalika appears in the Vinaya section of the Tripiṭaka where they offer the Buddha his first meal after enlightenment, take refuge in the Dharma (while the Sangha was still not established), and become the Buddha's first disciples...... Xuanzang (602 – 664 AD) says that Buddhism was bought to Central Asia by Trapusa and Bahalika (referring to Balkh) two merchants who offered food to the Buddha after his enlightenment......Xuanzang recounts, having become his first disciples Trapusa and Bahalika wished his leave to return home, they asked the Buddha for something by which they could remember and honour him in his absence. The Buddha gave them eight of his hairs as relics. They made golden caskets for the relics and took them to their own city (Balkh) where they enshrined them in a stupa by the city gate (Nava Vihara).....Xuanzang recounts that theirs was the first ever Buddhist Stupa to be made and that the Buddha had first to instruct them how to erect it by folding his three robes into squares piling them up and then topping them off with his inverted bowl."..... Relics of the Buddha By John S. Strong

"Greco-Buddhism, sometimes spelled Graeco-Buddhism, refers to the cultural syncretism between Hellenistic culture and Buddhism, which developed between the 4th century BCE and the 5th century CE in Bactria and the Indian subcontinent, corresponding to the territories of modern day Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. It was a cultural consequence of a long chain of interactions begun by Greek forays into India from the time of Alexander the Great, carried further by the establishment of the Indo-Greek Kingdom and extended during the flourishing of the Hellenized Kushan Empire. Greco-Buddhism influenced the artistic, and perhaps the spiritual development of Buddhism, particularly Mahayana Buddhism".....Greek as well as Iranian influences appear to have shaped the evolution of Mahayana images (and perhaps thought as well)". Foltz, Richard, Religions of the Silk Road, Palgrave Macmillan, 2nd edition, 2010, p. 46

"Balkh, also called Vazīrābād, in northern Afghanistan that was captured by Alexander the Great about 330 BC."

"Ashoka Maurya (Sanskrit: अशोक मौर्य; 304–232 BCE), commonly known as Ashoka and also as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from circa 269 BC to 232 BC. One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over a realm that stretched from the Hindu Kush mountains in the west to Bengal in the East....

"The Indo-Greek Kingdom or Graeco-Indian Kingdom was a Hellenistic kingdom covering various parts of the northwest regions of the Indian subcontinent (modern Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Western India) during the last two centuries BC, and was ruled by more than 30 kings....The kingdom was founded when the Graeco-Bactrian king Demetrius invaded the subcontinent early in the 2nd century BC.....During the two centuries of their rule, the Indo-Greek kings combined the Greek and Indian languages and symbols, as seen on their coins, and blended Hindu, Buddhist and ancient Greek religious practices, as seen in the archaeological remains of their cities and in the indications of their support of Buddhism, pointing to a rich fusion of Indian and Hellenistic influences. The diffusion of Indo-Greek culture had consequences which are still felt today, particularly through the influence of Greco-Buddhist art......The Indo-Greeks ultimately disappeared as a political entity around 10 AD following the invasions of the Indo-Scythians.".....

"Yonā, Yavanā, Yonakā:.........a country and its people, probably the Pāli equivalent for Ionians, the Bactrian Greeks. The Yonas are mentioned along with the Kambojas in Rock Edicts v. and xii of Buddhist Emperor Asoka as a subject people, forming a frontier district of his empire. The country was converted by the Thera Mahārakkhita, who was sent there after the Third Council (Mhv.xii.5; Dpv.viii.9; Sp.i.67)......In the time of Milinda the capital of the Yona country was Sāgala (Mil.1). It is said (Mhv.xxix.39) that at the foundation ceremony of the "Great Reliquary Shrine (Mahā Stūpa), 30,000 monastics, under Yona Mahādhammarakkhita, came from Alasandā (Alexandria) in the Yona country. Alasandā was evidently the headquarters of the Buddhist monastics at that time. Alasandā is generally identified (see, e.g., Geiger, Mhv. Trs. 194, n.3) with the Alexandria founded by the Macedonian king (Alexander) in the country of the Paropanisadae near Kābul, Afghanistan........In the Assalāyana Sutra (M.ii.149), Yona and Kamboja are mentioned as places in which there were only two castes/classes of people, masters and slaves, and the master could become a slave and vice versa. The Commentary (MA.ii.784) explains this by saying that supposing a Brahmin goes there and dies, his children might consort with slaves, in which case their children would be slaves. In later times, the name Yavanā or Yonā seems to have included all westerners living in India and especially those of Arabian origin (Cv.Trs.ii.87, n.1). Yonaka statues, holding lamps, were among the decorations used by the Sākiyans of Kapilavatthu, the Buddha's family clan in one of their capitals [likely Bamiyan, Afghanistan] (MA.ii.575). The language of the Yavanas is classed with the Milakkhabhāsā (e.g., DA.i.276; VibhA.388).......The Anguttara Commentary (AA.i.51) records that from the time of Kassapa Buddha the Yonakas went about clad in white robes because of the memory of the pre-Shakyamuni Buddhist religion which was once prevalent there. The followers of the historical Gautama Buddha also wore white."......

Gautama Buddha in Greco-Buddhist style, 1st-2nd c. AD, Gandhara (modern eastern Afghanistan).

"The Bactrians spoke Bactrian, a northeastern Iranian language, descended from Avestan, and most closely related to extinct Khwarezmian, modern Yaghnobi, and Ossetian. Bactrian went extinct, replaced by southeastern Iranian languages such as Pashto, Yidgha, Munji, and Ishkashmi. The Encyclopaedia Iranica states: Bactrian thus occupies an intermediary position between Pashto and Yidgha-Munji on the one hand, Sogdian, Choresmian, and Parthian on the other: it is thus in its natural and rightful place in Bactria.".........

"Kujula Kadphises, reigned (30–80 AD) (Kushan language: Κοζουλου Καδφιζου, also Κοζολα Καδαφες, Pali: Kujula Kasasa, Ancient Chinese:丘就卻, Qiujiuque) was a Kushan prince who united the Yuezhi confederation during the 1st century CE, and became the first Kushan emperor. According to the Rabatak inscription, he was the grandfather of the great Kushan king Kanishka I.".....

"The rise of Kujula Kadphises is described in the Chinese historical chronicle, the Hou Hanshu: 'More than a hundred years later, the prince [xihou] of Guishuang, named Qiujiuque [Kujula Kadphises], attacked and exterminated the four other xihou. He established himself as king, and his dynasty was called that of the Guishuang [Kushan] King. He invaded Anxi [Indo-Parthia], and took the Gaofu [Kabul] region. He also defeated the whole of the kingdoms of Puda [Paktiya] and Jibin [Kapisha and Gandhara]. Qiujiuque [Kujula Kadphises] was more than eighty years old when he died."......Hill, John E. (2009). Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, First to Second Centuries CE

"The Kushan Empire (Bactrian: Κυϸανο, Kushano; Sanskrit: कुषाण राजवंश Kuṣāṇ Rājavaṃśa; BHS: Guṣāṇa-vaṃśa; Parthian: Kušan-xšaθr) was an empire originally formed in the early 1st century CE under Kujula Kadphises in the territories of the former Greco-Bactrian Kingdom around the Oxus River. Later it was based around ancient Kapisa (present Bagram), Afghanistan, and then today's Peshawar, Pakistan...... The Kushans spread from the Kabul River (Sita River) Valley to also encompass much of the Indo-Greek Kingdom, from which they took their first official language (Greek), Bactrian alphabet, Greco-Buddhist religion, coinage system, and art. They absorbed the Central Asian tribes that had previously conquered parts of the northern central Iranian Plateau once ruled by the Parthians, and reached their peak under the Buddhist emperor Kanishka the Great (127–151 AD), whose realm stretched from Turfan in the Tarim Basin to Pataliputra on the Gangetic Plain......The Kushans were one of five branches of the Yuezhi confederation, a possibly Iranian or Tocharian, Indo-European nomadic people who had migrated from the Tarim Basin and settled in ancient Bactria. Their official language, the Iranian Bactrian language, is closely related to the modern Afghan languages.".....


June 2015

John Hopkins....Northern New Mexico


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