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GRECO-BUDDHISM, or GRAECO-BUDDHISM, is the cultural syncretism between Hellenistic culture and Buddhism
Buddhism
, which developed between the 4th century BC and the 5th century AD in Bactria and the Indian subcontinent , corresponding to the territories of modern-day Afghanistan
Afghanistan
, Tajikistan , India
India
, and Pakistan
Pakistan
. It was a cultural consequence of a long chain of interactions begun by Greek forays into India
India
from the time of Alexander the Great , carried further by his successors' establishment of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom and, later, Indo-Greek Kingdom , and extended during the flourishing of the Kushan Empire . Buddhism
Buddhism
was then adopted in Central and Northeastern Asia from the 1st century AD, ultimately spreading to China
China
, Korea
Korea
, Japan , the Philippines
Philippines
, Siberia , and Vietnam
Vietnam
.

CONTENTS

* 1 Historical outline

* 2 Cultural interaction

* 2.1 Alexander the Great in Bactria and India
India
(331–325 BC) * 2.2 Mauryan empire (322–183 BC) * 2.3 Greek presence in Bactria (325 to 125 BC)

* 2.4 Indo-Greek Kingdom and Buddhism
Buddhism
(180 BC – AD 10)

* 2.4.1 Coinage * 2.4.2 Cities * 2.4.3 Scriptures

* 2.5 Kushan empire (1st–3rd century AD)

* 3 Philosophical influences

* 4 Artistic influences

* 4.1 Anthropomorphic representation of the Buddha
Buddha
* 4.2 Hellenized Buddhist
Buddhist
pantheon

* 5 Exchanges

* 5.1 Gandharan proselytism in the East * 5.2 Greco- Buddhism
Buddhism
in the West * 5.3 Buddhism
Buddhism
and Christianity

* 6 See also * 7 Notes * 8 References * 9 External links

HISTORICAL OUTLINE

Indo-Greek territory. See also: History of Buddhism
Buddhism

The interaction between Hellenistic Greece and Buddhism
Buddhism
started when Alexander the Great conquered the Achaemenid Empire and further regions of Central Asia in 334 BC, crossing the Indus and then the Jhelum River
Jhelum River
after the Battle of the Hydaspes
Battle of the Hydaspes
and going as far as the Beas , thus establishing direct contact with India
India
.

Alexander founded several cities in his new territories in the areas of the Amu Darya and Bactria , and Greek settlements further extended to the Khyber Pass , Gandhara
Gandhara
(see Taxila ), and the Punjab region . These regions correspond to a unique geographical passageway between the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush mountains through which most of the interaction between India
India
and Central Asia took place, generating intense cultural exchange and trade.

Following Alexander's death on June 10, 323 BC, the Diadochi or "Successors" founded their own kingdoms in Anatolia and Central Asia . General Seleucus set up the Seleucid Empire , which extended as far as India. Later, the eastern part of the Seleucid Kingdom broke away to form the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (250 BC-125 BC), followed by the Indo-Greek Kingdom (180 BC - AD 10), and later the Kushan Empire (1st–3rd century AD).

The interaction of Greek and Buddhist
Buddhist
cultures operated over several centuries until it ended in the 5th century AD with the invasions of the Hephthalite Empire and the expansion of Islam .

CULTURAL INTERACTION

See also: Hellenistic influence on Indian art

The length of the Greek presence in Central Asia and northern India provided opportunities for interaction, not only on the artistic, but also on the religious plane.

ALEXANDER THE GREAT IN BACTRIA AND INDIA (331–325 BC)

"Victory coin" of Alexander the Great , minted in Babylon
Babylon
c.322 BC, following his campaigns in India
India
. OBV: Alexander being crowned by Nike . REV: Alexander attacking King Porus on his elephant. Silver. British Museum .

When Alexander invaded Bactria and Gandhara, these areas may already have been under śramanic influence, likely Buddhist
Buddhist
and Jain . According to a legend preserved in the Pāli Canon , two merchant brothers from Kamsabhoga in Bactria, Tapassu and Bhallika, visited Gautama Buddha and became his disciples. The legend states that they then returned home and spread the Buddha's teaching.

In 326 BC, Alexander conquered the Northern region of India. King Ambhi of Taxila, known as Taxiles , surrendered his city, a notable Buddhist
Buddhist
center, to Alexander. Alexander fought an epic battle against King Porus of Pauravas in the Punjab, at the Battle of the Hydaspes
Battle of the Hydaspes
in 326 BC.

MAURYAN EMPIRE (322–183 BC)

See also: Greco- Buddhist monasticism

The Indian emperor Chandragupta Maurya , founder of the Maurya Empire , re-conquered around 322 BC the northwest Indian territory that had been lost to Alexander the Great . However, contacts were kept with his Greco-Iranian neighbours in the Seleucid Empire . Emperor Seleucus I Nicator came to a marital agreement as part of a peace treaty, and several Greeks, such as the historian Megasthenes , resided at the Mauryan court. The Hellenistic Pataliputra capital , discovered in Pataliputra , capital of the Maurya Empire , dated to the 3rd century BCE.

Chandragupta's grandson Ashoka embraced the Buddhist
Buddhist
faith and became a great proselytizer in the line of the traditional Pali canon of Theravada Buddhism, insisting on non-violence to humans and animals (ahimsa ), and general precepts regulating the life of lay people.

According to the Edicts of Ashoka , set in stone, some of them written in Greek and some in Aramaic , the official language of the Achaemenids , he sent Buddhist
Buddhist
emissaries to the Greek lands in Asia and as far as the Mediterranean. The edicts name each of the rulers of the Hellenistic period :

The conquest by Dharma has been won here, on the borders, and even six hundred yojanas (4,000 miles) away, where the Greek king Antiochos (Antiyoga) rules, and beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy (Turamaya), Antigonos (Antikini), Magas (Maka) and Alexander (Alikasudara) rule, likewise in the south among the Cholas , the Pandyas , and as far as Tamraparni .

Ashoka also claims he converted to Buddhism
Buddhism
Greek populations within his realm:

Here in the king's domain among the Greeks, the Kambojas , the Nabhakas, the Nabhapamkits, the Bhojas, the Pitinikas, the Andhras and the Palidas, everywhere people are following Beloved-of-the-Gods' instructions in Dharma .

Finally, some of the emissaries of Ashoka, such as the famous Dharmaraksita , are described in Pali sources as leading Greek ("Yona ") Buddhist
Buddhist
monks active in Buddhist
Buddhist
proselytism (the Mahavamsa , XII ), founding the eponymous Dharmaguptaka school of Buddhism.

GREEK PRESENCE IN BACTRIA (325 TO 125 BC)

Main article: Greco-Bactrian Kingdom The Greco-Bactrian city of Ai-Khanoum (c.300-145 BC) was located at the doorstep of India
India
.

Alexander had established in Bactria several cities ( Ai-Khanoum , Bagram ) and an administration that were to last more than two centuries under the Seleucid Empire and the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom , all the time in direct contact with Indian territory. The Greeks sent ambassadors to the court of the Maurya Empire , such as the historian Megasthenes under Chandragupta Maurya , and later Deimachus under his son Bindusara , who reported extensively on the civilization of the Indians. Megasthenes sent detailed reports on Indian religions, which were circulated and quoted throughout the Classical world for centuries:

Megasthenes makes a different division of the philosophers, saying that they are of two kinds, one of which he calls the Brachmanes , and the other the Sarmanes ..." Strabo XV. 1. 58-60

The Greco-Bactrians maintained a strong Hellenistic culture at the door of India
India
during the rule of the Maurya Empire in India, as exemplified by the archaeological site of Ai-Khanoum . When the Maurya Empire was toppled by the Shunga Empire around 180 BC, the Greco-Bactrians expanded into India, where they established the Indo-Greek Kingdom , under which Buddhism
Buddhism
was able to flourish.

INDO-GREEK KINGDOM AND BUDDHISM (180 BC – AD 10)

Greek Gods and the "Wheel of the Law" or Dharmachakra : LEFT: Zeus
Zeus
holding Nike , who hands a victory wreath over a Dharmachakra (coin of Menander II ). RIGHT: Divinity wearing chlamys and petasus pushing a Dharmachakra, with legend "He who sets in motion the Wheel of the Law" ( Tillya Tepe Buddhist coin ). Main article: Indo-Greek Kingdom

The Greco-Bactrians conquered parts of North India
India
from 180 BC, whence they are known as the Indo-Greeks. They controlled various areas of the northern Indian territory until AD 10.

Buddhism
Buddhism
prospered under the Indo-Greek kings, and it has been suggested that their invasion of India
India
was intended to protect the Buddhist
Buddhist
faith from the religious persecutions of the Shungas (185–73 BC), who had overthrown the Mauryans. Zarmanochegas was a śramana (possibly, but not necessarily a Buddhist) who, according to ancient historians such as Strabo , Cassius Dio and Nicolaus of Damascus traveled to Antioch and Athens while Augustus (died AD 14) was ruling the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
.

Coinage

The coins of the Indo-Greek king Menander I (reigned 160-135 BC), found from Afghanistan
Afghanistan
to central India, bear the inscription "Saviour King Menander" in Greek on the front. Several Indo-Greek kings after Menander, such as Zoilos I , Strato I , Heliokles II , Theophilos , Peukolaos , Menander II and Archebius display on their coins the title "Maharajasa Dharmika" (lit. "King of the Dharma") in Prakrit written in Kharoshthi .

Some of the coins of Menander I and Menander II incorporate the Buddhist
Buddhist
symbol of the eight-spoked wheel, associated with the Greek symbols of victory, either the palm of victory, or the victory wreath handed over by the goddess Nike . According to the Milinda Pañha , at the end of his reign Menander I became a Buddhist
Buddhist
arhat , a fact also echoed by Plutarch , who explains that his relics were shared and enshrined. A coin of Menander I (r.160-135 BC) with a dharmacakra and a palm.

The ubiquitous symbol of the elephant in Indo-Greek coinage may also have been associated with Buddhism, as suggested by the parallel between coins of Antialcidas and Menander II , where the elephant in the coins of Antialcidas holds the same relationship to Zeus
Zeus
and Nike as the Buddhist
Buddhist
wheel on the coins of Menander II. When the Zoroastrian Indo-Parthian Kingdom invaded North India
India
in the 1st century AD, they adopted a large part of the symbolism of Indo-Greek coinage, but refrained from ever using the elephant, suggesting that its meaning was not merely geographical. _ Vitarka Mudra _ gestures on Indo-Greek coinage. Top: Divinities Tyche and Zeus
Zeus
. Bottom: Depiction of the Indo-Greek kings Nicias
Nicias
and Menander II .

Finally, after the reign of Menander I, several Indo-Greek rulers, such as Amyntas Nikator , Nicias
Nicias
, Peukolaos , Hermaeus , Hippostratos and Menander II , depicted themselves or their Greek deities forming with the right hand a benediction gesture identical to the Buddhist vitarka mudra (thumb and index joined together, with other fingers extended), which in Buddhism
Buddhism
signifies the transmission of Buddha's teaching.

Cities

According to Ptolemy
Ptolemy
, Greek cities were founded by the Greco-Bactrians in northern India
India
. Menander established his capital in Sagala (modern Sialkot , Punjab, Pakistan
Pakistan
) one of the centers of the blossoming Buddhist culture . A large Greek city built by Demetrius and rebuilt by Menander has been excavated at the archaeological site of Sirkap near Taxila , where Buddhist
Buddhist
stupas were standing side-by-side with Hindu
Hindu
and Greek temples , indicating religious tolerance and syncretism.

Scriptures

Evidence of direct religious interaction between Greek and Buddhist thought during the period include the _ Milinda Pañha _ or "Questions of Menander", a Pali-language discourse in the platonic style held between Menander I and the Buddhist
Buddhist
monk Nagasena . _ According to the Mahavamsa _, the Ruwanwelisaya in Anuradhapura , Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
, was dedicated by a 30,000-strong Yona delegation from Alexandria on the Caucasus around 130 BC.

The _ Mahavamsa _, ch. 29, records that during Menander's reign, a Greek _thera_ (elder monk) named _ Mahadharmaraksita _ led 30,000 Buddhist
Buddhist
monks from "the Greek city of Alexandria" (possibly Alexandria on the Caucasus , around 150 kilometres (93 mi) north of today's Kabul in Afghanistan), to Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
for the dedication of a stupa, indicating that Buddhism
Buddhism
flourished in Menander's territory and that Greeks took a very active part in it.

Several Buddhist
Buddhist
dedications by Greeks in India
India
are recorded, such as that of the Greek meridarch (civil governor of a province) named Theodorus , describing in Kharosthi how he enshrined relics of the Buddha
Buddha
. The inscriptions were found on a vase inside a stupa, dated to the reign of Menander or one of his successors in the 1st century BC. Finally, Buddhist
Buddhist
tradition recognizes Menander as one of the great benefactors of the faith, together with Ashoka and Kanishka the Great .

Buddhist
Buddhist
manuscripts in cursive Greek have been found in Afghanistan, praising various Buddhas and including mentions of the Mahayana figure of "Lokesvararaja Buddha" (λωγοασφαροραζοβοδδο). These manuscripts have been dated later than the 2nd century AD.

KUSHAN EMPIRE (1ST–3RD CENTURY AD)

Main article: Kushan Empire

The Kushan Empire , one of the five tribes of the Yuezhi , settled in Bactria around 125 BC, displacing the Greco-Bactrians and invading the northern parts of Pakistan
Pakistan
and India
India
from around AD 1. By that time they had already been in contact with Greek culture and the Indo-Greek kingdoms for more than a century. They used the Greek script to write their language, as exemplified by their coins and their adoption of the Greek alphabet . The absorption of Greek historical and mythological culture is suggested by Kushan sculptures representing Dionysiac scenes or even the story of the Trojan Horse and it is probable that Greek communities remained under Kushan rule. Hellenistic culture in the Indian subcontinent: Greek clothes, amphoras , wine and music. Detail from Chakhil-i-Ghoundi Stupa
Stupa
, Hadda , Gandhara
Gandhara
, 1st century AD.

The Kushan king Kanishka, who honored Zoroastrian, Greek and Brahmanic deities as well as the Buddha
Buddha
and was famous for his religious syncretism, convened the Fourth Buddhist council around AD 100 in Kashmir in order to redact the Sarvastivadin canon . Some of Kanishka's coins bear the earliest representations of the Buddha
Buddha
on a coin (around AD 120), in Hellenistic style and with the word "Boddo" in Greek script.

Kanishka also had the original Gandhari Prakrit Mahāyāna sūtras translated into Sanskrit
Sanskrit
, "a turning point in the evolution of the Buddhist
Buddhist
literary canon"

The Kanishka casket , dated to the first year of Kanishka's reign in AD 127, was signed by a Greek artist named _Agesilas_, who oversaw work at Kanishka's stupas (cetiya ), confirming the direct involvement of Greeks with Buddhist
Buddhist
realizations at such a late date.

PHILOSOPHICAL INFLUENCES

Several philosophers, including Pyrrho , Anaxarchus and Onesicritus , are said to have accompanied Alexander in his eastern campaigns. During the 18 months they were in India, they were able to interact with Indian ascetics, generally described as Gymnosophists ("naked philosophers").

Pyrrho returned to Greece and founded Pyrrhonism , the first Western school of skepticism . The Greek biographer Diogenes Laërtius explained that Pyrrho's equanimity and detachment from the world were acquired in India. Pyrrho was directly influenced by Buddhism
Buddhism
in developing his philosophy, which is based on Pyrrho's interpretation of the Buddhist
Buddhist
Three marks of existence .

Another of these philosophers, Onesicritus, a Cynic , is said by Strabo to have learnt in India
India
the following precepts: "That nothing that happens to a man is bad or good, opinions being merely dreams. ... That the best philosophy that which liberates the mind from pleasure and grief".

The philosopher Hegesias of Cyrene , from the city of Cyrene where Magas of Cyrene ruled, is thought by some to have been influenced by the teachings of Aśoka's Buddhist
Buddhist
missionaries.

ARTISTIC INFLUENCES

Main article: Greco-Buddhist art

Numerous works of Greco-Buddhist art display the intermixing of Greek and Buddhist
Buddhist
influences, around such creation centers as Gandhara
Gandhara
. The subject matter of Gandharan art was definitely Buddhist, while most motifs were of Western Asiatic or Hellenistic origin.

ANTHROPOMORPHIC REPRESENTATION OF THE BUDDHA

An aniconic representation of Mara 's assault on the Buddha, 2nd century AD, Amaravathi village, Guntur district , India
India
.

Although there is still some debate, the first anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha
Buddha
himself are often considered a result of the Greco- Buddhist
Buddhist
interaction. Before this innovation, Buddhist
Buddhist
art was "aniconic ": the Buddha
Buddha
was only represented through his symbols (an empty throne, the Bodhi Tree , Buddha
Buddha
footprints , the Dharmachakra ).

This reluctance towards anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha, and the sophisticated development of aniconic symbols to avoid it (even in narrative scenes where other human figures would appear), seem to be connected to one of the Buddha’s sayings reported in the _ Digha Nikaya _ that discouraged representations of himself after the extinction of his body.

Probably not feeling bound by these restrictions, and because of "their cult of form, the Greeks were the first to attempt a sculptural representation of the Buddha". In many parts of the Ancient World, the Greeks did develop syncretic divinities, that could become a common religious focus for populations with different traditions: a well-known example is Serapis , introduced by Ptolemy
Ptolemy
I Soter in Egypt , who combined aspects of Greek and Egyptian Gods. In India
India
as well, it was only natural for the Greeks to create a single common divinity by combining the image of a Greek god-king ( Apollo
Apollo
, or possibly the deified founder of the Indo-Greek Kingdom , Demetrius I of Bactria ), with the traditional physical characteristics of the Buddha
Buddha
. Standing Buddha, Gandhara, 1st century AD.

Many of the stylistic elements in the representations of the Buddha point to Greek influence: himation , the contrapposto stance of the upright figures (see: 1st–2nd century Gandhara
Gandhara
standing Buddhas, the stylized curly hair and ushnisha apparently derived from the style of the Apollo
Apollo
Belvedere (330 BC) and the measured quality of the faces, all rendered with strong artistic realism . A large quantity of sculptures combining Buddhist
Buddhist
and purely Hellenistic styles and iconography were excavated at the modern site of Hadda, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
. The curly hair of Buddha
Buddha
is described in the famous list of the physical characteristics of the Buddha
Buddha
in the Buddhist
Buddhist
sutras. The hair with curls turning to the right is first described in the Pāli canon ; we find the same description in the _Dāsāṣṭasāhasrikā prajñāpāramitā _.

Greek artists were most probably the authors of these early representations of the Buddha, in particular the standing statues, which display "a realistic treatment of the folds and on some even a hint of modelled volume that characterizes the best Greek work. This is Classical or Hellenistic Greek, not archaizing Greek transmitted by Persia or Bactria, nor distinctively Roman ."

The Greek stylistic influence on the representation of the Buddha, through its idealistic realism, also permitted a very accessible, understandable and attractive visualization of the ultimate state of enlightenment described by Buddhism, allowing it reach a wider audience:

One of the distinguishing features of the Gandharan school of art that emerged in north-west India
India
is that it has been clearly influenced by the naturalism of the Classical Greek style. Thus, while these images still convey the inner peace that results from putting the Buddha's doctrine into practice, they also give us an impression of people who walked and talked, etc. and slept much as we do. I feel this is very important. These figures are inspiring because they do not only depict the goal, but also the sense that people like us can achieve it if we try. —  14th Dalai Lama

During the following centuries, this anthropomorphic representation of the Buddha
Buddha
defined the canon of Buddhist
Buddhist
art, but progressively evolved to incorporate more Indian and Asian elements.

HELLENIZED BUDDHIST PANTHEON

See also: Buddhist art and Greco-Buddhist art Herculean depiction of Vajrapani (right), as the protector of the Buddha, 2nd century AD Gandhara
Gandhara
, British Museum .

Several other Buddhist
Buddhist
deities may have been influenced by Greek gods. For example, Heracles with a lion-skin, the protector deity of Demetrius I of Bactria , "served as an artistic model for Vajrapani , a protector of the Buddha" (See ). In Japan
Japan
, this expression further translated into the wrath-filled and muscular Niō guardian gods of the Buddha, standing today at the entrance of many Buddhist
Buddhist
temples. A Buddhist
Buddhist
coin of Kanishka I , with legend ΒΟΔΔΟ "Boddo" (=the Buddha
Buddha
) in Greek script on the reverse.

According to Katsumi Tanabe, professor at Chūō University, Japan, besides Vajrapani, Greek influence also appears in several other gods of the Mahayana pantheon such as the Japanese Fūjin , inspired from the Greek divinity Boreas through the Greco- Buddhist
Buddhist
Wardo , or the mother deity Hariti inspired by Tyche .

In addition, forms such as garland -bearing cherubs , vine scrolls , and such semi-human creatures as the centaur and triton , are part of the repertory of Hellenistic art introduced by Greco-Roman artists in the service of the Kushan court.

EXCHANGES

GANDHARAN PROSELYTISM IN THE EAST

See also: Silk Road transmission of Buddhism
Buddhism
, Greco-Buddhist monasticism , and Dayuan Blue-eyed Central Asian monk teaching East-Asian monk. A fresco from the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha
Buddha
Caves , dated to the 9th or 10th century ( Kara-Khoja Kingdom ).

Greek monks played a direct role in the upper hierarchy of Buddhism, and in its early dissemination. During the rule (165 BC - 135 BC) of the Greco-Bactrian King Menander I ( Pali : "Milinda"), Mahadharmaraksita (literally translated as 'Great Teacher/Preserver of the Dharma') was "a Greek ( Pali : Yona , lit. Ionian ) Buddhist
Buddhist
head monk," according to the Mahavamsa (Chap. XXIX), who led 30,000 Buddhist
Buddhist
monks from "the Greek city of Alasandra" (Alexandria of the Caucasus , around 150 km north of today's Kabul in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
), to Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
for the dedication of the Great Stupa
Stupa
in Anuradhapura . Dharmaraksita ( Sanskrit
Sanskrit
), or Dhammarakkhita ( Pali ) (translation : _Protected by the Dharma _), was one of the missionaries sent by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka to proselytize the Buddhist
Buddhist
faith. He is described as being a Greek ( Pali : " Yona ", lit. "Ionian ") in the Mahavamsa , and his activities are indicative of the strength of the Hellenistic Greek involvement during the formative centuries of Buddhism. Indeed, Menander I was famously converted to Buddhism
Buddhism
by Nagasena , who was a student of the Greek Buddhist
Buddhist
monk Dharmaraksita . Menander is said to have reached enlightenment as an arhat under Nagasena's guidance and is recorded as a great patron of Buddhism. The dialogue of the Greek king Menander I ( Pali "Milinda") with the monk Nagasena comprises the Pali Buddhist
Buddhist
work known as the Milinda Panha .

Buddhist
Buddhist
monks from the region of Gandhara
Gandhara
in Afghanistan, where Greco- Buddhism
Buddhism
was most influential, later played a key role in the development and the transmission of Buddhist
Buddhist
ideas in the direction of northern Asia. Greco- Buddhist
Buddhist
Kushan monks such as Lokaksema (c. 178 AD) travelled to the Chinese capital of Loyang , where they became the first translators of Buddhist
Buddhist
scriptures into Chinese. Central Asian and East Asian Buddhist
Buddhist
monks appear to have maintained strong exchanges until around the 10th century, as indicated by the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha
Buddha
Caves frescos from the Tarim Basin . In legend too Bodhidharma , the founder of Chán -Buddhism, which later became Zen
Zen
, and the legendary originator of the physical training of the Shaolin monks that led to the creation of Shaolin Kung Fu , is described as a Buddhist
Buddhist
monk from Central Asia in the first Chinese references to him (Yan Xuan-Zhi, 547 AD). Throughout Buddhist art , Bodhidharma is depicted as a rather ill-tempered, profusely bearded and wide-eyed barbarian, and he is referred as "The Blue-Eyed Barbarian " (碧眼胡:Bìyǎn hú) in Chinese Chan texts. In 485 AD, according to the 7th century Chinese historic treatise Liang Shu , five monks from Gandhara
Gandhara
travelled to the country of Fusang ("The country of the extreme East" beyond the sea, probably eastern Japan
Japan
), where they introduced Buddhism: " Fusang is located to the east of China, 20,000 _li _ (1,500 kilometers) east of the state of _Da Han_ (itself east of the state of _Wa_ in modern Kyūshū , Japan
Japan
). (...) In former times, the people of Fusang knew nothing of the Buddhist religion, but in the second year of Da Ming of the Song dynasty
Song dynasty
(485 AD), five monks from Kipin ( Kabul region of Gandhara) travelled by ship to Fusang. They propagated Buddhist
Buddhist
doctrine, circulated scriptures and drawings, and advised the people to relinquish worldly attachments. As a results the customs of Fusang changed" (Chinese: "扶桑在大漢國東二萬餘里,地在中國之東(...)其俗舊無佛法,宋大明二年,罽賓國嘗有比丘五人游行至其國,流通佛法,經像,教令出家,風 俗遂改.")

Two half-brothers from Gandhara
Gandhara
, Asanga and Vasubandhu (4th century), created the Yogacara or "Mind-only" school of Mahayana Buddhism, which through one of its major texts, the Lankavatara Sutra , became a founding block of Mahayana, and particularly Zen, philosophy.

GRECO-BUDDHISM IN THE WEST

Kandahar Bilingual Rock Inscription (Greek and Aramaic ) 3rd century BC by Indian Buddhist
Buddhist
King Ashoka. This edict advocates the adoption of "godliness" using the Greek term Eusebeia for Dharma . Kabul Museum.

Intense westward physical exchange at that time along the Silk
Silk
Road is confirmed by the Roman craze for silk from the 1st century BC to the point that the Senate issued, in vain, several edicts to prohibit the wearing of silk, on economic and moral grounds. This is attested by at least three authors: Strabo (64/ 63 BC–c. 24 AD), Seneca the Younger (c. 3 BC–AD 65), Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD). The aforementioned Strabo and Plutarch (c. 45–125 AD) also wrote about Indo-Greek Buddhist
Buddhist
king Menander , confirming that information about the Indo-Greek Buddhists was circulating throughout the Hellenistic world.

Zarmanochegas (Zarmarus) (Ζαρμανοχηγὰς) was a monk of the Sramana tradition (possibly, but not necessarily a Buddhist) who, according to ancient historians such as Strabo and Dio Cassius , met Nicholas of Damascus in Antioch while Augustus (died AD 14) was ruling the Roman Empire, and shortly thereafter proceeded to Athens where he burnt himself to death. His story and tomb in Athens were well-known over a century later. Plutarch (died AD 120) in his Life of Alexander, after discussing the self-immolation of Calanus of India
India
( Kalanos ) witnessed by Alexander writes: "The same thing was done long after by another Indian who came with Caesar to Athens, where they still show you 'the Indian's Monument,'" referring to Zarmanochegas' tomb in Roman Athens.

Another century later the Christian church father Clement of Alexandria (died AD 215) mentioned Buddha
Buddha
by name in his Stromata (Bk I, Ch XV): "The Indian gymnosophists are also in the number, and the other barbarian philosophers. And of these there are two classes, some of them called Sarmanæ and others Brahmins. And those of the Sarmanæ who are called "Hylobii" neither inhabit cities, nor have roofs over them, but are clothed in the bark of trees, feed on nuts, and drink water in their hands. Like those called Encratites in the present day, they know not marriage nor begetting of children. Some, too, of the Indians obey the precepts of Buddha
Buddha
(Βούττα) whom, on account of his extraordinary sanctity, they have raised to divine honours."

Buddhist
Buddhist
gravestones from the Ptolemaic period have also been found in Alexandria in Egypt, decorated with depictions of the Dharma wheel. The presence of Buddhists in Alexandria at this time is important, since "It was later in this very place that some of the most active centers of Christianity were established". The pre-Christian monastic order of the Therapeutae is possibly a deformation of the Pāli word "Theravāda ," a form of Buddhism, and the movement may have "almost entirely drawn (its) inspiration from the teaching and practices of Buddhist
Buddhist
asceticism". They may even have been descendants of Asoka 's emissaries to the West.

BUDDHISM AND CHRISTIANITY

Main articles: Buddhism
Buddhism
and Christianity and Buddhist
Buddhist
influences on Christianity Queen Māyā's white elephant dream, and the conception of the Buddha. Gandhara
Gandhara
, 2-3rd century AD.

Although the philosophical systems of Buddhism
Buddhism
and Christianity have evolved in rather different ways, the moral precepts advocated by Buddhism
Buddhism
from the time of Ashoka through his edicts do have some similarities with the Christian moral precepts developed more than two centuries later: respect for life, respect for the weak, rejection of violence, pardon to sinners, tolerance.

One theory is that these similarities may indicate the propagation of Buddhist
Buddhist
ideals into the Western World, with the Greeks acting as intermediaries and religious syncretists. "Scholars have often considered the possibility that Buddhism
Buddhism
influenced the early development of Christianity. They have drawn attention to many parallels concerning the births, lives, doctrines, and deaths of the Buddha
Buddha
and Jesus" (Bentley, "Old World Encounters").

The story of the birth of the Buddha
Buddha
was well known in the West, and possibly influenced the story of the birth of Jesus: Saint Jerome (4th century AD) mentions the birth of the Buddha, who he says "was born from the side of a virgin," and the influential early Christian church father Clement of Alexandria (died AD 215) mentioned Buddha (Βούττα) in his Stromata (Bk I, Ch XV). The legend of Christian saints Barlaam and Josaphat draws on the life of the Buddha.

SEE ALSO

* Greco-Bactrian Kingdom * Indo-Greek Kingdom * Greco- Buddhist
Buddhist
Art * Religions of the Indo-Greeks * Buddhas of Bamyan * Kushan Empire * Mathura * Pyrrho

NOTES

* ^ Davies, Cuthbert Collin (1959). _An Historical Atlas of the Indian Peninsula_. Oxford University Press. * ^ Narain, A.K. (1976). _The Coin
Coin
Types of the Indo-Greek Kings, 256-54 B.C_. Ares. ISBN 0-89005-109-7 . * ^ Hans Erich Stier, Ernst Kirsten, Ekkehard Aner. _Grosser Atlas zur Weltgeschichte: Vorzeit. Altertum. Mittelalter. Neuzeit._ Georg Westermann Verlag 1978, ISBN 3-14-100919-8 . * ^ Foltz, _Religions of the Silk
Silk
Road_, p. 43 * ^ "The whole region from Phrygia to the Indus was subject to Seleucus. He crossed the Indus and waged war with Sandrocottus , king of the Indians, who dwelt on the banks of that stream, until they came to an understanding with each other and contracted a marriage relationship. Some of these exploits were performed before the death of Antigonus and some afterward." Appian _History of Rome_, The Syrian Wars 55 * ^ For an English translation of the Greek edicts: _Religions and Trade: Religious Formation, Transformation and Cross-Cultural Exchange between East and West_. BRILL. 2 December 2013. pp. 65–. ISBN 978-90-04-25530-2 . * ^ Rock Edict Nb.13 , Full text of the Edicts of Ashoka. See Rock Edict 13 Archived 2013-10-28 at the Wayback Machine . * ^ _Rock Edict Nb13 _ (S. Dhammika) * ^ Mahavamsa, chapter XII * ^ Bhikkhu Sujato. Abstract: Sects & Sectarianism. The Origin of the three existing Vinaya lineages: Theravada, Dharmaguptaka, and Mulasarvastivada * ^ Surviving fragments of Megasthenes:Full text * ^ _A_ _B_ Strabo, XV.I.65: " Strabo XV.1". Perseus.tufts.edu. Retrieved 2010-09-01. * ^ _A_ _B_ Strabo, xv, 1, on the immolation of the Sramana in Athens (Paragraph 73). * ^ _A_ _B_ Dio Cassius , liv, 9. * ^ Extract of the Milinda Panha : "And afterwards, taking delight in the wisdom of the Elder, he handed over his kingdom to his son, and abandoning the household life for the houseless state, grew great in insight, and himself attained to Arahatship !" (The Questions of King Milinda , Translation by T. W. Rhys Davids , 1890) * ^ Plutarch on Menander: "But when one Menander, who had reigned graciously over the Bactrians, died afterwards in the camp, the cities indeed by common consent celebrated his funerals; but coming to a contest about his relics, they were difficultly at last brought to this agreement, that his ashes being distributed, everyone should carry away an equal share, and they should all erect monuments to him." (Plutarch, "Political Precepts" Praec. reip. ger. 28, 6) p147–148 Full text * ^ Milinda Panha , Chap. I * ^ Thomas McEvilley (7 February 2012). _The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies_. Constable & Robinson. pp. 558–. ISBN 978-1-58115-933-2 . * ^ Tarn, William Woodthorpe (24 June 2010). _The Greeks in Bactria and India_. Cambridge University Press. p. 391. ISBN 978-1-108-00941-6 . * ^ Nicholas Sims-Williams, "A Bactrian Buddhist
Buddhist
Manuscript" * ^ Foltz, _Religions of the Silk
Silk
Road_, p. 45 * ^ "He would withdraw from the world and live in solitude, rarely showing himself to his relatives; this is because he had heard an Indian reproach Anaxarchus , telling him that he would never be able to teach others what is good while he himself danced attendance on kings in their court. He would maintain the same composure at all times." (Diogenes Laertius, IX.63 on Pyrrhon) * ^ Beckwith, Christopher I. (2015). _Greek Buddha: Pyrrho\'s Encounter with Early Buddhism
Buddhism
in Central Asia_ (PDF). Princeton University Press . p. 28. ISBN 9781400866328 . * ^ "The philosopher Hegesias of Cyrene (nicknamed _Peisithanatos_, "The advocate of death") was a contemporary of Magas and was probably influenced by the teachings of the Buddhist
Buddhist
missionaries to Cyrene and Alexandria. His influence was such that he was ultimately prohibited from teaching." Jean-Marie Lafont, Inalco in "Les Dossiers d'Archéologie", No254, p.78 * ^ "Due to the statement of the Master in the _Dighanikaya_ disfavouring his representation in human form after the extinction of body, reluctance prevailed for some time". Also "_Hinayanis_ opposed image worship of the Master due to canonical restrictions". R.C. Sharma, in "The Art of Mathura, India", Tokyo National Museum 2002, p.11 * ^ Linssen, " Zen
Zen
Living" * ^ Boardman * ^ 14th Dalai Lama , foreword to "Echoes of Alexander the Great", 2000. * ^ Foltz, _Religions of the Silk
Silk
Road_, p. 44 * ^ Images of the Herakles-influenced Vajrapani: Image 1, Image 2 * ^ Katsumi Tanabe, _Alexander the Great: East-West Cultural Contact from Greece to Japan_ (Tokyo: NHK Puromōshon and Tokyo National Museum, 2003). * ^ Foltz, Richard , _Religions of the Silk
Silk
Road_, Palgrave Macmillan, 2nd edition, 2010, p. 46 ISBN 978-0-230-62125-1 * ^ Broughton, Jeffrey L. (1999), The Bodhidharma Anthology: The Earliest Records of Zen, Berkeley: University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-21972-4 . pp. 54-55. * ^ Soothill, William Edward; Hodous, Lewis (1995), A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist
Buddhist
Terms, London: RoutledgeCurzon https://web.archive.org/web/20140303182232/http://buddhistinformatics.ddbc.edu.tw/glossaries/files/soothill-hodous.ddbc.pdf * ^ Plutarch. 'Life of Alexander' in The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans. (trans John Dryden and revised Arthur Hugh Clough) The Modern Library (Random House Inc). New York.p850 * ^ _A_ _B_ Clement of Alexandria Stromata. BkI, Ch XV http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.i.xv.html (Accessed 19 Dec 2012) * ^ Tarn, _The Greeks in Bactria and India_ * ^ Robert Linssen , _ Zen
Zen
living_ * ^ According to the linguist Zacharias P. Thundy * ^ " Zen
Zen
living", Robert Linssen * ^ "The Original Jesus" (Element Books, Shaftesbury, 1995), Elmar R Gruber, Holger Kersten * ^ "Certain Indian notions may have made their way westward into the budding Christianity of the Mediterranean world through the channels of the Greek diaspora." Foltz, _Religions of the Silk
Silk
Road_, p. 44 * ^ McEvilley, p391

REFERENCES

* _Alexander the Great: East-West Cultural Contacts from Greece to Japan_. Tokyo: NHK Puromōshon and Tokyo National Museum, 2003. * Jerry H. Bentley. _Old World Encounters: Cross-cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-modern Times_. Oxford–NY: Oxford University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-19-507639-7 * John Boardman. _The Diffusion of Classical Art in Antiquity_. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994. ISBN 0-691-03680-2 * Shravasti Dhammika, trans. _The Edicts of King Asoka: An English Rendering_. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist
Buddhist
Publication Society, 1993. ISBN 955-24-0104-6 * Richard Foltz . _Religions of the Silk
Silk
Road_, 2nd edition, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010 ISBN 978-0-230-62125-1 * Georgios T. Halkias, “When the Greeks Converted the Buddha: Asymmetrical Transfers of Knowledge in Indo-Greek Cultures”, in _Trade and Religions: Religious Formation, Transformation and Cross-Cultural Exchange between East and West_, ed. Volker Rabens. Leiden: Brill, 2013, p. 65–115. * Robert Linssen. _Living Zen_. NY: Grove Press, 1958. ISBN 0-8021-3136-0 * Lowenstein, Tom (1996). _The vision of the Buddha_. Duncan Baird Publishers. ISBN 1-903296-91-9 . * Thomas McEvilley . _The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies_. NY: Allworth Press and the School of Visual Arts, 2002. ISBN 1-58115-203-5 * William Woodthorpe Tarn. _The Greeks in Bactria and India_. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1951, ISBN 81-215-0220-9 * Marian Wenzel. _Echoes of Alexander the Great: Silk
Silk
Route Portraits from Gandhara_, foreword by the Dalai Lama. Eklisa Anstalt, 2000. ISBN 1-58886-014-0 * Paul Williams. _Mahāyāna Buddhism: the Doctrinal Foundations_. London–NY: Routledge, 1989. ISBN 0-415-02537-0

EXTERNAL LINKS

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* UNESCO: Threatened Greco- Buddhist
Buddhist
art * Alexander the Great: East-West Cultural contacts from Greece to Japan
Japan
(Japanese) * The Hellenistic age * The Kanishka Buddhist

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