Talk:Greco-Buddhism

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Talk:Greco-Buddhism/Archive

Philosophical Influences in East Asia[edit]

"Intellectual influences in Asia

Through art and religion, the influence of Greco-Buddhism on the cultural make-up of East Asian countries, especially China, Korea and Japan, may have extended further into the intellectual area.

At the same time as Greco-Buddhist art and Mahayana schools of thought such as Dhyana were transmitted to East Asia, central concepts of Hellenic culture such as virtue, excellence or quality may have been adopted by the cultures of Korea and Japan after a long diffusion among the Hellenized cities of Central Asia, to become a key part of their warrior and work ethics."

This may be partly true, but the idea of "virtue" and "excellence" in the pragmatic ethical sense was also present in pre-Buddhist classical Chinese thought ("ren" and "de"), thus it would be incorrect to suggest that East Asians had no concept of "virtue" before the spread of Mahayana Buddhism in the region. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 92.11.179.80 (talk) 14:58, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

Gandhara[edit]

Isn't the term 'Gandhara' the same thing as 'Greco-Buddhist', refering to this type of art? Coult the title of this article be "Gandharan Art"? Or is Gandharan a subcategory or different type of art? If so, perhaps the word should be mentioned in the article.--DanielCD 20:01, 1 Jul 2004 (UTC). The art of Gandhara was more Iranian than Greek. The first image shown on this page is NOT Greco-Buddhism but Irano-Buddhism. Why? Because of the nimbus, the moustache on the Buddha -- this is more probably Zoroasterian/Iranian image of Buddha which is very similar to images of Ahura Mazda on the Sassanian reliefs. Gandhara region has very strong Iranian influence. Before Alexander, it was a satrap (province) of Achemenid Empire for 300 years. The people are of Iranian origin and practice Iranian customs.

Hi Daniel. As far as I know Gandhara is a geographical region corresponding to the upper Indus Valley in northern Pakistan. Greco-Buddhism decribes the meeting of two cultures, rather than just a place or just an artisitc phenomenon. Also, Greco-Buddhism was active over a rather wide area from the Oxus, Bactria to Gandhara, and of course had influences on a wider scale still. I do agree it is a good idea to mention Gandhara in the article. User:PHG 2 Jul 2004 (UTC)

The Gandhara kingdom sometimes also included Kashmir (in India) a (Jataka No 406). Hecataeus of Miletus (549-468) refers to Kaspapyros (Kasyapura i.e. Kashmira) as Gandharic city. According to Gandhara Jataka, at one time, Gandhara formed a part of the kingdom of Kashmir(in India). Jataka also gives another name Chandahara for Gandhara. Buddhist texts like Anguttara Nikaya refer to sixteen great nations (solas Mahajanapadas) which flourished in Indian sub-continent during Buddha's time, only two of which viz. the Gandhara and the Kamboja were located in the Uttarapatha or the north-western division. The Jhelum valley East of the gallis upto at least Punch, Baramulla and Rajauri etc. is included in the region because of its dependence on taxila and Potohar plateau, rather than the valley itself. A large monastery in ruins at Ushkar near Baramula and a similar monastery in the neighbourhood of Akhnur, in Jammu. These sites are popularly called Kashmir Terracottas. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 199.126.199.122 (talk) 20:48, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Platonism and Madhyamaka[edit]

This sentence is problematic: 'The distinction between conditioned and unconditioned being, and the denial of the reality of everyday experience in favour of an "unchanging and absolute ground of Being" is at the center of Platonism as well as Nagarjuna’s Madhyamika thought.'

Madhyamika thought does not in any shape or form allow for an "unchanging and absolute ground of Being" - in fact the major thrust of Nagarjuna's thought is to deconstruct concepts of this form! At the same time Madhyamika thinkers do not deny "the reality of everyday experiences", merely that they possess an intrinsic and independent identity of their own. It's a subtle issue which in my view needs to be handled with greater care... There are definite similarities between Platonism and Yogācāra however. Prime Entelechy 14:56, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

I agree with Prime here, up to his mention of Yogācāra, which in all of it's varieties, remains distinct from Platonism, though I agree there may be similarities. (20040302)
  • In the Prajnaparamita, the rejection of the reality of passing phenomena as “empty, false and fleeting” can also be found in Greek Pyrrhonism.
A primary source from Prajnaparamita is needed which states this. It is generally understood that Prajnaparamita rejects essence only.
One source among others: "There is no form, nor feeling, nor perception, nor impulse, nor consiousness, no eye, or ear, or nose, or tongue, or body, or mind, no form, nor sound, nor smell, nor taste, or touchable, nor object of mind..." (Heart sutra) PHG 13:45, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
See a zillion commentaries on this which adequately point out that the Heart sutra should be glossed as "There is no essence of form, no essence of feeling..." - it is apparent to any being that there =is= form, feeling, etc. (20040302)
  • The distinction between conditioned and unconditioned being, and the denial of the reality of everyday experience in favour of an “unchanging and absolute ground of Being” is at the center of Platonism as well as Nagarjuna’s Madhyamika thought.
See above. This suggests that the author is unfamiliar with Madhyamaka view. There is no 'unchanging and absolute ground of Being' in Madhyamaka.
  • The perception of ultimate reality was, for the Cynics as well as for the Madyamikas and Zen teachers after them, only accessible through a non-conceptual and non-verbal approach (Greek "Phronesis"), which alone allowed to get rid of ordinary conceptions.
See above. This also suggests that the author is unfamiliar with Nagarjuna and the Madhyamaka. 'Ordinary conception' is a highly technical term within the context of the Madhyamaka - representing conception based upon views that assert essential existence. Moreover the views of the Cynics (which prioritised individualism) are contrary to Buddhism (see anatman).
Source: "For the Cynics, as for Madhyamikas, Zen teachers, and others, phenomena could be dealt with legitimately only in a nonverbal and nonconceptual cognition (phronesis) the same word Plato used for "unhypothesized knowledge"), which can result only from the ultimate elanchus of stripping the mind of all the conceptions with which it ordinarily tries to deal with them" (Mc Evilley, "The shape of ancient thought", p439) PHG 13:45, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
Ok - the sole author you quote from as authority - unfortunately, his own sources appear to be mistaken - it appears likely he is depending upon Murti's questionable interpretations of Madhyamaka. Could you do me a favour and find out what authors he relies upon in the bibliography? Because these views remain contrary to current western scholarship regarding the Madhyamaka; and laughable to traditional Buddhist scholarship. If you wish to develop a good understanding of the development of western academic thought on Madhyamaka, I suggest you read Emptiness of Emptiness pp5-69; Huntington 1989 UoH (ISBN 0-8248-1712-5) as a starting point. (20040302)
  • The mental attitude of equanimity and dispassionate outlook in front of events was also characteristic of the Cynics and Stoics, who called it "Apatheia"
Once again this is weak work founded on the misunderstanding of technical terms - indifference is not cognate with equanimity within Buddhism. Buddhism does not promote detachment from emotions in the same manner as the Stoics: The purpose is distinct, the meaning of detachment from emotions is also distinct. Independence from society is not promoted in Buddhism either. In fact there has been plenty of work showing the urban dependancy of monastic institutions.
Source: "Cynic sages, like Buddhist monks, renounced home and possessions and to the streets as wanderers and temple beggars. The closely related concepts apatheia (non-reaction, non-involvement) and adiaphoria (nondifferentiation) became central to the Cynic discipline." (Mc Evilley, "The shape of ancient thought", p439) PHG 13:45, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
Well, first of all, identifying equanimity as being equivalent to apatheia, and then citing a source which typifies apatheia as taking to the streets as a wanderer does you no favours. Within the context of Buddhism, equanimity is a highly technical term. It has nothing whatsoever to do with external behaviour, or external events, but it is to do with attitudes towards living beings. To give you some idea - it may be typified somewhat as an even-minded attitude, eliminating the bias which comes from attachment to some living beings and hostility to others - 'LRCM Vol 2' p36 Tsongkhapa, SnowLion (ISBN 1-55939-168-5) (20040302)
The views of Cynicism, Stoicism and Pyrrhonism are interesting and important in their own right, and it may be that some comparisons can be usefully made against the philosophies of other cultures such as Mahayana Buddhism. It may even be that the Greeks were far more influential regarding the development of the Buddhist Mahayana than is currently recognised by academics or Buddhists. However, as they stand, the assertions above are (as far as I can see) faulty, unsourced, and unreliable. (20040302 22:58, 14 August 2005 (UTC))

Much of this text notes the contact of Buddhism and Hellenic culture, and then, noting some more or less justified parallels, draws conclusions about influences - usually in the Hellenic -> Buddhist direction. Though such parallels are interesting to study, conclusions that are stated as at least probable seem totaly speculative. Apart from there being space for contact of those cultures, is there any real reason to believe that mahayana philosophy and ideals were indeed a product of such interactions with helenic culture?

No - there is no reason, except for some highly speculative, syncretic thoughts primarily suggested by generalists such as Mc Evilley who are highly regarded by PHG - a very active and dedicated wp editor, with what appears to be wild bias on some specific issues. PHG, your contributions to art history and it's useage to examine links between Hellistic culture and Indian culture is wonderful. However, you push the boat out into wild speculation once in a while. This is an old debate between us; it would be nice if either you were to improve your scholarship regarding the Madhyamaka - or alternatively drop any such claims on the basis that you do not have enough information to warrant them. I have ordered the Mc Evilley, and will read it. (20040302)
Hi 20040323. Indeed, I certainly do not claim to be an expert on Madhyamika (I am only a fan of Central Asian history and Cross-cultural interactions). The statements in this article are now quite thouroughly sourced and referenced from published scholarly work, which of course doesn't mean these suppositions are proved, just that many scholars consider them likely. I wish you good reading of Mc Evilly: this is quite an amazing book. Best regards. PHG 14:07, 11 February 2006 (UTC)
With respect, PHG, section 4.1.3 is solely sourced by McEvilly, whose work is published by an art publisher. If you wish to say "many scholars consider them likely" - you should rely upon scholars who specialise in the field in question; in this case, McEvilly is a lone figure. It would be nice if you could refer to his sources - as it is clear that he is relying on other scholars himself. So we are left with supposition and one author of questionable scholarship. (20040302 11:04, 12 February 2006 (UTC))
If you read again, "many scholars consider them likely" refers to the interactions described in the article as a whole. McEvilly is only one reference among others, such as Foltz, Boardman, Bentley, Linssen, the Dalai Lama, Tarn, Lowenstein, most of them some of the best specialists in cultural interaction. McEvilley tends to focus on philosophical interaction (he holds a PhD in Classical philology). Regarding his own sources: Reference No17 is sourced from Edward Conze "The Development of Prajnaparamita thought" in "Thirty years of Buddhist history" and "The short Prajnaparamita texts"; and Phillip H.DeLacy "ou mallon and the Antecedents of Ancient Skepticism". The argument behind Reference 18 is sourced from "The cynic's epistole: A study edition" (Scholars Press, 1977); Rhys Davids "Vinaya texts"; David J.Kalupahana "Buddhist Philosophy". Reference No19 is sourced from R.J. Hankinson "The Spectics". Here for the McEvilley Bio. Regards. PHG 12:50, 12 February 2006 (UTC)

Ashoka Column picture removed[edit]

This picture was removed because of possible copyright violation. The copyright notice on Wikipedia incorrectly stated that the picture is from buddha101.com and used with the permission of the author of that site. The picture is not on buddha101.com and no permission was given.

The Bodhisattva as a Universal ideal ... text pulled for discussion[edit]

I am not prone to keeping this stuff removed, except that it seems to be particularly biased in it's scholarship, as was the mention of Lamotte without referring to Conze or others who feel that Lamotte is out on a limb here.

Moreover, although Lamotte suggests a NW asian source for the perfection of wisdom sutras, there is remarkable primary evidence to suggest the doctrine came from South or Central India.

These qualities are reminiscent the Greek Stoicist philosophy, which may also have influenced the understanding of each individual as having the potential to reach excellence (Concept of Universal Buddha nature) and as being equally worthy of compassion (Compassion for all or “Karuna”, related to the Greek Universal loving kindness, “Philanthropia”). The Stoics had a “conviction in the essential equality of all humankind (...), which did not provide for superior or inferior, dominant and subordinate relations between states. From the ideal of equality there followed the Stoics' emphasis on virtue, conscience, duty, and absolute personal integrity" (Bentley, "Old World Encounters").

These loose equations between various Greek philosophies and Mahayana Buddhism and it's philosophies continue to look particularly suspicious, and appear to be dominated by authors who are known to be from pro-greek backgrounds. Though indeed the stoic practices were similar in part to Buddhism, the Stoicist cosmological assertion of Logos is completely missing from, and indeed antithetical to (as is all Platonic philosophy), the perfection of wisdom sutras. (20040302)

Linguistics[edit]

Removed: "The very notion of paradise is a Persian invention (Old Persian: “Para Daisa”), which was probably relayed by the Greeks."

The notion of a paradise is not Persian; the word is of Persian origin, borrowed into Greek, but merely means "walled garden"! This fact is however totally irrelevant, as no cognate or derivative of the Persian word is used in Indian sources, and the Sukhavati is not described as a "walled garden".

Pro-Iranian bias[edit]

Reading the section about Chandragupta Maurya, one gets the distinct impression that it was written by someone with an overt interest in claiming the Mauryan Empire as a result of "Persian" influences. Chandragupta is described as of Iranian Zoroastrian heritage, whereas this is nowhere to be found in the main article about Chandragupta. The same goes with the references to the "largely Persian" army Chandragupta used to conquer Magadha, and the rearrangement of Mauryan society according to Persian customs. The main article about the emperor has almost no references to substantial Persian, Iranian, or Zoroastrian influences in the founding of the Mauryan Empire. More than one section of this article appears to bear the hallmarks of a nationalistic editor attempting to claim yet another famous classical empire as the result of Iran's cultural and political legacy in the world, and thereby claim the credit for, in this case, the Mauryan Empire's real or imagined glories or achievements. --66.93.216.22 (talk) 19:45, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

"top-knot"[edit]

the text describes the attributes of the representation of the Buddha as having a "top-knot" hair style with reference to the Belvedere Apollo with the implication that the top-knot hair style (called a gutthi in the Punjab where it is common among men) was unique to Greek culture at the time, would the Indians have had their hair flowing due to lack of common sense to tie it up is which is unlikely.

I think what is meant is that the artistic rendering of the top knot was adopted from the Hellenistic world. Also, it is often pointed out that the Buddha having shaven his hair, and being a monk, was not supposed to have any kind of top-knot according to local tradition, and that this representation of one was influenced by Greek statuary. Regards PHG 22:39, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Well it is just a little (ok I'm pedantic) misleading though no way controversial, do reword it so that it refers to the Buddha as being previously shown as being shaven headed (which I didn't actually know as most pictures and statues I've seen depict hair).
Actually, before this representation the Buddha had never been depicted: Buddhist art was aniconic, and symbols were used to represent the Buddha instead (even if surrounding attendant were shown in human form). The tradition that his hair was cut short or shaved comes from Buddhist writing only. Regards PHG 22:58, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Christianity and Buddhism[edit]

The favoring of the view of Christ being a non-existent re-personification of Buddha on the Christianity and Buddhism page is a rather disturbing one. The only source is one run directly by a group that condemns Christianity based on the practices of some, but not all of Christians. The fact is that most.

I feel that there is plenty of evidence to back up Christ's existence.

Additional discussion of the second viewpoint that Christ was a Buddha, the resources for this are thin online and it would be very useful if people knowing reliable sources could get them listed.

Other Christian Saints have displayed properties of enlightenment as well.

The best example of such enlightenment by a Christian is St Francis of Assisi who's life is well documented. The Wikipedia article can be referenced for that.

Other items to reference is the difference in definition of various words between Christian and Buddhist doctrines and how this has caused a large amount of misunderstanding and prejudice.


71.55.58.112 09:46, 4 January 2007 (UTC)Robert Wm Francis Ruedisueli ruediix@gmail.com

I think the point being made in the article is that not everyone believes that there was a historic Christ, and that there is some evidence to point towards that belief. I don't think that there is a problem with neutrality in this section, since it doesn't say that people who believe in a historical Christ figure are wrong, it rather points out that there are clear similarities between some aspects of early Buddhism and Christianity. Since this article was reviewed and deemed to be featured article status, I am going to remove the neutrality warning tag, but I'm fully open to a discussion about this. Tev 17:32, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

Buddha against his anthropomorphic representation[edit]

Please somebody cite where in the Digga Nikaya or elsewhere lies the supposed indication from the Buddha against representing him anthropomorphically after his death? I tried to put a "citation needed" there, but it was just took off. I really searched for it on the web but had no luck. What I did found was some discussion and general disagreement about why there was aniconic representations -- it seems nobody knows for sure yet, and if it this is part of some original research from the article's creator, all the more reason for us to to have precise citations.

Nonwithstanding, this is truly a good and well researched article (although it does lean a little bit on the "Greek side" of things -- as many of the features of such surely existent sycretism seem to also be explainable from Vedic influences -- as if Indians would need Greek influence to deify the Buddha if we agree on such deification really happening. Also the claims of Greeks influencing the Prajnaparamita are sort of weak, as others have discussed here.) But I stick with the reference to the Digga Nikaya, please somebody point that out. 189.6.231.24 00:41, 11 February 2007 (UTC) Padma Dorje, padma.dorje@gmail.com

Some editor has added a reference to a book which again references the Digga Nikaya, but where's the actual Digga Nikaya quote? These texts are so widely available as primary sources the use of a secondary source here is strange, to say the least. I haven't found it on the Digga Nikaya. Please someone point it to me. Padma Dorje, padma.dorje@gmail.com — Preceding unsigned comment added by 189.27.176.5 (talk) 16:19, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

I second the above request. --200.96.111.212 (talk) 02:26, 19 February 2013 (UTC)
Maybe the passage in question is from DN 16.6.1, the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, which reads:
Now the Blessed One spoke to the Venerable Ananda, saying: "It may be, Ananda, that to some among you the thought will come: 'Ended is the word of the Master; we have a Master no longer.' But it should not, Ananda, be so considered. For that which I have proclaimed and made known as the Dhamma and the Discipline, that shall be your Master when I am gone."
Now, it takes a special kind of reading to turn that into a prohibition on images of the Buddha-- but that is precisely the reading made by many art historians. On the other hand, John C. Huntington published an article in 1985 which challenges this assumption. It's worth remembering that the Vedic/Brahmanic art of the time was equally non-representational (except for a few very minor deities), leading Huntington to believe that the lack of iconic art was not due to a textual proscription, but rather, a cultural bias-- and it should therefore not surprise us that the earliest representational art appears at the geographical fringes of the Indian subcontinent (Sri Lanka and Gandhara). Needless to say, Huntington's position is still disputed by some. Incidentally, within the "heart" of India the most common early representation of the Buddha was the footprint (with the wheel of dharma); this seems likely based upon the Dona Sutta:
On one occasion the Blessed One was traveling along the road between Ukkattha and Setabya, and Dona the brahman was also traveling along the road between Ukkattha and Setabya. Dona the brahman saw, in the Blessed One's footprints, wheels with 1,000 spokes, together with rims and hubs, complete in all their features. On seeing them, the thought occurred to him, "How amazing! How astounding! These are not the footprints of a human being!" --187.53.248.215 (talk) 02:33, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

Vitarka Mudra?[edit]

Have any actual historians or scholars of numismatics claimed that those coins display gods performing the Vitakra Mudra?

Replaced Asia Minor with Achaemenid Empire[edit]

Alexander conquered all that was the (1st Persian) Achaemenid Empire he extended the lands of the new Hellenistic Empire by about an extra 10% beyond the Persians. So it was basically Greece plus Persia and a few outlying lands in Central Asia and Baluchistan. Asia minor was only a minor part of Darius III's (or really his vizer Bagoas') Achaemenid Empire. -Kain Nihil 09:20, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

'East' & 'West'[edit]

It's inappropriate to use those terms to describe Buddhism/Buddhist culture and Greek religion/Greek culture, given the historical setting. Such a simple dichotomy of humanity at this period in history is especially immature. The origins of the cultures are geographically close to each other, and indeed were bridged by the Persians for centuries before. While Greek thought forms the basis of the Western tradition as understood today, and Buddhist thought is a popular counterexample for the Eastern tradition, at best the individuals of that time certainly weren't aware that was the case. As the article properly shows, each culture's development informed the other. I recommend replacing each incidence of "east" or "west" with a more precise & less historically lazy term. Ryanluck (talk) 07:16, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

Coin images[edit]

Should use instead one of the coins which has "BODDO" on it in Greek letters... AnonMoos (talk) 16:12, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

Here's one. Cheers Per Honor et Gloria Talk 20:43, 7 December 2009 (UTC)
I like the "BODDO" because the vast majority of English-speakers aren't going to be able to read any ancient inscriptions in Indic languages, and woudn't find most ancient Greek coin inscriptions to be at all clearly understandable -- yet "BODDO" is very easy to read, and has a simple meaning that doesn't require much explanation ("BODDO"=Buddha). It's visually striking evidence for ancient Mediterranean-Indian connections... AnonMoos (talk) 22:52, 7 December 2009 (UTC)