Friday, October 17, 2008

New Buddhist History revealed

SPECIAL NOTE: WQ has no vested interest in the Buddha's birthplace being anywhere other than Nepal. (In fact, we prefer Nepal, a lovely and mysterious land which already claims the other biggest thing in the world). However, we do have a keen interest in the truth -- whatever it may be. We are therefore eager to entertain, explore, and question evolving scholarship on the subject.

Map of Greco-Indian Buddhism (excerpt)

...This new religion propounded by Gomata is Buddhism, which proves beyond any doubt that "Gaumata" was the true Gotama. There are many other references to Gotama in Persian and Jewish sources that have not been recognized. Tattenai (6th-5th century BC), who was the Persian governor of the province west of the Euphrates River (eber nari, "beyond the river") during the reign of Darius I, was Gotama, whose [self-referential title] was "Tathagata."

The Book of Ezra (V: 3,6) states that he led an investigation into the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem about 519 B.C. He sent a report to Darius, who responded with instructions to allow the work to proceed. Tattenai is cited in a cuneiform tablet of 502 B.C. A. Kuhrt refers to the "good Iranian name" of "Bagapa" the satrap of Babylon during Darius' reign and even considers the link with "Tattanu" but is unaware that "Tattenai" and "Bagapa" could be Gotama's [popular titles] "Tathagata" and "Bhagava."

The Book of Ezra also cites the names "Shether" and "Boznai," which agree with Gotama's [other] names "Shiddhartha" and "Buddha." The name "Shethar" occurs in the Book of Esther. The name Buddho-Dana of Gotama given by Al-beruni puts him in the same bracket as Daniel the Jew, who was a contemporary of Nebuchadrezzar-II.

It can be seen that Prophet Abraham was also from the abode of Gotama and Zoroaster. The startling discoveries of Sir Leonard Woolley at Ur in Sumer had such a dazzling effect on scholars that it was not realized that this could not be Ur Kasdim, the home of Abraham. W. F. Albright disagreed with Woolley but no one realized that Ur of Abraham was Urva, one of the sixteen good regions of the Avesta.

It is indeed uncanny that the patently absurd notion of the rise of Buddhism in Nepal has survived scholarly scrutiny for nearly a century. Sir Aurel Stein, whose untiring efforts established the material basis of Buddhism, found nothing in Nepal. The vanishing of Buddhism from India may be due to the fact that after Afghanistan and Seistan [map, also called Sistan, a border region between E Iran and SW Afghanistan, a part of the Persian Empire once called Drangiana before Alexander the Great's conquest] ceased to be parts of "India," Buddhism was seen as an extraneous creed.

R. G. Bhandarkar blamed the decline on the rise of the Mahayana, which weakened it from within. It is significant that Mahayana, from its very inception, was an essentially "foreign" doctrine. The Mahayanists were often hostile to the Bhakti cult and other forms of Hinduism. Yet, the generally tolerant approach of the Buddhists to other faiths resulted in the assimilation of Buddhism in a reformed Hinduism. In this sense Buddhism did not disappear from India.

Gandhara-style Buddha (Western features, toga wearing), a Greco-Indian fusion, when India was an empire of much greater extent including Afghanistan and Seistan (Norton Simon museum)

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