Friday, August 22, 2014

The Buddha was born in the Stans (video)

 Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Crystal Quintero, Wisdom Quarterly; Simon Reeve (BBC World)
Curly black hair, blue eyes, fair golden skin -- the Buddha's features are not uncommon in Central Asia, such as Afghanistan, Iran (Aryan-land), Gandhara, Scythia, Sakastan... (WQ)
Prince Siddhartha grew up, renounced, and traveled east to India (Sharon Cummings)
(BBC World/Simon Reeve) "Meet the Stans" Parts 1 and 2
Hazaras replaced Shakyas in Bamiyan
India did not have anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha or the many Vedic and Indus Valley Civilization "gods" (devas, brahmas) until Buddhists outside of India -- in Hellenized Afghanistan, Gandhara, and Central Asia (Bactria, Sogdia, Scythia up to the outskirts of Ukraine and a sizable portion of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, etc.) -- made the first images.

This led to a flood of such representations with the Indian pantheon being represented as they never had before.

Islam is the only major religion to keep this restriction common to all world religions in force; no images of the prophet Mohammed are permissible.

Real Kapilavastu of "Shakya-stan"
We are shown ancient Buddha figures from the area and told, "Oh, look how quaint!" These are later fanciful creations influenced by the ancient Greek style, another people making the Buddha in their own likeness."

But the fact is that these statues, art called the Gandhara style, are the FIRST representations of the Buddha, not later syncretic creations. It is no coincidence that the largest Buddha statues in the world were built in Afghanistan of all places, not because "Buddhism eventually reached that far north."
Smaller Bamiyan Buddha, 1977 (wiki)
It was there from the beginning. The Shakyans knew their Great Hero, and he came back for them, and many Shakyans became not only Buddhists but monastics living in grand monastic complexes. Rather than honoring Prince Siddhartha as their future king (rightful heir to his father Suddhodana) or returning prince, he was honored as a great sage (muni), known to the world as Shakyamuni.
Indeed, Prince Siddhartha traveled east to India to meditate and find a teacher, a teaching, and enlightenment. And he chose India to set rolling the Dharma he rediscovered without a teacher seven years before returning to teach and inspire the Shakyan clan to join his wandering ascetic (shramana) spiritual movement. Why would the people of ancient Central Asia create such representations and massive stone figures before India?
It is because they were honoring their scion, their hometown hero, the Prince Siddhartha Gautama the Shakya (Sakka, Sakya). Where? The Land of the Shakyas, "Shakya-stan" or Sakkastan -- of which Kapilavastu was the capital city -- was in modern Afghanistan, Central Asia, possibly extending through other stans and a part of Pakistan/West Kashmir and the province of Badakhsan. There is no way it was in Nepal or India, which Dr. Pal reveals as an archeological "fraud" (
"Meet the Stans"

Great Indus Valley Civilization
The 'stan suffix simply means country, independent nation, or semi-autonomous region. Some of them relevant to ancient Buddhism are (though most if not all are majority Muslim) are part of the former Russian empire, new and old countries once within the old USSR: the "stans." The British and Americans prevented Russian ambitions for the remaining and most important formerly-Buddhist lands: Afghanistan, Seistan-Baluchistan (between Iran, Pakistan, and Afgahnistan), according to maverick historian Dr. Ranajit Pal.
Indo-Greco Boddo/Buddha coin (
But also formerly Russian Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and so on according to Dr. Alexander Berzin (The Berzin Archives).
Wisdom Quarterly suggests that ancient Scythia or "Sakastan" was the actual country (janapada) the Buddha's family the Shakyans (Sakkas, see Sakka Sutra) controlled from their capital of Kapilavastu (somewhere in the vicinity of Bamiyan, Kabul, Mes Aynak) in modern Afghanistan. 
The information derived from the ancient Buddhist texts to paint a picture of the 16 major lands/stans, the Maha Janapadas, includes modern Afghanistan in the vicinity of Kamboja and Gandhara but extending much farther west than scholars dreamed. The "Aryan Invasion" theories, inspired by Europeans, are mistaken to think invaders came down from Europe when migrations and influence was coming from Iraq/Iranians, the original "Ariyans" and the stans. The Kambojas, for example, are described as a warrior (Eurasian nomadic) tribe from the west, just like the Shakyas can be categorized.
Buddhism existed in all these lands long before Islam existed anywhere in the world. Central Asia is a strange cultural crossroads of East and West, and the only indigenous Buddhist country in Europe is nearby Kalmykia.

"Meet the Stans"!
(BBC World/Simon Reeves) "Meet the Stans" Parts 2 and 3
The stans around Kazakhstan (OCHA)
Simon Reeve travels through Central Asia in this four-part BBC TV series, shown on BBC2, BBC World, and by broadcasters internationally.
The adventure took Simon from the far north-west of Kazakhstan, by the Russian border, east to the Chinese border, south through Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the edge of Afghanistan, and west to Uzbekistan and the legendary Silk Road cities of Samarkand and Bukhara.
The Guardian said it was "a thrilling postcard from the edge." The Times said, "Simon Reeve's journey through Kazakhstan is a first-class Boys Own adventure on film and illuminating too. I can't imagine anyone switching off who stays for the first five minutes."
Massive Buddhist burial mound (stupa) reliquary the Buddha called for to use for buddhas and world-monarchs (chakravartins) to inspire and uplift people (
SIMON REEVE is an adventurer, TV presenter, and New York Times bestselling author with a passion for travel, current affairs, history, conservation, and the environment. He has been around the world three times for the BBC series Equator, Tropic of Capricorn, and Tropic of Cancer, and has travelled extensively in more than 100 countries. Simon's last journey around the Tropic of Cancer enthralled millions and was described by The Times of London as: "a real gem...Reeve is in a class of his own." Readers of a leading travel magazine voted it their favorite TV series. Simon, who is an ambassador for the nature conservation organization WWF, has been awarded a One World Broadcasting Trust award for an "outstanding contribution to greater world understanding." His books include Tropic of Capricorn (published by BBC Books), and The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden and the Future of Terrorism, which warned of a new age of apocalyptic terrorism and was the first in the world on bin Laden and al Qaeda. Originally published in 1998 it has been a New York Times bestseller. Simon has contributed to other studies into organized crime, terrorism, biological warfare, and political corruption. His book One Day in September: the Story of the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre was published in 2000. The film of the same name, narrated by the actor Michael Douglas, won an Oscar for best feature documentary. More information on Reeve's journeys, and see more of Simon's films, at or at

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