Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Was the Buddha from Baluchistan?

Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly based on the maverick historical and archeological research of Dr. Ranajit Pal (;
Mes Aynak, "Copper Well," located 25 miles (40 km) east of Kabul, is a yet to be excavated town with a Buddhist monastic complex (Jerome Starkey/
Panoramic view of the ancient ruins of Persepolis, modern Iran (wiki)
New stele from Mes Aynak, Afghanistan, depicts Prince Siddhartha and a wandering ascetic possibly one of the four signs that inspired him to renounce (Jaroslav Poncar/
Baluchistan was until 1948 (when Pakistan was created) on the western frontier of Gandhara, India. The province is surrounded by Afghanistan to the north and Iran to the west.
Sufi story of the Buddha (The Morgan)
Locating the Buddha Gautama's real hometown is now possible. But first one must realize that greater India (Maha Bharat) was wider than colonial British India. Alexander the Great fought the empire or great clan territories (maha jana padas) sharing cultural ties in Balochistan, Seistan, Gandhara, Zabulistan, and Kerman. Sir Aurel Stein found an ancient Buddhist monastic complex (vihara) in Kuh-i Khwaja, Seistan, approximately (150 km) from Baluchistan covered in proto-Gandharan art, attesting to the antiquity of the form. Zabol near Ghazni echoes Kapil (vastu). 
The name Dahan-e Gholaman of another adjacent 6th century B.C. site echoes Gautama's name. Kapil (vastu), or Babil, was the holiest religious center of the world. The name Babil is echoed in the name Pavurlakonda. The statement in The Birth of the Buddha (Lalitavistara biography) that all of the buddhas are born in Kapilavastu is echoed in the name Prophthasia (modern Farah, Afghanistan). 
Later, Babylon (Babil) gained ascendancy. The fantastic find of more than ancient Buddhist fragments at Bamiyan (site of the destruction of the world's tallest Buddha statue) shows that Bamiyan was near Kapilavastu, birthplace of the Buddha. A portion of those fragments are now part of the Schøyen Collection. This is where Buddhism was born.

The names Tissa (Moggaliputta-Tissa), Siddhartha (the Buddha), and Suddhodana (the Buddha's father) mentioned in the Persepolis Fortification Tablets (administrative archives) show conclusively that Siddhartha Gautama, who became the historical Buddha, was from Seistan-Baluchistan.
Nebuchadnezzar II stele (Schøyen)
Regarding the iconography of a stone statue (stele) recently uncovered in Mes Aynak ("Copper Well," possibly the largest Buddhist monastic complex yet discovered, which is set to be demolished by the Chinese before it can be excavated unless protests succeed), Prof. Gerard Fussman from the College de France in Paris writes that the prince shown sitting under foliage of bodhi (pipal) tree leaves is Siddhartha before his enlightenment, after which he became the Buddha (the "Enlightened or Awakened One").

But neither he nor Fussman recognizes the need to integrate the Mes Aynak findings with the priceless inscriptions in the Persepolis Fortification Tablets (PDF) which mention Tissa, Sedda Saramana (Siddhartha), Sudda Yauda Saramana (Suddodhana), and Saman. Prof. Schopen's article and video enlitled "Buddha as a Businessman" is largely based on faulty Nepalese data. 
Revisionist Wikipedia keeps placing the Buddha Gautama in Nepal rather than in Central Asia where he grew up before traveling east on a quest for enlightenment and teaching in India.

Sufism, Rumi, and more
Buddhist Rumi (FA)
The legacy of the Buddha Gautama is clear in Persian literature. The resounding humanism of Rumi, Hafeez, Attar, Omar Khayyam, and Amir Khosrow cannot be grasped without Gautama as echoed by Alexander and Ashoka/Diodotus.
Sufism derives from a universal form of wisdom with roots more ancient than Islam. The fana ("extinction of self") spoken of by Sufi mystics is nearly identical to what the Buddha described as nirvāņa in Buddhism.
The common "ultimate goal" of moksha ("liberation") within India's dharma traditions (Buddhism, Brahmanism, Hinduism, Jainism) and traditions in adjacent countries -- the goal of the Manichaeans, the kaivalya of Hindus, the nirvana of Jains -- is due to their common origin in Indo-Iran.
A very large number of Sufi "saints" were from Khorasan and Kerman-Baluchistan where Buddhism once flourished. 
W. Ball realized that the caves at Chehel Mani and Heydari are linked to Buddhism. In fact these may also be linked to Mithraism and Zoroastrianism.
The poignant story of Ibrahim ibn Adham of Balkh, one of the earliest Sufis, closely parallels the life life story of the Buddha, which was immortalized in the legend of Baarlam and Josaphat (the Buddha as Catholic saint). It is a great religious theme highlighting piety, marking in many cultures the beginning of literature.

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