Monday, October 21, 2019

How Buddhism started: Afghanistan (video)

Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Ashley Wells, Seth Auberon (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly Wiki edit
The Buddha was a royal who lived in three seasonal Afghan palaces, Shakyaland/Scythia
The Scythian (Shakyian) Prince Siddhartha Gautama, who became "the Buddha," was raised in and around Bamiyan, Afghanistan ( This was one of the seasonal capitals of Shakya Land, Central Asia, a janapada or "foothold" of the Buddha's extended family.

Earliest Buddhism: Gandhara
The other two capitals seem to have been at Mes Aynak and Kabul. But there were Buddhist sites all over Afghanistan, which until 1947 bordered India.

At the time of the Buddha there was no "India," only the remnants of the great Indus Valley Civilization with great cities like Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. Another great Buddhist archeological site is Samangan (Aibak), site of a unique burial mound hewn from rock.

The Buddha, Gandhara, 2nd-3rd century
Siddhartha traveled east to the Kingdom of Magadha and attained enlightenment in modern-day Bihar (named after the many viharas or monastic complexes that sprouted up around Bodh Gaya, "Enlightenment Grove"). But being from Scythia (Sakastan, Afghanistan, "Shakya Land") his family built great monasteries and burial mounds, following a very ancient tradition extending back 20,000 years through Central Asia up to Ukraine. Originally, those ancient stupas had statuary on top and later had pagoda or umbrella-like squared and circular mandalas or representations of the cosmos honoring the four cardinal directions. So Buddhism is as old in Afghanistan as it is in Magadha and Bihar (now India), having taken root within seven years of each other, but taking off in Afghanistan much faster than in India, the presumed home of Buddhism.
Map of Mes Aynak ("Copper Well"), source of mined gold, copper, and rare earth minerals
Burial mound reliquary carved out of a mountainside in solid rock, Samangan, Afghanistan

Samangan (Persian سمنگان‎) is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. Afghanistan, located north of the Hindu Kush mountains (part of the Himalayan range) in the central part of the formerly Buddhist country.

The province covers 11,218 square kms (4,331 miles) and is surrounded by Sar-e Pol province in the west, Balkh in the north, Baghlan in the east, and Bamiyan (the Buddha's hometown) in the south.

The historical cultural heritage in the province, which is mainly at Samangan City, the provincial headquarters of Samangan, are the Takt-e Rostam and the adjacent Buddhist caves and burial mounds reliquaries (stupas) on a top of hill.
  • Samangan (Eukratidia or Aybak) is a provincial town, medieval caravan stop, and province headquarters in Samangan district in northern Afghanistan. As a major Buddhist center during the 4th and 5th centuries under Kushan rulers, it has ruins from that period at a place known now as Takht-i-rustam located on a hill above the town.
Takht-i Rustam
Takht-i Rustam (Haibak) literally means "the throne of Rustam," named after a king in Persian mythology.

It is a hilltop settlement dated to the 4th and 5th centuries of the Kushan-Sassanian period, which is corroborated by archeological, architectural, and numismatic (coin) evidence.

It is located 3 km to the southwest of Samangan town. It is the location of a Buddhist stupa-monastery complex, which is fully carved into and out of the mountain rock.

The monastery of the major Buddhist tradition of Theravada Buddhism [that uses the exclusively-Buddhist language of Pali, but this site is likely of an even earlier Gandharan tradition that utilized Buddhist-Sanskrit] has five chambers.

Two are sanctuaries, and one is a domed ceiling with an intricate lotus leaf beautification.

In the adjacent hill is the burial mound or stupa, which has an ornamental harmika, with several meditation caves at its base. Above one of the caves, there is square building in which there are two conference halls. One is 22 meters square, and the other is circular.

In one of these caves, archeological excavations have revealed a cache of Ghaznavid coins.[19][20] The Buddhist temples near the throne or takht (like Gandhara/Pakistan's glorious Takht-i-Bahi) are ten numbers known locally as Kie Tehe.[16] More

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