Saturday, December 14, 2019

Enlightened Thai Master Ajahn Jumnien

Ajahn Jumnien, Joseph Kappel (trans.), Culture Exchange; Dhr. Seven (ed.), Wisdom Quarterly

Daylong Teachings | Dharma Talk
When one knows, one is happy.
Ajahn Jumnien (, is a delightfully happy, fully wise, and playful Thai forest monk. He was previously a shaman from a long line of shamans, and he has some of the most advanced magical abilities. Trained in intensive Theravada Buddhist meditation with Ajahn Dhammadaro, he also traveled as a wandering ascetic (shraman) and mastered a diverse array of tranquility meditations (jhanas) for purifying concentration. No matter what the technique, he constantly urges us back into seeing our true nature, which is marked by Three Universal Characteristics.
This talk was given on 2003-06-07 at a length of 6:13:59 and made available via the YouTube channel brought to us by Culture Exchange Blog.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Buddhist legend: "The War in Heaven"

Pfc. Sandoval, Dhr. Seven, Pat Macpherson (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly Wiki edit; G.P. Malasekera
Time-travel bells (stupas over Buddha statues), Borobudur pyramid Buddhist temple
Sakka King of the Devas: St. Michael (fmrly. Magha of Macala), Roman Catholic Church

Sakka versus Vepacitti (Vemacitrin) as St. Michael vs. Lucifer (Satan) the dragon (wiki)
The Deva-Asura War
Sakka (St. Michael) defeats a dragon (wiki)
The Asuras ("Titans") formerly lived in the Heaven of the Thirty-Three (Pali Tavatimsa, Sanskrit Trāyastriṃśa), the world on the peak of Mt. Sumeru with the other Shining Ones of that world.

When Sakka, King of the Devas (Śakra, Indra, analogous to Archangel Michael) became the ruler of that world, the Titans celebrated by drinking a lot of gandapāna wine, a celestial alcohol so strong that Sakka forbade the other Shining Ones from drinking it.

Asura in Kōfuku-ji, Nara, 734, Japan
Weakened by their drunkenness, the Titans could not resist when Sakka had the whole lot of them thrown over the edge of the World of the Thirty-Three into what would become the Titan-world at the base of the mythical mountain Mt. Sumeru.

A tree grows there called cittapātali. When the Titans saw it blossom, they realized that it was different from the pāricchattaka (Sanskrit pāriyātra) tree which had grown in their old home, and they knew that they were dispossessed.
Asuras (Greek "Titans") find themselves tossed out of heaven, wake on earth (wiki).
Layout of heavenly Borobudur Buddhist temple representing Three Spheres or dhatus.
They now contemplated war. In armor and weapons, they climbed up the steep slopes of Mt. Sumeru "like ants." Sakka set out to meet them, but he was forced to retreat because of their numbers.

Garuda/Avian, Delhi (wiki)
Passing through the forest where the Avians (Garuḍas) live on his flying chariot [UFO, spaceship, vimana], Sakka saw that his passage was destroying the nests of the Avians and ordered his charioteer Mātali to turn back.

When the pursuing Titans saw Sakka turn around, they felt certain that he must be coming back with an even larger army. So they fled, ceding all the ground they had gained (Robert Chalmers, 1895, "No. 31, Kulāvaka-Jātaka," The Jataka [Rebirth Tales] Volume I).

Despite their many wars, there was eventually a partial concord between the Shining Ones of the World of the Thirty-Three and the dispossessed Titans.

This came about because Sakka fell in love with Shachi (aka Sujā), daughter of a Titan chieftain named Vepacitti (Sanskrit, Vemacitrin).

Vepacitti had given Sujā the right to choose her own husband at an assembly of the Titans, and she chose Sakka, who had attended disguised as an aged Titan. Vepacitti therefore became Sakka's father-in-law.
Sakka as St. Michael
Sakka (St. Michael) and Vepacitta
Before he was reborn as Sakka, King of the Devas, due to his unusually good karma (keeping seven vows), he was a human named Magha of Macala (Western "Michael"). He is also called Maghava. He is the ruler of two celestial worlds above this earth (bhumi) among Buddhist cosmology's 31 Planes of Existence. He rules the "World of the Thirty-Three" with 33 other "lords," and he is the king of four regents one world down, the "Realm of the Four Great Regent-Kings" of the four cardinal directions in space. His nemesis is the Asura-Titan chief Vepacitta, now his father-in-law. Sakka is not a unique figure but a station like the presidency because every "world-system" (cakkavala) has one. More

Rahu: "Daemonic Buddhism" in Tibet

Cameron Bailey, MA (Florida State U); Ashley Wells, Pat Macpherson (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
A Tibetan bhavacakra or "Wheel of Existence" symbolic of cycling in samsara (wiki)
This is a profile of the Tibetan Buddhist protector deity Rahula or Rahu (Tibetan Khyab 'jug chen po), particularly the ritual magic and mythic complex that surrounds this deity's cult.

Rahula, however, is a case study to make a larger theoretical point, namely, that the cult of Rahula, as it developed in Tibet, was part of a broader Buddhist campaign to demonize the landscape of [Bon shamanic, pre-Buddhist] Tibet for missionary activity and political purposes, in what might be called the "mandalization" of Tibet.

While this took place in Tibet approximately from the 12th century through the 17th, Buddhism -- since its inception and as it developed in India -- rested firmly on the foundation of a cosmology teeming with spirits (Greek daimons, umbrella term for a host of different kinds of beings).

That is to say, conceptions of daemons like Rahu(la) have historically been intimately connected with Buddhist doctrine and philosophy.

Daimon cults are somehow an amalgamation or epiphenomenon in Buddhism. And Rahula as a case study represents a peculiar case of Tibetan elaboration on an Indian antecedent.

Rahu (eclipse maker) in Thailand (wiki)
Rahula, or Rahu in Indian conceptions, has been an abstract cosmological force synonymous with malignancy. While all the other planets (Sanskrit graha, Tibetan gza’) are deemed to be gods, Rahu alone is a demon [asura, titan, rakshasa, yaksha, ogres, "jealous gods"], in fact the only demon to have tasted the elixir of immortality.

Thus, he is regarded as a particularly fierce enemy of the gods (devas, angels, demigods, lit. "shining ones"). By the early second millennium in Tibet, Rahu had become a high-level Buddhist dharma protector (Dharmapala, specifically of the Dzogchen tradition of Nyingma philosophy) and an emanation of the Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī (or often Vajrapaṇi).

He has historically been heavily associated with destructive rites, war magic, and weather-making magic.

There are a number of specific questions concerning this deity to be answered:
  • How do the mythology and astrological functions of Rahu in Tibet relate to Indian antecedents?
  • Why might Buddhists have transformed a relatively minor figure from Hindu mythology in such a significant way?
  • Who were some of the Tibetan figures involved in valorizing this deity?
  • What larger social and political climate in Tibet might have contributed to this transformation?
  • How might Rahu's mythology relate to Buddhist philosophy, specifically Dzogchen thought?
The Raven and the Serpent: "The All-Pervading Rahula" Daemonic Buddhism in India and Tibet
The present study of the deity Rahu(la), a well-known figure in Indian myth and cosmology who, in later traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, is developed into a major dharmapāla (“defender of the Buddhist teachings”).

Why was it that this originally non-Buddhist character, best known for his mythic cosmological role in causing solar and lunar eclipses, in a little over a thousand years after his first appearance in a datable written account (specifically the famous Mahābhārata epic of Hindu literature) becomes associated with the highest reaches of Tibetan philosophy.

Deities like Rahu, prevalent specifically in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism and generally across the Buddhist world, are in fact indispensable elements within the tradition, and around which fundamental Buddhist soteriological [study of doctrines of salvation] assumptions were built. More

Karma: Seven Vows of Sakka (sutra), Deva Sattavatapada Sutra; Dhr. Seven, Pfc. Sandoval, Wisdom Quarterly

"The Discourse on the Seven Noble Vows of Sakka"
Stories of Sakka Lord of the Gods
Thus have I heard. At one time the Blessed One was staying in Sāvatthi province in Jeta’s Grove at Anāthapiṇḍika’s Monastery where he taught:

“Meditators, in the past when Sakka, king of the devas, was a human, he practised seven noble vows. Because of that good karma he achieved his current position. What were those seven noble vows?
  1. As long as I live may I help my parents.
  2. As long as I live may I respect the family elders.
  3. As long as I live may I speak gently.
  4. As long as I live may I not speak divisively.
  5. As long as I live may I live at home without greediness, removing the stain of stinginess, open-handed, always ready to give, always free to help others, delighting in giving and sharing, and well organized in giving charity.
  6. As long as I live may I speak the truth.
  7. As long as I live may I be free from anger, and if anger should arise in me, may I remove it quickly.
“Meditators, in the past when Sakka, king of the devas, was human, he practiced seven noble vows. Because he carried out those good deeds, he achieved the position he has now.”

When a person supports parents,
respects family elders,
speaks gentle and pleasing words,
avoids divisive speech,
removes stinginess,
speaks truthfully,
and restrains anger,
the Devas of the Thirty-Three call
that person a truly superior person. More

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Jack Kornfield: 100 years of Ajahn Chah

Jack Kornfield Heart Wisdom Hour (podcast); Dhr. Seven, Ellie Askew (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

Jack Kornfield: Episode 79, Remembering Ajahn Chah

( On this special episode of the Heart Wisdom Podcast, Jack Kornfield reflects on the life and teachings of his Theravada Buddhist teacher Ajahn Chah (

Ajahn Chah was a Thai Buddhist forest tradition monk. He was an influential teacher of the Buddha-Dharma and a founder of two major monasteries in the Thai Forest Tradition (Wat Pah Nanachat and Wat Pat Pong).

Respected and beloved in his country as a man of great wisdom, he was also instrumental in establishing Theravada Buddhism in the West. Beginning in 1979 with the founding of Cittaviveka (commonly known as Chithurst Buddhist Monastery) in the United Kingdom, the Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah has spread throughout the United States, the British Commonwealth, and Europe. The Dharma (Pali Dhamma) talks of Ajahn Chah have been recorded, transcribed, and translated into several languages.

Our Tree of Teachers – The opening begins with a reflection. A big part of our practice is realizing our interconnectedness. Kornfield reflects on the vast network of benefactors and teachers that are responsible for the aid and guidance which have contributed to who we are at this very moment. Despite what our ego may tell us, we are not alone, nor did we not reach this moment on our own.

“A monk’s work is hard. He works to free his heart so that he begins to feel lovingkindness, which embraces everything.”
– Ajahn Chah

A Still Forest Pool: Insight Meditation
Remembering Ajahn Chah (5:15) – Jack Kornfield shares memories of his teacher Ajahn Chah. He reflects on the impact of Ajahn Chah’s teachings, which have been carried over to the West through his many dedicated students. We hear about an introduction to Ajahn Chah and play a recording of Ajahn Chah sharing his philosophies of mindfulness and meditation.

“When we talked about the hard time that people have in the West with meditating and loving themselves, how much self-hatred and judgment there is, he said to bring them out to the forest. Let them spend time with the trees, with the rhythm of the moon and the sun. Teach them practices of lovingkindness and compassion, that will soothe their hearts and make them sane again.”
– Jack Kornfield quoting Ajahn Chah

An Island of Sanity (22:55) – During the time that Kornfield studied in Thailand, war raged on outside of their peaceful forest monastery. He shares the role this warfare played in their training and the deeper Dharmic lessons that the conflict revealed to them.

“What Ajahn Chah talked about, and my other teachers as well, was that it’s not just that we have to do away with the landmines and bombing, but we have to do away with the landmines in the human heart. We have to do away with the violence in the human heart.”
– Jack Kornfield

Turning Towards Awareness (40:50) – Kornfield shares more stories of the kindhearted and at times whimsical teachings that Ajahn Chah shared with his Western and Eastern students.

“This is who we are. We are short and tall. This is the way that it is. We have to live with each other the way that we are and not the way we would imagine that we are supposed to be.”
– Ajahn Chah

This video podcast from Heart Wisdom is just one of many podcasts on the Be Here Now Network. For more from the archive visit: Make sure to catch each video podcast from Be Here Now Network by subscribing.

Be Here Now Network
Podcasts, courses, and articles to help live a life in balance. Heart-centered wisdom comes from Ram Dass, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Krishna Das, and many more. Get a FREE Guided Meditation from Sharon Salzberg when you first sign up at: Follow the Be Here Now Network:

Bates: How to not need glasses (video)

Certified Bates Method Teacher Nathan Oxenfeld guides us through a simple daily vision improvement routine. All of the practices shown in this video are meant to be performed without wearing any glasses or contacts.

Give Up Your Glasses for Good (Oxenfeld)
Most of the practices mentioned have their own instructional videos: Search for "Bates Method 101" on YouTube, or visit

Click here to get a copy of Nathan Oxenfeld's book Give Up Your Glasses for Good: Holistic Eye Care for the 21st Century, which contains step-by-step instructions for all the practices in this video and more.

Eyes: How to see without glasses (Dec. 12)

How It Works
A meditation is key to relaxing the eyes.
How can I have excellent vision without resorting to glasses, contact, or surgery? There's a way called the Bates Method. But understanding the Bates Method is not the same as experiencing the Bates Method.

Some listeners who try "palming," as described in this Wise Traditions podcast interview, experience at least one of the benefits of relaxation described, namely, relief in their eyes and body. Practitioner Carlos Moreno of will guide and give everyone an experience so they can get rid of the need to wear glasses, FREE.

Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D. (, recommends the tried and true Bates Method.

      Wednesday, December 11, 2019

      Buddhists keep 8 Precepts for full moon

      Dhr. Seven, Ven. Aloka, Wisdom Quarterly: EIGHT PRECEPT OBSERVANCE + COMMENTS
      The Buddha: The way laypeople practice once a week, ascetics should practice all the time.
      It began as a kind of sabbath or seventh-observance. With each monthly (moonthly) lunar phase, the Buddha enjoined monastic and lay practitioners to gather, meditate, hear the Dharma, and keep the precepts.

      Lunar Observance
      Siddhartha striving under the bodhi tree
      These are called uposatha or lunar observance days, the full moon being the most important of the four. Each week has 7 days, each month 4 four weeks, (7 x 4 = 28), 2 days, with 364 days a year. The arithmetic is easy: 13 moons or months (13 x 28 = 364). Add one New Year's Day for resetting and renewal: 364 + 1 = 365).

      It was the system some sky-devas or impersonal nature set up, which we've gotten so far from. The Buddha taught that there is much benefit in observing this practice. Drop in at a Buddhist temple, particularly of the ancient Theravada school, and ask how they observe it. Or keep THE EIGHT PRECEPTS on your own:
      Meditate. (Elena Kulikova)
      1. I undertake the training to abstain from taking the lives of living beings (or encouraging anyone else to kill).
      2. I undertake the training to abstain from taking what is not given (or causing anyone else to steal).
      3. I undertake the training to abstain from taking sexual liberties (or inducing anyone else to cheat).
      4. I undertake the training to abstain from taking the truth in vain (or getting anyone else to falsely speak).
      5. I undertake the training to abstain from taking intoxicants that occasion heedlessness (or suggesting anyone else be negligent).
      6. I undertake the training to abstain from taking food at the wrong time (or having anyone else do so).
      7. I undertake the training to abstain from taking to dancing or singing or playing music, cosmetic beautification, or base entertainments (or recommending that anyone else do so).
      8. I undertake the training to abstain from taking to high and luxurious seats or beds (or making anyone else do so).
      This will be the last lunar observance in Pasadena. The temple moves to Covina on 1/1/20.

      I won't look; I won't be distracted.
      These are different from the ordinary Five Precepts Buddhists undertake to keep all the rest of the time in these ways:
      1. As in the Five Precepts, one avoids killing ANY kind of living being.
      2. One does not steal or remove anything on this day, as it might be an offense and one is practicing letting go by all of these eight.
      3. Ordinarily one only avoids "sexual misconduct" (i.e., sex with 10 types of people who are "off-limits," or using coercion, or harming anyone by our sexual or erotic activity/sensuality (abuse of the senses, such as the sense of taste through gluttony, etc.) as by cheating or ruining others' relationships.
      4. This actually does not refer merely to lying but to all four types of "wrong speech" -- useless (idle or frivolous babble, "animal talk"), divisive, perjured, or harsh speech.
      5. This specifies alcohol but one understands it to refer to any intoxicant that "occasions heedlessness," that is, whether pharmaceutical or natural, it causes one to be negligent or lose control and violate the other precepts.
      6. The "correct" time to eat for purposes of keeping this precept is between first light, when first able to distinguish the lines of the palm, and noon.
      7. These are unnecessary or vain distractions that may inhibit lucid mindfulness, clear comprehension, and meditation.
      8. These are luxurious indulgences, which often give rise to sexual feelings, laziness, or impulsive consumption when we are striving for a free, unaddicted, undistracted/concentrated, ascetic attentiveness to simplicity. While these may not be harmful in and of themselves, for this 24 hour period, they undermine our efforts and strengthen dissolute (energy-wasting) habits.

      Final full moon falls on 12/12 at 12:12 am

      ABC/KAKE TV (, 12/10/19; Pat Macpherson, Dhr. Seven (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
      The final full moon of this decade falls on 12/12 at 12:12 a.m., which is kind of...weird?
      Have a thing for moon phases or numbers? Then mark the calendar for this upcoming celestial event: On December 12 (12/12) at 12:12 a.m. ET, the "Cold Moon" will become a full moon, according to The Farmers' Almanac. In the central time zone, it'll fall within a minute of 11:11 p.m. on Dec. 11.

      "The midwinter full moon has a high trajectory across the sky, causing it to sit above the horizon for a longer period of time," The Farmers' Almanac explains.

      Observe the Eight Precepts of the uposatha.
      The final full moon of this year's lunar cycle (13 full moons every year) and of the decade is also known as the "Long Night's Moon" -- a fitting title as winter solstice nears, which brings longer, darker nights. And to top off the numerical calendar oddity, the next day is Friday the 13th! Source

      Ajahn Brahm: How to Deal with Blame (video)

      Ajahn Brahm (Buddhist Society of Western Australia, streamed live 12/6/19); Wisdom Quarterly

      Ajahn Brahm
      Recorded at Dhammaloka Buddhist Centre (BSWA), Perth, Western Australia. Ajahn Brahm discusses how blaming others is counterproductive. And he explains what to do when blamed and how to nurture the good parts of others by giving praise (positive feedback) instead of noticing and criticizing their bad states and traits. Support BSWA making these types of teachings available for free online via:

      Buddhism in Aryan-Persian IRAN (map); Amber Larson and Dhr. Seven, Pat Macpherson (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
      Persian inscriptions link Babylonian king to Siddhartha the Buddha (
      Ajina Tepe Buddhist Monastery, 7th-8th centuries, Vakhsh valley, southern Tajikistan, 1 km north of ruins of early medieval town of Chorgul Tepe (
      Iranian Buddhism: Map shows movement of Buddhism from Saka (Shakyan) Gandhara, the Buddha's country, further west to modern "Middle East" to pre-Islamic Iran (Persia), Sogdia, Kushan Empire, Bactria, Afghanistan, Balkh, Khorasan, India, China, Sakastan, Central Asia (
      Iran and Afghanistan (Haldar)
      Archeological and architectural monuments of Central Asia, which includes now-Muslim formerly-Buddhist Iran, are mentioned in reports from the 18th and early 19th centuries by European and Russian travelers, merchants, and diplomats.

      The Russian Orientalist P. I. Lerkh, who accompanied a minor diplomatic mission, even undertook small-scale excavations. Major archaeological work began, however, only after the Russian conquest of the region, at first it was done by amateurs, especially military officers.

      The first professional archaeologist to work in the region was N. I. Veselovskiĭ of the University of St. Petersburg. He undertook minor excavations at several sites in the Tashkent oasis, Farḡāna and, on a larger scale, in Afrāsīāb (q.v.), the site of ancient Samarkand.

      Seven trenches were dug in different parts of the city, and a plan of the site was prepared.

      Ajina Tepe preservation, Tajikistan.
      From the extensive finds the site was dated as “going back to the Greek period” [see Greco-Buddhism]; in fact, it has a much longer history.

      At almost the same time, General A. V. Komarov cut a huge trench through the northern mound at Anaw (q.v.) in southern Turkmenistan....

      During the first half of the second millennium B.C.E. [before the common era] the primitive agrarian tribes of southern Turkmenistan started migrating eastwards, to northern Afghanistan, southern Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.

      This map accompanies surrounding text and shows many Buddhist sites in Central Asia.
      Camel, Iran (
      Since the ecological conditions of Tajikistan were not favorable for irrigation agriculture, the migrants turned to pasturing [like the Shakyans/Scythians]. Living in close contact with the local steppe tribes, they adopted many aspects of their way of life and burial rites.

      In southern Uzbekistan the migrants preserved their way of life, founding fortified settlements like Sapalï Tepe [tell or mound], or large settlements like Jarkutan with a “palace,” a temple, and a large necropolis.

      During the second half of the second millennium B.C.E. some steppe tribes started migrating south, entering the zone of primitive agriculture. Many scholars connect this movement with the migration of the Indo-Aryans and the settling of proto-Iranians in Central Asia....

      Archeology of the nomadic tribes
      Ajina Tepe reclinging Buddha (RSATSR)
      Information obtained from ancient Persian, Greek, Chinese, Syrian, Armenian, Arabic, and other sources -- as well as from the Iranian epic and from linguistic material -- show clearly the important role played by Central Asian nomads in the history of the region and its adjacent territories, in terms of both ethnogenesis and culture.

      The archeology of the nomads explores mainly their kurgans [burial mounds, ancient-stupas]. Kurgans of the Saka [Shakyan/Scythian] tribes, dating from the seventh to third centuries B.C.E., can be found in the Semirech’e region (also known as the Yeti Su, “Seven Rivers”), the Aral region, in Fergana, and so on.

      The burials were usually single, sometimes dual, rarely collective. In the Pamir region, the corpse was often buried in a flexed position. The form and structure of burial sites varied. Most often they consisted of a pit covered with beams, on top of which was piled a rounded mound or erected a circle of stones. The “royal kurgans”... More

      Prince Siddhartha (the Buddha) in Persia

      Harvey Kraft (The Buddha from Babylon),, 5/4/15; Wisdom Quarterly
      "Buddha offers fruit to the devil [Mara?]" from 14th century Persian manuscript The Jāmiʿ al-tawārīkh ("Compendium of Chronicles"). (Image source)
      Ancient Persian inscriptions link Babylonian King Darius the Great to Siddhartha Gautama, the man who became the Buddha
      The Buddha from Babylon
      Dramatic evidence has revealed the presence of Siddhartha Gautama, the man who became Buddha, as far west as Persia.

      Family seals and records found at Persepolis, the ancient capital of the fourth Persian Emperor, Darius the Great, have been identified and associated with the names of Siddhartha Gautama and his father, Suddhodana Gautama.

      The Persepolis Seals identified royals and other important personages within the Persian ruling sphere. Gautama was the name of the royal family of the Saka [Shakya, Sakka, or Scythian Clan] kingdom.

      Analysis of Seals PFS 79, PFS 796 and PF 250 found among the collection of important seals in Persepolis, the Persian capital of Emperor Darius I, are purported to be the Gautama family according to an interpretation by Dr. Ranajit Pal (The Dawn of Religions in Afghanistan-Seistan-Gandhara and the Personal Seals of Gotama Buddha and Zoroaster, published in Mithras Reader: An Academic and Religious Journal of Greek, Roman, and Persian Studies. Vol. III, London, 2010, pg. 62).

      The family crest bore the etching of a crown-headed king flanked by two totems, each a standing bird-headed winged lion. The Seal of Sedda depiction of a Sramana (Persepolis Seal PFS 79), a Lion-Sun shaman, is based on information gathered from a number of other seals: the name refers to Sedda Arta (Siddhartha), i.e., Siddha (Liberator of) and Arta (Universal Truth).

      Persepolis Seal PFS 79 and outline. Seal of Seddha, standing ruler flanked by bird-headed Arya-Sramana priests of Indus-Vedic tradition, linked to Saka tribe (Scythians) royal family of King Suddhodana Gautama, and his son-prince Siddhartha. Seal art courtesy of Oriental Institute, Chicago.

      Persepolis Seal PFS 79 and outline. Seal of Seddha, standing ruler flanked by bird-headed Arya-Sramana priests of Indus-Vedic tradition, linked to Saka tribe (Scythians) royal family of King Suddhodana Gautama, and his son Prince Siddhartha. Seal art courtesy of Oriental Institute, Chicago.

      The twin guardians each had the body of lion and the head and wings of a mythic sunbird (i.e., Egyptian sun-bearing falcon). The lion and falcon-gryphon motifs represented a pair of shramana [wandering ascetic] shamans. Therefore, the family seal associated with Gautama, described a royal person of the Arya-Vedic tradition.

      A similar image of Buddhist iconography shows a Buddha seated on a “lion-throne” under a bejeweled tree with cosmic aides at his side. The Buddhist montage declares his enlightenment under the cosmic Sacred Tree of Illumination.

      Possibly a modification of his family seal designed to reflect his new teachings, once Siddhartha Gautama achieves enlightenment this Buddhist emblem comes to represent him seated on the lion-throne under the sacred cosmic tree flanked by two celestial Bodhisattva.

      Possibly a modification of his family seal designed to reflect his new teachings, once Siddhartha Gautama achieves enlightenment this Buddhist emblem comes to represent him seated on the lion-throne under the sacred cosmic tree flanked by two celestial bodhisattvas.

      What would the family crest of the Gautama family be doing in Persia? Was Siddhartha Gautama connected to the Persian Empire?

      The inscriptions of Darius the Great (Persian Darayavaush), Persian emperor for 35 years, boast that the Zoroastrian God Assura Mazda (Persian Ahura Mazda) chose him to take the throne (in 522 BCE) from an usurper named “Gaumâta.”

      {NOTE: This is interesting because in the East, three Dharmic religions -- Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism -- are on the side of the Devas ("Shining Ones," "angels") and a god named Maha Brahma. Devas are opposed by Asuras (Assura), "fallen devas" or "Titans," expelled from a celestial world by Sakka, King of the Devas, in the World of the Thirty-Three (Tavatimsa), in a story that echoes the Christian story of Archangel Michael expelling Lucifer (who then gets equated with Satan by everyone except maybe the tiny Yazidi religion) and casting him not into hell actually but down to earth. It has been suggested that the name "Asura" derives from Zoroaster's God the Zoroastrian deity "Ahura [Mazda]," more than its naïve origin-story of "non-beer" (anti-sura) or sworn off drinking alcohol because of the tale that Sakka got them drunk on a kind of brew in that world before he peacefully cast them out onto the base of Mt. Sumeru, this world.}

      Darius shrouds the short-lived reign of his predecessor in a power struggle involving deceit, conspiracy, murder, and the prize of the Persian throne. He characterizes “Gaumâta” as an opportunist who illegally grabbed the throne in Babylon while the sitting Persian Emperor Kambujiya was away in Egypt.

      Relief carving of Darius the Great
      Relief carving of Darius the Great (Iran Chamber)

      Written in the Cuneiform script on tablets at Mount Bisutun (aka Behistun) in three different languages: Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian (a form of Akkadian), the Bisutun Inscriptions may have echoed the name of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the man who became the Buddha [the "Enlightened One" or the "Awakened One"], in the name of a little known King of Babylon.

      The inscriptions refer to a religious figure named “Gaumâta,” from whom the Achaemenid Persian Emperor Darius the Great seized the throne in Babylon. Darius painted “Gaumâta” an imposter and illegal ruler, although the description does not seem to fit the highly educated and beloved leader [the Buddha].

      Darius identified him as a Magi (practitioner of esoteric knowledge), and sardonically labeled him as a “stargazer.” If the name “Gaumâta” referred to Siddhartha Gautama, this reference would mean that he held a key leadership position in the Magi Order. Moreover, as the headquarters of the Magi was in the temple complex of Esagila ["temple whose top is lofty"], home of the ziggurat tower dubbed “House of the Raised Head,” the designation of “stargazer” suggests that Gautama was involved with Babylon’s star observatory.

      Could it be that Siddhartha Gautama was the mysterious King “Gaumâta”? [Dr. Ranajit Pal ( would say yes.]

      During lifetime of Buddha (b. 563 - d. 483 BCE) when the Persian Empire stretched from Egypt to the Indus, Darius the Great comes to power by overthrowing the stargazer-Magus "Gaumata" in Babylon about whom his Bisutun Inscriptions claim: "he seized the kingdom on July 1, 522 BCE. Then I prayed to Ahuramazda and slew him." Image of Darius reasserting Persian domination stomps on "rebels" with inscriptions etched below.During lifetime of the Buddha (563-483 BCE), when the Persian Empire stretched from Egypt to the Indus, Darius the Great comes to power by overthrowing the stargazer-Magus "Gaumata" in Babylon about whom his Bisutun Inscriptions claim: "he seized the kingdom on July 1, 522 BCE. Then I prayed to Ahura-Mazda and slew him." Image of Darius, reasserting Persian domination, stomps on "rebels" with inscriptions etched below.

      The name “Gaumâta” appears to be a variant of Gautama, the Buddha’s family name. In the ancient multilingual land of Babylonia, multiple names and titles with spelling variations referring to the same person were common.

      Does evidence of the Babylonian Magi Order’s influences appear in Buddhist literature? Could we discover Mesopotamian references in the Buddhist scriptures?

      The earliest mathematical systems, astronomical measurements, and mythological literature were initiated in the ziggurat tower-temples of the Fertile Crescent by the cultures of Sumer/Akkad and Amorite Babylonia. Both Magi and Vedic seers furthered knowledge of a cosmic infrastructure, well known in the Buddha’s time from the Tigris to the Ganges.

      Discovering this connection in the Buddhist sutras would challenge the prevailing view that Buddhism was born and developed in isolation exclusively in India [actually simultaneously in Gandhara/Afghanistan, right next to Iran/Persia]. Although the oral legacy of the sutras were assembled and recorded later in India, a Babylonian finding would have major implications regarding the origin, influences, and intentions of the Buddha.

      Byzantine depiction of the Three Magi in a 7th-century mosaic at Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo. Byzantine depiction of the Three Magi in a 7th-century mosaic at Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo. (Wikimedia Commons)

      [It sounds like the Buddha]
      Described as a compassionate philosopher-cosmologist, “Gaumâta” decreed freedom for slaves, lowered oppressive taxes across the board, and inspired neighbors to respect one another in a city known for its diverse ethnic groups and many languages. His espousal of liberty, human rights, and generosity supports the thesis that “Gaumâta” and Gautama were one and the same person.

      Prince Siddharta Gautama shaves the hair off his head as the sign to decline his status as ksatriya (warrior class) and becomes an ascetic hermit, his servants hold his sword, crown, and princely jewelry while his horse Kanthaka stands on right. Bas-relief panel at Borobudur, Java, Indonesia.Prince Siddhartha Gautama shaves the hair off his head as a sign declining his status as a ksatriya (warrior class) royal and becomes an ascetic hermit. His servants hold his sword, crown, and princely jewelry while his horse, Kanthaka, stands on right. Bas-relief panel at Borobudur, Java, Indonesia. (Wikimedia Commons)

      Darius, a military strongman, and a member of the Achaemenid family, prepared for his coup with a propaganda campaign designed to legitimize his overthrow of “Gaumâta.” In his public inscription he referred to his cohorts as witnesses who would confirm the killing of the usurper.

      While his story appears to be full of cunning deceptions, the real behind the scenes story of this episode has remained elusive to history. Certainly as Darius had good reason to write history in his own self-interest, what happened has gone undetected for thousands of years because historians know little to nothing about “Gaumâta.”

      Of course, if “Gaumâta” was really Siddhartha Gautama, this assassination had to be a lie, because he did go on to become the Buddha. Either someone else was murdered in the name of “Gaumâta,” or Darius shrewdly produced a disinformation campaign designed to cover up what really happened.

      With the “death of the imposter,” the new emperor wanted to send a message to supporters of “Gaumâta” that he would not tolerate rebellions and suppressed any hope for the return of this popular leader. But in the wake of the coup 19 rebellions arose throughout the empire. It would take Darius more than a year of brutal military action to crush the liberation-minded communities inspired by “Gaumâta.” Source