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Thread: Can we reconstruct mahayana Greco-Buddhism(doctrines, practices, rituals)?

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    Veteran Member Jacques de Imbelloni's Avatar
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    Default Can we reconstruct mahayana Greco-Buddhism(doctrines, practices, rituals)?

    Greco-Buddhism, or Graeco-Buddhism, is the cultural syncretism between Hellenistic culture and Buddhism, which developed between the 4th century BC and the 5th century AD in Bactria and the Indian subcontinent. It was a cultural consequence of a long chain of interactions begun by Greek forays into India from the time of Alexander the Great.

    Mahayana GrecoBactrian-Buddhism has had a large influence in china, japan and tibet.
    Can we reconstruct the doctrines, practices and rituals of Graeco-Buddhism, by using the textS that survived via zen/chan?



    This type of buddhism should also include a good chunk of greek paganism in it.







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    There are antique books that talk about the Hellenistic element in Japanese Buddhism. It also exists in Tibetan Buddhism. I think I read somewhere that the Bodhisattva Manjushri evolved from Hellenistic solar deities.



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    Veteran Member Jacques de Imbelloni's Avatar
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    Nio

    Niō (仁王) or Kongōrikishi (金剛力士) are two wrathful and muscular guardians of the Buddha standing today at the entrance of many Buddhist temples in East Asian Buddhism in the form of frightening wrestler-like statues. They are dharmapala manifestations of the bodhisattva Vajrapāṇi, the oldest and most powerful of the Mahayana Buddhist pantheon. According to Japanese tradition, they travelled with Gautama Buddha to protect him and there are references to this in the Pāli Canon as well as the Ambaṭṭha Sutta. Within the generally pacifist tradition of Buddhism, stories of dharmapalas justified the use of physical force to protect cherished values and beliefs against evil. The Niō are also seen as a manifestation of Mahasthamaprapta, the bodhisattva of power that flanks Amitābha in Pure Land Buddhism and as Vajrasattva in Tibetan Buddhism.



    Hellenistic influence

    Kongōrikishi are a possible case of the transmission of the image of the Greek hero Heracles to East Asia along the Silk Road. Heracles was used in Greco-Buddhist art to represent Vajrapani, the protector of the Buddha, and his representation was then used in China and Japan to depict the protector gods of Buddhist temples. This transmission is part of the wider Greco-Buddhist syncretic phenomenon, where Buddhism interacted with the Hellenistic culture of Central Asia from the 4th century BC to the 4th century AD.




    Nio Zen Buddhism

    Nio Zen Buddhism was a practice advocated by the Zen monk Suzuki Shōsan (1579–1655), who advocated Nio Zen Buddhism over Nyorai Zen Buddhism. He recommended that practitioners should meditate on Nio and even adopt their fierce expressions and martial stances in order to cultivate power, strength and courage when dealing with adversity.[5] Suzuki described Nio as follows: "The Niō (Vajrapani) is a menacing God. He wields the kongōsho (vajra) and he can crush your enemies. Depend on him, pray to him that he will protect you as he protects the Buddha. He vibrates with energy and spiritual power which you can absorb from him in times of need."

    Last edited by Jacques de Imbelloni; 07-15-2019 at 03:26 PM.

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    Dharmapalas as Heracles, I never thought about that. It makes sense because Dharmapalas also wield clubs, attributes of Heracles. Their muscular physique also mimics Heracles'. Note that Heracles also has a lion-skin. Tiger and lion skins are also worn by Shaiva deities (Shiva and his attendants, manifestations), and Dionysus is also depicted wearing the skin of a big cat. Alain Danielou, a brilliant French scholar of Hinduism and practitioner of Shaivism (he was initiated into a Shaiva sampradaya as a yogin), wrote a book Dionysus and Shiva that explains possible interaction between Greco-Roman and Indian archetypes along trade routes. Notice that the Anatolian deity Cybele, called Magna Mater, who became a prominent deity in the later Roman empire is depicted on a chariot pulled by lions. The Hindu goddess Durga rides a lion and Kali rides a tiger.



    Fuente de Cibeles, Madrid Spain.



    Durga on Lion



    Kali on a Tiger



    Hellenistic Egypt was the meeting place of several belief systems which may explain the similarities between some Buddhist and Christian parables.


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