18 January, 2018

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Greek Toga & Buddhist Robe – Links & Cultural Significance

By Lionel Bopage

Dr Lionel Bopage

Greek invasion of India

In the 4th century BC, the Greek invasion of India led by Alexander the Great opened a new dimension to the trade, commercial and cultural links in the Indian sub-continent.[1] He was said to be “unusually open to foreign religious influences”, “embraced many non-Greek deities and practices” and promoted “cross-cultural integration aimed at preventing and pacifying ethnic tensions in his settlements.”[2] Long before his arrival on India’s north-western border, there are references in early Indian literature calling the Greeks “Yavanas”.[3] This word appears in the Mahabaharata. For seventy-five years after Alexander the Great’s death, Greek immigrants poured into the East. The new Hellenistic culture spread as far east as India. Throughout the Hellenistic period, Greeks and Easterners became familiar with and adapted themselves to each other’s customs, religions, and ways of life.

Cultural synthesis

In India, the Pali word “Yona” and an equivalent word “Yavana” were used to designate Greek speaking people. This is thought to be a transliteration of the Greek word for “Ionians”, the first Greeks probably known to be in the East. For example, “Alexandria” is referred to as “the city of the Yonas” in the Mahavamsa, Chapter 29 (4th century CE). The debatable concept of Hellenization[4] denotes the spread of Greek language, culture, and population into the former Persian Empire after the conquest by Alexander. When the rich Greek (Hellenic) culture met with the rich Indian culture, the occurrence of a cultural synthesis would have been obvious.

The presence of Indo-Greek kings has been known through analysis of coins and study of ancient inscriptions. The Indo-Greek Kingdoms in the northern frontiers of India were partly Greek, ruled consecutively by more than thirty kings and would have covered various parts of the Indian Subcontinent.[5] Indo-Greeks would have been involved with many local faiths such as Hinduism and Zoroastrianism and particularly with Buddhism. The Hellenic cultural influence on early Buddhist culture is well known, apparently influencing the first images of the Buddha. The early representation of the Buddha wearing robes in the Hellenistic style is said to have originated in India. So, it is reasonable to assume that under Greco Buddhism, the Greek toga would have influenced the monks’ dress code.

The Greek conquest of parts of India led Maurya King Chandraguptha to fight back and liberate the parts of India Greeks had captured. Yet, he married the daughter of a Greek King. King Ashoka was the third successor of the Maurya dynasty. In fact, King Ashoka had referred to five Greek kingdoms where Buddhist missionary activities had been undertaken. As illustrated by the Greek King Menander, known also as Milinda, who converted to Buddhism and became a great benefactor of the religion.[6]

Imperial action and activities of Buddhist monks spread Buddhism beyond the Indian sub-continent, into areas where the Greeks were “politically, culturally and economically prominent”. Buddhists had defended their religious views while in contact with other faiths. The Yonas had laid the foundations for “a cultural market” that not only reflected a fusion of cultures, but a celebration of their newly acquired faith. King Asoka is said to have sent “dhamma missionaries” to “the Greek rulers in Syria, Egypt, Macedonia, Cyrene and Epirus”.[7]

Images of the Buddha

The Buddha passed away at the age of eighty, sometime between the years 486 and 473 BCE. He would not have intended to set up a new religion, but his followers raised him to divinity while conducting rituals and worshipping symbols he himself rejected in principle. In the third century BCE, King Ashoka uncovered his ashes and dispersed them, creating stupas all over India. All the Buddhist sculpture of that period do not show the image of Buddha, but was depicted in the form of an emblem such as a Dharma Chakra (Wheel of the Dharma)[8], a throne, a pair of footprints or a Bo (or bodhi or papal) tree.

For example, the wheel symbol on some of King Menander’s coins is thought to be depictive of Buddhism. The Coin of Menander II (90–85 BCE) had “King Menander, follower of the Dharma” in Kharoshthi script. In addition, some rare Buddhist coins (only six are known) show the great Kushan King Kanishka (128–151 CE) on the obverse and the standing Buddha on the reverse with the words “Boddo” in Greek script, holding the left corner of his cloak in his hand and forming the Abhaya Mudra[9].

The first Hellenistic Buddha statues may be representative of the Greek king Demetrius, who is said to have been the prototype for the image of the Buddha. The earliest statues portrayed the Buddha in a style reminiscent of a king. In Gandharan art, Demetrius and images of the Buddha are shown to share the Greek god Herakles, as the symbol of Vajrapani, the protector of the Buddha. The figure of the Buddha was incorporated within architectural designs and the Buddha’s life was typically depicted in a Greek architectural and cultural environment.

Cultural confluence

The cultural synthesis, particularly, in the sphere of philosophy had been more marked during this period. For example, the Indian concepts of ‘Karma’ and ‘Rebirth’ are said to have influenced the world outlooks of Plato and Pythagoras and the practice of monasticism had influenced the philosophy and lifestyle of the monks in Greece. Yet, the impact of the Indo-Greeks on Indian thought and religion is relatively unknown. Mahāyāna Buddhism is believed to have started around the first century BC in the North-western Indian subcontinent, during a period when Indo-Greek influence was flourishing.

Pyrrho of Elis, a Greek philosopher credited as being the first Greek sceptic philosopher with his mentor Anaxarchus had been in the entourage of King Alexander. Pyrrho’s ethical doctrines had resonated with the Buddha’s concept of Anathama, of suspecting beliefs and dogmas concerning the self “as a source of true knowledge”. Both Pyrrho and Buddhists employed tetralemma (‘catuskoti’ in Sanskrit), a concept of four-fold negation, to the effect that any logical proposition has the four possibilities of affirmation (it is), negation (it is not), both (it is and is not) and neither it neither is nor is not).[10]

Hinduism and Persian and Greco-Roman theologies that filtered into India from the northwest also appear to have influenced Mahayana Buddhism. Certain Mahayana concepts such as reality and knowledge seem to relate to Greek philosophical schools of thought.[11] Mahayana Buddhism itself is said to have originated in the Greco-Buddhist communities of India. Indian texts refer to King Menander building a stupa in Pataliputra. These stupas had added Hellenistic architectural decorations of that period. Several Indo-Greek kings have apparently used the title “Dharmikasa”, meaning “Follower of the Dharma” in the Kharoshthi script[12].

Schools of Art – Gandhara and Mathurā

The Hellenic impact on Indian art and architecture, philosophy, coinage, drama and science was significant. Gandhara and Mathurā flourished under the Kushan kings. Both are famous as centres of production for images of the Buddha. The Gandhara Schools of art and sculpture (also known as the Greco Buddhist School of Art in Afghanistan) was based in the lower Kabul Valley and the upper Indus around Peshawar in Pakistan. Yet, the Buddha image is believed to have originated at Mathurā, south of Delhi. The influence of the Gandhara School of Art later spread also over to Thakshila and Sārnath.

Indian artists started building Buddhist images, employing Greek techniques but with an Indian spirit and style. One of the main characteristics of this style of art was the anthropomorphic[13] representation of Buddha and Bodhisattvas especially in its sculptural manifestations. In both Gandhara and Mathurā, human images of the Buddha began to appear at about the same time, but can be distinguished from one another. The Gandharan images are “very clearly Greco-Roman in inspiration with the Buddha wearing wavy locks tucked up into a chignon and heavier toga-like robes”. The Mathura images “closely resemble some of the older Indian male fertility gods and have shorter, curlier hair and lighter, more translucent robes”[14].

In the 1830s CE coins of the post-Ashoka period were discovered and in 1838 CE, the Kharosthi script was deciphered. Chinese records provided locations and site plans of Buddhists shrines. The discovery of coins and these records provided necessary clues to piece together the history of Gandhara. In 1848 CE Gandhara sculptures were found in north of Peshawar and the site of Taxila was identified in the 1860s CE. Since then, a large number of Buddhist statues have been discovered in the Peshawar valley.

The Buddhist robe

Essentially Buddhist monks did not have any possessions. The robe they had was easy to clean and mend and usable as a blanket, a groundsheet, a seat-spread, a head-cover or even a windbreak.[15] The robe also symbolised their renunciation of “Samsara”[16] and moral discipline. I recollect learning in the Daham Pasala[17], that during the time of the Buddha, of the practice of gathering rags from charnel grounds to sew into robes. The monks removed, washed and wore them as robes. With natural plant dyes (called ‘kahata’[18]) being used to treat the clothing, the colour varied from grey, brown to yellow.

The Buddhist robe called “cheevaraya” (cīvara) had no particular design. Reflecting the path of detachment, the robe symbolised modesty, humility, simplicity and non-elaboration. The best robe material was that which had no value to others. The precepts urged monks to wear robes taken from rubbish dumps. The original robe made of discarded clothing was simply stitched together to form three rectangular pieces that could be wrapped around the body and draped over the shoulder to prevent it from becoming undone. The “ticīvara” or ‘triple robe’[19] is the code found in Theravada Buddhism, of which the way of wearing is quite similar to the way the mantle or wrap ancient Greeks had worn, as can be seen in the Greco Buddhist art of Gandhāra.

A symbol of renunciation

The robe, the shaved head and the bowl denoted renunciation of the world and its objects. But then, this simplicity of clothing would have been the reason why at that time, it appeared all over the world, not only in Greece and Asia, but also in ancient Norse and Celtic cultures, throughout the Pacific Islands, and even in South America. The reason for draping the robe over the left shoulder is thought to be due to with the fact that most humans are right handed. When dressing one self, one uses the right hand as it is natural to roll it across the body over the left shoulder.

Among the Abrahamic religions and the ancient Greek traditions dress simplicity had been prevalent. Catholic priests traditionally wore a cassock usually with a clerical collar. The Jewish Orthodox community wore black garments to show a lack of concern for colour and fashion. Dress simplicity was a feature of ancient Hinduism, Jainism and the naga religious. Some of them even went to the extreme of remaining nude. The Buddhist monastic codes[20] allowed using three rectangular pieces of cloth as religious robes. These would have resembled the clothing of the commoners. Hence, colours and materials would have been used to distinguish those who had discarded worldly possessions to embark upon the path to the enlightenment – the Nibbana[21].

Modern society and the Buddhist robe

To digress: A monk’s appearance projects the view that s/he has chosen to remove choices from their lives, adhering to the policy of “no preferences”. Yet, would Buddhism as envisaged by its founders thrive in our modern consumer obsessed society, if monks kept the ancient traditions of using former burial cloths as their robes? On the one hand, if the importance of Buddhism comes down to the kind of clothing monks wear, then something appears to be wrong with its contemporary application. In a neo-liberal individualist and consumerist society, laypeople’s attitudes may have influenced the behaviour of Buddhist monks.[22] Commitment to simplicity and detachment then becomes problematic when faced with the expectations of the mores of society.

If the Buddha was among the living today, instead of teaching the disciples to dress as renunciates, would he have risked offending others by not adopting royal dress codes. According to this school of thought the clothes monks wear are not for themselves, but for their disciples and laymen. At the same time, royal dress codes could become a too expensive habit, which has become in too many instances a status symbol. This can be a distraction as it emphasises an attachment to the material world, rather than renunciation. Does not this also reflect upon the wearers religious understanding and priorities?[23]

The robes, bowl and other few items a monk uses were intended to represent the “Middle Path”[24] and symbolise the practice of simplicity in life. With splits occurring due to diverse interpretations of the Dhamma, many changes have taken place.[25] With increasing elaboration of the Buddhist robe, many people in Sri Lanka that I know, find it difficult to accommodate buying “Ata-Pirikara” as offerings to monks on religious occasions. In modern robes, for example, the patched panels of robes are bordered with a dark material, forming a robe of striking contrasts. The colder climate and dress customs in the East Asian countries like China, Japan and Korea would have led to the use of tailored garments being worn beneath the robe, ultimately paving the way for a single kimono-like garment.

Robes as Symbols of power

Nevertheless, the robe became a symbol of power; subsequently many monks became attached to many material possessions despite Buddha’s teaching against it. Nowadays, the robe symbolises wealth, power and strength. The colours of the robe vary by country, region, sect, position and occasion, they have become symbols to control human culture. Monks of different sects wear clothes of a particular colour, quality and design; in a particular fashion. For example, there is movement from white to saffron in Thailand and from black to deep purple in Japan.

As the above discussion indicates, there are many similarities found between the Roman or Greek “toga” and the Buddhist robe. However, there is no definite evidence to substantiate the statement that the “Ancient Greek Robe has influenced the Robes worn by Buddhist Monks today”. The process of evolution of the Buddhist robe from a humble three piece clothe to the more modern dress codes such as the use of suits by certain Tibetan lamas in the US[26] or wearing robes only during “work hours” in the temple by Mongolian nuns[27], indicates that many factors would have contributed to this evolution. During the time of the Indo-Greek kings and in the process of “Hellenisation” of the Indian culture, it would be reasonable to believe that the ancient Roman or Greek “toga” would have influenced the dress code of Buddhist monks during the ancient times.

Would one be able to find a response to the query whether the Greek toga has influenced the Buddhist robe, based on tetralemma: the concept of four-fold negation?


[1] Bondada, G 2015, The Role of Monetary Networks in the Trade between India and the Roman Empire, In Südasien-Chronik/South Asia Chronicle, Michael M 2015, 5, 402

[2] Halkias G 2014, When the Greeks Converted the Buddha: Asymmetrical Transfers of Knowledge in Indo-Greek Cultures, In Wick P and Rabens V 2014, Religions and Trade: Religious Formation, Transformation and Cross-Cultural Exchange between East and West, 73-74, Brill.

[3] Andrade N J 2017, Drops of Greek in a Multilingual Sea: The Egyptian Network and its Residential Presences in the Indian Ocean, In The Journal of Hellenic Studies Cairns D, 2017

[4] Hysi, L 2014, The Hellenic Axel: The Greek Hellenization of Central Asia and its Impact of the Development of Buddhism, University of Central Florida, 55

[5] Tyagi M 2017, A Commercial Dialogue between North India and Sri Lanka in Ancient Period, In Innovation The Research Concept, October 2017, 2(9), 133-135.

[6] Thomas G & Kumari N 2010, Buddhism and Social Work, In Thomas G 2010, Origin and Development of Social Work in India, Indira Gandhi Open University, New Delhi, 227

[7] Halkias G 2014, When the Greeks Converted the Buddha: Asymmetrical Transfers of Knowledge in Indo-Greek Cultures, In Wick P and Rabens V 2014, Religions and Trade: Religious Formation, Transformation and Cross-Cultural Exchange between East and West, 90, Brill

[8] The wheel symbolises the endless cycle of samsara, or rebirth and the eight spokes the Noble Eightfold Path set out in the Buddha’s teachings.

[9] The gesture of reassurance.

[10] Halkias G 2014, Ibid, 75.

[11] Zhang J 2012, Buddhist Diplomacy: History and Status Quo, In CPD Perspectives on Public Diplomacy 2012, 7, 15, Figueroa Press, Los Angeles

[12] An ancient script used in ancient Gandhara and ancient India (primarily modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan) to write the Gandhari Prakrit and Sanskrit.

[13] Attribution of human motivation, characteristics, or behaviour to inanimate entities.

[14] Sanujit 2011, Cultural links between India & the Greco-Roman world, In Ancient History Encyclopedia, Accessible at: https://www.ancient.eu/article/208/cultural-links-between-india–the-greco-roman-worl/

[15] Buddha Dharma Education Association & BuddhaNet 2008, The Monastic Robes, Accessible at: https://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhistworld/robe_txt.htm

[16] The endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth

[17] A school of Learning Buddhism at Jinendraramaya in Weligama, Sri Lanka

[18] Literally meaning impure referring to a reddish or brownish-yellow saffron or ocher colour.

[19] Griswold A B 1960, Five Chieng Sèn Bronzes: Of the Eighteenth Century, In Arts Asiatiques 7(1), 15, École française d’Extrême-Orient.

[20] Graumans R 2016, Stories, Symbols and Selves: Female Conversion Experiences in Contemporary Tibetan Buddhist Monasticism, Doctoral Thesis, University of Saskatchewan, 115.

[21] Release from the cycle of rebirth and the extinction of all desires and aversions with the attainment of enlightenment.

[22] Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive 2005, Sangha Dress Code, Accessible at: https://www.lamayeshe.com/advice/sangha-dress-code

[23] Kirichenko A 2012, Atula Hsayadaw Shin Yasa: A Critical Biography of an Eighteenth-Century Burmese Monk, 3-4. See the reference to the robe wearing controversy of Atula in the “one shoulder” vs. the “two shoulder” debate, and the identity markers in the nineteenth century between the Burmese Sulagandi and Dwaya monastic groups and the Rāmañña Nikāya in Sri Lanka.

[24] The eightfold path of Buddhism: a golden mean between self-indulgence and self-mortification.

[25] Zhang J 2012, Ibid, 8.

[26] Midal F 2004, Chogyam Trungpa: His Life and Vision, 308-309, Shambala, USA

[27] Havnevik H et al 2017, Buddhist Modernities: Re-inventing Tradition in the Globalizing Modern World, 123-127

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Latest comments

  • 5
    1

    Thank you Lionel Bopage for the illuminating article on some aspects of the evolution of Buddhism. Parts of the submissions may not be acceptable to conservative practitioners.
    Lionel says ~ “The precepts urged monks to wear robes taken from rubbish dumps”
    A rubbish dump is unthinkable 2500 years ago. Everything would have been recycled. Before the advent of synthetic materials, in rural homes kitchen waste is often fed to cows/goats. Leaves shed by trees are swept, stored and used as fertilisers. Cloths are never thrown away. Cloths beyond recycling were used in perahera procession torches, wicks for oil lamps and so on.
    Most likely old cloths were gifted to monks when they came along with the begging bowl. In due course it became a ‘must-give’ item. Superstition was back with a vengeance.
    Lionel’s submissions are rational and are food for thoughts.

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    Lionel Bopage: The rout taken by you in writing this article is wrong. How do you explain that Pali can non says that there were 27 Buddhas before the Last Buddha. What were they wearing. Story about Prince siddhartha’s leaving the life as a prince says, Prince Saw a Monk. In buddhist boks there is a YONAKAPURA which is modern Saudi Arabia. Yavana is Greeks. Books says Budda even arrived at the Buddhist worship place (Vihara) established at Yonkapura by another monk Probably his name is Punna. YOur saying with respect to where they found abandoned cloths is correct. Those were from abandoend cloths on the road as garbage or wrapped cloths taken from the dead bodies left at the cemetery. You have read so many boks. But, you forgot to read Pali canon (at least get the help of some one) nd the buddhist literature about Buddha’s life.
    You degrade the robe as the symbol of power and strength. Even the buddha’s pupil and the cousin brother Devadaththa went for power While buddha was living. PHumans are naturally greedy and like to collect material posessions. Other than that, Robe is an indication of leaving every materialistic posessions behind and getting into a mendicant life.
    Your kind of making mistakes happen to many people who think that English literature, western scholars did the best work and are accurate and correct. That is an unfortinate situation,. because buddhism is from Asia. You are intelligent person but chose to show dumb.

    • 0
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      It is nice to speak about the unseen. e.g God. There could be millions of interpretation of god. Hitherto it appears that no body has proved beyond reasonable doubt the existence of God. Is it really necessary to to discus God. Very often it is said that he is a ‘god fearing’ man. Why should you fear god? He is not a dangerous individual like man. I believe that God (if there is one or many) fears man. That is why he made them preoccupied with racial, religious/godly fights so that he will be safe. Similar to our politicians who create problems among the people when they are unable to face them and give them what they need. Hindus say they have many Gods and they share power. unlike in other religions. e.g Brammah- Minister of Creation, Sarswathy- Ministerof education, Luxmi Minister of finance , Krishna Minister of love/romance which helps Brammah to create and Shiva to end the lives. A small cabinet indeed with almost equal rights to women.
      Hence it is not necessary for us to build temples and give offerings Less we speak about gods it will benefit both men and God. Makkal servaye mahesan servy. A Tamil saying, meaning ‘serving people is serving God’

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    The word religion came from the west. See the dictionary for it’s meaning. Buddha identified it as MY DOCTRINE. Buddhism is a late word introduced by the westerners.
    Those who went to Tibet identified that buddhism as Mysticism, and there is another that Westerners used to identify Mahayana Buddhism. LAughing buddha used in Mahayana is another symbol to identify buddha and not the True buddha. IF you read about Gandhara and Ajantha arts, you find those were drawan even before the PResent buddha and it talks about a buddha prior to the PResent buddha. Buddha was a prince. HE gave up all the material posessions and selected the mendicant’s robe and later in order to make monks stay that way approves only three robes which hither to monks follow as a sangha discipline. So, all you written is COMPLETELY CRAP.. yOU HAVEN’T READ even the articles ARTICLES PUBLISHED IN CT. Buddha had explained every Buddha preached. Then Atuwa, Atthakatha, Nigandu, Tika, et., has further explaiend those. There is no space to make it diverse. You show your lack of knowledge in buddhism. Your article is full of this kind of BS

    • 3
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      Jim Softy, Buddha was a Hindu who learnt Hindu philosophy and practiced Hindu way of life. At one point of life he became disillusioned with life as he found that people are suffering from birth, aging and death despite following Hinduism. He abdicated his throne, left his wife and went to meditate to find a way to prevent this suffering. He finally came to a conclusion that if you prevent birth, you can prevent suffering and showed the path to lead a good life and attain nibbana after which you will not be born again into this world. Rebirth was a Hindu concept which Buddha has borrowed. He tried to explain rebirth refraining from using the concept of a soul or God. There the statement that “My Doctrine” is not entirely true but only as an interpretation of Hindu doctrine with modification. Sadly what Buddha tried to achieve of preventing birth, aging and death is continuing and he has failed in his mission. But what he said about mundane issues are very relevant to mankind.

      • 1
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        Sankaralingam: I know you and love to have the Dr. letters in front of your name. Yet, unless you have a MBBS which was helped by the JAffna type A/L system, you can not have a Ph D. because your knowledge in the world is zero, nil. Ask some one about the crap you have written. Or read. In case Lionel bopage, He was a Che guvera man who loved to read western literature. E.g what KarlMarx Wrote., You know what happened in Sri lanka because of them. Some how, it looks he does not have any knowledge about Sri Lanka, India, Asia and it’s cultures, (yet he loves the same western culture that he was used loved to hat and he only destroyed young lives) and civilizations.Because, christians and muslims do not know about buddhism. If you does not respect the Asian literature and value only the western everything, then one tries to quote everything what westerners believed and wrote. When you say Buddha is Hindu, it is like saying Jesus is Jew and Mohommad is Pagen. Do you know what Upanishad and Baghavath Gita. thsoe are later written lliterature and associated buddhism. for example, Hindus could not understand Buddha’s ANATHAMA CONCEPT, so they wrote books about Moksha, Atham, Brahman etc., In reality there is no Hinduism and it is Brahminism in which many gods are worshipped by different ethnic groups. Buddhism was absorbed by Brahmins. Bopage discussing about a king like buddha is the future buddha Maithri who will be enlightened as a king. that is unlike the present Buddha who had to live a asectic life for six years. Bopage, I hbave to be straight forward. Itis simply stupid to believe that Huiman civilization the way the west tells us. Indian, chinese civilizations are very old. Even the australian Aborignies had a culture until whites began destroying it. In brief what you have written about buddhism or the robe is all BS.

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        Dr. Gnana,

        Why don’t you people follow what lord Buddha had preached? You people should easily attain Nirvana because the Buddha burrowed things from Hinduism?

        • 2
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          Shenali, Buddhism is only the 7th oldest religion in the world, behind Hinduism, Zorastrianism, Judaism, Confucianism, Taoism and even 50 years behind Jainism. While Hinduism is at least 5000 years older than Buddhism. There is no doubt teaching of Buddha is excellent and valuable, but unfortunately Buddhists are groping in the dark seeking solace in other religions as what is happening in Srilanka, China and even Thailand. Nirvana is only hypotheses not proved in a scientific way, which Buddha mentioned it in Magadi as Nibbana.

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            Dr, ghana Sankaralingam: I think, it is that buddhism which says if one doe snot recognize that he is an idiot, he would be the most foolish man. Please think about it. Jain Mahaveera is a contemporary of Lord buddha. For your god’s sake, go and read what Zoroatrianism and what hinduism is. Why there are so many castes for hindus based different gods. Shiva, Iswar, vishnu etc., are for whom, Krishna is for whom.

            • 2
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              If what Buddha had told is correct then you are the biggest fool. Read what is written carefully before coming to stupid conclusion.Where have I said that both are not contemporaries (lived around same time). For your information Mahavira the founder of Jainism was born in 599 BC in Vaishali and is older than Buddha born in 563 BC in Lumbini. They were both of Royal families who abdicated in search of the truth. What I have said is that the doctrine of Jainism had followers 50 years before the doctrine of Buddhism came to be known. It may be that Mahavira reached enlightenment quicker than Buddha. If you ask Jains, they will say Mahavira was more clever than Buddha. Unlike Buddhism which had King Asoka as a sponsor to spread it to other countries, Jainism did not have anyone and remained only in India.

        • 0
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          shenali:was it you who used to write via the Defense Dept web site?

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        Rebirth is a Hindu concept.? What authentic evidence can you produce in support of that statement.?

        • 2
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          I pity your ignorance. Not only rebirth, but karma are both mentioned in Hindu philosophy. Hindus believed that there is a connection of a living being in the present world to a being who lived in the world in the past and called it rebirth. Karma was the name given to the deeds done by one in the present birth. Hindus believed that there is a soul which carried this Karma with it when leaving the dead body and enters the body of another living being not necessarily Human. This is in contrast to reincarnation, only attributed to divine beings. Buddha accepted both and interpreted in a way not to involve a soul. Therefore Karma and Rebirth are not what Buddha propounded but that was in existence. If you analyse correctly, Buddhism is Buddha’s version of Hindu doctrine.

      • 2
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        This is so full of errors that its not worth contradicting. Think of ‘rebirth’ as a mental rather than a physical phenomenon and you may see how profound the Buddha’s discoveries were, and how far you are from understanding them.

        • 1
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          No one need to worry about what another has discovered. Buddha said man is the master of his own destiny. Therefore every human has to think for himself and come to his own conclusion, unless a person like you who does not have the mental capacity to do that. Problems of suffering of humans are being solved by science. To say that teaching of Buddha is the panacea of all ills is height of stupidity.

    • 0
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      ‘BS’ ‘ westerners’….. value judging and labelling..Did Buddha not preached against them?.Jim softly, you are contradicting yourself. same as all the religious people do.

  • 1
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    YOur article explains very well the mentality of those che guwera people. They did not know the majority religion of the country they lived. they did not respect the culture where they lived. they were scared of their poverty, and hated rich. So, got innocent youth to get killed, then left the country and now write crap.

  • 2
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    Dear Dr L.B. It is a great piece of research. Thank you.

    In or about 1977 there was a Sri Lankan researcher at U. of Tehran or at SOAS at U of London.He told me that in SL the word Yavana and Yona had different meanings at different times: Yavana= Greek; Yavana= People coming from the West, Marakkalas from Morocco & Muslims. In BOTALE, Mirigama, there is a pit called Yona Marapu Wala. When some very influential people of Botale and their very influential cart owning relatives of Madapatha – near Horana-Piliyandala wanted to establish their own business and influence , that is what they did to the YONA. He was a Muslim of substance. Even to date Muslims near Yona Marapu Wala relate the old story.

  • 2
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    Dear Dr Bopage,
    It is a pity that Jim Softy wrote to you in a very “simple” manner. We all must sympathize with such persons with a problem with compassion. I knew that the Researcher knew Vijaya and Achcha- 2 brothers in England, a Barrister-law lecturer and an Architect. They had mentioned your name as a bright young man.
    Kindly note the following that were mentioned by the same researcher mentioned by me above;
    The Greeks were in Bactria & India; Some exclusive, blonde blue eyed Greeks who worship Greek gods even today are in the NW frontier of Pakistan called KALASH PEOPLE. Their ancestors had come to that area with Alexander/Alisander or in Persian, Eskandari the Great; The word SAOSHYANT (Avestan word for the person who gives good things or saviour and the concept was borrowed by other religions as, the first coming of Jesus the saviour as introduced by Romans to keep the rebel Jews silent, the “second coming of Jesus, Maitreya of Buddhists and Mehdi of Islam ,the 13th Prophet.

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    Dr L.B.
    The Researcher Contd: As Phallawabhoghas, an Avestan Language speaking Persians had attended the pinnacle laying ceremony of the MAHASTUPA in Anuradhapura.See the ref. in the Mahavamsa. Pahlavi is the script. That time the Persian Empire was smaller and was called Parthia. There were Buddhists, Zoroastrians and Jews in Parthia. Later , when the Armenian nation was formed in Parthia, before Constantinople’s Christian Roman Empire was formed , Armenians and Ethiopians had the earliest Christian Empires. According to the late Prof. T.W.Bailey, even today there are words used by Armenians that have roots in Pali of the Buddhist Sutras; Buddhism went to China from Parthian Persia & NOT FROM INDIA, according to Chinese annals.GREEK & PERSIAN influence on BUDDHISM are forgotten.
    Thanks Readers.

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    You blame monks for accumulating material wealth. In Buddha’s time, People were very rich and they did not see the importance of accumulation of wealth. IT is not the same now. As per buddha as the time goes people go more into accumulating material so do the monks. In brief, you need to understand buddhism before criticizing it by reading try buddhist books written in Asia. Pali canon and related books are way to go.
    As Tamil and also some others say, if you read only the mahavamsa, you would understand only sinhale and sinhala -buddhist civilization and culture and not the buddhism.

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    Dear Readers,
    We all must know that History,Psychology and Sociology are social sciences. So , we cannot be certain about what Buddha Taught unless a thorough scientific analysis is done as in the way European Padres of the 19th Century did to the Bible. There is no contemporary Historical evidence to establish that a person called Jesus ever lived. Jesus, however, is in the FAITH of the people. Buddha was a semi-historical figure only because his parentage etc was tradition. To establish that Gautama Buddha existed there is evidence in the archeological survey of India starting with Lord Cunningham’s finding of “Sarvagna Dhatu” (now deposited at the Vidyalankara Pirivena; it was a personal gift to the late Sir Baron Jayatilaka by an Oxford U. Professor), Sariyuth Mugalan (Chief disciples) relics unearthed, scientifically tested etc. and Ashoka Inscriptions. Prof. Elliot who wrote 2 vols on Hinduism quotes Apocrypha, which records that a buddha came to preach in a Zoroastrian area and was chased away.

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      Stupid Bawa: Zorastrians are a combination of Islam and Hindu. Evennoe they live inIran and they are highly discriminated not by the govt but by muslims. Instead, of writing crap, if you can wuote here what you write. I don’t think that ever happened that zoroastrians chased buddha. that can never happen. Besides Zorastrians are not animals the way muslims are.

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        Jim Softy you are the stupid fellow. It is Sikhism that is a combination of Hinduism and Islam. It was developed as a militant religion to counter Muslims, and has been successful. If you come to Southall in London you will see that no Pakistani will ever confront a Sikh for fear of being hammered. Few years ago some Somali fellows who did not know the power of Sikhs tried t be funny with Sikh girls who are beautiful compared to Somali girls. After several warnings as Somalis continued ignoring it, Sikhs hammered them and ever since Somalis never tried their tricks on Sikhs or for that matter any Asian looking girls. How can Zorastrianism be a combination of Hinduism and Islam, as Zorastrianism was being practiced at least 5000 years before the birth of Islam. Zorastrianism evolved on its own worshipping fire unlike Jainism and Buddhism which took their base in Hinduism. Iranian Muslims committed ethnic cleansing of Zorastrians and these people are found in India (Tata, Birla, Engineer, Contractor) and in Srilanka (Rustomjee, Pestonjee, Choksy). Buddha preached his doctrine in his realm which is parts of Bihar, Uttara Pradesh and Nepal and made 03 flying visits to Srilanka.

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    An interesting and illuminating piece. Thanks.

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    Jim Softy.I am not stupid. I am an independent academician. You do not seem to be knowing Sufism from Zoroastrianism or as another above said, Zoroastrianism from Sikhism. Read what we say, do research about the veracity. Do not be impulsive and insulting in this forum.

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    Me think that the best solution to the problems created by the safron robed gentry is (i) Emasculate everybody who walks about with a safron robe. That was the custom in Rome and Greece.

    If they participate in politics- which they are banned as they are paid for by the Tax payer – then hit them with a 2×2 inch pole on the head. The pole should have a six inch nail at the end.

    The animals at the zoo need flesh.Any flesh from the safron robed should be tasty morsel to them.

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