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How the Buddha became a popular Christian saint

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by Vouthon, Mar 21, 2018.

  1. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    How the Buddha became a popular Christian saint

    How the Buddha became a popular Christian saint


    [​IMG]

    A Christian depiction of Josaphat (the Buddha, left), 12th Century manuscript.

    Christianity has been intertwined with the Indian subcontinent almost from the beginnings of the faith. The apostles Thomas and Bartholomew are both said to have traveled to India to preach the Gospel. And Christianity has been influenced by India in return. Two of medieval Europe’s most popular saints, Barlaam and Josaphat, were in fact Christianized versions of the Buddha, whose life story and teachings were adapted to the message of Christ. The transformation of the Buddha into a Christian figure demonstrates how much the two spiritual traditions share—and reveals the special beauty of medieval Christian piety.

    The Buddha, or Siddhartha Gautama, was born to a noble family in India in the fourth or fifth century B.C. Renouncing his wealth to pursue wisdom, he founded what became one of the world's most important spiritual traditions. Hagiographies began to appear soon after his death, combining fantastical versions of his biography with his sermons and parables. The stories traveled throughout Asia, reaching the frontiers of Europe by the 10th century A.D. Monks in the Byzantine Empire took the story for their own. They replaced the Buddha with the fictitious Indian saint Josaphat (the name of an Old Testament king) and created the character of Barlaam from Bodhisattva, the Buddhist term for an enlightened person. But the story itself hardly changed.

    According to the Buddhist legend and its Byzantine adaptation, a king was granted a son after many years of childlessness. Raised in a palace, the young prince never saw poverty, sickness, old age or death. But one day, he snuck out of the palace and encountered on the road beggars, victims of disease and a funeral procession. Realizing that suffering was omnipresent, the prince could not return to the comfort of his father’s house. He began a quest for truth, in which he was helped, depending on the version, either by the supernatural beings of the Buddhist pantheon or by Barlaam, a Christian priest.

    The Byzantine story was translated into Latin and became one of the key texts of the medieval European church. Preachers in need of a sermon could find inspiration in its parables, which had been given a Christian interpretation by the Greek and Latin translators. A particularly famous one describes how a man chased by a tiger tripped over a cliff. Grasping onto a vine to stop his fall, the man sees another fearsome animal below him, the tiger still above him and a pair of mice gnawing through the vine, from which hangs a ripe fruit. With his free hand, he plucks the fruit and finds to his delight that it is the most delicious he has ever tasted.

    This story is today often interpreted among Western Buddhists of the Zen tradition as a call to enjoy life in the moment. In its medieval Christian interpretation, it was a stern warning: The sweetness that comes from the vine is the false pleasure of the world, by which people are so taken in that they forget the danger that pursues them.

    The Greek and Latin versions of Barlaam and Josaphat’s story represent a fascinating moment in the encounter between different cultures and spiritual traditions. Reading them, however, does not reveal much about why Barlaam and Josaphat became two of the era’s most beloved saints. The real appeal of the two Indian saints can be found in works of theater and poetry written for popular audiences in French, Spanish and other emerging languages of medieval Europe

     
    #1 Vouthon, Mar 21, 2018
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  2. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Ioasaph (Georgian Iodasaph, Arabic Yūdhasaf or Būdhasaf: Arabic "b" could become "y" by duplication of a dot in handwriting) ultimately derives his name from the Sanskrit Bodhisattva.

    It's interesting to reflect on the fact that generations of medieval Catholics and Orthodox Christians were unconsciously venerating and praying for intercession to Gautama Buddha.

    Precisely when the Buddha first entered the church's record of saints (under the guise of St. Josaphat) is not entirely clear, but he is present in the Catalogus Sanctorum by petrus Natalibus, Bishop of Equilio, completed near the end of the fourteenth century. Pope Sixtus V authorized Cardinal Cesare Baronius (1538– 1607) to create a standard martyrologium for the Catholic Church and his memorial day is listed there as November 27th, noting, "Among the Indians, near the Persian boundary, the Saints Barlaam and Josaphat, whose wondrous deeds were written".

    See:

    Saint Josaphat

    Barlaam and Josaphat - Wikipedia

    Barlaam and Josaphat (Latin: Barlamus et Iosaphatus) are two legendary Christian martyrs and saints...It tells how an Indian king persecuted the Christian Church in his realm. When astrologers predicted that his own son would some day become a Christian, the king imprisoned the young prince Josaphat, who nevertheless met the hermit Saint Barlaam and converted to Christianity. After much tribulation the young prince's father accepted the true faith, turned over his throne to Josaphat, and retired to the desert to become a hermit. Josaphat himself later abdicated and went into seclusion with his old teacher Barlaam.[2] The tale derives from a second to fourth century Sanskrit Mahayana Buddhist text, via a Manichaean version, then the Arabic Kitab Bilawhar wa-Yudasaf (Book of Bilawhar and Yudasaf), current in Baghdad in the eighth century, from where it entered into Middle Eastern Christian circles before appearing in European versions. The two were entered in the Eastern Orthodox calendar with a feast-day on 26 August,[3] and in the Roman Martyrology in the Western Church as "Barlaam and Josaphat" on the date of 27 November.[4]

    The story of Barlaam and Josaphat or Joasaph is a Christianized and later version of the story of Siddhartha Gautama, who became the Buddha.[5]

     
    #2 Vouthon, Mar 21, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
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  3. Jumi

    Jumi Well-Known Member

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    That's very interesting!
     
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  4. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Thanks for reading!

    Here's a link to the original text:

    Barlaam and Josaphat: A Christian Tale of the Buddha | U-M LSA Romance Languages and Literatures

    Barlaam and Josaphat: A Christian Tale of the Buddha

    Gui de Cambrai, Peggy McCracken (Translator), Donald S. Lopez Jr. (Introduction)

    A new translation of the most popular Christian tale of the Middle Ages, which springs from the story of the Buddha.

    When his astrologers foretell that his son Josaphat will convert to Christianity, the pagan King Avenir confines him to a palace, allowing him to know only the pleasures of the world, and to see no illness, death, or poverty. Despite the king's precautions, the hermit Barlaam comes to Josaphat and begins to teach the prince Christian beliefs through parables. Josaphat converts to Christianity, angering his father, who tries to win his son back to his religion before he, too, converts. After his father's death, Josaphat renounces the world and lives as a hermit in the wilderness with his teacher Barlaam. Long attributed to the eighth-century monk and scholar, St. John of Damascus, Barlaam and Josaphat was translated into numerous languages around the world. Philologists eventually traced the name Josaphat as a derivation from the Sanskrit bodhisattva, the Buddhist term for the future Buddha, highlighting this text as essential source reading for connections between several of the world’s most popular religions. The first version to appear in modern English, Peggy McCracken’s highly readable translation reintroduces a classic tale and makes it accessible once again.
    Publisher: Penguin Group Month of Publication: February Year of Publication: 2014 Location: New York, NY


    It can be bought from Amazon as a "Penguin Classic":

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Barlaam-Josaphat-Christian-Penguin-Classics-ebook/dp/B00DMCJOVY

    See also:

    Saint Sakyamuni | David Bentley Hart

    SAINT SAKYAMUNI

    In 1571, the Doge of Venice presented King Sebastian of Portugal with certain relics of St Josaphat of India (including, if memory serves, a fragment of his spine). This was a lavish gift, to say the least.

    No legend of the late Middle Ages and the early modern period was more famous throughout the entire Christian world than the tale of Barlaam and Josaphat, nor were there very many saints more beloved than its eponymous protagonists. Their joint feast”celebrated on 27 November in the West and 26 August in the East” was observed with a special relish by Christians of every land.

    Josaphat in particular was revered as the very archetype of the holy prince, a child of the blood royal who was willing to forswear all the power and wealth of his earthly kingdom for the sake of the Kingdom of God. The surrender of any portion of his sacred remains was no small gesture.

    Alas, the relics were not authentic, though the Doge had no way of knowing this (and I doubt King Sebastian was ever any the wiser). They could not be, for the simple reason that there never was a Christian King Josaphat in India. It
    would not, however, be entirely correct to say that either he or his story was simply the invention of pious imagination, as was, say, St. Christopher. There was, in fact, a real person, a very famous person, as it happens behind the figure of the Christian saint; he simply was not a Christian. He was, rather, the man who in his own day came to be called Sakyamuni”“sage of the Sakya clan””but whose given name tradition records as Prince Siddhartha of the house of Gautama: in short, the Buddha.

    It is actually not very difficult to trace out the process by which the story of the Buddha’s youth and enlightenment was transformed into what was for centuries one of the most popular and influential of Christian legends. At least, a fairly clear history of textual transmission can be reconstructed, with only a few insignificant lacunae.

    The original of the narrative was no doubt one of the standard Indian versions of the Buddha’s life perhaps the Lalitavistara which entered into Persian literature, almost certainly at some point in the sixth century, in the form of the story of Bilauhar and Budisaf . This latter name is simply the Persian rendering of the word “bodhisattva”, which means “enlightened being” and is used of one who is on the way to Nirvana (or, in the Mahayana, one who is on the way but who holds back to devote himself to the salvation of other beings).

    And thus, under the many veils acquired in the course of his millennial narrative migrations or perhaps one should say transmigrations the “bodhisattva” of the Sakyas became the “Josaphat” of the Christians, and the Buddha entered incognito into the calendar of Christian saints.

    The tale’s popularity is easy to understand. It is simply a very good story, and rather moving. At least, this is true of”among the Christian renderings”the Georgian text, which is far more artistically assured and uncluttered than its successors...

    First, it is rather remarkable as any reader of the Balavariani with a knowledge of both Christianity and Buddhism should note how purely and even exquisitely Buddhist the entire religious atmosphere of the story is. The spiritual counsels around which the book is built all concern the transience of earthly pleasure, the unreality of common experience, and the impermanence of all things; and salvation is presented throughout entirely in terms of renunciation and enlightenment.

    At times, there is not even the thinnest superimposition of Christian motifs upon the surface of the text. What then might we conclude about the spiritual temper of much of the Christianity of the Middle Ages and early modern period, and its relative affinity with the spiritual temper of Indian Buddhism, from the ease with which Buddhist teachings could be absorbed without scandal, or even any sense of strangeness, by the Christian cultures of both East and West after the tenth century?

    And, second, surely there is some quality of irrevocability in any declaration of sainthood...He was revered by Christians for many hundreds of years, his feast was observed with liturgies and masses, and his relics were treasures of great cities and gifts of mighty princes. What then might we make of the delightful oddity that, in a sense, and admittedly under a foreign guise, the Buddha was for centuries venerated by Christians as one of their more beloved saints?
     
    #4 Vouthon, Mar 21, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
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  5. Srivijaya

    Srivijaya Active Member

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    I'd heard of this before:

    Buddhist monks in Egypt?

    There are records from Alexandria that indicate the arrival of a steady stream of Buddhist monks and philosophers. They would surely have contributed to the philosophical speculations and syncretism for which the city was noted.

    In particular, it seems the original Therapeutae were sent by Asoka on an embassy to Pharaoh Ptolemy II in 250 BC.

    The word 'Therapeutae' is itself of Buddhist origin, being a Hellenization of the Pali 'Thera-putta' (literally 'son of the elder.')

    Philo Judaeus, a 1st century AD contemporary of Josephus, described the Therapeutae in his tract 'De Vita Contemplativa'. It appears they were a religious brotherhood without precedent in the Jewish world. Reclusive ascetics, devoted to poverty, celibacy, good deeds and compassion, they were just like Buddhist monks in fact.

    From the Therapeutae it is quite possible a Buddhist influence spread to both the Essenes (a similar monkish order in Palestine) and to the Gnostics – adepts of philosophical speculations.
     
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  6. crossfire

    crossfire Antinomian feminist heretic freak ☿
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    I'd really like to see what was in the Library of Alexandria!
     
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  7. David1967

    David1967 Well-Known Member
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    Very interesting thread. Thanks
     
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  8. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    I'd read that story of the man enjoying the fruit with danger above and danger below but never saw the medieval Christian interpretation before.
     
  9. atanu

    atanu Member
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    The Buddha was taught by a Christian priest? Did christianity precede Buddha? And was Buddha persecuted ever?
     
  10. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Respectfully my friend, I think you have somewhat misinterpreted this topic :D

    Of course, Christianity didn't precede the Buddha and nor was he taught by a Christian priest. No one is suggesting that.

    This is about the process through which a biography of the Buddha (probably the Lalitavistara Sūtra originally), as written down by Mahayana Buddhists, was disseminated to Persia from India and then into the Georgian language where it was subsequently translated into Greek and went through 'Christianization,' for Byzantine readers (i.e. someone edited and expanded it by changing Buddha's name and making him a convert to Christianity, with a number of other tweaks and additions) and then finally Latin for a Catholic audience, with the end result being that the Buddha was transformed into St. Josaphat, one of the most revered saints of the medieval church.

    Or rather, St. Josaphat is the Buddha under a literary conceit that made his life and teachings palatable to medieval Europeans who were none the wiser about the real identity behind the legendary saint.

    Indeed his life story, under the guise of Josaphat, was the most popular hagiographical text of the entire Middle Ages, which is ironic since the ethical teachings and worldview outlined in the document remained profoundly Buddhist in nature. That nobody noticed this is rather fascinating, since it implies that they heartily agreed with teachings which, unbeknownst to them, were actually Buddhist in origin. As the aforementioned historian states, "No legend of the late Middle Ages and the early modern period was more famous throughout the entire Christian world than the tale" of Gautama Buddha under the guise of 'St. Josaphat' (literally, St. Bodhisattva).

    For an explanation of the textual history, see this article by a Catholic author:

    Saint Sakyamuni | David Bentley Hart

    It is actually not very difficult to trace out the process by which the story of the Buddha’s youth and enlightenment was transformed into what was for centuries one of the most popular and influential of Christian legends. At least, a fairly clear history of textual transmission can be reconstructed, with only a few insignificant lacunae. The original of the narrative was no doubt one of the standard Indian versions of the Buddha’s life perhaps the "Lalitavistara" which entered into Persian literature, almost certainly at some point in the sixth century, in the form of the story of Bilauhar and Budisaf . This latter name is simply the Persian rendering of the word “bodhisattva”, which means “enlightened being” and is used of one who is on the way to Nirvana (or, in the Mahayana, one who is on the way but who holds back to devote himself to the salvation of other beings).

    The story, it appears, was especially favored by the Manicheans....It was not, however, until the tenth century that the two principals in the tale were “baptized” by some unknown Georgian translator, who produced a version of the book in his native tongue and transformed it by really only the most superficial of cosmetic alterations into a story about the Christian communities of India: the tale of Balahvar and Iodasaph(known also simply as the Balavariani ).

    Then, at some point in the early eleventh century (or thereabouts) the story made its way to Constantinople and became the Greek legend of Barlaam and Ioasaph (later erroneously attributed to John of Damascus), which in 1048 was translated into Latin as the story of Barlaam and Josaphat . Thus a new and wonderfully picturesque hagiographic legend became the common property of all Christian peoples. And thus, under the many veils acquired in the course of his millennial narrative migrations or perhaps one should say transmigrations the “bodhisattva” of the Sakyas became the “Josaphat” of the Christians, and the Buddha entered incognito into the calendar of Christian saints.
     
    #10 Vouthon, Mar 21, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
  11. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Quite amusing:

    Norwegian Institute of Philology


    In 1446, a Venetian editor of Marco Polos Travels wrote a comment to Polo's account of the life of the Buddha, as an interpolation in the main text. As far as we know, this is the first time a connection between the life of the Buddha and the story of Barlaam and Josaphat was made:

    Questo asomeia alla vita de san Iosafat lo qual fo fiolo del re Avenir de quelle parte de India, e fo convertido alla fé cristiana per lo remito Barlam, segondo chome se legie nella vita e llegende di santi padri [...] (Gennari 2010: 214)

    "This is like the life of Saint losafat who was son of the king Avenir of those parts of Indie, and was converted to the Christian faith by the means of Barlam, according as is read in the life and legend of the holy fathers." (Moule & Pelliot 1938: 410)
    General acknowledgement of the identity of the famous medieval Christian tale of the saints Barlaam and Josaphat with the story of the life of the Buddha, was not established until the mid 19th century....

    The story of Barlaam and Josaphat was immensely popular in the Medieval period, from Central Asia to Norway and Iceland. The earliest version we have is an Arabic text from the 10th century, but there are numerous version in many dozen Medieval languages, among them Georgian, Greek, Latin, Armenian, Old Church Slavonic and Old French.
    I wonder when it eventually "clicked" for early Christian travelers and missionaries to Buddhist countries that St. Josaphat was in fact the Buddha and that they had already been venerating him for centuries ;)

    See:

    Buddhists and Christians share a Saint: Barlaam & Josaphat


    This was the proclamation made on June 3, 1870 by F. Max Muller, described by Donald Lopez as “the most famous scholar of Asian Religion in the 19th century.” In a 2012 lecture at Harvard, Lopez offers a portion of Muller’s full quote:


    St. Josaphat is the Buddha of the Buddhist canon. It follows that Buddha has become a saint in the Roman [Catholic] Church; it follows that, though under a different name, the sage of Kapilavastu, the founder of a religion which, whatever we may think of its dogma, is, in the purity of its morals, nearer to Christianity than any other religion...has received the highest honours that the Christian Church can bestow. And whatever we may think of the sanctity of saints, let those who doubt the right of Buddha to a place among them, read the story of his life as it is told in the Buddhistical canon. If he lived the life which is there described, few saints have a better claim to the title than Buddha; and no one either in the Greek or in the Roman Church need be ashamed of having paid to his memory the honor that was intended for St. Josaphat, the prince, and the saint

    In the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic church as well as for those of the Eastern Churches who follow the revised Julian calendar, today, the 27th of November is the feast of Sts Barlaam and Josaphat. The Orthodox who continue to use the Julian calendar observe this feast on 26th of August.

    Or, used to. Actually, for the most part this holiday is no longer observed.

    So a bit of Buddhism has been around in Christianity for centuries, in fact first appearing in Greek in the work of John of Damascus; Josaphat being a translation/corruption of the Arabic Yūdasatf, itself a translation/corruption of Bodhisattva (“awakening-being” or “one en route to awakening”), a common designation of the Buddha in the early texts. A fuller account can be found at the Encyclopedia Britannica.
     
    #11 Vouthon, Mar 21, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
  12. atanu

    atanu Member
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    Okay thanks.
     
  13. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Depiction of Barlaam and Josaphat (the Buddha) parable at the Baptistery of Parma, Italy

    [​IMG]

    Baptistery | Piazza Duomo Parma


    This is the portal through which the catechumens used to enter, as they started on their journey of faith to be admitted to the Sacrament of Baptism.

    The lunette depicts a devotion story of Indian origins: that of the Indian prince Josaphat [the Buddha] who, after meeting the old hermit Barlaam, converted to Christianity. At the centre of the scene is a tree, on which a young man is intent on taking honey from a hive, heedless of a menacing dragon below, symbol of death. Two mice are gnawing at the root of the tree and at either side the sun and the moon ride in their carts, allegories of the inexorable passing of time.

    The Baptistery was commissioned to Benedetto Antelami by the City Council of Parma in 1196.

    Read:

    https://www.researchgate.net/figure...e-from-Wikimedia-Commons-Photo_fig1_272642390

    In the tympanum above the south door of the Baptistery of the Italian town of Parma ( Fig. 1 ), the sculptor Benedetto depicts a parable from the legend of Barlaam and Josaphat — a popular Christianised version of lives and events long held to have occurred in the fourth century AD, but under- stood by scholars from the middle of the nineteenth century onwards to have their origin many hundreds of years earlier with the life of Gautama Buddha (see, for example, Cambrai 2014). The story of Barlaam and Josaphat (or Joasaph) was first published in Latin in 1048 on the basis of a Greek edition of this book, although it appeared, too, in Arabic, Hebrew, Polish, French and many other languages in the early centuries of the medieval epoch.

    In the broadest of strokes, the story depicts the young Indian prince Josaphat as isolated in a magnificent cas- tle by a regal father wary of his conversion to Christianity. With time and persistence, Josaphat persuades his father, the king Abbener, to allow him to roam beyond the limits of his seclusion.

    In these periodic forays he meets a leper, a blind man and an old man, and thereby garners some understanding of the finitude of health and life. These encounters get him thinking and draw him toward a life of reflection and piety. Josaphat eventually chances upon the hermit Barlaam, who introduces him to Christianity by means of a series of allegories that have now been embed- ded into the history of western culture. Anyone who states that all that glitters is not gold’ is quoting William Shakespeare’s rehearsal, in The Merchant of Venice , of Barlaam’s parable of the three caskets, a theme on which Freud likewise judiciously spilled a certain amount of ink; these are just two instances of the uptake of a sin- gle episode from their legendary discourse (Freud 1958: 289–302). Upon the hermit’s death Josaphat assumes Barlaam’s mantle as a holy man; both were eventually can- onised, in the least contestable sense of the term, on both sides of the East-West Schism (Lopez 2014)

    The parables conveyed to the young prince by Barlaam were without doubt well known throughout the medieval world, and when Benedetto committed one to the exterior fabric of the Parma Baptistery at the end of the twelfth century it would have spoken to a public fully conversant with its iconography and significance

    The inexorable march of time, Tafuri tells us, paraphrasing Barlaam’s lesson to Josaphat, pays no heed to the importance we see ourselves as having to the world, while we, like the boy, enjoy our honey oblivious to the peril to which, as surely as day follows night, we will inevitably succumb. As has been observed by Arthur Kinglsey Porter, a pio- neer in the study of Romanesque architecture and sculpture, the tympanum at Parma encapsulates the profound theme of the insignificance of man, which Benedetto exercised across the entire surface of the Baptistery.

    As the historian notes, the ‘west portal [depicts] the six ages of the world, the six ages of man, the six works of mercy and the six scenes from the parable of the vineyard, all put in parallel’. They portray, as he states simply, ‘some of the deepest thoughts of the medieval philosophers and theologians’ (1915: 150). 1 Tafuri, however, renders the parable as a fundamental choice: between treating the present as inevitable and inert, a kind of natural state, or as a conflu- ence of circumstances and choices, a moment forged out of chaos and pregnant with possibilities
     
    #13 Vouthon, Mar 21, 2018
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  14. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    Good thread @Vouthon. I'll only mention what you already doubtless know- that Buddhism was in the West before, but died out during the 5th century CE. That is the cut off point, where all details seem to mysteriously vanish. That's why scholars often put forth that the Church saw Buddhism as a dangerous heresy and squashed it.

    Indeed, whoever squashed Greco-Buddhism for whatever political reasons- squashed it so thoroughly that they left hardly a trace of it ever having been. We today only know it existed because of Buddhist artifacts unearthed and other details- like contact with China once again bringing to our awareness that Greeks like King Menander converted to Buddhism.

    The Questions of King Milinda are preserved in a Chinese manuscript, which was one of the many things the Chinese Buddhists brought back from India. Apparently, there's also a Theravadan version preserved in Sinhalese script, but not accepted as canon: Milinda Panha - Wikipedia

    Also to note, because I know you appreciate details: it appears Nagasena (the monk answering King Menander) was a Sarvastivadan, which explains why neither of the two vehicles would be likely to accept this text as canon.

    Sarvastivada is one of the extinct (Hinayana) schools of early Buddhism that taught substance Monism. Nagarjuna was a fierce opponent of this school.
     
    #14 Buddha Dharma, Mar 21, 2018
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  15. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    One of the celebrated parables in Barlaam and Josaphat, "the parable of the man in the well", is also found in the Pañcatantra, a famous collection of Indian fables in Sanskrit (likely a Hindu text) dated to about 300 BCE:

    Panchatantra - Wikipedia
     
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  16. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    My understanding is that Greco-Buddhism (a syncretism between ancient Greek and Buddhist culture in Bactria and Afganistan) succumbed to its demise in the 5th century AD with the invasions of the Hephthalite Empire and then the advance of Islam, rather than the Church.

    It existed in Bactria under the Kushan Empire, which was never Christianized.

    As such, I don't believe its demise had anything to do with Christianity and I must admit that I've never heard this idea put forward before by scholars.

    Also, "heresy" is a technical term with a very specific doctrinal meaning that has never been applied by the Church to non-Christian religions or sects.
     
    #16 Vouthon, Mar 21, 2018
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  17. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    It is based on more the assumption that Greco-Buddhism had once spanned as far west as Alexandria, Egypt- which at least isn't unlikely even if currently unproven.

    Menander had correspondence with Greek rulers that far and it isn't at all unlikely the infamous library contained Greek translations of Buddhist works.

    Some people confuse Menander's birthplace as having been Alexandria, Egypt- but it was actually Alexandria on the Caucasus.

    Figured I'd clarify which Alexandria here. It was a common city name, and someone looking at information on Menander might assume he was born in Egypt.

    The case is that either something wiped out Greco-Buddhism that far west, or it died out before the Christian era.
     
    #17 Buddha Dharma, Mar 21, 2018
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  18. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    You'll appreciate this detail @Vouthon because we're always contrasting Buddhist and Christian virtues.

    There is a story in a text that I'd have to look at my 'Teachings of the Buddha: Expanded Edition, by Jack Kornfield' copy again to recall. This story bears a striking similarity to Jesus and the Samaritan woman.

    The Buddha's cousin Ananda is going about and asks a woman of an untouchable caste for water. She's surprised because he's a holy man by his appearance- a Bhikku. She assumes that as with a Brahmin priest, they ought not be interacting.

    Much like the Samaritan woman's surprise that Jesus would interact with her at all- given that Jews and Samaritans had no dealings

    Ananda answers her that he asked for water, not about her caste- and explains that castes are human invention. That there is nothing different between them as human beings, as the caste system asserts. That her ability is not inferior, or capacity to comprehend the teaching.
     
    #18 Buddha Dharma, Mar 21, 2018
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  19. miodrag

    miodrag Member

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    Ashoka - Wikipedia

    Is it possible that Buddhism inspired monasticism in the Middle-East?
    Ashoka sent missionaries in the 3rd century BC and some say that maybe they were "some gentleman" seen in Alexandria at that time. What do we know about monasticism in the Middle East? Does it predate Ashoka's proselytism?
     
  20. miodrag

    miodrag Member

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    How "official" is this catholicsaints.info site?
    Years ago an editor of some online Catholic Encyclopedia told me that he could not tell about the status of Saint Josaphat. Like, Church took the opportunity at the 2K anniversary to clean up some mess and removed Barlaam and Josaphat from calendar, and then it was not clear if they were completely erased or transferred to some special calendar or the calendar of cults. Now it seems like if they were never absent?
     
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