Gotama Buddha and the Nepalese Bluff in World History

 

Contd.

 

     Another famous Belgian expert, E. Lamotte, held that if miracles are sieved out from Buddhist legend, only a travesty remains. Miracles apart, the flaws lay not so much in the legends as in the faulty analytical tools. It is overlooked that in the 6th century B.C. 'India' extended up to southeast Iran and that Gotama belongs to Seistan-Baluchistan, not Nepal. G. Tucci noted that the Stupa originated in the West but missed that Buddhism also was born in Seistan-Baluchistan-Gandhara. The American archaeologist D. B. Spooner ignored Nepal and wrote in 1915 that Chandragupta and Gotama were from Iran. He was branded as an upstart by the Jonesian lobby and textual hearsay continued to be paraded as sober history. Fortunately, after rejecting the Nepalese frauds, Gotama can be seen to be related to Rama and Darius-I.

     There is perhaps little in ancient Indian sculpture that matches the Imperial majesty of Persepolis but the

 

 

The art of Sanchi harks back to Kapilavastu or Eden

 

pathos of Buddhist art has no peer in the world. Indebted as it was to the Greek genius for its inception, the art of Ajanta, Sanchi, Bharhut and Gandhara is soul-searching and universal. Buddhism, like Hellenism, knew no barriers of caste or nationality.

      After Alexander, the Greeks never returned to the simple faith in the national gods of their ancestors, but started a cultural process in which Indians and others could participate as equals. This led to the rise of a world culture which has been termed Hellenistic. The Greeks were fascinated by Buddhism and at the end greatly transformed it. At the heart of the Greek or Roman inspiration of Gandhara art lies the fact that its first two patrons were Alexander and Diodotus-I (Asoka). Early Buddhism cannot be understood without noting the unique contribution of the Macedonians and the Greeks. Buddhism, in this sense, is a truly universal religion. Sir William Tarn wrote with rare sagacity,

 

'Alexander indirectly created Asoka’s empire and enabled the spread of Buddhism' .

 

    Indeed, as already shown, Asoka had re-inscribed Alexander's altars, and even though he does not

 

The Greek-style prayer hall at Sanchi is a relic of Asoka or Diodotus-I

 

mention Alexander or Chandragupta, he was surely influenced by the former's call for Brotherhood. The eminent art historian Sir John Boardman writes that the purely Hellenistic works of northwest India and Afghanistan belong to the time of the Indo-Greeks in the 2nd-1st century BC. A similar view is held by M. Busagli and T. McEvilley. But as Asoka was Diodotus-I this view needs to be further refined. The induction of Diodotus-I within the fold of Gandhara art dramatically changes art history.

       The fixing of the location of Kapilavastu is of crucial importance in world history but this is mired in endless disputes. Buddhism flowered into a world religion in India but it was born in Seistan adjoining Baluchistan. Niharranajan Ray categorically states that Indian Buddhist art was in fact Hellenistic Greco-Indian art of a later phase,

 

The fact remains therefore that we have no examples extant of either sculpture or architecture that can definitely be labelled chronologically as pre-Mauryan or perhaps even as pre-Asokan.

 

This gap of three centuries is impossible to bridge and points to a basic error in Buddhist history. Vincent Smith warns,

 

...the mystery of Kapilavastu will continue for many years to be the sport of unverified conjecture.

 

      This queer statement has to be grasped in the backdrop of Führer's forgeries yet Smith's pessimism can be dismissed if one turns away from Nepal and notes that early India extended far beyond Seistan. In glaring contrast to the darkness of Nepal, the most brilliant Buddhist monuments belong to Afghanistan, Gandhara and and even faraway China but not Nepal or Eastern U. P. where one would expect them in the current theory.

     About the great Buddhist heritage of Afghanistan, W. Ball, a keen observer on Buddhist history, writes,

 

There are far too many to list here, but one cannot pass on without mentioning Afghanistan's most famous Buddhist monument: the colossal statues at Bamiyan. To my mind, these extraordinary statues and the vast rock-cut monastic complexes associated with them are not only perhaps the greatest of all Buddhist monuments, but as a sheer, positive statement of religious belief and self-confidence, rank with the greatest religious monuments of mankind.

  

The question is why Afghanistan but not Nepal? This reminds one of the thousand Buddhas and the colossal statue of Gotama at Yun Kang in China. Again by far the largest number of Buddha images are from the Gandhara area, not Nepal or eastern U.P. where one should expect them in the present theory.

About Buddhism in Iran, R. E. Emmerick, a principal contributor to the Encyclopedia Iranica, writes,


How far west Buddhism spread in Iran we do not know. On the basis of archaeology it seems possible to infer that it never flourished west of the line joining Balkh to Qandahar, the so-called Foucher line. The Russian discovery of a Buddhist stupa at Gyaur Kala near Bairam ‘Ali more than four hundred kilometers west of Balkh in the Merv oasis is hardly sufficient evidence to induce us to consider that Buddhism was ever very prominent further west. The common adage often applied to the spread of Buddhism to the east is relevant to the west: one swallow does not make a summer.

 

       This obtuse assessment clashes with the report of Al-beruni, the greatest scholar of the world of his day:

 

In former times, Khurasan, Persis, Irak, Mosul, the country up to the frontier of Syria, was Buddhistic, but then Zara-thustra went forth from Adharbaijan and preached Magism in Balkh (Baktra). His doctrine came into favour with king Gushtasp, and his son Isfendiyad spread the new faith both in East and West, both by force and by treaties. He founded fire-temples through his whole Empire, from the frontiers of China to those of the Greek Empire. The succeeding kings made their religion (i.e. Zoroastrianism) the obligatory state-religion for Persis and Irak. In consequence the Buddhists were banished from these countries, and had to emigrate to the countries east of Balkh.

 

       Al-beruni confirms the presence of Buddhists in Iran in the 6th century BC beyond any doubt and calls for drastic reform in Iranian history. Where did Mani find the Buddhists? Balkh, says Emmerick, but it may also have been southeast Iran which was 'India'.

        Another precious clue is offered by Xerexes. In a trilingual inscription, he boasts over his destruction of the Daivas,


Among these countries (that submitted to him) was (one) where previously daivas were worshipped. Then, by the favour of Ahura Mazda, I destroyed that daiva place, and I had proclaimed, the daivas shall not be worshipped. Where previously the daivas were worshipped, there I worshipped Ahura Mazda properly with the Law (arta).

 

The identification of the Daivas is a serious problem in Persian history. R. N. Frye does not recognize the true Gaumata yet writes with clear insight,


It is generally agreed that the daiva worshippers were not Babylonians or Egyptians but rather Iranians, or at least Aryans. One may ask whether the Indians living within the Achaemenid empire, who worshipped the old gods, may have been regarded as daiva worshippers.
 

        Due to the Nepalese smokescreen, no one took up Frye's cue. Tradition has it that Trapussa and Bhallika, two merchant brothers from Bactria visited the Buddha immediately after his enlightenment, became his disciples and then returned to Balkh to build temples dedicated to him. That this does not fit in with a Kapilavastu in Nepal occurred to none.

To study Buddhist art of the 6th century B.C. one has to venture to the North-west. It is Afghanistan-Seistan-Baluchistan that provides the most ancient traces of Buddhism.

     Sir Aurel Stein, one of the greatest antiquarians of all times, found a very ancient shrine at Kuh-e Khwaja in Seistan which he labelled as Buddhist. He found nothing ancient in Nepal yet, due to Führer, saw only Bodhisattvas and missed that this was the birthplace of Gotama Buddha.

 

 Sir Aurel Stein recognized Kuh-e Khwaja as a Buddhist site

 

This created a sensation but has been duly forgotten. The noted Iranologist R. Ghirshman, missed the full import of Stein's discovery but wrote with unfailing instinct that the murals of Kuh-e Khwaja are the precursors of Gandhara art, which points to its great antiquity. Nearby Dahan-e Gholaman is heedlessly termed a 'slaves entrance' but to any keen observer Gholaman clearly echoes Gotama. Seistan is not only the home of all ancient Iranian lore including the Shahnama, it is also the locale of the Lalitavistara.

       Kuh-e Khwaja was Kapilavastu. The important Buddhist text Mahaparinibbana Sutta states that the "Mauryas", a kshatriya people, had received the relics of the Buddha. Their homeland is said to be Pipphali-vana which appears to be Babil in Seistan.

       Babil is cognate with Kapilavastu and there are several sites named Vasht in Seistan. Vasht reminds one of Queen Vashti of the Book of Esther. Herzfeld wrote about Bawer, said to have been founded by the legendary Jamshid, which is Babil. Kapilavastu was the holiest religious centre of the ancient world. The Tarikh-i Seistan states that Ali, son-in-law of Prophet Mohammed, was buried in Seistan.

      Herzfeld wrote that the Magi went to Palestine from Kuh-e Khwaja. I. M. Diakonoff held that the Prophet Zoroaster was from Seistan. This is also stated by Gnoli who, unfortunately, is hoodwinked by Führer. Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, founder of the venerated Indian shrine of Ajmer Sharif which stands for amity amongst people of all creeds, hailed from Seistan.

       Much has been written on the role of the Silk-Road in the spread of Buddhism but no one noted that it passed through the Land of the Buddha.

 

The Silk-Road grazed past Kapilavastu in Seistan

 

Furthermore, all the ancient Buddhist manuscripts have been found from North-west India, Central Asia, Ceylon and even China. Experts have dated some of the Dunhuang Cave documents to only 500 years after the Buddha's death, making them among the oldest texts of their kind. This can be understood from the fact that Dun Hang was near Kapilavastu. It was linked to the Buddhist heartland of Seistan-Gandhara by the Silk-Road.

    The great art historian G. Yazdani was not aware that Asoka was Diodotus-I but remarks with great acuity about the influence of Ajanta,

 

The pictorial figments found in Afghanistan in recent years, at Hadda and in the surrounding country, distinctly show the influence of Ajanta, but since the region was under the sway of the Indo-Greek kings of Bactria and the Indo-Scythian kings of the Kabul valley for several centuries, the influence of Hellenistic and Iranic art may also be traced there.

 

      The link between Hadda, Bamiyan and Ajanta is Asoka who was the Indo-Greek king Diodotus-I. Seistan-Afghanistan was the cradle of Buddhism. The famous Italian scholar, G. Tucci, notes that the stupa was not indigenous to India; the earliest stupas have been found in West Asia, not modern Nepal or India. Another great scholar, Sir Charles Eliot, wrote that Buddhism spread to China and South East Asia from the north-west India, not Nepal.

       Buddhist art is often defined by its Indian idiom. Contrarily, Dr. Spooner wrote that Gotama was from Iran (part of which was India). Keen observers like M. Rostovtzeff noted Parthian influence on Buddhist Art and D. Schlumberger, who succeeded Foucher, boldly wrote that Greco-Buddhist art was the Indian descendant of Greco-Iranian art. Sadly, modern scholars have neither the taste nor vision for studying Buddhist art of the 6th century B.C.. Pratapaditya Pal rightly highlights the glory of the Buddhist art of Alchi but has no clue about its strong Iranian features. Holding on to a creaky Nepalese perspective he makes a vain attempt to read the mind of the Buddha,

 

The religion that created Alchi is so far removed from early Buddhism that if Buddha Sakyamuni himself were to visit the monastery today, he would be no less bewildered by its iconographic complexity than the average visitor.

 

    Although no ancient Buddhist text is known from modern India or Nepal, 300 Buddhist palm-leaf texts have been found near Merv. In fact, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism were sister religions. T. Kawami writes,

 

The site, a monastery and stupa, is dated 3-4th cent. and was remodeled and enlarged several times, the stupa simply being encased in a larger "shell" each time. There was large sculpture as a larger than life clay head of Buddha was found. Curiously, the famous "Merv vase" painted with figural scenes containing Zoroastrian elements was excavated in the Buddhist ruins.

     

       Only the absurd idea of the birth of Buddhism of Nepal obscures that there is nothing curious in the co-existence of Zoroastrianism and Buddhism. This was suspected by Sir Charles Eliot. The assertion that Buddhism is not as old as Zoroastrianism is false as there were many Buddhas before Gotama. The Isigili Sutta of Majjhima Nikaya is a priceless document that gives a list of former saints that is absurd in a locale in Eastern India and is linked to the E-sagila of Babylon.

      In fact the birth-place of one of these Buddhas can be located in Indo-Iran. Mandumatis of the Persepolis Fortification tablets (PF 2069, 2080 and 905) was Bandhumati, the city of birth of Vipassi Buddha, the nineteenth of the twenty-four Buddhas. Vipassi Buddha is depicted on the panel of cave-17 in Ajanta.

      Had Nepal been Gotama's birth-place, there would have been a Nepali component in Pali. Theravada sources refer to Pali as the language of Magadha but the later Magadhi of Asoka's Edicts is an Eastern dialect rather different from Pali. On the other hand Ardhamagadhi of the Jain texts of Western India closely resembles Pali. For this reason learned scholars like T. W. Rhys Davids and Sukumar Sen held that Pali rose in the Ujjain area. This again shows that Gotama was not an Easterner. As in art or archaeology, Gotama's imprint is also found in literature and philosophy of Iran-Baluchistan, not Nepal.

       Seistan is now in the periphery of India-Pakistan but it was once India proper. Place-names like Kapilavastu (Zabol), Kabul, Budaha, Zabulistan and Dharmasthan, Vasht etc. prove beyond any doubt that this was the true cradle of Buddhism. In his book

 

 

Darmashān near Zabulistan (Courtesy Encyclopedia of Islam)

 

entitled "The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians"(ed. John Dowson) Sir H. M. Elliot wrote about a district named Budha in Seistan-Baluchistan.

 

 

 Budaha in Baluchistan (Courtesy Encyclopedia of Islam)

 

       The history of Alexander the Great shows that Kuh-e Khwaja was Alexandria Prophthasia, the abode of Prophets. Deluded by Führer's misdeeds, great scholars like Tarn and Herzfeld missed the clear hint in the name Alexandria Prophthasia. Herzfeld dated the stepped fire altar at Kuh-e Khwaja to the first century B.C. which appears to be too late. Y. Yamamoto, on the other hand, correctly identifies it as the oldest surviving Zoroastrian altar.

 

This Kuh-e Khwaja mural may be the earliest depiction of Gotama's nativity

 

       A careful study shows that Gotama was the same as Gaumata who hangs like a ghost in Persian history. His tussle with Darius-I as recorded in stone at Behistun is one of the greatest stories and scandals of history yet little is known about the nature or cause of his revolt. P. Briant's account of Gomata in the Encyclopedia Iranica lacks insight but historians like Toynbee and Olmstead suspected Darius’ veracity and concluded that Gaumata was not an imposter. Although R. N. Frye fails to notice the overlap with Indian history, Gaumata was a namesake of Gotama. Gut-ama in Sumerian means ‘one whose mother is a cow’ which agrees with the meaning of Gau-mata in Sanskrit and old Persian. Gaumata was an immensely popular figure. That Darius had lied is also noted by Chester Starr, Dandamayev and W. Culican. T. C. Young Jr. a noted expert on Iran, also saw through the tirades of Darius-I and came very near recognizing the true nature of Gaumata who was also a religious leader. Young writes with rare vision,

 

Finally, it should be remarked that Darius hurls the epithet ‘Magian’, ‘priest’, at Gaumata almost as though this were the worst possible thing he could say about the rebel in order to discredit his enemy and to support his own cause in the eyes of his followers, if not in those of the populace.

 

Young also suggests with remarkable insight that Gomata may have preached a new religion,

 

He then tells us that, 'As before, so I made the sanctuaries which Gaumata the Magian destroyed.’ Clearly Darius and Gaumata had a difference of opinion about sanctuaries, and, therefore, we may assume about religion or, at least, about ritual forms of religious expression. The details of this disagreement escapes us. Indeed, we are not even sure who was the innovator; the Achaemenians may have introduced forms of religion which adherents of an older faith reacted against under Gaumata’s leadership; or the Magian could have been attempting to introduce a new religion which offended the establishment. What is critical in the present context is that the story of Darius’ overthrow of Gaumata probably contains evidence of a religious as well as dynastic, social/economic and political struggle.

 

       This new religion propounded by Gomata is Buddhism which proves beyond doubt that Gaumata was the true Gotama. Gomata was a very popular figure who, together with Bardiya, ruled Persia for a period but no statue or other representation of him   

 

The so-called Darius Statue. Gaumata? Courtesy M. Dandamaev 

      

is known. M. Dandamaev, however, does not accept the identification of a statue from Susa which was found in 1972 and was previously thought to depict Darius-I. There is, therefore, the possibility that it represents Gaumata. Of course it can also belong to Kambuziya (Greek Cambyses) or even Bardiya.

        Hsuan Tsang reported that Langka-lo in Persia had more than 100 monasteries and more than 6000 brethren. If one ignores Emmerick, it becomes crucial to enquire about this Langka where thousands of Buddhist monks resided. Was Hsuan Tsang's Langka near Bandar-e Lengeh in the Gulf? Incidentally about 70 km inland of Bushehr are the mysterious rock-cut cave complexes at Chehelkhaneh. Nearby Heydari caves could also have been a great Buddhist site. W. Ball writes,

 

The tendency for Buddhists everywhere in antiquity - from Ajanta to Bamiyan to Tun Huang - to cut their places of worship from the rock is well known, and has almost become as much a definitive feature of Buddhist architecture as the ubiquitous stupa. Thus in both cave complexes here, there are many features, such as shapes, layout and arrangement of the rooms, that resemble known Buddhist cave complexes elsewhere. The large elliptical niches cut into the cliff faces at both Chehelkhaneh and Haidari for example, are another such feature that occurs frequently in Buddhist cave architecture, where they traditionally frame a seated Buddha. Haidari in addition contains a ritual circumambulatory in its main chamber, which is an essential feature of Buddhist monastic complexes elsewhere, usually surrounding a stupa but also a Buddha image or similar object of worship.

  

    Ball is not aware of the Nepalese bluff and assigns the caves to medieval Buddhist traders but it can be seen that Buddhism in Fars has a long history. The strong influence of Buddhist art in eastern Iran has

 

Ajanta-like murals from Gour in Fars

 

been noted by R. N. Frye. (The Golden Age of Persia, p.41). Recently Ajanta-like murals have been found from Gour which are dated to the Sasanid era but there is more. The presence of names such as

 

  Ancient Buddhist caves in Fars (Haidari). Courtesy M. Compareti

 

Ŝaman, Ŝedda-ŝaramana, Ŝudda-yauda-ŝaramana, Mandumatiŝ, Tiŝŝa etc. in the Persepolis tablets indicate that Buddhism in Fars is in fact older than Gotama. Recently there were reports of discoveries of Buddha-era caves from Gwadur in the Gulf area but the true significance of this has been lost due to the Nepalese frauds.

       The Buddhist heritage of the Chehelkhaneh area near Bushehr leads one to a very precious clue. Though Darius claims to have killed Gaumata in the Behistun inscription, this is a lie. Bardiya was killed, not Gaumata, for a Persepolis tablet (PF 756) names Gaumata. Where was he buried?  This is not easy to determine but once he is equated with Gotama new light is shed on the problem. One can now re-visit a vexing problem of Persian archaeology. Buzpar near Chehelkhaneh is a well known site which was noted by R. N. Frye in 1948 but has remained a mystery

 

Mausoleum of Gaumata at Buzpar

 

ever since. A small limestone tomb with gabled roof stands on a three-tired platform which is almost identical in design with the tomb of Cyrus-II at Pasargada. Van den Berghe held that the tomb was of Cyrus-I but as it has been dated to 5th century B.C., this has to be ruled out. S. Shahbazi links the tomb with Cyrus the younger but this is unlikely. Cyrus the younger has little in common with Cyrus-II who was a great religious reformer. On the other hand Gaumata not only had new religious ideas, he was close to Cyrus' son Kambujiya whose history, as T. C. Young Jr. notes, has been badly distorted due to Darius' lies. He also wanted to change the stranglehold of the priests. In this sense, Gaumata inherited Cyrus' legacy of humanism. Thus it is likely that the Buzpar mausoleum belongs to Gaumata.

     Indeed, Buzpar appears to be a variant of Budpar or Budhpur. The name is also given as Bozpar which echoes Boznai of the Book of Ezra who is mentioned with Sethar or Siddhartha. An Achaemenid palace was discovered in the early 1970s at Sang-i Siah near Buzpar. This is also linked with Cyrus-II and the name 'Sang' may hint at a link with Buddhism. About 17 kilometers from Buzpar is Mazra`eh-ye Bīdū, a name that echoes Buddha.

          Another crucial clue comes from the ancient town of Veysabad near Buzpar which echoes Vaishali, the locale of many Buddhist tales. Gautama Buddha is said to have preached his last sermon before his death (~483 B.C.) at Vaishali. Veysabad today is a ghost town but according to the legends, about a hundred years after the death of the Buddha the Second Buddhist Council was convened

 

    

Veysabad near Bihara may have been Vaishali

 

here by Kalasoka. Gotama himself visited Vaishali on many occasions. It was a very large city, rich, prosperous and populous with abundant food. There were seven thousand seven hundred and seven pleasure grounds

and an equal number of lotus ponds at Vaishali. The pleasure gardens remind one of the pairidaezas mentioned by Xenophon. Ambapali the beautiful courtesan who joined the Sangha was from Vaishali. Bushehr was an important port of the Elamites and was called Liyan. Vaishali is located in modern Bihar where there is nothing that can be dated to the 6th century B.C. On the other hand the name Bihara or Vihara near Chehelkhaneh indicates the presence of Indians in this area.

     There are many other references to Gotama in the Persian and Jewish sources which have not been recognized. Tattenai (6th-5th century BC) who was the Persian governor of the province west of the Euphrates River (eber nari, "beyond the river") during the reign of Darius-I was Gotama, whose name was Tathagata. The Book of Ezra (V: 3,6) states that he led an investigation into the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem about 519 B.C. He sent a report to Darius, who allowed the work to proceed. Tattenai is cited in a cuneiform tablet of 502 B.C. A. Kuhrt refers to the 'good Iranian name' of Bagapa the satrap of Babylon and 'eber nari' during Darius' reign and even considers the link with Tattanu but has no idea that that Bhagava was Gotama's name and Tattanu also is linked to his other name Tathagata. The Book of Ezra also refers to Shether (Shiddhartha) and Boznai (Buddha). The name Shethar occurs in the Book of Esther. The name Buddho-Dana puts Gotama in the same bracket as Daniel the Jew, a contemporary of Nebuchadrezzar-II and shows that Gotama himself was a Yadu, an Eastern Jew.

        It can be seen that Prophet Abraham was also from the abode of Gotama and Zoroaster. The startling discoveries of Sir Leonard Woolley at Ur in Sumer had such a dazzling effect on scholars that it was not realized that this could not be Ur Kasdim, the home of Abraham. W. F. Albright disagreed with Woolley but no one realized that Ur of Abraham was Urva, one of the sixteen good regions of the Avesta.

        It is indeed uncanny that the patently absurd notion of the rise of Buddhism in Nepal has survived scholarly scrutiny for nearly a century. Sir Aurel Stein whose untiring efforts established the material basis of Buddhism, found nothing in Nepal. The vanishing of Buddhism from India may be due to the fact that after Afghanistan and Seistan ceased to be parts of 'India', Buddhism was seen as an extraneous creed. R. G. Bhandarkar blamed the decline on the rise of the Mahayana which weakened it from within. It has to be noted that Mahayana, from its very inception, was an essentially 'foreign' doctrine. The Mahayanists were often hostile to the Bhakti cult and other forms of Hinduism, yet the generally tolerant approach of the Buddhists to other faiths resulted in the assimilation of Buddhism in a reformed Hinduism. In this sense Buddhism did not disappear from India.