Σάββατο, 9 Ιανουαρίου 2016

Greco-buddhism in Kushan Empire : The influence of the greek culture and civilisation in Central Asia and Indian subcontinent

Greco-Buddhism, sometimes spelled Graeco-Buddhism, refers to the cultural syncretism between Hellenistic culture andBuddhism, which developed between the 4th century BCE and the 5th century CE in Bactria and the Indian subcontinent, corresponding to the territories of modern day Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. It was a cultural consequence of a long chain of interactions begun by Greek forays into India from the time of Alexander the Great, carried further by the establishment of the Indo-Greek Kingdom and extended during the flourishing of the Kushan Empire. Greco-Buddhism influenced the artistic, and perhaps the spiritual development of Buddhism, particularly Mahayana Buddhism. Buddhism was then adopted in Central and Northeastern Asia from the 1st century CE, ultimately spreading to China, Korea, Japan,
Philippines, Siberia, and Vietnam. The interaction between Hellenistic Greece and Buddhism started when Alexander the Great conquered the Achaemenid Empire and further regions of Central Asia in 334 BCE, crossing the Indus and then the Jhelum River after the Battle of the Hydaspes and going as far as the Beas, thus establishing direct contact with India. Alexander founded several cities in his new territories in the areas of the Amu Darya and Bactria, and Greek settlements further extended to the Khyber Pass, Gandhara (see Taxila), and the Punjab region. These regions correspond to a unique geographical passageway between the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush mountains through which most of the interaction between India and Central Asia took place, generating intense cultural exchange and trade. Following Alexander's death on June 10, 323 BCE, the Diadochi or "Successors" founded their own kingdoms in Anatolia and Central Asia. General Seleucus set up the Seleucid Empire, which extended as far as India. Later, the eastern part of the Seleucid Kingdom broke away to form the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (250 BC-125 BC), followed by the Indo-Greek Kingdom (180 BC - 10 CE), and later the Kushan Empire (1st–3rd century CE).
According to Ptolemy, Greek cities were founded by the Greco-Bactrians in northern India. Menander established his capital in Sagala (modern Sialkot, Punjab, Pakistan) one of the centers of the blossoming Buddhist culture. A large Greek city built by Demetrius and rebuilt by Menander has been excavated at the archaeological site of Sirkap near Taxila, where Buddhist stupas were standing side-by-side with Hindu and Greek temples, indicating religious tolerance and syncretism. The Kushan Empire, one of the five tribes of the Yuezhi, settled in Bactria around 125 BCE, displacing the Greco-Bactrians and invading the northern parts of Pakistan and India from around 1 CE. By that time they had already been in contact with Greek culture and the Indo-Greek kingdoms for more than a century. They used the Greek script to write their language, as exemplified by their coins and their adoption of the Greek alphabet. The absorption of Greek historical and mythological culture is suggested by Kushan sculptures representing Dionysiac scenes or even the story of the Trojan Horse and it is probable that Greek communities remained under Kushan rule. Heraios (often read as Heraus, Heraos, Miaos) was a clan chief of the Kushans (reign: 1-30 CE), one of the five constituent tribes of the Yuezhi confederacy in Bactria in the early 1st century CE, roughly at the time when the Kushans were starting their invasion of India. Silver coins were made in the Hellenistic style and used the Greek writing. The reverse shows the winged Greek god of victory Nike holding out a wreath over the clan chief mounted on a horse. The clan chief wears a tunic and has a large bow on the side. On the coins, the clan chief's name appears as "ΗΛΟΥ" or ""ΗΙΛΟΥ", which has been variously transliterated as "Ilou", "Maou" or "Miaou". Kanishka I or Kanishka the Great, was the emperor of the Kushan dynasty in the second century (c. AD 127–163). He is famous for his military, political, and spiritual achievements. A descendant of Kushan empire founder Kujula Kadphises, Kanishka came to rule an empire in Bactria extending from Turfan in the Tarim Basin toPataliputra on the Gangetic plain. The main capital of his empire was located at Puruṣapura in Gandhara, with two other major capitals at Kapisa and Mathura. His conquests and patronage of Buddhism played an important role in the development of the Silk Road, and the transmission of Mahayana Buddhism from Gandhara across the Karakoram range to China. Kanishka's date of accession was later used as a calendar era, the so-called Saka era, corresponding to AD 78. However, this date is not now regarded as the historical date of Kanishka's accession. Kanishka is estimated to have accessed to the throne in AD 127 by Falk (2001). Kanishka's coins from the beginning of his reign bear legends in Greek language and script and depict Greek divinities. Later coins bear legends in Bactrian, the Iranian language that the Kushans evidently spoke, and Greek divinities were replaced by corresponding Iranian ones. All of Kanishka's coins – even ones with a legend in the Bactrian language – were written in a modified Greek script that had one additional glyph (Ϸ) to represent /š/ (sh), as in the word 'Kushan' and 'Kanishka'. A few coins at the beginning of his reign have a legend in the Greek language and script: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΝ ΚΑΝΗΣΚΟΥ, basileus basileon kaneshkou "[coin] of Kanishka, king of kings."Greek deities, with Greek names are represented on these early coins: ΗΛΙΟΣ (ēlios, Hēlios), ΗΦΑΗΣΤΟΣ (ēphaēstos, Hephaistos), ΣΑΛΗΝΗ (salēnē, Selene), ΑΝΗΜΟΣ (anēmos, Anemos). Following the transition to the Bactrian language on coins, Iranian and Indic divinities replace the Greek ones. Bactrian (Αρια, Arya) is an Iranian language which was spoken in the Central Asian region of Bactria (present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan), and used as the official language of the Kushan and the Hephthalite empires. Bactrian was natively known as αρια or "Arya" language. Because Bactrian was written predominantly in an alphabet based on the Greek script, Bactrian is sometimes referred to as "Greco-Bactrian", "Kushan" or "Kushano-Bactrian". Until the 1970s, Bactrian was sometimes referred to as "Eteo-Tocharian", because in medieval times, Bactria was also known as Tokharistan at the time of the arrival of the Yuezhi tribes. But it is now certain that Bactrian is an Iranian language, and as such not closely related to the Tocharian languages. after 124 BC, Bactria was overrun by Yuezhi Tocharian tribes. Subsequently, one of the Yuezhi tribes advanced to found the Kushan dynasty in the 1st century AD. The Kushans at first retained the Greek language for administrative purposes, but soon began to use Bactrian. The Bactrian Rabatak inscription (discovered in 1993 and deciphered in 2000) records that the Kushan king Kanishka (c. 127 AD) discarded Greek (Ionian) as the language of administration and adopted Bactrian ("Arya language"). The Greek language accordingly vanishes from official use and only Bactrian is attested. The use of the Greek script however remained to write Bactrian. In the 3rd century, the Kushan territories west of the Indus river fell to the Sassanids, and Bactrian began to be influenced by Middle Persian. Next to Pahlavi script and (occasionally)Brahmi script, some coinage of this period is still in Greco-Bactrian script. Beginning in the mid-4th century, Bactria and northwestern India yielded to the Hephthalite tribes. The Hephthalite period is marked by linguistic diversity and in addition to Bactrian, Middle Persian, North Indo-Aryan, Turkish and Latin vocabulary is also attested. The Hephthalites ruled their territories until the 7th century when they were overrun by the Arabs, after which the official use of Bactrian ceased. Although Bactrian briefly survived in other usage, that too eventually ceased, and the latest examples of the language date to the end of the 9th century. The territorial expansion of the Kushans helped propagate Bactrian to Northern India and parts of Central Asia. Among Indo-Iranian languages, the use of the Greek script is unique to Bactrian. The Bactrian language is known from inscriptions, coins, seals, manuscripts, and other documents. The Kushan king Kanishka, who honored Zoroastrian, Greek and Brahmanic deities as well as the Buddha and was famous for his religious syncretism, convened the Fourth Buddhist council around 100 CE in Kashmir in order to redact the Sarvastivadin canon. Some of Kanishka's coins bear the earliest representations of the Buddha on a coin (around 120 CE), in Hellenistic style and with the word "Boddo" in Greek script. Kanishka also had the original Gandhari Prakrit Mahāyāna sūtras translated into Sanskrit, "a turning point in the evolution of the Buddhist literary canon". The Kanishka casket, dated to the first year of Kanishka's reign in 127 CE, was signed by a Greek artist named Agesilas, who oversaw work at Kanishka's stupas (cetiya), confirming the direct involvement of Greeks with Buddhist realizations at such a late date. The new syncretic form of Buddhism expanded fully into East Asia soon after these events. The Kushan monk Lokaksema visited the court of Emperor Ling of Han at Luoyang in 178 CE and worked there for ten years to make the first known translations of Mahayana texts into Chinese. The new faith later spread into Korea and Japan, and was itself at the origin of Chan Buddhism. The interaction of Greek and Buddhist cultures operated over several centuries until it ended in the 5th century CE with the invasions of the Hephthalite Empire and finally wiyh the expansion of Islam. The Hephthalites, Ephthalites, Ye-tai, White Huns, or in Sanskrit as the Sveta Huna, were a a confederation of nomadic and settled people in Central Asia who expanded their domain westward in the 5th century. At the height of its power in the first half of the 6th century, the Hephthalite Empire controlled territory in present-day Afghanistan,Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, India and China.
Πηγή: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greco-Buddhism
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraios
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanishka
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bactrian_language
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hephthalite_Empire

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