Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

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Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Indrajala » Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:48 am

Elsewhere Zhen Li pointed out the Buddha's heritage was not entirely Indo-European:

Zhen Li wrote:Probably a mixture of some kind of Munda-indigenous heritage, with Indo-Aryan. Since the names used in the Sutras for people and places in the Sakya kingdom are often of non-Indo-European origin. There's also the prominent evidence of trace Naga cults and tree cults, (not to mention Yakshas) which are definitely indigenous, and Mucilinda's name can be derived from Munda. There's also multiple stories in the Pali Canon about cousin-intermarriage among Sakya ancestors, which was forbidden in Brahmanical society. Also, indigenous burial customs were mound-based, in round mounds, while the Indo-Aryans abandoned the Kurgan-like mound burials centuries earlier in preference for square burial chambers. You will also note that many of the names of the Buddha's disciples are odd from the Brahminical perspective, such as Shariputra, who is named after his mother. There's also some evidence that the notion of a Mahapurusha was indigenous.


One thing I discovered recently was that, apparently, a number of ancient Indian names and Indic terms, including those in Buddhist literature, have cognates in Akkadian and other Mesopotamian languages. Malati J. Shendge suggests in her work The Language of the Harappans: From Akkadian to Sanskrit that the earlier Indus Valley civilization, which she identifies as the Asura culture described in Vedic literature, was Akkadian speaking. One noteworthy Indic name of interest also found in Akkadian and Sumerian sources is Kaśyapa (in Pali Kassapa). One of the Buddha's chief disciples was Mahā-Kaśyapa. The past buddha immediately prior to Śākyamuni was called Kaśyapa.

    1. Kaśyapaḥ:

    Kaśyapo Māricaḥ, PN composer of RV I.99, VIII.29; Rebhaḥ Kaśyapaḥ, family name of the composer of RV VIII.97. With this, cp. Sum. Kaššeba, king (priest-king?), Akk. Kaššāpu, sorcerer, (denotes sun-god Šamaš), also kašāpu, to use charms, bewitch, OB on, Kaššeba (=Šamaš)

    In Indian sources, the name was borne by the husband of Aditi and father of the Ādityas (Varuṇa, Mitra, etc. seven). He was obviously a very ancient mythical personage who was connected with creation.


Malati J. Shendge, The Language of the Harappans: From Akkadian to Sanskrit (New Delhi, India: Abhinav Publications, 1997), 208.

This is not so surprising given that Akkadian loanwords exist in Vedic Sanskrit according to Thomas McEvilley:

    In India in the late second millennium – the Middle Vedic period in terms of Sanskrit literary history – the reexpanding trade with the Near East brought with it elements of cultural diffusion. Contact with the Mesopotamian cultural stream may have left significant traces in the pantheistic hymns, of a type found widely in the Near East, in the the tenth book of the Rg Veda and in the appearance of Akkadian words in the Atharva Veda, both of which seem to have been taking shape at about the time the Near Eastern trade was revived.


Thomas McEvilley, The Shape of Ancient Thought Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies (New Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2008), 2.

McEvilley dates the wave of Akkadian influence to around 1000 BCE (this is incidentally during the Bronze Age dark age), further identifying two Akkadian words apsu and tiamat which originate from the Creation Epic.
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Sherlock » Mon Feb 17, 2014 8:27 am

There was also Indo-Aryan influence on Mesopotamians based on the Mitanni evidence.

I think the non-Indo-European influences in India are interesting but connections to the Buddha and how his teaching fit in with the culture of his time are quite tenuous.

A more relevant thing to consider IMO is the opposition between the Central Gangetic region and the Kuru-Pancala region in the development of sramanic vs brahmanic religion. We know that by the Buddha's time both regions were largely Indo-Aryan speaking and with some degree of shared mythology yet they had some deep differences which seem to date back to ancient times (Lunar vs Solar Dynasty, different models of kingship). It might be interesting to see to what degree there is any Mesopotamian influence in the archaeology of the different regions.
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Indrajala » Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:25 pm

Sherlock wrote:There was also Indo-Aryan influence on Mesopotamians based on the Mitanni evidence.


I'm curious about to what extent. It might have been more that Mesopotamia influenced them. Here's a relevant quote:

    The one secure early date for something recognisably 'Vedic' comes from West Asia, where the Mitanni archives preserve some names of recognisable Vedic deities and other terms in a language identifiable as an early form of Vedic Sanskrit in texts dating from around 1360-80 BCE. Exactly what this proto-Vedic group was doing in the region is a puzzle to which a variety of speculative answers has been proposed. In fact the whole question of the early history of the Indo-Aryan and Indo-Iranian speaking peoples is both heavily contested and, at least at this point in time, largely undecidable.


Geoffrey Samuel, The Origins of Yoga and Tantra Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century (New Delhi, India: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 27.




I think the non-Indo-European influences in India are interesting but connections to the Buddha and how his teaching fit in with the culture of his time are quite tenuous.


I think it would be equivalent to looking at remnants of Hebrew culture in Western Europe (many given names being Hebrew for instance), though it possibly goes deeper than that:

    Wandering seers such as the Vratyas were active in the Middle Vedic period in India and, like the Greek cults mentioned, seem to have carried some traditional Mesopotamian elements. … The assortment of characters who gathered in the milieu of ancient temples in the Near East and eastern Mediterranean displayed a mixed array of strange practices such as browzing (cattle imitation), a common ascetic vow in India known to have been practiced in Mesopotamia in antiquity also.


Thomas McEvilley, The Shape of Ancient Thought Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies (New Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2008), 17.


A more relevant thing to consider IMO is the opposition between the Central Gangetic region and the Kuru-Pancala region in the development of sramanic vs brahmanic religion. We know that by the Buddha's time both regions were largely Indo-Aryan speaking and with some degree of shared mythology yet they had some deep differences which seem to date back to ancient times (Lunar vs Solar Dynasty, different models of kingship).


Early on it seems the distinction wasn't as clear cut as the Jaina text the Isibhāsāiyam reveals:

    There are other indications of such a generally-shared body of wisdom sayings and stories, such as that remarkable Jaina text, the Isibhāsāiyam. Certainly this text provides a view of early Indian spirituality that is markedly at contrast with any assumptions about discrete and opposed traditions. The title of the Isibhāsāiyam, which was included in the Śvetāmbara Jaina canon, means the Sayings of the Rṣis, and the book consists of a series of verses attributed to the particular named ṛṣis who are included in this text, for while they include Pārśva, Mahāvīra (here called Vaddhamāṇa) and other Jaina figures, they also include Vedic and Brahmanical sages such as Nārada, Yājñavalkya and others, as well as well-known Buddhist figures such as Śāriputra and Mahākāśyapa, and Makkhali Gosāla, the founder of the Ājīvikas. We seem here to be in a pluralist society of ascetic practitioners whose members are quite willing to regard members of the other semi-renunciate and renunciate religious traditions as 'sages' of a standing comparable to their own.


Geoffrey Samuel, The Origins of Yoga and Tantra Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century (New Delhi, India: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 124.
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Sherlock » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:50 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Sherlock wrote:There was also Indo-Aryan influence on Mesopotamians based on the Mitanni evidence.


I'm curious about to what extent. It might have been more that Mesopotamia influenced them. Here's a relevant quote:

    The one secure early date for something recognisably 'Vedic' comes from West Asia, where the Mitanni archives preserve some names of recognisable Vedic deities and other terms in a language identifiable as an early form of Vedic Sanskrit in texts dating from around 1360-80 BCE. Exactly what this proto-Vedic group was doing in the region is a puzzle to which a variety of speculative answers has been proposed. In fact the whole question of the early history of the Indo-Aryan and Indo-Iranian speaking peoples is both heavily contested and, at least at this point in time, largely undecidable.


Geoffrey Samuel, The Origins of Yoga and Tantra Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century (New Delhi, India: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 27.


Mesopotamia did influence them to some degree based on the loanwords in Vedic Sanskrit, but IMO the odder (and more interesting thing) is how some Indo-Aryans passed through Persia and became the rulers of the Mitanni. The traces of their language show that it was Indo-Aryan specifically (i.e. related to Sanskrit etc) rather than general Indo-Iranian.

A more relevant thing to consider IMO is the opposition between the Central Gangetic region and the Kuru-Pancala region in the development of sramanic vs brahmanic religion. We know that by the Buddha's time both regions were largely Indo-Aryan speaking and with some degree of shared mythology yet they had some deep differences which seem to date back to ancient times (Lunar vs Solar Dynasty, different models of kingship).


Early on it seems the distinction wasn't as clear cut as the Jaina text the Isibhāsāiyam reveals:

    There are other indications of such a generally-shared body of wisdom sayings and stories, such as that remarkable Jaina text, the Isibhāsāiyam. Certainly this text provides a view of early Indian spirituality that is markedly at contrast with any assumptions about discrete and opposed traditions. The title of the Isibhāsāiyam, which was included in the Śvetāmbara Jaina canon, means the Sayings of the Rṣis, and the book consists of a series of verses attributed to the particular named ṛṣis who are included in this text, for while they include Pārśva, Mahāvīra (here called Vaddhamāṇa) and other Jaina figures, they also include Vedic and Brahmanical sages such as Nārada, Yājñavalkya and others, as well as well-known Buddhist figures such as Śāriputra and Mahākāśyapa, and Makkhali Gosāla, the founder of the Ājīvikas. We seem here to be in a pluralist society of ascetic practitioners whose members are quite willing to regard members of the other semi-renunciate and renunciate religious traditions as 'sages' of a standing comparable to their own.


Geoffrey Samuel, The Origins of Yoga and Tantra Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century (New Delhi, India: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 124.


That text was already post-Buddha. Anyway Samuel goes into the differences between the two cultural complexes elsewhere in that book.
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Indrajala » Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:48 pm

Sherlock wrote:Mesopotamia did influence them to some degree based on the loanwords in Vedic Sanskrit, but IMO the odder (and more interesting thing) is how some Indo-Aryans passed through Persia and became the rulers of the Mitanni. The traces of their language show that it was Indo-Aryan specifically (i.e. related to Sanskrit etc) rather than general Indo-Iranian.


Old Persian, at least as we have it preserved today, is strikingly similar to Sanskrit:

    yo vo apo vasvish yajate asuranish asurasya vashishthabyo hotrabhyo

    (Sanskrit)


    yo vo apo vanguhish yazaite ahuranish ahurahe vahishtabyo zaothrabyo

    (Avestan)


    He who worships you, the good waters, the Ahurian wives of Ahura, with best

    libations.


As far as I know the relationship between the Indo-Aryans and Indo-Iranians is not well explained, though of course they came from the same ancestral culture.


That text was already post-Buddha. Anyway Samuel goes into the differences between the two cultural complexes elsewhere in that book.


On the other hand, all of our Buddhist scriptures and accounts of the Buddha are post-Buddha by many centuries. The earliest evidence we have of Buddhism is the Aśoka pillars, and some wonder if they exclusively refer to Buddhadharma.

The later literature, like in the Pali canon, shows a very self-conscious community with a well-developed ideology, ethical system and identity. This was all a much later development after the Buddha's time.
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Rakshasa » Mon Feb 17, 2014 6:03 pm

Bhuridatta Jataka talks about a Brahmin, who was a hunter by profession, finds his way to a Naga kingdom (indigenous) and boasts about the superiority of Brahmins and their religion. He preaches the trademark Brahmanic caste system of four Varnas. After listening to his boastful speeches, which actually intrigues and impresses many Nagas, a Great Bodhisattva rebukes the Brahmin for his false claims and debunks the theory of their superiority. Excerpt:

Brahmans he made for study, for command
He made the Khattiyas; Vessas plough the land;
Sudras he servants mode to obey the rest;
Thus from the first went forth his high behest.
We see those rules enforced before our eyes,
None but the Brahmans offer sacrifice,

None but the Khattiya exercises sway,
The Vessas plough, the Suddas must obey.
These greedy liars propagate deceit,
And fools believe the fictions they repeat;
He who has eyes can see the sickening sight;
Why does not Brahma set his creatures right?
If his wide power no limits can restrain,
Why is his hand so rarely spread to bless?
Why are his creatures all condemned to pain?
Why does he not to all give happiness?


Suttas such as these and other various texts refuting the Brahmanical race theories substantially prove that the Buddhist people of Magadha were alien to this system which is so pervasive in India today. Asvaghosha wrote Vajrasuchi to refute them, and the likes of Dharmakirti, Nagarjuna, Nagasena etc have also refuted these ideas.

The clan of Buddha was most likely a native one (not even Caucasian, as the Buddha is described as having golden skin - not white, which is supposed to be the skin of Brahmins as per Panini or Patanjali).

My own theory is that the Britishers and other European Indologists during Colonial times were misguided by the Caucasian features of the Indians in North western India - which is comprised of later Indo-Scythians, Hunas, Kushans and other Central Asian peoples (Kashmir was referred to as Hunapradesh in Bhavishya Purana) - very boldly conclude that most of the Indians were Aryans (especially the higher castes).

The INdo-Aryans came and settled in Haryana-Punjab area in earlier times (by the time of Buddha). But later they were forced further East and South by the later Indo-Scythians who themselves settled there. That is why the most conservative Brahmanism today is found in Southern India among the Namboothiri, Iyer and other Brahmins. Where as the rough agrarian culture of Haryana today of the Jats and SIkhs is due to the Indo-Scythian migrations. The language and pronunciation of the Haryanvis is not as "Sanskritic" as the Southern Brahmins who ironically live in Dravidian speaking areas - from where the Hinduism revivalists like Shankara and Kumaril Bhatta came. For example, in Jat language "Mahendra" would be pronounced as "Mahender" ("dra" is replaced with "der"). Furthermore, if Punjab-Haryana remained an Indo-Aryan stronghold till current times as is assumed by the historians, then it would be the stronghold of orthodox Brahmanism instead of giving way to new religions like SIkhism which clearly has even Islamic influence.
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Indrajala » Mon Feb 17, 2014 6:33 pm

It is possible there were Brahmins that lived in both the west and east, though it was in the former (the Kuru-Pañcāla region) that the caste system and Vedic orthodoxy that came to become dominant really developed.

Image

Geoffrey Samuel points this out in his work:

    It would seem that by the time of the historical Buddha and of the Jaina teacher Mahāvīra, the generic Indo-Aryan cultural tradition was an accepted part of society through much of the Central Gangetic region. There were also Brahmins and a degree of movement between the Brahmins of this region and those of Kuru-Pañcāla. It seems clear, however, that the nature of Vedic and Brahmanical religion in this region was different and considerably less dominant than in the Kuru-Pañcāla region.


Geoffrey Samuel, The Origins of Yoga and Tantra Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century (New Delhi, India: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 100.

In other words, Brahmins were still a part of Magadha in the Buddha's time, though they were not necessarily so influential or even well regarded.

Suttas such as these and other various texts refuting the Brahmanical race theories substantially prove that the Buddhist people of Magadha were alien to this system which is so pervasive in India today. Asvaghosha wrote Vajrasuchi to refute them, and the likes of Dharmakirti, Nagarjuna, Nagasena etc have also refuted these ideas.


Most eminent Buddhist authors in India were described as being from the Brahmin caste. This was only reasonable given the high level of Sanskrit fluency necessary for writing eloquent treatises. There might have been more to it than that. As Bronkhorst has noted, the Buddhists adopted a loose version of the Vedic caste system. It seems that throughout Buddhist history the sangha recognized the existence of caste, as can be seen in constant references to it in Buddhist literature.

Buddhists in any case were not necessarily so benevolent all the time in ancient India. It seems slavery was common enough. The Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra speaks of the bodhisattva giving way their wealth, treasures, wive(s), children and slaves, i.e., all his personal property.

Also we need to bear in mind the Buddhists sold themselves out to the merchant class, their key ally from at least around the CE onward. This idea that Brahmans were all intolerant tyrants running a theocracy while Buddhists were innocent victims is a bit problematic.
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Zhen Li » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:11 am

RE: Magadha/East-West Divisions

In The Laws of Manu (10.11&22), all of the clans of the eastern kingdoms are said to be mixed-caste marriages, and are treated as non-Aryan. The Satapatha Brahmana (13.8.1.5) also calls the easterners "asurāḥ prācyāḥ," or Eastern Asuras, with corrupt speech, pronouncing r as l and using all sorts of epenthesis rather than using something closer to proper Paninian Sandhi. The Aitareya Brahmana (33.6) also describes easterners as being the cursed sons of Visvamitra, living beyond the boundary of the civilized-Aryan lands, and being those from whom most slaves are taken (naming particularly Andhras, who are Dravidians, and Pundras, Sabaras, Pulindas, and Mutibas, who are Mundas). There are also some instances in the Atharva Veda where demonic fevers are banished from the Aryan lands to the Angas and Magadhas, who are regarded as having lives of low-value.

So, it's very likely that there were serious racial/ethnic divisions and tensions in the Buddha's time between east and west, and it's unlikely that if the Buddha had Aryan heritage that he was not also mixed, probably being some mix of Aryan with indigenous South Asian and Mongoloid, like many Himalayan foot-hill tribesmen, as would have been most of the early Buddhists.

Note also that the Vetalīyā metre, is one of the most common metres in the earliest Buddhist texts, and of course, like most of these demon/goblin type terms, it was also a by-term for the indigenous South-Asians. It'd be like distinguishing the metres of British-English and White-American poetry, with those of African-American rap. People call one poetry and the other rap, or they would not call rap music, and it has certain racial associations.

Note also how the Brahmins even in the Suttas talk of the Sakyas as being kind of savage-like and fierce, "fierce, rough-spoken, touchy and violent. Being of menial origin, being menials, they do not honour, respect, esteem, revere or pay homage to Brahmans. ... shaven little (muṇḍaka) ascetics, menials, black scourings from Brahma’s foot." (Ambaṭṭha Sutta)

The Sakyas also claim to descend from Ikṣvāku, which is Aryan in Sanskrit but his name in Pali is Okkāka, which, according to Kuniper, Aryans in the Rigveda, p. 7 and Mayrhofer, Dictionary of Indo-Aryan Etymologies, vol. 1, p. 185, is a Munda name.

We'll never get 1.0 certainty with regards to the question of what race the Buddha was, but in terms of probability, I don't think we should rule anything out just yet.

I also don't think we should go hard on writers after the Buddha's time who believed that the Buddha was of pure Solar-Dynasty ancestry, they didn't really know any better and probably were trying to praise him as much as they could. I don't think it's necessarily evidence of a conspiracy.

RE: Caste

It's probably not likely that caste was ever solidified at any time, and was probably not fixed in Vedic times. Part of the solidification and simplification and universalisation of Caste to everything south-Asian is a bit of a European misunderstanding, but it became a bit of a self-fulfilment since it was also misunderstood by native scholars who were referring to European scholarship. But that's probably another good thread topic.

RE: Brahmins

Not only did the Buddhists secure stability through the sponsorship of merchants, but breaking from the Vedic/Upanisadic ideal, they promoted a world vision in which the king is supreme in the kingdom, rather than the Brahmin. Buddhists actually embraced an ideal and model of kingship that is more commonly observed anthropologically, than the Vedic/Upanisadic model, which is actually pretty deviant from the norm of human societies. Buddhist rajas are just regular rajas.

:anjali:
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Rakshasa » Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:37 am

Most eminent Buddhist authors in India were described as being from the Brahmin caste. This was only reasonable given the high level of Sanskrit fluency necessary for writing eloquent treatises.


We have to take the caste of Buddhist monks described in Buddhist literature with a grain of salt. Especially when Buddhists had different definition of terms like 'Brahmin' or 'Kshatriya'. Remember that the clans that are described as 'Kshatriya' in Buddhist literature are described as 'Sudras' according to Brahmanic literature (Mauryas, Nandas, Guptas etc). This alone proves that caste system was an idea created among the Indo-Aryans but was not established practically in other areas - otherwise, there wont be such discrepancy. Buddhist scripture calls virtually every accomplished Buddhist monk as belonging to Brahmin caste - but they describe a Brahmin as someone of accomplishments, as in the Ambattha Sutta, not an ethnicity/clan.

However, many prominent Buddhist sages did come from Brahminic backgrounds. But certainly not the majority.
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Malcolm » Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:16 pm

Zhen Li wrote: than the Vedic/Upanisadic model, which is actually pretty deviant from the norm of human societies. Buddhist rajas are just regular rajas.

:anjali:


The Upanishad as well as the Vedas clearly uphold kingship as the ideal.

See Dumezil.
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Rakshasa » Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:40 pm

The Upanishad as well as the Vedas clearly uphold kingship as the ideal.

See Dumezil


Early Brahmanism, which was quite different from later Brahmanism (which mixed with native cults after several centuries) , but similar to modern Zoroastrianism, also held the "Rajan" as ideal - it was at that time the concept of four castes did not yet exist. Some scholars said that it was inserted much later on in the end of the Rig Veda, without much explanation. Naturally, the caste system developed with the Indo-Aryans (Caucasians) started mixing with the early Central Asian (in India) and the Australoid population of majority of India.

Brahmanism and Buddhism were complementary to each other. According to Brahmanism (and Vedas) the true ideal of life was to gain wealth, sons and live a materially fulfilling life, even for the Rsis, who, unlike the Shramanas, were married householders. Renunciation in Buddhism vs material prosperity in Brahmanism. Similarly, 'Rebirth vs /heaven/hell', 'castes vs virtue', 'animal sacrifice vs compassion' etc. As if they were made to be against each other (which was also the reasoning early historians used to consider Buddhism's emergence as a protest against Brahmanism).

The most detailed and scholarly account of Early Brahmanism and Buddhism (and later Hinduism) is by the eminent Indian historian Lal Mani Joshi (himself a Brahmin).

http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh150-p.html


PS; The speaking of Indo-Aryan language doesn't automatically imply that the people of Gangetic plains were Indo-Aryans racially. Same as the Srilankans who speak Indo-Aryan language but are not Aryans racially.
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Zhen Li » Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:56 pm

Malcolm wrote:The Upanishad as well as the Vedas clearly uphold kingship as the ideal.

The ideal for kings is dandaniti. That doesn't mean they view kingship as superior in authority to that of brahmins. Actually in practice most kings didn't really use brahmins in the ideal manner, they'd have them at court for legitimation, not for instruction in Dharma. Buddhism holds that the Brahmin can only exist in society once the king has ordered it, whereas the Brahmanical texts hold that the Brahmin was established as supreme being born from the head of Brahma, a view the Buddhists refute.
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Sherlock » Tue Feb 18, 2014 8:17 pm

The "Hindu" texts we have in their present form were codified by Brahmins so of course it would talk about how Brahmins are the superior class, but alternate versions of the verses existed in the Buddha's time:

28. 'Moreover it was one of the Brahmâ gods, Sanam-kumâra{1}, who uttered this stanza{2}:

"The Kshatriya is the best of those among this folk
who put their trust in lineage.
But he who is perfect in wisdom and righteousness,
he is the best among gods and men."

'Now this stanza, Ambattha, was well sung and not ill sung by the Brahmâ Sanam-kumâra, well said and not ill said, full of meaning and not void thereof. And I too approve it; I also, Ambattha, say:

"The Kshatriya is the best of those among this folk
who put their trust in lineage.
But he who is perfect in wisdom and righteousness,
he is the best among gods and men."'

{1. Sanam-kumâra means 'ever virgin.' According to the legend--common ground to Brahmans and Buddhists--there were five 'mind born' sons of Brahmâ, who remained always pure and innocent, and this Brahmâ was one of the five. See the passages quoted by Chalmers in the J. R. A. S., 1894, p. 344.

Hofrath Bühler has pointed out that in the Mahâbhârata III, 185 (Bombay edition) there is an interesting passage where Sanat-kumâra (the Sanskrit form of the name Sanam-kumâra) is actually represented by the Brahmans themselves as having uttered, as referee in a dispute on a point similar to the one here discussed, not indeed the actual words here imputed to him, but others of a very similar import. See the whole article in the J. R. A. S., 1897, pp. 585-588. We either have in our text a quotation from an older recension of the same legend, or one of the two--either the Brahman editors of the Mahâbhârata, or the composers of our Sutta--have twisted the legend a little in their own favour.

2. The verse is a favourite one. It occurs also at M. I, 358; S. I, 153; II, 284; and below in the Aggañña Sutta.}


link

I think besides DNA testing of the humans living in the Central Gangetic region vs the Kuru-Pancala region around 600BCE, it is difficult to say whether they were ethnically difference in terms of biology. At any rate, they definitely had a lot in common in terms of shared language and mythology.
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Malcolm » Tue Feb 18, 2014 8:58 pm

Zhen Li wrote:
Malcolm wrote:The Upanishad as well as the Vedas clearly uphold kingship as the ideal.

The ideal for kings is dandaniti. That doesn't mean they view kingship as superior in authority to that of brahmins. Actually in practice most kings didn't really use brahmins in the ideal manner, they'd have them at court for legitimation, not for instruction in Dharma. Buddhism holds that the Brahmin can only exist in society once the king has ordered it, whereas the Brahmanical texts hold that the Brahmin was established as supreme being born from the head of Brahma, a view the Buddhists refute.


It is clearly states in the early Upanishads that only the ksatriyas knew the meaning of the Vedas, of which Brahmins were ignorant.
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Zhen Li » Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:06 pm

I certainly believe you are right Malcolm, in some Upanishads that's the case.

I shall just quote to you from Tambiah's World Conqueror and World Renouncer, which is from whence I got this impression:
World Conqueror and World Renouncer, p. 22 wrote:The real thrust of the Buddhist story is that it is self-consciously an inversion of the Vedic theory of the origin of the varna. In that theory the varnas are divinely created, and of them the preeminent varna is that of the brahman. Furthermore, the divinely ordained dharma code of conduct, whose foremost representative is the brahman himself, is the root and foundation of social order; the kshatriya as ruler and king, also divinely ordained, practices the code appropriate to his status and function, the rajadharma, which appropriately applies to the domain of artha (the domain of instrumental action, which includes what is labeled in the West as the domains of polity and economy) and which by no means provides the moral basis for society as a whole.1

The footnote reads,
"This dharma is the sovereign power ruling over kshatra itself. Therefore, there is nothing higher than dharma. ... Verily, that which is dharma is truth[satya]..."(Brhad Aranyaka Upanisad 1.4,11-14).
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby haha » Wed Feb 19, 2014 9:11 pm

actually, the gods have caste, which is later associated with social structure. right now i cannot remember the name of the pre-buddhist philosopher who first introduced this concept. it is mention in A History Of Pre-buddhistic Indian Philosophy.
one can read the same idea in Brhad Aranyaka Upanisad, too.

Malcolm wrote:It is clearly states in the early Upanishads that only the ksatriyas knew the meaning of the Vedas, of which Brahmins were ignorant.


it might be more correct to say Brahmins went to Kshatriya for hoping to know the particular form of Brahma or sacrifice, but the most of the cases they taught Kshatriya. it is interesting to know some of prominent vedic philosophers were from warrior class.
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Sherlock » Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:00 pm

There was introgression of DNA that originated in the Indian subcontinent to Mesopotamia.

http://dienekes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/ ... syria.html
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Sherlock » Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:07 am

There are several different points to note:

Kuru-Pancala and Central Gangetic Region:
    1. The separation date of Indo-Aryan from Iranian (i.e. the language of the Vedas from the language of the Gathas) took place around 2000BCE. It is problematic to date the Vedas or Gathas in the first place, but we do know that they were separated by the time of the Mitanni (circa 1500BCE).
    2. The fact that most people in the Kuru-Pancala Region and the Central Gangetic region were speakers of Indo-Aryan dialects with a lot of shared cultural background
    3. Still, their culture seems to have differed in some significant ways.
    4. The Brahmins seem to have been treated less well in the Central Gangetic region than in Kuru-Pancala
    5. There seems to be two distinct models of kingship we can identify in Indian mythology: a warrior king vs a wisdom king. The warrior king mythos is associated with the Lunar Dynasty, which is associated with Kuru-Pancala, while the Wisdom King mythos ("delighting in the happiness of all beings") is associated with the Central Gangetic region.
    6. The Central Gangetic region gave rise to the first cities in India (after Indus Valley) shortly before the Buddha's time. (Circa 700-600BCE, the Second Urbanization)

Mesopotamia and Indus Valley:
    1. The Indus Valley civilization prospered from around 2600BCE to 1900BCE
    2. The Mesopotamian civilizations (Sumero-Akkadians and Elamites) prospered from around 2700BCE to around 2000BCE. They survived after this period but around the end of this period, there was widespread famine and reduction in population.
    3.We don't know anything about the language of the Indus Valley people or their precise population genetics.
    4. They had trade links with Mesopotamia and Egypt.
    5. The people living in Mesopotamia today have little genetic continuity with the ancient Mesopotamians because of the Mongol invasions causing a huge depopulation in the 13th century CE.
    6. According to that recent DNA study I linked above, there was genetic continuity from the middle Bronze Age (2200 to 1900 BCE) to the late Roman period (500CE) in Mesopotamia, and what's more, those were ancient genetic lineages originated in the Indian subcontinent.
    7. The Indo-Aryan (note specifically Indo-ARYAN, i.e. more closely related to Vedic than Avestan) component of the Mitanni shows up 1500BCE.
    8. The Achaemenids show up around 700BCE. They are the oldest source for an Iranian language. They also conquered the Indus Valley around the 6th century BCE.

Based on the above, I think that there is little evidence for any significant Mesopotamian influence in the Buddha's immediate background. Any "non-Indo-European" influence is more likely to have come from the non-Indo-Aryan peoples of India, but that will be even harder to identify.

Mesopotamia had some exchanges with the Indus Valley people, but their mode of society, their architecture and art all seem to have differed considerably from the Mesopotamians. We don't know whether the Indus Valley people actually contributed much to the later Indo-Aryan culture either.

There was however, a continuous stream of migration from the area around modern-day Pakistan to Mesopotamia. This goes back to at least the Middle Bronze Age. New streams of immigrants from the east keep turning up in Mesopotamia over the centuries.

Any late (1000BCE) Akkadian influence might have penetrated Kuru-Pancala society, but I find it doubtful it would have been very significant or have spread to the Central Gangetic region.
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Zhen Li » Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:12 am

Very informative, thank you for sharing Sherlock. It would of course also be problematic to try to use the Indus-Valley as a guide for thinking about non-Indo-Aryan Indian peoples as well.
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Re: Śākyamuni's non-Indo-European heritage.

Postby Sherlock » Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:28 am

Indrajala wrote:On the other hand, all of our Buddhist scriptures and accounts of the Buddha are post-Buddha by many centuries. The earliest evidence we have of Buddhism is the Aśoka pillars, and some wonder if they exclusively refer to Buddhadharma.

The later literature, like in the Pali canon, shows a very self-conscious community with a well-developed ideology, ethical system and identity. This was all a much later development after the Buddha's time.


I think only Indian nationalists question whether he was Buddhist; I think Verardi's book did mention somewhere that Indian nationalists sought to produce ambiguous translations that make it seem like he wasn't referring to Buddhadharma.

However, he set up his pillars next to Buddhist sites and monasteries. He used the word "Buddha", makes reference to the sangha, the Three Jewels, and references Buddhist texts. Something interesting is his reference to the past Buddha Konakamana though. Konakamana is Kanakamuni in Pali and Faxian and Xuanzang both identified the same stupa. The story that went behind the identification of the stupa with a prior Buddha would be interesting, although it's probably lost to us now.

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=s1PZ ... rs&f=false
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