Early Greco-Dhamma

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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Early Greco-Dhamma

Post by Coëmgenu » Tue Sep 06, 2016 3:33 pm

The Bactrian Empire was famously Greek-influenced, and Buddhists had a heavy presence there (I've read a few times that Amidism began as a Bactrian movement).

Are there any manuscript traditions of Buddhist writings in the Greek language from this time period?

It is also possible that I am assuming Bactrian proliferation of Buddhism occurred much earlier than it did.
並畢竟空。並如來藏。並實相。非三 而三三而不三。非合非散而合而散。非非合非非散。不可一異而一異。
All three truths are ultimately empty, all are tathāgata-seed, all are true aspect. Not three, they are three; three, they are not three. Neither combined nor separated, neither uncombined nor unseparated. Neither same nor different, yet in a sense same, and in a sense different.

夫三諦者。 天然之性徳也。 中諦者。 統一切法。 眞諦者。 泯一切法。 俗諦者。 立一切法。
The three truths. Heaven-sent natural characteristics. The middle truth unifies all dharmāḥ. The ultimate truth demolishes all dharmāḥ. The conventional truth establishes all dharmāḥ.

摩訶止観始終心要Móhēzhǐguān, Shǐzhōngxīnyào.

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Re: Early Greco-Dhamma

Post by Dhamma_Basti » Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:34 pm

I do not believe that there ever was a translation of a buddhist text into greek made at that time that survived until the present time.
As far as my knowledge goes, the only ancient greek source that deals explicitely with india is the travel report of Megasthenes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megasthenes
You might had in mind the greco-baktrian kingdom after Alexander I. in what is today Afghanistan and Pakistan. This has been however not comparable to the ancient greek civilization on the european subcontinent. I think we have to understand this kingdom to be a very isolated one which didn't had much in common with the european greeks except for some greek blood in the ruling class. As far as I know they didn't produce any literature in greek, but one important indian source of this time has survived that deals explicitely with the greco-baktrians, the Milinda Panha: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milinda_Panha
And of course we have a _lot_ of buddhist sanskrit that was propably written already in the time of the greco-baktrians (or maybe even earlier), but that's a different story.
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Re: Early Greco-Dhamma

Post by Kare » Tue Sep 06, 2016 10:36 pm

Check the Greek philosopher Pyrrho. It seems he met Indian sages when he accompanied Alexander to the east, and these may well have been Buddhists. There are some books on the subject: Greek Buddha: Pyrrho's Encounter with Early Buddhism in Central Asia by Christopher I. Beckwith, and Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism (Studies in Comparative Philosophy and Religion) by Adrian Kuzminski. I have read the one by Beckwith, and although he may be a little controversial, it is interesting stuff.

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