Early Giithaa sculptures

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat Dec 26 13:39:10 UTC 1998

p. 32, Har Dayal, Bodhisattva doctrine,
"In fact, the very word bhakti, as a technical religious term,
occurs for the first time in Indian literature in a Buddhist
treatise and not in a Hindu scripture. The TheragAthA speaks
of bhatti: 'so bhattimA nAma ca hoti paNDito JatvA ca dhammesu
visesi assa'. This anthology contains verses that go back to
the earliest period of the history of Buddhism, and its final
redaction took place in the middle of the third century BC."

N. Chutiwongs, Buddha of the Future, 1994, p.70
"The worship of Maitreya  as a bodhisattva on earth and as an
inhabitant of the Tushita heaven spead from Northwest India
throughout Central Asia to China. Worship of Maitreya was
particularly important in the Central Asian kingdom of Khotan.
Acc. to later Tibetan texts, Vijayasambhava and Vijayavirya
two kings who ruled Khotan in the first century CE are considered
to have been incarnations of Maitreya. Moreover, The Book of
Zambasta, a famous Buddhist text in which Maitreya prophesies
the utopia he will lead as the Buddha of the future and urges
his followers to practice the proper forms of Buddhism was
written in Khotan."

A. Soper, Lietrary evidence for early Buddhist art in China,
p. 212
"Finally, Maitreya  was the Buddha-to-be, who in the far distant
future is to return to a purified and happy world, attain Enlightenment,
and lead countless hosts to salvation.
The last-named role must have been the primary one. It seems clear
that Maitreya was first of all, the Buddhist solution to the
yearning for a Messiah that took on such strength over the whole
Near and Middle East in the centuries after Alexander. The
strongest encouragement toward defining His personality and mission
probably came into India from the outside world. The Indian
mind, with its instinct for expansion and multiplication, was entirely
capable of projecting the Buddha idea into the future.
The Maitreya myth was unlike all other Buddhist projections across
space and time in being unique, not merely a duplication or an
equivalent of something else. ..
'Saakyamuni had come to be counted the seventh of those who had
come in succession to preach and to convert, Maitrreya was the
single saviour imaginable in the future....

The similarity between these themes and those of the great saviour
cults of the lands farther to the west is unmistakable.
(though the Buddhist version was purged of all terror and destruction,
and Maitreya was pictured neither as a conqueror nor as a judge.)
In view of the general pressure exerted by Iranian culture
on Northwest India in the age of foreign rulers between
the Mauryan and Guptan dynasties, it is most likely that the
resemblance points to Persia as a source. In this connection
there may be more than a coincidence in the fact that the
very name Maitreya is phonetically close to Mitra; and that
His occasional pseudonym Ajita has the same meaning as Mithra's
epithet, which the Romans rendered as "invictus".  ..
 The belief in Maitreya's golden age must have developed fairly early,
since it is recorded in Hinayana and Mahayana texts, and there in the
Pali versions as well as in the Sanskrit sUtras that were
translated into Chinese."

  I think this idea of Maitreya, the future Buddha (Messiah)
  was borrowed into the majority religion, Hinduism.
  The Hindu priest-philosophers transferred the Maitreya
  concept onto Vasudeva Krishna. Bhagavad giithaa with the
  theme of God talking to Man was created at that time.
  This may have happened at the time Sanskrit sutras
  of Mahayana, 1st or 2nd century AD.

  Sankaracharya chose to use Giithaa in the war against Buddhists
  because it is closer to Buddhist texts themselves (eg., Lotus sutra
  and Giithaa, cf. H. Kern).

  Before Sankara, in what texts other than Mahabharata, Giithaa is
  mentioned? In India what are the early representations
  in texts or sculptures of Krishna as a Charioteer?

  Any suggestions?

  N. Ganesan

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