Buddhism as a Kenyan heresy

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Thu Nov 7 14:26:57 UTC 2002

On Wed, 6 Nov 2002, Sumit Guha wrote:

> If the coincidence of two consonants between the name of a north Iranian
> people and the ethnonym of Gautama's clan is sufficient for Michael Witzel
> to provide a connection,.... [etc.  etc. instead: "African Eve"]

Hmm, funny, but only applicable if my name were PN Oak.

It never ceases to amaze me how people can talk in an off-at-a-
tangent fashion... I had hoped, not on this list. --  A few points:

* "North Iranian" refers to a language and all those, regardless of
origins, who  speak it.

In case, the O.Pers. Saka situated north of Merw/Bactria/Sogdia:
Saka tigraxauda, haumavarga, and those 'across the
sea' = Scythians in Ukraine,  of Darius (= Daarayava[h]ush) at 519 BCE+,
and those who became the Khotanese Saka and those Saka (Skt. S'aka, zaka)
who entered Bactria/Sakastaan = Sistan, and later S. Asia around 140 BCE.
(Plus the modern Ossete, Yaghnobi).

* Skt. zaakya  (Pali sakya is a longer story!) is normal Vrddhi derivative
from zaka. Thus more than 2 consonants in common with the N.Ir. Saka (~
Skt. zaka)

* Worse, I thought I had *begun* to offer a few more items that point to
Iran/C. Asia, beyond the 2 consonants. Conveniently forgotten in the


> doctrines... accepted and rejected by the Buddha were prevalent in
north-east Iran in
> the formative period of the religion(where the inscription of Daryaush
> printed in D.C. Sircar would seem to place the Saka around 500 BCE.)

N.E. Iran? See above : from Ukraine to Xinjiang, well north of present

And why must Buddha's *teaching* come from there, if a connection between
Zaka and Zaakya is made??  Not what I said.  Rereading advised.

Incidentally, the whole story about the multi-ethnic/multi-religious
Bihar of Buddha's time has not yet been written. I only gave some
initial hints in my email. More to come, or see HOS-Opera Minora vol. 2
(1997: 307 sqq).

> Furthermore, ethnonyms travel and change:

Precisely what I suggested ("Indianized"). So why the uproar?

*  Could  the reason be that I pointed to a region *outside* the
subcontinent?   If so, why not say so?

As historian, Prof. Guha could perhaps explain to us where the Indian
yavana, parthava, zaka, kuSANa, tukhara, abhira, hUNa/harahUNa,
gurjara/Gujar, turuSka, taajika came from. Not to speak of the Bhoja
brahmins with their abhyanga etc., and  their sun worship.

Yours, eager to know,


Michael Witzel                       witzel at fas.harvard.edu
Harvard University                   www.shore.net/~india/ejvs
2 Divinity Avenue                    (Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies)
Cambridge MA 02138, USA

my direct line (also for messages) :  617- 496 2990

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