b. with a and pl. An instance of this; a heretical opinion or doctrine.

John Huntington huntington.2 at OSU.EDU
Thu Nov 7 16:37:40 UTC 2002

Dear "Iranian Heresy" Discussants

Mitochondrial DNA and Old Iranian phonemes aside, I think what
offends me as as much as anything is the prioritizing of Iranian
religion by the use of the term "heresy".

According to the OED there are several ways of understanding the word

     1. a.  Theological or religious opinion or doctrine maintained in
opposition, or held to be contrary, to the 'catholic' or orthodox
doctrine of the Christian Church, or, by extension, to that of any
church, creed, or religious system, considered as orthodox.
          b. with a and pl. An instance of this; a heretical opinion
or doctrine.

2. By extension, Opinion or doctrine in philosophy, politics,
science, art, etc., at variance with those generally accepted as
authoritative. Also with a and pl.

  3. In sense ofŠ[an]  Opinion or doctrine characterizing particular
individuals or parties; a school of thought; a sect.

In my experience the first two meanings are much more thought of as
the "meaning" of the word "heresy" than the third. Therefore, debate
is more about the English usage of ""herasy"  that influences and
cultural fertilizations.

I might allow that linguistically and methodologically Buddhism might
have some roots that extended back into into the Iranian historical
continuum, but a conscious "heresy" in the sense that Shakyamuni and
his predecessors in Upanishadic thought were staging a
"confrontational" debate with the Iranian priests is simply
ahistorical speculation. Following the proven ideas of J. Mark
Kenoyer of continuity in Indic civilization, seems much more to the
point. A close reading of the Pali canon and the agamas, strongly
suggests that here was a brahmanical dual deity religion with Brama
and the "deity" of the Brahmanical priest hood, and Shakra (Indra)
the deity of the  Kashatrya and Vaisha communities. I can explain
this at length and refer to contemporaneous  sculptures illustrating
Shakyamuni being greeted and/or offered puja by Brahma and Indra as
evidence of their 1) having been imp;ortant  and 2) moved by the
Buddhists into a secondary position).  While religious historiqals
will immediately point out that Brahma and Indra have Vedic and
thereby Indo-aryan origins, the Vedas had been in India for at least
a thousand years and the Buddhist assumption of primacy over the two
gods, was hardly "heretical."  Indeed, not at all, because it
included both Indra and Brahma as major players in the formation of
Buddhism and did so in a very non-confrontational  but completely
inclusive way.

Thus, if one finds it necessary to speak of Iranian roots for
Buddhism, as a kind of higher historyor grand overview, that is
probably true, but as a "heresy" or anything like a confrontational
voice in opposition to "Iranian relgion" absolutely not..

Now on another note, During the second  through sixth centuries, both
Bodhisattva imagery and crowned Buddha imagery was indeed influenced
by by Kushan, Parthian and Sassanian kingship imagery and
incorporated royal regalia into the Buddhist Iconographic vocabulary,
Much, perhaps too much, has been made of this in the art historical
literature of this connection. In my opinion, it is much more likely
that persons familiar with the Iranian courts recounted the richness
of the courts and from that the depictions of Buddhas and tenth rank
bodhisattvas who were by definition in Akanistha paradise, simply to
on the qualities of the greatest luxury known at the time. This usage
certainly did not stem from ar have any part in a Buddhist "heresy."
Indeed, not. because it was an acceptance of the richness and the
power of the Iranian courts.



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