Heresy doctrine.

John Huntington huntington.2 at OSU.EDU
Thu Nov 7 21:21:10 UTC 2002

Madhav is quite right to point out the the Brahmins would not have
liked the subordination of Brahma and Indra-- Certainly not. My
intention was to point out that there is not confrontational rhetoric
about how awful the Brahmanical traditions were in Buddhist
literature. Such is limiteed to the conversions of various Brahmins
and their followers. Bad enough, I suppose to an unconverted Brahmin,
but not horror tales such as we have in the Christian discussions of


>I accept most of John's comments.  However, I very much doubt that
>the Buddhist subordination of Brahma and Indra to the Buddha was not
>deemed "heretical" by others and that it was "non-confrontational."
>The evidence from the Puranas like the Vishnupurana account that
>Vishnu takes the avataara as Buddha to teach false doctrines to
>demons so that they will be permanantly doomed is a reflection of
>how such mythological warfare was carried on.  No wonder that Shiva
>is depicted in the Shivamahapurana as destroying the city of the
>Asuras after they were deliberately led astray by a Jain-monk
>incarnation of Vishnu.  Also consider the Hindu accounts that
>Raavana had put all the gods in his prison, and needed to be freed.
>So I would carefully look at the mythological counter-stories as
>evidence of confrontational feelings on various sides.  I cannot
>imagine Brahmins in ancient times not being shocked to see
>representations of tiny Indra and Brahma at the feet of imposingly
>tall statues of the Buddha offering homage to him.
>                                                 Madhav Deshpande
>>  ----------
>>  From:         John Huntington
>>  Reply To:     Indology
>>  Sent:         Thursday, November 7, 2002 11:37 AM
>>  To:   INDOLOGY at
>>  Subject:           b. with a and pl. An instance of this; a
>>heretical opinion or              doctrine.
>>  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 ofSÝ[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.
>>  Sarvamangalam
>>  John

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list