Buddhism as Iranian heresy?

Klaus Karttunen Klaus.Karttunen at HELSINKI.FI
Thu Nov 7 14:54:02 UTC 2002

Bob Thurman wrote:
> Dear Dean,
> Yes to your question in the last para. There have been previous
> Eurocentric speculations about
> influence on sculptures of Buddha from Gandhara, Zoroastrian influence
> on the Amitabha cult of Mahayana, and so on, all with some basis, all
> controversial. Earlier Iranian-Indic Vedic period interactions,
> migrations, etc., as alluded to by Prof. Witzel, are surely probable,
> but the idea that "Buddhism," i.e. the social/religious/intellectual
> movement founded by Shakyamuni, would have inspiration from Iranian
> sources is what is out of left field...
There was a time when the idea of Sakya(muni) derived from saka AND
Buddhism derived from Iranian ideas actually was part of "Eurocentric
speculations". There was an article on this by Breloer ("Die ZAkya",
ZDMG 94, 1940, 268-294 ) and I wonder, whether there is something
similar in late works of Mrs. Rhys Davids on her "Aryan Buddhism". But
Michael makes a different case and is perhaps acceptable.


Klaus Karttunen, Ph.D.
Docent of Indology and Classical Ethnography
Institute of Asian and African Studies
PL 59 (Unioninkatu 38 B), 00014 University of Helsinki, FINLAND
phone 358-0-19122188, fax 358-0-19122094

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