Thursday, August 12, 2010

Asoka greek,Brahmi ROCK Letters to the WORLD

Asoka greek,Brahmi ROCK Letters to the WORLD

According to the edicts, the extent of Buddhist proselytism during this period reached as far as the Mediterranean, and many Buddhist monuments were created.

These inscriptions proclaim Ashoka’s beliefs in the Buddhist concept of dharma and his efforts to develop the dharma throughout his kingdom. Although Buddhism and the Buddha are mentioned, the edicts focus on social and moral precepts rather than religious practices or the philosophical dimension of Buddhism.

In these inscriptions, Ashoka refers to himself as “Beloved of the Gods” and “King Priya-darshi.” The identification of King Priya-darshi with Ashoka was confirmed by an inscription discovered in 1915. The inscriptions found in the eastern part of India were written in the Magadhi language, using the Brahmi script. In the western part of India, the language used is closer to Sanskrit, using the Kharoshthi script, one extract of Edict 13 in the Greek language, and one bilingual edict written in Greek and Aramaic.These edicts were decodified by British archeologist and historian James Prinsep.

The inscriptions revolve around a few repetitive themes: Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism, the description of his efforts to spread Buddhism, his moral and religious precepts, and his social and animal welfare program.
In order to propagate the Buddhist faith, Ashoka explains he sent emissaries to the Hellenistic kings as far as the Mediterranean, and to the peoples throughout India, claiming they were all converted to the Dharma as a result. He names the Greek rulers of the time, inheritors of the conquest of Alexander the Great, from Bactria to as far as Greece and North Africa, displaying an amazingly clear grasp of the political situation at the time.

“Now it is conquest by Dhamma that Beloved-of-the-Gods considers to be the best conquest. And it (conquest by Dhamma) has been won here, on the borders, even six hundred yojanas away, where the Greek king Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas and Alexander rule, likewise in the south among the Cholas, the Pandyas, and as far as Tamraparni.” Rock Edict Nb13
The distance of 600 yojanas (a yojanas being about 7 miles), corresponds to the distance between the center of India and Greece (roughly 4,000 miles).
Antiochos refers to Antiochus II Theos of Syria (261-246 BC), who controlled the Seleucid Empire from Syria to Bactria, in the east from 305 to 250 BC, and was therefore a direct neighbor of Ashoka.
Ptolemy refers to Ptolemy II Philadelphos of Egypt (285-247 BCE), king of the dynasty founded by Ptolemy I, a former general of Alexander the Great, in Egypt.
Antigonos refers to Antigonus II Gonatas of Macedon (278-239 BC)
Magas refers to Magas of Cyrene (300-258 BC)
Alexander refers to Alexander II of Epirus (272-258 BC).

In the Gandhari original Antiochos is referred as “Amtiyoko nama Yona-raja” (lit. “The Greek king by the name of Antiokos”), beyond whom live the four other kings: “param ca tena Atiyokena cature 4 rajani Turamaye nama Amtikini nama Maka nama Alikasudaro nama” (lit”And beyond Antiochus, four kings by the name of Ptolemy, the name of Antigonos, the name of Magas, the name Alexander”

It is not clear in Hellenic records whether these emissaries were actually received, or had any influence on the Hellenic world. Some scholars however point to the presence of Buddhist communities in the Hellenistic world from that time, in particular in Alexandria (mentioned by Clement of Alexandria). The pre-Christian monastic order of the Therapeutae may have drawn inspiration for its ascetic lifestyle from contact with Buddhist monasticism. Buddhist gravestones from the Ptolemaic period have also been found in Alexandria, decorated with depictions of the Wheel of the Law (Tarn, “The Greeks in Bactria and India”). Commenting on the presence of Buddhists in Alexandria, some scholars have even pointed out that “It was later in this very place that some of the most active centers of Christianity were established” (Robert Linssen).

Ashoka’s proselytism also expanded to the south of the Indian subcontinent:
The Cholas and Pandyas were south Indian peoples living outside Asoka’s empire.
Tamraparni is the old name of Sri Lanka. Tamraparniya is also the name of Theravada School from Sri Lanka.

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