Friday, November 30, 2012

The Hephthalites & Bactria (500 AD)


Click Here to View the Main Index


J. Harmatta and BA LiTvinsky present a different view (History of civilizations of Central Asia, Vol. III, p. 371). They argue that the famous Barmakid family were apparently the descants of the Hephthalite pramukhas of the Naubahar at Balkh. According to them the Hepthalite ruler of Balkh bore the Bactrian title sava (King), while the name of his son, Pariowk (in Armenian, clerical error for Parmowk) or Barmuda, Parmuda (in Arabic and Persian, clerical error for Barmuka, Parmuka) goes back to the Buddhist title pramukha. It shows that he was the lord and head of the great Buddhist Centre Naubahar at Balkh. His dignity and power were thus more of an ecclesiastic than of secular nature.

Click on the map to enlarge.

"Interestingly in the Hephthalite dominion Buddism and Hinduism was predominant but there was also a religious sediment of Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism."Balkh had some 100 Buddhist monasteries and 30,000 monks. Outside the town was a large Buddhist monastery, later known as Naubahar. Termez had 10 sangharamas (monasteries) and perhaps 1,000 monks.....Litvinovsky, Boris Abramovich. History of civilizations of Central Asia, Volume 3. UNESCO; published by Motilal Banarsidass. p. 149.

The Hephthalites were a Central Asian nomadic confederation of the AD 5th-6th centuries whose precise origins and composition remain obscure. According to Chinese chronicles, they were originally a tribe living to the north of the Great Wall and were known as Hoa or Hoa-tun. Elsewhere they were called White Huns....They displaced the Scythians and conquered Sogdiana and Khorasan before AD 425. Scholars believe that the Hephthalites constituted a second "Hunnish" wave who entered Bactria early in the fifth century AD, and who seem to have driven the Kidarites into Gandhara.

"Balkh came under Hepthalites or Huns by the of 4th Century A.D...... Kanishka had been the first Buddhist to rule Balkh. The early Huns followed a religion akin to Zorastrianism and worshipped fire and Sun. Subsequently, Hun Kings became followers of Buddhism...."

Click on the map to enlarge.

In the gravitational center of these domains, the Hephthalites successfully defended the territory of Herat Province, "the breadbasket of Central Asia," against all comers, including the Persian Sassanids and the Gupta Dynasty in India, for about 200 years.....Today nothing at all remains of them except a handful of silver coins.

The Encyclopedia Iranica paints a very pleasant picture of these extinct wanderers.....Procopius claims that the Hephthalites live in a prosperous territory, are the only Huns with fair complexions, do not live as nomads, acknowledge a single king, observe a well-regulated constitution, and behave justly towards neighboring states.......At the summit of their power around 550 AD, the Hephthalites ruled a roughly triangular empire extending over most of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, and Uzbekistan.

Newly-discovered ancient writings found in Afghanistan reveal that the Middle Iranian Bactrian language written in Greek script was not brought there by the Hephthalites, but was already present from Kushan times as the traditional language of administration in this region.

According to Xuanzang, the third Chinese pilgrim who visited the same areas as Song Yun about 100 years later, the capital of Chaghaniyan had five monasteries......"In the Hephthalite dominion Buddism was predominant but there was also a religious sediment of Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, and Nestorian Christianity." Balkh had some 100 Buddhist monasteries and 3,000 monks. Outside the town was a large Buddhist monastery, later known as Naubahar. Termez had 10 sangharamas (monasteries) and perhaps 1,000 monks.

Also known as: Cao, Ephthalites, Hayathelaites, Hephtal, He-ta, Hoa; Hoa-Tun; From: Encyclopedia of Ancient Asian Civilizations......The Hephthalite Huns were a people of shadowy origins who ruled much of Central Asia and northern India from about 450 to 550 CE. The word Hephthalite means "valiant" or "courageous," and the Sassanian rulers, who resisted the initial westward expansion of the Huns, rightly feared their prowess as mounted cavalry and archers. Their coins bore a Bactrian script, and they probably spoke an Iranian language. A description by the sixth-century historian Procopius of Caesarea noted that they were ruled by one king and resembled the Byzantine state in their legal system. There is also evidence in their conflict with the Sassanian kings Yazgird II and Peroz that they had a powerful army and observed sealed treaties over fixed frontiers.

The historical sources for the Hephthalites are fragmentary and at times contradictory, but it seems that while some of the population continued the typically nomadic life on the steppes, the elite became increasingly sedentary and occupied permanent walled towns or cities. One report describes the king's gold throne and magnificent dress. Their coinage reveals kings, but there also appear to have been regional rulers. Little archaeological research has been undertaken on the major settlements of the Hephthalite empire. Balkh (Afghanistan) is known to have been one of their centers, and Xuanzang described it as their capital. It was, he said, defended with strong walls but was not densely populated. Termez, on the Amu Dar'ya River, and Budrach were other cities of this period. The latter incorporated a citadel and covered an area of about 50 hectares (125 acres). Kafyr-kala, in the Vaksh Valley of Tajikistan was a walled regional capital with a citadel and a palace. The life led in such centers is illustrated by the painted feasting scene at Balalyk-tepe in the upper valley of the Amu Dar'ya River in Uzbekistan, which shows aristocratic men and women shielded by servants holding umbrellas. A second elite feasting scene is depicted on a silver dish from Chilek, in which female dancers are entertaining royalty. In Afghanistan, the massive rock-cut images of the Buddha at Bamiyan in Afghanistan, the largest such statues known before their destruction by the Taliban in 2001, probably date within the period of the Hephthalite empire.

Encyclopedia of Ancient Asian Civilizations.......Balkh is a settlement strategically placed north of the Hindu Kush range and south of the Amu Dar'ya River and was an important staging post on the ancient Silk Road that linked Rome with India and China. It was occupied by or under the control of most of the major powers that successively controlled this region, including the Sasanid dynasty, whose coinage was minted there under the title Bahlo, their name for the city. There were also periods of Bactrian Greek, Mauryan, Saka, and Kushan occupation. When Xuanzang, the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim, visited Bactria in the seventh century CE, he found that Balkh, the capital, was occupied by a sizable population of Buddhist monks. There are many early Buddhist foundations in the vicinity of the city, making Balkh one of the most westerly points of Buddhist expansion. One of these, the stupa known as Tope y-Rustam, is probably the same monument described by Xuanzang as Navasangharama.

Although the Hephthalites dominated much of Central Asia and Northern India at the height of their power (approximately 460 to 570), little information about their civilization is available to us. Their name derives from the Byzantine "Ephthalites," and they were alternatively known as Ye-Ta to the Wei dynasty and Hunas to the Gupta Empire. They are also referred to as "White Huns" in some histories, a term derived from a quotation from Procopius' History of the Wars, in which he writes, "The Ephthalites are of the stock of the Huns in fact as well as in name; however they do not mingle with any of the Huns known to us.... They are the only ones among the Huns who have white bodies and countenances which are not ugly."

Wei-era documentation records that the Hephthalites worshiped Heaven and also fire, also mentioned by Procopius.

"J. Harmatta and BA LiTvinsky present a different view (History of civilizations of Central Asia, Vol. III, p. 371). They argue that the famous Barmakid family were apparently the descants of the Hephthalite pramukhas of the Naubahar at Balkh. According to them the Hepthalite ruler of Balkh bore the Bactrian title sava (King), while the name of his son, Pariowk (in Armenian, clerical error for Parmowk) or Barmuda, Parmuda (in Arabic and Persian, clerical error for Barmuka, Parmuka) goes back to the Buddhist title pramukha. It shows that he was the lord and head of the great Buddhist Centre Naubahar at Balkh. His dignity and power were thus more of an ecclesiastic than of secular nature.".....

"...the spoken language of the Hephthalites was an East Iranian language different from the Baktrian language that was utilized as the "official language" and minted on coins.....According to B.A. Litvinsky, the names of the Hephtalite rulers used in the Shahnameh are Iranian. According to Xavier Tremblay, one of the Hephthalite rulers was named "Khingila", which has the same root as the Sogdian word xnγr and the Wakhi word xiŋgār, meaning "sword". The name "Mihirakula" is thought to be derived from mithra-kula which is Iranian for "the Sun family", with kula having the same root as Pashto kul, "family". "Toramāna" is also considered to have an Iranian origin. Accordingly, in Sanskrit, mihira-kula would mean the "kul (family) of mihira (Sun)", although mihira is not purely Sanskrit but is a borrowing from Middle Iranian mihr. Janos Harmatta gives the translation "Mithra's Begotten" and also supports the Iranian theory."....

"Mihirakula (Chinese: 大族王) was one of the most important Hephthalite emperors, whose empire was in the present-day territories of Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern and central India. Mihirakula was a son of Toramana who was a tegin of the Indian part of the Hephthalite Empire. Mihirakula ruled his empire from 515 to 530.....The name "Mihirakula" is thought to be derived from mithra-kula which is Iranian for "the Sun family".... in Sanskrit, mihira-kula would mean the "kul (family) of mihira (Sun)", although mihira is not purely Sanskrit but is a borrowing from Middle Iranian mihr."....


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….November 2012


Chan Buddhism, Zen & Shambhala


Click Here to View the Main Index


The Samye Debate......"The Chan master Moheyan in the Samye debate on Tantric purification practices: "It doesn’t matter whether the cloud is white or black–it still blocks the sun."....he didn’t advocate the suppression of thoughts (with a blank mind “like an egg” as one version of the Samyé debate nicely puts it). He says this quite clearly: Therefore you should not suppress concepts. Whenever they arise, if you do not fabricate anything but instead let them go, then they will stay as they are and come to rest by themselves; thus you will not pursue them.".....Samye Monastery was the first Buddhist monastery to be founded in Tibet. It is also notable as the site of the "Great Debate" (792-794) between the Indian Mahayanists and Chinese Chán (Zen) Buddhists.

"THREE SCHOOLS OF BUDDHISM. Introduced in India around 500 BC by Gautama, Buddhism swept quickly (some 1000 years) across Asia, splitting into three main schools (Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana) as it evolved. In India, its birthplace, Buddhism died out around 1200 AD, succumbing to Muslim invasions and resurgent Hinduism. But by then it was flourishing in Southeast Asia, Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan -- it came last to Japan, crossing the sea around 520 - 550 AD. Although the Japanese court was quick to adopt Mahayana Buddhism, the teachings of the Theravada and the Vajrayana (Tantric or Esoteric) schools did not go unnoticed or unpracticed. Sects from all three schools are still active in Japan today, but the dominant form is clearly Mahayana."......

"Dr. Masato Tojo has outlined a new article on the links between ancient Iran and the Zen Buddhist culture of Asia – Zen Buddhism and Persian Culture: An investigation on the Simurgh (Persian Phoenix) culture and Zen Buddhism"......

"Bodhidharma and The Zoroastrian Origin of Zen (Chan) Philosophy.......Bodhidharma was clearly a Persian Zoroastrian trader, possibly a Mitharist of sorts. From Soghdia, a Persian kingdom in Central Asia (current Uzbekistan) with extensive trade connections to China. Zen as Persian and not Chinese or Japanese philosophy."....Jeffrey L. Broughton (1999): The Bodhidharma Anthology: The Earliest Records of Zen (Berkeley: University of California Press) .....Broughton notes that Bodhidharma was a Persian from Central Asia. ......This paper investigates the relationships between Mithraism, Persian culture, Zen and Mahayana Buddhism

Click on the map to enlarge.

"....... Iranian influence upon Zen Buddhism.....Characteristic elements of Zen Buddhism, i. e. the founder of Zen, Kegon-kyō, the Vijnāna-vādin, Mādhyamaka philosophies, the Prajñāpāramitā literatures and Ten Bull Pictures are examined in the context introduced by to show their Persian connection.......

"Dzogchen and Chinese Buddhism.....The historical origin of the Dzogchen teachings and the relationship of Dzogchen to certain other Buddhist teachings and traditions, such as Yogachara and Ch'an or Zen, has puzzled scholars not only in the West, but in Tibet itself. Some leading Tibetan Lama scholars have accused Dzogchen of being a Chinese Dharma (rgya-nag gi chos), or assert that it is connected with Bon or Advaita Vedanta. Regarding this question in the West for example, W.Y. Evans-Wentz in his pioneering book on Dzogchen, The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation (1954), writes, "Our present treatise, attributed to Padmasambhava, which expounds the method of realizing the Great Liberation of Nirvana by yogic understanding of the One Mind, appertains to the Doctrine of the Great Perfection of the Dhyana School.".....

"Since the second propagation on the Buddist doctrine in Tibet, in which teachings of non-Indian origin were dismissed..."... ( 28......Myriad Worlds: Buddhist Cosmology in Abhidharma, Kalachakra & Dzog-chen..... Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye )..."

The Samye debate between Indian and Chinese Buddhism was in 792 AD, . The Indian side, led by Kamalashila, won; the Chinese, led by the Chinese monk Moheyan , were expelled from Tibet. The Tibetans officially adopted Indian Buddhism..

"The classic account of the debate and the source for all later Tibetan historians, is the Testament of Ba. And this, even in the earliest form available to us, is clearly not a disinterested account. It gives the proponent of the Chinese view a brief paragraph to defend his position, followed by pages and pages of the proponents of the Indian view. And most of the refutation of the Chinese approach is spoken by a Tibetan nobleman from the Ba clan.

" ...the great debate convened by the Tibetan emperor Trisong Detsen. The debate was to decide between the Chinese and Indian versions of Buddhism that were being taught in Tibet at the time. The Indian teachers favoured the scholastic Buddhism that was found in India’s great monastic universities at the time, while Chinese teachers taught mainly meditation in the style they called Chan.... (Gomez, Luis. 1983. “The Direct and Gradual Approaches of Zen Master Mahāyāna: Fragments of the Teachings of Moheyan,” in Studies in Ch’an and Hua-yen, edited by Gimello and Gregory: 393–434)

"There’s a Chinese manuscript from Dunhuang (Pelliot chinois 4646) that tells another debate story. As in Testament of Ba, the Chinese side is represented by the Chinese monk Moheyan, but the proponents of the other view are only mentioned as “Brahmin monks.” This manuscript also talks about “discussions” by letter over several months, rather than a staged debate. And the biggest difference is that it ends with the Tibetan emperor giving his seal of approval to the Chinese teaching...(

Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism and originated in China during the 6th century as Chán.

"Meeting the students of other teachers was especially disappointing. These students seemed to lack any understanding of discipline, and purely to appreciate teachers who went along with their own neurosis. No-one seemed to be presenting a way of cutting through the students' neurosis. One outstanding exception to this situation was Shunryu Suzuki-roshi and his students, whose presence felt like a breath of fresh air. I would have more contact with them later.......During this period I traveled a great deal. On my second visit to California, I was able to spend more time with Suzuki-roshi, and this proved to be an extraordinary and very special experience. Suzuki-roshi was a Zen master in the Soto Zen tradition who had come to America in 1958 and founded the Zen Center, San Francisco and Zen Mountain Center at Tassajara Springs. He was a man of genuine Buddhism, delightful and profound, full of flashes of Zen wit. In the example of his spiritual power and integrity, I found great encouragement that genuine Buddhism could be established in America. His students were disciplined and dedicated to the practice of meditation, and on the whole presented themselves as precise and tidy. Mrs. Suzuki also I found to be a wonderful woman who was very generous to both myself and Diana.......When Suzuki-roshi died in December of 1971, I was left with a feeling of great lonesomeness. Yet his death had the effect on me of arousing further strength; his genuine effort to plant the Dharma in America must not be allowed to die. I did, however, feel especially keenly the loss of the possibility of exploring further the link beauty. Through Suzuki-roshi's spiritual strength and his accomplishments in the arts of the Zen tradition....."....

"Kanishka also had the original Gandhari vernacular, or Prakrit, Mahayana Buddhist texts translated into the high literary language of Sanskrit, "a turning point in the evolution of the Buddhist literary canon.....The "Kanishka casket", dated to the first year of Kanishka's reign in 127 CE, was signed by a Greek artist named Agesilas, who oversaw work at Kanishka's stupas (caitya), confirming the direct involvement of Greeks with Buddhist realizations at such a late date.....The new syncretic form of Buddhism expanded fully into Eastern Asia soon after these events. The Kushan monk Lokaksema visited the Han Chinese court at Luoyang in 178 CE, and worked there for ten years to make the first known translations of Mahayana texts into Chinese. The new faith later spread into Korea and Japan, and was itself at the origin of Zen.".....


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….November 2012


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cintamani: The Wish Fulfilling Gem


Click Here to View the Main Index


In Kalacakra Buddhism, the Cintamani, the wish-fulfilling fire pearl.

The Cintamani is mentioned in Hindu texts as arising out of sea during the Churning of the Milky Ocean. The word "mani" here means "pearl" while "cinta" is "desire, love."

The Roman Emperor Elagabalus, who reigned from AD 218-222, was formerly a priest at the temple of Elagabal in the Syrian city of Emesa. It was common in that era for stones – meteorites in particular – to be venerated as gods and the conical Stone of Emesa was a perfect example. The stone garnered fame across the entire Roman Empire thanks to Elagabalus, who brought it from Emesa to Rome upon his installation as Emperor.

MECCA.....The Black Stone, or “Al-Hajarul Aswad”, is an ancient Muslim relic that according to Islamic tradition, fell from heaven to form the altar upon which the biblical Adam and Eve performed their first sacrifice. The Black Stone was venerated before the founding of Islam, and is said to have been positioned at the eastern cornerstone of the holy Ka’aba in the center of Mecca’s Grand Mosque by the prophet Muhammad himself.

Skt: Cinta-mani. This is represented in art as a bluish colored stone as large as a crystal ball. Mani literally means "stone", in contrast to the word "jewel" (ratna). The term Cinta means "thought". The Cintamani is literally the "thought-stone" or the stone which magnifies one's thoughts, i.e., fulfils one's wishes.

Wolfram von Eschenbach, an early thirteenth century Bavarian knight, is one of the earliest composers of a European Grail story. In his long and colourful poem, Parzival, Wolfram von Eschenbach described the Grail as a " stone of the purest kind" called lapsit exillis. " By the power of that stone," he said, " the phoenix burns to ashes, but the ashes give him life again. Thus does the phoenix molt and change its plumage, which after is bright and shining... There never was a human so ill but that, if he one day sees that stone, he cannot die within the week that follows. And in youth he shall not fade... This stone is also known as the Grail."

Amongst the legendary stories that have grown up around the memory of King Indrabhuti there is one in particular that is most fascinating. We are told that the old King, now blind, is unable to have a son. As in many a classical fairytale, some kind of 'wound' represents the sovereign's infertility. Here the wound appears as blindness. But the wound, the royal infirmity, does not infect the king alone. Infertility pertains to the whole kingdom. The land is impoverished by famine. The crops will not grow. The royal treasury is exhausted. Consequently, to find a cure, the Blind King must enter upon a quest for that magical blue pearl of the sea known as the Wish fulfilling Gem.

wish-fulfilling gem (Skt. chintamani; Tib. yid bzhin nor bu)

The description of the Healing Buddhas is given in the4 text "The abbreviated essence of he Healing Buddha Sutra, entitled "The Wishfulfilling gem" (Tib:sMan bLa'i mDo chog gi snying-pf bsdus-pa yid bzhin norbu zhes bya ba), compiled byShakya shramana Chos Kyi rGyal-mtshan, who delivered the teaching at the school of religious attainments at Tashilhunpo monastery.

Lipman, Kennard (c.1984). "How Samsara is Fabricated from the Ground of Being." Translated from Klong-chen rab-'byams-pa's Yid-bzhin rin-po-che'i mdzod. In Crystal Mirror IV. Berkeley: Dharma Publishing.

"The Legend of King Indrabhuti and the Holy Grail.......Amongst the legendary stories that have grown up around the memory of King Indrabhuti there is one in particular that is most fascinating. We are told that the old King, now blind, is unable to have a son. As in many a classical fairytale, some kind of 'wound' represents the sovereign's infertility. Here the wound appears as blindness. But the wound, the royal infirmity, does not infect the king alone. Infertility pertains to the whole kingdom. The land is impoverished by famine. The crops will not grow. The royal treasury is exhausted. Consequently, to find a cure, the Blind King must enter upon a quest for that magical blue pearl of the sea known as the Wish fulfilling Gem. Those familiar with medieval European culture will recognize that this story is, in fact, an early source of that great collection of aristocratic literature and poetry commonly known as the Grail Myth, which began to circulate in the West shortly after the first Crusades.....Dr. W. Y Evans-Wentz should probably be credited as the first to introduce the story of 'King Indrabhuti and the Wish-fulfilling Gem' to English readers in his The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation, published by Oxford University Press in 1954. Evans-Wentz's translation reads:....."In the country of Urgyen (or Udyana), westward from Bodh-Gaya, there was the great city of Jatumati, containing a palace called 'Emerald Palace' wherein dwelt King Indrabodhi. Although possessed of vast wealth and power and blessed with five hundred queens and one hundred Buddhist and one hundred non-Buddhist ministers, Indrabodhi was blind; and his subjects called him 'the wealthiest king without eyes'. ....


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….November 2012


Shambhala in the Mahabharata (500 BC)


Click Here to View the Main Index


The Buddhist myth of Shambhala is an adaptation of the earlier Hindu myth of Kalki of Sambhala found in the Mahabharata and the Puranas. The Buddhist version may be a mythologization of an actual culture, whose geographical location can be found either in Central or Far Eastern Asia

"The Mahabharata and Ramayana are the national epics of India. They are probably the longest poems in any language. The Mahabharata, attributed to the sage Vyasa, was written down from 540 to 300 B.C. The Mahabharata tells the legends of the Bharatas, a Vedic Aryan group. The Ramayana, attributed to the poet Valmiki, was written down during the first century A.D., although it is based on oral traditions that go back six or seven centuries earlier. The Ramayana is a moving love story with moral and spiritual themes that has deep appeal in India to this day."....

OXUS...."The Oxus in Sanskrit (Vaksu) occurs in the Mahabharata and Kalidasa." (Burrow: 126)...The Amu Darya (Persian: آمودریا‎, Āmūdaryā; Uzbek: Amudaryo; Tajik: Амударё; Turkmen: Amyderýa), also called Amu River (Pashto: د آمو سيند‎, da Āmú Sínd; Chinese: 阿姆河; pinyin: Āmǔ hé), is a major river in Central Asia. It is formed by the junction of the Vakhsh and Panj rivers. In ancient times, the river was regarded as the boundary between Ariana and Turan......In antiquity, the river was known by the Sanskrit name Vaksu, which now survives in Vakhsh, a tributary of the river.....

The Mahabharata (Sanskrit Mahābhārata महाभारत, IPA: [məɦaːˈbʱaːrət̪ə]) is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Ramayana..... The oldest preserved parts of the text are not thought to be appreciably older than around 400 BCE, though the origins of the story probably fall between the 8th and 9th centuries BCE..The Mahabharata is the longest Sanskrit epic. Its longest version consists of over 100,000 shloka. About 1.8 million words in total, the Mahabharata is roughly ten times the length of the Iliad and Odyssey combined.

"In Kaliyuga, temples, brahmin houses, Ashrams will be abandoned. Drunkenness and debauchery will be at its highest peak. Students will never care for the teachers. Teacher will cheat his student. Relatives will never respect each other. There will be draught everywhere. People will be stricken with fear. Dharma will be destroyed. Adharma will flourish. In this manner, Kaliyuga will come to an end. At that time, in a village called Sambala, Kalki will born in the name of Vishnu Yasa. He will learn all Vedas and Sastras and he will become the King and Emperor. He will kill all bad characters and will instal dharma. He will perform Asvamedha Yaga." (

Bahlikas as mlechcha kings in Kali Yuga......The Bahlikas have been equated to Mlechchas in the later Brahmanical literature. There is a distinct prophetic statement in the Mahabharata that the mlechcha kings of Sakas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Bahlikas etc. will rule unrighteously in Kali yuga. (3.188.34-36).

Bahlika horses in Mahabharata......Like Kamboja, Bahlika region was famous for its horses. They were used by kings in wars. Vasudeva Krishna gave Arjuna hundreds of thousands of draft horses from the country of the Balhikas as his sister, Subhadra’s excellent dower. Shikhandin's son Kshatradeva used steeds from Balhika in the Kurukshetra war. Bahlika breed of horses were one among the type of horses employed in Kurukshetra war. Many steeds of the Vanayu, the hilly, the Kamboja, and the Balhika breeds, with tails and ears and eyes motionless and fixed, possessed of great speed, well-trained, and ridden by accomplished warriors armed with swords and lances, were seen. Bhagiratha gave away a hundred thousand horses of the Balhika breed, all white of complexion, adorned with garlands of gold. . Dhritarashtra wished to give sixteen cars made of gold, each drawn by four excellent and well-adorned steeds of uniform colour and of the Bahlika breed to Vasudeva Krishna who came to talk to him on behalf of the Pandavas .

"Kali Yuga (Devanāgarī: कलियुग [kəli juɡə], lit. "age of [the demon] Kali", or "age of vice") is the last of the four stages the world goes through as part of the cycle of yugas described in the Indian scriptures. The other ages are Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dvapara Yuga.....The Mahabharata War and the decimation of Yadavas thus happened at the Yuga-Sandhi i.e. the joint of the two yugas.....The scriptures mention Sage Narada to have momentarily intercepted the demon Kali on his way to the Earth when Duryodhana was about to be make him an embodiment of 'arishadvargas' and adharma in preparation of the era of decay in values and the consequent havoc....The duration and chronological starting point in human history of Kali Yuga has given rise to different evaluations and interpretations. According to the Surya Siddhanta, Kali Yuga began at midnight (00:00) on 18 February 3102 BCE[1] in the proleptic Julian calendar, or 14 January 3102 BC in the proleptic Gregorian calendar. This date is also considered by many Hindus to be the day that Krishna left Earth to return to his abode....Most interpreters of Hindu scriptures believe that Earth is currently in Kali Yuga.".....


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….November 2012


Early Shambhala Researchers (987 AD -1820 AD...etc)


Click Here to View the Main Index


"SEARCHING FOR James George.......The following is an early draft of Searching for Shambhala, an article that was later published in Search: Journey on the Inner Path. James George sent this draft to Chögyam Trunpa Rinpoche in 1976...."To say that such a centre has existed does not mean that it still exists. Nor does it follow, even if it exists, that it could be located by satellite photography or tracked down by systematic ground expeditions. But so long as there is the remote possibility that such a place is real somewhere in our world, here and now, there will be those who will look for it. We can take Shambhala as the prototype of the object of this search..... in 1968, when we had the now well-known Tibetan teacher, Trungpa Rinpoche, staying with us. We had been asking him about the Tibetan tradition of Shambhala. To our astonishment he replied very quietly that, although he had never been there, he believed in its existence and could see it in his mirror whenever he went into deep meditation...... A few months earlier we had been given a Tibetan map of Shambhala by Mr. Tenzing Namdak, the Tibetan Bon scholar and priest who had collaborated with D.N. Snellgrove in writing The Nine Ways of Bon.....the artist believed Shambhala to be located somewhere northwest of Tibet, perhaps in the general area of Khotan. This is consistent with the Bon tradition that their teachings came from the west and included both Iranian and central Asian shaman elements which have more recently been overlaid by adaptations of tantric Buddhist teachings......As for sham, it could either be connected (for reasons given below) with the Indian God Shiva, if the term is ascribed an Indian origin, or with the word Shamash of Sumerian origin meaning "sun", which comes into modern Arabic as shams. Thus, apart from the Sumerian sun god, Shambash, whose temple was near Babylon, there are known to have been other famous temples dedicated to the sun called shams or shamba (a) in Balkh, the ancient capital of the Bactrian kingdom in northern Afghanistan, and (b) in Multan which according to Alberuni used to be called Shambha-pura (City of the Vision of the Sun) in the pre-Islamic period. In Multan, the great annual festival of the year was celebrated in honour of the sun and there are descriptions of the golden idol representing the sun to support this identification. Though the temple was destroyed after Alberuni saw it, the sun god Surya in Multan (as in many other Indian temples) is described as wearing "northern" (central Asian) nomadic dress, including in this case red leather boots, though leather is anathema in Hindu temples. Trade routes to Tibet ran through both Multan and Balkh, so the name shams or shambha could as easily have been carried to Tibet as the dress from north of the Himalayas to Multan.......If then we see a Middle Eastern derivation in the name Shambhala, it would mean "light of the sun" or "vision of the sun." Alternatively, if we spell the word Shambala (as it was spelled in most of the early European references to it), this would mean "the sun above" (from the Persian bala "above"; as in Bala Missar, the fort above Kabul, and many other similar names). Shambhala would then mean "the supernal sun", not merely the ordinary visible sun but the principle of light itself, as coming from the transcendent sun, the source of all light......When we are dealing with sacred places or sacred symbols we are not under the obligation (as we would be in the every-day world) to choose one meaning and reject the others.....© 1976, 2003 by James George.....

Interview with James George, Vintage Chronicles from 2003...... (Photo by Marvin Moore).....

"....some Tibetans believe that Shamballah is somewhere north of Tibet, in the Kunlun Mountains, or in Mongolia, the Sinkiang Province of China, or Siberia. Others suggest the North Pole or even another planet! Historians and mythographers, on the other hand, have suggested that if the legend has any basis, Shamballah may correspond to the Tarim Basin, West Turkestan, the ancient Kushan Empire, the Greek Kingdom of Bactria, theYarkand, Kashgar, or Khotan oases, or, finally, the old Uighur Kingdom of Khocho [= "Tcho-tcho"?] in the Turfan Depression beneath the Tien Shan Mountains (Bernbaum, p. 46). Probably the most attractive guess, however, is that of Idries Shah, who believes that "it could be derived from Shams-i-Balkh, the Bactrian Sun Temple, the ruins of which can still be seen at Balkh near the northern frontier of Afghanistan" (J. G. Bennett, Gurdjieff: Making a New World, p. 26)."

"Csoma de Köros was a full-blown eccentric who devoted his entire life to the pursuit of arcane knowledge. As the Russian Shambhalist Madame Helena Blavatsky noted, "a poor Hungarian, Csoma de Körös, not only without means, but a veritable beggar, set out on foot for Tibet, through unknown and dangerous countries, urged only by the love of learning and the eager wish to shed light on the historical origin of his nation. The result was that inexhaustible mines of literary treasures were discovered." Among the written works unearthed were the first descriptions of the Buddhist realm of Shambhala to reach the West.....

"The threat of a Russian invasion in Bokhara induced him to press on to the second of his two destinations, the Tarim basin, north of Tibet. He joined an eastbound caravan to Afghanistan, which passed through Balkh, a village set in the vast circular ruins of the ancient capital of Khurásán, and up the winding paths through the mountains to the Bamian pass, where giant carvings of the Buddha in the rock mark the site of an early outpost of Chinese Buddhism. Seven weeks later, he wrote, “on 6th of January, 1822, I arrived at Kabool.”

"In page 193, of his Grammar, Alexander Csoma has the following passage: —

" The Kdla chakra doctrine of Adi Buddha was delivered by S'akya, in his 80th year, at S'ridhanya Kataka upon the request of Chandra Bhadra, a king of S'ambhala who in his 99th year visited S'akya there. Upon his return home, he compiled the Mula Tantra, in accordance with what he had heard from S'akya, and two years afterwards he died. This work is the source of all the subsequent voluminous compilations, increased modifica- tions and interpolations. In the Mula Tantra, S'akya foretells to Chandra Bhadra 25 kings, who will reign at S'ambhala, each for 100 years. The six first of them are called Dharma Rajds and the others are styled EuUka. He foretells also that after 600 years from that date Kulika Kirti (Ya9okIrti or the Ephiphanes of the Greeks ?) will succeed to the throne of S'ambhala, and that 800 years afterwards the Mleccha or Muhamadan religion will rise at Makha (Mecca)."

He conjectured that S'ambhala must have been the capital of a kingdom ihat flourished in the early centuries of Christ and that S'ridhdnya Kataica was the Cuttak of modern Orissa. The last of tlic kings of S'ambhala is, however, njt mentioned in the 3Ju!a Tantra. It is stated that a king named Samudra Vijaya arrived at S'ambhala in 618 A.D., and shortly after that the period called, in tlio Tibetan chronology, ^'pi'|'5^^(Me-kha-rgya-Mtsho*, commenced. It is also stated that in 622 A.D., at Makha (Mecca) the Muhamadan religion was established. From what can be gathered from Tibetan histories and works on Kdla Chakrait may be conjectured that this S'ambhala, very probably, was the capital of the Bactrian Emjiire of the Eastern Greeks who had embraced Buddhism. It is also conjectured that the modern city of Balkh must have been the site of their latest capital. The name of King Menander {in Sans. Minendra) whq erected a very lofty chaiti/a has been mentioned by the Kashmirian poet Ksomendra, in^ha Avaddna Kalpalatd, a work that was finished iu about 1035 A.D.

Referring to SamudraVijaya, Alexander Csoma in afoot note remarked : "This pretended King's arrival at S'ambhala in 622 A.D., has soma coincidence with Yczifjird, the Persian King's taking refuge in tlie same country; for it is affirmed, that this prince, upon the fall of Seleucia, and the conquest ot Persia by tho Arabs, in G86, retired to Tjans-Oxiana or FeiKhana".


Mipham believed Shambhala to be north of the River Tarim..."One travels north to the region of Khotan (Li Yul). Nearbye is the Tarim River (Shing rta---Sita) which flows from west to east. In this region live the Uighurs (Hor). North of the Tarim lie the Tian Shan mountains that make up the southern boundary of Shambhala." (Cabezon: 488)...

Chatral Rinpoche believes that Gurdjieff spent several years in a monastery in the Swat valley.....first gained access to the central Sarmoun monastery in 1899-1900 and it appears likely that he had a more extended stay in 1906-1907. At the end of 1907 Gurdjieff went to Tashkent to practice healing.... Chitral is drained by the Kunar River which flows southward, through Afghanistan, to meet the East flowing Kabul River, which in times past, was known as the Sita, or White River. In the year 1900 the Russian mystic George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff traveled by raft down part of this dangerous river, as part of an expedition led by Prof. Kozlov in search of the ruins of ancient Shambhala.

Foster, Barbara and Michael. The Secret Lives of Alexandra David-Neel - A Biography of the Explorer of Tibet and Its Forbidden Practices. ISBN 1-58567-329-3; American edition under the title Forbidden Journey - The Life of Alexandra David-Neel, ISBN 0-06-250345-6. This book is based on extensive interviews with David Neel's secretary at Digne and reading her letters to her husband, now published as "Journal de voyage: lettres a son mari."

The Hungarian scholar Sándor Kőrösi Csoma, writing in 1833, provided the first geographic account of "a fabulous country in the north...situated between 45' and 50' north latitude". Interestingly enough, due north from India to between these latitudes is eastern Kazakhstan, which is characterized by green hills, low mountains, rivers, and lakes. This is in contrast to the landscape of the provinces of Tibet and Xinjiang in eastern China, which are high mountains and arid.

In any event, Ossendowski did not invent the story of a fabulous land secreted somewhere in – or under – the vastness of Central Asia, be it called Agharti, Agarttha, Shangri-la, or, most commonly, Shambhala.6 Some believed it to be a physical, subterranean realm inhabited by an ancient, advanced race, while to others it was a spiritual dimension accessible only to the enlightened. The Shambhala legend is firmly grounded in Buddhist tradition which vaguely puts the Kingdom somewhere to the north of India. The legend also proclaimed that a time would come when the King of Shambhala and his mighty hosts would come forth to vanquish evil and usher in a golden age guided by pure Dharma. As noted, Baron von Ungern-Sternberg envisioned himself as the initiator of this “Shambhala War.” So would others.

Roerich brought key knowledge to this mission. In the 1920s it is rumored that he went on a mission to find and return what was said to be part of the sacred ‘Chintamani Stone’, the stone of Shambhala, which was believed to be part of a magical meteorite.....Roerich said this ‘black stone’ appeared at vital moments in human history as an evolutionary force. It seems that FDRoosevelt sent him back in 1934 to recover this Stone once again....In 1935, at the request of Roerich and Wallace and apparently in celebration of their success, FDR abruptly ordered the Great Seal of the United States bearing the All-Seeing Eye symbol stamped on the back of the one dollar bill. To Masons, such as Wallace and FDR, this symbol represents the return of the the Sol Eye....When FDR posted this symbol bearing the phrase NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM – New Order of the Ages - it proclaimed the promised new order or new deal had arrived.

During the 19th century, Theosophical Society founder HP Blavatsky alluded to the Shambhala myth, giving it currency for Western occult enthusiasts. Madame Blavatsky, who claimed to be in contact with a Great White Lodge of Himalayan Adepts, mentions Shambhala in several places without giving it especially great emphasis.

The first information that reached western civilization about Shambhala came from the Portuguese Catholic missionary Estêvão Cacella, who had heard about Shambhala (which they transcribed as "Xembala"), and thought it was another name for Cathay or China. In 1627 they headed to Tashilhunpo, the seat of the Panchen Lama and, discovering their mistake, returned to India.

The Sanskrit and Tibetan Shambhala has also been identified by no less an authority than Alexandra David-Neel, who spent years in Tibet, with Balkh – in the far north of Afghanistan – the ancient settlement known as "the mother of cities". Present day folklore in Afghanistan asserts that after the Muslim conquest, Balkh was known as the "Elevated Candle" ("Sham-i-Bala"), a Persianisation of the Sanskrit Shambhala.

RUSSIA...."In 987 AD the Grand Duke Vladimir Red Sun of Rus sent an expedition into the Altai region looking for Belovida (Shambhala)...(Kharatidi: 78)...

The concept of Shangri-La, as first described in James Hilton's 1933 novel Lost Horizon, is claimed to have been inspired by the Shambhala myth (as well as then-current National Geographic articles on Eastern Tibet Kham). Shambala appears in several science fiction stories of the 1930s.

Nicholas and Helena Roerich led a 1924-1928 expedition aimed at Shambhala.

Alice A. Bailey claims Shamballa (her spelling) is an extra-dimensional or spiritual reality on the etheric plane, a spiritual centre where the governing deity of Earth, Sanat Kumara, dwells as the highest Avatar of the Planetary Logos of Earth, and is said to be an expression of the Will of God

the Gurdjieffian J. G. Bennett published speculation that Shambalha was Shams-i-Balkh, a Bactrian sun temple...Bennett, J.G: "Gurdjieff: aking a New World". Bennett notes Idries Shah as the source of the suggestion.

Inspired by Theosophical lore and several visiting Mongol lamas, Gleb Bokii, the chief Bolshevik cryptographer and one of the bosses of the Soviet secret police, along with his writer friend Alexander Barchenko, embarked on a quest for Shambhala, in an attempt to merge Kalachakra-tantra and ideas of Communism in the 1920s. They contemplated a special expedition to Inner Asia to retrieve the wisdom of Shambhala - the project fell through as a result of intrigues within the Soviet intelligence service, as well as rival efforts of the Soviet Foreign Commissariat that sent its own expedition to Tibet in 1924.

The eminent historian and ethnologist Lev Gumilev (see: Kuznetsov: 1970) became interested in the Shambhala myth while a prisoner in the Siberian Gulag. He is the son of the great Russian poet Anna Akmatova...

"Swedenborg in the 18th century was the first specifically to refer to Shambhala in European literature, if earlier references to Prester John's Kingdom are disregarded as being too vague to be linked to Shambhala. In the next century Madame Helena Blavatsky wrote of her Masters from Shambhala, and then the Theosophists took it up. In the early years of this century Roerich's translation into German of the third Panchen Lama's book was published under the title of The Way to Shambhala. This was followed by what I can only call the Western escapist literature in which people like James Hilton and Lowell Thomas popularized the Shambhala idea as "Shangri-la", the happy kingdom hidden somewhere in the most remote Himalayas where people remained eternally young. Meanwhile, around the turn of the century more serious and more practical research was going on in central Asia, including Afghanistan and Tibet, by a group of Europeans who called themselves "the seekers of truth." Their quest has been most interestingly described in the writings of G.I. Gurdjieff, especially in his more or less autobiographical book Meetings with Remarkable Men. Now that his work, twenty-seven years after his death, is becoming well known in the West (at least among those interested in seeking for ways other than drugs to expand and transform consciousness), there is inevitably a lively interest in his presumed sources in the East. No doubt anticipating the fruitlessness of trying to retrace his steps through central Asia seventy or eighty years too late, Gurdjieff had been careful to throw dust in the eyes of anybody tempted to engage in this kind of exercise, but the few hints he has given suggest that the brotherhoods, communities, monasteries and great teachers whom he describes may have been located in this part of the world. He mentions specifically the Pamirs, Kafiristan, the Afridis and the Hindu Kush, as well as Tibet and the Gobi Desert. He never mentions the word Shambhala but some of his pointers indicate contacts with Tibetan and Sufi masters and with monasteries or brotherhoods in Central Asia combining people chosen from all traditions. Wherever they may have been, the places he describes were exceedingly remote and difficult to access, cut off from the world in high mountain valleys which (from the few clues he has scattered in his writings) could well have been those of this part of the world, stretching through the mountain ranges of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. It is suggestive, moreover, that he comes back time and again in the first series of his writings, All and Everything, to the solar language of Shambhala in referring to the Supreme as residing on "the Most Holy Sun Absolute.".....

"The Shambhala/Agharti myth with its vision of an occult rulership of the world and terrifying apocalyptic narrative, has fascinated Western mystics since the nineteenth century and figures prominently in the thought of the Theosophical Society, the Russian painter and explorer Nicholas Roerich, the French “Synarchist” Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, and the Traditionalist/Sufi philosopher Rene Guenon......

Traditionalist/Sufi philosopher Rene Guenon.......In his book Lord of the World, Guenon implicitly identifies the Brahytma with the “Qutb” (axial saint, pole of the age) of Sufism (pg. 19), and puts forth the idea, common in nineteenth and early twentieth century occultism, of Shambhala/Agharti as the true center of all initiatic tradition, with the hidden King of the World as the head of the “highest circle” of the “initiatic hierarchy” (pg. 23). This “highest circle” corresponds to the “secret chiefs” of much of Western occultism (especially prominent in the teachings of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn), the “Mahatmas” of Theosophy, and the Aqtab of Sufism.....René Guénon (November 15, 1886 – January 7, 1951), also known as Shaykh `Abd al-Wahid Yahya, was a French author and intellectual.....

"One missionary, Antonio de Andrade, decided to investigate these rumors himself....A few Portugese traders may have ventured from India over the Himalayas into Tibet before the 1620s, but Andrade was apparently the first European to enter Tibet from India and leave a record of his journey. Andrade was born in Oleiros, Portugal in 1580, entered the Society of Jesus on December 15, 1595.... On November 8 he began work on his account of the expedition, Novo Descobrimento do gram Cathayo, ou Reinos de Tibet, pello Padre Antonio de Andrade da Companhia de Jesu, Portuguez, no anno de 1626. Published in Lisbon in 1626, it was the first account in a European language of the country now known as Tibet - assuming we discount the 1330 travelogue by Friar Ordorico da Pordenone which includes a probably apocryphal description of, as he put it, the land "where dwelleth the Pope of the idolators".......Although Andrade never mentions Shambhala either as a physical or mythical place, I have nevertheless included him in the ranks of the Shambhalists-i.e., people who have made some contribution, directly or indirectly, to the Legend of Shambhala-for the following reasons. First, he lead the way into Tibet, the source of so many pieces in the Shambhala puzzle and the lodestone of subsequent generations of Shambhalists. Also his seminal expedition led directly to another exploratory probe of Tibet by the Jesuits Cabrella and Casels during which they would hear of a place which probably corresponds with Shambhala. Then three centuries later the best-selling book Lost Horizons by James Hilton and also the movie of the same name introduced a Shambhala-like place to the general public under the name of Shangri-La. The fictional hero of the book, Conway, while browsing in the library of the monastery of Shangri-La, comes across a copy of Andrade's Novo Descobrimento do gram Cathayo, ou Reinos de Tibet, pello Padre Antonio de Andrade da Companhia de Jesu, Portuguez, no anno de 1626. We will have to look closer at Lost Horizons and how it contributed to the Legend of Shambhala; for the moment, suffice it to say that Hilton may have included this detail in the book as a hint about his sources for his vision of Shangri-La, which as we will see can be seen as a pop culture version of the Legend of Shambhala. Finally, we shall have to return later to Tsaparang and the surrounding kingdom of Guge, because in the 1990s Shambhalist Charles Bell would claim in his book The Search for Shangri-La that it was precisely this area which was the physical location of the the legendary land of Shambhala.".....

"A visiting Jesuit priest wrote a compilation of the various stories he heard at Akbar's court and organized them into an essay along with a map. This map had only one location for Tibet as it was undiscovered then; Lake Manasarovar with a description noting 'Here it is said Christians live.'....Lake Manasarovar is located at the very NE tip of Nepal, over in Tibet.....This priest's successor, Antonio Andrade, being much younger set out on an expedition to locate this place. He found a wealthy kingdom but no Christians. In 1926 Andrade published 'Discovery of Tibet'. It is this work which likely inspired 'Lost Horizon' the 1933 novel by James Hilton.".....

"In such interpretations, then, the journeys take place in the spirit. Then again, this is not the impression gained by leafing through the Shambha la’i lam yig, the famous travel report of the Third Panchen Lama (1738–1780). This concerns a fantastic collection , which is obviously convinced of the reality of its factual material, of historical and geographic particulars from central Asia which describe the way to Shambhala."....

"Albert Grünwedel (July 31, 1856 – October 28, 1935) was a German indologist, tibetologist, archaeologist, and explorer of Central Asia. .... According to Grünwedel, in Der Weg nach Shambhala (The Way to Shambhala) (1915), Dorjiev spoke of the Romanov Dynasty as the descendants of the rulers of Shambhala.....Der Weg nach Sambhala des dritten Groß-Lama von bKra sis lhun po bLo bzan dPal ldan Ye ses. Aus dem tibetischen Original übersetzt und mit dem Texte herausgegeben von Albert Grünwedel. (Vorgelegt am 5.Dezember 1914.) München: G. Franz in Komm. 1915. 118 S., 1, 4 Taf. 4° (Abhandlungen der Königlich Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Philosophisch-philologische und historische Klasse.29,3.).....

"During 1925-1926, Nicolas Roerich made extensive tours between Khotan and Kashmir, in search of the kingdom of Shambhala, at the behest of Russia and the United States of America. The British did not lag behind and they asked Lord Gorzon, the Viceroy of India to sponsor the travels of Aurel Stein into the Central Asia. From his base camp at Mohand Marg, Kangan, Kashmir he conducted the most daring and adventurous raids in 1900, 1906, 1913 and 1930 upon the ancient Silk Road Outworldly, the purpose of this and further expeditions was to collect art treasures, manuscripts and curios for the British Museum, London but the hidden object search of the hidden land of Shambhala. Hearing about the treasure hunting activities of Aurel Stein, France and Japan also joined in such ventures and deputed Paul Pelliot and Count Otani into Central Asian region.".....

"In about 4 B.C. Apollonius of Greece went in search of this underground world and traveled through Iraq, Iran and India. His travel accounts show that he went deep into the Himalayas, met another explorer, Andrew Thomas and then both met the king of this heavenly kingdom. With a warm welcome, the kind king allowed them to accompany him on a tour of his marvelous kingdom. They saw pillars of light shooting sky wards. The inhabitants eat and drink through the help of robots. On his return to Greece, Apollonius declared that the mysterious way to this hidden kingdom in the Himalayas was shown to him by a boy, who could speak Greek. It is probable that Alexander the Great may have been attracted towards finding this kingdom of God. The Greek anthology speaks about the fierce sea of Oceanus, which was the dividing line between the known world and the unknown world.".....

" American Roy Chapman Andrews ....employed at the American Museum of Natural History. ......did Andrews hear the same whispers of Agharti/Shambhala that reached the ears of Ossendowski, Roerich, and Barchenko?. Between 1922 and 1930, Andrews led five expeditions into the Gobi Desert and adjoining regions of Mongolia. All were sponsored by the MNH and made notable fossil discoveries, including the first dinosaur eggs. However, the original goal of the explorations was not animal fossils, but evidence of early man. Andrew’s boss at the Museum, Henry Fairfield Osborn, was convinced that the origins of the human race lay somewhere in Eastern or Central Asia.".....


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….November 2012


Greek Buddhism in Bactria (180 BC)


Click Here to View the Main Index


A Gandharan bodhisattva, ca. late 1st–2nd century

".....the Mahavamsa, Greek monks seem to have been active proselytizers of Buddhism during the time of Menander: the Yona (Greek) Mahadhammarakkhita (Sanskrit: Mahadharmaraksita) is said to have come from "Alasandra" (thought to be Alexandria of the Caucasus, the city founded by Alexander the Great, near today’s Kabul) with 30,000 monks for the foundation ceremony of the Maha Thupa ("Great stupa") at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, during the 2nd century BC.."

"Mahadhammarakkhita (Sanskrit: Mahadharmaraksita, literally "Great protector of the Dharma") was a Greek (in Pali:"Yona", lit. "Ionian") Buddhist master, who lived during the 2nd century BCE during the reign of the Indo-Greek king Menander......In the Mahavamsa, a key Pali historical text, he is recorded as having travelled from “Alasandra” (thought to be Alexandria of the Caucasus, around 150 kilometers north of today's Kabul, or possibly Alexandria of the Arachosians), with 30,000 monks for the dedication ceremony of the Maha Thupa ("Great stupa") at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, when it was completed shortly after the death of the Sri Lankan king Dutthagamani Abhaya (r. 161- 137 BCE)."

Click on the map to enlarge.

"In order to propagate the Buddhist faith, Ashoka explains he sent emissaries to the Hellenistic kings as far as the Mediterranean, and to people 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."

"The Gandhāran Buddhist Texts (oldest Buddhist manuscripts yet discovered, from ca. 1 CE) are attributed to the Dharmaguptaka school. And some believe that the founder of that Buddhist school was...a Greek ....."Dhammarakkhita (Pali, "protected by the Dharma"), was one of the missionaries sent by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka to proselytize the Buddhist faith. He is described as being a Greek (Pali yona) in the Mahavamsa, and his activities are indicative of the strength of the Hellenistic Greek involvement during the formative centuries of Buddhism. (

....."One of the major missionaries was Yonaka Dhammarakkhita. He was...a Greek monk, native of ‘Alasanda’ (Alexandria). He features in the Pali tradition as a master of psychic powers as well as an expert on Abhidhamma......(ḍḍiyana-interesting-tidbits)

"The Legacy of the Indo-Greeks starts with the formal end of the Indo-Greek Kingdom from the 1st century CE, as the Greek communities of central Asia and northwestern India lived under the control of the Kushan branch of the Yuezhi, apart from a short-lived invasion of the Indo-Parthian Kingdom. The Kushans founded the Kushan Empire, which was to prosper for several centuries. In the south, the Greeks were under the rule of the Western Kshatrapas."

The 36 Indo-Greek kings known through epigraphy or through their coins belong to the period between 180 BC to 10–20 AD.....

"Isidorus of Charax in his 1st century CE "Parthian stations" itinerary described "Alexandropolis, the metropolis of Arachosia" as being Greek:....."Beyond is Arachosia (Old Persian Hara[h]uvati, Avestan Haraxvaiti)). And the Parthians call this White India; there are the city of Biyt and the city of Pharsana and the city of Chorochoad (Haraxvat) and the city of Demetrias; then Alexandropolis, the metropolis of Arachosia; it is Greek, and by it flows the river Arachotus(Harahvati). As far as this place the land is under the rule of the Parthians."—"Parthians stations", 1st century AD."

Greek warriior in the Sampul tapestry, woollen wall hanging, 3rd–2nd century BC, Sampul, Urumqi Xinjiang Museum.

".....the first anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha himself are often considered a result of the Greco-Buddhist interaction. Before this innovation, Buddhist art was "aniconic": the Buddha was only represented through his symbols (an empty throne, the Bodhi tree, the Buddha's footprints, the Dharma wheel). This reluctance towards anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha, and the sophisticated development of aniconic symbols to avoid it (even in narrative scenes where other human figures would appear), seem to be connected to one of the Buddha’s sayings, reported in the Digha Nikaya, that discouraged representations of himself after the extinction of his body.....Probably not feeling bound by these restrictions, and because of "their cult of form, the Greeks were the first to attempt a sculptural representation of the Buddha".....

"The Mahamvasa lists the congregations that visited Sri Lanka for the dedication of the Maha Thupa, explaining that: "From Alasanda the city of the Yonas came the thera (elder) Yona Mahadhammarakkhita with thirty thousand bhikkhus." (Mahavamsa, XXIX)......This reference is seen as having several implications regarding the role of the Greeks in the Buddhist community at that time:.....Alexandria of the Caucasus or Alexandria of the Arachosians, cities under the control of the Greek king Menander, had a Buddhist monk population of possibly as many as 30,000, indicating a flourishing Buddhist culture under the Greeks.....The head of this Buddhist community was a Greek (Yona) Buddhist elder whose religious name was Mahadhammarakkhita ("Great protector of the Dharma), indicating the direct involvement of Greeks in the development of the faith, in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent......They were able to travel unhindered south as far as Sri Lanka, indicating some kind of stable political situation along the west coast of the Indian subcontinent, especially at a time when the Sunga Empire in the east was persecuting Buddhists......It is also separately established through another text, the Milinda Panha, and archeological evidence that Menander himself ruled a vast empire in northern India, and that he became a Buddhist arhat.[citation needed] According to Buddhist tradition he was a great benefactor of the Buddhist faith, on a par with Ashoka or the Kushan Kanishka......These elements tend to indicate the importance of Buddhism within Greek communities in northwestern India, and the prominent role Greeks probably played in developing the Buddhist faith during its first few formative centuries.".....“The shape of ancient thought. Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian philosophies”, by Thomas Mc Evilly (Allworth Press, New York 2002)


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….November 2012


Monday, November 26, 2012

Shamis-en-Balkh, Sam-bala & Historical Shambhala


Click Here to View the Main Index



October 23, 2012…Notes began that the historical Kingdom of Shambala was probably located in the region of Balkh....

Shamis en Balkh... the “Mother of Cities” and the “Elevated Candle” (Sham-i-Bala) ....Elevated/raised (bala) and candle (sham,sam)....Balkh was an ancient city and one of the major cities of Khorasan [khor (meaning "sun") and asan ( "about to come"), hence meaning "land where the sun rises"]. . Marco Polo described Balkh as a "noble and great city". The period between 2600 and 2000 BC was the most important period in the history of Balkh.

Texts from the Tun huang site identify Oddiyana as "Shamis en Balkh" in modern day Balkh, Afghanistan where many ruins, Buddhist stupas and monasteries exist. Oddiyana was conquered in about 176 B.C. and there is no modern city on the site so it is just an archeological site.

"Shams is the Arabic word for "sun" (شمس). The word has roots that go back to at least the time of the writing of the Epic of Gilgamesh, which references the Akkadian deity called Shamash"......

"If then we see a Middle Eastern derivation in the name Shambhala, it would mean "light of the sun" or "vision of the sun." Alternatively, if we spell the word Shambala (as it was spelled in most of the early European references to it), this would mean "the sun above" (from the Persian bala "above"; as in Bala Missar, the fort above Kabul, and many other similar names). Shambhala would then mean "the supernal sun", not merely the ordinary visible sun but the principle of light itself, as coming from the transcendent sun, the source of all light."......

Ancient Balkh from Google Earth......

Near Balkh (Sham-i-bala) is the Kalah (Castle) of Bactria (aka: Bākhtri, Oddiyana, Daxia, Bāxδi , Sham-i-bala, Olmo Lungring, etc) was not really a unified political state but a very wealthy region consisting of the fertile plains on either side of the Oxus River and surrounded by the great Pamir and Hindu Kush mountain ranges. Protected with a mild climate, well irrigated land and rich with gold and gemstones. The palaces of the Balkh region were decorated with silk, gold, and gemstones. Known as the Land of a Thousand Cities, the great cities each had a Calah (Castle, Kala) and a King. Balkh was the largest and most grand. Balkh was at it height from 2700- 2000 BC but of great importance from 600 BC until 600 AD.... Xuanzhang says: "It has many mountains and river-courses. It produces excellent (shen) horses [literally: ‘divine’ or ‘Heavenly’ horses. It was a mounted warrior culture. The Bactrian warriors were famous: they are known to have been part of the army of Xerxes, who invaded Greece in 480. Herodotus mentions their turbans, bows, and spears....high-lifted banners ......By 1000 AD it was in steep decline.

Recent Photo of the Ruins of Balkh...The walls are 7 miles in circumference.

...Bactra (Shamis en Balkh) in Bactria Map:

Click on the map to enlarge.

"Bactria, also called Bactriana or Zariaspa, ancient country lying between the mountains of the Hindu Kush and the Amu Darya (ancient Oxus River) in what is now part of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. Bactria was especially important between about 600 bc and about ad 600, serving for much of that time as a meeting place not only for overland trade between East and West but also for the crosscurrents of religious and artistic ideas. Bactria’s capital was Bactra, also called Bactra-Zariaspa (modern Balkh, Afghanistan). Bactria was a rich fertile country, fed by numerous rivers and a profusion of mounds and abandoned water channels

"In 1980, Chogyam Trungpa said that the Shambhala Teachings 'most likely' had Iranian origins...."

"During the life of the historical Buddha, two Merchant brothers from Balkh visited the Buddha in his eighth week of enlightenment, became his first disciples and then returned to Balkh to build temples dedicated to him.....during the first century Balkh was famous throughout the region for its Buddhist temples and Nava Vihara University was sencond only to Nalanda..... in the north-west corner of the Indian subcontinent, known as the sacred garden-like Kingdom of Uddiyana. It was in Uddiyana that Padmasambhava was born...."

"Dzog chen comes to Tibet from the northwest - from a persian source (repeated in earlier Nyingmapa sources but affirmed by the great 19 century Nyingmapa scholar and practitioner, Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye) and from Oddiyana in Shambhalla (the Tun huang and Central Asian Buddhist texts recovered by Emmerich and discussed by snellgrove and taught as part of recovered Buddhist history in Dharmasala identify this region as 'Shamis en Balkh' - modern day Balkh in Afghanistan where ruins of many Buddhist stupas and monasteries still exist)."

"Zoroastrianism originated in Balkh, perhaps in the 6th century B.C.E....Sufism: “All roads lead to Balkh ,” uttered Gurdjieff, referring to the Sufic origin of all systems.......There was a flourishing Manichaean community in Balkh. ....By the latter half of the 2nd century, Christianity had spread east throughout Media, Persia, Parthia, and Bactria (Balkh).....Buddhist stupas, Zoroastrian fire temples, and Nestorian Christian churches – all religions made their homes here."

"Alexander of Macedonia took Bactria in 329 B.C.E., and made it his base for conquest and amalgamation of the Greek and Iranian civilizations....Balkh was the birthplace of Roxana, the bride of Alexander .....The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom was (along with the Indo-Greek Kingdom) the easternmost part of the Hellenistic world, covering Bactria and Sogdiana in Central Asia from 250 to 125 BC. The expansion of the Greco-Bactrians into northern India from 180 BC established the Indo-Greek Kingdom, which was to last until around AD 10."

"A huge castle (Calah, Kalah) with great towered outer walls of sun-dried brick...surrounded by its gardens. in the centre of the old city, in a circle of palm trees, the great shrines studded with gems and jewels...."Mother of Cities'. Had 7 gates. Shrine to rival the Ka'abah in Mecca. Castle was called Kal'ah Hinduwan after the Arab invasions of the 7th century….migrations eastward into the Uighur, Pamir, Kashmir regions."

"Kalachakra literature was compiled in the region of Shamis-en-balkh at a time when their information about Islam came from contact with the early Abbasids after 750 AD.....Kalachakra and its related commentaries (sometimes referred to as the Bodhisattvas Corpus) were returned to India in 966 CE by an Indian pandit.... the last Sanskrit work to have been written in a Central Asian land...."

Greater Khorasan...'Land Where the Sun Rises'

"......870 A.D. marks the first time that the Kingdom of Shambhala actually came under Moslem domination…".....Dharma Fellowship of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa

"Legend reports that Vasubandhu came from the "Kingdom of Shambhala' (approximately, modern Begram, otherwise known as the ancient kingdom of Kapisha, north of Kabul) located in the Afghanistan region, north-west of Peshawar....Bagram (بگرام Bagrám), founded as Alexandria on the Caucasus and known in medieval times as Kapisa, is a small town and seat in Bagram District in Parwan Province of Afghanistan, about 60 kilometers north of the capital Kabul….in the old tradition of the 84 Mahasiddhas that the Kingdom of Uddiyana was divided between two countries, to the North and South. To the North, it bordered on the land of Shambhala (i.e., the Kingdom of Kapisa)…… Website of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Urgyen Trinley Dorje……….. …."….


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….November 2012