Monday, December 31, 2012

Ancient Shambhala: The Oxus, Kabul & Sita Rivers


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"Tibetan texts mention that the Kingdom of Shambhala is located north of the river Sita…" ......Shambhala, which is also rendered Shambala, Shamballah, Sambala, Shamballa,...

Dharma Fellowship of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Urgyen Trinley Dorje:......"In 672 an Arab governor of Sistan, Abbad ibn Ziyad, raided the frontier of Al-Hind and crossed the desert to Gandhara, but quickly retreated again. The marauder Obaidallah crossed the Sita River (aka Kabul River) and made a raid on Kabul in 698 only to meet with defeat and humiliation. Vincent Smith, in Early History of India, states that the Turkishahiya dynasty continued to rule over Kabul and Gandhara up until the advent of the Saffarids in the ninth century. Forced by the inevitable advance of Islam on the west, they then moved their capital from Kapisa to Wahund on the Indus, whence they contin­ued as the Hindushahiya dynasty. This was in 870 A.D. and marks the first time that the Kingdom of Shambhala actually came under Moslem domination. The Hindushahis recaptured Kabul and the rest of their Kingdom after the death of the conqueror Yaqub but never again maintained Kapisa as their capital.".....

“The Panjshir River flows through the Panjshir Valley in northeastern Afghanistan, 150km from Kabul. It flows southward through the Hindu Kush and adjoins the Kabul River near Sarobi. At this junction, a dam was built in the 1950s to supply water from the Panjshir River to the Kabul River (ancient River Sita).”…….'Narrative of a Journey to the Source of the River Oxus', London: John Murray, 1841.

A·mu Dar·ya (äm däry, -m dr-yä) Formerly Ox·us (kss).....A river of central Asia flowing about 2,574 km (1,600 mi) generally northwest from the Pamir Mountains to the southern Aral Sea. In ancient times it figured significantly in the history of Persia and in the campaigns of Alexander the Great.

"DĀITYĀ, VAŊHVĪ.......the name of a river connected with the religious law, frequently identified in scholarly literature with the Oxus.....According to the Avesta, the Dāityā river was to be venerated (Yt. 1.21). On its banks Zairi.vari offered a sacrifice to Anāhitā (Yt. 5.112; see anāhīd) and Vīštāspa to both Anāhitā (Yt. 9.29) and Aši (q.v.; Yt. 17.61). Zoroaster himself honored “the good waters of the good Dāityā” (Vd. 19.2). As already noted by Josef Markwart (p. 122), it is possible that Vaŋhvī Dāityā was the same river that was called Vaŋhvī in the Tištrya Yašt, where it was characterized as “famous from afar” (dūrāṯ frasrūtąm; Yt. 8.2)........According to the first chapter of the Vidēvdād, “the Aryan expanse of the good Dāityā” was the first of the best countries created by Ahura Mazdā (q.v.), and in the Yašts it was mentioned as the place where Zoroaster worshiped Anāhitā (Yt. 5.17, 5.104) and Ahura Mazdā worshiped Vayu (Yt. 15.2). This country, crossed by the Vaŋhvī Dāityā, was also the place where Ahura Mazdā gathered the spiritual Yazata (Av. mainyava-) and Yima, the best men. Significantly, both Ahura Mazdā and Yima were defined as “famous in the Aryan expanse of the good Dāityā” (Vd. 2.20) and Zoroaster as “famous in the Aryan expanse” (Y. 9.14), with the shortened form of Aryans Vaēǰah."......

"Kalachakra text.....South of the River Śītā, (Oxus?) in the land of Mecca with ten million villages, the demonic teachings of the barbarian Tajiks will be established........Some of these locations described in original Kalachakra paintings. The writing near the top on the right side states: “The 960 million villages north of the Śīta”. In the centre, just above the river, is the circular form of Sambhala. The area below, to the south of, the river has many labels. Some of these labels are: Muslims, Turkestan,Mongolia,China, Khotan, Turkestan,Kashmir,Western Tibet, Nepal (Kathmandu valley),Mon – mountain region, near eastern Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan area, Gar-log, a border tribe, Western India, Eastern India, South-western India, Southern India, South-eastern India, Sri Lanka, North-western Tibet, Turkestan, Western Tibet, Central Tibet, Eastern Tibet, Western Tibet, Central Tibet, Eastern Tibet."

Amu Darya is a river once sourced by a powerful glacier fed stream high in the Pamir Mountains.

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.In ancient Afghanistan, the river was also called Gozan, descriptions of which can be found in the book "The Kingdom of Afghanistan: a historical sketch By George Passman Tate". In classical antiquity, the river was known as the Ōxus in Latin and Ὦξος Oxos in Greek. In Middle Persian sources of the Sassanid period the river is known as Wehrōd (lit. "good river").

The name Amu is said to have come from the medieval city of Āmul, (later, Chahar Joy/Charjunow, and now known as Türkmenabat), in modern Turkmenistan, with Darya being the Persian word for "river"......Medieval Arabic and Muslim sources call the river Jayhoun (جيحون) which is derived from Gihon, the biblical name for one of the four rivers of the Garden of Eden......Amu Darya is a river almost in reverse, for long reputed to be sourced by a powerful glacier fed stream high in the Pamir Knot at the eastern end of Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor, and ending not at the sea but spreading out into the sands of Turkmenistan's Kyzyl Kum desert, well short of its historic terminus of the inland Aral Sea.

"The Aban Yasht, mostly in a very epical in style, has its roots deep in the pre-Zarathushtrian Aryan cult, which had, among other gods and goddesses, its male and female water deities. It presents Aredvi Sûrâ Anâhitâ, a specific river and a specific goddess. Grammatically the first word "Aredvi" is the name and the two following are the epithets. Again, since grammatically "water" is feminine in gender, the name and the two epithets are also feminine. ....The secondary meaning of "anâhitâ" as "undefiled" .... .....The Aredvi River... flows down with mighty volume from Mount Hukairya to the Vouru-kasha Sea....Several rivers of the Central Asia could be Aredvi. It could be Oxus, modern Amu Darya. It rises from the Pamirs and today flows into Lake Ural. But once, it poured into the Caspian Sea.....The odds are in favor of the Amu Darya, a river where the Indo-Iranians lived together before moving southward to split into two. There is a possibility that the upper roaring part of the river was called Aredvi and the lower lake-full as Harakhvaiti. The Avestan people, moving in almost the same terrain, retained the memory better and later applied her names to other prominent rivers along which they settled in due course. And for the early inland Aryan settlers, the Caspian was "Vouru-kasha," quite the "broad-shore" sea.".....

"The Indo-Aryans transferred river names from the old to the new country. For example, the Indian Sarasvati was named after the Iranian Hara Vaiti after the migration in India." (Burrow: 126)...

In the traditions of the prophet Muhammad (hadith), the river is called by the name Jayhun (Arabic form of its ancient name Gozan)......According to Ibn Hanbal's version of this hadith: "Four rivers gush forth from Paradise: the Euphrates, the Nile, the Sayhun, and the Jayhun" (Musnad, II, 260-261).— The introductory chapters of Yāqūt's Muʿjam al-buldān, Page 30

Historians tell us that one of the names for the Oxus or Amu in ancient Afghanistan was Gozan, and that this name was used by Greek, Mongol, Chinese, Persian, Jewish and Afghan historians. However, this name is no longer used....."Hara (Bokhara) and to the river of Gozan (that is to say, the Amu, (called by Europeans the Oxus)...."the Gozan River is the River Balkh, i.e. the Oxus or the Amu Darya....."... and were brought into Halah (modern day Balkh), and Habor (which is Pesh Habor or Peshawar), and Hara (which is Herat), and to the river Gozan (which is the Ammoo, also called Jehoon)..."

Since the end of the 19th Century there have been four different claimants as the true source of the Oxus.... 1: the Pamir River, which emerges from Lake Zorkul (once also known as Lake Victoria) in the Pamir Mountains (ancient Mount Imeon), and flows west to Qila-e Panja, where it joins the Wakhan River to form the Panj River...... 2: the Sarhad or Little Pamir River flowing down the Little Pamir in the High Wakhan........ 3: Lake Chamaktin, which discharges to the east into the Aksu River, which in turn becomes the Murghab and then Bartang rivers, and which eventually joins the Panj Oxus branch 350 kilometres downstream at Roshan Vomar in Tajikistan......... 4:an ice cave at the end of the Wakhjir valley, in the Wakhan Corridor, in the Pamir Mountains, near the border with Pakistan.

Historical records state that in different periods, the river flowed into the Aral Sea (from the south), into the Caspian Sea (from the east), or both, similar to the Syr Darya (Jaxartes, in Ancient Greek).

CASPIAN SEA....called Kok Kuz (blue or heavenly eye) by the Turcomans....Sea of the Rising Sun to the Indo-Europeans

KABALAH...(48E 42N)...On the Caspian Sea where the Caucasus Mountains meet the sea, in the Shirvan province is the capital Ash-Shamakha, near the famous port of Darband. In the mountains near Darband was the ancient fortress of Kabalah, on a hill, near the current Soviet border. north of the port of Baku. Location of a great castle called Kal'ah Taj. The remains of a mighty castle (kal'ah), a 'mother of castles' situated on the great Tarum River that flowed from the mountains of Tarum in northern Persia. Like Samiran, its site remains unidentified. On its walls were lions of gold. The ancient fortress of Kabalah near Darband is more than once mentioned in the campaigns of Timur.
Le Strange, G...."The Lands of the Eastern Caliphate"...1966

There are three rivers named in the Rigveda to which this applies: the SarasvatI, GomatI and Sarayu. The SarasvatI in the Rigveda is the river to the east of the Punjab (flowing through Haryana) and the GomatI and Sarayu in the Rigveda are rivers to the west of the Punjab (western tributaries of the Indus). This is the general consensus, and it is confirmed by an examination of the references in the Rigveda.........But a SarasvatI (HaraxvaitI) and a Sarayu (Haroiiu) are also found in Afghanistan; and a GomatI and a Sarayu are found in northeastern Uttar Pradesh. Clearly, there has been a transfer of name, in the case of these three river-names, from one river to another.....during the period of composition of the Rigveda: the Saptasindhu, it is suggested by some, refers to seven rivers in Central Asia, and the SarasvatI in the Rigveda is not the river of Haryana, but the river of Afghanistan.......

"Identification of Rigvedic rivers is the single most important way of establishing the geography of the early Vedic civilization. Rivers with certain identifications stretch from eastern Afghanistan to the western Gangetic plain, clustering in the Punjab (Five waters(rivers)). Some river names appear to go back to common Indo-Iranian rivers, with cognate river names in Avestan, notably the Sarasvati (Avestan Haraxvaiti, Old Persian Hara(h)uvati) and the Sarayu (Iran. Harayu, Avestan acc. Harōiiūm, mod. Persian Harē)."

"....This chapter is one of the most interesting in the book, and contains one of its most splendid anticipations of modern exploration, whilst conversely Lieutenant John Wood's narrative presents the most brilliant confirmation in detail of Marco's narrative......We have very old testimony to the recognition of the great altitude of the Plateau of PAMIR (the name which Marco gives it and which it still retains), and to the existence of the lake (or lakes) upon its surface. The Chinese pilgrims Hwui Seng and Sung Yun, who passed this way A.D. 518, inform us that these high lands of the Tsung Ling were commonly said to be midway between heaven and earth. The more celebrated Hiuen Tsang, who came this way nearly 120 years later (about 644) on his return to China, "after crossing the mountains for 700 li, arrived at the valley of Pomilo (Pamir). This valley is 1000 li (about 200 miles) from east to west, and 100 li (20 miles) from north to south, and lies between two snowy ranges in the centre of the Tsung Ling mountains. The traveller is annoyed by sudden gusts of wind, and the snow-drifts never cease, spring or summer. As the soil is almost constantly frozen, you see but a few miserable plants, and no crops can live. The whole tract is but a dreary waste, without a trace of human kind. In the middle of the valley is a great lake 300 li (60 miles) from east to west, and 500 li from north to south. This stands in the centre of Jambudwipa (the Buddhist [Greek: oikoumenae]) on a plateau of prodigious elevation. An endless variety of creatures peoples its waters. When you hear the murmur and clash of its waves you think you are listening to the noisy hum of a great market in which vast crowds of people are mingling in excitement.... The lake discharges to the west, and a river runs out of it in that direction and joins the Potsu (Oxus).... The lake likewise discharges to the east, and a great river runs out, which flows eastward to the western frontier of Kiesha (Kashgar), where it joins the River Sita, and runs eastward with it into the sea." The story of an eastern outflow from the lake is, no doubt, legend, connected with an ancient Hindu belief (see Cathay, p. 347), but Burnes in modern times heard much the same story. And the Mirza, in 1868, took up the same impression regarding the smaller lake called Pamir Kul, in which the southern branch of the Panja originates.".....

Ardavarz has left a new comment on your post "Early Shambhala Research": The White River (Skt. Sita) beyond which is Shambhala reminds the Russian legend about Belovod'e and also the Turkic name Aksu ("white river" or "white water"). There is a river Aksu in East Turkestan and also in Central Asia Oxus (Amu-Darya) sounds very similar and it was the border between Iran and Turan in the Persian epic. In Turan was located Kangha - the fabulous city founded by Siyavosh which later became fortress of the immortals ruled by his son Kay Khosrow."

"Once, there had been a semi-arid zone between the fertile area and the river. Some of the mountain streams, however, had reached the river Oxus, and had formed lush corridors through the steppe. When the farmers started to dig canals to irrigate fields immediately north of the foothills, however, the waters disappeared from the arid zone and it changed into a desert. So, after 2000 BCE, several parallel zones can be discerned:....the Hindu Kush mountains in the south; ....the foothills and....the fertile agricultural zone; ....the desert; ....the river Oxus.....The Aryans first settled on the Oxus (AMU DARYA in BACTRIA) around 4000 B.C. They called this river the Sarasvati and here Vedic culture developed. Around this time agriculture begins, allowing the population to move from the foothills into oases along the rivers that flow into the Central Asian desert. The new settlements include large fortified buildings. .....The 2 rivers Sarasvati (Oxus) and Drishadvati (Jaxartes) represent Ikshvaku. Mr. Gangaram writes:” The Aryan civilisation was centered around the Sarasvati and Drishadavati rivers. We know that the goddes Sarasvati is also called Vaks (speech) and that the Sarasvati (daugher of the lake, sea) river is called Va(m)ksu in the Mahabharata. The Greek word Oxus is a corruption of Vaksu. The other river Jaxartes (Caks-sar(i)tes means eye-river) is. Drishadvati which means daugher of the eye (or stone). (Drish means: to see). The one river signifies sight while the other signifies speech. There is a relationship with Iksh-vaku (sight-speech), the well-known sage. Iksh-vaku is the great grandson of sage Kashyapa. The 2 rivers represent Iksh-vaku (see-speak), while Kashyapa is the Caspian sea, which in Vedic times was called Kasyapa Mira. Scientists have shown that the 2 rivers used to flow in the Caspian sea, before they changed their course and emptied in the Aral sea. This could be the cause of the southward movement of the Aryans. The Vedic river Raha ro Rasa is identified with the Volga river, which in old slavonic languages is called Rasa, from which Russia derives its name”.). .....From the Oxus river the Aryans reached the Tarim Basin around 3000 BC. Recently Aryan Nordic type mummies from around 2000 BC have been found in his ormer part of Aryavarta......

"Gihon is the name of the second river mentioned in the second chapter of the biblical Book of Genesis. The Gihon is mentioned as one of four rivers (along with the Tigris, Euphrates, and Pishon) issuing out of the Garden of Eden that branched from a single river within the garden. The name (Hebrew Giħôn גיחון) may be interpreted as "bursting forth, gushing".......The Gihon is described as "encircling the entire land of Cush".......scholars have sought to identify the "land of Cush" with Hindu Kush, and Gihon with Amu Darya (Jihon/Jayhon of the Islamic texts). Amu Darya was known in the medieval Islamic writers as Jayhun or Ceyhun in Turkish.This was a derivative of Jihon, or Zhihon as it is still known by the Persians."....William C. Brice. 1981. Historical Atlas of Islam. Leiden with support and patronage from Encyclopaedia of Islam. ISBN 90-04-06116-9.

"Shambhala in the "North".......Another view, especially popular in the West is that Shambhala is located somewhere to the north of Tibet......These views seem to stem mainly from passages in Tibetan texts that mention Shambhala as located north of the river Sita, or that state travel to the region started by going in a northern direction......Those who place Shambhala to the north equate the Sita with some river to the north, usually the Jaxartes in present-day Xinjiang......However, there is also a very strong argument for the river Sita being located to the east of India."....

Tourism and Tibetan Culture in Transition: A Place Called Shangrila.....By Ashild Kolas


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….January 2013


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Navbahar in Balkh: Ancient Solar/Fire/Zoroastian/Buddhist Temple


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Remains of Buddhist Monastery, Balkh (Mother of Cities), Balkh Province, Afghanistan by Jane Sweeney....

"Navbahar (also known as Nava Vihara) was a Buddhist stupa or monastery near the ancient city of Balkh in northern Afghanistan. The temple may have been an old Zoroastrian fire-temple.....Navbahar, the main monastery at Balkh became the center of higher Buddhist study for all of Central Asia. The Tokharian monk Ghoshaka was one of the compilers of the Vaibhashaka (a sub-division of the Sarvastivada School of Hinayana) commentaries on abhidharma and established the Western Vaibhashika (Balhika) School. Navbahar emphasized the study of primarily of the Vaibhashika (Tibetan: bye-brag smra-ba) abhidharma, admitting only monks who had already composed texts of the topic. Navbahar also housed a tooth relic of the Buddha, making it one of the main centers of Buddhist pilgrimage along the Silk Route from China to India.

"The Nava Vihāra (Sanskrit: नवविहार "New Monastery", modern Nowbehār, Persian: نوبهار‎) was two Buddhist monasteries close to the ancient city of Balkh in northern Afghanistan. The temples and monasteries of Nava Vihara are spread over a very large area about 20 kilometres (12 mi) south of Balkh above Chesme-ye Safā (Persian: چشمه صفا‎ "Clear Spring"), not far from the Koh e Alburz....Koh e Alburz, Romanized as Kuh i Elburz, Gory Koh-i-Elburz, Kohe Alborz, Kuh i Alborz (Persian: کوه البرز‎ high mountain) is a mountain a ridge of the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan, Balkh Province. The ridge is elongated to the south of the ancient city of Balkh, which is about 25 kilometers northwest from the city of Mazar-i-Sharif.... the two Buddhist monasteries as Nava Vihara Top i Ruslam (Persian: تپه رستم‎ Rustam hill or Rustam Hat) and Takht e Rustam (Persian: تخت رستم‎ Rustam's throne) and fire temple of Nava Vihara."

Click on the map to enlarge....

Takht-e-Rustam ....The thrown of the hero of the world. A buddhist stupa on a hill in Aybak, a medieval caravan stop, Samangan province in Northern Afghanistan.

"Geographer al-Qazwini (Athar-ul-Bilad) too refers to this great monastery. He records......“The Persians and Turks used to rever it (The temple of Nawabahar) and perform pilgrimages to it, and present offerings to it. Its length was one hundred cubits, its breadth the same, and its height somewhat more, and the care of it was invested in the Baramika. The Kings' of India and China used to come to it, and when they reached it they worshipped the idol, and kissed Barmak's hand, and Barmak's rule was paramount in all these lands. And they ceased not, Barmak after Barmak, until Khurasan was conquered in the days of Uthman b. Affan and the guardship of the temple came at length to Barmak, the father of Khalid”.....

"From the Memoirs of Xuanzang, we learn that, at the time of his visit in 630, there were in Balkh about a hundred Buddhist monasteries, with 30,000 monks, and that there was a large number of stupas, and other religious monuments and that Buddhism was flourishing in the Bactrian portion of Western Turk empire. He also described it as having strong links with the Kingdom of Khotan in the Tarim Basin. The temple was led by Kashmiris called Pramukh (who, under the arabized name of Barmak, came to be known as the Barmakids)...."

"The Umayyads captured Balkh in 663 from the Turki-Shahis who had taken over the territory from the Western Turks. Although some Buddhists and even an abbot of Navbahar converted to Islam, most Buddhists kept their faiths and accepted dhimmi status, as loyal non-Muslim protected subjects within an Islamic state by paying a poll tax jizya in lieu of the Zakat tax levied and compulsory military service for Muslims, and the monastery remained open and functioning."

"An Arab author, Omar ibn al-Azraq Al-Kermani, wrote a detailed account of Navbahar at the beginning of the 8th century that is preserved in a later 10th-century work, the Kitab al-Buldan by Ibn al-Faqih al-Hamadhani. He described Navbahar in terms strikingly similar to the Kaaba in Mecca, the holiest site of Islam. He described that the main temple had a stone cube in the center, draped with cloth, and that devotees circumambulated it and made prostration, as is the case with the Kaaba. The stone cube referred to the platform on which a stupa stood, as was the custom in Bactrian temples. The cloth that draped it was in accordance with Persian custom of showing veneration that applied equally to Buddha statues as well as to stupas."

"In 708 Nazaktar Khan, a Turk Shahi prince, in alliance with the Tibetan Kingdom recaptured Bactria from the Umayyads and established a fanatic Buddhist rule, including the beheading of the abbot who converted. In 715 Ibn Qutaybah recaptured the region for the Umayyads and Tibet switched sides to ally with him against the Turk Shahis. In retribution for the insurrection Qutaiba inflicted heavy damage on Navbahar resulting in many monks fleeing to Khotan and Kashmir. The Muslims destroyed select monasteries that harbored opposition but then let them rebuild and prosper to exact a pilgrim tax."

"Al-Biruni, a Persian scholar and writer in service to the Ghaznavid court, reported that, around the start of the 2nd millennium, the Buddhist monasteries in Bactria, including Navbahar, were still functioning and decorated with Buddha frescoes. A curious notice of this building is found in the writings of Arabian geographer Ibn Hawqal, an Arabian traveler of the 10th century."


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


Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Great Walled City: Shamis en Balkh...The Ancient Kal'ah


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Shamans in Balkh....Shamis en Balkh...Shams i Balkh...Sams i-bala....Shamis en Balkh... the “Elevated Candle” (Sham-i-Bala) ....Elevated/raised (bala) and candle (sham,sam)....Sam=Sun....Bala=Raised

"This is part the ruins of one of the outer walls of the ancient city of Shamis en Balkh..... Balkh (Bactra, 67E..36N) ... In the center of these ruins was the great Kal'ah (Castle, Calah, Kala).

"Shams i Balkh was of the the largest and most grand of ancient cities. Balkh was at it height from 2700- 2000 BC but of great importance from 600 BC until 600 AD.....

2600 BC ....."Balkh is one of the oldest cities in the world...Since the Indo-Iranians built their first kingdom in Balkh (Bactria, Daxia, Bukhdi) some scholars believe that it was from this area that different waves of Indo-Iranians spread to north-east Iran and Seistan region...The period between 26th-20th century BC was the most important period in the history of Balkh; it's in this relatively short period that a kingdom was established, then the population started to disperse and the kingdom started to shrink."

"At a very early date, Balkh was the rival of Ecbatana, Nineveh and Babylon. There is a long-standing tradition that an ancient shrine of Anahita was to be found here, a temple so rich it invited plunder."

900 BC...."Walled Cities with central castles (kal'ah) existed in Bactria, Merv(Mary) in Turkmenistan), Maracandra, Samarkand

6th Century BC...."Balkh was regarded as the first place where Zoroaster first preached his religion, as well as the place where he died. Zoroastrianism, also called Mazdaism and Magianism, is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster (also known as Zarathustra in Avestan) and was formerly among the world's largest religions.

567-486 BC....Shakyamuni Buddha...."The first two disciples of the Buddha were merchants from Balkh. Their stupas are still located in the area....Buddha's first lay disciples.When Trapusa and Bahalika wished his leave to return home, they asked the Buddha for something by which they could remember and honour him in his absence. The Buddha gave them eight of his hairs as relics. They made golden caskets for the relics and took them to their own city (Balkh) where they enshrined them in a stupa by the city gate. Huang Tsang recounts that theirs was the first ever Buddhist Stupa to be made and that the Buddha had first to instruct them how to erect it by folding his three robes into squares piling them up and then topping them off with his inverted bowl.

"It did not take a long time by the Iranian Buddhist converts to build a magnificent temple in Balkh and many of these temples flourished until the 19th century A.D. In a book written by Alexander Polyhistor 80 or 60 years before the birth of Christ he speaks about Buddhism, its relation with Iran and specially Balkh and gives detailed account about Shamans in Balkh...during the first century A.D. Balkh was famous with Buddhism temples and a large number of Iranian citizens in Balkh were followers of that faith and preached and propagated Buddhism.".....The History of Iranian People Before Islam, Abdolhussein Zarrinkub, p. 389.

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 fertile country, and a profusion of mounds and abandoned water channels

329 BC.....Alexander took Bactria in 329 B.C.E., and made it his base for conquest and amalgamation of the Greek and Iranian civilizations.....Balkh was old long before Alexander’s raid, and its history of 2500 years records more than a score of conquerors. The Arabs, impressed by Balkh’s wealth and antiquity, called it Umm-al-belad, the mother of cities.

129 BC....Bactria reappears with its annexation by the Kushans (129 B.C.E.), whose large and powerful empire stretched from Central Asia deep into India. This was a fortunate era, when the lands through which the caravan routes passed were divided among a few stable states which submerged their differences in the interests of trade; and Balkh flourished at the crossroads as a depot and trans-shipment point for the world’s luxuries. “ From the Roman Empire the caravans brought gold and silver vessels and wine; fom Central Asia and China rubies, furs, aromatic gums, drugs, raw silk and embroidered silks; from India spices, cosmetics, ivory and precious gems of infinite variety” (Dupree, p 71). With the merchants came monks preaching the new religion of Buddhism, and Balkh became a center of worship and learning, famous for its temples and monasteries.

"In 240 AD Mani had a celestial vision.In this revelation he was called upon to perfect the "incomplete" religions of Zarathustra, Buddha and Christ. Mani announced himself as the prophet of a new religion. (Buddha of Light) The Zarathustra priests (Magi) expelled him from Persia. He went to Balkh where he was influuenced by Buddhism. Mani was crucified in Southwest Persia in 276

400 AD...."The chinese pilgrim Fa-Hein (c.400) found the Hinayana prevalent in Shan Shan , Kucha , Kashgar, Osh, Udayana and Gandhara. Hsuan-tsang also notices that Buddhism was widely practiced by the Huns rulers of Balkh who claimed descent from Indian royalties.

Notes on The Book of Later Han (5th c. Chinese text), as translated by John E. Hill. "Balkh or Bactria was the ancient capital of the Yuezhi empire in what is now northern Afghanistan. It is one of the oldest cities in the world and some believe the original home of the Indo-Europeans.

642 AD...At the time of the Islamic conquest of Persia in the 7th century, however, Balkh had provided an outpost of resistance and a safe haven for the Persian emperor Yedzgird who fled there from the armies of Umar.

645 AD..."Attracted by grandeur and wealth of Balkh, the Arabs attacked it in 645 AD. It was only in 653 when Arab commander, al-Ahnaf raided the town again and compelled it to pay tribute. The Arab hold over the town, however, remained tenuous. The area was brought under Arabs' control only after it was reconquered by Muawiya in 663 AD. Prof. Upasak describes the effect of this conquest in these words: "The Arabs plundered the town and killed the people indiscriminately. It is said that they raided the famous Buddhist shrine of Nava-Vihara, which the Arab historians call 'Nava Bahara' and describe it as one of the magnificent places which, comprised a range of 360 cells around the high stupas'. They plundered the gems and jewels that were studded on many images and stupas and took away the wealth accumulated in the Vihara but probably did no considerable harm to other monastic buildings or to the monks residing there".

670 AD..."The Arabs' control over Balkh could not last long as it soon came under the rule of a local prince, called Nazak (or Nizak) Tarkhan. He threw out Arabs from his territories in 670 or 671. He was a zealous Buddhist. He is said to have not only reprimanded the Chief-Priest (Barmak) of Nava-Vihara but beheaded him for embracing Islam.

Uyghur from AD 745 to 840 was administered from the imperial capital Ordu-Baliq, one of the biggest ancient cities in Mongolia. During the imperial phase, the term Uyghur (Chinese: 维吾尔; pinyin: Wéiwú'ěr) denoted any citizen of the Uyghur Khaganate, as opposed to the Uyghur tribe. Large numbers of Sogdian refugees from Balkh and Samarkand came to Ordu-Baliq to escape the Islamic conquest of their homeland. They converted the Uyghur nobility from Buddhism to Manichaeism. Thus, the Uyghurs inherited the legacy of Sogdian Culture. Sogdians ran the civil administration of the empire

The Arab geographers Yaqubi and Moqaddasi (9th and 10th centuries) depict Balkh as it was under Samanid rule....A large and prosperous city of mud brick some three square miles in area, it held perhaps 200,000 persons. It was surrounded by mud-brick walls pierced by seven gates. A splendid Friday Mosque occupied the center, and many more mosques were scattered among the dwellings. The fire temple in the suburbs, which Xuanzang had admired when it was a Buddhist monastery, was still noteworthy.

966 AD...". . . the Kala-chakra was introduced into India" - 965 ADMost sources assert that the Kalachakra was brought from Shambhala to India and introduced at Nalanda Monastery in 966 or 967 AD by the mahasiddihi Tsilupa

10th Century....Balkh is described found in the writings of Arabian geographer Ibn Hawqal, an Arabian traveler of the 10th century, who describes Balkh as built of clay, with ramparts and six gates, and extending half a parasang. He also mentions a castle (kala) and a mosque.

1000 AD...Al-Biruni, a Persian scholar and writer in service to the Ghaznavid court, reported that, at the turn of the 2nd millennium, the Buddhist monasteries in Bactria, including Navbahar, were still functioning and decorated with Buddha frescoes. A curious notice of this building is found in the writings of Arabian geographer Ibn Hawqal, an Arabian traveler of the 10th century.

1220 AD.....The Mongol Butcher Genghis Khan sacked Balkh, butchered its inhabitants and levelled all the buildings capable of defense — treatment to which it was again subjected in the 14th century by Timur. Catastrophe struck in 1220, when Ghengis Khan chose to make an example of Balkh, perhaps as punishment for an uprising. One hundred thousand Mongol horsemen embarked on an orgy of slaughter, rape and destruction that left nothing standing; a few weeks later they returned to pick off the survivors of the carnage.

1275 AD....Notwithstanding this, however, Marco Polo (1254-1324) could still describe it as "a noble city and a great seat of learning."...Balkh remained in ruins for a century, and ws so described by Marco Polo (1275) and by Ibn Batuta (1333); and yet revival must have been under way, for Timur (Tamerlane) chose Balkh to proclaim his accession to the throne (1359). Timur and his successors favored Balkh; they restored the walls and endowed the city with quite splendid buildings, some of which survive.

Alexandra David-Neel - who lived 1868-1969 - ( ) was french actress, author of several books, a great Tibetan explorer and female Tibetan Lama and more. ...She mentions in her script "Les Nouvelles Littéraires";1954, p.1 ; "that Shamballa is geographically placed near the city of Balkh. It is known as Mother of all Cities. In the olden days the city of Balkh was situated north of the present day city of Balkh. And its name was known as "The Elevated Candle" - and in the persian tounge it was named "Sham-I-Bala" - an expression covering the sanskrit "Shamballa".

From Google Earth, this is the ruins of the outer walls of the ancient city of Shamis en Balkh..... Balkh (Bactra, 67E..36N)

Uttamabhadras originally were people of Balkh who had entered India in Vedic times.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Central Asia: Cave Art & Petroglyphs (5000 BC)


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Before the Mural and Scroll Painting: Rock Art in Ancient Tibet.....John Vincent Bellezza

Petroglyphs in the National Park Gobustan in Azerbaijan. These ancient rock carvings date back to 10,000 BC and they indicate a thriving culture. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site considered to be of "outstanding universal value".

KHYUNG........The rock art record of Upper Tibet confirms that horned and crested raptors did indeed play a cultural role in prehistory. While the specifics of individual narratives cannot be verified, this archaeological evidence independently corroborates the historicity of the Bon textual tradition. The existence of horned raptors (probably eagles) in rock art right across Upper Tibet in antiquity encourages us to take the functions and significance assigned them in Bon literature seriously.

Above....Far western Tibet. This style of khyung was retained well into the historic period as part of the class of copper alloy talismans known as thokchas (thog-lcags).... This style of rock art and its physical characteristics (wear, carving technique and repatination) can probably be attributed to the protohistoric period (100 BCE to 650 CE).....

Above...khyung is found at a site with much early rock art. It appears to date to Iron Age (700–100 CE). As in figure 1, the two horns of the bird are clearly represented. Of special note is the treatment of the wings, which gracefully but powerfully fold inwards.....

Pictographs (John Vincent Bellezza) .....Before the Mural and Scroll Painting: Rock Art in Ancient Tibet....Bronze Age or Iron Age. In addition to the swastika, the sun and moon figure prominently in the symbolic rock art of Upper Tibet. In Buddhist and Bon art the sun often cradles a crescent moon, signifying the union of the methods and wisdom that lead to enlightenment. In more ancient rock art the sun and moon usually appear separately on stone surfaces. In this composition the two of them were carved in conjunction with a swastika. The sun with its spokes and hub resembles a chariot wheel. At this particular rock art site there are numerous petroglyphs of chariots with similar wheels, providing us with an indication of its antiquity. In the historic epoch Tibetans did not regularly use wheeled vehicles for transport.

"In the early 1900s, Europe was discussing ancient petroglyphs – writings found by famous Russian poet Nikolai Gumilyov on the rocks of Karelia.......Considered among the most complex and expressive examples of rock art in northern Europe, the petroglyphs of the Karelian Republic include elaborate scenes of warfare, religious ritual, seafaring, and even skiing, carved into the red granite of the White Sea coast, and enigmatic and fantastic figures incised in rock on the shores of Lake Onega, 325 kilometers to the south. More than 70 ancient settlements have been identified in association with the White Sea carvings. Collectively, they constitute the largest Neolithic site in the region. While comparable petroglyph sites are known in Norway and Sweden, the Karelian petroglyphs are the only major rock art sites associated with the Ugro-Finnic peoples....."...

Pictographs (John Vincent Bellezza) .....Before the Mural and Scroll Painting: Rock Art in Ancient Tibet.... The counterclockwise swastika is the symbol of the Bon religion par excellence, but its origins as a rock art motif go back to prehistory. On the other hand, Tibetan Buddhists use the clockwise swastika, setting them apart from the Bonpo in an easily recognizable way. The swastika depicted here was painted in red ochre (oxides of iron), the most common pigment used in Tibetan rock art. According to David and Janice Jackson (see bibliography), red ochre (tsak) was also utilized by painters of early thangkas.

"Xiongnu images of animal predation, specifically tiger plus prey, is spiritual, representative of death and rebirth, and same-animal combat is representative of the acquisition of or maintenance of power......The rock art of the Yinshan and Helanshan is dated from the 9th millennium BC to 19th century. It consists mainly of engraved signs (petroglyphs) and only minimally of painted images.".....Excavations conducted between 1924–1925, in Noin-Ula kurgans located in Selenga River in the northern Mongolian hills north of Ulan Bator, produced objects with over twenty carved characters, which were either identical or very similar to that of to the runic letters of the Turkic Orkhon script discovered in the Orkhon Valley. From this a some scholars hold that the Xiongnu had a script similar to Eurasian runiform and this alphabet itself served as the basis for the ancient Turkic writing."....

"There are more than 50,000 pieces of rock art (petroglyphs) and inscriptions all along the Karakoram Highway in Gilgit–Baltistan, concentrated at ten major sites between Hunza and Shatial. The carvings were left by various invaders, traders, and pilgrims who passed along the trade route, as well as by locals. The earliest date back to between 5000 and 1000 BCE, showing single animals, triangular men and hunting scenes in which the animals are larger than the hunters. These carvings were pecked into the rock with stone tools and are covered with a thick patina that proves their age. The ethnologist Karl Jettmar has pieced together the history of the area from various inscriptions and recorded his findings in Rock Carvings and Inscriptions in the Northern Areas of Pakistan and the later released Between Gandhara and the Silk Roads - Rock Carvings Along the Karakoram Highway. Many of these carvings and inscriptions will be inundated and/or destroyed when the planned Basha-Diamir dam is built and the Karakoram Highway is widened."......

"Cave paintings are paintings found on cave walls and ceilings, and especially refer to those of prehistoric origin. The earliest such art in Europe dates back to the Aurignacian period, approximately 40,000 years ago, and is found in the El Castillo cave in Cantabria, Spain. ......Lascaux (Lascaux Caves) is the setting of a complex of caves in southwestern France famous for its Paleolithic cave paintings. The original caves are located near the village of Montignac, in the department of Dordogne. They contain some of the best-known Upper Paleolithic art. These paintings are estimated to be 17,300 years old."......

"Tibet produced a huge array of religious paintings and sculptures over a long span of time. Buddhist and Bon murals and statuary can be traced back to the 7th century CE, while the oldest painted scrolls or thangkas date to the 10th or 11th century CE. As in many other parts of the world, the classical religious art of Tibet.....rock art is the historic forerunner of Tibetan Buddhist and Bon painting,....While Tibetan mural and thangka paintings are generally more complex than rock art, petroglyphs and pictographs containing upwards of 100 individual subjects are known."....Pictographs (John Vincent Bellezza)



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


Monday, December 24, 2012

TIGER : Ancient Central Asian Divine Power


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Tibetan Priest w/ Tigerskin Hat & Robe

"The four animals (with the snow lion replacing the yak) also recur frequently in the Gesar epic, and sometimes Gesar and his horse are depicted with the dignities in place of the windhorse. In this context the snow lion, garuda and dragon represent the Ling (wylie: Gling) community from which Gesar comes, while the tiger represents the family of the Tagrong (wylie: sTag rong), Gesar's paternal uncle.......Karmay, Samten G. The Arrow and the Spindle: Studies in History, Myths, Rituals and Beliefs in Tibet. Mandala Publishing: 1998 pg. 421

"The late 20th century Tibetan Buddhist master Chogyam Trungpa incorporated variants of many of the elements above, particularly windhorse, drala, the four animals: Tiger,Snow Lion,Garuda,Dragon (which he called "the four dignities"), wangtang, lha, nyen and lu, into a Secular system of teachings he called Shambhala Training. It is through Shambhala Training that many of the ideas above have become familiar to westerners.".....

".....tigers, that fearsome carnivore of eastern Eurasia. These creatures are part of the cultural and artistic heritage of many peoples in the region. Similarly, there is much fascination with tigers in Tibet, a symbol of divine power, martial prowess and magical ability. We shall examine the tiger of Tibet through Tibetan texts, the natural sciences and Upper Tibetan rock art....

".... a thirteenth century manuscript called "The Appearance of the Little Black-Headed Man" (dBu nag mi'u dra chag), and in that case a yak is substituted for the snow lion, which had not yet emerged as the national symbol of Tibet. In the text, a nyen (wylie: gNyan, mountain spirit) kills his son-in-law, Khri-to, who is the primeval human man, in a misguided attempt to avenge his daughter. The nyen then is made to see his mistake by a mediator and compensates Khri-to's six sons with the gift of the tiger, yak, garuda, dragon, goat, and dog. The first four brothers then launch an exhibition to kill robbers who were also involved with their mother's death, and each of their four animals then becomes a personal drala (wylie: dgra bla, "protective warrior spirit") to one of the four brothers. The brothers who received the goat and dog choose not to participate, and their animals therefore do not become drala. Each of the brothers represents one of the six primitive Tibetan clans (bod mi'u gdung drug), with which their respective animals also become associated.".....Karmay, Samten G. The Arrow and the Spindle: Studies in History, Myths, Rituals and Beliefs in Tibet. Mandala Publishing: 1998 pg. 420

"A brief introduction to the tiger in Tibetan culture......For a very long time tigers have been the stuff of legends in Tibet. To this day robes trimmed in the skins of the tiger and leopard are considered a desirable embellishment and status symbol. It is written in Bon and Buddhist historical texts that an ancient insignia of superior distinction (rtsigs) was a robe (thul-pa or slag-pa) trimmed in the fur of a tiger (alternatively leopard or clouded leopard skin). Such robes were awarded to valiant warriors and saints alike. According to Bon historical texts such as G.yung drung bon gyi rgyud bum, this tradition endured until the reign of King Trisong Deutsen (Khri-srong lde’u-btsan, 755–797 CE). This text also notes that circa the 5th century CE, Tritsennam (Khri-btsan-nam, Tibet’s 25th king,) and Thothori Nyentsen (Tho-tho-ri gnyan-btsan, the 27th king) presented bon and gshen priests with tiger skin trim and headgear as a badge of courage (che-rtags) for their aid in defeating foreign enemies."......The Dawn of Tibet: The Ancient Civilization on the Roof of the World....By John Vincent Bellezza

"Anyone familiar with the Ling Gesar epic or the cult of mountain deities would have heard of the tiger-skin quiver and leopard-skin bow case. These are stock-in-trade accoutrements of the ancient warrior in Tibet. These men-at-arms carried the appellation ‘tiger-dress hero’ (dpa’-bo stag-chas), and their costumes and weapons were referred to as the ‘equipment of the tiger’ (stag-chas). The greatest exploits of the warrior were epitomized in the phrase: ‘conquering male tigers in their prime’ (skyes-pa stag-’gugs). Like the tiger itself, these military heroes of yore, were given the epithet ‘wild one’ or ‘brave one’ (rgod-po). The proud and imperious swagger of the warrior known as the ‘tiger’s gait’ (stag-’gros) was adopted in wrathful ritual procedures. Tiger Gait is also said to be the secret name of the Bon tutelary deity connected to an ancient sage known as Shebu Rakhuk (Shad-bu ra-khug) and his consort Odenma (’Od-ldan-ma). This couple is recorded as residing in Yakpa (G.yag-pa), a region in the eastern Changthang."

"Given this costumery tradition, it is not surprising that a wide spectrum of indigenous Tibetan deities is clad in tiger skins. Mountain gods, sprites of the earth, personal protective divinities, spirit allies in battle, and many other classes of deities are dressed, in whole or in part, in tiger fur. The use of tiger skins as vestments and other attributes extends to Buddhist deities as well, especially the protectors known generically as chos-skyong. Some of these Buddhist protectors have tigers and other wild felines in their entourages. Certain Tibetan deities are mounted on tigers such as the god of blacksmiths, Damchen Garwa Nakpo (Dam-can mgar-ba nag-po). As in Tibet, in ancient India, the tiger was held in high esteem and crept into many myths, legends and customs."...

"Tibetan costume often depends on geographic area and economic status. In cold northern Tibet, herdsmen usually wear fur robes. In Shannan Prefecture, where the climate is warmer, farmers often wear tweed (a kind of wool produced in Tibetan rural areas). People in Lhasa wear silk clothing is summer and fur robes in winter. In ancient times, honored heroes wore tiger skins and cowards were forced to wear fox skins as punishment."....

Captive Caspian tiger, Berlin Zoo, 1899

"The Caspian tiger (Panthera tigris virgata), also known as the Hyrcanian tiger, the Mazandaran tiger, the Persian tiger and the Turan tiger, is an extinct tiger subspecies that had been recorded in the wild until the early 1970s, and used to inhabit the sparse forest habitats and riverine corridors west and south of the Caspian Sea, from Turkey, Iran and east through Central Asia into the Takla Makan desert of Xinjiang, China. There are no individuals in captivity.....The Caspian tiger was formerly found in Chinese and Russian Turkestan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey.....The Caspian tiger together with the Siberian and Bengal tiger subspecies represented the largest living cat and ranked among the biggest cats that ever existed."....Jackson, P., Nowell, K. (2008). "Panthera tigris ssp. virgata.". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature.


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


Translation Agreement: Hermeneutics & Text Interpretation


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"Of Tonpa Shenrab's many disciples, the foremost was Mucho Demdrug (Mu cho lDem drug), who in his turn taught many students, the most important of whom were the 'Six Great Translators': Mutsha Trahe (dMu tsha Tra he) of Tazig, Trithog Pasha (Khri thog sPa tsha) of Zhang-zhung, Hulu Paleg (Hu lu sPa legs) of Sum pa (east of Zhang-zhung), Lhadag Nagdro (Lha bdags sNgags grol) of India, Legtang Mangpo (Legs tang rMang po) of China and Sertog Chejam (gSer thog lCe byams) of Phrom (Mongolia)....

"After Shenrab’s, the teachings were then brought to rest of Asia by the ‘Six Translators.. ’Three of them, Debon Gyimtsha, Lishu Tagring, and Tang Musha, spread the treasure. The texts were brought in containers lifted by vultures and cranes. The great translator Vairocana simultaneously brought the Nine ways to India. The Bon of Astrology and Medicine was carried to China, and from they’re into Tibet. Finally Lishu Tagring brought the Bon of Effect to Tibet during the reign of the second king of the Yarlung Dynasty."....

"the 1047 verses of the Kalachakra Tantra used today (the original is 12,000 verses) was composed by the eighth King of Shambhala, the first Kulika (Kalki), Jampal Trakpa. The original 12,000 verses have never been translated into Tibetan." (Kongtrul: 271)..

"Those who translate Buddhist texts from Tibetan into English sometimes talk in nostalgic terms of our forbears who laboured to translate the vast corpus of Sanskrit Buddhist literature into Tibetan. In contrast to the chaotic scene today, where nobody can agree on a standard English word to translate any given Tibetan term, Tibetan translators worked under a top-down system in which royal edicts decreed the correct Tibetan word to be used for every Buddhist Sanskrit term. The result was the admirably coherent and consistent canons of Tibetan Buddhism, undoubtedly one of the wonders of the Buddhist world."....

"Translating something that has deep meaning into another language can be a very difficult task. It takes a lot more than just knowing the language. One needs to know the idioms and the culture in order to get the true meaning of what is being said. Our scripture reading for today can be understood more deeply with a translation done by someone who is more familiar with the culture of that time and language. The beatitudes are well-known to us as pronouncements of blessings on some puzzling and difficult situations. They seem to say that Jesus was blessing those who were in unfortunate situations. If you are poor, then God will bless you. If you are persecuted, the God will bless you. We are puzzled at such blessings and pronouncements of Jesus. But the key to understanding these beatitudes lies in the translation!....The New Testament was written mostly in Greek. However, according to biblical scholars the language which Jesus and his disciples spoke was Aramaic and some Hebrew. So, the stories that were recorded in the Greek in the Gospels were translations of the oral Aramaic tradition of the stories and teachings of Jesus into the Greek. One person who has done some good thinking on the topic of the beatitudes and their translation is Father Elias Chacour who is an Arab Melkite (Catholic) archbishop in Israel. In his book We Belong to the Land, Father Chacour explains that “Knowing Aramaic, the language of Jesus, has greatly enriched my understanding of Jesus' teachings. Because the Bible as we know it is a translation of a translation, we sometimes get a wrong impression. For example, we are used to hearing the Beatitudes expressed passively… ‘Blessed; is the translation of the word MAKARIOI, used in the Greek New Testament. However, when I look further back to Jesus' Aramaic, I find that the original word was ASHRAY, from the verb YASHAR. ASHRAY does not have this passive quality to it at all. Instead, it means ‘to set yourself on the right way for the right goal; to turn around, repent; to become straight or righteous.’....

"Hermeneutics (/hɜrməˈnjuːtɪks/), broadly, is the art of text interpretation. Traditional hermeneutics is the study of the interpretation of written texts, especially texts in the areas of literature, religion and law..... the origin (Greek: hermeneutike) with Hermes, the mythological Greek deity whose role is that of messenger of the Gods. Besides being mediator between the gods themselves, and between the gods and humanity, he leads souls to the underworld upon death. He is also considered the inventor of language and speech, an interpreter, a liar, a thief and a trickster. These multiple roles make Hermes an ideal representative figure for hermeneutics. As Socrates notes, words have the power to reveal or conceal, thus promoting the message in an ambiguous way.[3] The Greek view of language as consisting of signs that could lead to truth or falsehood is the very essence of Hermes, who is said to relish the uneasiness of the recipients.".....

"The Quran in English: with cautionary points to consider. Those who have tried to translate the Quran from its Arabic original have found it impossible to express the same wealth of ideas with a limited number of words in the new language. Comparing any translation with the original Arabic is like comparing a thumbnail sketch with the natural view of a splendid landscape rich in color, light and shade, and sonorous in melody. Scanty knowledge of classical Arabic would deprive anyone from appreciating the different shades of meaning rendered by the occasionally slightly different declensions of Arabic words......

"Due to Tibet’s geographical and political isolation for most of its longhistory, the study of translation in Tibet is a very recent—and largely unexplored— field of inquiry. For centuries, translators in Tibetans have one of the most astonishing records of translation activity inthe world. Starting in the 7th century and continuing for some 900 years, theTibetans transmitted, preserved and translated the entire contents of the IndianBuddhist canon, a body of work amounting to more than 5,000 texts and 73 millionwords. As one Tibetologist notes, the production of the translations that became theTibetan canon was “one of the greatest cultural exchanges that the world has ever seen” (Khyentse 2009: 23).".....The Translator in Tibetan History: by Roberta Raine

Tibetan Plagiarism...Jamgon Kongtrul writes on Page 42 of his Retreat Manual....."I borrowed from the works of others to compose whatever treatises were appropriate."....Translator note....."Plagiarism was and is rife in Tibetan scholarship, where it seems to be looked upon favorably as indicative of an author's respect for great masters. Ths comment by Kongtrul was probaby written in a spirit of humility rather than as an admission of wrong-doing."....Jamgon Kongtrul's Retreat Manual......ISBN: Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye, Kon-Sprul Blo-Gros-Mtha

"One of the problems for the early translators was what to do with certain important and powerful words that came from the pre-Buddhist culture of Tibet. In some ways it was clearly beneficial to use these words, so as to give them a new, Buddhist resonance. But they came with a lot of baggage. The same problems face translators nowadays when we contemplate using Christian words like ‘hell’ and ‘sin’ to translate Buddhist concepts.One of the most powerful and resonant words in pre-Buddhist Tibet was yungdrung (g.yung drung). It was a the key terms for the old royal religion, the mythological backdrop to the kingly lineage of the Tibetan Empire. For example, the inscription of the tomb of Trisong Detsen has the line: “In accord with the eternal (yungdrung) customs (tsuglag), the Emperor and Divine Son Trisong Detsen was made the ruler of men.” I discussed how to translate that term tsuglag in an earlier post. Here, as you no doubt noticed, I have translated yungdrung here as “eternal”. Eternity seems to be the general meaning of yungdrung in the early religion. In addition, the word was associated with the ancient Indo-European swastika design, which in Tibet was the graphic symbol of the eternal....

Sanskrit to Arabic Translations...... "Indian scholars were engaged to translate into Arabic the Sanskrit works on medical science, philosophy, astrology and other subjects..... Arabic is written from right to left while Sanskrit is written from left to right. The development of the two language is as separate as well. Considered to be the oldest language in human history, Sanskrit is the progenitor and inspiration for virtually every language spoken in India. The oldest surviving example of the tabulations of the rules of Sanskrit grammar is Panini's "Astadhyavi" (literally translating to "Eight-Chapter Grammar") dated to have been written around the 5th century BC." .....

"The great variation in phonetic transcription of Indian words into Tibetan may partly be the result of various Tibetan dialects. In the process of copying the Tibetan transcriptions in later times, the spelling often became corrupted to such an extent that the recognition or reconstitution of the original names became all but impossible. Whatever the reasons might be, the Tibetan transcription of Indian names of mahasiddhas clearly becomes more and more corrupt as time passes.".....


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


Natural Perfection ... Pristine Rigpa….Shenlha Okar


Dzogchen Explorations

Okar Research



"According to Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, Dzogchen (Rdzogs chen) is the natural, primordial state or natural condition, and a body of teachings and meditation practices aimed at realizing that condition. Dzogchen, or "Great Perfection", is a central teaching of the Nyingma school also practiced by adherents of other Tibetan Buddhist sects. According to Dzogchen literature, Dzogchen is the highest and most definitive path to enlightenment....."

Kongtrul, Jamgon (Lodro Taye)..."Myriad Worlds: Buddhist Cosmology in Abhidharma, Kalachakra, and Dzog-chen"...(1995)

"Longchen Rabjampa, Drimé Özer (Wylie: Klong-chen rab-'byams-pa, Dri-med 'od-zer) "Longchenpa" (1308–1364) was a major teacher in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. He was a critical link in the exoteric and esoteric transmission of the Dzogchen teachings. He was abbot of Samye, one of Tibet's most important monasteries and the first Buddhist monastery established in the Himalaya, but spent most of his life travelling or in retreat.....he is sometimes referred to by the honorary title "Second Buddha" (Tib. rgyal ba gnyis).....Longchenpa attracted more and more students, even though he had spent nearly all of his life in mountain caves. During a stay in Bhutan (Tib., Mon), Longchenpa fathered a daughter and a son....".

Lha Chen Shen Lha Woe Kar: the aspect of compassion of the universe....

"Longchenpa combined the teachings of the Vima Nyingtig lineage with those of the Khandro Nyingtig, thus preparing the ground for the fully unified system of teachings that became known as the Longchen Nyingthig (by Jigme Lingpa)....Dowman, Keith, Old Man Basking In the Sun: Longchenpa's Treasury of Natural Perfection, Vajra Publications, 2006.....He was the author of over 200 works, of which only about twenty-five survive...."

Notes From "Natural Perfection, Longchenpa's Radical Dzogchen" ....Translation and Commentary by Keith Dowman...Published in 2010 (Wisdom Publications Boston)

"The actual essence, pristine rigpa,
cannot be improved on, so virtue is profitless,
and it cannot be impaired, so vice is harmless;
on its absence of karma there is no ripening of pleasure or pain;
in its absence of judgement, no preference for samsara or nirvana;
in its absence of articulation, it has no dimension;
in its absence of past and future, rebirth is an empty notion:
who is there to transmigrate? and how to wander?
what is karma and how can it mature?
Contemplate the reality that is like the clear sky!"
(Page 23)

"Purity of karma, putative rebirth, degree of meditation-concentration, facility in visualization, levels of attainment, and so on, are all issues pertinent to acceptance and success within a hierarchical cult....but to the formless experience of Dzogchen, such considerations have no relevance...any kind of preparation or fore-practice muddies the waters..."....(p. 7)

"It is an error of interpretation, however, to believe that Dzogchen requires rejection of religious devotions or ritual practice. The sacred and the profane have the same weight in the Dzogchen view, and the temple or church and the beer-hall or gymnasium are Buddhist conditioning, ritual worship, or lifestyle, nor Christian or Jewish devotions, provides any more or less fertile ground for recognition of the nature of mind than the lifestyle of an agnostic professional or a self-indulgent hedonist...."(p. 7-8)

"Enchanted by the play of illusion, children who do not know their own minds, are bewitched. They take the show to be real and become attached to it, enwrapped in their own imagination. Old people, on the other hand, who know the story, cannot get caught by such fascination. Likewise fools who never question the validity of their experience and impute identity to those vividly appearing, enchanting, empty images, take the show to be real and restrict themselves to cyclical patterns of transmigration. Ati-yogins and yoginis, however, understanding that everything is unreal, are aware of the ZING of reality (de bzhin nyid), and their minds are released into the nameless matrix that is beyond both bondage and liberation." ...Page 89.....

Kongtrul...."Retreat Manual"...trans: Zangpo....

"The Dzogchen practitioner is such insofar as he or she is free of spiritual identity or belief in any dogma. This natural freedom is intrinsic to doing nothing and allowing moment by moment autonomous deconstruction of his or her identity, both personal and spiritual.....Ordinary people, non-Buddhists, and Buddhist followers of the eight lower approaches (monastic, solitary ascetic, altruistic householders, tantric practitioners, atheists, hedonists and monotheistic eternalists....)....are identical in that they do not realize natural perfection.....In this important sense, every path is a dead end..."p.94

From "Natural Perfection, Longchenpa's Radical Dzogchen" ........Translation and Commentary by Keith Dowman...Published in 2010 (Wisdom Publications Boston)

"Tulku Tsullo, a student of Tertön Sogyal Lerab Lingpa, describes it in the following way: The ‘empty essence’ is primordial purity. It refers to the empty aspect of the wisdom of empty clear light, the universal monarch who creates all samsara and nirvana, free from the very beginning and uncompounded. If we explain this further, just as ka is the ‘original’ or the very first of the thirty Tibetan consonants, the wisdom of clear light has always been ‘pure’ (dag) from its very origin or primordial beginning.".....

Karmay, Samten..."The Great Perfection"... 1988

Tulku Thondup..."The Practice of Dzogchen"...(Snow Lion:1996)
Norbu..."Dzogchen: The Self Perfected State"....1996

There are three requirements before a student may begin a practice:
1. the empowerment (Tibetan: wang)
2. a reading of the text by an authorized holder of the practice (Tibetan: lung)
3. instruction on how to perform the practice or rituals (Tibetan: tri).
An individual is not allowed to engage in a deity practice without the empowerment for that practice. The details of an empowerment ritual are often kept secret as are the specific rituals involved in the deity practice.


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


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Syncretism in Silk Route Spiritual Traditions


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"Syncretism – the bringing together of different strands of belief and custom – was characteristic of the old Roman religions; in the mid-4th century, when the Christian leaders chose to make December 25 the birthday of Jesus, it became an act of Church policy. In a ceiling mosaic in the tomb of the Julii, in the necropolis under St Peter’s, we have an arresting visual image of the convergence of the old solar cult with the new religion. It shows the figure of Sol-Helios, the sun god, riding his chariot. Around 250, his image was touched up, to make the rays around his head resemble a cross.......

"Non Sectarian Dharma.....Jamgon Kongtrul.......The Rimé movement is a Buddhist school of thought founded in Eastern Tibet during the late 19th century by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, the latter of whom is often respected as the founder proper. The antecedent to the Rimé is found in the writings and activities of Jetsun Taranatha Kunga Nyingpo, the 23rd Throne Holder of Jonang......The movement’s name is derived from two Tibetan words: ris (division, border) and med (refutation), which combined express the idea of openness to other Buddhist traditions, as opposed to sectarianism. The Rimé movement therefore is often mistaken as trying to unite the various sects through their similarities, which is not the case. Rather, Rimé recognizes the differences between traditions and appreciates them, while also establishing a dialogue to create common ground. It is important to preserve variety, and therefore Rimé teachers are generally quite careful to emphasize differences in thought, giving students many options as to how to proceed in their spiritual training......

Click on the chart to enlarge.

Jamgön Kongtrül (1813-1899), Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892), and Chokgyur Lingpa (1829-1870) were the leaders of the Rimé movement in Kham.... the Harvard Tibet Map project.....

"Dzogchen is considered a uniquely Tibetan (i.e., not necessarily transplanted from India) practice which was incorporated by the later Buddhist schools. As such, it is also the ultimate practice of Bön, Tibet's indigenous religious tradition, one which has often suffered sectarian persecution. Fortunately, the Rimé movement gave non-Bön scholar lamas the space to explore Bön’s role in developing the practice of dzogchen....One day at UCLA’s research library I came across a reference to a “Guide to Bönpo Pilgrimage Places” with a map....

"Some religious movements have embraced overt syncretism, such as the case of melding Shintō beliefs into Buddhism or the amalgamation of Germanic and Celtic pagan views into Christianity during its spread into Gaul, the British Isles, Germany, and Scandinavia.

JAPAN..."The vast majority of people in Japan who take part in Shinto rituals also practice Buddhist rituals......Due to the syncretic nature of Shinto and Buddhism, most "life" events are handled by Shinto and "death" or "afterlife" events are handled by Buddhism—for example, it is typical in Japan to register or celebrate a birth at a Shinto shrine, while funeral arrangements are generally dictated by Buddhist tradition...After the Meiji Imperial Restoration of 1868, the Emperor restored the sovereignty, and the new government institutionalized Shinto as the official state religion while implementing restrictive policies against Buddhism and other religions including Christianity. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine had to remove or thrown away all of its structures and objects associated with Buddhism.....

"Trungpa Rinpoche incorporated other elements into Shambhala tradition that he thought would be beneficial to practitioners. From the Bön religion, the lhasang ceremony is performed; other elements of shamanism play a role. From Confucianism comes a framework of heaven, earth, and man for understanding the proper relationship between different elements of compositions of all kinds. From Taoism comes the use of feng shui and other incorporations. From the Shinto tradition comes the use of kami shrines to honor natural forces in specific locales."......

"In modern secular society, religious innovators sometimes create new religions syncretically as a mechanism to reduce inter-religious tension and enmity, often with the effect of offending the original religions in question. ...Classical Athens was exclusive in matters of religion. The Decree of Diopithes made the introduction of and belief in foreign Gods a criminal offence and only Greeks were allowed to worship in Athenian temples and festivals as foreigners were considered impure.

"Syncretism functioned as a feature of Hellenistic Ancient Greek religion although only outside of Greece. Overall, Hellenistic culture in the age that followed Alexander the Great itself showed syncretist features, essentially blending of Mesopotamian, Persian, Anatolian, Egyptian (and eventually Etruscan–Roman) elements within an Hellenic formula. The Egyptian god Amun developed as the Hellenized Zeus Ammon after Alexander the Great went into the desert to seek out Amun's oracle at Siwa....Such identifications derive from interpretatio graeca, the Hellenic habit of identifying gods of disparate mythologies with their own. When the proto-Greeks (peoples whose language would evolve into Greek proper) first arrived in the Aegean and on the mainland of modern-day Greece early in the 2nd millennium BCE, they found localized nymphs and divinities already connected with every important feature of the landscape: mountain, cave, grove and spring all had their own locally venerated deity. The countless epithets of the Olympian gods reflect their syncretic identification with these various figures. One defines "Zeus Molossos" (worshipped only at Dodona) as "the god identical to Zeus as worshipped by the Molossians at Dodona". Much of the apparently arbitrary and trivial mythic fabling results from later mythographers' attempts to explain these obscure epithets.

"Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism in ancient India have made many adaptations over the millennia, assimilating elements of various diverse religious traditions....In China, most of the population follows syncretist religions combining Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism and elements of Confucianism. Out of all Chinese believers, approximately 85.7% adhere to Chinese traditional religion, as many profess to be both Mahayana Buddhist and Taoist at the same time. Many of the pagodas in China are dedicated to both Buddhist and Taoist deities.

"The term 'Shambhala Buddhism' was introduced by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche in the year 2000 to describe his presentation of the Shambhala teachings, originally conceived by Chögyam Trungpa as secular practices for achieving enlightened society, in concert with the Tibetan Buddhist Kagyu and Nyingma lineages.....Shambhala Buddhism partly derives from the teachings of Shambhala, as originally proclaimed by Chögyam Trungpa......The Shambhala Buddhist sangha expresses this vision largely within Tibetan Buddhist concepts, terms, and practices, continuing its ties to contemporary Kagyu and Nyingma lineage holders, among them the Karmapa (Ogyen Trinley Dorje), Penor Rinpoche (d. March 27, 2009).....After the year 2000, with the merging of the secular teachings of Shambhala and the Buddhist teachings of Vajradhatu into Shambhala Buddhism, completion of Shambhala Vajrayana Seminary (which itself requires taking Buddhist refuge and bodhisattva vows, as well as Buddhist vajrayana samaya vows) became a condition for receiving the highest Shambhala teachings"....

"As John Newman, one of the world's leading Kalachakra scholars, explains:........The Kalacakra, or "Wheel of Time," was the last major product of Indian Vajrayana Buddhism. All late Vajrayana Buddhism is syncretic - it takes elements from non-Buddhist religious traditions and assimilates them to a Buddhist context. However, in the Kalacakra tantra syncretism is unusually obvious and is even self-conscious—the tantra makes little effort to disguise its borrowings from the Śaiva, Vaisnava, and Jaina traditions. The basic structure of the Kalacakra system is itself non-Buddhist: the Kalacakra uses the ancient idea of the homology of the macrocosm and the microcosm as the foundation of its soteriology...."Islam in the Kalachakra Tantra" by John Newman. The Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies. Vol 21:2 pg 313

"In Bhutan, the spiritual life of the Layaps and Lunaps is a fascinating demonstration of what anthropologists call religious synchronism. Buddhism was introduced into Bhutan from Tibet in the 7th century but in these communities it did not simply replace the existing animistic and shamanistic practices. The animism and the Buddhism complement each other. For example, local animistic gods and demons have been made into defenders of Buddhism and there is a happy balance between the two. In Lunana for example, there are sacred forests that belongs to the Due Shing, or demon trees. People entering this forest without the permission of these spirits will be punished. When people fall ill or suffer misfortune it is often believed that they have disturbed or displeased such spirits. The Layaps and Lunaps each have their own adaptation to this convergence of belief systems - in Lunana you must walk around Chortens (shrines) in an anticlockwise direction to please the spirits and in Laya you must move around them clockwise. If the spirit world is ever disturbed then a 'tsip', or astrologer, is consulted to appease the spirits. The astrologer for this reason can be a very influential person in the village extending his influence beyond religion to village politics.".....

"The oldest religions of which we have any knowledge go back about 20-30,000 years. All over Eurasia archaeologists have found figurines of an Earth Mother Goddess ....Religion played a large role in the lives of the people of Sumeria, Ur, Babylon, Egypt, the Hittites, and the Assyrians. These were polytheistic religions with many gods and goddesses manifest in nature, in cities, in irrigation and agriculture, the hunt and war.....They were syncretic religions - that means they freely borrowed from one another and the same pantheon of gods and goddesses, sometimes with new names and stories of their exploits, was shared between the various civilizations.....These religions formed the precursors of religions in Greece, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity.....Zoroastrianism was the religion in Persia. Zoroaster (born in Balkh) lived c.628 B.C.-c.551 B.C. The religion is based on a dualism in the universe between good and evil. It introduced the idea of Hell and damnation for the wicked. It is still practiced today. Most believers live in India....Judaism, Islam and Christianity are also syncretic. They borrowed ideas of souls, heaven and hell, the last judgment, a dying god who is reborn to save believers, and many other beliefs from the earlier religions of Sumer, Ur, Babylon, Persia, Anatolia and Egypt."...


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