Greco-Buddhism

Greco-BuddhistBuddhism in GreeceGandharaconverted to BuddhismGreeceGreeksyncretism between Hellenistic culture and Buddhism
Greco-Buddhism, or Graeco-Buddhism, is the cultural syncretism between Hellenistic culture and Buddhism, which developed between the 4th century BC and the 5th century AD in Bactria and the Indian subcontinent.wikipedia
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Hellenistic period

HellenisticHellenistic eraHellenistic Age
Greco-Buddhism, or Graeco-Buddhism, is the cultural syncretism between Hellenistic culture and Buddhism, which developed between the 4th century BC and the 5th century AD in Bactria and the Indian subcontinent.
The religious sphere expanded to include new gods such as the Greco-Egyptian Serapis, eastern deities such as Attis and Cybele and a syncretism between Hellenistic culture and Buddhism in Bactria and Northwest India.

Alexander the Great

AlexanderAlexander III of MacedonAlexander of Macedon
It was a cultural consequence of a long chain of interactions begun by Greek forays into India from the time of Alexander the Great.
Alexander's legacy includes the cultural diffusion and syncretism which his conquests engendered, such as Greco-Buddhism.

Gandhara

GandhāraGandharanGandahara
Alexander founded several cities in his new territories in the areas of the Amu Darya and Bactria, and Greek settlements further extended to the Khyber Pass, Gandhara (see Taxila), and the Punjab. Numerous works of Greco-Buddhist art display the intermixing of Greek and Buddhist influences in such creation centers as Gandhara.
The region was a major centre for Greco-Buddhism under the Indo-Greeks and Gandharan Buddhism under later dynasties.

Bactria

TokharistanTukharistanBactrians
Greco-Buddhism, or Graeco-Buddhism, is the cultural syncretism between Hellenistic culture and Buddhism, which developed between the 4th century BC and the 5th century AD in Bactria and the Indian subcontinent. Alexander founded several cities in his new territories in the areas of the Amu Darya and Bactria, and Greek settlements further extended to the Khyber Pass, Gandhara (see Taxila), and the Punjab. The decline and overthrow of the Mauryans by the Shunga Empire, and of the revolt of Bactria in the Seleucid Empire led to the formation of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (250–125 BC). The Kushan Empire, one of the five tribes of the Yuezhi, settled in Bactria around 125 BC, displacing the Greco-Bactrians and invading the northern parts of Pakistan and India from around AD 1.
The Indo-Greek king Menander I (known as Milinda in India), recognized as a great conqueror, converted to Buddhism.

Greco-Bactrian Kingdom

Greco-BactrianGreco-BactriansBactria
Following the collapse of the Mauryan Empire, Greco-Buddhism continued to flourish under the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Indo-Greek Kingdoms, and Kushan Empire. The decline and overthrow of the Mauryans by the Shunga Empire, and of the revolt of Bactria in the Seleucid Empire led to the formation of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (250–125 BC).
It was also a period of great cultural syncretism, exemplified by the development of Greco-Buddhism.

Edicts of Ashoka

edictsAshokan edictsedicts of Aśoka
The Mauryan Emperor Ashoka would convert to Buddhism and spread the religious philosophy throughout his domain, as recorded in the Edicts of Ashoka.

Aniconism

aniconicaniconisticforbids pictures
Before this innovation, Buddhist art was "aniconic": the Buddha was only represented through his symbols (an empty throne, the Bodhi Tree, Buddha footprints, the Dharmachakra).
Although there is still some debate, the first anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha himself are often considered a result of the Greco-Buddhist interaction in the first century BC.

Hadda, Afghanistan

HaddaHaḍḍaHaḍḍā
A large quantity of sculptures combining Buddhist and purely Hellenistic styles and iconography were excavated at the modern site of Hadda, Afghanistan.
Haḍḍa is a Greco-Buddhist archeological site located in the ancient region of Gandhara, ten kilometers south of the city of Jalalabad, in the Nangarhar Province of eastern Afghanistan.

Shunga Empire

ShungaShunga dynastyShungas
The decline and overthrow of the Mauryans by the Shunga Empire, and of the revolt of Bactria in the Seleucid Empire led to the formation of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (250–125 BC).

Indo-Greek Kingdom

Indo-GreekIndo-GreeksIndo-Greek Kingdoms
Following the collapse of the Mauryan Empire, Greco-Buddhism continued to flourish under the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Indo-Greek Kingdoms, and Kushan Empire.

Theophilos (king)

TheophilosTheophilusTheophila
Several Indo-Greek kings after Menander, such as Zoilos I, Strato I, Heliokles II, Theophilos, Peukolaos, Menander II and Archebius display on their coins the title "Maharajasa Dharmika" (lit.

Hariti

HārītīKishimojinKishibojin
According to Katsumi Tanabe, professor at Chūō University, Japan, besides Vajrapani, Greek influence also appears in several other gods of the Mahayana pantheon such as the Japanese Fūjin, inspired from the Greek divinity Boreas through the Greco-Buddhist Wardo, or the mother deity Hariti inspired by Tyche.
The iconography of Hārītī shows similarities to the Greek goddess Tyche and may have been transmitted to east Asia through the influence of Greco-Buddhism.

Peukolaos

Several Indo-Greek kings after Menander, such as Zoilos I, Strato I, Heliokles II, Theophilos, Peukolaos, Menander II and Archebius display on their coins the title "Maharajasa Dharmika" (lit. Finally, after the reign of Menander I, several Indo-Greek rulers, such as Amyntas Nikator, Nicias, Peukolaos, Hermaeus, Hippostratos and Menander II, depicted themselves or their Greek deities forming with the right hand a benediction gesture identical to the Buddhist vitarka mudra (thumb and index joined together, with other fingers extended), which in Buddhism signifies the transmission of Buddha's teaching.

Heliokles II

Heliocles II
Several Indo-Greek kings after Menander, such as Zoilos I, Strato I, Heliokles II, Theophilos, Peukolaos, Menander II and Archebius display on their coins the title "Maharajasa Dharmika" (lit.

Yona

YavanaYavanasGreeks
Finally, some of the emissaries of Ashoka, such as the famous Dharmaraksita, are described in Pali sources as leading Greek ("Yona") Buddhist monks active in Buddhist proselytism (the Mahavamsa, XII ), founding the eponymous Dharmaguptaka school of Buddhism.

Yuezhi

Da YuezhiLesser YuezhiGreat Yuezhi
The Kushan Empire, one of the five tribes of the Yuezhi, settled in Bactria around 125 BC, displacing the Greco-Bactrians and invading the northern parts of Pakistan and India from around AD 1.
The Kushanas integrated Buddhism into a pantheon of many deities and became great promoters of Mahayana Buddhism, and their interactions with Greek civilization helped the Gandharan culture and Greco-Buddhism flourish.

Nicias (Indo-Greek king)

NiciasKing Nicias
Finally, after the reign of Menander I, several Indo-Greek rulers, such as Amyntas Nikator, Nicias, Peukolaos, Hermaeus, Hippostratos and Menander II, depicted themselves or their Greek deities forming with the right hand a benediction gesture identical to the Buddhist vitarka mudra (thumb and index joined together, with other fingers extended), which in Buddhism signifies the transmission of Buddha's teaching.

Zoilos I

Zoilus I
Several Indo-Greek kings after Menander, such as Zoilos I, Strato I, Heliokles II, Theophilos, Peukolaos, Menander II and Archebius display on their coins the title "Maharajasa Dharmika" (lit.

Amyntas Nikator

Amyntas
Finally, after the reign of Menander I, several Indo-Greek rulers, such as Amyntas Nikator, Nicias, Peukolaos, Hermaeus, Hippostratos and Menander II, depicted themselves or their Greek deities forming with the right hand a benediction gesture identical to the Buddhist vitarka mudra (thumb and index joined together, with other fingers extended), which in Buddhism signifies the transmission of Buddha's teaching.

Buddhism in Central Asia

BuddhismCentral AsiaBuddhism in Kyrgyzstan
In legend too Bodhidharma, the founder of Chán-Buddhism, which later became Zen, and the legendary originator of the physical training of the Shaolin monks that led to the creation of Shaolin Kung Fu, is described as a Buddhist monk from Central Asia in the first Chinese references to him (Yan Xuan-Zhi in 547).
See Greco-Buddhism and Dayuan (Ta-yuan; ; literarily "Great Ionians").

Greco-Buddhist art

Gandhara artGandharan artGreco-Buddhist
Numerous works of Greco-Buddhist art display the intermixing of Greek and Buddhist influences in such creation centers as Gandhara.
Greco-Buddhist art is the artistic manifestation of Greco-Buddhism, a cultural syncretism between the Classical Greek culture and Buddhism.

Strato I

Strato
Several Indo-Greek kings after Menander, such as Zoilos I, Strato I, Heliokles II, Theophilos, Peukolaos, Menander II and Archebius display on their coins the title "Maharajasa Dharmika" (lit.

Cetiya

caityaCaityasrelic-thrones
The Kanishka casket, dated to the first year of Kanishka's reign in 127, was signed by a Greek artist named Agesilas, who oversaw work at Kanishka's stupas (cetiya), confirming the direct involvement of Greeks with Buddhist realizations at such a late date.
Originally udesaka were secondary to paribhogaka and sārīraka, but with the influence of Greco-Buddhism, statues of the Buddha were produced in great numbers, followed later by paintings and other images.

Vajrapani

VajrapāṇiOchirvaaniShukongoshin
For example, Heracles with a lion-skin, the protector deity of Demetrius I of Bactria, "served as an artistic model for Vajrapani, a protector of the Buddha" (See ).
As Buddhism expanded in Central Asia and fused with Hellenistic influences into Greco-Buddhism, the Greek hero Heracles was adopted to represent Vajrapāni.

Buddha footprint

footprint of the BuddhaBuddha's footprintsBuddha's footprint
Before this innovation, Buddhist art was "aniconic": the Buddha was only represented through his symbols (an empty throne, the Bodhi Tree, Buddha footprints, the Dharmachakra).
These were made during the pre-Greco-Buddhist phase of Buddhist art at Sanchi, Bharhut, and other places in India, along with the Bo-Tree and the Dharmachakra.