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Old May 4th, 2013, 03:36 PM   #1

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Why did the Indo-Greeks adopt Buddhism?


What caused the Indo-Greek kings of the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C.E. to become among the greatest patrons of Buddhism, as well as its first major foreign patrons/converts? In particular, what endeared them to Buddhism more than traditional "Hindu" polytheism and Brahmanism?

I have some ideas but I would like to hear the views of others.
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Old May 5th, 2013, 06:24 AM   #2
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I think perhaps it was because human source were too limited by Brahmanism. If a sudra went into a war for the king, his son would still be a sudra, no hope at all. However, in Buddhism, if one man goes into war, he can expect to have a better life in the next life. That makes a different. And Indo-Greek kings were conquerors to the Indo land, they had much less political burden to make such religious change.
In one word, no matter how Buddhism was influenced, I doubt the kings were true Buddhists.
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Old May 5th, 2013, 06:44 AM   #3

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It was the flavour of the month. Especially after the dramatic exploits of Ashoka, the so called Constantine of Buddhism.
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Old May 5th, 2013, 08:30 AM   #4

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Quote:
Originally Posted by heylouis View Post
If a sudra went into a war for the king, his son would still be a sudra, no hope at all. However, in Buddhism, if one man goes into war, he can expect to have a better life in the next life. .
Please compare Hinduism and Buddhism based on present life or the after life , You are comparing present life in Hinduism with after life of Buddhism. In Hinduism, there is a guarantee that you will not remain in the same caste in the next birth.
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Old May 5th, 2013, 09:44 AM   #5

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Two important reasons were probably to attach himself to the legend of Ashoka while also keeping some of legacy of Alexander. Secondly imposing Greek culture and religion might have led to unstable rule but adopting Buddhism led to more of a fusion where some Buddhist tenets also made sense to Hindus and many Buddhists argued as if Buddhism were a more dedicated path of Hinduism.

I've also read discussions that Greeks beliefs of some Hindu deities were different names for their own Pantheon but I'm not sure if I think that was widespread amongst educated Greeks.

Last edited by Ichon; May 5th, 2013 at 09:47 AM.
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Old May 6th, 2013, 01:27 PM   #6

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Ashoka planted that seed there. Some of the Indo-Greeks took it and ran with it.
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Old May 14th, 2013, 05:35 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by 1991sudarshan View Post
Please compare Hinduism and Buddhism based on present life or the after life , You are comparing present life in Hinduism with after life of Buddhism. In Hinduism, there is a guarantee that you will not remain in the same caste in the next birth.
Sorry, mistake....
I really didn't heard that, "you will not remain in the same caste in the next birth". Is that a concept in modern Hinduism or already exist in Brahmanism? Thanks.
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Old May 14th, 2013, 10:58 AM   #8

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Because Buddhism is the only true religion of this world. Most other religions are influenced by it in one form or another including the Abrahamic religions.

Brahmanism was merely a cult of the Brahmins. It was not a religion per say. You could never convert into a Brahmin - neither in past nor now. You could only take services of a Brahmin.


Menander (Milinda) wrote Milindapana, which is a dialogue between a Greek king and himself. He was a Buddhist monk. He wrote that Vedas have no truth whatsoever. Perhaps that influenced the Greek king?
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Old May 14th, 2013, 03:51 PM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rakshasa View Post
Because Buddhism is the only true religion of this world. Most other religions are influenced by it in one form or another including the Abrahamic religions.

Brahmanism was merely a cult of the Brahmins. It was not a religion per say. You could never convert into a Brahmin - neither in past nor now. You could only take services of a Brahmin.


Menander (Milinda) wrote Milindapana, which is a dialogue between a Greek king and himself. He was a Buddhist monk. He wrote that Vedas have no truth whatsoever. Perhaps that influenced the Greek king?
False. You could convert into being a Brahmin, provided you came from a priestly class that had pantheon of Gods beleif system. This is exactly how the zoroastrian priesthood have been given brahmin status in the ancient times and the 'Maga brahmin' are supposed to be zoroastrian priests who adopted hindu practices.

As for Buddhism being the only true religion of the world...you are speaking like a religious nut right now, which has very little substance to contribute towards why did the Indo-Greeks pick Buddhism over the more prevalent faiths of that region, namely Zoroastrianism & Vedic brahmanism.

Menander did not write the Milindapanha and Milindapanha is not a discourse between a Greek king and himself. Milindapanha is a discourse between a buddhist monk and menander/milinda himself. The text, had you read it, would make it amply obvious that the author himself is not milinda and referes to milinda in second person.
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Old May 14th, 2013, 09:47 PM   #10

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What about that theory, being promoted by some, about Ashoka having actually been the same one man as Diodottus, a king of Greco-Bactria? Based on one of Ashoka's titles, Deva Dutta (which meant Divine Envoy, if I'm not mistaken). They were strikingly contemporary too.

If we're to take that story about Chandra Gupta Maurya having been gifted a daughter of Seleucus - after beating the man and wresting territory in NW India back fom him - at face value, then there would have been an outside chance that Ashoka was in fact a mixed Greco-Indian product of that union, and therefore a young half-brother of Bindusara, rather than a son of him, as mainstream Indian history gives us.

Last edited by Dreamhunter; May 14th, 2013 at 10:10 PM.
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