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Friday, 27 May 2016

Buddhist Influence on Ka'ba

There are many theories regarding the original cultural background of Muhammad . Recently, I read this  post . Though, I don't support his ideas on Indian History, he makes some good posts in his website. But my aim in this post, is not to focus on Muhammad but on the Ka'ba , the holiest place in Islam. Now, coming to the point , I was reading the book Buddhism in Iran: An Anthropological Approach to Traces and Influences by Mostafa Vaziri. I have to say, that the book is a gem , it unearths many of the Buddhist traits hidden in the cultural sphere of Iran and neighboring nations!. But much to my surprise, in Chapter 6 of the book ,titled  Nawbaha¯r and Stu¯pa-
Like Islamic Shrines from p.94 to p.95, we read :

Various accounts also claim that the paintings on the walls of the Ka‘ba portraying the prophets included Abraham with the portrait of his son, Ismā‘il, facing him on a horse, as well as the portrait of Jesus with his mother Mary; apparently they were well preserved until the Ka‘ba was destroyed in a civil war. 27 Other celestial (or holy) characters were said to have been depicted in the Ka‘ba’s artwork. 28 It seems far-fetched that the pre-Islamic paintings of the Ka‘ba, a shrine whose patrons before the Prophet of Islam were neither Christian nor Jewish, would have contained paintings of biblical characters. The nature of these paintings may have been the remainder of pre-Islamic Hindu-Buddhist art work, if any. The task of giving Islamic identities to these un-tagged or “unknown” paintings and portraits in the Ka‘ba was presumably the work of the Muslim authors. It can be only speculated that the paintings were still preserved after the Ka‘ba was Islamized because the pictorial prohibition in Islam seemed to be imposed based on hadīth transmission only much later.
Further indication to the potential presence of the Buddhists in Arabia is that the thirteenth-century Rashīd al-Dīn Faḍlallāh, in his Jāmi’ al-Tawārīkh, asserts that in pre-Islamic times, the inhabitants of Mecca and Medina and certain Arabs and Persians were adherents of the Buddha Shakyamunī and that statues of the Buddha were kept in the Ka‘ba. 29 This assertion by Rashīd al-Dīn may possibly corroborate with a miniature of the thirteenth century showing the Prophet at Ka‘ba destroying two statues seemingly to be the seated Buddha in a meditational position and one statue of Hanuman (a Hindu deity with the head of a monkey). 30 Other characteristics of the pre-Islamic Arabs that Shahrastānī describes may further corroborate with the Indian beliefs. It is said that before the advent of Islam, the Arabs believed in reincarnation and had rejected the concepts of revelation and prophecy, 31 all of which also correspond with the Buddhist belief.
Moreover, Mas‘udī in his discussion of the Buddha (Budāsef) refers to the Buddha’s followers as communities of idol worshippers whose temples included the Ka‘ba ( bayt al-harām ). 32 He also describes the Quraysh tribe of Mecca as having two gold-plated deer statues, one to be placed at the entrance of the Ka‘ba andthe other to be kept inside. 33 During the flood in Mecca that destroyed the Ka‘ba, one of these golden deer went missing, and the Quraysh tribe therefore decided to remove the other deer. 34 The deer, as discussed in the previous chapter, is a typically Buddhist symbol. In a significant parallel, the statues of two golden deer on either side of the iconic Wheel of Dharma are placed at the entrance gates of Buddhist vihāras to this day.

How could Buddhism have reached Mecca? The sea journeys of Indians to
Yemen, Arabia, and Egypt are somewhat documented. In pre-Islamic times, Mecca was a tolerant polytheistic society as well as a trade center, lying near the Red Sea via the Spice Route and attracting traders and missionaries of different backgrounds via land and sea. The Meccan sanctuary was not only a place for an annual pilgrimage in pre-Islamic times, where no bloodshed was permitted, but was also a place wheremerchants from different lands, including India, would hold a common market fairfor the pilgrims. 35 According to another Islamic tradition, the Brahmans of India traveled to Mecca for worship and paying homage to the idols in pre-Islamic times. 36
Nāsir Khosrau of the eleventh century refers to seeing Indians of Yemen with their particular type of hair dress, beard, and cloth ( lungī ) wrapped around their waist come to Mecca. 37 We can only presume that these Indians who continued coming to Mecca for trade, interestingly, without prohibition may have been a mixture of Hindus and Buddhists, but in medieval times both communities were casually known as Hindus (referring to Indians). Other historical references do point to the link between India and Arabia. The Indian settlements in Arabia, Yemen, Babylonia, and Egypt during the peak of commercial trade are recognized in historical writings. 38 Indians are even believed to have settled in Mecca and Medina, explaining the presence of several Sanskrit words and names of Indian spices in the
Arabic language (e.g., ‘ambar ,mushk ,zenjabil, and kāfur ).39

Given these indications and assertions by certain chroniclers, we can only guess that the Ka‘ba may have possibly been another Buddhist vihāra before Islam. Consider the acts required of Muslim pilgrims on hajj even today that include, in contrast to the Buddhist, anticlockwise circumambulation ( tawāf ) of the Ka‘ba and prostration. In addition, hajj pilgrims are required to shave their head and wear monastic robes (sleeveless and unsewn clothes) and must forbear wearing closed-toe shoes, cutting branches of trees, killing prey, and having sexual intercourse. These injunctions strongly match the rituals of the Buddhist monastic tradition. 40 Yet in the Muslim tradition, these norms are described as temporary states of purity that are performed in the Ka‘ba by the pilgrims and are considered as a substitute for the purity of the Garden of Eden, and circumambulating is explained as being associated with Adam’s sin. 41 Despite these explanations on behalf of Islamic tradition, their similarity to Buddhist rituals is rather remarkable.However,it seems no historical memory remains of Buddhist connections with relation to Mecca.

I believe this was right under our nose . The Idea that Ka'ba is a Shiva Temple, is of course lunatic, propagated by Hindu Nationalist buffoons .But it seems, that there is,an indirect relation with Indic and Buddhist influences.We perhaps can also put the presence of Z-93 in Arabia into this context!.

Also Buddhist presence on the south coast of Arabia (Yemen, Socotra island), is not excluded, a friend of mine , met once a French archaeologist there, who told of ''ruins apparently of a Buddhist vihara with stupas in Yemen''. Also recently, there were Indian temples in Aden , also see here .We do know that, even  from the times of SSVC , there were robust trade relations with those parts of the world.

1 comment:

dan said...

is posible also that there is a conection between zalmoxian religion and islam-christianity?