Mother Nature is a conscious, sentient Being. She is our Cosmic Mother. She has many names. Some call her Green Tara. Our modern civilizations lost respect for the Mother Creator. Our disconnect from Divine Mother was our true fall from grace. Now, in order to heal our own lives, we need to reconnect with Mother Nature.
Earth Healers and Guardians are stepping up to their most important mission to restore the sacred relationship with the Earth.
The time has come for the Mother’s ascension. Her electromagnetic frequency is rising. And with that, we are also ascending. It is time to align with the Mother again. The more we attune our lives with her energy, the more blissful the process will be. This is the most radical transformation of human existence. It is time to love Goddess Life again. She is our true savior.
Tara, whose name means “star” or “she who ferries across,” is a Bodhisattva of compassion. In Tibetan, Tara is known as “Dölma” (Sgrol-ma), or “She Who Saves.” In particular she represents compassion in action, since she’s in the process of stepping from her lotus throne in order to help sentient beings.
This mantra (or at least most of it) has a literal meaning. Here are the meanings of the various parts of it:
The syllable Om has no conceptual meaning, and is a sound representing the potential for awakening that resides in all living beings. (You can read more about Om on the page discussing the Om shanti shanti shanti mantra.)
“Tare” is the vocative form of Tara, so it means “O Tara!” (The vocative form of a noun is where the person or thing is being addressed or called upon.)
“Tu” is an exclamation that can mean “Pray! I beg! I entreat!” and so “tuttare” means something like “I pray to you, O Tara,” “I entreat you, O Tara,” or “I beg you, O Tara.”
“Tura” is an adjective meaning “quick, willing, prompt.” As a noun, “tura would mean “swift one.” “Ture” would be the vocative form of the noun, and so “ture” would mean something like “O swift one!” Svāhā means: “Hail!”, “Hail to!” or “May a blessing rest on!”
So the Green Tara mantra could be translated as “OM! O Tara! I entreat you, O Tara! O swift one! Hail!”
A dakini is a manifestation of liberating energy in female form. Sometimes they are beautiful, and sometimes they are wrathful and hideous and decorated with skulls. Because they represent liberation they often are depicted naked and dancing. The Tibetan word for dakini is khandroma, which means “sky goer.”
In Buddhist tantra, iconic dakinis help arouse blissful energy in a practitioner, transforming defiled mental states, or klesas, into enlightened awareness. In Vajrayana iconography prajna, wisdom is often depicted as the female principle to be joined with upaya, or skillful means, the masculine principle. Thus the liberation of the female dakini is the boundlessness of sunyata, emptiness, which is the perfection of wisdom.
Origin of Dakinis Veneration of dakinis appears to have first emerged in India sometime between the 10th and 12th centuries. The original dakinis may have been the female consorts shown in yab-yum images. About the same time, dakinis also appeared in Hindu art and stories, originally as evil and malevolent spirits. But it was within Buddhist tantra that dakinis developed into richly complex archetypes of liberating power.
The dakini tradition was transmitted from India to Tibet, and today dakinis are most closely associated with Tibetan Buddhism. Dakinis also are found in Japanese Shingon Buddhism, where they came to be associated with foxes. In Japanese folklore, foxes have many magical properties and can take the form of human women.
Classification of Dakinis Dakinis may be enlightened or unenlightened. An unenlightened dakini is sometimes called a “worldly” dakini. A worldly dakini is still caught in the cycle of samsara and may manifest as a kind of trickster. But most of the time when we’re talking about dakinis, we’re talking about enlightened ones, also called “wisdom” dakinis.
Dakinis play many different roles in Vajrayana and can be identified in many ways, but often they are sorted into four major classes. These four are secret, inner, outer, and outer-outer.
On the secret level, the dakini is a manifestation of the most subtle state of mind experienced intimately in highest tantra yoga. At the inner level, she is a meditation deity or yidam, an expression of the most basic nature of the practitioner. The outer dakini manifests as a physical body, which may be the physical body of the practitioner who has realized himself as her, as self-other dualities melt away. And the outer dakini is a dakini in human form, possibly a teacher or yogini.
Dakinis also are classified according to the five Buddha families, illustrated by the Five Dhyani Buddhas. And they are sometimes associated with the three aspects of the Trikaya.
However, sorting iconic dakinis into rigid classifications is to miss them. More than anything else dakinis represent dynamism and energy. They are the power that brings about transformation. They can manifest in many forms, including as yourself. They are fierce, and often frightening, and don’t conform to expectations.
Wrathfulness In Western art, traditionally benevolent beings are depicted as beautiful and malevolent ones are ugly, but the art of Asia doesn’t always follow that pattern. The many wrathful characters depicted in Buddhist art, including wrathful deities, often are protectors and teachers. Their appearance is a manifestation of power and even ferocity, but not malevolence.
The symbolism associated with wrathful beings may also confuse the uninitiated viewer. For example, when a dakini is shown dancing on a corpse, the corpse does not represent death but rather an ignorance and the ego.
Many iconic figures can appear in both peaceful and wrathful aspects. For example, the usually beautiful Tara, an archetype of compassion, sometimes manifests as Black Tara, who can resemble the black, dancing dakini in the image above. Black Tara functions to ward off evil, not cause it.
In their wrathful appearance dakinis are akin to Dharmapalas, who in Tibetan mythology often were former demons who converted to Buddhism and became dharma protectors. The Dharmapala Mahakala is the wrathful form of Avalokiteshvara, Bodhisattva of Compassion. The one principal Dharmapala who is female, Palden Lhamo, is often also called a dakini.
Other Prominent Dakinis The dakini Vajrayogini, who can manifest as several other beings, is one of the earliest dakinis and is considered to be the supreme deity of all tantric gods and goddesses. Narodakini is a particularly fierce dakini of early Vajrayana. Simhamukha is a lion-headed dakini and female manifestation of Padmasambhava.
We are already aware… based on recent scientific studies of DNA, that modern humanity originated in Africa, that African people are the world’s aboriginal people and that all modern humans can ultimately trace their ancestral roots back to Africa. If not for the primordial migrations of early African people, humanity would have remained physically Africoid, and the rest of the world outside of the African continent absent of human life. This is our starting point.
Since the first modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) were of African birth, the African presence globally can be demonstrated through the history of the Black populations that have inhabited the world within the span of recent humanity. Not only are African people the aboriginal people of the planet, however, there is abundant evidence to show that Black people created and sustained many of the world’s earliest and most enduring civilizations. Such was the case in India.
The questions we pose here are simply these: Who are the African people of India? What is their significance in the annals of history? Precisely what have they done and what are they doing now? These are extremely serious questions that warrant serious and fundamental answers.
ANCIENT AFRICA AND EARLY INDIA
Exceptionally valuable writings reflecting close relationships between Africa and early India have existed for more than two thousand years. In the first century B.C.E., for example, the famous Greek historian Diodorus Siculus penned that,
“From Ethiopia he (Osiris) passed through Arabia, bordering upon the Red Sea as far as India…. He built many cities in India, one of which he called Nysa, willing to have remembrance of that (Nysa) in Egypt, where he was brought up.”
INDIA’S EARLIEST CIVILIZATION
In Greater India, more than a thousand years before the foundations of Greece and Rome, proud and industrious Black men and women known as Dravidians erected a powerful civilization. We are referring here to the Indus Valley civilization- -India’s earliest high-culture, with major cities spread out along the course of the Indus River. The Indus Valley civilization was at its height from about 2200 B.C.E. to 1700 B.C.E. This phase of its history is called the Harappan, the name being derived from Harappa, one of the earliest known Indus Valley cities.
In 1922, about 350 miles northeast of Harappa, another large Indus city, Mohenjo-daro (the Mound of the Dead) was identified. Mohenjo-daro and Harappa were apparently the chief administrative centers of the Indus Valley complex, and since their identification, several additional cities, including Chanhu-daro, Kalibangan, Quetta and Lothal have been excavated.
The Indus cities possessed multiple level houses enhanced by sophisticated wells, drainage systems and bathrooms with flushing toilets. A recognized scholar on the Indus Valley civilization, Dr. Walter Fairservis, states that the “Harappans cultivated cotton and perhaps rice, domesticated the chicken and may have invented the game of chess and one of the two great early sources of nonmuscle power: the windmill.”
The decline and fall of the Indus Valley civilization has been linked to several factors, the most important of which were the increasingly frequent incursions of the White people known in history as Aryans–violent Indo-European tribes initially from central Eurasia and later Iran. Indeed, the name Iran means the “land of the Aryan.”
APARTHEID IN INDIA
The White tribes that invaded India and disrupted Black civilization there are known as Aryans. The Aryans were not necessarily superior warriors to the Blacks but they were aggressive, developed sophisticated military technologies and glorified military virtues. After hundreds of years of intense martial conflict the Aryans succeeded in subjugating most of northern India. Throughout the vanquished territories a rigid, caste-segmented social order was established with the masses of conquered Blacks (called Shudras) essentially reduced to slaves to the Whites and imposed upon for service in any capacity required by their White conquerors. This vicious new world order was cold-bloodily racist, with the Whites on top, the mixed races in the middle, and the overwhelming majority of Black people on the very bottom. In fact, the Aryan term varna, denoting one’s societal status and used interchangeably with caste, literally means color or complexion and reflects a prevalent racial hierarchy. Truly, India is still a racist country. White supremacist David Duke claimed “that his 1970′s visit to India was a turning point in his views on the superiority of the White race.”
Caste law in India, based originally on race, regulated all aspects of life, including marriage, diet, education, place of residence and occupation. This is not to deny that there were certain elements of the Black aristocracy that managed to gain prominence in the dominant White social structure. The masses of conquered Black people, however, were regarded by the Whites as Untruth itself. The Whites claimed to have emerged from the mouth of God; the Blacks, on the other hand, were said to have emerged from the feet of God. This was the ugly reality for the Black masses in conquered India. It was written that:
“A Sudra [Black] who intentionally reviles twice-born men [Whites] by criminal abuse, or criminally assaults them with blows, shall be deprived of the limb with which he offends. If he has criminal intercourse with an Aryan woman, his organ shall be cut off, and all his property confiscated. If the woman has a protector, the Sudra shall be executed. If he listens intentionally to a recitation of the Veda [a traditional Hindu religious text], his tongue shall be cut out. If he commits them to memory his body shall be split in half.”
Servitude to Whites became the basis of the lives of the Black people of India for generation after generation after generation. With the passage of time, this brutally harsh, color-oriented, racially-based caste system became the foundation of the religion that is now practiced throughout all India. This is the religion known as Hinduism.
THE BUDDHA AND BUDDHISM IN INDIA
Buddhism appeared in India during the sixth century B.C.E. and came in the form of a protest against Hinduism. Buddhism opposed the arrogance of caste, and preached tolerance. It should not be surprising, then, that it developed a large and rapid following in the regions of India where the Blacks had survived in substantial numbers. On the emergence of Buddhism in India, Diop has suggested that:
“It would seem that Buddha was an Egyptian priest, chased from Memphis by the persecution of Cambyses. This tradition would justify the portrayal of Buddha with woolly hair. Historical documents do not invalidate this tradition…There is general agreement today on placing in the sixth century not only Buddha but the whole religious and philosophical movement in Asia with Confucius in China, Zoroaster in Iran. This would confirm the hypothesis of a dispersion of Egyptian priests at that time spreading their doctrine in Asia.”
Dr. Vulindlela Wobogo, another African-centric scholar, has observed that:
“Manifestations of the Buddha in Asia are Black with woolly hair. They all appear to be Egypto-Nubian priests who fled Egypt…The priests carried their spiritual knowledge but lost much of the scientific knowledge for obvious reasons. The well-known aspects of Buddhism and its companion, yoga, are all simply Egypto-Nubian priesthood practices, meditation, and…the belief that one could attain a god-like state if the soul was liberated from the body through knowledge and denial.”
In a monumental two volume work entitled A Book of the Beginnings, originally published in 1881, Gerald Massey recorded that:
“It is not necessary to show that the first colonisers of India were Black, but it is certain that the Black Buddha of India was imaged in the Africoid type. In the Black [African] god, whether called Buddha or Sut-Nahsi, we have a datum. they carry in their color the proof of their origin. The people who first fashioned and worshipped the divine image in the Africoid mold of humanity must, according to all knowledge of human nature, have been Africans themselves. For the Blackness is not merely mystical, the features and the hair of Buddha belong to the Black race.”
In the first volume of his massive text Anacalypsis, Godfrey Higgins wrote that:
“The religion of Buddha, of India, is well known to have been very ancient. In the most ancient temples scattered through Asia, where his worship is yet continued, he is found black as jet, with the flat face, thick lips and curly hair of the African.”
DALIT: THE BLACK UNTOUCHABLES OF INDIA
Possibly the most substantial percentage of Asia’s Blacks can be identified among India’s 160 million “Untouchables” or “Dalits.” Frequently they are called “Outcasts.” Indian nationalist leader and devout Hindu Mohandas K. Gandhi called them “Harijans,” meaning “children of god.” The official name given them in India’s constitution (1951) is “Scheduled Castes.” “Dalit,” meaning “crushed and broken,” is a name that has come into prominence only within the last four decades. “Dalit” reflects a radically different response to oppression.
The Dalit are demonstrating a rapidly expanding awareness of their African ancestry and their relationship to the struggle of Black people throughout the world. They seem particularly enamored of African-Americans. African-Americans, in general, seem almost idolized by the Dalit, and the Black Panther Party, in particular, is virtually revered. In April 1972, for example, the Dalit Panther Party was formed in Bombay, India. This organization takes its pride and inspiration directly from the Black Panther Party of the United States. This is a highly important development due to the fact that the Untouchables have historically been so systematically terrorized that many of them, even today, live in a perpetual state of extreme fear of their upper caste oppressors. This is especially evident in the villages. The formation of the Dalit Panthers and the corresponding philosophy that accompanies it signals a fundamental change in the annals of resistance, and Dalit Panther organizations have subsequently spread to other parts of India. In August 1972, the Dalit Panthers announced that the 25th anniversary of Indian independence would be celebrated as a day of mourning. In 1981, in Bangalore, India Dravidian journalist V.T. Rajshekar published the first issue of Dalit Voice–the major English journal of the Black Untouchables. In a 1987 publication entitled the African Presence in Early Asia, Rajshekar stated that:
“The African-Americans also must know that their liberation struggle cannot be complete as long as their own blood-brothers and sisters living in far off Asia are suffering. It is true that African-Americans are also suffering, but our people here today are where African-Americans were two hundred years ago.
African-American leaders can give our struggle tremendous support by bringing forth knowledge of the existence of such a huge chunk of Asian Blacks to the notice of both the American Black masses and the Black masses who dwell within the African continent itself.”
HABSHIS AND SIDDIS: AFRICAN DYNASTIES IN INDIA
India also received its share of African bondsmen, of whom the most famous was the celebrated Malik Ambar (1550-1626). Ambar, like a number of Africans in medieval India, elevated himself to a position of great authority. Malik Ambar, whose original name was Shambu, was born around 1550 in Harar, Ethiopia. After his arrival in India Ambar was able to raise a formidable army and achieve great power in the west Indian realm of Ahmadnagar. Ambar was a brilliant diplomat and administrator. He encouraged manufactures and built canals and mosques. He gave pensions to poets and scholars, established a postal service, and ultimately became one of the most famous men in India.
In a collective form, however, and in respect to long term influence, the African sailors known as Siddis stand out. Certainly, Siddi kingdoms were established in western India in Janjira and Jaffrabad as early as 1100 AD. After their conversion to Islam, the African freedmen of India, originally called Habshi from the Arabic, called themselves Sayyad (descendants of Muhammad) and were consequently called Siddis. Indeed, the island Janjira was formerly called Habshan, meaning Habshan’s or African’s land. Siddi signifies lord or prince. It is further said that Siddi is an expression of respectful address commonly used in North Africa, like Sahib in India. Specifically, it is said to be an honorific title given to the descendants of African natives in the west of India, some of whom were distinguished military officers and administrators of the Muslim princes of the Deccan.
In the second decade of the sixteenth century a European traveler named Armando Cortesao noted that:
“The people who govern the kingdom [Bengal] are Abyssinians [Ethiopians]. These men are looked upon as knights; they are greatly esteemed; they wait on the kings in their apartments. The chief among them are eunuchs and these come to be kings and great lords in the kingdom. Those who are not eunuchs are the fighting men. After the king, it is to this people that the kingdom is obedient from fear.”
The Siddis were a tightly knit group, highly aggressive, and even ferocious in battle. They were employed largely as security forces for Muslim fleets in the Indian Ocean, a position they maintained for centuries. The Siddi commanders were titled Admirals of the Mughal Empire, and received an annual salary of 300,000 rupees. According to Ibn Battuta (1304-1377), the noted Muslim writer who journeyed through both Africa and Asia, the Siddis “are the guarantors of safety on the Indian Ocean; let there be but one of them on a ship and it will be avoided by the Indian pirates and idolaters.”
A look at the traditions of Mahayana, Pure Land, Tibetan, Theravada and Zen Buddhism in comparison with the Vaishnava traditions of Hindusim and the culture of Krishna and the Bhagavad-gita which points to an ancient connection and irrefutable evidence of pervading theistic practices and traditions within all forms of Buddhism.
Buddhism and Hinduism: The Ancient Connection
By Sakshi Zion (12/10/13)
Thesis: While most people in the West think of Buddhism as an atheistic religion. I intend to show that the traditions of theistic Buddhism as well as non-theistic Buddhism may have closer connections to Hinduism and Buddha’s original teachings than one may recognize at first glance.
I. Intro: is Buddhism really atheistic?
III. Connections to Hinduism
V. Mahayana and Pure Land Buddhism
VI. Theravada and Zen Buddhism
VII. Vaishnavism and Shivaism (Hindusim)
VIII. Tibetan and Nepalese Buddhism
IX. Buddha’s 8-Fold Path & Krishna’s Bhagavad-gita
X. Historic Mathura and Gandara (Vaishnava-Buddhist Cultural Centers)
It is common to think of Buddhism as an atheistic religion. Atheism is the absence of belief in gods, so it is true that many Buddhists are, indeed, atheists. But when comparing the various traditions of Buddhism and its path towards enlightenment with the yogic paths in the Bhagavad Gita, we see something very interesting.
The Buddha of history taught that believing in gods was not necessary for those seeking to realize enlightenment. So, for this reason, Buddhism can be more accurately called non-theistic rather than atheistic. But Buddhism did originate in Hinduism in the land of India, so there were Hindu groups which did associate Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu and some traditions such as Mahayana and Pure Land Buddhism which later developed in Japan and China that continued this theistic belief in God, and yet most people in the West think of Buddhism as an atheistic religion. I intend to show that the traditions of theistic Buddhism as well as non-theistic Buddhism may have closer connections to Hinduism and Buddha’s original teachings than one may recognize at first glance.
The Buddha said that he was not a god, but has “awakened.” Yet throughout Asia it is common to find people praying to the Buddha or to the many mythical figures that populate Buddhist iconography. Pilgrims flock to Stupas that are said to hold relics of the Buddha. Some schools of Buddhism are strongly devotional. Even in the non-devotional schools, such as Theravada or Zen, there are rituals which include bowing, offering food, flowers and incense to a Buddha figure on an altar. There are a lot of obvious similar signs such as this, yet also some deeper historical and theological evidences which can also support this claim.
The Bhagavad Gita is considered the holiest book of Hindusim in most circles and is believed to be uttered by the incarnation of God Himself, Sri Krishna. Krishna illuminates his friend Arjuna with the Supreme Knowledge of Yoga. Many of these philosophical ideas that Krishna shares within become very important in Hindu thought, tradition and rituals, and in turn many of the same concepts and traditions are found to exist within Buddhism too. All of the most essential principles of Bhagavad Gita can be found in some form with the various traditions of Buddhism that later developed. One will see that the idea of enlightenment is very similar to most Buddhist schools of thought, if not the exact same.
Mahayana Buddhism teaches the existence of infinite Buddhas, or incarnations of Lokesvara or the Adi Buddha, who preach the Dharma according to time and circumstance. The Buddha of Theravadin Buddhism is not the same as the Buddha of Mahayana Buddhism. The Buddha of the Theravadin Buddhists has been considered by them to be an ‘awakened’ man, the only Buddha, unique in world history to his time. This Buddha of the Theravadins definitely taught not only atheism, but voidism. However, the Buddha of the Mahayana Buddhists was originally considered to be the latest of infinite incarnations of Lokesvara Buddha, who can be compared to and often worshipped as the same Vishnu of Hindusim. Not only did He teach a transcendental theism, but He was considered to be an incarnation of the ADI BUDDHA Himself, meaning the original Buddha. These Buddhists (Sakyamuni worshipers) were indistinguishable from Hindu sects such as Vaishnavism and Shivaism throughout India, and only became perceived as belonging to a separate religion (Buddhism) as their traditions spread outside of India.
Buddhism is a ultimately a path of “waking up,” or being enlightened, to a reality that is not consciously perceived by most people. In many schools of Buddhism it is understood that Nirvana or enlightenment cannot be conceptualized or explained with words. It must be experienced to be understood. Simply “believing in” enlightenment and nirvana is pointless. For this reason, the Buddha taught his disciples to cultivate devotional and reverential habits of the mind. Thus, devotion is an expression of the virtuous and compassionate principles within Buddhism. Of course, devotion requires an object. In the Bhagavad-Gita Krishna refers to himself as the object of worship and the original Godhead.
“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.”(Bhagavad-Gita 10.8) (Prabhupada, 1984)
Within Mahayana and Pure Land Buddhist tradition there is the theological belief in Buddha as a Deity who gives grace or mercy to his devotees. According to Mahayana Tradition, when the Lord descended as Sakyamuni Buddha, he preached to the humble faithful and to the proud atheists both. They believe in the Adi-Buddha or original Buddha and the ultimate goal of enlightenment is to attain the Pure Land where one can be Buddha-like and live, laugh, dance, eat, play and enjoy with Adi-Buddha, the Godhead Himself.
We know that Buddhism went to Asia and South East Asia to places like China, Japan, Vietnam, Bali, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Tibet. Although Buddhism is considered to have arrived rather late in Tibet, it certainly existed at an early time in Nepal. Tibetan Buddhism is practically identical to Nepalese Buddhism. The Tibetan Buddhists fleeing the Chinese helped easily integrate them into the Mahayana worship communities of Nepal. Despite the ‘mother tongue’ language differences, the Tibetan and Nepalese priests shared the same doctrines, icons, symbols, rites, and Sanskrit as an ancient liturgical language. In fact, Tibetan and Nepalese Buddhism are so similar to, and compatible with Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Shaktism in Nepal, that one can frequently see the same devotees worshiping at Vishnu, Shiva, Devi and Buddhist temples and/or shrines, sometimes all in the same day. Many devotees also clearly grasped that these were versions of the same tradition. If one was to go to a vender or business owner in Nepal looking for specific statues of Vishnu, they would likely hand you the corresponding statue of the Buddhist Lokesvara and explain that ‘everyone knows there is no difference…we only make one form of these murtis, and they are used by both the Buddhists and the Hindus. We do not have separate forms of Vishnu to sell to you’. This is very common in Nepal. Clearly one can see how in the places so close to India, where Buddhism was born, the similarities and long-standing traditions of Hinduism pervades most all of Buddhist practices, beliefs and rituals.
For those Theravada and Zen Buddhists who believe Buddha was not a god, why then do they still bow to Buddha-figures? From the influence of tradition and cultural customs one might bow just to show gratitude for the Buddha’s life and practice. But the Buddha figure also represents enlightenment itself and so it can mean many things for different Buddhists. In spite of Sri Lanka’s status as a kind of capital of Theravada Buddhism, there is astounding ancient evidence there of Mahayana Buddhism. For instance, on Wesak, the holy day of Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and ‘nirvana’, in the public places and temples all the pilgrims chant Mahayana Buddhist births stories, as well as his enlightenment and death stories. And many of the rituals and practices are filled with Mahayana songs and traditions. You can hardly find a single ‘Theravadin’ temple where the lay Buddhists are not worshiping Buddha according to Mahayana traditions. The point being, that so many of the customs and traditions are remnants or related to the essential truths and teachings of Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita.
The many mystical creatures and beings of the Mahayana Buddhism art and literature are often called “gods” or “deities.” But, again, just believing in them is not the point. In the Zen monastery the monks liked to point to the Buddha on the altar and say, “That’s you up there. When you bow, you are bowing to yourself.” The iconographic devas and bodhisattvas are also seen as archetypes of the individual and a Buddhist might evoke the Bodhisattva of Compassion in order to become more compassionate. This idea of compassion and this sense of duty to be so is an aspect of what Krishna calls Dharma. Essentially, we all have our special mission in life and we’re not all the same, so Dharma is different for everyone, but the practice of compassion is one we all share, and of universal importance. This concept certainly derives from the principles laid out by Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita.
Krishna says in BG 12:13: That devotee of mine who is non-envious possessing benevolence towards all living entities, compassionate with no sense of proprietorship. (Prabhupada, 1984)
The original Sanskrit word for compassion in this verse is Karunah, which means to be sympathetic towards the sufferings of others, friend and foe alike. You find this principle very strongly in all Buddhist schools of thought, the practice of compassion and good will towards all living entities.
The Buddha has given the 8-fold path, which are the main principles of the Buddhist life and virtues. When one compares the principles of righteousness in the Bhagavad-Gita and the 8-fold path you will see the same essential principles of devotional life. Devotion to the Adi-Buddha/Sri Krishna or devotion to the path of compassion and ultimate enlightenment, it is still Yoga, and it is still a devotion towards the highest aspirations of the living being. The 8-fold path:
Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration
Bhakti Ananda Goswamis is a scholar, sanyasi and practitioner of both Krishna-Vasishnavism and Pure Land Buddhism. In his research he points out that during the 3rd Century BCE during the time of the great Buddhist King of India, Ashoka, that the area of Krishna’s birth Mathura and nearby Gandhara were centers of contemporary Vaishnava and Mahayana Buddhist universities and traditions living and worshipping together.
“In fact, in both of the university-like intellectual ‘Buddhist’ centers of Mathura and Gandhara, the Vaishnavas and Buddhists were completely compatible as members of various lineages or orders of the same religion. This fact cannot be contested. No honest scholar can deny that Gandhara and Mathura, the two greatest early Mahayana centers of Buddhist intellectual and artistic activity and diffusion, were also Vaishnava centers of the same. This was not a sequential phenomenon either. The Vaishnava and Buddhist presence in these centers of Bhakti Yoga was contemporaneous. In fact, there was a Western Bhakti Asyla Temple Federation representation in the visitors and residents of these two great Vaishnava and Buddhist ‘university’ centers of Gandhara and Mathura too. Greeks, Romans and other western Eli-Yahu / Heli-os / Heri-Asu worshipers visited and lived in these two centers.” (Sherman, 2001)
While many scholars claim that Ashoka patronized the atheistic Theravada Buddhism during his reign, Bhakti Ananda Goswami contests that considering the evidence, it is highly more likely that he patronized Mahayana Buddhism instead.
“When it is known that Mathura was the North Indian regional center of Krishna Bhakti, how is it possible that the very antithesis of Krishna-Vaishnavism and closely related Pure Land Buddhist Bhakti, namely atheistic Theravada Buddhism, could have been the Buddhism that Ashoka patronized there? When it is clear from evidence all over the region (and beyond) that Ashoka equally protected and supported Vaishnavism and Mahayana (Pure Land) Buddhism and that at the time these two great Bhakti traditions were considered part of the same religion, how is it conceivable that the ‘Buddhism’ that he patronized in Sri Lanka was Theravada, the historical and doctrinal antithesis of both Vaishnavism and Pure Land Buddhism?” (Sherman, 2001)
The evidence suggests that the traditions of Buddhism and the 8-fold path are directly related to the principles and teaching of Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita. Hinduism and Buddhism are very much connected as they always have been, and even if the individual Buddhist does not recognize Buddha as the Godhead, the evidence suggests that the Mahayana traditions which are intimately related to the Vaishnava and theistic traditions of Hindusim pervade practically all of Buddhist life and ritual. The virtues of compassion and devotion towards the path of enlightenment and the Supreme Being within the individual are most prominent in all the traditions and the goal is the same: Nirvana, Bliss, Oneness, Pure Consciousness, the Pure Land, Buddha-hood and Devotion to Adi-Buddha /Sri Krishna or other such sacred form and names of the Godhead.
Prabhupada, A.C.B.S. (1984). Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Australia: McPherson’s Group.
My friend Justin Kirkwood from Bloomington, Indiana went to India for a fun little adventure, which turned into years and being initiated as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He lived and studied Tibetan and Buddhism with great Lamas in holy places of the Buddha and his followers. After being immersed in the culture and traditions for years, he is forced to return to America because of an emergency medical condition. His story of recovery and support of unexpected friends and family will inspire and amaze you!
Justin goes deep into the mysteries of the Buddha, comparisons to Christ, we talk about Karma, Reincarnation, the Dalai Lama, Tantric Sex and the true meaning of life according to Justin.. This interview is packed with tons of juicy details about everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Buddhism and some deep thoughts to take with you on your own spiritual adventures.