P.K. “Seems that this “Narayana” is of a rather different character than the Narayana we find in the Indian Vedic tradition. Just a similarity in name does not mean the same person.”
From Bhakti Ananda Goswami: Dear P.K., Thank you for your comment. I have had extensive experience in the field of Pure Land Buddhist studies and practice, comparing the various forms of Pure Land Buddhism, which diffused from India, throughout its entire range. I have been Nama Mantra initiated in three schools of Pure Land Buddhism (Japanese, Chinese and Nepali-Tibetan) and since the late 1960s I have studied the Holy Names, art and artifacts, scriptures, practices, place names, treaties and trade alliances, the general history (of course), and the non-Pure Land Buddhist Traditions that competed with the Pure Land Traditions. This research has included many hours of interviews with experts, both scholars and practitioners, which I interviewed as part of my 1982 Marylhurst College Field Studies Course Contract. For example I interviewed scholars and practitioners at Joshi (Sacred Heart) University in Tokyo Japan, and from universities, temples and monasteries in Taiwan, Vietnam, China, Korea, and in Sri Lanka, India and Nepal.
ALL of these experts were in agreement that the MANY SANSKRIT NAMES and Traditional Forms of the Pure Land Buddhist Trikaya’s Manifestations in the so-called Mahayana Buddhist Pantheon were derived from earlier ‘Hindu’ Traditions in India, and that the essential Pure Land Scriptures and litanies, mantras etc. in Buddhist Sanskrit were primary evidence of this connection. What these Buddhist Experts did not know was anything about Brahma Sampradaya (Lineage) Vaishnavism, and so they were appreciative of the information that I could give them about the specifice kind of ‘Hinduism’ that Pure Land Buddhism is quite obviously historically and theologically so closely related to. Because I am familar with the specific Brahma-Surya centric Vaishnavism of the great Schools of Vrindavan-Mathura and Gandhara, I am able to understand the specific connections of these Vaishnava Traditions to the Pure Land Tradition of Mahayana Buddhism, which originally diffused from these EXACT locations.
It is no secret among Buddhist scholars and scholars of Buddhism that Mahayana Buddhism experienced development in these two main centers and diffused from there into the rest of the Region and beyond. I have simply been clarifying the exact nature of the kind of so-called ‘Hinduism’ that was predominant in those two earliest Centers of Buddhist and Vaishnava Study, namely the Brahma-Surya Lineage of Vaishnavism. This is why the Scriptural Revelations, Holy Names and Forms of the Deity of Brahma-Sampradaya HARI (Krishna) Centric Vaishnavism so profoundly map-onto those of Pure Land Bhakti Buddhism. The Pure Land Buddhist Supreme Godhead HARI as the Tri-Kaya Trinity, as Narayana, Vasudeva, Bhagavan, Adi Purusha, Purusotamma, Narasimha-Lokeshvara, Hayagriva-Lokeshvara, Baraha-Lokeshvara, Nila-Kantha Lokeshvara, Lokeshvara as Mahadeva (Siva) as Brahma, Indra, Yama / Dharma, Skanda, Brhaspati etc….throughout the entire range of Pure Land Buddhism the doctrines and practices of Brahma-Surya lineage Vaishnavism can be identified if one is familiar with the Vaishnava Tradition of ancient Vrindavan-Mathura and Gandhara.
If you will read the essential Pure Land Buddhist Sanskrit Scriptures, beginning with the Saddharmapundarika, comparing it to the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, which gives the Vaishnava commentary, you will see why World-wide for over 100 years scholars have identified the Supreme Lord of Pure Land Buddhism with Vishnu. I am not the only Buddhist or scholar of Buddhism who has researched this subject and come to this conclusion. In fact even among the murti makers and lay-person devotees in places like Nepal, where Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Pure Land Buddhism exist together, it is commonly acknowledged that the Names and Forms of the Trikaya (Pure Land Buddhist Trinity) are Names and Forms of Vishnu and His Wrathful Transformation as Mahadeva or Kalabairab.Elsewhere – HERE on facebook, some of my Notes and Albums contain more information about the amazing connections between the earliest forms of Pure Land Buddhism and the great Gandharan and Mathuran Schools of Vaishnavism. If you will only study the old Kern’s Oxford translation and commentary on the essential Sanskrit Saddharmapundarika with the comparison of Bhagavad-gita As It Is verses and purports that I have provided here in my Notes, the connections can be seen clearly.
Gandhara’s language was a Prakrit or “Middle Indo-Aryan” dialect, usually called Gāndhārī. Texts are written right-to-left in theKharoṣṭhī script, which had been adapted for Indo-Aryan languages from a Semitic alphabet, the Aramaic alphabet. Gandhāra was then controlled by the Achaemenid dynasty of the Persian empire, which used the Aramaic script to write the Iranian languages of the Empire.
Gandharan Buddhist missionaries were active, with other monks from Central Asia, from the 2nd century AD in Han-dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD) China’s capital of Luoyang, and particularly distinguished themselves by their translation work. They promoted scriptures from Early Buddhist schools as well as those from the Mahayana.
- Lokaksema, a Kushan and the first to translate Mahayana scriptures into Chinese (167–186)
- Zhi Yao (c. 185), a Kushan monk, second generation of translators after Lokaksema
- Zhi Qian (220–252), a Kushan monk whose grandfather had settled in China during 168–190
- Zhi Yueh (c. 230), a Kushan monk who worked at Nanjing
- Dharmaraksa (265–313), a Kushan whose family had lived for generations at Dunhuang
- Jnanagupta (561–592), a monk and translator from Gandhara
- Shikshananda (652–710), a monk and translator from Udyana, Gandhara
- Prajna (c. 810), a monk and translator from Kabul, who educated the Japanese Kūkai in Sanskrit texts