(Purportedly) new dates for the Buddha...

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

(Purportedly) new dates for the Buddha...

Postby appicchato » Mon Nov 25, 2013 11:56 pm

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Re: (Purportedly) new dates for the Buddha...

Postby daverupa » Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:17 am

National Geographic wrote:Outside scholars applauded the discovery but cautioned against too hastily accepting the site as the oldest discovered Buddhist shrine without more analysis.

"Archaeologists love claiming that they have found the earliest or the oldest of something," says archaeologist Ruth Young of the United Kingdom's University of Leicester in an email message.


It's delightful to have some good material, of course. Fascinating in any event. If this pans out, though, the Nikayas/Agamas are looking more like ~400-year compilations instead of ~200-year ones, which would have interesting consequences.

I wonder how this will interface with the textual analysis already done, though.

The exact date of the Buddha's birth is disputed, with Nepalese authorities favoring 623 B.C., and other traditions favoring more recent dates, around 400 B.C.

Regardless, by 249 B.C. Lumbini had became one of the four sacred centers of Buddhism, marked by sanctifying inscriptions and a pillar left there in 249 B.C. by the Indian emperor Ashoka, who helped spread Buddhism across Asia.

Later abandoned, the site was rediscovered in 1896 and re-established as a worship center, the Maya Devi temple, which is now a World Heritage site.
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    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
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Re: (Purportedly) new dates for the Buddha...

Postby lyndon taylor » Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:42 am

My guess is when you date charcoal you find in an archaelogy dig, its so and so many years +/- 200 years or so, these tests are certainly not 100% accurate. Same with Carbon 14 dating its not year specific accurate, and when you're dating things millions of years old it can be +/- a million years, etc etc.
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New discovery may push back Buddha's birth date

Postby cooran » Tue Nov 26, 2013 7:09 am

Hello All,

Oldest Buddhist Shrine uncovered in Nepal - may push back Buddha's birthdate

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... n-history/

With metta,
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Re: New discovery may push back Buddha's birth date

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Nov 26, 2013 7:47 am

In his introduction to his Discourse on the Dhammacakka Sutta, the Mahāsi Sayādaw said (in 1962):

Thus it was on the first watch of the full-moon of July, 2,551 years ago that this first discourse was delivered by the Blessed One. Western scholars regard this estimation as 60 years too early. According to their calculation, it was only 2,491 years ago that the first discourse was taught. As the event of the Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma took place in the East, I would prefer to go by the oriental calculation and regard the first discourse as being taught 2,551 years ago.¹

¹ Now 2602 years ago in 2013, the year 2557 of the Buddhist Era (as measured from the parinibbāna).
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Oldest Buddhist shrine holds clues to Buddha's birth

Postby Kusala » Tue Nov 26, 2013 9:38 am

"This is one of those rare occasions when belief, tradition, archaeology and science actually come together," lead study author Robin Coningham, professor at Durham University in the United Kingdom, said at a press briefing Monday.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/25/world/asi ... ?hpt=hp_t3
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Re: New discovery may push back Buddha's birth date

Postby chownah » Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:31 am

I am concerned that some people might misinterpret the meaning of "push back the buddha's birthdate".
I would like to make it clear that this discovery does not change the date upon which the Buddha was born......the Buddha was born on one particular day and no amount of scientific discovery will change that. It would be more accurate if the article had said that the new discovery may push back the estimate of the buddha's birthdate.......no one knows the buddha's birthday and scientists are trying to estimate when it was......so the discovery they just made indicates that their previous estimate should perhaps be moved back.
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Re: (Purportedly) new dates for the Buddha...

Postby sphairos » Tue Nov 26, 2013 4:49 pm

Hello everyone,

famous Buddhologist and Tibetologist M. Kapstein wrote at some Buddhist scholars' mailing list:

"Dear Friends,

An interesting article in today's New York Times discusses recent finds at Lumbini.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/scien ... birth.html

It references an article in the current issue of the journal Antiquity that I have
not yet seen, and so I cannot say whether the NYT summary is fully accurate.
A few problems to note:

The date of Asoka, of course, is not at all taken as the date of the Buddha. Even the
'short chronology' would place the Buddha's passing a century or so earlier.

It is not at all clear to me why the discovery of a sixth century BCE structure at Lumbini
thought to be a "shrine" warrants the assumption that it is a Buddhist shrine.

In any case, I look forward to hearing what specialists in early Indian Buddhism might
have to say.

Matthew

Matthew Kapstein
Directeur d'études,
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes"
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Re: New discovery may push back Buddha's birth date

Postby Mkoll » Tue Nov 26, 2013 5:59 pm

chownah wrote:I am concerned that some people might misinterpret the meaning of "push back the buddha's birthdate".
I would like to make it clear that this discovery does not change the date upon which the Buddha was born......the Buddha was born on one particular day and no amount of scientific discovery will change that. It would be more accurate if the article had said that the new discovery may push back the estimate of the buddha's birthdate.......no one knows the buddha's birthday and scientists are trying to estimate when it was......so the discovery they just made indicates that their previous estimate should perhaps be moved back.
chownah

:goodpost:

EDIT:

Wow, this news made the front page on Wikipedia's news!
Peace,
James
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BBC: 'Earliest shrine' uncovered at Buddha's birthplace

Postby puppha » Tue Nov 26, 2013 9:13 pm

That could be quite something. This discovery could potentially settle disputes about when the Buddha is born.
I just came across it today and thought about sharing that news.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25088960
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Re: (Purportedly) new dates for the Buddha...

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:05 pm

If anyone is interested the article can be purchased for £15 here http://antiquity.ac.uk/ant/087/ant0871104.htm
I would be interested in what is said in this mailing list if it is ok to share the list location or certain posts.

sphairos wrote:Hello everyone,

famous Buddhologist and Tibetologist M. Kapstein wrote at some Buddhist scholars' mailing list:

"Dear Friends,

An interesting article in today's New York Times discusses recent finds at Lumbini.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/scien ... birth.html

It references an article in the current issue of the journal Antiquity that I have
not yet seen, and so I cannot say whether the NYT summary is fully accurate.
A few problems to note:

The date of Asoka, of course, is not at all taken as the date of the Buddha. Even the
'short chronology' would place the Buddha's passing a century or so earlier.

It is not at all clear to me why the discovery of a sixth century BCE structure at Lumbini
thought to be a "shrine" warrants the assumption that it is a Buddhist shrine.

In any case, I look forward to hearing what specialists in early Indian Buddhism might
have to say.

Matthew

Matthew Kapstein
Directeur d'études,
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes"
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Re: (Purportedly) new dates for the Buddha...

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Nov 27, 2013 3:00 am

This is pretty big news; hope it pans out the way it is looking so far. I believe previous to this the only hard-core archeological evidence of the life of Buddha were the Edicts of Ashoka, the Tipitaka and the matching of the archeological finds at Buddhist sites with the Tipitaka account. This would add a much older account and evidence.
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Re: (Purportedly) new dates for the Buddha...

Postby chownah » Wed Nov 27, 2013 4:37 am

sphairos wrote:"It is not at all clear to me why the discovery of a sixth century BCE structure at Lumbini
thought to be a "shrine" warrants the assumption that it is a Buddhist shrine."

Good posting, sphairos!

What evidence is there that this structure has anything to do with the Buddha at all?.....so far the only connection is it's geographical location being coincident with where the Buddha lived. Were there no shrines that existed before the Buddha was born?
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Re: (Purportedly) new dates for the Buddha...

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Nov 27, 2013 6:04 am

It is still too early to conclusively say this is a Buddhist shrine. It is a shrine around a tree and Maya devi did grab a branch when she gave birth and then of course the Buddhist veneration of Bodhi trees. Other traditions also venerated trees, however there is this from National Geographic report:

"The tree roots appear to have been fertilized, and although bodhigara are found in older Indian traditions, the shrine lacked the signs of sacrifices or offerings found at such sites."

"It was very clean, in fact, which points to the Buddhist tradition of nonviolence and nonofferings," says Coningham.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... n-history/


So far we have as (circumstantial) evidence:
1. a 6th century BCE shrine found at Lumbini - the place of Buddha's birth,
2. a shrine housing a tree
3. no signs of sacrifices and offerings as found in shrines of other traditions.

Any one of the above would not be much evidence, but all 3 together provides some circumstantial evidence worth considering, although still not conclusive . . . yet.
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Re: (Purportedly) new dates for the Buddha...

Postby chownah » Wed Nov 27, 2013 8:19 am

If the tree roots appear to have been fertilized perhaps the structure was a lavatory......
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Re: (Purportedly) new dates for the Buddha...

Postby Mkoll » Wed Nov 27, 2013 9:26 am

chownah wrote:If the tree roots appear to have been fertilized perhaps the structure was a lavatory......
chownah

:rofl:

But seriously, if anyone buys and reads the actual journal article, please let us know the details of the study. Hopefully these professional people based their weighty claims on more substantial evidence than what has been reported in the news articles.
Peace,
James
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Re: (Purportedly) new dates for the Buddha...

Postby sphairos » Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:36 am

Guys,

here is what Buddhist scholars J. Silk and A. Bayer have so far said about the topic:

"Subject: Re: ARTICLE> The Date of the Buddha,

Dear Colleagues,

Regarding the recent report from Lumbini, mentioned by Matthew
Kapstein, as one might expect, the facts do not bear out the hype.

I read the article in question yesterday (before the embargo was
lifted) because a journalist contacted me about it (you can read about
it in the Volkskrant if you read Dutch...), but when Matthew and
others read the article, what will be evident is that what has been
found is wood beneath the Asokan layer. There is *no* indication that
the wood is connected with the Buddha in any way shape or form. It is
logical to think that a tree shrine on the spot considered to be the
birthplace of the Buddha could easily have predated anything about
Buddhism--of course, the tree selected as "the tree" under which the
Buddha was born should be a sacred tree, hence it had a shrine
associated with it.

And in fact, except for a single--I would say incautious--sentence,
the article basically says this. I'm sure it will be spun for all it's
worth, but there's nothing there, except perhaps (and even this is not
100% clear) some evidence that, despite an earlier botched excavation
by a Japanese team (which, the authors imply, threw away valuable
evidence), the traditional spot rebuilt by Asoka had earlier a wooden
structure upon it. What that structure may have been, and whether it
could conceivably have had any connection with the Buddha--no
evidence at all!

Jonathan"

"Dear Colleagues,

Thanks to Matthew Kapstein for the NYT article and his critical
remarks.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/scien ... .html?_r=0

The NYT article and several others follow a pattern that I have
observed with media, especially online media, when dealing with new
sensational discoveries: Almost none of the online journalists have
(/take the) time to ask for a second expert opinion when they get the
news agency reports. If at all, they contact the discoverer, simply
because it is the name they have at hand.

Another of the issues involved is that archeology, dealing with
material things, seems to be considered "science", while the study of
history as a whole is just "humanities" (at least in the anglophone
world) and thus less reliable.

These were my experiences when dealing with the "Lama Wearing
Trousers" last year.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/zei ... 62919.html

I have now organized a panel by the title "Authenticity, Uncertainty,
and Deceit in Buddhist Art and Archaeology" at the IABS 2014 in Vienna
- to which everyone interested in such methodological questions is
warmly invited.

Dr. Achim Bayer "
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Re: (Purportedly) new dates for the Buddha...

Postby daverupa » Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:48 am

...

I have now organized a panel by the title "Authenticity, Uncertainty,
and Deceit in Buddhist Art and Archaeology" at the IABS 2014 in Vienna
- to which everyone interested in such methodological questions is
warmly invited.

Dr. Achim Bayer


:clap:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: (Purportedly) new dates for the Buddha...

Postby sphairos » Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:24 pm

I would say, that if there is not found any strong epigraphical, inscriptional (which says something like "This is a shrine devoted to the Almighty Buddha"), sculptural (or other pertaining to the domain of the Buddhist art) evidence (and there seems to be no such evidence), there will be no possible way to connect the discovery to the Buddha or early Buddhism.

The tree-worship has been ubiquitous both in Ancient and Modern India, Sri Lanka and other neighboring countries for millennia. There are lots of trees and tree-shrines which are "just sacred", no one makes offerings to them.

And, also, I would say, that recent stratigraphical, text-critical, historical and doctrinal research into the early Buddhist texts makes other dates for the Great Passing of the Buddha than 400+-10 and 368+-10 BC impossible.
Last edited by sphairos on Wed Nov 27, 2013 8:38 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: (Purportedly) new dates for the Buddha...

Postby sphairos » Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:27 pm

Dave,

this is funny , I agree :)
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