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  • Anirudh Kanisetti

11. Maitreya the Messiah (24 mins)


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At the same time that Christianity and other saviour cults emerged in West Asia, ancient India had its own Buddhist saviour. This was Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future. This is his story, a story of life in ancient India's most cosmopolitan region.


As the Kushan Empire moves towards the apogee of its power during and after the reign of Kanishka in the 2nd century CE, this episode takes a step away from the rulers to explore the lives of the ruled, and discovers surprising cultural similarities between ancient Rome, ancient Gandhara, and modern India.


Voice Credits & Notes Below.



Voice Credits (in order of appearance):

Dipankara Jataka Narrator, Rhinoceros Sutra #1 - Yazad Jal

Rhinoceros Sutra #2 - Sowmya Nandan

Rhinoceros Sutra #3 - Pranav RS

Notes:

  1. On elite sculptural patronage in Gandhara, see Behrendt, Kurt A. The Art of Gandhara in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Metropolitan Museum of art, 2007. You can get the PDF for free here. It is ABSOLUTELY worth a download.

  2. General reference for Buddhism in Gandhara: Brancaccio, Pia, and Kurt A. Behrendt, eds. Gandhāran Buddhism: Archaeology, Art, Texts. University of British Columbia Press, 2006.

  3. On Buddhist monks making wine: Falk, Harry. “Making Wine in Gandhara under Buddhist Monastic Supervision.” Bulletin of the Asia Institute, New Series 23 (2009): 65–78.

  4. On Maitreya: Huntington, John C. “The Iconography and Iconology of Maitreya Images in Gandhara.” Journal of Central Asia 7 (1984): 133–78.

  5. More on Maitreya: Behrendt, Kurt A. “MAITREYA AND THE PAST BUDDHAS: INTERACTIONS BETWEEN GANDHARA AND NORTHERN INDIA.” In Changing Forms and Cultural Identity: Religious and Secular Iconographies VOL. I, edited by Deborah Klimburg-Salter and Linda Lojda, 29–40. Brepols, 2014.

  6. On the continuation of monastic Buddhism: Behrendt, Kurt A. “Fasting Buddhas , Ascetic Forest Monks , and the Rise of the Esoteric Tradition.” In Coins, Art and Chronology II: The First Millennium C.E. in the Indo-Iranian Borderlands, edited by M. Alram, D. Klimburg-Salter, M. Inaba, and M. Pfisterer, 299–328. Wien: Osterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2010.

  7. Rhinoceros Sutra quotes from: Salomon, Richard. The Buddhist Literature of Ancient Gandhāra: An Introduction with Selected Translations. , MA: Wisdom Publications, 2018.

  8. Dipankara Jataka from Shaw, Sarah (trans.) The Jatakas: Birth Stories of the Bodhisattva. Penguin Random House, 2006.

  9. Image source: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/38788

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©2020 by Anirudh Kanisetti. Cover images by Apoorva Lakshmi.