On Slavic connections with… Buddha?

Name and physical characteristics:

Buddha means “awakened” and the only cognate in all Indo-European languages is a Slavic word “budan”, with the same meaning. Buda is also a Slavic personal name, together with names Budimir and Budimka. (male and female form)

In ancient texts Buddha is also referred to as “Arya“, a word that means noble, but could also mean “white”.

aryan

One of the 32 traits of Buddha’s physical appearance are deep blue eyes – trait 29.

Buddha belonged to Shakya clan, that some authors relate to Sakas – Persian and Sanskrit name for Scythians. This is why he is also known as Sakyamuni (Shakyamuni) – the sage of the Shakya clan.

When Nazi party went to Tibet in 1938 in search for the roots of Aryan origin they brought back a statue known as “iron man”, made in an unknown period, on a 10 000 years old meteorite rock. It is supposed to represent Buddha but scientists are careful with conclusions as he clearly looks Caucasian and wears a Scythian breastplate and a Phrygian cap. Full story on livescience.

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Iron man

A half lotus pose is quite reminiscent of Gundestrup cauldron, made in the 3rd century BC Thracia, which has already been compared to Pashupati seal of Mohenjo-Daro culture. Both cultures could be connected to Aryan tribes, but more importantly they speak of connection.

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Apart from this famous cauldron, in prehistorical Europe existed many “Celtic” figurines of deities in what archaeologists call “Buddha pose”. Also, some of the earliest representations of Buddha are Hellenic ones, like the one below.

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Helenic Buddha figurine

Because of yoga, “Lotus pose” is nowadays normally associated with Asia, but the earliest evidence of it actually comes from the burials of Lepenski vir culture, 9600-6000 BC, modern day Serbia. It reappears again in Yamna culture of Ukraine, 3500-2000 BC, from which Scythian and Sarmatian tribes developed, as well as in burials of Indus Valley Civilization – which lasted from 3300-1900BC.

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Lepenski vir burial, 9600-6000 BC Serbia

Timeline and geography

Buddha had lived in the period between 6th and 5th century BC.

In the 5th century BC, Greek historian Herodotus writes of the tribe that lives in the land of Scythians, called Budini. He claims: ” they all have deep blue eyes“. Budini in Slavic language means literary “belonging to (or simply – descendants) of Buda”

Why is this etymology important? Because in comments on Herodotus we read the official theory that Budini were Slavs. “Schafarik, who believes the Budini to belong to the Slavic family, asserts that the wooden town GELONUS, described as being in the middle of the Budini, is an exact representation of the primitive Slavic towns down even to the twelfth century.”

Budini lived together with Geloni whom Herodotus equates with Helens. (In Ukrainian language “G” is being read as “H” on the beginning of a sentence.) It is this Geloni that made Buddha statues like the one that we saw above, but based on what influence is the question. Is it really just a strange coincidence that they lived in symbiosis with a tribe called Budini?

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The world according to Herodotus, 5th century BC, Budini and Geloni are circled

Herodotus lists Budini as one of the tribes of the Medes: “The Median tribes are these: the Busae, the Paretaceni, the Struchates, the Arizanti, the Budii, the Magi. Their tribes are this many” Hdt. 1.101

And in another place he says for Medes: “The Medes were formerly called by everyone Arians but when the Colchian woman Medea came from Athens to the Arians they changed their name, like the Persians. This is the Medes‘ own account of themselves.”  Hdt. 7.62

As a nomadic tribe that lived on a territory of Indo-Scythia, Budini would have an easy access to kingdoms of Asia in which Buddhism had flourished. But on the turn of the first millennium they disappear from history. According to some theories they had migrated together with Sarmatian tribes to Balkan, which was on the opposite border of Indo-Scythian territory.

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Scythia, 5th century BC

Namely, some seven centuries after the writings of Herodotus, on the map of Ptolemy, we see them much more to the West, roughly between the Sea of Azov and Black see. And then, in this map from the 19th century, they are shown on the territory of Poland, along with the Vendic tribes which are known to be Slavic.

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Europa.Germania Gallia Hispania Sarmatia &c.ARROWSMITH. 1828. map

Even more interesting is the fact that on the territory of modern-day Hungary lies the city of Budapest, whose name is derived from two cities that were merged in one: Buda and Pesta. There are different theories of the etymology of Buda, but Pesta is undoubtedly a word of Slavic origin, coming from “pestera” – a cave, which confirms Slavic presence here in very remote times. As for Buda, one of the commonly proposed etymologies is “voda” – water, again a Slavic word, due to the many mineral water sources that still exist on its territory. However, old Slavic name for this city was Budin (or Budim) and because of this the whole region was called “Budin” in the Ottoman empire.

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Besides this one, there are many other similar toponyms on Slavic territories, but the highest concentration can be found in the region near Pannonia, for example: Budisava in Serbia, Budinscina in Croatia, Budina in Slovakia, Budima in Republic of Srpska, Bosnia, Budimci, Croatia, Budin in Bohemia, Czech Republic and many others.

Religious teachings

So are there any proofs of Buddhism in Europe in prehistorical times, especially between Slavs? To answer shortly: No. Our lack of knowledge on pagan religions makes it very difficult to make serious comparisons. However, some strange parallels do exist.

The etymology of city of Buda, that relates it to “voda” – water, is the same etymology that is currently proposed for the name of Budini tribe. If we apply this logic on the name Buddha, we get something similar to “Anglo-Saxon” deity “Woden” that became Norse Odin. Slavic etymology of this name has never been considered, but let us just point out that it would mean “watery”. Slavic equivalent of Woden would surely be a deity Vid. (became St. Vitus with Christianity). Vid was indeed one of the most important gods of Slavic pantheon.

But there is more to this. In Sanskrit, Buddha is also a name of the planet Mercury, and day under the rule of planet Mercury is Wednesday. The same parallels exist in Europe: Wednesday is the “day of Mercury” in all Latin languages, and Wednesday literary means “day of Woden” in English.

In Roman mythology, Mercury was the “messenger of the gods”, but funny enough, in Old English (Proto-Germanic root) word for messenger was “buda”. According to the Etymology dictionary of English language it comes from the verb “bode” whose meaning is the following:

bode (v.)
Old English bodian “proclaim, announce; foretell,” from boda “messenger,” probably from Proto-Germanic *budon- (source also of Old Saxon gibod, German gebot, Old Norse boð), from PIE *bheudh- “be aware, make aware” (source also of Sanskrit bodhati “is awake, is watchful, observes,” buddhah “awakened, enlightened;” Old Church Slavonic bljudo “to observe;” Lithuanian budeti “to be awake;” Old Irish buide “contentment, thanks”). As a shortened form of forebode (usually evil), it dates from 1740. Related: Boded; boding.

In short, it seems that Proto-Germanic word for “messenger” had a meaning “to be observant, awake”, and it is very easy to check that this etymology is undoubtedly Slavic and not Lithuanian as it is stated above for some reason. The same goes for the etymology that relates it to water – in Slavic “voda”.

In Alchemy, Mercury became a name of a “watery” metal, and in its symbolic it is always shown in the middle, between the gold and the silver – just like the day ruled by the planet Mercury is exactly in the middle of the week. And just like the main teaching of Buddhism is known as the Middle way.

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Alchemical Mercury

In the middle ages there was a fashion to attribute religious archetypes to the ruling class and Serbia was not an exception. That is why the Serbian medieval bards described events before famous “Battle of Kosovo” with many allusions to Christ’s last supper. But if you ask an average Serbian person to tell you of a prince who renounced his kingdom in order to dedicate his life to spirituality, chances are that you will not hear Buddha’s name first, but that of medieval Serbian prince St. Sava His life story echoes that of Buddha, just almost two millennia later. St Sava had renounced his crown and isolated himself on a holy mountain of Athos, where after 14 years he had received enlightenment.He then started spreading Christianity, earning him a title of the first and most important Serbian saint. Coincidence? Maybe. But interesting one to point out as I am not aware of anything similar. Buddha would surely approve it.

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