Greeks and Buddhism
An Intercultural Encounter


This book examines the inter-cultural contacts that took place between Greeks and Buddhism over the course of approximately two thousand and five hundred years and played an extremely prominent and dynamic role in consolidation of the ecumenical spirit in the Buddhist and European thought.

It is based on the author’s previous essays, enriched and expanded with recent data derived from historical records, popular beliefs and traveling impressions. It includes the early historical contacts ­ from the time of the Buddha up to the rise of the Graeco-Buddhist art, the impact of Buddhism on the Hellenistic Middle East and the formation of the Christian monasticism, and the works of Lafcadio Hearn,  Marco Pallis and Nikos Kazantzakis who made the Japanese, the Tibetan-Indian and  the  Chinese  Buddhism  known  to  the  Western  world.

Its objective is to highlight the way the ecumenical religions of Buddhism and Christianity were formed upon drawing timeless values from the rich Greek and Indian traditions. On this basis, we hope that the book will be a useful instrument to scholars and students of the world religion and civilization.

224 pages, 92 bw ills and 2 maps
ISBN: 978-618-82624-0-9
Second edition, Athens, 2019 (2016)
Price:  18 € + postage
15 for students and members of ELINEPA postage

Presentation of the book at the Cultural Center “Flisvos”, Municipality of Palaio Faliro




CHAPTER 1 – Historical Contacts & Influences

The Buddha and the Greeks

Alexander, Megasthenes and the Indian religions

Aśoka and the Expansion of Buddhism

Menander and the Adoption of Buddhism

Gandhāra  and the Rise of Graeco-Buddhist Art

Philosophical Influences and Parallelisms

References & Bibliography


CHAPTER 2 – Buddhism & Christianity

Comparative Attempts

The Theory that Jesus Christ Studied Buddhism in India

Buddhism and Gnosticism

Early Historical Contacts

Common Practices in Buddhist and Christian Traditions

Objections and Conclusions

References & Bibliography


CHAPTER 3 – Modern Greeks & Buddhism

I. Lafcadio Hearn & Buddhism

Hellenic Impact on Japanese Buddhism

Lafcadio Hearn ‒ Introduction of Buddhism in Japan

Lafcadio Hearn and Buddhism ‒ Sources and Influences

Buddhist Philosophy in the Light of Lafcadio Hearn

Concluding Remarks

References & Bibliography


II. Marco Pallis and Buddhism

Early Life and Musical Career

Absorbing the Spirit of Tibet by Direct Experience

Pallis’ Writings on Tibetan Buddhism

References & Bibliography


III. Nikos Kazantzakis and Buddhism

References & Bibliography


IV. Buddhist Monks and Institutions

Efstathios Liakopoulos (Lama Khenpo Kunzang Trinley Dorje Tsal)

Bhikkhu Nanadassana Mahathera (Ioannis Tselios)

Other Major Buddhist centers in Greece

Buddhist texts translated into Greek


International Buddhist Conclave 2014 ‒ Visit to Holy Sites of Buddhism

References & Bibliography


The Apollonian Smile

About the Author

Index of Proper Names

Hellenic-Indian Society for Culture and Development
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