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Greco-Buddhism, or Graeco-Buddhism, is the cultural syncretism between Hellenistic culture and Buddhism, which developed between the 4th century BC and the 5th century AD in Bactria and the Indian subcontinent, corresponding to the territories of modern-day Afghanistan, Tajikistan, India, and Pakistan. It was a cultural consequence of a long chain of interactions begun by Greek forays into India from the time of Alexander the Great, carried further by his successors' establishment of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom and, later, Indo-Greek Kingdom, and extended during the flourishing of the Kushan Empire. Buddhism was then adopted in Central and Northeastern Asia from the 1st century AD, ultimately spreading to China, Korea, Japan, Siberia, and Vietnam.

The interaction between Hellenistic Greece and Buddhism started when Alexander the Great conquered the Achaemenid Empire and further regions of Central Asia in 334 BC, crossing the Indus and then the Jhelum River after the Battle of the Hydaspes and going as far as the Beas, thus establishing direct contact with India.

Alexander founded several cities in his new territories in the areas of the Amu Darya and Bactria, and Greek settlements further extended to the Khyber Pass, Gandhara (see Taxila), and the Punjab region. These regions correspond to a unique geographical passageway between the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush mountains through which most of the interaction between India and Central Asia took place, generating intense cultural exchange and trade.

Following Alexander's death on June 10, 323 BC, the Diadochi or "Successors" founded their own kingdoms in Anatolia and Central Asia. General Seleucus set up the Seleucid Empire, which extended as far as India. Later, the eastern part of the Seleucid Kingdom broke away to form the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (250 BC-125 BC), followed by the Indo-Greek Kingdom (180 BC - AD 10), and later the Kushan Empire (1st–3rd century AD).

The interaction of Greek and Buddhist cultures operated over several centuries until it ended in the 5th century AD with the invasions of the Hephthalite Empire and the expansion of Islam.

The length of the Greek presence in Central Asia and northern India provided opportunities for interaction, not only on the artistic, but also on the religious plane.

This page was last edited on 7 February 2018, at 23:06.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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