Yona = Greece?

I was wondering if the Buddha really aware of existence of Greece ?

Actually , it appears that Yona actually was Cina i.e. China according to Chinese vinaya .

Assalāyana Sutta MN 93

“What do you think, Assalāyana? Have you heard that in Greece and Persia and other foreign lands there are only two classes, masters and bonded servants; and that masters may become servants, and servants masters?”


According to wikipedia, yes

Yona & Kamboja, also related to Kamboja

K.E.Neumann translates this as “Ionians” (greece state) and “kabul-eans” (I think meaning what is modern afghanistan) extending the comment with the remark that the “kabul-eans” have been well known to the indians of that time because of their fine horses. He puts this in accordance to the “fifth stone-edict” of king Ashoka where again the ionians, kabulians and then kandhara-ians have been mentioned (in this order).

Hmm, [Sujato] gives “greece and persia” and [Horner] gives “Yona and Cambodia”. In the wiki-link given by @anyatama there is also a relation from “Kamboja” to “Cambyses_I” which was the king of the persians and which would again point to “ionians” and “cambysians”.

(disclaimer - but I don’t have any more knowledge about this)

Reading the wiki, it does sound like there is reason for suspecting the Kambojas might have been Iranians, as they likely hailed from the area that the Greeks would call “Aria” (much of central asia, basically). But I’m not sure why they should be translated as “Persians” specifically, as there are many non-Persian Iranian peoples. I’m curious to hear Bhante @sujato chime in here.

More stuff about the Kambojas here from the Cambridge ancient History.

According to venerable Yin Shun , Yona could be Afghanistan or somewhere nearby .

There is attested contact between India and lands west (loosely “Persia”) from the time of the Indus valley civilization, over a thousand years before the Buddha. The subsequent Indo-European culture is, of course, shared between the two lands. There are a number of references that support the idea of contacts at the time of the Buddha (Analayo has a nice essay on this), but personally I think no special pleading is required: why wouldn’t the Indians have had some idea of such foreign lands?

Pali yona is from Ionia, and is a general term for the Greek cultural sphere. Kamboja is less certain, but I think it’s likely to be an equally general and vague term for the lands between India and “Greece”, for which “Persia” serves no worse than any other. Compare the Greeco-Roman use of say “Ethiopia” for all lands in Africa or “India” for south Asia.

Seems unlikely; Cambodia was named after Kamboja.

Again, seems unlikely at this point: not long after, of course, the Greeks were in Afghanistan so this would be correct then.


In the no.5 and no.13 rock edicts of Asoka , Yona Kamboja are mentioned as neighbours of Gandhara living within the borders of the Mauryan Empire .

Gandhara , is now northwestern Pakistan , corresponding to the Vale of Peshawar and having extensions into the lower valleys of the Kābul and Swāt rivers.

So , the probability of Yona Kamboja could be somewhere in nearby region .

The Kamboja mahajanapada of buddhist traditions refers to from Nurestan up to Rajauri in south west Kashmir .

In the Mahabharata , Kamboja is reffered to as a republic or a kingless country .
Asoka edict’s no.13 and Kautiliya’s Arthashastra attested that the Kambojas followed a republican constitution .

Therefore , the probability of Yona Kamboja are likely to be around Afghanistan .


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Aryans= Iranians (sound correspondence)

I know that. But not all Iranians are Persians, which is why I was confused why the term “Persia” is used. It sounds like ven. @sujato is conceding “Persia” is a loose translation.

Correct me if I’m wrong. To my knowledge, Ancient Persia was an empire that encompassed lands far outside of Iran.

By “Iranians”, I’m not referring to the modern nation of Iran. Rather, I’m referring to anyone who speaks an Iranian language. This includes Persians, but also other ancient civilizations, like the Medes, Scythians, Parthians, etc. as well as modern groups like Baloch, Kurds, Pashtun, etc. Perhaps I should have said “Iranics” rather than “Iranians” to be clearer.