Malaya, Lanka,, Patala?

Petr Mares erpet at COMP.CZ
Mon Aug 3 10:54:19 UTC 1998

Dear Mr. Ganeshan (and anybody else interested)

Very interesting article by prof. U.P. Shah of Oriental Institute of Boroda
in JAOS 96.1 "The Salakatankatas of Lanka" made me change my believe about
the location of Malaya, Patala and Lanka recently. I know not about Sanskrit
language neither literature as much as anybody in this list being
specialised in Chinese. So I would like to hear your opinion.

This article mentions Raamayaana, Uttarakaanda, sargas 4-15. Where Agastya
speaks to Rama. It is sayd that Sandhya (Saalakatankataa) and Vidyutkesa had
son Sukesha, who with his wife had three childs MALAYAvanta, Sumali and
Mali. (to me it reminds Meru, Sumeru and Malaya since Chinese do not
differentiete between "L" and "R"). These thre asked Vishvakarma for a place
of residence and he said he made already for them "LANKA" on top of the
middle peak of Trikuta-parvata on the bank of southern ocean.(Uttaara.,
sarga 7). This place was called "Lanka-durga". This place will almost agree
with place of Lankavatara sutra. These raakshasas vanquished by Vishnu,
deserted later the city and went to stay in PATALA (sarga 8). They were the
predecessors of Kubera and Ravana.

Prof. Shah says, that there is no ancient reference identifying Lanka with
Ceylon, nor any archeological evidence in Ceylon (article was written in
1976) and than he cites various modern scholars and their research regarding
the Lanka of Ramayana and Salakantankatas tribe. He says that it was pointed
out already by T Paramasiva Iyer in "Ramayana and Lanka, 1940" thet the
Lanka of the Ramayana is a city built built on the Trikuta -parvata amd not
at all island like Ceylon. Varaahamihaara in Brhatsamhita, adhyaya 14
mentions Lanka and Simhala as two different regions.

Place prevailing in the article as possible location is near Jabalpur, near
Amarakantaka in modern Madhya Pradesh, (generally place where ancient Gonds
were living)

But since the name Salakatankata does not sound Indoeuropean and since
Valmiki does not have fair knowledge of geograpfy and culture of South India
(beyond the Vindhyas) (as stated by H. D. Sankalia in "Ramayana, myth or
reality", 1973 Delhi pp 17-18) I wander what the consequencies can be with
regard to Lankasuka in Malaya peninsula.

In Mahaabhaarata, Malayan product is sandalwood oil, it is the same product
mentioned by Xuan Zang in Malaya mountain 1000 years later

In Satapatha Brahmana Manu's ark is said to come to rest in on Malaya
Parvatas a peak in the northern mountains, the present Western Ghats, when
the flood waters, which covered the continent where the Indian Ocean now
lies, subsided.

Prof Ramachandra Dikshitar identifies Malaya of 48th chapter of Vaayu
Puraana (close to Xuan Zang in time) with Sumatra, since nearly all the
mountains in India mentioned in Vaayu Purana have their counterparts in
Sumatra's West Coast.

I cannot judge any of these but I would like very much to hear opinion of
some of the scholars here on locating the Malaya  mountain and Lanka Kingdom
within the Buddhist community of the early centuries AD.

Regarding the Buddha transcription of Xuan Zang:

>In your university library, please check what Xuan Zang
>has written on Potalaka.
I will as soon as I can.

>Pl. send it as character by character.
I guess you mean "send it as it was pronounced in 6th century-transcribed to
phonetic script such as IPA. I cansend you the chinese characters but unless
you have chinese  system on your computer you will not see it. I can also
send the characters as images but will it help to you to see the glyphs?

The question of yours is complicated by the fact that although at sixth
century certainly more than 10.000 characters were in use many of them had
more then one pronounciation, from which one may have been reserved for
transcription of foreign words, The second difficulty is the nature of
Chinese language at all. An example: Chinese are now transcribing France Fa
Guo, Deutschland De Guo, America Mei Guo (mei- beautifull, Guo country) they
often want to transcribe and transliterate at once and it may shift the

>How does PA (IPA) sound? In an English word. Can you
>give me an example of an English word?
In IPA (intl. phonetic alphabet) B is voiceless bilabial (made by two lips)
plosive. It will sound as english B in [bad]

>How does BA (IPA) sound? Pl. give an English example.
in IPA, P is voiced bilabial plosive.
A is open front wovel. in these cases in a level tone (in contrast to EMC
(Early Middle Chinese) Rising, Departing and Entering tones)
It will sound as English P, but not like P of modern Chinese transcription
which sound like Ph. Chinese P and B in modern translitarations differ just
in aspiration, same pays for T and D.

It may sound all too complicated, but it is due to the nature of chinese
script, not very suitable for carrying sound.

Just for your reference, bilabials in early middle chinese (6th century) are
as follows P PH B M

I have just found in between my material some parts of the Xuan Zang
original writing in Chinese (Taisho 2087). I have here his preface, 10th
11th and 12th Fasciculi. Unfortunately these three Fasciculy are usualy
regarded by Chinese scholars as  either later additions or not genuine.
They are mentioned as not to be written by Bian Ji, who compiled Xuan Zang's
descriptions into Xi Yu Ji.

I remember it was the reason I abonded Xuan Zang writing as important
regarding Malaya and studied other sources, since the fasciculi 10 is where
Xuan Zang speaks about Malaya and Potalaka.

In just a brief looking I see that he transcribes the word Buddha as F02,
character, which would in 7th century Northern Dialect sound BUT1.

To study the writting more deeply would require a considerable time, but I
can give you a brief look into any part which is contained in 10th to 12th
Fasciculy and which seems obscure or wrong in Watters if you are interested.


Petr Mares

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