Where was PANini inspired? (Part I)

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 9 04:03:06 UTC 1998

  Part I: Where does 'Siva or Avalokitezvara inspire?

Reading M. Deshpande, Who Inspired Panini?
Reconstructing the Hindu and Buddhist
Counter-Claims, Journal of the American Oriental Society,
117.3 (1997), pp. 444-465.

p. 444:
"In the surviving tradition of PANinian grammar, there is a
pervasive belief that the founding grammarian PANini was
inspired by the divinity 'Siva to formulate his grammar".

  The excellent article tries to show that this belief started
  in Northwest India.

p. 454-455 refers to S. Beal, Buddhist Record
of the Western world, 1884: 114-116::
Hsuan Tsang talking about 'SalAtura, Paninini's hometown
and his inspiration coming from 'Siva.

p. 455 refers to S. Beal, 1884: 117-118
Hsuan Tsang tells the story he heard about
a child in 'SalAtura and an arhat
asserting to the child's guru that "this little boy whom you
are instructing was that very (PANini) RSi.
As he devoted his vigorous mind to investigate
worldly literature, he only produced heretical
literature ...and he has run through the
cycles of continued birth ..."
Later the child converts to Buddhism.

   Please note the reincarnation of PANini
   as a child after several cycles of birth.
   This child converts to Buddhist faith.
   Nowhere does Hsuan Tsang say that PANini
   was inspired by Avalokitevara.

p. 457 refers to Taranatha's history of Buddhism, p. 202ff.
"In the DhAnyakaTaka caitya there, he [=CandragomI] worshipped
TArA and Arya Avalokitezvara and built a hundred
temples for each of them. He went to the
Potala hill and is still living there without
renouncing his mortal body".

p. 457 continues:
"If this Potala is the same as the Potalaka mountain
referred to by Hsuan tsang [in the Northwest?],
then Candragomin also gets associated with a prominent
shrine of Avalokitezvara where Avalokitezvara
was popularly known to appear also in the
form of Mahezvara".

p. 459 continues:
"Referring to the legend of the Avalokitezvara
on the Potalaka mountain in the NORTHWEST corner
of the Indian subcontinent, Hsuan Tsang says:
'to the people at the foot of the mountain
Potalaka who pray for a sight of the Bodhisattva,
he appears sometimes as a Pazupata TIrthika
or as Mahezvara' (Watters 1905: p. 229)."

   Note that ALL translators of Hsuan Tsang
say Potalaka is in the Malaya mountains of
the deep South, never do they say Potalaka
is in the Northwest India.

My findings:
1) Potalaka is in the Malaya mountains of the
deep South, according to gaNDavyUhasUtra (2-3
century AD), Hsuan Tsang (640 AD), Chisho (700 AD),
Taaraanaatha (1600 AD).Buddhist tradition from gaNDavyUha
to Taaraanaatha is remarkably consistent in locating
Potalaka with Potiyil Mount of Malaya range.
Potiyil/Potikai mountain is a lofty peak rising
to 4000 feet in the Western Ghats, (8 deg. 37 sec. N
and 77 deg. 15 sec. E). It is a rain forest
known for its great waterfalls, the most famous of
which is the KuRRAlam falls.

2) It is in this Potalaka of South India,
(NOT in the Northwest) Avalokitezvara
appears as Paazupata tIrthika or Mahezvara.

3) Hsuan Tsang only states that in nearby
towns, different religions flourished:
In Kapiza (afghanistan), Avalokitezvara
is present where as near PuSkalAvatI,
'Siva is present. That's all.
Nowhere does Tsang say that in the same place
Bodhisattva appears as Mahezvara.
According to Tsang, it only happens in
Potalaka of the South.

4) Hsuan Tsang says, in 'SalAtura
Panini was inspired by 'Siva.
After several cycles of birth,
he was reborn and converted to Buddhist
faith. Nowhere Tsang says Panini
or a later reincarnation of Panini
was inspired by Avalokitezvara.

5) Candragomin who saved Mahabhasya tradition
from extinction settled in Potalaka in the
 deep South, according to Taaraanaatha (1600 AD).
Taranatha tells about 'Saantivarman's
journey to Potalaka also.
This is consistent with the Tamil
tradition (from 11th century onwards) that
Siddhas' residence par excellence
is Potiyil/Potikai mountain.

Ptolomy calls Potikai(Potiyil) Mountain
as Bettigo. Mahabhaarata vanaparvan has Agastya
in the Malaya mountain. Dandin calls Potiyil
as the Southern mountain(dakSiNAdri).
Dandin's usage parallels with
the earlier Tamil tradition from Sangam era
onwards that Malaya is THE  Southern
mountain. PuRanaanUru and Cilappatikaaram
refers to Himalayas and Potiyil (Malaya)
mountains in the same line. They are
the cultural symbols of North and South
in early Tamil literature.

Consider Hsuan Tsang's narrative:
The pilgrim, after having completed his
studies at Nalanda set out to visit other
places in India. "Heading eastwards through
a dark forest he came to a monastery in which
there was a miracle working sandal image of the
Bodhisattva Avalokitezvara ..." He worshipped
the image for fulfillment of his desire. He
was surprised to see  indications that the
god has approved all his prayers.
(J. Mirsky, The Great Chinese travellers,
London, 1964, p. 85-86)
Since Malaya is known in Tamil
and Sanskrit literature as the Sandalwood
mountain (CandanAdri), it appears
the icon of Avalokitezvara associated with
Potalaka/Malaya was made out of
sandalwood. In buddhist tradition,
Malaya is known for gozIrSa (candana)
just like in other texts of Tamil and Sanskrit.
For example, in gaNDavyUha (ch. XXIV), a gAndhikazreSThin
utphalabhUti sells many perfumes and balms
in which gozIrSa from Malaya figures prominently.

It may be the same in KaaraNDavyUha which
also connects Avalokitezvara with candanavana:
"It is impossible to count the number
of leaves in zIrSavana, so too are
Avalokita's virtues". (This is true only
if zIrSa is a contraction of gozIrSa.)

N. Ganesan

S. Palaniappan in Indology on 11 Nov 1997
"But based on the evidence presented by Deshpande, the
Tamil grammatical and literary traditions, and Chinese accounts of
 Tamil region, a case could be  made that the zaivite and Buddhist
claims originated not in the northwest of Indian subcontinent but
 in the southern portion of  ancient Tamil region which includes
 present Tamilnadu and Kerala. For this to be resolved, the critical
problem is the identification of a mountain called "potalaka". Deshpande
 has used S. Beal’s report of Yuan Chwang’s travelogue. Other scholars
such as Lal Mani Joshi and Shu Hikosaka based on Thomas Watter's work on
Yuan Chwang's travels, have identified the "potiyil/potiyam/potikai"
mountain in Tamilnadu as "potalaka". According to Joshi,
maJjuzrimUlakalpa was discovered from Manalikkara Matam near
Padmanabhapuram in South India. Cunnningham, Nandolal De, and N. Dutt
all suggest that  "potiyil" is "potalaka".


The following is what I read on location of Potalaka.
 - N. Ganesan

GaNDavyUha sUtra locates Potalaka in the deep South.
GanDavyUha was written around 2-3rd centuries AD.
We have Chinese translations of it from 3rd
century onwards. It forms the last section
of Avatamsaka Sutra. It is elaborately carved in
Borabudur (800 AD), painted in China, Korea and Japan.

P. L. Vaidya edited GaNDvyUha in 1960. It is
an improvement over the D. T. Suzuki's earlier edition.
"dakSiNApathe potalako nAma parvatah" (GanDavyUha,
p. 158, ch. 29, line 20). Not only does gaNDavyUha
locate Potalaka in the South, it situates Potalaka
after 7 places in the South and before a Southern
place. It is called "girirAja potalaka". The Potiyil/Potikai
mountain is 4000+ feet high.

D. H. H. Ingalls, An anthology of Sanskrit court
poetry, Harvard up,1965
p. 63
"One verse pictures Lokesvara seated on his mountain
Potalaka which Hsuan Tsang and Taranatha placed in
South India, though in the course of time other
Potalakas were added". Taranatha talks of
'santivarman's journey to Potalaka hill.

Marilyn M. Rhie, The Bodhisattva and the Goddess, 1980
p. 25:
"This version of the compassionate bodhisattva may have
evolved from the GaNDavyuuha (added to the Hua yan suutra in
China in the T'ang dynasty), which describes in one
episode the visit of the pilgrim Sudhana to Avalokitezvara
on Mt. Potalaka in South India. He finds the Bodhisattva
expounding the Sutra of Great Compassion to a host of other
bodhisattvas on western slope of the mountain, where
water flows from many springs and rivulets and where
soft and tender grass grows" (J. Fontein, The pilgrimage
of Sudhana, p. 10)."

T. Watters, On Yuan Chwang's travels in India, 1905
2.229 says:
"In the south of the mo-lo-kuta (malakUTa)
country near the sea  was mo-lo-ya (malaya) mountain, lofty cliffs and
ridges and deep valleys and gullies, on which were sandal, camphor
 and other trees. To the east of this was the pu-ta-lo-ka (potalaka)
mountain with steep narrow paths over its cliffs and gorges in
irregular confusion; on the top was a lake of clear water, whence
 issues a river which on its wayto the sea, flowed twenty times round
 the mountain. By the side of the lake was a deva place frequented by
 kuan-tzu-tsai-p’usa (avalokitezvara). Devotees, risking life,
brave water and mountain to see the p’usa, but only a few succeed in
reaching the shrine. To the people at the foot of the mountain who pray
 for a sight of the P’usa, he appears sometimes as a pazupata tIrthika,
or mahezvara, and consoles the suppliant with his answer."

S. Beal, Si-yu-ki, Buddhist records of the Western world, 1884
2.233  says:
"To the east of the Malaya mountains is Mount Po-ta-la-ka (Potalaka)."

Daiyo Goto, Kanzeon Bosatsu no kenkyu, Tokyo, 1970 says:
Chin-sheng (Chisho, 688-740 AD) of T'ang dynasty
has mentioned that Malaya country is near the Potalaka
mountain, the residence of Avalokitezvara.

L. M. Joshi, Studies in the Buddhist culture of India, 1967
 "This Potalaka is located by Hsuan Tsang in MalakuuTa, identified by
 Cunningham with a tract between Madura, Tanjore and Travancore.
Nandolal De suggested that Potalaka lay in Western Ghats.
Nalinaksha Dutt  suggests that modern Potiyam may represent Potalaka


Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list