'Siva and Avalokitezvara

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 16 15:30:50 UTC 1998

Jan Fontein, The pilgrimage of Sudhana, A study of
GaNDavyUha illustrations in China, Japan and Java, 1967.
p. 3
"The history of the translation into Chinese of the many
different parts of this voluminous sUtra is extremely
complicated and cannot be reviewed in detail here. The
GaNDavyUha in all probability dates back to the first
centuries of our era. The text is probably of
South Indian origin. The starting-point of Sudhana's
pilgrimage lies in the South and the sages of the South
play a most important role in it. Some of the nonfictional
place names mentioned in the text can be localized
in the South."

'Siva, Avalokite'svara, Southern connections are brought
out in the GaNDavyUha beautifully. This text is 2-3rd
centuries AD. Much before KumarajIva or Hsuan Tsang.

In South India (dakSiNApatha), more than 10 places
are told as places of kalyaaNamitras (Sudhana's "good friends").
The kalyaaNamitra just before the last one in South India
is Avalokitezvara. Immediately after Avalokitezvara's
home Potalaka, Sudhana goes to the next Kalyanamitra site,
the last Southern site mentined in GaNDavyUha.
This kalyaaNamitra situated in the final, last
Southern site whom Sudhana meets is Mahadeva.

After meeting Avalokitezvara, and then Mahadeva
in their homes, Sudhana goes back to BodhimaNDa,
the home of historic Buddha.

GaNDavyUha narrates the residences of
Avalokitezvara and Mahadeva ('Siva) next to
each other and as a concluding segment of
the Southern pilgrimage. And, this is quite

May be this grand ultimate placement in GaNDavyUha gives us an
indirect hint of the importance of 'Saivism, the role of 'Siva
in South India, coalescing of Avalokitezvara and 'Siva
in the first centuries AD. From fifth century AD,
we are on more solid ground, these phenomena can be
observed in texts and sculptures in South India
(and Southeast Asia).

N. Ganesan


Paul Wheatley, The Mount of the Immortals, A note on
Tamil cultural influence in fifth-century Indochina,
Oriens Extremus, v. 21, no. 1, 1974, p. 97-109.

   In 484 A.D., King KauNDinya Jayavarman of Funan sent an
   envoy to China, reported in Chinese chronicles. Wheatley's
   primary focus is to show that "Siva's mountain called
   as Mayentiram in Tamil is what is transcribed into
   Chinese and Cambodian. In his own words,

 "But it is still the Sanskrit name Mahendra that is associated
  with the god, and this is a form that cannot have been the
  original of the Chinese transcripion Mu^a-t^.am. Somewhat
  unexpectedly in the general context of the brahmanization of
  Southeast Asia as it had been customarily presented, it is in
  *Tamil* (not Sanskrit) "saivaite literature that the source
  of the Chinese transcription must be sought. The relevant
  texts have recently been assembled in convenient translation
  by Professor Filliozat ("New researches"), from whose versions
  the following citations are taken.

   The earliest extant Tamil reference to 'Siva as the King of
  Gods occurs in the 6th century TiruvirattaimaNimaalai of the woman
  saint Karaikkaalammaiyar, who unequivocally designates the god
  as "Lord of the Immortals" (amarar piraan). But the most numerous
  and most explicit passages ensconcing "Siva on Mount Mahendra are
  to be found in Tiruvaacakam, the 'Sacred Utterances' that constitute
  a veritable spiritual autobiography of the Tamil saint
  MaNikkavAcakar, perhaps the greatest of all exponents of the
  "saivasiddhaanta, who lived probably during the 9th century."


  "Phonology and context here combine to support the conjecture that
in MayEntiram, the Tamil form of the name of the abode of "Siva,
is to be discerned the origin of the Chinese Mu^a-t^.am" ...

  "The use of the Tamil form of a name in a deposition submitted to
the Chinese court in 484 A.D. is at first sight surprising in view
of the general function of Sanskrit in the early centuries of the
Christian era as the language of literary communication both within
the Indian subcontinent, and abroad, but it is not the only instance
of Tamil cultural influence in southern Indo-China during the
B'iu-n^.am period, nor is the earliest. In the style of an ancestor
of a ruler tributory to B'iu-n^.am who is mentioned on the famous
stele from Vo-ca.nh, Filliozat has discerned a tamil royal title
(BEFEO, 55, 1969, p.107-116). The ancestor in question appears on the
stele as "Sri Maara, which Filliozat has shown, in the context
established by the inscription, can only have been a Sanskrit
rendering of MaaRan, a frequent element in the titularies of the
Pandyan Kings of Madurai" ...

 Because Tamil Mayentiram is found in China in 484 A.D., Saivism
should have flourished in the South India in 3-4rd centuries.
 Of course, we have Sangam texts and the famous linga from
GuDimallam, Tamilnadu (2nd or 1st cent. BC) for proof.

Additionally, GaNDavyUha also points to early prevalences of 'Saivism
in South India.

N. Ganesan

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