'Siva and Avalokitezvara, pANinian tradition and dakSiNAmurti

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Sat Dec 19 21:11:59 UTC 1998

The following verses from tirumantiram, the oldest Tantric work in Tamil and
perhaps one of the oldest Tantric works, are very interesting from the point
of view of Zaivite-Buddhist syncretism. It should be noted that these verses
occur in the "autobiographical" section. The verses are based on kazakam

cErntu iruntEn2 civa maGkai tan2 paGkan2aic
cErntu iruntEn2 civan2 AvaTu taN tuRai
cErntu iruntEn2 civa pOtiyin2 nIzalil
cErntu iruntEn2 civan2 nAmaGkaL OtiyE (tiru. 140)

JAn2at talaivitan2 nanti nakar pukku
Un2am il on2patu kOTi yukam tan2uL
JAn2ap pAl ATTi nAtan2ai arccittu
yAn2um iruntEn2 nal pOtiyin2 kIzE      (tiru. 142)

In the first verse ziva is said to be staying in the shade of the "zivabodhi"
tree. The commentators take it to be pipal tree but we cannot be certain if
tirumUlar is not calling banyan tree by the term zivabodhi. But the use of the
term bodhi indicates a buddhist precursor.

In the second verse, bodhi is not qualified by any modifier.  Here the auhor
is said to have been under the same tree.

Earlier when the author's lineage of teachers is described, the following
verse is the first verse.

nanti aruL peRRa nAtarai nATiTin2
nantikaL nAlvar civayOka mAmun2i
man2Ru tozuta pataJcali viyAkramar
en2Ru ivar en2n2OTu eNmarum AmE    (tiru. 129)

Here the first students taught by nanti (ziva) are four nantis (four students,
i.e., can2kar, can2antan2ar, can2Atan2ar, canaRkumArar based on the
commentary) civayOka mAmun2i, and pataJcali (pataJjali) and viyAkramar both
who worshipped in the hall, and tirumUlar himself. The form of ziva referred
to here is clearly dakSiNAmUrti who in earlier texts is associated not with
pipal tree but banyan tree.

This opens the possibility that while the sacredness of banyan (ziva), pipal
(buddhist) and saraca indica (jain) trees may be pre-Vedic in origin, the
motif of a teacher sitting under a tree may very well have been buddhist in
origin but adopted by zaivites or at least the term ziva bodhi suggests that
the replacement of banyan with pipal could be due to buddhist influence.

Since the dakSiNAmUrti (ziva as a teacher) motif is a southern motif, I
suggest that the story regarding pANini must have originated in south India
and travelled to northwest.

S. Palaniappan

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