Lankavatara sutra

Venkatraman Iyer venkatraman_iyer at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat Apr 3 01:03:35 UTC 1999

Petr Mares asked:
>Is there Nan2 tian1zhu2, Nan2 yin4du4 or something
>else for South India?
>Actually, the word "Nan2" in Nan2 tian1zhu2 and
>Nan2 Yin2du4 was Chinese word for "south".

 I think we are getting close to the place of origin of
 Lankavatara Sutra. The life history (Nanking woodprint,
 chapter 4 folio 6b line 9) of Hsuan Tsang has Dravida
 with the gloss 'nan-yin' (South India).

 Lokesh Chandra, oDDiyANa: A new interpretation,
 L. Sternbach felicitaion volume, part I, Lucknow, 1979
 p. 491-514

 p. 510
 "PrAjna of Kapiza went to the country of Chen-li where he stayed
for 18 years. He learnt the speech of South India where they pursue
the guhya-piTaka or vidyAdhara-piTaka and practice strange rites.
Thereafter he proceeded to the South where he studied the yoga
tantra, maNDala and mudrA of the 'five families' in more than
3000 gAthAs. Here South India should refer to Kanchi, for in the
life of Hsuan-tsang DraaviDa has the gloss nan-yin 'South India'
in miniscule letters, and the capital of DraaviDa was Kancipura."


p  491
" It was from oDDiyAna that Padmasambhava went to Tibet and firmly
laid the foundation of vajrayAna in the Land of Snows.

  Hence the present multidimensional approach to a fresh consideration
of the geographic location of oDDiyAna, the heart land of vajrayAna."

" When oDDiyAna was identified with UdyAna, South India had not come to
occupy a place of relevance in the evolution of Buddhism, and as such
how could it strike any investigator that oDDiyAna could have a
South Indian derivation. It was beyond speculation that it could
be a Tamil word. As it will be clear in sequence, oDDiyAna in Tamil
means 'girdle' like its Sanskrit counterpart kAJci. In fact,
oDDiyAna is kAJci. Kanci was one of the seven great cultural
metropolis of India and the glorious capital of the Pallavas, who
played a major role in the diffusion of vajrayAna to lands beyond
the seas. The South Indian places of zrIparvata, dhAnyakaTaka, Potalaka
and oDDiyAna
were some of the foremost creative centers of mantrayAna, especially,
of systems centering around Vairocana namely the 1) Avatamsaka sutras
2) caryA tantras and 3) yoga tantras - in all the three, the Cosmic
Buddha was Vairocana with varying iconographic attributes. It is not
surprising that the land par excellence of vajrayAna in the Tibetan
tradition, should be oDDiyAna=Kanci."

p. 502
"The acculturation of 'Saiva into Buddhist tradition may have taken
in South India and thence it was transmitted to Indonesia where
'Siva-Buddha syncretism was deeply entrenched."

p. 510
"PrAjJa translated anew the avatamsakasUtra in 40 fasciculi. It is
important to note that at the end there is a letter addressed to the
Chinese emperor from the King of Wu-ch'a (UDa) in South India, who
presented his own copy of the Sanskrit text to the Chinese Emperor in
A.D. 795 (Nj. 89). Here Wu-ch'a (UDa) is explicitly stated to be
situated in South India, and it can be none other than

p. 511
" 7. Conclusion:
    The evidence of different Buddhist traditions points to the origin
 of Paaramitaayaana and Mantrayaana in the South and its spread thence
 to other regions of India. The linguistic evidence of the oDDiyAna
 itself, the presence of South Indian vocables in dhAraNIs, the
 unanimous traditions about the origination of tantras in various
 places of Southern India, and the fact that Kanci was a cradle of
 Buddhism as well as a centre for the dissemination of vajrayAna to
 East Asia: all converge to the conclusion that oDDiyAna is Kanci."

For mahayana evolution and tantrayAna origins in the Tamil country,
the learned author, Lokesh Chandra's article is recommended.

V. Iyer

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