Mount Potalaka in Malaya mountains

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Feb 2 19:20:51 UTC 1999

Mr. D. V. N. Sarma wrote:
Very close to nAgArjunakoNDA is waterfalls called "etti pOtala".
 The word "pOtala" means waterfalls and "etti" means "lifted high".
Perhaps the naGarjunakoNDA mountain was also known among bhikkus as
"pOtalaka", a mountain in the vicinity of "pOtala" (=waterfalls)
 "ka" being a  sanskrit  pratyaya hiving the meaning "related to".
This is the identification I am  proposing. This waterfalls can be
seen from the nAgArjunkoNDa is only a few kilometers from it.

nAgArjunakoNDA and Mount Potalaka are two different places in
Buddhist texts. Both of them are in Southern India separated
 hundreds of miles.

1) In the GaNDavyUha sUtra, 2nd century AD, Bodhisattva Manjusri
instructs Sudhana, the Pilgrim boy and a native of
DhanyakaTaha/amarAvatI, to start his pilgrimage from his home town
and go south to meet various kalyANamitras.

Sudhana travels south further and further and finally meets
Avalokitezvara in MOUNT POTALAKA.

If Potala is the waterfalls that "can be seen from the nAgArjunakoNDA"
 which is only about 60 miles southwest from amarAvatI as the crow
flies, why does Sudhana go South to DramiDapaTTaNa (Tamil city)
Vajrapura first and goes further south to Potalaka?

2) Hsuan Tsang around 640 AD writes that from dhAnyakaTaka he
travelled more than 2500 li to reach Kanchipuram. 3000 li SOUTH of
Kanchipuram is malakUTa country which is a depot for seapearls.
(According to K. A. NilakaNTa Sastri, this refers to the Pandya
kingdom.) The malaya mountain with sandal, camphor,
and other trees is in malakUTa country. To the east of this is
pu-ta-lo-ka (Potalaka) mountain.

3) Following Hsuan Tsang, several scholars in the last 100 years or
so, have identified Potalaka as Mt. Potikai/Potiyil/Potiyam whose
kuRRaalam waterfalls is well known. Some examples from early 20th
century are: Nandolal De, Nalinaksha Dutt, K. A. NilakaNTa Sastri, ...

4) Mount Malaya is known as Potiyil/Potikai in Tamil literature for
2200 years and Monier Williams quotes dakSiNAcala and DaNDin of the
Pallava court calls it dakSiNadri.

5) Agastya is the legendary resident of Mount Potikai/Potalaka in
Sanskrit and Tamil. Many Tamil 'Saivite texts inform that Agastya
learnt  Tamil from  and a Buddhist text says Avalokitezvara taught
 Tamil to Agastya. (cf. Indology thread with the title: Where was
Panini inspired?). This myth might have its origin in the god
"tennavan" (dakSiNAmUrti) of the Potikai/Potalaka mentioned
in Maturaik KaaJci, a Classical Tamil text.

6) Hsuan Tsang says that to Paazupata Tiirthikas, Bodhisattva
Avalokiezvara appears as Mahezvara. Note that an inscription of 10th
 century mentioning the presence of pAzupatas has been found at
kuRRaalam 'Siva temple. This temple has been praised in Tevaram
of the seventh century.

7) We have many Buddhist material on nAgArjunakoNDa. If potalaka
 was at nAgArjunakONda, why NO inscriptions from nAgArjunakoNDa
or texts mentioning nAgArjunakoNDa say anything about the famous
Mt. Potalaka there?

By the way, does anybody know when the earliest attestation for
the name 'pOtala' (waterfalls) is?

N. Ganesan

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