Mount Potalaka in Malaya mountains

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Feb 8 13:25:28 UTC 1999

Mr. DVN Sarma writes:
> ... Any way the identification
>potika or potiyil with potala/potalaka is arbitrary.

 Identification by Nandolal De, Nalinaksha Dutt, K. A. Nilakanta
 Sastri for Mt. Potalaka as Mt. Potikai/Potiyil is NOT arbitrary.

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)."

Potiyil is the malaya mountain. The topmost point of potiyil reaches
2072.6 metres in height. It is visible from Trivandrum on the west
coast. (So it is not very far from the sea.) The origin of river
tAmraparNi is in potiyil. Potiyil has been historically famous for
sandal tree. There is a ziva temple with pAzupata influence at the
foot of potiyil. Palaniappan has shown earlier
that there is similarity between avalokitEzvara and dakSiNAmUrti
forms, and that the presence of dakSiNAmUrti cult at potiyil has been
 mentioned in the Classical Tamil text, maturaikkAJci.  All these
factors match Hieun Tsang's description and ensure that the
identification of Potalaka with Potiyil by
reputed scholars is not arbitrary.

A Buddhist text called tARAsukkam refers to Tara, avalokitezvara as
"potalagiri nivAsinI".  According to this work, avalokitezvara
bodhisattva is seated in this mountain. We know gaNDavyUha states,
"In the southern direction, there is a mountain named potalaka,
where lives a bodhisattva of the name avalokitezvara". Thus, the
Buddhist texts clearly show that "potala" and
"potalaka" are simply alternate names of the same place in

N. Ganesan

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