Mount Potalaka in Malaya mountains

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Feb 11 15:54:47 UTC 1999

Tibetologists have told me that Potala and Potalaka are one
and the same place, a Mountain. The term Potalaka occurs in earlier
Tibetan texts. Potala palace is named after Mt. Potalaka, the
abode of Avalokitezvara (GaNDavyUha). In Tibet, Dalai Lama is
considered an incarnation of Avalokitezvara. Sinologists
have told also that "Chinese like to shorten Potalaka
as P'u t'o and they mean one and the same". -NG


Chun-fang Yu, P'u-t'o Shan: Pilgrimage and the Creation
of the Chinese Potalaka, UCalif.p, 1992

"Such travel accounts to Mount Potalaka were well known
in India and Tibet. Tucci mentions two Tibetan accounts:
one *Po ta la'i lam yig*, contained in the bsTan'gyur,
was written by Spyan ras gzigs dban p'yug, supposed to
be Avalokitezvara himself; the other, an account written by
Taaraanaatha (b. 1575) in which the travel of zAntivarman to
Potala is narrated, is later than the first. The book
Sheng mentioned could be the Po ta la'i lam yig. On the other
hand, it could be some earlier book, for "a travel to
Potala is already known to Hsuan-tsang, viz., to an author
who wrote some centuries before the Po ta la'i lam yig of which
we are speaking; this in fact, is certainly late as its
contamination with 'Saiva ideas (the linga) clearly shows".
In this account known to Hsuan-tsang, Mount Potalaka is
East of Malaya Mountain. One reaches its Summit via a
winding and narrow path over cliffs and gorges. At the
summit is a lake from which flows a river that runs twenty
times around the mountain. In a stone temple Kuan-tzu-tsai
Bodhisattva dwells. Many devotees attempt to reach that place,
but very few succeed. The people living at the foot of the
mountain who worship him are blessed by a vision of the
Bodhisattva in the aspect of Paazupata Tiirthika or Mahezvara.
(G. Tucci, 1958, Minor Buddhist Texts, p. 409-500, part 2)"


 Is the pu-ta-lo-chia in Malaya mountain considered a late
 "contamination" because 'Saiva ideas come merged with
  Avalokitezvara. This is a major problem because many
  Buddhism specialists in the West and Orient and Indologists have
 not heard or worked in South Indian matters - texts, art,
 languages, etc.,

 'Siva and Avalokitezvara merged quite early in South India
  especially in Tamil Nadu. (cf. 'Siva and
  Avalokitezvara thread in Indology; many quotes from
  DasabhUmika sUtra onwards were provided).

  Or, Mt. pu-ta-lo-chia (Potalaka) in Malaya mountains
  is considered "late" beacuse the later Chinese tradition
  took Mt. Potalaka to an island?

  Hope Petr Mares will tell about the date/century of
  the passage given by Thomas Watters (1905) and S. Beal (1884)
  (not Bael)  as Hsuan Tsang's travel records about Mt. Potalaka
  in Malaya mountains. In other words, I am merely interested
  in the approximate century of that passage, that's all.
  (Unfortunately, I do NOT read Chinese; please please don't
   send Chinese character scans).

  I read Journey to the West novel; There are four follow ups to
  that 16th century novel also. I am not talking of these.

  N. Ganesan

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