Mount Potalaka in Malaya mountains

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Feb 12 18:06:03 UTC 1999

  Descriptions of Mt. Potalaka are found in Chinese texts in
  420 AD and in 695 AD. We do not just depend on Hsuan Tsang's (?)
  description alone to locate Mt. Potalaka.

  A. C. Soper, Literary evidence for early Buddhist art in China,
  1959, Switzerland, p. 163:
  [Begin Quote]
  "The Six Dynasties translation of the Avatamsaka sUtra, done by
  Buddhabhadra between 418 and 420 or 421, introduces the two
  (Sudhana and Avalokitezvara -NG) thus (84):
   `Going continually on and on, he made his way to Mount Radiant,
  which he ascended. On it he looked everywhere for the Bodhisattva
  Avalokitezvara, whom he [finally] found on the western slope.
  Everywhere there were running springs and bathing pools; the woods
  grew dense, and the  ground was softly mantled with vegtation.
  [The deity] sat cross-legged on a diamond treasure-throne,
  surrounded by innumerable adoring  Bodhisattvas, preaching for
  them a sUtra of great compassion and pity...'

    Here Bodhisattva is called Kuan-shih-yin and the mountain is
  Kuang-ming Shan. In the T'ang translation of the same work, done
  between 695 and 699, both names are modernized, the first to
  Kuan-tzu-tsai and the second to 'Pu-ta-lo-chia' ie., Potalaka (85)"

  (84) Nanjio's no. 87, the Ta Fang-kuang Fo Hua-yen Ching:
  DaizOkyO, IX, no. 278, li, p. 718a
  (85) Nanjio's no. 88, the Ta Fang-kuang Fo Hua-yen Ching:
  DaizOkyO, X, no. 279, lxviii, p. 366c.
  [End of quote from Alexander Soper's classic study].

  Mount Potalaka's description in avatamsaka translation is from
  420 AD and 695 AD and these are independent of Hsuan Tsang records.

  A. C. Soper also mentions that these two earliest Avatamsaka
  translations in Chinese never say that Mt. Potalaka is in
  any island.

  Pl. observe that Buddhabhadra is much earlier, preceding Tsang by

  Not only S. Beal and   Th. Watters,  but later experts
  (on early Buddhist China) like  G. Tucci,  A. C. Soper and
   Chun-fang  Yu quote the Hsuan Tsang  material on
   Mt. Pu-ta-lo-chia in Malaya mountains.

  So, until Petr Mares shows some evidence that the Beal and Watters'
  translations are not from T'ang dynasty era, I will go with
  the quoted authors in taking that the Pu-ta-lo-chia passages
  are writings from the T'ang dynasty period.

  N. Ganesan

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