Kashmir, Tamilnadu, Panini, Abhinavagupta, etc.

Tue Feb 16 09:36:38 UTC 1999


If we read Taranatha's "History of Buddhism in India" carefully, we come
to the conclusion that there are two aspects of Potala.

One potala is a geographical place. The other potala is
a mystical place sacred to the buddhists as is vaikuThaM for
vaiSNavAs and kailAsaM for saivAs. We see this mystical Potala
in TArAnAthA's book on page 246 (Motilal Banarasidas, 1990.)
"Why do you keep yourself thus shut from morning to the evening."


"Oh son, I practise nothing special. I simply go to the Potala
hill to listen to the Doctrine from Arya Avalokithesvara
and open the door after comnig back."
It is clear from the above quotation that the person who is shutting
himself in the room is visiting the mystical potala in his meditation.
(cf. Mount Kailas and Kailasam)

As far as the geographical potala is concerned the following quotations
are there. (Page 192)
"He reached the Dhanyakataka caitya in the island of Dhanasri while
moving from there to potala.He had to go through a subterranean way
and then by a route over the earth, which, though existing at that time,
is now under the sea....."

(Page 208)
"......he atlast resolved to goto Potala and sailed to the island of
Dhanasri from Jambudvipa.

"In the Dhanyakataka caitya there, he worshipped Tara and Avalokitesvara
and built a hundred temples for each of them. He went to the Potala hill
and is still living there without renouncing his mortal body."

There are two significant things in the above two quotations.

1. On their way to Potala they go to Dhanasri island and Dhanykataka.
   This indicates that Potala is somewhere in the general area of

2. Between Dhanyakataka and Potala no other geographical places (like
   towns) are mentioned (though forests and a river are mentioned in
   the first case. I have not quoted it).

This shows that there is a strong probability that Taranatha's Potala
is somewhere in the vicinity of Dhanyakataka. (The submerging of
the path under the sea cannot be explained. But then there will always
be more things that we cannot explain than things we can explain in books
of this type).

There are more than one Potala is obvious because there is the duplicate
in Tibet and there appears to be another on the coast of China. This
is natural because Potala appears to be a place of pilgrimage for
Buddhists and duplicte centers of pilgrimage are needed to cater to
people who cannot afford to go very far.(Duplicate Kasis, Prayags etc.
are all over India). We need not be surprised if there duplicate Potalas
in India also.

The basic requirement for Potala is that it should be primarily
a Buddhist center and for its bonafides it should not
invoke proxies like Siva or Dakshinamurti.



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