Kashmir, Tamilnadu, Panini, Abhinavagupta, etc.

Bijoy Misra bmisra at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Thu Feb 18 15:23:30 UTC 1999

Can this discussion be more respectful?

Some of us do not know what the true story is,
but I think a person can't be as bad as is depicted.
Besides he is a member in this list as all are.
No, I don't have personal knowledge of any of
the personalities.  I just wish a better articulation
of the difference in view.

Bijoy Misra

On Thu, 18 Feb 1999, Christopher Fernandez wrote:

> I thought D.V.N. Sarma had earlier proved his penchant for illogical
> statements. Now, in his recent posts
> on the location of Potalaka, he has outdone himself by revealing his
> prejudice also.
> Regarding Potalaka, Sarma first said,  "All the writers say that it is
> the
> abode of Tara and Avalokitesvara and not of Siva or Dakshinamurty. Any
> place which is not primarily a buddhist center is UNFIT to be
> considered as a candidate of Potala."  Later, he also said, "I do not
> think the Buddhist authors concealed
> any Saivaite connections because most of the quotations that are being
> mentioned in support of the  equivalence of Siva and Avalokitesvara are
> from them." I do not think he is capable of realizing that he is
> contradicting himself.
> Sarma further says, "A place which the most sacred to the Buddhists and
> which is the abode of the
> Mahayanic dieties Tara and Avalokitesvara must be primarily and
> originally a Buddhist center." He further
> expands on why Potiyil cannot be Potalaka by saying, "First of all it
> has to be a Buddhist center. Or else
> generations of Buddhists cannot be expected to consider it to be place
> of pilgrimage."  But in his response
> to G. Samuel�s post, "Re: Potalaka", on 11/28/97, he is not averse to
> saying that Tirupati in southern
> Andhra Pradesh, which generations of vaiSNavites have considered to be a
> place of pilgrimage was a
> zaivite place originally. It looks as if it is too much to expect
> consistency in Sarma�s arguments. All over
> the world there are many sacred sites which have been taken over by
> religions different from the ones
> controlling it originally.  The same site can also be held by different
> religions to be a holy site at the same time.
> The zaiva-Buddhist connection regarding Potalaka is validated by
> Hsuan-tsang�s description regarding the
> Deva -palace on Potalaka frequented by avalokitezvara and how he appears
> as mahezvara also. It is also
> well-known that Hsuan-tsang did not go south of Kanchi. But it is really
> immaterial that Hsuan-tsang did
> not go south of Kanchi. What is significant, however, is that he had
> written down what the prevailing views
> were regarding Potalaka in the seventh century (around A.D. 629
> according to M. M. Deshpande�s paper in
> JAOS, 1997). Even if one concedes the possibility of that section being
> a later interpolation as Petr Mares
> suggests, the location of Potalaka suggested  in Hsuan-tsang�s
> travelogue was already accepted by Chih-sheng of the late 7th or early
> 8th century as Prof. Yu has indicated. (Unless proved otherwise, one has
> to go
> along with statements of Chih Sheng as accepted by Profs. Yu and Goto.)
> So the interpolation, if any, must
> have occurred not a long time after Hsuan-tsang. This difference in time
> is inconsequential for the present discussion.
> The significance of avalokitezvara/mahezvara connection is even
> discussed by M. M. Deshpande in his
> paper. Sarma does not want to consider this zaivite-Buddhist connection.
> But this same Sarma was not
> averse to highlighting the zaivite connection in case of Tirupati.  As a
> scholar, G. Samuel raised an
> important issue in his post when he said,  "I have no idea whether the
> iconography of the image is  consonant with its having been
> Avalokitesvara beforehand?" The striking iconographic similarity between
> dakSiNAmUrti and avalokitezvara is a valid concern with respect to
> Potalaka and that has been already  discussed by N. Ganesan and S.
> Palaniappan.
> But, now Sarma discounts the significance of the zaivite-Buddhist
> connections for locating Potalaka. A
> scholar has a right to change his views as new information comes along.
> There is nothing wrong with that.
> But, he should be honest enough to admit it and give reasons for it. To
> deny that he ever held a different
> view is an act of foolishness. After all Indology  archives are there
> for anybody to see. Sarma�s illogical
> basis for argumentation seems to be that if it is a site in the Tamil
> region, any amount of suporting evidence
> is not enough to identify it as Potalaka. If it falls outside the Tamil
> region, one can use  the flimsiest and
> non-existent associations to identify it as Potalaka. For instance, if a
> person is described as going from
> origin A (Dhanyakataka)  to destination B (Potala), and if no other
> geographical places (like towns)
> between the two are mentioned, then according to Sarma, A and B must be
> close to each other. This is utter
> nonsense.  Another instance of his illogical position is that if
> Potalaka is Nagarjunakonda, one does not
> have to worry much about explaining the submerging of the path under the
> sea. If it is in Potiyil, this same
> Sarma turns around and demands that unless Potiyil can satisfactorily
> explain the submerged path, he
> cannot accept the location. This double standard is prejudice at its
> worst and is not the mark of a true scholar.
> Sarma also has an amazing defense. When confronted with a fact he cannot
> refute, he resorts to "What I
> have said is clear". Clear as mud, it is indeed. Instead of beating
> around the bush, he can simply say, "I
> simply hate Tamil and if Potalaka is said to have been in the Tamil
> region, I will not accept it whatever and
> however much supporting evidence is presented."  To an impartial
> outsider, however, I think Ganesan has
> presented enough evidence to convincingly locate Potalaka in the Potiyil
> mountain. If  Sarma wants to have
> his head in the sand, that is his problem.
> Sincerely Yours,
> Chris
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