Potala(ka) etc

Venkatraman Iyer venkatraman_iyer at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Feb 24 19:02:04 UTC 1999

Geoffrey Samuel wrote:
>Potalaka certainly *could* have been Tirupati, on our present (lack
>of) evidence - certainly the fact that Venkatesvar's identity was
>eventually fixed as Visnu rather than Siva isn't enough to eliminate
> it. Experientially, Venkatesvara seems to me to be much the same
>kind of compassionate saviour deity as Avalokitesvara in the older
>textual material, and it would be nice to think that this most
>important of Buddhist shrines in South India was continuing its
>activity under a new name and management. But we just don't know,
> and I don't find the alternative identifications which have been
>advanced particularly persuasive either, unless someone can come up
> with major new epigraphic or textual evidence.

  Certainly, D. C. Ahir's view that Potalaka is Tirupati has
  the LEAST probability among the contenders. On the contrary,
  N. De, N. Dutt, K. A. N. Sastri, L. M. Joshi ... write that
  Potalaka is in the Malaya mountains near Cape Comorin.

  Cilappatikaram, dated in 5th century by Westeners,
  states unequivocally that Tirupati belongs to TirumAl/Vishnu.
  Also, the many many poems(pAsurams) on Tirupati by Srivaishnava

  Not only that. There is NO other claim from other opposing
  sects. Tirumurugu, the earliest bhakti text on Subrahmanya
  and one of the earliest bhakti cult texts from all of India,
  does not talk of Tirupati as a Murukan center. Nor does Tevaram
  claim Tirupati to be Saivaite. Buddhsit texts also never mention
  Tirupati as a pilgrimage site in Tamil.

  What about Xuan Zang and Zhi Sheng talking of Potalaka
  as in Malaya mountains? I see NO mention of that data from
  7th century in your writing.

  There is an attested Tamil tradition telling Siva teaching Tamil
  to Agastya in Potiyil/Malaya mountains. A 11th century text
  tells that Avalokitezvara teaches Tamil to Agastya. Tradition
  informs that Agastya lives in Mt. Potiyil/Malaya. Early Tamil
  Texts attest to the presence of Daksinamurti cult in
  Mt. Potiyil.

  Note that Nandikezvara kArikA telling NaTarAja
  taught Panini is a South Indian text. IT IS INTRIGUING TO
  NOTE THE PRESENCE OF SANAKA (a Rishi) in the NandikezvarakArikA,
  and hence relationship to DakshinamUrti. NandikezvarakArika
  is most likely written in Tamilnadu. (Despite claiming it
  as Kashmiri text, there is no term NaTarAja occuring anywhere
  in Kashmiri texts. Prof. R. Torella was quoted saying that it is
  more likely a Southern text than from Kashmir).

   There is lot more relations between Siva and Avalokitezvara,
   explained in M. Deshpande, JAOS, 1997 paper. Also,
   "maNi padme hum" and dazabhUmikA sUtra.

   V. Iyer

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