Re Potala(ka), etc

Lakshmi Srinivas lsrinivas at YAHOO.COM
Fri Feb 26 22:29:27 UTC 1999

White water rafting is not my favorite sport (nor is fishing in
troubled waters for that matter ;-))). Regardless I could not help
adding my own two cents' worth.

---Geoffrey Samuel  wrote:

> On S. Palianappan's description of the Venkata deity from
> (and much else in this discussion) - I wish I could read Tamil. It
is clear
> that the identification of the Venkata deity as Visnu goes back before
> Ramanuja, but I don't think this is in contest - the question is
> there were other interpretations as well.

To which Dr Ganesan replies:

>More important is the fact that no other claim on Tirupati.  For
>TirumurukARRuppaTai (5th cent. AD), listing all important
>Skanda-Murukan sites does NOT include Tirupati (vEGkaTam).
> Also, the Saivaite texts such as Karaikkal ammai and Tevaram
> do NOT stake a claim to Tirupati.

I do agree entirely with N. Ganesan. There does not appear to be any
claim in the sectarian texts dedicated to Murukan or Siva.

Re what  the dispute might have been during Ramanuja's time (alluded
to in S. Palaniappan's post), one can only make an informed guess.
Aggressive posturing towards the vaishnava institutions (with and
without the support of the cOza administration) could have been one
cause as witness the consecration of a siva temple during Ramanuja's
lifetime in ChOkinUr (modern TiruchAnUr, a suburb of Tirupati) cheek
by jowl with a Vishnu temple. (ChOkinUr was a big vaishnava center in
those days). The epigraphic record speaks of considerable friction
between the two temple committees.

Notwithstanding the above,  there is one verse (pEyAzwAr 63)  in the
Vaishnava canon itself which does cause considerable confusion with
regard to the identity of the image:

tAzcaDaiyum nILmuDiyum oNmazuvum cakkaramum
cUzaravum ponnANum tOnRumAl -
cUzumtiranDaruvi pAyum tirumalaimEl entaikku
iranDuruvum onRAy icaintu.

                                         (Divyaprabandham 2344)

It talks of the image (adorned/unadorned? ... perhaps the former) in
terms of pairs of attributes (low hanging jaTA & long hair), (mace
&discus), ( snake around him  &  golden thread). It concludes by
saying that "both forms become one in fitting our Lord".

Now I do not think there is any optical illusion here. It appears that
the shrine in those days was in the open. This is evident from the
Divyaprabandham as well as from the cilappatikAram verse quoted by S

Now there is a school of thought that this verse is a spurious
interpolation, albeit ancient, of the substitution type. (Substitution
because of the antAti type construction wherein the first word of a
verse is chained from the last word of the preceding verse). However
the Srivaishnavas themselves do not think this is an interpolation
owing perhaps to the sanctity of the received text of the

Discus and conch episode quoted by Chandrasekaran Periyannan appears
to me to be some sort of a hagiographical account.

That brings us back to this verse.

Thanks and Warm Regards.

Lakshmi Srinivas

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