Re: [INDOLOGY] Vajrasūcī

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan palaniappa at
Mon Jan 27 20:04:03 UTC 2020

In this discussion so far, nobody has mentioned the Maṇimēkalai, the Tamil Buddhist epic, usually dated to 6th century CE. In chapter 13, the character Āputtiraṉ who was born to an adulterous Brahmin woman and brought up by a cow, tries to save a cow from being sacrificed by some Brahmins, but is caught by the Brahmins. When they insult Āputtiraṉ as behaving like a son of a cow, he says, “Acalaṉ was the son of a cow. Ciruṅki was the son of a deer. Viriñci was the son of a tiger. Kēcakampaḷaṉ was the son of a jackal praised by eminent persons/men of real wisdom. Given that these sages of your group were exalted persons of high honors, is there anything degrading in this world to belong to a lineage of a cow, you people of the four Vedas?” Later, when a Brahmin reveals the illegitimate birth of Āputtiraṉ, Āputtiraṉ questions the birth of Agastya and Vasiṣṭha also. 


There is a later work called Kapilarakaval which has been published as ‘Kapilarahaval: A Tamil Poem on Caste’ by A. V. Subramania Aiyar in 1975 with a free English rendering. The text questions the birth of Vasiṣṭha, Śakti, Parāśara, and Vyāsa. In his introduction and notes Aiyar compares the text with the Maṇimēkalai and the Vajrasūci. This text is dated by Aiyar to the 10th Century CE although others had given it a later date.  


Hope this helps.






From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at> on behalf of Indology List <indology at>
Reply-To: Hartmut Buescher <buescherhartmut at>
Date: Sunday, January 26, 2020 at 2:53 PM
To: <steiner at>
Cc: Indology List <indology at>
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Vajrasūcī


Thanks for the interesting references expanding on the notion of 

an ākāśagāmin in immediate textual association with the early Aśvaghoṣa, 

and likewise to Dan for reminding me/us of YS 3.42. 

Of course, the spiritual metaphors of moving in(to)/within space and doing 

so 'auf dem Pfade des Windes' are both ancient and belong together; we just 

have to recall the frequently studied Vedic hymn ṚV 10.136. 

Thus, considered decontextualized, Vajrasūcī 12 has little force with respect 

to revealing much about its historical authorship. 

Yet, when stumbling over this verse, its authorship had already been 

disconnected from Aśvaghoṣa, the 1st–2nd century CE author, with the 

weight of his erudition by Vincent, saying “we might perhaps agree that 

the Vajrasūcī is unlikely to have been composed before the 3rd-4th century CE. 

I am inclined to believe that it is even younger.” Placing the terminus post quem 

into the 3rd-4th century does likewise entail that “the word of caution about 

chronology with respect to Manu” as shortly elaborated by Johannes Bronkhorst, 

however pertinent for the cases adduced, has rather lost its relevance for 

the Vajrasūcī. And having not yet met with the notion of an ākāśagāmin 

in the various Buddhist philosophical contexts elaborating their notions of

mārga in the centuries pointed out as the temporal frame for preliminarily 

(at the present stage of our knowledge) locating a terminus post quem, the

question of siddhācārya as a marker that distinguishes the Vajrasūcī’s author

Aśvaghoṣa from Aśvaghoṣa, the 1st–2nd century CE author, did assume 

suggestive significance. That is, despite the often questionable reliability

of colophons. 

Yet, once we hypothetically admit the significance of such a marker to 

socially and historically contextualize a siddhācārya Aśvaghoṣa, it is possible 

to look at the assertion of Vajrasūcī 12 and try to understand it in the broader 

context of how the Buddhists historically have dealt with the ethical problem 

of killing animals/sentient beings and enjoying them as food for human beings

(ritually embedded or not). Doing so one may arrive at reasonable results,

which nevertheless remain hypothetical ones, unless additionally backed up.


All the best, Hartmut




On Sun, Jan 26, 2020 at 4:48 PM Roland Steiner via INDOLOGY <indology at> wrote:

> the notion of an *ākāśagāmin*

See also:

Buddhacarita 1.80: [...] pavanapathena yathāgatam jagāma.

Allegorical play (probably by Aśvaghoṣa); description of the eight  
ṛdhhi-s of the Buddha: ... (pakṣī)va vyomni yāti ... (ed. Lüders 1911,  
p. 66).

Aśvaghoṣa's Śāriputraprakaraṇa : ca vāyoḥ / (Lüders, "Das  
Śāriputraprakaraṇa, ein Drama des Aśvaghoṣa", p. 396; n. 4:  
"Sicherlich war hier vom Wandeln 'auf dem Pfade des Windes' [...] die  

Roland Steiner

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