Re. Devaraja

Ven. Tantra troyoga at YAHOO.COM
Mon Dec 18 03:33:39 EST 2000


Gratitude to R. Srinivasan and N. Ganesan for recent
instructive postings.

Funan was the seedbed for a fusion between Indian and
local culture that produced the new civilization
called "Khmer." Recent postings have clarified this as
_south_ Indian or *Tamil* culture. But technically
speaking I believe "Funan" needs to be considered
pre-Khmer – "Cambodia" being a loosely generic term. I
had heard, but not been made aware of direct Tamil
influence on Early Cambodia. The first Cambodian realm
began no later than the 1st century CE and coincided
with prosperous Indianized kingdom of Funan. Funan is
the Chinese name. Most of what we know comes from
Chinese dynastic annals. From the 2nd to the 6th
century, the Funanese dominion spread across what is
today the southern part of Cambodia and the Mekong
Delta.

Re. Saivism. R. Srinivasan mentions varied forms of
Shiva-based worship and philosophical speculation
among the Khmer. My main source up till now has been
Kamaleswar Bhattacharya, an expert in Khmer epigraphy:
“The Religions of Ancient Cambodia” (97). Saivite
Monism with its “multiple bodies” philosophy was
especially influential among the Khmer. This was also
inspired by Shankar’s Advaita Vedanta school and by
the Tamil Saivite Agamas. In the 7th and late 9th
centuries the Pashupata school also appeared.

Re. Syncretic tendencies. These are marked in Khmer
culture and seem to reflect great religious tolerance.
This was supported theoretically by the Indian notion
of the “unity of self.” Hence the image of Harihara,
half-Vishnu half-Shiva, emerging as early as the
pre-Angkorian period. Its importance is shown by the
naming of the royal town of Hariharaalaya, founded by
Jayavarman I as the capital of his Aninitapura
kingdom. It was the Cambodian capital immediately
preceding the first Angkorian city of Yashodharapura.

Re. Shiva-Buddha syncretism is also evident. In a
Sanskrit inscription dated 1067, there is an
enlargement of the classic Hindu-trinity in order to
incorporate the historical Buddha. This extraordinary
Saivite tetralogy is called zaivii caturmuurti,
“Shiva in four-forms.” [Question: Did this innovation
appear in the Tamil country or anywhere in India or
elsewhere?] The inscription relates the rising of a
Shivalinga together with the images of Vishnu, Brahma
and Buddha. At their highest respective metaphysical
levels, there is hardly any difference in the two
religions (ibid.). The Buddha assumes four “bodies,”
presumably, Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, Nirmanakaya, and
Shivakaya. An inscription dated 1129, speaks of a
devotee of Shiva offering a gift to the “Buddha of the
Bamboo Park” and specifies Buddha as identified with
Shiva.

Re. Shaktism. Srinivasan comments that the <<Shakti
cult does not seem to have taken deep roots here.>> I
have tended to identify the extreme forms of Shiva
worship as those related to the outgrowth Shiva’s
consort Shakti, the personification of the divine
primordial power. The most excessive of these
incorporate human sacrifice. In India, they are
_thought to have begun_(?) around the 7th century in
Kamarupa (present day Assam), at the infamous Kamakhya
temple. This is where the Vedic injunction svarga
kaamo yajeta or “the heaven-desiring must sacrifice”
was interpreted to its most distressing conclusion. In
1565, 140 victims were decapitated during a single
sacrificial ceremony. Yet, among the Khmer, human
sacrifice was known as early as the 6th century as
recorded in the Chinese _History of the Sui_: "Near
the Capital is a mountain called Ling-kia-po-p’o, at
the summit of which is a temple always guarded by a
thousand soldiers and consecrated to a spirit named
P’o-to-li, to which they sacrifice men. Each year the
king himself goes into the temple to make a human
sacrifice during the night." I believe this temple is
known today as Vat Phu and located at the summit of
Lingaparvata (Ling-kai-po-p’o), a sacred mountain.

Re. Linga. In the context of human sacrifice, linga
worship may be traceable to primordial cults prevalent
throughout the whole of ancient “monsoon Asia”
(Bhattacharya). Srinivasan offered very clear analysis
from the top down, as it were, from the view of a
superimposed/adopted Saivite philosophy. A primordial
perspective, from the bottom up, may also be relevant.
This entertains an autochthonous people involved in
forms of supplication performed for the promotion of
agricultural and feminine fecundity. In this regard,
the culturally sophisticated shivalinga, as the symbol
of the fertilizing energy of Shiva, was originally a
primitive phallic symbol “descended from the uncarved
stones of earth cults” And indeed, the rite of setting
up large long stones in the soil (vis. the menhir) and
conducting human sacrifice before them, was a
widespread feature of primordial cultures throughout
the Neolithic world. [Paul Mus, ('34)]. This is
running too long now.

Rgrds.

VT





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