Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Buddhists Heritage of Tamil Nadu and links with SL

The cultural affinities between Tamil Nadu, our closest neighbour and Sri  Lanka are many but little is known of the religious ties which bound the two countries between the early years of the Christian era and the 14thcentury AD, during which time Buddhism was prevalent in South  India.    Buddhism came to South India before the third Sangam period in the 2nd century BC. Pandit Hisselle Dharmaratana Maha Thera, “Buddhism in South India” states that there is evidence that Ven. Mahinda Thera, Emperor Asoka’s son, also spread the Dhamma in Tamil Nadu. The Maha Thera states, “although the chronicles say he arrived through his supernatural powers, scholars are of the opinion that he travelled by sea and called at Kaveripattinam on the east coast of Tamil Nadu on his way to Sri Lanka,” Dr. Shu Hikosaka, Director Professor of Buddhism, Institute of Asian Studies in Madras, in his book ‘Buddhism in Tamil Nadu a new perspective’ also takes the same view.

Hsuan Tsang, the Chinese 7th Century, Buddhist monk, scholar, traveller, mentions that in the Pandyan kingdom near Madurai, there is a monastery built by Mahinda Thera. He also mentions a stupa built by King Asoka in Kanchipuram. Stone inscriptions of the Emperor Asoka, Rock Edict no 3, refers to the Dhamma being spread in the Chola, and Pandya country (Tamil Nadu) and Tambapanni (Sri Lanka).  Buddhism flourished in Tamil Nadu in two phases, firstly in the early years of the Pallava rule 400-650 AD, and secondly in the Chola period mid 9th to the early 14th century AD. There were many centres of Buddhism in Tamil Nadu among them were Kanchipuram, Kaveripattinam, Uraiyur and Nagapattinam. The Chinese Buddhist monk scholar, Hsuan Tsang, who visited India in the 7th century AD, describes Kanchipuram as a flourishing city and states that most of its population was Buddhist. He says there were over 100 Buddhist monasteries and over a thousand Buddhist monks. He also mentions the presence of 300 monks from Sri Lanka in the monastery at the Southern sector of Kanchipuram. The Pallava king Mahendra Varman in his Sanskrit work Mattavilasa Prahasana refers to the existence of many Buddhist Viharas, chief of which was the Raja Vihara.  Among the notable Buddhist scholars who were natives of or resident in the city, he mentions Rev. Dharmapala, rector of Nalanda  University, who was a native of the city as was Anuruddha Thera, author of the Abhidammathsasangaha. Although there is evidence that the Rev. Buddhaghosha was resident in Kanchipuram for some time, it is not certain whether he was a native of the city although he was in all probability from the Tamil country.

"The interaction between Tamil Nadu monks and Sri Lankan monks is also mentioned in the Manimakalai, the 6th Century Tamil literary epic by Sattanar"

Dr. Hikosaka in his book points out that during the Pallava period Tamil Nadu had outstanding Tamil monks who made remarkable contributions to Buddhist thought and learning. Among them we may mention Buddhadatte Thera who authored many books. In the Abhidhammaratana, he gives a glowing account inter-alia of Kaveripattinam and Kanchipuram and the Mahavihare at Sri  Lanka. While he was in Sri  Lanka, he composed many Buddhist works such as Uttara Viniccaya, Ruparupa Vibhaga and Jinalankara. Another famous Tamil monk, Buddhaghosha, contemporary of Bhuddhadatta, composed many Buddhist commentaries. Buddhaghosha made a remarkable contribution to Buddhism in Sri  Lanka. He stayed and studied Buddhist precepts at the Maha Vihare in Anuradhapura. The Visuddimagga was the first work of Buddhaghosha while in Sri  Lanka. While staying at the Granthakara Pirivena at Anuradhapura, he rendered Sinhalese commentaries of the Tripitakas into Pali. Another vibrant Tamil monk was Dhammapala.

"Dr. Hikosaka concludes that a study of the three monks shows that Tamil Nadu Buddhists were closely associated with Sri Lankan Buddhists. It will be noticed that the monks used the Pali language in their treatises just as in Europe in the middle ages, the Christian monks used Latin" 

He lived in the Maha Vihare at Anuradhapura and composed a commentary on Buddhaghoshas work. Dr. Hikosaka concludes that a study of the three monks shows that Tamil Nadu Buddhists were closely associated with Sri Lankan Buddhists. It will be noticed that the monks used the Pali language in their treatises just as in Europe in the middle ages, the Christian monks used Latin.  The interaction between Tamil Nadu monks and Sri Lankan monks is also mentioned in the Manimakalai, the 6th Century Tamil literary epic by Sattanar. Among the other Tamil literary epics which show the influence of Buddhism are the ‘Sillappadhihkaram,’ ‘Valaiyapathi Kundalakesi’ and ‘Jivaka Cintamani.’ The ‘Manimekalai’ is a Buddhist work that expounds the doctrines and values of Buddhism. The book also mentions Tamil Buddhists in the island  of Nagadipa off the coast of Jaffna. Since Tamil Nadu was largely Buddhist, one can easily conclude that the Tamil population in the North and East of Sri Lanka was also largely Buddhist.  “The Tamil Buddhists who followed Theravada Buddhism shared common places of worship with the Sinhalese.

There were also Tamil Buddhists who were followers of Mahayana Buddhism, and they had their own Mahayana temples,” states L.K. Devanda in his Book ‘Tamil Buddhism in Ancient South India and Sri  Lanka.’  He points out that there are still some Tamil Buddhist establishments ‘Palli’ in the East of Sri Lanka, and possibly in the Jaffna peninsula. The best known is Velgam Vihara, which was renamed Rajaraja Perun Palli after the Chola emperor. Another was the Vikkirama Calamekan Perumpalli. Velgam Vihara also known as Natanar Kovil by the present day Tamils which stands out as the only known example of a Tamil Vihara or Buddhist Palli. In the words of Dr. Senerath Paranavithana, “an Ancient Buddhist shrine of the Tamil people.”  Some of the Tamil inscriptions found at the site record donations to this shrine and are dated in the reigns of the Chola kings Raja Raja Chola and Rajendra Chola. It was the view of Dr. Paranavithana that the date of the original foundation of the Vihara was considerably earlier.  Devanada writes today Buddhism in Sri Lanka is monopolized by the Sinhalese. There are even those who call it “Sinhala Buddhism,” seemingly unaware of the fact that it is a universal religion. This notion was propagated only in the early 20th century by revivalists such as Anagarika Dharmapala. Unfortunately, he says today the Tamils of Sri Lanka also believe that Buddhism is a Sinhalese religion and alien to them, but this was not the case in the past. 

"Devanada writes today Buddhism in Sri Lanka is monopolized by the Sinhalese. There are even those who call it “Sinhala Buddhism,” seemingly unaware of the fact that it is a universal religion. This notion was propagated only in the early 20th century by revivalists such as Anagarika Dharmapala"

Unlike today, the ancient Buddhist /Hindu civilization in Sri Lanka and the ancient Palli /Sanskrit place names has nothing to do with ethnicity. Hence the Pali, Sanskrit place names in the North and East of Sri Lanka are part of the Tamil Buddhist heritage. The author states that the Tamil politicians, scholars, intellectuals and the Tamil media should make every effort to educate the Tamil public to be aware that Buddhism was a part of Tamil civilization, and in fact the most important part of the Tamil heritage of the North and East of Sri Lanka is its Hindu /Buddhist heritage. Hence the recent efforts by some elements to place Buddha statues in these areas to mark their ethnic presence is entirely misplaced apart from being contrary to the universal values and teachings of Buddhism.

The situation in Tamil Nadu began to change after the 7th century. With the rise of Vaishnavism and Saivism, there was a significant increase in Hindu Braminical influence. The Buddhist and Jain institutions in Tamil Nadu came under attack and they began to lose popular support and the patronage of the rulers. The Chinese scholar monk Hsuan Tsang records instances of Tamil Buddhist monks fleeing to Sri Lanka when they were worsted in religious debates and feared the repercussions of the ruler’s change of religion.

Pandit Hisselle Dharmaratana Maha Thera writes, “although Buddhism declined in the Tamil country from the 7th century onwards it was by no means eradicated.” For several centuries Buddhism still survived though in a state of decline. The continuation of the Mahavamsa states that in the 13th Century King Parakramabahu of Dambadeniya brought down Buddhist monks and scriptures from the Chola country in Tamil Nadu to revive Buddhism in Sri  Lanka.

 During this time there was a great deal of cultural exchange between South India and Sri  Lanka.” The chief of the monks who was brought from South India was Ven. Dhammakitti. He wrote the continuation of the Mahavamsa from the time of king Srimevan up to his time. The Ven. Dipankara of Chola known as Buddhappiya came to Sri Lanka for his studies in Buddhism. He wrote the Pali poem Pajjamadhu (nectar of verses) in adoration of the Buddha. He is also the author of a Pali grammar. The Ven. Buddhamitta and Maha Kassapa were also two monks from the Chola country of Tamil Nadu. They studied the Dhamma in Sri  Lanka and rendered great service to the religion, states Pandit Hisselle Dharmaratane Maha Thera. He goes on to say that this shows that up to the 14th century there were Buddhists monasteries and centres of learning in South India.

There is also evidence that during the invasion of Magha of Kalinga in Sri  Lanka and the destruction of Buddhist monasteries there, monks from Sri Lanka fled to and sought refuge in monasteries in Tamil Nadu. However after the 14th century Buddhism disappeared in South India leaving only traces of its heyday in the many ruins such as we find in Amaravati.

Dr. Nirmala Chandrahasan LL.B (Ceylon) LL.M (Cambridge) Ph.D. (Colombo), Attorney-at Law Consultant – Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR)

Source from:

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The Beauty of Mes Aynak - world's great heritage sites

SAVING MES AYNAKA race against time to save a 5,000-year-old archaeological site in Afghanistan threatened by a Chinese state-owned copper mine 

Saving Mes Aynak follows Afghan archaeologist Qadir Temori as he
races against time to save a 5,000-year-old archaeological site in
Afghanistan from imminent demolition. A Chinese state-owned mining
company is closing in on the ancient site, eager to harvest $100 billion
dollars worth of copper buried directly beneath the archaeological
ruins. Only 10% of Mes Aynak has been excavated, though, and some
believe future discoveries at the site have the potential to redefine
the history of Afghanistan and the history of Buddhism itself. Qadir
Temori and his fellow Afghan archaeologists face what seems an
impossible battle against the Chinese, the Taliban and local politics to
save their cultural heritage from likely erasure.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Naropa festival gets underway with pervading spiritualism

Leh, (Ladakh), Sept. 15: With the Naropa Festival in full swing, monasteries in Ladakh are swarming with devotees and tourists alike and resonating with prayers, music and dance. But the main activity of the festival is centred in and around Hemis Gompa , the largest monastery of its kind. It belongs to the Drukpa Kagyu order and is a living hub of Tibetan Buddhism.

Every great town or region anywhere has its own character and flavour. And in Ladakh, Buddhist monasteries make for a unique spiritual experience. For Ladakhis, who are predominantly of Tibetan descent, it’s the monasteries which set the pattern of their daily life, culture and celebrations. Indeed, Ladakh is known as the land of lamas.

Hemis Monastery has a special place in the hearts of Buddhists, especially those belonging to the Drukpa Kagyu order. Nothing in the region can match its size, architectural beauty and calming effect on the mind. Rising on the western bank of the Indus River on the Leh-Manali Highway, it’s 50 km from Leh town.

The King of Ladakh, Singey Namgail, who was himself an architect, designed the shrine. He is said to have invited a Buddhist monk, the first reincarnation of Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso, in 1620 to establish the monastery.

The central courtyard of the gompa is 60 metres long and 18 metres wide. It’s in this courtyard where dances take place during festivals and other religious occasions. The monastery also has some mesmerising wall paintings of Sakyamuni (the historical Buddha), other Buddha figures and paintings of Tantric deities. So Ladakh provides a visual feast wherever a visitor steps out to explore.
Source: By Newzstreet Media Desk (yahooinnews16 September 2016)

Monday, 11 July 2016

இந்திய நாணயம் - 1839

இந்தியாவை கிழக்கு இந்திய கம்பெனி ஆளும்பொழுது 1839 ஆம் ஆண்டு வெளியிட்ட பகவான் புத்தர் உருவம் பொறித்த நாணயம்...

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Lord Buddha Mantra

நமது வீட்டில் அமைதியும், நலமும் பெற தினமும் ஒலிக்க வேண்டிய மந்திரம்

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Seven Ancient BUDDHIST Caves Found in Mumbai

MUMBAI: Seven caves have been discovered in the forests of the sprawling Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivli, on the northern fringes of the city. The caves are Buddhist 'viharas' (residences for monks) with only one of them showing the remains of a 'harmika' (the top railing of a stupa). They are believed to have been constructed before the Kanheri Caves nearby and probably served as a monsoon shelter for the monks. 

While a formal approval from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is awaited for detailed exploration and documentation of the new caves, the team that has discovered the caves date them between 1st century BCE (or BC) and 5th-6th century CE (or AD). The discovery was made by a three-member team last February under an excavation programme jointly conducted by the Centre for Archaeology, Mumbai University, and the department of ancient Indian culture, Sathaye College, Vile Parle; the head of the department, Suraj Pandit, led the team. 

"The newly discovered caves may have been older than the Kanheri Caves as they were simpler in form and they lacked water cisterns, which are found in the more evolved architecture of Kanheri. Moreover, we found monolithic tools which were prevalent in the 1st century BC. The absence of water cisterns also indicate that monks lived there in the monsoon," said Pandit. 

Pandit said the seven new caves were not an accidental discovery, but rather the result of a systematic survey of the area. Before beginning actual field work, the team carried out documentary research for three months, which included a study of the area's topography and water resources as most viharas were constructed close to a water source. The Kanheri Caves, which date between 1st century BCE and 10th century CE, are famous for their water management and rain water harvesting systems. This helped to zero in on areas where they were most likely to find caves. The team also referred to Pali texts, which describe caves around Rajgir in Bihar, as viharas (residences) of Buddhist monks and expected to find similar viharas, either natural or man-made, around Kanheri. They also studied 150-year-old reports of the ASI to understand how to conduct the exploration. "The reports narrate the discovery of pot shreds and microlithic tools, and we decided to look for these," said Pandit. 

With permission from the forest department to explore the park for new caves, the team, accompanied by two forest guards, began ground exploration towards the end of February last year. Since monks were known to build caves close to water, the team began by hiking to a waterfall beyond the Kanheri Caves. This was a strenuous 20-minute walk to the base of the waterfall. They then hiked up through dense cactus and other shrubs and took another 30 minutes to reach the top of the waterfall. 

"There were caves on either side of the waterfall - three on one side and two on the other. It was very clear these were excavated from the natural rock. The smooth curve, the plastering, the door beams, the benches to sleep on, were all indications that these were man-made caves," said Pandit.

Two of the seven caves discovered in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivli on the northern fringes of Mumbai. They are believed to have been constructed before the Kanheri Caves nearby and probably served as a monsoon shelter for monks.

But the team overlooked a key indicator that would have made the task of finding the caves simpler. "We forgot that in case of most Buddhist caves, access was provided by stairs cut into the rock. Only after we reached the top of the waterfall, we realized there was already a proper path leading to these caves," laughed Pandit. Excited at the discovery of the five caves, they decided to move ahead, but unfortunately as they were moving up a steep slope, Pandit lost his balance, slipped and fell. He fractured his hand and had a deep gash on his head and was rushed to a doctor.

The next day, the other two members of the team - Vinayak Parab, executive editor of a Marathi magazine Lok Prabha, and Akash Pawar, a student of Buddhism at Sathaye College - set out on their own, and found the remaining two caves. One of the caves was actually inhabited till recently and was even surfaced with modern bathroom tiles. It had been used by one of the sadhus living in the park till the Bombay high court, in the late '90s, ordered the eviction of all sadhus from the park. 

Pandit, who did his PhD thesis on the Kanheri Caves, has been continually exploring the national park for new caves. In 2001-02, he had discovered six caves, which were reported to the ASI. A few years earlier, he wrote a book 'Stories in Stone', on various caves in Mumbai, where Parab worked with him and did its photography. So teaming up with Parab for exploring the caves came naturally. Parab himself is an avid hiker. "During my hikes I had come across the tiled cave. It was known as the Mangalakali cave. But back then I never realised that these caves dated back to the 1st or 2nd century BC," said Parab.

Mugdha Karnik, head of Mumbai University's Centre for Extra-Mural Studies, who had set up the varsity's Archaeology Centre, said while people talk about their culture and heritage, a vast majority of people are ignorant about what it actually means. "Even a visit to the Kanheri Caves is merely a distraction from routine life. We want to change that. The city has many archaeological sites that are in danger of being demolished as they make way for new buildings. Such discoveries will help people to preserve their heritage," she said.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Buddhism in Andhra Pradesh

Buddhism not only in Andhra but also in the entire south of India. Andhra culture had its influence on Ceylon Buddhism. Chiefly in arts, sculpture and architecture.

The third counsel which was held during the reign of Ashoka under guidance of Mogalliputa Tissa, delegates of as many as six sects from Andhra i.e. chaityaka, purvasaila, aparasila, uttarsila, rajagirika, siddarthika all described as Andhakas participated.

From now on Andhra played a pivotal role in the history of this religion. After the decline of Magdha Empire, two powerful empires have emerged, Andhra satavahanas in the Deccan and Kushanas in the Northwest.

Andhra was home of Mahayana. From here it spread to other parts of Asia. Andhra was home of Mahayana. From here it spread to other parts of Asia.

News from dhammikaweb

Power of Meditation

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Golfer Anirban Lahiri putting India on the map

(CNN)India is known for many things, but golf is not one of them.

That could all change soon, however, given the emergence of Anirban Lahiri.

The 28-year-old is blazing a trail out of one of the least likely places on earth: a country of over 1.25 billion that fields only two public golf courses.

Born in the Indian city of Pune, the young Lahiri shadowed his father, an Army doctor who played on private military courses. In the intervening two decades, he's rarely put down his clubs.

Lahiri's 2015 was impressive by nearly any golfer's standards: finishing No. 1 on the Asian Tour, 20th on the European Tour, and gaining entry to the prestigious U.S. PGA Tour. To top it off, he tied for fifth in the U.S. PGA Championship -- the best performance by an Indian golfer at any of the four majors.

Suffice to say, Lahiri's stock is on the rise.

Despite a hectic playing schedule, he found time to open up to CNN on everything from meeting Tiger Woods for the first time, to meditation, to India's emergence as a sporting nation.

Was your father surprised when you wanted to take up golf professionally rather than follow in his footsteps as a doctor?

He was very encouraging right from the start. He introduced me to the game, and as I got older through my teens and I started getting better, I had to make a few decisions.

I had to make a decision while I was in high school to go with medicine or business -- you had to pick a stream. But I decided that if I want to play golf, then I couldn't possibly take the medical stream because I wouldn't be able to travel to my events, and I wouldn't have much time away from my books.

It wasn't something that happened overnight, but at the same time it wasn't something they were averse to. They were very encouraging.

" India as a nation is not a sporting nation. We don't have a big sporting culture. We have a very big education culture. "

You practice Vipassana meditation. How were you introduced to that?

About 11 years ago my mother found out about it, and she did a course to learn Vipassana and it really helped her lead a better life. Then my dad was equally taken by the technique, so it was only natural for me to find out what it was all about.

It's a form of meditation which is very introspective. It's not like you chant a mantra, it's not like you visualize an object or an image or anything else.

Yes, it helps your ability to stay in the present and not get ahead of yourself. It's obvious that when you are playing in a tournament situation that the adrenaline is going to kick in and your heart rate is going to go up.

But at the same time, it's also difficult to keep your awareness levels up, and that's how Vipassana helps me, because it allows me to stay aware of everything that's going on. And by awareness, I don't just mean what's going on around me, but what I'm feeling at that point in time inside of me.

And whenever you can be in touch with that part of yourself, it's going to help you center yourself. It's going to help you to calm yourself and just be in the present -- and that itself is a major tool.

So it's more of an ongoing practice for all 18 holes?
Yes... (but) it's not like yoga, or something where I get into a pose or a posture and that's that, no.

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