Showing posts with label krishna. Show all posts
Showing posts with label krishna. Show all posts

Origin of Buddha Image

Today India is known for Idol Worship. All religions in India have in Form worship, either as symbols, letters, pictures or Idols. But this was not the case 2000Years ago. Any form of Form in Faith was not considered. In some places like Karnataka not even name of the dead Jain persons written on the Graves even until 400 AD. Hinduism , Jainism and Buddhism did not support gods in human form. So how did this extreme swing took place , from nothing everything in human forms. This explains the lack of Inscriptions, temples, Idols before 5th century BC. Classic study in this transformation is Buddhism. This was the religion at the prime when this transformation occurred. So Let us see how we got the Image of Buddha. Which will explain the transformation. Let us see if Image in Indian religion and the Origin of Buddha Image and associate controversies.

Vedic Hinduism.

Vedic religion says Absolute or Trancendental can be realized in diverse ways. Co-existence of Sakara(diety with Form) and Nirakara(Diety without Form) in the same household , with men with different Intellectual and moral denominations aspiring for spirituality in their respective ways. Kena Upanishad says man cannot comprehend God with his sense organs. That is God cannot be seen with Eyes. Svetasvatara upanishad says that Great one has not likeness to form. In Bhagavat Gita Arjuna asks Krishna in what forms and objects the Great one should be meditated. In response Krishna first Enumerated all phenomenal objects , all flora , all fauna and so on. Then Krishna gives Arjuna supernatural Eye , in which he sees entire universe, process of creation and process of destruction. Arjuna beholds God is identical with Cosmos. Later Supplements of Gita say God can be worshipped by Agni by Brahman, Devata(divinity) worshipped in the heart of Muni,Pratima(Image) is adored by men of Low intellect. While one whose sight is not limited can see God everywhere. Adi shankara preferred Formless and Ramanuja said he is prefers both Formless and With Form.


Jainism says In the theist world the loftiest entity is The God. It has thousands of names like Paramatma (the ultimate soul), Bhagavan (the most glorious one), Siddha (the liberated), Buddha (the enlightened), The God, etc.

In the Jain tradition there are two forms of this entity-

(1) The formless God or Siddha (the liberated) and

(2) The God with a form or Tirthankar / Arihant.

The Tirthankar is a detached individual who is the ultimate altruist and benefactor of not only mankind but every living being. He propagates the religious path and preaches about it for their benefit. His benevolent voice promotes happiness, peace, and infinite bliss for every being.In the Jain tradition there have been twenty-four Tirthankars during the current descending cycle of time, Bhagavan Rishabhdev being the first and Bhagavan Mahavir being the last. For every Jain these Tirthankars are the entities to be worshipped and revered. The ultimate goal of Jainism is to tread the path shown by them and acquire infinite powers and virtues.


Thervada ban on Buddharupa( Buddha Image) is well known. An old Disciple of Buddha Vakali was eager to see Buddha before he died. One day buddha came and said to him “ O vakkali why do you crave to see this body of impure matter, one who perceives Dharma Perceives me. One who perceives me perceives Dharma” On different occasions through dialogues and sermons Buddha spoke against adoration of his Rupakaya or Buddha Rupa.

What does faith say?

The Trinity Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism say that God is formless ,but it does not go against worship of forms , saying that is done by lower intellectuals. So the form is also present in Indian Dharma along with Formless, which is the basic or ultimate. Now let us see how Buddha Image developed.

Origin of Buddha Image

Buddhist followers remained faithful to Buddha teaching of non-worship of buddha Image. The first to break the rule King Udyana of Vatsa or Kausambi, who was very devoted, The story goes that he was worried that Buddha would not return. Buddha's disciple Maudgalyayana used magic to send an artist (some say 32 of them) up to heaven to capture the likeness of the Buddha in a 5-foot figure carved out of sandalwood. This image was so accurate and imbued with devotion, that when Shakyamuni returned, it rose up to greet him. The Buddha acknowledged then, the power of the rupa to inspire and to teach the dharma to future generations. This story is not accepted by most Buddhists. For Five centuries after Buddha until 1st century BC , Buddha was represented by Symbols. Until 1st century AD he was never represented in Human Form. Immediately following this period the Graeco-Buddhist or Indo-Hellenistic or Ghandara period presents us with enormous anthromorphic images. Immediately we have suggestions from western world that the images were introduction from west , particularly from Greece. The present Image developed after the 5th century AD. Our main debate of the article comes here, Was the Concept of Image of God came from West (Persia, Middle east , Greece, Rome , etc).

Image or Icon in Indian Religions – History Debate.

In the First two decades of this 20th century Western scholars like Albert Foucher and John Marshall has concluded that Image or Icon was not the characteristic of Indian religions till the advent of Persians , West Asians and Greek. This Western Idea was supported by Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj and Prarthana Samaj. They maintained that Worship of Image was un - Vedic, Un - Brahminical and was the later development in Puranic age. Thervada buddhist also accepted this theory.

Other Hindus who held Pratima(Likeness = Image) was an Indigenous element nothing was foreign. Kashiprasad Jaiswal and Anand Coomaraswamy contended that Rupa (form) is integral part of the Vedic religion. At this time Indus Valley civilzation was unearthed, Archeologist R.P chanda found earliest representation of Siva Pasupathi and Yogi in the Indus valley. Also scholars pointed to Tibetans traditions and showed that Image was used before Mauryas. Also aborignals(Not Aryan and Dravidian) like Veddas and Nagas have their dieties and symbols of worship. So the worship of symbols and dieties is not totally absent.

Image worship in India

  • Image worship as we have seen in the Formless debate was accepted and prevalent.

  • Images of Shiva, mother Goddess,Yogi and wide variety of Terrocotta statues representing Human and Animal like forms. in Indus valley have proved beyond doubt that Image worship was prevalent.

  • Aboriginal like Yaksha and Naga have dieties. We find numerous dieties in their settlements since earliest times. Which show that Idol worship was prevalent before vedic times(7000BC)

  • Sakya, the clan Buddha was born in, had its own Yaksha deity, the Yaksha Sakyavardhana, the benevolent guardian of Sakyas. As prevailed the custom, soon after his birth, the child Buddha was presented to Yaksha Sakyavardhana for child's long life and glory.

So from the above points the worshipping of Forms and images was widely prevalent and the Idea is not Import from west. Let us move to the next point. Was the Buddha image creation due to influence of the west.

Foreign Influence.

Foucher argued that the Buddha Image is a eurasian one or Greek one. Let us analyse the facts.Before the Gandhara buddhist images there were Mathura Buddhist Images which were Indian in look and Indigenous. So there is no question of Gandhara images being the first buddhist images. Infact Gandhara images are continuation of mathura Images. Let us see the if there is any influence of Greek or western on the Gandhara images. Let us see one by one


  • The Asanas are all Indian. The early art shows five sitting postions with hands showing mudras (Dharmachakra Mudra, Dhyna Mudra, Bhumisparsa Mudra, Varada mudra, Abhaya Mudra)

  • The Dress worn by Boddhisattvas are Indian.

  • Physical attributes: Protuberance(usnisa) on the crown is evident, urna or turf in the fine hair between the brows is evident, Fingers are webbed, The Ears are elongated by wearing the ear rings before monastic robes.

  • The Boddhisattvas represented in less rigid position holding attributes in the hands(vajra pani in Vajra, Padmapani by roselotus , Avalokitesvara by blue lotus, Maitreya Amrta Flask) These attributes can be held in any hand, but they are always held in Right hand by Indian Tradition.

  • The Dieties are either seated or Standing on traditional Indian lotus Flower.


All the Symbols used in the Art are indian such as bull, Sacred Tree,Mountain, River , many Solar ,Nandipada, Trishul, Swastik, Lotus , Bow and Arrow Etc. These are Hindu, Jain and Buddhist or Indian.

Art form

In Indian art (abstract) the emphasis is laid on the significance of the object not the appearance. In Greek art (naturalistic) the emphasis is laid on the object and its looks. Every art is a compromise between the abstract and naturalistic, but what we see in Gandhara and other Indian art is continuos concept of Abstract(whether one finds a sacred tree or Buddha Figure) , no swing from one style to another as seen during 19th century when there were wild swings to European art. The Gandhara artforms are infact reproduction of early mathura artforms.


The Technology , Craftsman were already present , when the need for buddha arise and they had no problem in making the images.


So we cannot say that the Buddha got the Image due to Western Influence. The Gandhara art shows lot of Influence of Hellenistic artform, but the Image is originally Indian. Hinduism , Jainism and Buddhism embodied accomodation of non-believers into their fold as they are , without losing anything. Unlike in Europe when pre-christian gods were banished once christianity took hold, Indian faith accepted aboriginal Yaksha and Naga dieties and symbols and absorbed them. This process continued and Buddhist and Jain elements were absorbed into Hindu fold. So the Image and Deity worship are essentially Indian , though they were not part of Hindu, Jain or Buddhist Dharma initially.


The origin of Buddha Image by Ananda K Coomaraswamy

Origin of Yoga

The popularization of yoga in the West by yoga schools influenced by the Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali (2nd century BC), have almost led to the origins yoga of yoga being linked with Patanjali in the Western mind.

But there are evidences against it.

Mohenjodaro seals
In fact, the earliest illustration we have of yoga is from the Mohenjo-daro seals. Mohenjo-Daro is the remains of an ancient city located in Pakistan, part of the Indus Valley civilization which yoga yoga existed along the Indus river and Ghaggar-Hakra river in north-west India and what is now Pakistan. Mohenjo-Daro’s parent city was Harrapa in India. These civilizations have been dated from 3300 BC to 1300 BC. The Mohenjo-daro seals yoga show a figure standing on its head, and another sitting cross yoga legged.

Vedic Shastra
Some see yoga’s origins as being from the Vedic shastras, or vedic religious texts, which are the foundation of Indian Hinduism. The Vedic texts were created from 2500 BC, and the Rigveda is believed to have been completed by 1500 BC yoga. The Rigveda is one of several principle early vedic texts. A lot of these texts were concerned with sacrificial rituals. There are sacrificial prayers, incantations, and elements related to magic, to name a few aspects of the subject matter. These are now viewed symbolically, or philosophically, although they were presumably intended more literally at the time. But the word “yoga” was discussed in the RigVeda. In it, there is mention of ‘yoking’ our mind and insight to the ‘Sun Of Truth’ (David yoga Frawley, a Vedic scholar).

Bhagavad Gita
Yoga is also discussed in the Bhagavad Gita, where Krishna describes 4 types of yoga: * selfless action - in following one’s soul path, one’s dharma, first and foremost, and without thinking of the outcome, the end result, or being motivated by self gain (Karma Yoga) * self transcending knowledge (Jnana yoga) * psycho-physical meditation (Raja yoga) * devotion - loving service to the Divine Essence (Bhakti yoga) (Source - Wikipedia) The Bhagavad Gita is believed to have been written between the 5th and 2nd century BC.

So the Yoga is as old as Hinduism.

Origin of Satavahana Andhra Myth

Satavahana Dynasty is also called Andhra’s. Let us analyze this

Who is Satavahana dynasty?
The Satavahanas were the political successors of the Mauryas in the Deccan and their rule lasted for four and a half centuries from about 230 B.C. their empire seems to have extended from the Konkan Coast in the West to the Godavari and Krishna Deltas in the East, while to the South it must have reached as far as Chandravalli.

Where is this claim made?
If we search the various sources. We can see this claim comes only with reference to Puranas.Those who claim Satavahana as Andhra’s cite the Puranas as the only source. Let us see the various Puranas.

1. No where in the Puranas Satavahana’s is mentioned.
2. No where we have any references to Satavahana kings.

So what does the purana’s tell?

Matsya Purana: Sisuka Vishnu Purana: Sipraka
Vayu Purana: Sindhuka Bhagvatha Purana: Vrsola Bali (i.e. Strong Sudra)
Brahmanda Purana: Chismaka

All this is supposedly to refer to King Simuka who established Satavahana dynasty.

All Purana’s refer second king as Krishna

Third is given as
Matsya: Sri-Mallakarni Vayu, Brahmanda, And Vishnu: Sri Satakarni
Bhagvatha: sri-Santakarna

The List of Names in Matsya Purana
1.Sisuka (Chimuka)-23 years, 2.Krishna-18 yrs, 3.Sri Mallakarni (Satakarni I)-10yrs, 4.Purnotsanga-18 yrs, 5.Skandhastambhi-18 yrs, 6.Satakarni (Satakarni II)-56 yrs, 7.Lambodara-18 yrs, 8.Apilaka-12 yrs, Meghasvati-18yrs, 0.Svati-18 yrs, 11.Skanasvati 7 rs, 12.Mrgendra Svatikarna-3yrs, 13.Kuntala Svatikarna 8 yrs, 14.Svatikarna-1 yr, 15.Pulumavi (Pulumavi I)-36 yrs, 16.Riktavarna-25 yrs, 17.Hala-5 yrs, 18.Mandalaka-5 yrs, 19.Purindrasena-5 yrs, 20.Sundara Satakrna-1 yr, 21.Chakora Svatikarna-6 months,22.Sivasvati-28 yrs,23.Gautamiputra Satakarni-21 yrs,24.Pulumavi(Pulumavi II)28 yrs,25.Sivasri-7 yrs,26.Sivaskanda Satakarni-7 yrs,27.Yajnasri Satakarni-29 yrs,28.Vijaya-6 yrs,29.Chandasri Satakarna-10 yrs, and 30.Pulumavi(Pulumavi III).

Let us see what the coins and inscriptions say
Chimuka, Krishna, Satakarni I, Satakarni II, Sata, Apilaka, Hala, Gautamiputra Satakarni, Vasistiputra Sri Pulumavi, Vasistiputra Sivasri Satakarni, Vasistiputra Satakarni, Sivasri Pulumavi, Skanda Satakarni, Gautamiputra Yajna Satakarni, Vijaya Satakarni, Vasishtiputra Chandra Satakarni, Pulumavi, Kausikiputra Satakarni, Saka Satakarni, Rudra Satakarni, Kumba Satakarni and Karna Satakarni.

Let us see when the purana’s are written?
Puranas were written between 300AD to 1000AD. A difference of around 500 years, significant time for discrepancies to creep in. which is why it misses out on many names and many characteristics of Satavahana’s. The reason why they were Andhra’s has crept in.

Some writers like V.S. Sukthankar, H. C. Raychaudhury and K. P. Jayaswal have not accepted the identification of Satavahanas with the Andhras.They have argued that the inscriptions mention these rulers as Satavahanas and not as Andhra’s, and that the language of the inscriptions is Prakrit and not Andhra. Moreover, the early evidences of the Satavahanas rule are not found in Maharashtra, and they might only have drifted into Andhradesa towards the end of their rule.

Some of these kings are not listed in the Puranas. It may be relevant to note that except for Chimuka no other Satavahana king called himself as Satavahana. Most others called themselves as Satakarnis or Pulumavis after their great early rulers of that name. No purana ever mentioned a king by the name as Satavahana or Sadavahana.

Let us see other evidences.

1. Contemporary inscriptions at Hathigumpha (150BC) referred to them as
2. Line four of Hathigumpha inscription refer him as Satakamni
3. Epigraph of Visitthiputta Ananda of (1st Century BC) refer him as Satakani
4. Nasik Inscription of (1st century BC) refer him as Sadakani
5. Nanghat inscription refer Satakani
6. Coins issued by Satavahanas refer as Satakani, Satakamni

Vahana and kanni means same that is son, so we can reasonably assume sata as dynastic name. It means Sata’s Son

You can see none them refer them as Andhra’s, only in purana’s you can see Andhra Tag that is also not to the same names. So we can clearly see Satavahana’s are not Andhra’s.

So if they are not Andhra’s who are they?
1.Satavahan’s have their capital in Paithan. The ancient city of Pratisthan
now Paithan was the seat of Satvahana dynasty who ruled from 2nd century
BC to 2nd century AD. This is in ancient kuntala (kanara country) and not
2.Chutu’s (another line of Satkarnis) occupied most of the western Karnataka
with a capital at Vaijayantipura (Banwasi). Even though one more line of
Satakarni’s ruled Andhra, but chutu’s are called Kannada rulers.
3.Kuntala Satakarni denotes the king is from kuntala not Andhra.
4.Satavahanas never called themselves Andhra’s
5.Sukthankar held the view that Bellary district was the original home of
the Satavahanas
6.Satavahan’s were more interested in western region than in eastern Andhra
region showing they were not from the region

So Satavahan’s are of Kuntala and Kannada origin not Andhra Origin

In ancient times the areas south of the Godavari river including southern districts of modern Maharashtra, northern districts of modern Karnataka and south Karnataka districts of Shimoga and Chitradurga were collectively called Kuntala. An inscriptional passage the upper valley of the Krishna points to this theory [Ep. Ind., Vol. XII, p. 153. See Mirashi, Studies in Indology,]. In the Sanskrit work Udayasundarikatha of Soddhala (11th cent. A.D.) Pratishthana on the Godavari is said to be the capital of the Kuntala country. In early times Kuntala was probably included in the larger country called Maharashtra. The Aihole inscription of Pulakeshi II includes all these areas mentioned in Kuntala as Maharashtra. This designation of the entire area seems to be confirmed in Chinese notes as well. During these times, Kuntala came to denote the predominantly Kannada-speaking country, further corroborating views of historians such as Dr. Altekar and Dr. P.B. Desai. The Early Chalukyas of Badami and the Later Chalukyas of Kalyani were known as Kuntaleshvaras or lords of Kuntala. All their inscriptions are in Kannada and Sanskrit and their regal capitals at different times, Badami, Manyakheta(Malkhed in Gulbarga district) and Kalyani were also in present day Karnataka, which historically would be southern Kuntala. During these times however, the districts of Kolhapur, Satara, Sholapur, Ahmadnagar and Bid which are now Marathi-speaking, were included in Kuntala, indicating that Kannada country spread much further north of today's political boundaries. The Kannada classic Kavirajamarga calls the entire region between the Godavari and Kaveri rivers as Karnataka indicating Kannada country at one time extended far north and east of present day boundaries. Perhaps this was the region that embraced Hale Kannada as the official language. It is well known that during these times, Kannada and Telugu were written in Hale Kannada script. The Early Rashtrakuta, who were ruling over this territory as feudatory of the Chalukyas, were known as Kuntaleshvaras as well and their inscriptions call their overlords at that time as Karnataka Bala. Much later their imperial empire would rule large parts of India from regal capital Manyakheta in present day Karnataka, though as their empire grew they had many provincial capitals.
Their oldest inscription is found in Satara district of Maharashtra belonging to 6th century. In it Rashtrakuta king Avidheya has donated a village to learned Brahmins. The inscription is in Sanskrit written in Brahami script. This has confirmed their origin at above place generally called Kuntala. From above theories it is clear that the ancient regional names such as Kuntala, Karnata or Maharshtra may have covered large common areas in the deccan at different times in Indian history