Was Tirupati Balaji Temple an old Buddhist temple? Battula's Answer
Introduction by Prof. Dr. M. D. Nalawade,
M.A., B.Ed., LL. B., Ph. D.,
Retd. Professor and Head of History Dept. Pune University,
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The book by K. Jamanadas "Tirupati Balaji was a Buddhist Shrine" has potential credibility to create controversies unknown to historical writing and the Hindu common folks who flock to worship Tirupati Balaji as one of the supreme deities. It is also a new challenge to indologist at a time when politically imbued scholars are engaged to wash out their hands by proving and disproving claims of Hindus and the Muslims against each other as they did over the issue of Ayodhya Shrines. The writing of K. Jamanadas, but stand to the test of researchers and it surpasses all controversial writings relating to Hindu Muslim difference.
Of course, a reader while going through this book requires to be equipped with relative knowledge of the Vedic forms and symbols of worship and the creation of monkhood, prayers and practice of Buddhist way of religious life. The author does not show at any place, his intention to religiously injure anybody and his presentation is purely of academic nature. Neither he intends to dethrone Tirupati Balaji from his present glory nor his popularity. He also does not make any comment on his devotees and his paraphernalia, he has with him. His research is to find out the truth hidden in the origin, growth and glory and his relation with the common man.
An eminent surgeon turned to be an indologist, K. Jamanadas stands for operational methods in the historical research. His study of Tirupati Balaji is the best in the science of architecture, theology and history. It seems from his book that all the essentially necessary and available sources and historical writings related to Balaji are carefully taken into consideration. Of course, one can not confidently say that a new evidence may not come up hereafter.
Religious life and socio-cultural interactions, so also their amalgamations on philosophical lines as well as in day today life among the people of this ancient land have created numerous problems for separating and identifying a particular set of features in a religious life either of the Buddhist or the Hindus except broad features and major differences. The land is the same and the people are also the same, naturally customs and traditions that they have carried on for ages together can not go far away from each other than they were in their previous religious life. There can not be a total change in the manners and etiquettes by changing and earlier religion. The walks of people in the earlier native religion, then to the Vedic which is named by the foreigners as Hinduism and then to Non-Vedic religions i. e. Buddhism and Jainism are through which this land is traveled and people have common following and practices even contradictory customs and philosophies they have through such livings of them although they learnt many things and have come across many images, idols and symbols of worships. The institution of the Viharas in Buddhist period is the first one of its kind as an institution of Temple which attracted the masses to keep its existence either in the manner the Buddhist have or the manner the Brahmin changed to their convenience to influence the masses.
Originally Brahmins and their religion are centered around the system of the institution of Yadyna. The Yadynas of various types such as Isthi, Pashu, Som, Chayan, Sava, Satra and others, for their selfish motives of seeking food, prestige and power. The very institution of Yadyna is to make commoners by way of traits, traps and tricks for sacrifices, the Brahmins are to loose nothing but in all the circumstances gain and gain much more beyond their demands and needs. This is how the institution of Yadyna works.
Nowhere it is found and no text of the Brahmin literature tells that in pre-Buddhist time the Brahmins are vegetarians. The offerings and oblations offered to gods and goddesses so also, the sacrifices made in the Yadynas are basically originated in the minds and tastes of the Brahmins. As being the non - vegetarians or the flesh eaters Brahmins ask the masses to offer such things to gods and to them also. History, therefore of the vegetarian gods in Hinduism opens a new avenue for fresh research in Indology. In pre-Buddhist times cow was never a pious animal and Brahmins of those days are found very fond of cow flesh. Rigvedas are genuine witnesses for that, and the river Charmnyavati is the best example. There is enough of information to know as to how both of her banks are covered over by skins and her waters are redden by the flesh blood of cows and other animals washed into her waters. The very name of the river Charmnyavati in a Rigveda tells many more things as Charm - means skin. The river banks of this river are used for performing Yadynas and the cows are used in sacrifices on large scale in the Yadynas. The whole delta of the river seems to have seen as how Cow Satra - Killing of cows is carried on and the name, therefore, of the river Charmnyavati in a Rigveda confirms the same.
The institution of Yadyna and sacrificing or killing cows in it is very much vital if it is understood against the agricultural background of those times. In those days no other animals but bullocks are used mostly for tilling the soil. Killing of the cows means no bullocks and no bullocks means no farming, no agricultural products. As a result there is starvation and then submission to enemies or the rulers of the religion. The pre-Buddhist times, therefore, are worse in a regard to atrocities and injustices carried on, on the Peasant communities. Fortunately but lord Buddha understands the grave situation and stops cow sacrifices in the Yadynas and prevents the slaughtering of cows. He, thus becomes the First saviour of cows who preached farmers in ancient times not to offer cows to Brahmins and in the Yadynas. Under the circumstances it is very safe to hold a view that the adoption of cow as a pious one in later days and vegetarian food for gods and to the Brahmins for themselves is one of the greatest achievements of Buddhism, but it has to pay its cost in return of that achievement because the Brahmins adopted their means and methods to attract and lure the farming communities and attack Buddhism. It is thus the Hindus and the academicians have to admit that the creation of non - vegetarian gods is not the creation of the Brahmins. Therefore, it is in vain to trace out the origin of gods who are vegetarians in pre-Buddhist times. Morality and non-violence are never the cardinal principles of Brahminical teaching and religion. They are the Buddhist and they are most unacceptable for the Brahmins in those early days.
The institution of Temple that the Brahmins practice and which exists at 'Tirupati Balaji' and at all the places of the Hindus is origin in Buddhism as K. Jamanadas rightly states that there are a good number of evidences to prove those facts. The walks of people in the ancient times from one sect or religion to another, from native religion to Vedic, Vedic to Non-Vedic religions that is Buddhism and jainism and then back to Mixed- Vedic or Brahminical religion, although, outwardly, have changed them in adopting different religious names and ultimately, the Brahminism to which popularly called as Hinduism, they continued to practice many of the customs and traditions they liked most and were most difficult for them to unalienate. And to their convenience Brahmins have very skillfully converted Buddhists forms of worship and prayers quite in consonance to Brahminical or Hindu ideals. Therefore, separation and identification of many images, idols and temples have become to show exactly that they either belong to Buddhists or Hindus but as Buddhism is made to disappear, Brahmins claimed them, in totality as the Hindus. And the history of Hindu vegetarian gods is certainly hidden in such changes and conversions from Buddhism to Hinduism.
The book is divided into four parts, but the main theme is dealt with in the second and third parts. Part first naturally begins with earlier findings and interpretations about the strife between Buddhism and Brahminism. The mature saintly opinion of Swami Vivekanand that " Buddhism was mainly responsible for stopping or lessening the customs of drinking wine and killing living animals for sacrifice or for food in India" during the dominance and arrogance of the Brahminical period is given at very appropriate instance. "Buddhism and Vaishnavism are not two different things" as is stated by the Great Swami to make clear that, "During the decline of Buddhism in India, Hinduism tool from her a few cardinal tenets of conduct and made them her own, and these have now come to be known as Vaishnavism". The author, not out of vindictive mood, but purely from academic interest collected sources and evidences, that too again from the Hindu saints and scholars to reveal the truth and truth alone as the proud heritage of this ancient land.
Brahmin's usurpation and imitation of the Buddhist customs, traditions and ideals, so also of forms of architecture , art and sculpture are very common and long back indologists and historians like R. G. Bhandarkar and D. D. Kosambi have brought all those thing to light. The sites at Ter, Aihole, Undavali, Ellora, Badrinatha, Ayodhya, Sringeri, Buddha Gaya and other religious important places have ably been shown as how richly influenced by Buddhist religion and culture and Brahmins have adopted them to their tastes to make the masses feel religiously at home as the Hindus. A fresh touch is given to reascertain for the proved facts by R. G. Bhandarkar, R. C. Dhere and others that the temples of Lord Jagannatha of Puri, Vithalla of Pandharpur, Ayyappa of Kerala, Srisailam of Karnataka and many others as they were originally the Buddhist temples.
The real task of discovering Lord Tirupati as the Buddhist Shrine starts in the Second part. The history given of the worship of Vishnu needs to be added by the information of hymns in Rigveda. Max Muller, Muir and Wilson who have well explained the importance of Vishnu and his Three Strides - Trivikrama. In the Purnsha - Sukta of the Yajurvda (1-31-32) has his description. And to collaborate the original concept of his creation and creating his three different images and the necessities of the Brahmins to convert him in appearance like lord Buddha are not unintentional and without any selfish motive. The author has ably proved that such efforts of the Brahmins have expected good results for them to show their superiority over Buddhism. The chapters- Hindu Shilpa Shastra on Vishnu Images, Nature Image of the Lord of Tirumalai, Is the Image of a Female deity, Is the Lord A Harihara Murthi, and the Account In Venkaechala Itihas Mala, are interesting and thought provoking. They make even commoners to think twice whether he is worshiping Buddhist images or Hindu images and what is his place in such a controversies The reference from a book of Shri. Sitapati P., on Shri. Venkateswara is of great importance in support of author's theory on Tirupati Balaji. The reference runs -"The image (of Lord Tirumalai) bears some resemblance to the famous Budhisattva Padmapani painting in cave I of the Ajanta Hills". This statement, is thus, self explanatory to record the attempts.
Part third of the book has debased old challenges of the Hindu claims in South India. How "not only ideals and morals but also temples were taken over by Brahmins" has been aptly shown quoting well known authorities in the field and interpreting the original sources. It is very interesting to know the even Tirtha Yatras are started by the Buddhists and the Brahmins followed them from the Buddhist traditions to forget their earlier Buddhist religion and traditions. The Kalavars and Kalabhras, the names of clans and families quite in resemblance to Kalewar, kalawad or Kalawade and kalbhor, Bhor, Kalmegh and even Kale in Maharashtra are not without their historical roots. The Kalabhras mentioned by the author belonged to Chola country and are the Buddhist, but later on converted to Brahminism.
The claim put forth by the author on Lord Tirupati Balaji as a Buddhist Shrine is based on sound theory and the evidences approved and accepted by the academicians. The fundamental questions which needs to be correctly answered to prove Tirupati Balaji as a Buddhist Shrine have the following points and which are well taken into account--
1. Yet why the attributes of Murthi are not allowed to be discussed openly and publicly?
2. Tirupati has no parivar devatas, his family members as gods. why?
3. And as to why it is the only ek-devata temple in whole of India.?
4. There was no regular worship of this Tirupati till 966 A. D, Why was it?
5.Why the various murthis are not recognised in this temple by their Agamic names?
The term "self manifested" applied to Tirumalai means that the Murthi or idol is existed earlier and it is at that place only. It is found by one Shudra Rangadasa. Then it is resurrected and worshiping it began. Before the Muslims came, Buddhists are the only people who opposed the Brahmins. But no Buddhist King nor Buddhist people are intolerant towards the Brahmins and no evidence is yet produced by any scholar proving that the Buddhists or any Buddhist King made efforts for destroying Brahminical images, idols or places of worship. In fact the Brahmins have done hundreds of such things and they are in reality the enemies of the Buddhists. Hence allowing the Murthi or idol of Tirumalai uncared, then the quarrel over its possession in between the Vaishnavism and Shaivism, all such matter never happens in case of the original idols of Hindu or Brahminical gods. Fortunately till this day this Lord is mistaken and misunderstood as Shiva or Vishnu and as the Vaishnavaites and Shavaites claim him as if he belongs to one of the two, he grows in eminence. In reality the place and the idol are the Buddhist one, which eternally convey the message of well being to all people.
Temple institution is the creation of the Buddhist people and to grab that glory the Brahmins have usurped the Buddhists Temples for their selfish purpose and to attract the masses and then have converted those temples into Hindu forms making necessary changes and alterations. A good number of authorities have proved long ago and many of the authorities on the subject like R. G. Bhandarkar, Percy Brown, G. S. Ghurey, L. M. Joshi, D. D. Kosambi, K. A. N. Sastri, K. R. Vaidyanthan and others have been taken into consideration in the spirit and letters they presented numerous sources and evidences.
So far the story of Lord of Tirumalai stands historically and on the basis of the available sources it is a Buddhist Shrine. Right from its name, fashions and styles, so also customs like the Tonsure, offering of hair and Rathyatra it is all in one - the Buddhist way. Rathayatra is not originated in the Brahminical life due to caste system and observance of untouchability and touch no one those who even from your kin and kith if they are unbathed and the women of their blood also. Under the circumstances Rathayatra tradition is certainly of the Buddhist origin and where ever it is carried on, the places and gods are the Buddhists, without any doubt. The author K. Jamanadas has maintained throughout his work a very high standard of argument and at all instances he placed either the authorities or the evidence in support of his argument and statements.
Although in the socio-cultural life of this country, it introverts all of those who have their origin in this land, to positively come up for better understanding as if it is vicissitude as the times and culture demand. A good lesson will also be derived out of the reading of this thesis for making this land as if of one people with an appeal to both the Hindus and the Muslims to know their best of heritage and noble humane way of life in Buddhism as one people, blessed and guided eternally by that Great, Supreme Lord, Bhagawn Buddha, the Great.