Triveni Journal

1927 | 11,233,916 words

Triveni is a journal dedicated to ancient Indian culture, history, philosophy, art, spirituality, music and all sorts of literature. Triveni was founded at Madras in 1927 and since that time various authors have donated their creativity in the form of articles, covering many aspects of public life....

Buddhism in Andhra – Its Arrival, Spread and

Dr. V. V. Krishna Sastry



Economic ground:

The beginning of the first Millen­nium B.C. saw the emergence of Iron which ushered a revolution in the economy of the Stone Age man result­ing in vastly improved techniques. From nomadic pastoral culture of the earlier Neolithic civilization, the people entered into a sedentary urbanised culture, the hall mark of which was manufacturing and utilization of Iron objects for various uses such as clear­ing off jungles with iron axes, plough­ing of fields with iron shares, carpentry for building houses and various other trades. The iron weapons of offence and defence launched far reaching political changes, thereby several petty fiefdoms, the pivots of typical feudal system by which a powerful leader subjugating a large number of people became the order. During this time the smaller rivers and rivulets were dammed and huge tanks were built to serve the double needs of drinking water and irrigation of lands. This brought a new economic prosperity which provided a sound base for agri­cultural and industrial trades. The chiefs of the feudal petty kingdoms styled themselves as Maharatis, Ma­hatalavaras and minted coins with these titles. Each of these independent smaller states were known as ‘Jana­padas’ and more important of these were the ‘Mahajanapadas’. These au­tonomous clans with a non monarchi­cal (republican) form of government flourished shortly before the time of Gautama Buddha. The list provided by Anguttara Nikaya contains Anga, Magadha, Kasi, Kosala, Vriji, Malla. Chedi (Kalinga). Vatsa, Kuru Panchala, Matsya, Sourasena. Asvaka (Assaka or Asmaka). Avanti and Gandhara.

Religious ground:

Lord Buddha: probably the great­est historical figure of India was born in the year 563 B.C. at Kapilavastu on the Indo-Nepal border at a time when Vedic Brahmanism had deeply en­trenched into the soil of India and spread its branches in all directions. The Brahmanical hierarchy was so powerful that any other religious or philosophical idea other than the Brahmanic was an impossibility. As such it is necessary to probe into the conditions prevailing during those centuries to accommodate a new faith which was antogonistic and rebellious against Vedic Brahmanism. In Sut­tanipata, it is stated that the ancient Rishis lived as ascetics exercising self control and avoiding the five pleasures of sense. Their wealth consisted not of cattle, gold or grain but of purity and learning. They lived on food left at the doors of the faithful. They spent forty eight years of their lives as students in quest of knowledge and good conduct, performed sacrifices with rice clarified butter or oil which they collected by begging and never killed any living animal in sacrifices. In course of time, they became greedy for riches, pomp and objects of pleasures. With an in­tention to possess these things they persuaded the kings to perform sacri­fices such as Aswamedha, Vajapeya, Purushamedha etc., and collected gold, women, chariots, horses, cows, clothes and beds as fees. In these sacrifices multitudes of cattle were sacrificed.

According to Maha Govinda Su­tra, the goal of Brahmanas was to attain Brahma Loka by acquisition of merit through either sacrifices or aus­tere practices. During the Vedic times the offerings merely consisted of rice and ghee. As the cows were regarded as wealth (godhana), in the latter peri­ods, these became objects of sacrifice and thus the animal sacrifice became an integral part of sacrificial cere­mony. In course of time all kinds of living beings were sacrificed. According to Satapatha Brahmana, at first the Gods were offered a man as the victim (Purushamedha). When he was offered the sacrificial essence went out of him and entered into a horse. Then the horse was replaced by the ox, the ox by the goat. While some of the members of priestly class led a severely moral and strict life in accordance with the Upanishadic doctrines, others practiced sacrifices with great blood­shed and thus accumulated wealth and lived a life of pomp. The seeds of reformation are found in a passage in the Mundaka Upanishad, according to which the cult of sacrifice, although looked upon as a ship to take one across to the other shores of existence and to the heavenly worlds, was itself shaky and unsafe and the merit de­rived from its performance is of a short duration.

The cult of sacrifice was not only confined to the upper strata of society but also among those commoners who had no access to these Vedic sacrifices but believed in the powers of nature, fertility, pestilence represented by the Gods of wind, rain and earth and agriculture, Goddessess causing various diseases, who could be appeased only with the sacrifice of living beings at the altar. Thus, the society, at the time of origin of Buddhism broadly consisted of those practising austere penances in the deep recesses of forests insearch of the Supreme Brahman, those con­vinced in the efficacy of performing Vedic sacrifices and those practising animal sacrifices to appease the Gods of nature, fertility and pestilence.

While the Vedicists were staunch adherents of Vedic injunctions, there were Lokayatikas who were a class of people of a very ancient origin, who lived in an atmosphere of perfect free­dom without the fear of conventional dogmas of religion and social usage. These two extreme schools flourished side by side, one always opposing the other. Besides these two, there were the Sisnadevas and Vamadevas who, according to some scholars, owe their origin to the barbaric tribes of the non - Aryan group. The Sisnadevas who worshipped the Phallus had no faith in the Vedas. The Chandogyopanisad, mentions a particular form of worship, known as the Vamadeva Vrata accord­ing to which the devotee could enter into sex relationship with any women and with any number of them. These Vamadevas were probably the fore ­fathers of the latter Kapalikas. The Sisnadevas, the Vamadevas and the Lokayatas subsequently got a common designation as ‘Carvakas’ who preached the gospel - “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die”. The Carvakas, the Buddhists and Jains who stood on a common plat­form in opposing the followers of Ve­das were known under one designation as Nastikas.

According to Lalitha Visthara, once, Bodhisatva reached the hill, Gaya Sirsha near Gaya. From there he proceeded to the village of Bilva Sena­pati on the bank of the river Niranjana. There he visualised that some ignorant people were attempting to cleanse their bodies by under-going tortures, reciting mantras, by the use of herbs, abstaining from eating fish or meat, liquor or water, receiving alms from the first, third, fifth or the sev­enth houses; some were consuming tubers, fruits, left overs, kusagrass, cow urine, cow dung, milk pudding, curds, ghee, juice of sugar-cane, raw­flour. Some, living in villages or for­ests, were performing Govratas, Vratas of animals, dog, pig, monkey, ele­phant. Some were remaining motion­less keeping mute, seated in Viras­anas, speech restricted to one to seven words, eating once a day, performing Vratas like Ekaratra, Chatur Ratra, Pancha Ratra, Shatratra, Paksha, Masa, Chandayana; some seated on cushions of kusagrass wearing the wings of kite, owl, dress of fibre, skin of ostrich, goat, clothes of hair, or hides, sitting or sleeping on wet cloth spread over bones, ashes, gravel, stone beds, thorns, grass, iron nails or bear ground, keeping their heads and faces raised up wearing single, triple, quad­ruple, pentad, hexad, septad number of clothes or simply moving naked, following the rules of sthana or ast­hana, wearing long hairs, nails, beards, sometimes plaited hairs coiled up as crown, holding a stick, consuming seasame, rice; some besmear their bodies with ash, soot, dirt, clay, cany whisks of hair, grass, claws of ani­mals, rags, sometimes drink hot water or washed water, gruel; some have clothes of flaming red in colour, cany tridandas, kamandalas, kapalas, khatwangas etc. These unenlightened people engage in penance by smoking or eating fire, staring at the sun, stand in the middle or five kinds of fires on one leg, sometimes their hands raised up. Some stand on burning husk or stones, sometimes entering into water, living in cremation grounds till the end of their mortal existence intending to attain higher distinction. Some recite Omkara, Vashatkara, Swadhakara, Swahakara, Asirvachanas, Cayana, Stuti, Avsahana, perform japa with mantras, practise dharana, karana and attempt to acquire purity by these practices. Some treat themselves as purified by the worship of Brahma, Rudra, Vishnu, Devi, Kumara, Mata, Katyayani, the Sun and Moon, Kubera, Varuna, Indra, Aswini Gods, Naga, Yaksha, Gandharva, Asura, Garuda, Kinnara, Mahoraga, Rakshasa, Pretas, Bhutas, Kumbhanda, Paarishada, Ganapati, Pisacha etc, pay obeisance to Deva Rishis, Raja Rishis, Brahma Rishis. Some worship the five elements such as the earth, water, light, air and ether. Some show great reverence to hills, rivers, springs, lakes, tanks, ponds, oceans, muddy pools, puskar­inis, wells, trees, bushes, creepers, grass, stones, cow-pens, four footed animals, markets (working spots). Some pay homage to the pillars of houses, stones and weapons like pestle, bow, battle-axe, sword, arrow, lance, trident etc. Some believe that curds, ghee, mustard, yavas, flower garlands, sprouts of grass, silver and gold as auspicious. These Tirthikas, intending to get rid of the earthly bondage engage themselves in the above practices. These were the relig­ious conditions at the time of the ori­gin of Buddhism.

Diversity of Converts:

The life story of Lord Buddha provides us information about the fol­lowers with whom he encountered in course of his peregrenations. After Siddhartha left Kapilavastu in quest of Truth, he proceeded on foot for some distance and was invited by two Brah­manas female hermits, one of them being a Brahmani of the Sakya family. She received him with great honour and temporarily provided him shelter. From there he proceeded to the ashram of another Brahman lady Padma, where he stayed for a short time. Then Bodhisatva met the Brah­marshi Raivata and then Rajaka, the son of Dandika. Then Siddhartha pro­ceeded to Aradakalama, near the town of Vaishali and learnt within a short time to reach the seventh stage of meditation. He then proceeded to the outskirts of Rajagriha to the hermitage of Rudraka Ramaputra and with a little exertion Bodhisatva quickly attained the ninth stage. Impressed by his ex­traordinary abilities, five Brahmanas followers of Rudraka preferred to fol­low Gautama.

In the 6th year of Bodhisatva’s ascetic life, Sujata, daughter of a land owner by name Senani, offered him milk pudding on the full Moon day of Vaisakha when he was seated under a Nyagrodha tree. Later he came across a grass - cutter, Swastika, who offered him grass to prepare his seat for meditation under the Bodhi tree. After he was fully enlightened, two traders Trapusae and Bhallika offered honey and food to the Buddha and thus they became the first lay devotees. Then Buddha reached Benaras from Gaya by foot and proceeded to the Deer Park known as Isipattana (Rai Pattana). There he imparted teachings to his former companions, the five Brah­manas, namely, 1. Kondanna, 2. Baddhiya, 3. Vappa 4. Mahanama and 5. Assaji. After converting the five Brahmanas, Buddha stayed for a short period at Rsi Pattana and ordained Maitrayani Putra, who was the son of a rich Brahman of Sravasthi, Nalaka, the son of a royal priest of the king of Avanti; Sabhiya, the son of a famous female dialectician of the south, who was well educated in arts and sciences and especially proficient in dialectics and literature of the Parivrajikas. As a Parivraji, he roamed all over the 16 Maha Janapadas and finally reached Benaras where he entered into a discussion with Buddha and became a follower.

Later Yasa or yasoda, son of a very rich merchant received ordination and achieved some miraculous pow­ers. After Yasa became a recluse, his four friends all belonging to Sresthi families namely Vimala, Subahu, Puma, Gavampati and fifty others joined the order of Buddha. Of these, Gavampati became a renowned monk and possessed of miraculous powers. By this time Buddha’s group of dis­ciples reached the figure of 59. He asked them to travel in different direc­tions, no two persons taking the same way, with instructions to preach his doctrines. Thus Buddha himself started his missionary organisation. Buddha proceeded to the hill of Gayasirsha to preach the Truth. He first converted the Jatila Kasyapas by showing some miraculous powers. The Jatilas be­lieved in the efficacy of Vedic sacrifices but after hearing the sermon “Aditta­pariyayasutta” delivered by Buddha they gave up their belief in performing Vedic sacrifices. Then Buddha reached Yastivana of King Bimbisara and converted the King. Bimbisara requested Buddha to reside in his garden Ve­luvana, where he recruited some more disciples, the most distinguished of whom were Sariputra and Maudgalyayana.

When Buddha was staying at Bahuputraka Chaitya between Raja­griha and Nalanda, a Brahmanas sage called Kasyapa Agnidatta came to Buddha who imparted him the four­fold instructions about the existence of body and soul as enunciated in the Upanishads and he joined the order of Buddha. Kasyapa’s wife Bhadda Kapi­lani also came to Rajagriha but could not join the Buddhist order as till then nuns had no place in the order.

From Rajagriha, Buddha reached Kapilavastu, his birth place at the invitation of his father Suddhodana. After exhibiting miracles to his father and delivering discourses, he convinced Suddhodana who paid his respects to Buddha and his Sangha. Rahula, the son of Buddha was ordained by Sariputra as a novice at the direction of the Teacher. Then followed the entry of seven distin­guished youths of the royal Sakyan family into the order. Among them were Ananda, Aniruddha, Bhaddhiya, Kimbila, Nanda and Devedatta, Upali, who belonged to a barber’s family of Kapilavastu accompanied the Sakyan princes and was requested to take the princely ornaments discarded by the youths at the time of their ordination. But he refused and decided to become a monk. Buddha ordained him first in order to humble the pride of birth of the Sakyan nobles who had to bow to Upali, being senior to them as a monk. Chandaka, the charioteer of prince Siddhartha too joined the order of Buddha at Kapilavastu.

After Buddha- returned from Kapilavastu, Anathapindika, a rich banker of Kosala purchased Jetavana after covering the entire garden with gold pieces and then offered the same to Sariputra on behalf of Buddha and his Sangha. Under the supervision of Sariputra, a huge monastery was built at Jetavana at Sravasti which excelled the beauty of royal palaces. Prasenajit, the king of Sravasti came to Buddha and reverently saluted him. Inspite of several discourses by Buddha. King Prasenejit didn’t give up his belief in Brahmanic rituals. In the 11th varsha when Buddha was residing at Dakkhinagiri near Rajagriha, he converted a Brahmana agriculturist by name Bharadwaja as his follower. During Buddha’s stay at Banaras, Mahaka­tyayana, the son of the royal priest of king Candapradyota of Avanti, became an Arhat and established a centre of Buddhism in Ujjeni, the first step for southward expansion, which attained importance a century after Buddha’s demise. At the time of the second Bud­dhist council, Asoka, the Mauryan Emperor, enlarged the monastery es­tablished by Mahakatyayana.

The other important converts mentioned in Buddha Carita were Jyotishka, a fabulously rich banker of Rajagriha, Jivaka, a highly renowned physician, the son of Salavati, a cour­tesan. There are a number of stories as to how Jivaka cured Bimbisara, Candapradyota and other rich men and women and earned huge amounts of money and property. Jivaka became a lay-devotee of Buddha in the 20th year of his ministry and dedicated his mango garden to the Sangha. He was responsible for the introduction of the Vinaya rules permitting sick monks to have medical and surgical aides.

Abhayayajakumara was a son of King Bimbisara by the courtesan Amrapali. He was first a follower of Jaina and later won over to Buddhism. Upaligahapati of Nalanda, probably another follower of the Jaina faith was won over to Buddhism. Pancasika, who was a great musician became a popular figure in the Buddhist texts.

Nandamata who entertained Sariputra and other monks was con­verted and subsequently she was noted for her ability in memorising the parayanavagga of Suttanipata. Simi­larly Visakha, the daughter of a rich banker, Dhanunjaya, inspite of her father-in-law’s opposition, became a staunch devotee of Buddha. She used to feed 500 monks daily and give robes to the bhikkhus and nuns, medicines to the sick and rice gruel to every monk and nun. Khema a lady of ex­quisite beauty and the chief queen of king Bimbisara, who was proud of her physical beauty retired from worldly life and joined the order of nuns. Samavati, the daughter of a setthi who was subsequently married by king Udayana of Kosambi became a lay­ devotee of Buddha.

Angulimala, a son of the priest of King Prasenajit of Kosala used to lay ambush at the cross roads, kill men and collect their fingers to be given as remuneration to his Acarya. Buddha was to be the 100th victim of Anguli­mala but by his extraordinary powers he brought a change in him and admitted into his Sangha. Soon after Angulimala became an Arhat. Vakkali, belonging to a celebrated Brahman family of Sravasti was stopped by Buddha when he once wanted to commit suicide by jumping down the precipice of Gridhrakuta. Buddha gave him directions for meditations and other practices. He however killed himself by a knife but attained hat­hood before he died.

Arrival of Buddhism to Andhra

It is possible that Buddhism en­tered Andhra Pradesh even during the life time of Lord Buddha. In Suttanipata, a book in the Buddhist Tripi­tikas, it is related that once a Brah­man by name Bavari lived on the banks of the river Godavari between the Janapadas – Assaka and Mulaka. Once a Brahman with swollen feet, unclean teeth and covered with dust all over, came to Bavari and requested him for a gift of 500 coins. Bavari being extremely poor refused to pay. The Brahmana became angry and cursed him that his head would break into seven pieces within seven days. Bavari became frightened and discom­posed that he stopped eating food. Meanwhile his family Goddess by name Ardhakamini appeared and told him that the foolish Brahmin doesn’t have the knowledge either of the head or its breaking into pieces. The Goddess confessed that even She did not comprehend the implication but the Buddha alone, born in the great Sakya family who was staying at Sravasti of Kosala Janapada, could release the riddle.

Accordingly Bavari despatched his sixteen disciples by names Ajita, Metta, Punnaka, Mettagu, Upasiva, Nanda, Dotaka, Hemaka, Toda, Kappa, Jatakarni, Udaya, Bhadra, Posala, Megharaja and Pinga to the presence of Lord Buddha. They covered their bodies with skins and with dishevelled hairs (Saivite disposition) proceeded from Potali towards North. They first reached Pratishthana in Mulaka (Paithan in Maharastra); from there to Mahismati, Ujjeni, Konardha, Vidisa, Kosambi, Saketapura, Satavya, Kapilavastu, Kusinara, Pava and Vaisali. Then they reached Sravasti to the presence of Lord Buddha who was delivering a discourse at that time with a lionine voice in a rocky shelter.

Ajita, the first disciple of Bavari slowly approached Buddha and even before he started speaking. Buddha informed him that Bavari by whom they were deputed was 120 years old and had three great virtues, proficient in three Vedas, had five hundred dis­ciples with him and had great belief in his own faith. Ajita and others with folded hands were astonished to hear the information about Bavari and be­lieved him to be a God or Indra or Brahma. When they questioned about the head and its breaking into frag­ments, Tathagata replied that the head connotes ignorance and it is only supreme knowledge that would break ignorance, which could be acquired by devotion, meditation, concentration and perseverance. The disciples of Bavari one after another started ques­tioning Buddha and received convinc­ing answers. Thus they became the followers of Buddha and returned to Potali on the banks of the river Godav­ari and narrated to Bavari about their encounters with Buddha.

Many scholars identified ‘Bodhan’ in Nizamabad district, with Potali, or it might be a village neat Paithan in Osmanabad district of Maharastra. It is certain that it was situated on the banks of the river Godavari in the present Maharastra or Andhra Pradesh. The message of Buddha was transmitted by Bavari’s disciples to all the corners of Andhra Pradesh.

After the return of the disciples of Bavari to Andhra, several other Andhra converts proceeded to North and settled there. These were known as ‘Andhakas’. According to ‘Mahav­agga’ of the Tripitikas, there was one Andhakavana near the town of Sravasti. There was also Andhka Vinda near Rajagriha. Dr. B.S.L. Hanuman­tha Rao was of the opinion that these may be the Viharas established by Andhras.

Routes of Arrival of Buddhism:

It appears the Buddhist pil­grims travelled from North India to Andhra along two ancient routes. Basing on our present knowledge of the existing Buddhist sites in Andhra we may conjecture that the Buddhists might have passed through the Pauni­-Paunar Buddhist sites in Madhya Bharat, then proceed through the jungles along the Pranahita river which joins Godavari at Sirivancha then cross Godavari by boat or even by carts during the dry season and reach Kaleshwaram, presently a celebrated Saivite centre in Karimnagar district. From Kaleswaram the pilgrims might have travelled down the Godavari river to Dharmapuri, Kotilingala, Dhulikatta (all in Karimnagar district) then to Phanigiri, Gajulabanda, Tirumalagiri, Nelakondapalli, Jeggayyapet, thence reach the river Krishna probably near Vedadri and take a boat down-stream to Amaravati or up-stream to Nagar­junakonda (Vijayapuri).

The coastal route might have passed from Dhavali near Bhuvanes­war (in Orissa) to Kalingapatnam, Salihundam (on the river Vamsadhara) to Tolakonda, Bavikonda near Visakapatnam, then to Bojjanakonda near Anakapalli, thence to Guntupalli, Gudiwada, Ghantasala then crossed the river Krishna to reach Bhattiprolu and then proceed to Amaravati near Guntur.

Conditions in Andhra at the Arrival of Buddhism:

Andhra Desa came under the in­fluence of the Aryan thought at least by the beginning of the first Millen­nium B.C. During this time a large part of Andhra was inhabited by those who practiced Megalithism which in­volved the exposure of the dead bodies for a certain period, then collection of important bones (sanchayana) and burying them in deep pits. Then a circle of huge boulders was erected around the pit for marking it as a prominent monument.

The Rgveda, the most sacred book of the Aryans, treats burial and burning as two legitimate methods for the disposal of dead. Some of the verses of the Rgveda distinctly refer to the practice of burial. According to Rgveda the Pitrs who dwell in heaven are those who have been burnt by fire and those who have been buried (Agni Dagdha and Anagni Dagdha). Accord­ing to Sayana, the commentator of Veda, burial was an orthodox method of disposing the dead. Atharva Veda prescribes three methods of disposing the dead namely 1. burying 2. burning and 3. scattering (Nimajjana).

It may thus be inferred that during the periods of Rgveda and Atharva Veda burial and burning of the dead were in practice. From the time of Yajurveda down to Aranyakas and Srauta Sutras the burning of the dead became common. During the post-Grihya period burning became the only method. In Yajurveda, there is a description of a ceremony known as ‘Pitrumedha’ which consisted of col­lecting of burnt bones of the dead and depositing them in an urn and subsequently to be merged in the waters of the holy rivers. This may be explained as a rite of compromise between the two opposite practices - the practice of burying and that of burning the dead bodies. Prof. Keith believes that the idea of burning as a necessity to take the soul to the heaven is not Vedic. In Rgveda, it is said that a bank or lump of earth was to be raised between the village and the cemetery as a rampart that is, between the living inhabitants and the dead. A circle of stones was to be erected around the burial for the protection of the survivors. The above two injunctions were literally practiced by the authors of Andhra megaliths.

The anthropological examination of the skeletal remains of the dead found in the Megalithic burials re­vealed that they didn’t differ from the species as those of the Aryans. Chronologically, these burials belong to a date frame of 1000 to 300 B.C. The Hinayana Buddhism laid great stress on the worship of the stupa in which the mortal remains of Buddha or the Arhats were incorporated. Thus the consecration of mortal remains in a tumulus as practiced by Buddhists was not altogether a novelty in the Andhra of the pre-Christian times. The Buddhist stupa and the Megalithic burial contain the remains of-the dead and intended for offering homage to the departed. Both were enclosed by Pradakshana Pathas or circumabula­tory passages (particularly in the case of burials having double circle of boul­ders.

Acceptance of Buddhism:

(A) Art and Architecture:

Buddhism was mostly patron­ised by the commercial and well to do classes who built up a series of ar­amas or viharas which included mon­asteries, stupas, refectories according to a standardised plan probably con­trived even during the life time of Buddha. The Hindus never gave con­crete shape for the hierarchy of their Gods and Goddesses or the temples in which they were to be installed till a very late period. They built only fire altars with bricks. of course, the plan of which became the prototype for the temples of later day. Any available Hindu divine image or sculpture, but for Siva Lingas in India cannot be dated prior to the Christian Era. By this time the Buddhists have already mastered the art of stone sculpture for effectively communicating religious ideas to the common man. Though the human from of Buddha became popu­lar only after 1st-2nd century A.D., his symbolic representations or the impor­tant episodes of his life and Jataka tales of his previous births were pro­fusely delineated much earlier on the walls and surfaces of the stupas and monasteries.

It was a period of great dilemma for the people to choose between the tedious and rigorous practices to real­ise Brahman as enunciated by the Upanishads or to witness the horrible sacrifices of Vedic followers and the believers of village Gods and God­desses which involved in large scale killing of living beings on one side and the sophisticated casteless, classless and simple preachings of Buddhists in the language of the people, supple­mented by the parade of beautiful sculptures depicting various themes on the surfaces of stupas and monas­teries. It was also a period of perplexity for the rulers who had to face an unpleasant situation of ruling over a population divided on the lines of Hinduism and Buddhism. Thus they gave or permitted to give munificent grants directly or indirectly through their ladies for the maintenance of Buddhist Viharas and at the same time firmly adhering to their traditional creed by performing such Vedic sacrifices as Aswamedha, Vajapeya, Agnistoma, and several other Kratus as exemplified by the Satavahana, Ikshvaku and other rulers of South.

(B) Language and Script:

All the Hindu scriptures which included the Vedas, Brahmanas, Upanishads, Epics, Sutras and Pu­ranas were composed in Sanskrit which was a difficult medium for understanding by the common folk. During the post-Sutra period particu­larly after Manu, Sanskrit learning became the sole privilege of the twice born. This was due to lack of script and other communicable aides. For the first time Asoka, the Mauryan Emperor standardised the Brahmi script and popularised the same in Prakrit idiom throughout the length and breadth of India. The entire liter­ary output of the Buddhists was origi­nally compiled in Prakrit language which was easy for communication. Prakrit assimilated as much of vocabulary as possible that it established a close kinship with the local lan­guages. In the 6th century B.C. Ma­haveera and Buddha preferred to preach in the local Prakrits of eastern India. The Mauryan Emperor, Asoka (3rd century B.C.) and a century later king Kharavela addressed their sub­jects in Prakrits. As Buddha spent most of his time in Magadha and preached his doctrine in the dialect of that region, it is but natural that the early Buddhist scriptures were com­posed in Magadhi Prakrit in which Buddha himself spoke. Some scholars believe that Pali, a variation of Prakrit was the language of Kalinga (South Orissa or North-East Andhra) from where Buddhism travelled to Ceylon.

Sects of Buddhism in Andhra

The second council was held at Pataliputra, after 116 years of Ma­haparinirvana of Buddha, during the time of Kalasoka. In this council, Mahadeva propounded five new propositions regarding the Arhats which brought division of the Sangha into two schools - Mahasanghika and St­haviravada. Some of the Vaisalian monks seperated themselves from the Sangha of the Elders of Sthaviras and organised a new one of their own call­ing it a Mahasangha from which they came to be known as Mahasanghikas.

The Sthaviravadins subsequently were split up into eleven sects and remained as Hinayanic, while the Mahasanghikas divided into seven sub-sects and gradually gave up their Hinayanic doctrines and paved the way for the appearance of Mahayanism. Vinitadeva, the author of ‘Bikkshu Varshagraprchya’ divided the 18 sects into the following groups. I & II the Mahasahghikas comprised of 1. Purvaseliya 2. Aparaseliya 3. Haimavata (of the Himalayas or Kashmir). 4. Lokottaravada and 5. Prajnaptivada.

III Sarvastivadins comprised of Mulasarvastivada, Kasyapiya, Mahisasaka, Dharmagupta, Bahustrutiya and Tamrasatiya.

IV Sammatiyas comprised of Kuru­kullakas, Avantaka and Vastiputri.

V Staviras comprised of Jetavaniya, Abhayagirivasin and Mahaviharavasin. Taranatha identified the sects Caityaka and Purvaseliya as be­longing to the school of Mahadeva. As the Caityaka’s and Purvaseliyas were based only in Andhra Pradesh, it is likely that Mahadeva who was a con­temporary of Asoka or Kalasoka might have got some connection with Andhra Pradesh. According to Mahavamsa, Mahadeva was deputed by Asoka to Mahishamandala which was identified with the Andhra, south of Godavari.

The Mahasanghika branches were again sub divided into two groups, Mahasanghikas, Caityakas or Lokottaravadins. The Caityakas became widely known as the Seliya or the Andhaka schools. Out of a total of 18 sects of Buddhism, nine have bases in Andhra Pradesh 1. Mahasanghiyas or Aiyasanghiya (Nagarjunakonda) 2. Purvaseliya (Amaravati and Alluru) 3. Aparaseliya (Nagarjunakonda and Ghantasala). 4. Rajagirika (Arnaravati) 5. Caityaka (Arnaravati) 6. Bahusrutiya (Nagarjunakonda) 7. Mahisasaka (Nagarjunakonda) 8. Uttara Seliya (Kalinga or North Coastal Andhra?) 9. Saiddhantikas.

In the commentary of ‘Katha vattu’ the sects of Rajagirika, Saiddhantika, the Pubbaseliya, Aparaseliya are known as the Andhaka or Andhra sects. The Purvaseliya, Aparaseliya, the Caityaka sects appear to have emanated from Andhra alone. Regard­ing Mahisasakas they became famous even from the first Buddhist council at Rajagriha. As such its origin is definitely anterior to Mahsanghikas. Vinaya attaches special importance to a person by name ‘Purana’ who formed a group with his followers known, as Mahisasaka. It is interesting that among the disciples of Bavari despatched to Buddha, there was one Purana or Punna or Punnaga. On the basis of some inscriptions, the region of Mahisasaka is identified with that of Vengi. In that case Purana or Punna, the founder of Mahisasaka Buddhist sect must have hailed from Andhra.

Similarly the Bahuarutiya school which is a later branch of the Mahas­anghikas was mentioned in the in­scription found at Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda. They were regarded as the precursors of the later Mahay­ana teachings. They also incorporated the five propositions of Mahadeva propounded in the first Buddhist council. In some doctrinal matters they had a great deal in common with the Seliya schools of Andhra. They are often described as a bridge between the orthodox and the Mahayana schools.

Great Buddhist Acaryas and writers of Andhra:

Acarya Nararjuna, who propounded the Madhyamika school of Buddhist philosophy also known as Sunyavada, must have spent the last part of his life at Nararjunakonda probably after his retirement from Nalanda. According to Lankavatara Sutra, he was born in a village ‘Vedali’ identified with Vadali situated be­tween Amaravati and Nagarjuna Konda. Some scholars believe that Acarya Nararjuna was born in south Kosala at Vidarbha (Berar). The world has never seen a greater dialectician than Nagarjuna. His great work Madhyamika_karika which contained 400 Karikas in 27 chapters provided the base for the Madhyamika schools. This work alone shows the master mind of Nagarjuna and how he shines in solitary splendour among the intellectuals of this country. He was described as the Aristotle of Buddhist lore, the Christ of Madhyamika and St. Paul of Mahayana, a magical name baffling the most brainy in sheer intellectual power and moral force. Nagarjuna is said to have recovered the Mahayana texts ‘Avatamsaka’ Prajna Paramita, Saddharma Paundarika from Naga­loka. NagaIjuna is believed to have authored more than 20 works, one of which was Suhrullekha or ‘Letter to a Friend’ which was addressed to his patron. ‘Yajna Satakarni (166-196 A.D.)I - tsing (700 A.D.) the Chinese traveller recorded that he saw children committing it to memory and adults making a life long study of it. Accord­ing to Tibetan accounts Nagarjuna lived at Nalanda. Taranatha recorded that Nagarjuna, Aryadeva and Vasubandhu were the high priests of Nalanda. According to Kathasaritsa­gara, Acarya Nararjuna was assassi­nated at the instigation of a Satavahana prince. This might be the first aid for the revival of Hinduism and decline of Buddhism in Andhra.

Aryadeva who was probably an younger contemporary of Acarya Nagarjuna at Nalanda, is considered as one of the foremost thinkers of Madhyamika school. A good number of philosophical works such as Catussa­taka, Satasastra and Akkarasataka were attributed to him. It is likely that Aryadeva too hailed from Andhra.

Sthavira Buddhapalita was an important exponent of Madhyamika philosophy propounded by Nagarjuna. He is credited with the founding of Prasangika school which attempted to develop a method of reasoning and putting such questions to his adver­sary as would defeat him completely and confuse him. It appears he flour­ished during 5th century A.D. and was a native of Dantapura (Srikakulam district). His work Madhyamika Vrtti is a commentery on Nagarjuna’s Madh­yamika sastra.

The next important Buddhist writer was Buddha Ghosa. According to ‘Mahavamsa’, Buddha Ghosa was born near Bodhgaya but there is an­other view that he came from Tailanga region (Telangana). Prof. D. Kosambi believes that Buddha Ghosa came from the south. In his earlier days Buddha Ghosa was eminently versed in the Vedas and Sutra literature. Later under the influence of Mahasta­vira Revata he was ordained in Bud­dhism and then came to be known as Buddha Ghosa. On the instruction of Revata, Buddha Ghosa sailed to Cey­lon during the time of King Mahan­ama. His work ‘Visuddhimagga’ is something of almost everything in Buddhist literature. It was the first work of Buddha Ghosa in Ceylon which is a summary of the Tripitikas together with the commentary. His other work was ‘Samanta Pasadika’ which is a commentary on the Vinaya. He also wrote commentaries on the Patimokkha and on the four principle Nikayas. Of all the works of Buddha Ghosa, Visuddhimagga reveals his encyclopaedic knowledge, keen intel­lect and deep insight. His other commentaries put him on a high pedestal among the Indian scholars.

After Buddha - Ghosa, Thera Dharmapala who lived at Badaratittha, a place on the south-east coast of India (Salihundam?). He is credited with the writing of commentaries on such works as Khuddhaka-Nikaya which were left undone by Buddha Ghosa. The known Buddhist Titrhas so far known in south-east India are situated near Visakapatnam, such as Salihundam, Gopalapatnam, Bavi­konda, Totlakonda, Bhimunipatnam which might have belonged to the Sthavira school comprising of Abhay­agirivasis and Mahavihara Vasis. Dharmapala’s commentary on the Buddha Ghosa’s Visuddhimagga known as Paramattha Manjusa refers to the views of Abhayagiri school.

Bhavaviveka, another great ex­ponent of Madhyamika school who lived in 6th century was the author of several works - Mahayana Karatala, Ratna Sastra, Madhyamika Hrdaya, Tarkajwala, Prajna Pradipika etc. Hieun Tsang records that Bhava­viveka, the Master of Sastras lived in the palace of Asuras situated to the south of Dhanakataka. This palace was in a great mountain cavern. Fer­gusson, identified the cavern as with the rock-cut caves at the foot of Indra-­Keeladri hill near Vijayawada. No doubt, a Buddhist Vihara was identi­fied over the Akkanna-Madanna hill but the rock-cut caves underneath are Brahmanical. The plausible identifica­tion would be the Buddhist complex near Guntupalli or Jilakarragudem situated about 30 Km. towards West of Eluru town in west Godavari district. Hieun Tsang states that Bhavaviveka was widely renowned for his elegant scholarship and for the depth of his vast attainments. Originally he was a disciple of Kapila, the propounder of Sankhya Yoga, but later became fully conversant with the learning of Nagarjuna.

Dinnaga (5th century A.D.) a disciple of Vasubandhu was a noted teacher of the Yogacarya school of Buddhism. He was the founder of the Buddhist logic and widely known as the Father of Mediaeval Nyaya. First he was a Hinayana Buddhist of Vasti Putriya sect and later devoted himself to the teachings of Mahayanism. Din­naga is credited with the authorship of about 100 treatises on logic, which according to I-tsing were read as a text books at the time of his visit to India. Pramanasamusccaya was his greatest work. Nyaya Pravesa and Hetuchakra­damaru were some of his other works. According to a Tibetan tradition, he was born in Simhavaktra (a suburb of Kanci) in south India. But Hieun Tsang recorded that a Jaina Bodhi­satva (identified as Dinnaga) who composed Hetuvidya Sastra lived near a stone stupa situated on a solitary mountain in Andhra. This mountain is about 20 li (3½ miles) from the capital Ping-Ki-Lo. As Hieun Tsang en­tered Andhra from South Kosala, we believe that he might have entered Andhra through Telangana crossing the river Godavari either at Kales­waram or Kotilingala (both in Karimnagar district). The situation of Posigoan studded with Buddhist Viharas on hills, at a distance of 3km, from Kotilingala almost approximates with the distance stated by Hieun Tsang. The name Posigoan might be a derivation of Pusa where Chenna Pusa (Dinnaga) lived as per the vision of Hieun Tsang. Dinnaga is considered to be an important link between the Bud and Orthodox Nyaya systems of India.

Dharma Kirti, regarded as Kant of India, was the author of Pramana Vartika, his magnum opus; Nyaya Bindu, Pramana Viniscaya, Sam­bandha-Pariksa, the Hetubindu, Samanantara Siddhi etc., He was born in a village by name Tirumala (Tirupati in Chittoor district) in the Cola country but later proceeded to Nalanda and became a disciple of Dharmapala. He was a successor of Dinnaga and logi­cian of un-surpassed genius. Dharmakirti’s literary productions mark the highest stage reached in epistemologi­cal speculation by later Buddhism.

Spread of Buddhism in Andhra Dur­ing Mauryan Times:

After the Kalinga war Andhra desa in its entirety came under the suzereinty of Asoka. In the 13th rock-edit of Asoka, it is stated that Andhras were following the Dharma enunciated by Devanampiya (Asoka). After the 3rd Buddhist council Asoka dismantled the stupas at Kusinagara and took out the corporeal relics of Buddha and distributed them among different regions under his rule and arranged to erect 84 thousand stupas. In Andhra, the stupas at Amaravati, Battiprolu and Nagarjunakonda con­tain the actual relics of Lord Buddha. According to Manjusri Mulakalpa “the stupa at Amaravati contained the rel­ics of Buddha. In a Brahmi inscription found over one of the Ayaka pillars of Maha Stupa at Nagarjunakonda, it is recorded as Samma Sambudhasa Dhatu Vara Parigahitasa, which means the stupa incorporates the sacred relics of Buddha. This inscrip­tion is dated to the 3rd century A.D. of the time of the Ikshvakus of Vijayapuri. In an inscription discov­ered in the stupa at Battiprolu, it is said ‘Buddha Sarirani Nikshiptam’ (the corporeal relics of Buddha were deposited). The palaeography of the inscription of Battiprolu might be ear­lier than or contemporary to the Asokan Brahmi. The stupa was erected by a local king named ‘Kubhiraka’.

During the excavations con­ducted recently at Kotningala on the right bank of river Godavari in Karimnagar district, the remains of a stone vaneered stupa were discovered. The label inscriptions on the vedika slabs of the stupa are datable to pre-­Asokan times. About two miles west of Kotllingala three separate Buddhist es­tablishments were identified near the village Pashigoan (Pusagoan). Hieun Tsang recorded that the capital of An-To-La (Andhra) was Ping-Ki-lo which must have been situated in or around Kotilingala in Karimnagar district. In the vicinity of Ping-Ki-La there was a great Sangharama built by O-Che-La and about 20 li (3½ miles) to the south-west of it there was a stupa built by Asoka Raja. There was one more stone stupa on the top of a mountain. Here Chenna Pusa com­posed the Hetuvidya Sastra. Chenna Pusa is identified with Dinnaga, the founder of Buddhist logic who lived at the beginning of 5th century AD.

At Dhulikatta, in the same dis­trict, a massive Buddhist stupa was excavated under the direction of the present author. Many of the Ayaka slabs found around the Vedika of the stupa were inscribed in Brahmi script datable to 150 to 200 years B.C. It is quite likely that the stupa had been erected during the time of Asoka and worship of the same continued till the Vishnukundin times.

Hieun Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim recorded that he travelled for a 1000 li (166 miles) through desert and forest to reach Dhanakataka from Ping-Ki-Lo, the Andhra capital. From there he travelled another 1000 li (166 miles) and reached the kingdom of Chu-Li-Ye (Chola). At a distance east of the capital city he found a stupa built by Asoka. Connigham identified Chu-Li-ye with Kumool district which may not be correct as no Buddhist stupa was so far identified in Kurnool district. However, in 1966, a massive Buddhist stupa was discovered by this author near Chandavaram in Prakasam district on the right bank of the river Gundlakamma. This stupa is probably the most massive than those found any where, in Andhra Pradesh. This might be one of the stupas built by Asoka. Hieun Tsang mentions that Tathagata exhibited his spiritual power here, preached, the sublime law and defeated the heratics. The statement of Hieun Tsang that Tatthagatha visited Andhra, the Chu-Li-ye region was corroborated by an inscription on a stele found at Amaravati in Guntur district.

Buddhism after Mauryans:

During the post Mauryan times, the Satavahanas inspite of their staunch Brahmanical affiliation have liberally, patronized Buddhism; The rock-cut Buddhist caves at Nasik, Kanheri, Kondavite, Kondane, Karla, Bhaja, Bedsa were executed during the Satavahana times. During the excava­tions of Buddhist Viharas at Bavikonda and Totlakonda in Visakapatnam district, several Satavahana coins came to light. It is said that the railing around the Amaravati stupa was built by Acarya Nagarjuna under the patronage of Yajna Satakarni. One of the inscrip­tions at Nagarjunakonda informs that a Vihara was built during the time ofVijaya Satakarni. The stupa at Dhulikatta in Karimnagar district might have been renovated during the time of Sivasiripulomavi as evinced by the dis­covery of several coins issued during his time.

The brisk trade that existed be­tween the Roman Empire and Andhra from the 1st Century onwards resulted in the importation of several hundreds of Roman gold and silver coins to Andhra. It also led to the flowering of Buddhist art in the centres such as Amaravati, Goli, Ghantasala, Alluru and Nagarjunakonda etc: The artistic production was so prolific, magnificent and vigorous that it became popular, as the Amaravati style and became the archetype of the south Indian as well as south-east Asian art.

Buddhism during Ikshvakus of Vijayapuri:

The Ikshyakus of Vijayapuri near Nagarjunakonda who succeeded the Satavahanas and ruled for about seventy years from Circa 220 to 290 A.D. carried forward the great artistic tradi­tion of their predecessors. In the short period of their rule, the artistic and architectural tradition bequeathed by Ikshvakus to the posterity is sumptu­ous and unrivalled. The territorial limits of their rule didn’t extend be­yond the modem districts of Guntur and Krishna. Infact they were the sole torch bearers of Andhra culture during the 3rd century of the Christian Era. During this period Nagarjunakonda became one ofthe greatest Buddhist centres in India which attracted Bud­dhists of various sects such as Mahasanghiyas, Aparamahavinaseliyas, Bahusrutiyas, Mahishasakas and Mahaviharavasins or Theravadins of Ceylon etc., The gorgeous valley sur­rounded by flat-topped hills and a luxuriant jungle setting favoured with plentiful water supply from the perennial river Krishna was most suitable for Buddhist mendicants to lead unruffled monastic life that it came to be known as the Saranath of the south.

The end of the great Ikshvaku rule marked the beginning of the de­clension of Buddhism in Andhra Pradesh. There is a folk tradition that Adi Sankara visited Nagarjunakonda and that his disciples demolished the stupas and drove out the Buddhists. This appears to be a totally unbeliev­able concoction. There is clear evi­dence that even during the 4th-5th centuries, Buddhism received royal patronage and was popular among the public. The copper plate inscriptions recently found at Kondaveedu record that the king Prithvimula (4-5th Cen­tury) ruling over the coastal areas of Andhra donated some villages for the maintenance of the Buddhist Viharas situated at Vardhamana (Vaddamanu in Guntur district), Tadikonda (also in Guntur district) and Gunapasapura.

Hieun Tsang recorded that dur­ing the 7th century (629-645 A.D.) there were ten Sangharamas and hundred Deva temples in Kalinga (North coastal Andhra); 20 Sanghar­amas, 30 Deva temples in Andhra (Telangana); numerous Sangharamas were deserted, still there were 20 well preserved Sangharamas at Dha­nakataka; the Sangaramas were ru­ined and dirty as well as the priests, but there are tens of Deva temples and many Jaina Nirgranthas in the Cola region (Rayalasima). Evidently several Buddhist viharas were existing during 7th century inspite of the rising popu­larity of Hinduism.

Govinda Varma, (4th Century A.D.) the founder-member of the Vish­nukundin dynasty had established Pushpagiri Vihara at Chaitanyapuri, a suburb of Hyderabad. His chief queen Paramabhattarika, who was the daughter of Prithvimula, the king of the coastal Andhra built a Buddhist Vihara at Indrapala Nagara (Tum­malagudem) in Nalgonda district. At Amaravati several Buddhist sculp­tures and metal images datable to 4th­ - 6th centuries A.D. such as a standing Buddha, lime stone sculptures of Tara and other deities were found. There is definite evidence that the Mahacaitya at Amaravati was under worship till 14th century AD. Some inscriptions of Kota chiefs, who ruled from Amaravati during 11th and 12th centuries A.D. refer to donations to the Mahacaitya at Amaravati. An inscription dated to 1182 A.D. describes the Mahacaitya at Amaravati as a very lofty stupa finely decorated with sculptures. Another in­scription of Dharmakirti dated to 1244 A.D. informs about certain repairs at­tended to the double - storeyed image house ofBuddha at Amaravati.

The Decline:

Before considering the causes for the decline of Buddhism in Andhra, it should first be taken notice of the patronage of Vedic or Brahmanical religion by the royalty during the post-­Mauryan times. The Satavahana Emperors, excepting the founder, have faithfully adhered to Brahmanism possibly till the time of Yajnasri Satakarni, the royal patron of Acarya Nagarjuna. Even the assassination of Nagarjuna at the instigation of Yajnasri’s successor, as recorded in Kadhasaritsagara, and also by Hieun Tsang might be due to the regaining dominance of Brahmanism than for political reasons. Ikshvakus of Vijayapuri though eclectic to permit their own femalemembers to liberally patronise Buddhism were ardent fol­lowers of Brahmanism. Several Hindu temples such as those of Push­pabhadra (Siva). Skandha, Devasena and Sarvadeva (Siva) were built during the period ofthese rulers.

The Pallavas who succeeded the Ikshvakus were initially initiated to Jainism but subsequently became fol­lowers of Saivism and were as tolerant as Ikshvakus to Buddhism. Pallava Mahendravarma (7th century), the successor of Simhavishnu, graphically picturises the degrading conditions of the Kapalikas, the Buddhists (Vajray­anists). and the Pasupatas in his famous work Mattavilasa.

The Renati Colas of the Cudda­pah - Chittoor region were worshippers of ‘Surya’ and performed many Vedic sacrifices. However Buddhism never had popular support in the Rayalasima region even during the ruling period of the Satavahanas. The only Buddhist establishment is found situ­ated on the bank of the river Bahuda near Nandalur in Cuddapah district which must have continued its exis­tence till the time of Badami Cha­lukyans. Interestingly some earliest (3­-4 centuries A.D.) Brahmanical stone plaques of Siva, Brahma, Vishnu and Sakthi were found at Jammulamnadugu near cuddapah. One of the earliest Siva Lingas in a Phallic form datable to 2nd century B.C. is found enshrined at Gudimallam in Chittoor district.

The region of Kalinga came under the rule of the Cedis after the disintegration of the Mauryan Empire of whom the only known King was Kharavela, who probably patronised Jainism. The Cedis were succeeded by Pitribhaktas and later by the Matharas of Pishtapura. The Matharas claimed themselves as Parama Bhagavatas (Vaishnavas), yet worshipped Siva and performed Vedic sacrifices. The Gan­gas of Kalinga ruled from Dantapura, Rajapura, Kalingapatnam and Muka­lingam in Srikakulam district for over thousand years. However, Buddhism had strongly entrenched in the region of Kalinga from the time of Asoka and continued to be popular till as late as 7th-8th centuries A.D. during the rule of Gangas. Infact, Kalinga, studded with a large number of Buddhist stupas situated at Adurru, Sankaram (Bojjanakonda), Ramatirtham, Salihundam, Bavikonda, Totlakonda, Bhimunipatnam, Gopalapatnam, Pedauppalam etc was as prolific as the Krishna-Guntur region. The discovery of several later Buddhist (Vajrayana) images such as Tara, Manjusri, Jambhala, Marichi and Avalokitesvara etc. at Salihundam and Hariti at Boijanakonda is a clinching evidence of the continuance of Buddhism till 8th-9th centuries A.D. Similarly sev­eral sculptures and metal images of Vajrayana affinity datable to 7th-8th centuries A.D. were found at Amara­vati, as those of Buddha in Bhumis­parsamudra, Simhanada, Avalokitesvara and Manju Ghosa. It may be inferred that the last phase of Bud­dhism which is popularly known as Vajrayana had flourished only at selected centres due to dominance gradually regained by Brahmanism. The belief that the Buddhist stupas and Viharas were plundered and devastated by the Hindus is totally unfounded. Their decay and disappearance may be attributed to lack of patronage and repairs from time to time. Infact many of the stupas as wit­nessed at Candavaram, Nagarjunakonda, Jaggyyapeta, Ghantasala, Salihundam, Guntupalli, Ramali­rtham, Sankaram, Bojjanakonda, Bavikonda, Totlakonda are better pre­served than a many Hindu temple destroyed during the time of mediaeval religious bigotry. Due to transforma­tion in the political and social conditions coupled with the disappearance of the great traditions, of humility, humaness and devotion in Buddhism and the intolerance of later Buddhists towards other religions paved the way for its decline and consequent popu­larity of Hinduism. The best example of the traditional eclectic attitude of the Hindus is the elevation of Buddha, a historic personality, to the status of the 9th Avatara of Vishnu from the time of Varaha and Agni Puranas. The endearing episodes pertaining to Vasudeva Krishna, such as his child­ish pranks in a typical Indian pastoral environment, his ability even as a child to vanquish monsters, demons, evil spirits, venomous serpents (Ka­liya), as a saviour of people and ani­mals against wrath of wind and rain, as a divine musician lulling the world with his flute, his romantic adventures with Gopis, puritanic love towards Radha, liberation of his parents from bondage, as an unrelenting warrior, shrewd politician, outstanding states­man, divine preacher, saviour of right­eousness have had the capacity to captivate the hearts of millions of pastoral India even from pre-Christian times. Hailing from the Andhaka-­Vrishni clan, Krishna might have had a special relationship with Ahdhras (Andhakas). The contribution of the Krishna cult towards religion, philoso­phy and culture of India is enormous. Similarly the filial piety, unbounded compassion, unswerving truthfulness and indomitable gallantry of Rama became popular even from Satavahana times (Gathasaptasati). Some of the mysterious deeds of Buddhists per­formed in Tantrik centres had alien­ated them from the main stream of the society. Just as Kapalikas and Pasupathas of Saivism have borne the brunt of unpopularity so was the case with later Buddhism.

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