Stupas in Orissa (Study)

by Meenakshi Chauley | 2013 | 109,845 words

This study examines the Stupas and Votive Stupas in Odisha or Orissa (Eastern India).—In this thesis an attempt has been made to trace the historicity of Buddhism in Odisha on the basis of the architectural development of the Stupa architecture. Archaeological evidence obtained from excavated sites dates such structures as early as third-second cen...

Tantric Buddhism in Orissa (Introduction)

Tantra the word means the worship of Sakti or female energy. The female energy is worshipped in conjunction with male energy. The union of male and female energy is the essence of Tantra (Vasu 1911:10).

Orissa played an important role in the growth and development of Tantrayana form of Buddhism. Tantrayana was the last phase in Buddhism which came after Mahayana. Tantrayana form of Buddhism was the combined form of Vajrayana, Sahajayana and Kalachakrayana. Though, it represented the fine philosophy of Mahayana in principle, it evolved into a deep esoteric practice.

The ordinary followers of Buddhism could not follow the original dictum of Buddhism and it was for them that the sutras were abbreviated into Dharanis, which is an element of mantra and whose literary meaning is that by which something is sustained or kept up (dharayate anaya iti) i.e. the mystic syllable capable of keeping up man’s religious life which is the synonym of the term raksa in Sanskrit.

These Dharanis were to be memorized and recited regularly by the lay followers, it was believed they possessed immense power to produce infinite merit in the one recited and confer desired benefits on them. It is seen that many Mahayanic works were added too, with Dharanis in the later phase to suit the later trend. Few examples in support of this are: -

Saddharma-Pundarika a Mahayanic work of the first century CE contains Dharanis which according to De-La-Vallee-Poussin was added later on. Then the Manjusrimulakalpa a Mahayanic Sutra text was remodeled in to tantras. Suvarna Prabhasa sutra which was translated by Dharmasena into Chinese in the first half of the fifth century CE is quite tantric in its contents, formulae and rites (Maharana 1995:150).

When Tantrism in the form of Dharanis, Mantras, Mudras and Mandalas etc made their way into Buddhism, other traditional believes which exists in every society, within every human being in the subconscious i.e. magic, charms and sorceries with their accessories also entered into Buddhism. This resulted in a complete change in the later Mahayana system, thus evolving a new Yana, which came to be popularly known as Tantrayana. So it won’t be wrong to say that Tantric Buddhism evolved and grew within the province of Mahayana. It was in the later phase of Mahayana that Tantric Buddhism had its full-fledged development. Later on the sexo-yogic practices, the six kinds of esoteric rituals was known as abhichara i.e. intended for the good or evil of anybody, for the purpose of fulfillment of the Sadhakas desires. The abhicharas are marana (killing), Mohana (enchanting), Sthambhana (paralyzing), Vidvesana (envying or rendering harm through animosity), Ucchatana (exciting) and Vasikarana (subduing) and for its fulfillment the path/help of Panch-ma-kara was taken, which are Madya (wine), Mamsa (meat), Matsya (fish), Mudra (parched cereal/women) and Maithuna (sexual intercourse) (Mahanirvana Tantra: 11).

It was in Orissa that some of the forms of deities of the Vajrayana pantheons took place, which is evident from the hundreds of Vajrayana images found throughout the length and breadth of the state (Sahu 1958:142).

Vajrayana, Sahajayana and Kalachakrayana evolved from the full-fledged Tantric Buddhism. But scholars are not unanimous about the chronology of these three offshoots of Tantric Buddhism. Uddiyana is referred to as the place where these forms evolved, which has been identified by scholars with present Orissa but some scholars associate Uddiyana with the Swat valley in North-west India. The claim that Uddayana was the place of their beginning is further strengthened for all the three persons associated with its propagation i.e. Indrabhuti, Laksmikara and Pitopada respectively are said to have belonged to Uddiyana. They are all historical figures and they chronologically also follow the same sequence. Thus this proves two things, firstly, all three offshoots of Buddhism belonged to Orissa, so Orissa was the birthplace of Tantric Buddhism and secondly, Vajrayana, Sahajayana and Kalachakrayana evolved in this chronology.

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