Sabarimala is not Buddhist shrine; Kerala govt claim obnoxious, says Archaeologist

    Dr BS Harishankar argues that Sastha or Mahasatha tradition has its origin in Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu and was adopted in Kerala. Sri Ayyappa is believed to be Sastha’s manifestation. The Kerala government, in an affidavit in Kerala High Court, claimed that Sabarimala was a Buddhist temple. In this context, we are reproducing the article which was first published on 05/10/2018. — Editor

    Left historians claim Sabarimala was a Buddhist shrine in the past. In 2008, the LDF government in Kerala has cited scholars to suggest that Sabarimala was once a Buddhist shrine where rituals followed were synonymous with the ‘Saranathrayam’ of Buddhist disciples. In its affidavit to the Supreme Court, the state government said, “Some scholars of ancient Kerala history say that the Sabarimala Sastha Prathishta was once a Buddhist shrine.”  The left government however declined to disclose the name of the historians, who claimed that Sabarimala is a Buddhist shrine. The affidavit said the state government has no intention to create any controversy. (Kerala govt suggests Sabarimala was once a Buddhist shrine  in   Outlook 07-02-2008–

    The scholars who raised the claim on Sabarimala as Buddhist shrine for the left government certainly shall be left historians. The left historians in Kerala have been accommodated by the Left government in the Kerala Council for Historical Research (henceforth KCHR) to discover the ancient site of Muziris in west coast. The Left historians identified ancient Muziris with Pattanam in Ernakulam district. The Pattanam site already created opprobrium and obloquy and brought discredit to the historical community due to KCHR’s scandalous excavations, fictitious claims and fabricated interpretations. Eminent Indian historians and archaeologists such as Professors Dilip Chakrabarti, MGS Narayanan, R.Nagaswamy and A Sundara have unleashed  vehement academic criticism against Pattanam excavations.  (

    Former director of KCHR, PJ Cherian claimed that the occurrence of the ceramic known as Indian Rouletted Ware or IRW at the lowest layers of occupation is a pointer to the Buddhist and Jain commercial links of Pattanam. (Pattanam Excavations 2011 –Report of the Fifth Season Excavation at Pattanam by PJ Cherian. Thiruvananthapuram: KCHR). In 2011, PJ Cherian also  said  Brahmanical hegemony persecuted minorities like Jains and Buddhists and annihilated them from the soil of Kerala forever.(Pattanam: A Rupture in the Cultural History of Kerala 07 05  2011

    Treated inside and outside with a slip, Rouletted Ware is decorated with two or three concentric bands seemingly produced by a roulette. The inner surface is well-burnished. The rouletted designs are geometric and were incised by revolving it on the wheel with a rouletted or toothed instrument, when the clay was wet. The clay is fine and well levigated and the dishes are made on the wheel. The Rouletted Ware has been found  from  130 sites such as Brahmagiri, Chandravalli, Amaravati, Salihundam, Kaveripattinam, Uraiyur, Nattamedu, Sengamedu, Kanchipuram, Sisupalgarh and Tamluk .No archaeologist has identified it as a Buddhist or Jaina ceramic in Indian context,  as  claimed by KCHR.

    The former KCHR director has not provided a single historical evidence to vindicate his charges on the Hindu persecution of Buddhists in Kerala and their final annihilation from the soil as claimed by him in 2011. On the other hand, KCHR was propagating that Pattanam was the site where Apostle Thomas landed in India. Controversies created by KCHR on Apostle Thomas crossed the limits in the Indian academic domain. Finally, the former Indian President Pranab Kumar Mukherjee declined in February 2016, to inaugurate the exhibition of Pattanam artefacts due to the shocking and disgraceful controversies associated with it (President Skips Pattanam Exhibition in The Hindu 28-02-2016). Earlier in August 2015, the Left lobbies attempted to drag PM Narendra Modi into Pattanam. Sensing the agenda and ongoing controversies the PMO declined the offer.

    It is now clear that historians associated with KCHR advised the Left government in 2008 that, Sabarimala was a Buddhist shrine in the past. Hence in its affidavit to the Supreme Court, the Left government said, scholars of ancient Kerala history say that the Sabarimala Sastha temple was once a Buddhist shrine. The Left lobbies know to raise controversies and keep silent when climate is not favorable for them.

    Buddhism was essentially urban in character, and a vast majority of Buddhist sites are  located in cities and along major trade routes. Laurya Nandangarh, Vaisali, Sanchi, Sarnath, Bodhgaya, Nalanda, Takshasila, Bamiyan,Amaravati, Nagarjunakonda and Nagapattinam—the examples are numerous. No Buddhist vihara or monastery shall be located at Sabari hills in the densely vegetated Western Ghats a thousand years back, with no access to plains.

    Numerous archaeological evidences on cultural synthesis of Buddhism and various Indian cults are available. The sculpture of Hari-Hara flanked by Buddha and Surya belongs to the Pala Period. There are numerous carvings at Nagarjundakonda and Gandhara depicting Buddha surrounded by Indra and other gods, exhorting him to preach the cosmic law of Dharma. A rare sculpture of Buddha seated on the lion resembling Durga is from Mahaoba.This Simhanada Buddha holds a trident, sword, lotus and rosary .The bronze statue of Hayagriva –Lokeswara from Swat valley in Pakistan,  is a fine blending of Hayagriva manifestation of Vishnu and Buddha. Numerous images of Tara Mahavidya, the Great Goddess of Buddhist tradition have been recovered from numerous Buddhist sites. She holds an important position in Dasa Mahavidya tradition. These historical facts have been conveniently buried by Left historians.

    When anti-aircraft and tank fire failed  to destroy the 1,700-year-old sandstone statues of Buddha standing  over 150 feet high above a small town situated at the foot of the Hindu Kush mountains of central Afghanistan,  the Taliban terrorists resorted to another gameplan.They  brought a lorry load of dynamite from Kabul. A Western observer said: “They drilled holes into the torsos of the two statues and then placed dynamite charges inside the holes to blow them up”. (The Telegraph 12  03  2001)The operation to wreck the statues carved into a cliff in the Bamiyan Valley in the Hindu Kush mountains of central Afghanistan was supervised by Mullah Obaidullah, the Taliban defence minister.

    On 29 September 2012, there was a series of attacks on Buddhist monasteries, shrines, and houses of Buddhist inhabitants at Ramu Upazila, in Cox’s Bazar District of Bangladesh. The Islamic fundamentalists destroyed 12 Buddhist temples and monasteries. The violence later spread to Ukhia Upazila in Cox’s Bazar District and Patiya Upazila in Chittagong District  with larger concentration of Buddhist monasteries.

    On 7 July 2013 a series of ten bombs exploded in and around the Mahabodhi Buddhist Temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Bodh Gaya, Bihar. Five people, including two Buddhist monks, were injured by the blasts. Three other devices were defused by bomb-disposal squads at a number of locations in Gaya. On 4 November 2013, the National Investigation Agency announced that the Islamic terrorist group Indian Mujahideen, was responsible for the bombings.

    There was global outrage against destruction of Buddhist heritage.  But India’s left historians and cultural activists hid under the carpet and remained unseen and unheard until the global protest came down.

    The left historians who claim Buddhism was  wiped out of Kerala by Hindus, should remember their own legacy. In Russia, Communists unleashed a reign of terror in  Buddhist areas of Kalmykia and Buryatia. In 1931-32, the highest-ranking members of the Buddhist clergy were persecuted, and in 1935-36, the remaining members of the middle ranks of the clergy were arrested. In 1930, the seizure of temples and monasteries and pogroms began. Temple property was confiscated and destroyed. The most valuable property were xylographs (wooden engravings). The Aga Buddhist temple had  100,000 pieces of such engravings. Most of these engravings included  dictionaries, grammar guides, narrative and poetic literature, and essays on history, medicine, astronomy, and philosophy.Communists Komsomol (Communist Youth) members were mobilized, especially by non-governmental organizations and activists for looting Buddhist monasteries.

    The repressive Communist Government that ruled Mongolia for 70 years under the advise of Soviet Communist regime,  destroyed more than 700 monasteries in the 1930’s, burning books and executing thousands of lamas.

    Under the notorious Cultural Revolution by Mao, Communist China looted Tibetan Buddhist monasteries using red brigades. The Jokhang temple, Tibetan Buddhists’ most sacred site, was plundered, destroyed and desecrated beyond repair. Names of streets, roads, shops, villages and even personal names were rewritten in Chinese.

    More than 6,000 monasteries and religious institutions in Tibet laid in ruins. Millions of ancient and priceless manuscripts were burnt. Statues made of gold, silver, or bronze were removed from the temples and shipped to China. At least 92,000 Tibetans who were subjected to “struggle sessions” died or committed suicide and around 173,000 Tibetans died in prison, or Labor Camps.

    Left historians in Kerala who inherit this notorious legacy of Buddhist massacre are now accusing Hindus for capturing Buddhist shrines and annihilating Buddhist monks of Kerala in the past.

    The Sastha or Maharashtra tradition in Kerala takes its root from the ancient historic city of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu from 7thcentury AD. The main textual evidence is the Sri Lalithopaakhyana, a very important tantric text associated with the Srividya traditionThe text narrates Mahasastha in the context of rituals associated with KaliBhairava and Saptamatrkas. It highlights the importance of Mahasatha as manifestation of Vishnu-Siva (Space –Time Continuum) amalgamation or coalescence. The text describes the importance of Mahasastha in association with Bhairavas and Kshetrapaalas at the coronation of the Great Goddess Sri Lalitha Parameswari. The text is essentially associated with Kanchipuram. This Mahasatha tradition was adopted in Kerala, and Sri Ayyappa is believed to be his manifestation.

    In August 2015 His Holiness, the Dalai Lama arrived at the holy town of Trimbakeshwar during Kumbh Mela  to meet and interact with various sadhus  and mahants,  belonging to the Jain, Shaiva, Shakta and Vaishnava denominations. He has been the chief guest at World Hindu Conclaves, including the recent one at Chicago  which commemorates 125 years since the historic Chicago address given by Swami Vivekananda on Sept. 11, 1893.The left historians need not dream of  breaking Hindu fraternity by raising fictitious claims at Sabarimala shrine  funded by western lobbies.


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