Friday, 15 March 2013

In search of imprints of Buddhism: Valivalam

Dr B Jambulingam
During the field study carried out in Tiruvarur district, Buddha statues were found in Puthur (2000), Kudavasal (2002), Tirunattiyattankudi (2003), Ullikkottai (2004), Valayamapuram (2007) and  Kandramanickam (2012). To find out the Buddha of  Puthur, I pedalled more than 25 kms in a bicycle. Though I came to know of the prevalence of Buddha statues during the time of registering for my research in 1993, I had the chance of seeing the Buddha of Valangaiman in 2007. Other Buddha statues were found based on the information given by friends and scholars.

June 2009
Generally I have had chances to find Buddha statue during field work based on clues. Sometimes I returned without success. Such an incident happened during the field study carried out in Nagapattinam. One of my friends informed me that there was a Buddha statue near Kadampadi, in the heart of Nagapattinam town. When I visited that place I was not able to locate any Buddha or trace any imprints in and around Kadampadi. While I was in my mission, Mr Veerabhadran told me that there was a Buddha statue at Valivalam in Nagapattinam district on Kilvelur-Kacchanam road. During field work many such good tidings were received.

Earlier Mr Ramachandran of Nagapattinam Historical Enthusiasts' Association has introduced one gentleman who was much interested in my research-oriented activities. On seeing the Buddha findings of mine in newspapers he used to get in touch with me and commented about them. During my trip I wanted to meet him.

He is Mr Soundararajan (71), a retired faculty member of Postal Training Centre, Mysore. He evinced keen interest in history.  As planned I met him. At that time he expressed his willingness to accompany me during the field work and said that for a long time he expected for such a chance. Alongwith him I left for Valivalam by autorickshaw.

On the way I enquired with people whether any Buddha statues were seen there. I could not get a favourable reply.  Having the wish of finding a Buddha he also searched.  We came to know that a Buddha was found on the banks of Vellayar. The news gave us some encouragement. We continued our journey and reached the proper place. We alighted from the vehicle. I asked my friend to wait in the rickshaw. But he insisted that he would walk with me to the river bed. I was deeply impressed by his involvement in the subject. We enquired about the Buddha statue and were walking. Some workers who were laying road at that place said that there have seen a Buddha. Within a short span we reached the spot. We saw a granite stone upside down. It seems they referred to that stone as Buddha. We asked somebody for help in order to bring back the stone to an upright position. It did not seem to be a Buddha. Mr Soundararajan thought it to be a Buddha. Later I came to know that it was an Ayyanar and not a Buddha. I understood that the locals might have called the Ayyanar as Buddha. During my earlier field studies in some places I came to know that Ayyanar was called as Buddha.

They said that it was rare privilege for them to help us. They also assured that henceforth they would call the statue as Ayyanar. Later we placed the Ayyanar in a proper manner and left that place. Though I could not locate a Buddha, I was totally happy to see the involvement of the gentleman who accompanied me in  the research project. It was a day which I would never forget.

I express my heartfelt thanks to Mr Soundararajan, Mr Ramachandran who introduced him to me and Mr Veerabhadran who informed me about the existence of a Buddha statue.  


Akkocchi mam avadhi mam ajini mam adhasi me
Ye tam upanayhanti veram tesam na sammati.            (3)
Akkocchi mam avadhi mam ajini mam adhasi me
Ye tam na upanayhanti veram tesupasammati            (4)

"He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me", in those who harbour such thoughts hatred is not appeased. -The Dhammapada 3
"He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me", in those who do not harbour such thoughts hatred is appeased. -The Dhammapada 4

The Venerable Tissa, proud of being a cousin  of the Buddha, did not pay due respect to the senior monks. When they resented his improper conduct, he took offence and, threatening them, went up to the Buddha and made a complaint. The Buddha, who understood the position, advised him to apologize, but the Venerable Tissa was obstinate. The Buddha then related a story to show that Tissa had done likewise in a previous birth. Later, the Venerable Tissa was compelled to seek pardon from the senior monks.  
 (The Dhammapada, Narada Thera, The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation, Taiwan, ROC, 1993) 

(updated on 25.3.2013)

1 comment:

  1. Ayyanar or Buddha, people are ready to worship. Common people never saw any difference among various religious Gods. For them He is God.That is enough for them. That is india