In search of imprints of Buddhism: Kiranthi, Nagapattinam district

-Dr. B. Jambulingam 
Mr.K.Ramachandran, Principal Secretary of Nagapattinam Historical Enthusiast's Assocation,  who accompanied us during our field study of November 2011sent me a photograph of Buddha statue and said that Buddha was found at Kiranthi in Kilvelur taluk of Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu. I expected the day to see the Buddha. On April 30, 2013 he telephoned me asking to come over there. As there was an inscription in the pedestal of the statue I requested Mr.Thillai Govindarajan to accompany me. He accepted my proposal and we planned to leave for Nagapattinam.
Buddha at Kiranthi (October 2012)
Photo: Mr K.Ramachandran
MAY 1, 2013
During early morning we started our journey and arrived the bus stand. We came to know that due to the arrest of a leader of a political party, no buses were plying after 4.30 a.m. When we thought of going by train it seemed that it would took more than one hour. Later by chance we got a van and our journey continued. Within an hour or so we reached Tiruvarur. There we saw the movements of bus. After having our breakfast we left Tiruvarur.

Mr.Ramachandran waited for us at Velippalayam. Mr.Thillai Govindarajan got a two wheeler from his relative who were at Nagapattinam. We started from Nagapattinam and reached Kiranthi. As soon as we reached the place, the villagers came very near to Mr.Ramachandran and enquired them about the visit. From their conversation we understood that he visited the place and the people many times. They accompanied us to the place where the Buddha was found. The body of the Buddha and the head portion were found separately.  The Buddha was found lying down. One of the villagers said: "During your earier visit you made to sit the statue. Then on our land became dry and we did not get rain. Only after laying the statue down, it was started raining". Many villagers expressed the same opinion. They feel that only because of this Buddha they get rain. 
Buddha at Kiranthi (2013)
Photo: Dr B.Jambulingam

During my earlier trips to Tirunattiyatthankudi in Tiruvarur district and Vikramangalam in Ariyalur district I came to know some stories connecting the rain with Buddha. We shall discuss about them later. 
Mr.Thillai Govindarajan and Dr.B.Jambulingam with Kiranthi Buddha
Photo: Mr. K.Ramachandran

The statue had the iconographical features of the Chola country Buddhas. Since 1993, during my field study at Nagapattinam district, I have seen Buddha statues in Kutthalam, Kurumbur, Buddhamangalam, Poompuhar, Perunjeri and Pushpavanam. Poompuhar Buddha is in standing posture. Other Buddhas are in sitting dhyana posture. In order to read the isncription we wanted chalk piece or kolam powder which were not available at that time. Generally I used have, among other things sacred ash, during my field study. Now it came to our rescue. It was smeared over the pedestal which had scripts. Now it became possible to read the scripts. Mr.Thillai Govindarajan said that the name inscribed on it referred to "Kiranthi Theppillai" and it belonged to 11-12th century CE.     

With the villagers of Kiranthi (May 2013)
Local people evinced much interest on the Buddha and they enquired about other Buddhas which I informed to them. I also told the speciality of the Kiranthi Buddha which had a beautiful inscription.  On knowing them they felt much happy. After some time we thanked them for their help and courtesy and took leave of them.   
Mr.K.Ramachandran, Mr.Soundararajan and Dr.B.Jambulingam
Photo: Mr.Thillai Govindarajan 

Santhaithoppu Buddha

On the same day Mr Ramachandran he took us to see another Buddha statue at  Santhaithoppu near Velankanni. It was a headless Buddha, in sitting dhyana pose, with 32" height and 22" breadth. The Dharmachakra on his hand was found damaged. It had upper garment. The finger in right hand was found broken. As Mr Ramachandran wished to give the information about the Buddha at a later date, we left from the place with a heavy heart. We shall discuss about the Buddha at a later date.

11 March 2019
On 11th March 2019, Mr Tamil Scholar, a Ph.D., research scholar (Department of Tamil, Visva Bharathi University, Shantiniketan, Kolkata, West Bengal) came to see me to discuss about his subject. At that time I contacted Mr Ramachandran and introduced him about the scholar.  At that time I informed him about Santhaithoppu Buddha. He told me that we could write about the Buddha after election. I thanked him for his involvement and his broad mind.   

Then we went to see Mr.Soundarrajan, who accompanied me during Valivalam field study. Mr. Ramachandran in consultation with him prepared the draft news so as to give them to the newspapers. He praised us much for our work. After having his blessings we thanked him,  left for Thanjavur and arrived during night.  

My thanks are to
Mr K.Ramachandran, for informing and accompanying during field study.
Mr Thillai Govindarajan for accompanying. 
Kiranthi villagers for their kind cooperation.
Mr Soundararajan for his guidance.
Mr Ananthapuram Krishnamoorthy, Mrs Selvarani Saravanan and Mr V.Chitravelu who were kind enough to send newspaper clippings. 
All the newspapers including the following for publishing the news:
Buddha Statue found near Nagai, Dinamalar, (Tamil daily), 2.5.2013
Buddha Statue found near Nagai, Dina Thanthi, (Tamil daily), 2.5.2013
Buddha of Chola period found near Nagai, Dinamani, (Tamil daily), 2.5.2013
Chola era Buddha statue found, Deccan Chronicle, 5.5.2013

Whoever lives contemplating pleasant things, with senses unrestrained, in food immoderate, indolent, inactive, him verily Mara overthrows, as the wind (overthrows) a weak tree.
Whoever lives contemplating "the Impurities" with senses restrained, in food moderate, full of faith, full of sustained energy, him Mara overthrows not, as the wind (does not overthrow) a rocky moutain. 
-The Dhammapada 7 and 8

Two brothers became monks, the elder by conviction and the younger without any faith. The faithless younger monk, constantly thinking of material pleasures, succumbed to the temptations of his former wives and left the Order. The devout elder monk strove hard and attained Arahantship. His former wives tried to entrap him but failed. 
 (The Dhammapada, Narada Thera, The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation, Taiwan, ROC, 1993)

Updated on 1 March 2022


  1. I remember having read the same information and having commented in your Tamil posting. . What is your feeling like , when you come across a historical finding.?

  2. It is surprising that the local people believed in the sitting Buddha preventing the rains!

  3. Your dedicated work is to be appreciated sir. Peoples belief some time surprises us. But to day we too, pray to Buddha for rain. Let their belief become true.

  4. நன்றி திரு ஜம்புலிங்கம்,
    உங்கள் கட்டுரையை முழுவதும் இரசித்து படித்தேன்.
    உங்கள் பணியும் அதில் உங்களுக்கு உள்ள ஆர்வமும் இளைய தலைமுறையினரையும் ஊக்குவிக்கும் என்று நம்புகிறேன்.

  5. I am a Thai monk, i had followed your survey to many places such as Kranti village, Ogalur and thiyaganur from your information. thank you a lot for the great work.
    Yours Sincerely


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