Post No.7927

Date uploaded in London – 5 May 2020   

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Jataka Tales in Pali language gives Buddha’s previous life as Bodhi satva. There are over 500 tales in the collection. All religious fanatics use the previous beliefs, customs and stories of the peoples to convert them to their religion . Buddhists were the first people to abuse Hindu stories. They have shown Ramayana and Mahabharata as Buddhist stories in the Jataka tales. To take revenge upon them 1000 years later, Jayadeva of Orissa made Buddha himself an avatar of Lord Vishnu and that finished the Buddhism in the land of its birth.

But there are some benefits in such thefts. If foreigners did not plunder Indian treasures and take them to their countries and display them beautifully in London, Paris and New York Museums, we wouldn’t know anything about our own treasures. All would have been melted by our own people. In the same way Jataka tales, though pirated from the Hindus 2500 years ago, show the ancient life of Hindus in minute details.

Panini’s grammar book Asthadyayi , Kautilya’s Arthashastra and the Hindu epics portray the life that was 3000 years ago. We have complimentary and supplementary information from the Jataka tales. Three or four Jataka tales and some episodes in Hindu epics give very interesting details about Tamil culture. Two Tamil scholars M. Raghava Iyengar and P.T.Srinivasa Iyengar have listed those references in books and periodicals.

Now let’s look at the Jataka Tales where we get extra accounts about the Tamils.

The tales, dated to approximately fourth century BCE, speak of voyages of merchants to Tambapanni that is Sri Lanka. The Yakshinis, who were cannibals, lived in the island and Buddha civilised them. According to the Jataka tales the Yaksini women attract the shipwrecked people, marry them and then kill and eat them.

These Yakshinis scoured the coast from Kalyani to Nagadwipa for victims according to Valaahassa Jataka No 196.

Not withstanding the fact that the Island was infested with Yakshinis, a party of men travelled to Ceylon and there became sanyasis according to Hattipala Jataka No. 509.

Nagdwipa and Tambapanni were few names given to Ceylon in Jataka tales.

The Buddha himself when he was born as a bowman, learnt Vedas and completed his education at Takshasila and went to the Andhra country for practical experience according to Bhimasena Jataka No.80.

There is another Seri vanya Jataka which may refer to Sera country, modern Kerala and this is Jataka tale No.3.  Buddha was born as a dealer in pots and pans in the Seri country. In his travels as a hawker he crossed the river Talavaha and reached Andhapura. It may be Andhra. Sera country is not far from the Andhra country.

But more interesting is the Akitti Jataka numbered 480.

Bodhi satva, the future Buddha, was born as a Brahmin in Kasi, also known as Varanasi. He was the son of Brahmana Maha Sala and his name was Akitti (Agastya) . He turned an ascetic and along with his sister Yasavati went to a place three leagues from Kasi; but to escape from the benefactions of his admirers, he left the place by himself and went to the kingdom of Damila (Tamil Nadu), where he dwelt in a garden near Kavera patina.

Kaveri pumpattinam was a very famous port before it was devoured by the sea. It was at the place where Kaveri River enters the sea. River Kaveri is considered the daughter of Kavara rishi. It was the capital of Chola kingdom at one time .

Here too, Akitti was pestered by admirers and went to Kara dipa, also called Ahi dipa near the island of Tambapanni. There Akitti reached omniscience. This Akitti is Agastya of Vedas add Puranas.

Karai Tivu and Naga Tivu are very near Jaffna in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankans believe that Buddha visited the island at least once.

Tivu is the Tamilised form of Sanskrit word Dwipa, which means island.

Agastya is not a personal name but a family (Gotra) name and so we come across many Agastyas; so one must be careful in dating him. From 6000 year old Rig Veda to 17th 18th century Siddhas we hear about so many Agastyas.

Kaveri- Kakam (crow)- Agastya Story is very popular among Tamils.

Looking at this story with Mahavamsa episode in the background we can be sure that Tamils were a civilised lot when Buddha was alive.

I will give the Tamil Stories from Mahavamsa and Valmiki Ramayana separately.

tags– Agastya, Kaveri, Karai Tivu, Kasi, Sri Lanka


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