Japan, China and Tamil Epic: A Strange coincidence!

waterfall clear
otowa girls

Otowa Warefall in Kiyomizu Dera Temple in Kyoto, Japan

Research Paper written by London Swaminathan
Post No.1315; Dated 28th September 2014.

I was talking to my friend today who visited Kyoto in Japan sometime ago. He was narrating an incident where he drank some holy water to get three benefits at one go. Suddenly I remembered one such thing in the Tamil epic Sillapadikaram.

Kiyomizu Dera Temple near Kyoto in Japan is a UNESCO heritage site. This temple was built 1200 years ago by an ancient Buddhist sect. Kiyomizu Dera Temple means The Temple of Pure Water. The main hall of the temple is considered a national treasure. Fifteen colourfully painted halls, Otowa Waterfall, Forty feet tall wooden columns, a wooden stage assembled with 410 cypress tree boards, Three storied Pagoda, Eleven headed -Thousand handed Bodisattva idol and decorative gates attract thousands of tourists every year.
It is halfway on the Otowa mountain. The temple met with several fire accidents and the latest structures are only 400 years old.

The Otowa Waterfall has some similarity to the Three Magic Ponds mentioned in the Tamil Epic Silappadikaram. The waterfall in Kyoto comes from a mountain stream and it is divided into three streams. It is said that one of the three gives you Longevity and the other two Wisdom and Health. Wisdom is interpreted as success in life or good marks in the examinations etc. So students are also attracted to it. People use metal cups to collect the water and drink. Tradition says that only two streams must be used. If anyone drinks water from all the three streams then the person is called a greedy person!

Tamil epic Silappadikaram has some magical element! Kovalan, with his young wife Kannaki, was travelling from Choza Kingdom to Pandya Kingdom. He met a Brahmin who performed Vedic sacrifices. Kovalan asked the learned Brahmin to show him the way to Madurai. Then the Brahmin explained to him the various routes. Following is the one that has similarity with three streams of Otowa water fall of Kiyomizu Dera in Japan:
“If you do not take the route lying to the right, but choose the route to the left, you will hear winged beetles singing the tune of Sevvali melody. Paasing this you reach Tirumaalkundram (Present Alakar Koil near Madurai) that opens into a cave which removes all delusion, and leads to the miraculous three ponds, greatly praised by the gods, and called the

Sacred Saravanam
Bava Karani and


If you bathe in the sacred Saravanam you will get the knowledge of the book attributed to the King of Gods (commentators identify this book with Aindra Vyakaranam, a grammar book or a system).

If you bathe in the Bavakarani, you will learn the deeds of your past which lead to your present birth.

If you bathe in the Ishtasiddhi pond, you will gain all that you wish for.

If you choose to enter the cave, worship then the great lord on the lofty hill, meditating on his lotus feet and going thrice round the hill; then you will see a nymph by name Varottama near Cilambaru” – Katukan Katai, Silappadikaram

Kiyomizu Dear Temple, Kyoto, Japan

The above passage is almost similar to Japanese belief. I had been to Cilambaru and Nupura Ganaga, a small water fall at Alakar hill. Though I have not gone to Japan, the picture shows something like Nupura Ganga, a small stream falling as water fall. In both the places the holy water is said to have some magical properties. It gives one wisdom, health, longevity and wishes.

Madurai people throng to Alakar Hills to bathe in the medicinal cum holy water of Cilambaru. We too used to drink Cilambaru water for its medicinal qualities. Japanese drink it for its magic effects. Both the shrines are located up the hill.


Fu Lu Shou
Chinese Belief

Chinese also worship Fu, Lu, Shou representing Happiness, Prosperity and Longevity. They are worshipped as stars in the sky. Fu represents Jupiter (Guru), Lu represents (Vasishta Nakashatra in Ursa Major constellation or Saptarishi mandalam and Shou represents Agastya Nakashatra- Canopus in the southern sky. They have been worshipping these stars in the form of three human figures for at least 800 years. There is no doubt that they have learnt all these things from the Hindus. Vasishta and Arndhati are in Sangam Tamil literature which is at least 2000 years old. Agastya Star is visible only for people living in the southern latitudes. Only Hindus could have made him a God or a Star!