Saturday, July 15, 2006

Buddhist holocaust of Kerala

In India, every person has had a glorious past. Glorious Vedic, Buddhist, Dravida and probably non-patriarchal past. I will restrict myself to Buddhist past of Kerala.

Just other day, I came across a comment that Buddhists were all holocausted in Kerala. Since this part of the history is a constructed from archeological evidences and not recorded in the history, in print or in visual media, I think I can question this without being labelled as a holocaust denier.

I do have serious problems with glorious Buddhist past theory. Whenever, some of the propagandists from Kerala portray Buddhism as something secular, egalitarian and noble, I laugh. Just show that to me in the past Sri Lankan society.

Malayalee society before 7th century:
It seems Malayalees became agrarian society around 7th century CE. Well, Kerala society existed even before that. So what could have been the main communities of Proto-Malayalees. I can think of only tribals and fishermen. Tribals, could be spirit worshippers or shamans. What about fishermen, probably idol worshippers, worshipping the goddess of the sea and probably Tantriks. So what happens when Buddhist preachers visit such a society? For that, we have to understand the spread of Buddhism in pure Shamanist Tibetan society.

Shamans and Buddhism:
A member at Quetzalcoatl Anthropology forum mentioned that Tibetans got Shamanic religion from Burushos which was later supplanted by Buddhists from South Asia(Or is it from China, I forgot). Initially, Shaman priests were barred from practicing the religion. However, Buddhism being more egalitarian when it comes to education these Shamanist priests could merge their religion and could give rise to a synthesis of Buddhism and Shamanism, claiming back their priestly position. So there is no relation with Buddhism and Shamanism.

Tantriks and Buddhism in Kerala:
Among fishermen and tribals who could be the most advanced community? I think it should be fishermen. Just as in Tibet, the Tantrik fishermen also got educated because of Buddhism. However, unlike Tibet their Tantrik religion remained dominant and Buddha was lost. Again there is no relationship between Buddhism and Tantra.

South Indian society and religious wars:
In South India, many rulers were Jains until probably 12-13th century. The most of the religious wars were between Jains and Saivites(in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka) and between Jains and Buddhists(in Andhra Pradesh). At least, these were recorded in the history. I don't have any idea if any Andhra Pradesh Brahmins are known as Tantris. So I am not sure what happened to Buddhists of Andhra Pradesh. Since Jains were mostly rulers and elite in all of the South Indian society their numbers remained small or they were absorbed into Vishnuism of later centuries(as both had common enemies in Saivas). It should be noted here that Buddhists were never rulers of South Indian society.

Kerala Buddhists or most probably only Tantriks:
I don't think Tantriks of Kerala knew the story of Pushyamitra Shunga of 2nd century BCE. Also, since I don't believe Buddhists were ever rulers of Kerala society those Tantriks had any identity. The rulers could be mostly from the Shamanic tribals. As Vaidiks migrated to Kerala society something happened and all the Tantriks got merged with them. Of course, just like those Shamanist priests of Tibet, they continued to control the temples of Kerala but changing its character. I believe there could be a Jain holocaust in South India(which again I don't believe) but never Buddhist holocaust.

1. Pattars in Kerala society. From the article;
They(Tamil Brahmins) held themselves higher than Malabar Brahmins and Namboothiris, who they say sprang from fisherman elevated to Brahminical dignity by Parusuraman.


Anonymous said...

have more data b4 getting in to conclusion

Manjunat said...

Not much help. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Mantampadi, you appear to have come up with conclusions before setting out what research you have done in this field. Are you saying that scholars like P. C. Alexander were wrong in their findings? What is the basis of your statement - "I do have serious problems with glorious Buddhist past theory" ? Is it personal gut feel, or based on analysis and interpretation of empirical evidence?

Manjunat said...

Your comments are not getting better. Ideally, instead of asking me to worship P C Alexander, had you mentioned some of the points from his book to refute any of my claims I would have been happier. Frankly, I don't have time to read all the books. I try to read the books that give me overall perspective.

Anonymous said...

Dr. P.C. Alexander did his work in 1949 from Annamalai University for his Doctorate. It is published, but may not be available in libraries. Both of you may please read this book, instead of argueing

Manjunat said...

There is hardly any argument here. May be you can give some inputs. I couldn't find the book anywhere.

HimalayanSpirit said...

It is here that your hypocrisy is clearly visible. Your prejudiced notions are as open for everyone to see as the sea. In case of Buddhism, you believe that there cannot exist lay Buddhists - which claim itself is absurd to begin with because there are many examples of lay Buddhists in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Ladakh etc which directly contradict your speculation - but when it comes to Jainism, towards which you seem to have some kind of affiliation, there exist not only non-monk Jains (thus going completely opposite of the philosophy of self-mortification which is central to this religion) but elite rulers at that! Great hypocrisy!