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Forms of Buddhism in Assam

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This chapter deals with the nature of transformation of Buddhism after its introduction in Assam. It focuses upon the gradual development of the nature of the ritualistic aspects that reveal from the early stupa worship to the synthesis of esoteric Buddhism with new-Brahmanical religion. About hundred years after the death of Buddha, the disputes arose over the observance and interpretation of the monastic discipline1 and many schools of thought developed within Buddhism.2 The first schism of Buddhism took place in the second council that was held at Vaisali. In this council, large numbers of monks

from eastern region (vriji), advocated for the relaxation of the rigid and strict rules of the Order.3 The orthodox monks from Pava, Kausambi, and Avanti opposed this and accordingly the Council disapproved it. The Vrijian monks being dissatisfied with the verdict of the Council seceded from original

council, held a separate meeting, and thus gave rise to the Mahasanghika.4 Mahasanghika School adopted liberal attitude towards certain doctrinal issues and attempted to improve the conservative attitude exhibited by the orthodox group of monks that known as

1For details, see P.V. Bapat, „School and sects of Buddhism‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, The Ramkrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Calcutta, 1958, vol. I, pp. 456-457; Akira Hirakawa, A History of Indian Buddhism, Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi, edition, 1993, p. 2. 2 Romila Thapar is of the opinion that

the disputation of the philosophical and analytical views at ideological level is associates with the changing political atmosphere. The 16 small states of India in the 6th century B.C.E were reduced into four within 150 years. Over the next two centuries (roughly 550-350 B.C.E.), these were consolidated into one. Gradually, Magadha became a powerful kingdom under Haryanka-Sisunaga dynasty that conquered Avanti. With the breakup of the lineage society, the Sangha sought new alignments. Some older ties of kingship and political associations persisted in the sects of the Sangha, which took on the character of

local faction. The monks from the Vajjiputakas who were responsible for initial schism and for the development of Mahasanghikas had been associated with the Vrijji gana-Sangha, the system was prevalent in Rajgriha, and Sravasti. For details, see Romila Thapar, From Lineage to State, Oxford University Press,

1984, pp. 148-150; Akira Hirakawa, A History of Indian Buddhism, op.cit., pp. 79-81. 3 The Vrijian monks sought to slacken up the very strict rules in monastery in matter of rules and regulation including the food practices. The main problem at the council of Vaisali was whether the monks were to be permitted to accept monetary donation or alms. The monks of the Vaisali who supported the acceptance of donations of money were defeated and broke away. Romila Thapar, From Lineage to State, op.cit., p. 150. 4 For details, see The Way of the Buddha, Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcastings, Govt. of India, New Delhi, 1985, p. 308.


Sthaviravadin or

Theravadins

Thus, the early order of Buddhism broadely divided into two schools viz. Mahasanghika and Sthavirvada (Theravada).The branch of Buddhism that remained the monastic order is known as „Nikaya Buddhism.6 With the passage of time, the split among the Buddhist order led to the emergence of various sects and sub-

sects. Asoka sent missionaries to propagate the Theravada or Sarvastivada doctrine of Buddhism.7 It was during the first and second centuries, under the patronage of Kaniska, the Fourth Great Council was held in Kashmir. At that Council, Buddhism was distinctly divided into two broad divisions that are known as Mahayana (great vehicle) and Hinayana (the lesser vehicle).8 By the time of the Guptas, the great vehicle or Mahayana became popular and

predominated in many parts of India.9 Mahayana developed and concerned with common people while Hinayana Buddhism was a monastic form of Buddhism.10 In the second chapter of this dissertation, we have mentioned that the form of Buddhism that dominated in early Assam was tantric form of Buddhism, which has a close connection with Mahayana form of Buddhism. The evolution of the Tantric


5 P.V. Bapat, „Schools and Sects of Buddhism‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol. 1, op.cit., p. 458; Benoytosh Bhattacharya, The Indian Buddhist Iconography, Firma K.L. Mukhopadhaya, Calcutta, 1958, p. 13. 6 Akira Hirakawa, A History of Indian Buddhism, op.cit., pp. 2 & 105-106. 7 It was Savastivada doctrine or Theravada that associated with the Mauryan state. For details, see Romila Thapar, From Lineage, op.cit., p. 148; The Way of the Buddha,

op.cit., p. 308. 8 Mahayanism is neither antagonistic to Hinayanism and nor rejects its completely, rather it accepts the teachings of the Hinayana in full and adds them its new ideas and principles. Charles Eliot opines that Mahayana is „less monastic than the older Buddhism,and more emotional ; warmer in charity, more personal in devotion , more ornate in art, literature and ritual, more disposed to evolution and development, whereas the Hinayana was conservative and rigid‟. As cited in Charles Eliot, Hinduism and Buddhism, vol. II Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1968, p.3. For other detalis, see S.R. Goyal,

A History of Indian Buddhism, History of Indian Buddhism, Kusumanjali Prakashan, Meerat, 1987, pp. 211-212; A.L. Basham, The Wonder That Was India, Rupa & Co, New Delhi, third edition, 1967, p. 264. 9 During the time of Fa-hien's visit both Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism existed side by side in many parts of

India. The Chinese pilgrim visited several places of India. He saw scholars, monasteriesand other establishments of these two forms of Buddhism at Mathura, Pataliputra, Udyana, Punjab, Sravasti and Sarnath. Kanai Lal Hazra, History of Theravada Buddhism in SouthEast Asia with special reference to India and

Ceylon, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, New Delhi, 1982, p. 44. 10 The theistic order of Buddhism i.e. Mahayana with the element of Bhakti (devotion) became popular in many parts of India, for it fitted the mood of the time and the need. A. L. Bahsam, The Wonder That Was India, op.cit., pp. 264-265.


form of Buddhism derived from the Mahayana school of philosophy and accordingly Buddhist tantra belongs to Mahayana tradition.11 Thus, before going to discuss the sectarian divisions of Buddhism, it is necessary to have a discussion on origin and development of Mahayana Buddhism. The scholars regarding the nature and development of the Mahayana form of Buddhism forward different opinions. Scholar has maintained the view that Mahayana Buddhism developed out of Mahasanghika.12 In the first few centuries of the Common Era Mahayana had not developed into fully independent School of thought to institution. At

that period, it represented a specific doctrinal predilection and existed as a movement within the established Buddhist sect or outside the Buddhist institutions (among the common people or forest monks).13 After seceding from mainstream Buddhist, the Mahayana was a small and isolated group, not well established both institutionally and financially. This group used different strategies to adapt with the situation demands and responded to the different political and social structure.14 It was developed in accordance with the local features of the respective places and became more elastic and flexible according to the environments. Accordingly, the regional variation even within Mahayana form of Buddhism developed.15


11 Lalan Prasad Singh, Buddhist Tantra, Conept Publishing, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 1- 4. 12 As cited in Akira Hirakawa, „A History of Indian Buddhism‟, op.cit., p. 260; Kanai Lal Hazra, History of Theravada Buddhism in South-East Asia with Special Reference to India and Ceylon, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, New Delhi, 1982, p. 42. 13 For details, see Joseph Walser, Nagarjuna in Context, Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi, 2008, pp. 17-22. 14Ibid., pp. 18 -22. 15For details, ibid., p. 18; Hajime Nakamura Indian Buddhism, Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi, 1987, pp. 220-221. 98

In the initial stage of the development, the propounders of Mahayana seem to have been homeless ascetics who did not belong to any orthodox Sangha, and these groups constructed stupas as the bases for their activities.16 However, around fifth century C.E, it began to occupy privileged positions in

selected monasteries.17 Thus, there are two-stages of developments of Indian Mahayana. In the first stage, the Mahayana arose as a forest movement that practiced meditation, and worship stupas. In the second stage, which occurred some centuries later, Mahayana developed its monastic side. By the seventh

century, Mahayana monasticism was well established, particularly in the northwest India.18 The schism within Buddhism occurred as a rift over the interpretation of Buddhist law, not Buddhist doctrine. In course of time, there occurred wide variety of new interpretations of Buddhist philosophy.The

Hinayana is concerned with the exoteric truth while the Mahayana concerned with the esoteric truth.19 However, Mahayanists advocated the doctrine of two-fold truth in the teachings of Buddha; the outer exoteric truth meant for ordinary people and esoteric truth meant for highly evolved one.20 Mahayana may be interpreted as a „school‟ or a philosophical movement (i.e. a body of doctrine) that represented by two schools of thought viz. a)


16 Akira Hirakawa believes that Mahayana meditation originated from worship of stupas. He is also of the opinion that worshipping of Stupas helps to accumulate property so it contributed for the development of Mahayana Buddhism. He suggests that Mahayana developed and concerned with lay people while

Hinayana Buddhism was a monastic form of Buddhism. Buddhist laymen who were not included in the Buddhist Sangha during the life time of Buddha, after the death of Buddha, they constructed stupas (burial mounds) with the remains of Buddha. People, probably not members of a monastic order or pilgrims, offered gold, silver, flowers incense, and food. In this way, the establishment of stupas and the accumulation of property of the people around stupa played an

important role for the rise of Mahayana doctrine; for details, see Akira Hirakawa, A History of Indian Buddhism, pp. 270-274; Hajime Nakamura, Indian Buddhism, op.cit., p. 151. 17 There was no any institutional status of Mahayana till 5th century C.E. Mahayana by name occurs in inscriptions only 6th century. Thus, Mahayanists were fostered laypeople and forest dwelling monks who are critical to settled monastic life as it detracts from the life of

meditation. For details, see Joseph Walser Nagarjuna in Context, ibid., pp. 13-36. 18 Reginald A. Ray, Buddhist Saints in India: A Study in Buddhist Values and Orientations, Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, 1994, pp. 412-413. 19 S. R. Goyal, A History of Indian Buddhism, op.cit., pp. 211-212. 20 Esoteric is inner, secret and mystical that taught to a selected few. Exoteric is opposed to esoteric. It is external and fit to communicate with public.


Madhyamika

b) Yogacara

21 Nagarjuna was the key figure for the development of Madhyamika philosophy in first century CE.22 Approximately two centuries after Nagarjuna; Maitryeya Natha initiated Yogachara School (Yogic Practice School) which was further developed by Vasubandhu (C.E. 320-400) and Asanga. 23 In the following centuries, number of syncretic schools had developed, mingling Madhyamaka and Yogachara doctrines. Gradually, the Madhyamika and Yogacara School influenced

each other and contributed to the development of esoteric Buddhism.24 Mahayanist propounded the trikaya doctrine25 and the gradual interpretation of the trikaya doctrine and ideals of Bodhisattva gave birth to different schools within Mahayana. Mahayana reflected its meditational practice, ethical idealism

and religious devotionalism along with mystic and esoteric practices.26 One of the most significant elements that developed within Mahayana Buddhism is its ritualistic aspect.27 In early Buddhism neither the Buddha and nor any other deity was worshipped in the form of images, only stupas and other symbols of the Buddha were paid respect but Bhikshu Santarakshit,


"Buddhism‟, in A.L. Basham (ed.), A Cultural History of India, Oxford University Press, New Delhi 7th impression 2002, p. 94; Joseph walser, Nagarjuna in Context, op.cit., p. 18. 22 Joseph walser, Nagarjuna in Context, op.cit., p. 1;The Madhyamika or followers of the Mahayana emphasize wisdom and their method is dialectical. „They reduce mind and matter directly to Sunyata, the truth of which is revealed by exposing the selfcontradictory nature of all statements about the Absolute‟. As cited in Bhikshu Santarakshit, „Buddhism,‟ A.L. Basham (ed.), A Cultural History of India, op.cit., p. 94; Joseph

walser, Nagarjuna in Context, op.cit., pp. 18 & 94. 23 Maitryeya natha initiated Yogacra by 3rd century C.E. The Yogacarins or practitioners of Yoga stress on meditation, and their approach is intuitive. They reduce matter to mind and then mind to Sunyata, the truth of which drowns upon the purified

consciousness in the depths of meditation as cited Bhikshu Santarakshit, „Buddhism‟, A.L. Basham (ed.), A Cultural History of India, op.cit., p. 94. 24 In the eight-century, synthesis of the two were attempted by eminent authors like Santarakshita (ca. 680-740), Kamalasila (C.E.740-790) and Haribhadra whom the Tibetan tradition describes as yogacara-Madhyamika. Bhikshu Santarakshit, „Buddhism‟, ibid., p. 94; Gayatri Sen Majumdar, “Buddhism in Ancient Bengal”, Journal of Ancient Indian History, vol. xiii, 1977-78, pp. 246- 247. 25 Mahayanist interpreted Buddha is not a man but an eternal principle, and he has

three aspects, namely, „Dharmakaya‟, „Sambhogakaya‟, „Nirmankaya‟. The body of Buddha is regarded as „Dharmakaya‟ (cosmic body) and then Gautam Buddha identical with nirvana or Sunyata that roughly corresponding to the concept of Braman. The „Sambhogakaya‟ is a subtle body, which the Buddhas use for imparting knowledge to the Buddhisattvas. „Nirmankaya‟ is the body of transformation, i.e. the human form worn by sakyamuni or any other Buddha that is

visible to every people. For details, see S.R.Goyal, A History of Indian Buddhist, op.cit., pp. 224-226; Bhikshu Santarakshit, „Buddhism‟, A.L. Basham (ed), A Cultural History of India, op.cit., p. 94. 26 Lalan Prasad Singh, Buddhist Tantra, op.cit., pp. 3-7. 27 Akira Hiraka, A History of Indian Buddhism, op.cit., p.4.


in the Mahayana a large number of deities were conceived. This number grew larger in the Tantrika Buddhism.28 It also incorporated many popular esoteric religious elements and indigenous deities which were had been taken as objects of worship.29 From the early centuries of the Common Era30, Mahayanists

introduced the devotion and worship of a numbers of Buddha and Bodhisattva divinities viz. Manjusri, Avalokiteswa, Vajrapani, and Sumantabhadra. 31 They also worshiped the female deities independently or in union with their male counterparts.32 Mahayana Buddhists believe Bodhisattvas as protector, and worship them with magical spell.33 They attached great significance to magical spells and charms. The advocacy of the efficacy of dharani (magical


incarnation or protective spell) constitutes a large and important part of Mahayana texts.34 In course of time, these dharanis overshadowed the ethical and philosophical doctrines.35 Mahayana Buddhism revealed two methods for attaining enlightenment: the method of the perfections (Paramitayana) and the method of mantra (Mantrayana) and the two major developments within Mahayana form that manifested in India are Vijnanavada (idealism) and the Mantrayana (popularly known as Tanticism).36

28 S.R. Goyal, A History of Indian Buddhism, op.cit., pp. 211-212. 29 Gail Omvedt, Buddhism in India: Challenging Brahmonism and Caste, Sage Publications, 2003, p. 106. 30 Amitayus Sutra or Sukhavati vyuha ushered the conception of Amitabha and Avalokiteswara for the first time and it translated to Chinese about 148 C.E. to 170 C.E. Benoytosh Bhattacharya, The Indian Buddhist Iconography, Firma K.L. Mukhopadhaya, Calcutta, 1958, p. 14. 31 Mahayanists

introduced the concept of the Adi- Buddha or primordial being and his manifestations. The conception of Adi Buddha gradually developed to five dhyani Buddhs. They are namely, Vairocana, Akshobhya, Amitabha, Ratnasambhaba and Amoghasiddhi. In Nepal another Vajrasattva, sometimes added with these five dhyani Buddhas. The Way of the Buddha, op.cit., p. 311; Benoytosh Bhattacarya, „Mahayanic Pantheon‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol-I,op.cit.,pp. 518-

527 and L.A. Waddell, Lamaism, (Buddhism in Tibet), Allen & com, London, 1895, p. 130. 32 The Way of the Buddha, op.cit., p. 315. 33 Hajime Nakamura, Indian Buddhism, op.cit., pp. 153-154; N. Dutta, „Emergence of Mahayana Buddhism‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol. I, op.cit., p. 516. 34 For details,

see Akira Hiraka, A History of Indian Buddhism, op.cit., pp. 3-4; Hajima Nakamura, Indian Buddhism, op.cit., p. 315. 35 The Mahayana Sutras are often called as the epithet of Vaipulya (extensive and glorious) as they aimed at artistic effectiveness. For details, see S.R. Goyal, A History of Indian Buddhism, op.cit., p. 237; A.K. Warder, Indian Buddhism, Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi, 1999, p. 477. 36 A. K. Warder, „Feudalism and Mahayana Buddhism;‟ R.S. Sharma (ed.), Indian Society: Historical Probings, People Publishing House, New Delhi, third edition, 1984, p. 172. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism,

2004, p. 875; H.P. Sastri (ed.), Advayavrajasamgraha, Gaekwad Oriental Series, no. xl, Oriental Institute, Baroda, 1927, p. 21; Ronald M. Davidson, Tibetan Renaissance, Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi, 2008, p. 362.


The origin of Mahayana and the evolution of the esoteric form of Buddhism derive from the same school of philosophy.37 Both Nagarjuna and Asanga, the exponent of the Madhyamika and Yogacara school of Mahayana respectively, is regarded as the exponents of Buddhist tantricism.38 Though the origin of the tantric form of Buddhism is ascribes to the Mahayanic philosophy, but there are different line of Sadhana (spiritual discipline and practice) as the later


associates with the secretive, esoteric philosophy and practice.39 Tantric system assumes some fundamental features with emphasis laid on the use of some practices such as mantras(hymns) syllables dharanis(spells), yantras(magical diagrams), mandalas, (ritualistic circles), mudras (physical gestures) etc.40


Mahayana and Vajrayana incorporated various popular cults into their system.41 Gradually, all other offshoots namely, Vajrayana, Kalacakrayana, and Sahajayana etc. arose in later times.42 It has been said „From the Parinirvana of the Buddha to the sack of Nalanda by the Muslim in c.1197 C.E., that is in about seventeen centuries, Indian Buddhism passed through three main phases –Hinayana,


37 Editors preface, The Cultural Heritage of India, op.cit., vol. I, p. lxii; N.B. Akira Hiraka is of the opinion that Esoterim influenced both Nikaya and Mahayana Buddhism. Akira Hiraka, A History of Indian Buddhism,op.cit., p. 5. 38 Lalan Prasad Singh, Buddhist Tantra, op.cit., p. 1; for details, see


B.Bhattacarya, The Indian Buddhist Iconography, op.cit., p. 10; Idem., Introduction to Buddhist Esoterism, Varanasi, Chokambha Sanskrit series vol. xlvi, 2nd edition 1964, p. 35; Lalan Prasad Sing, Buddhist Tantra, op.cit., pp. 27- 29. 39The conception of boddhicitta in Mahayana and in Vajrayana is not uniform. The term had one simple meaning in the Mahayana texts and its meaning became complex in Vajrayana texts. What was a mental stage of a

boddhisattva‟s career in Mahayana became the goal of striving and the final stage of spiritual life of Vajrayana. L.M. Joshi in The Journal of Religious Studies, Dept.of Religious Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala, vol. iii, 1971, no. I, pp. 70-77; Hajime Nakamura, Indian Buddhism, op.cit., p. 323; Pranshu Samdarshi, „The Concept of Goddesses in Buddhist Tantra Traditions‟, The Delhi University Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences, vol. 1,

2014, p. 88. 40 The Way of the Buddha, op.cit., p. 315; Gayatri Sen Majumdar, „Buddhism in Ancient Bengal‟, op.cit., p.249; Akira Hiraka, A History of Indian Buddhism, op.cit., p. 4. 41 Simultaneously with Budddhism, Hinduism also developed their pantheons particularly from Gupta and post Gupta period, most of them are common to both religious systems. Among the various deities common to both religious systems found expression in literatures or

iconography in Assam are Indra, Kubera, Kartikeya, Balabhadra and Hayagriva etc. For details, see Benoytosh Bhattacarya, The Indian Buddhist iconography, op.cit., p. 1. 42 Sashi Bhushan Dasgupta, Obscure Religious Cult, Firma KLM, Calcutta, 1949 (1st edn) reprint 1995 Calcutta, p. 17; Hajime Nakamura, Indian Buddhism, op.cit., p. 321.


Mahayana and Vajrayana(esoteric or Tantric form of Buddhism)each with its characteristic features and ideas‟.43 The ritualistic aspects that developed within Tantricism led to the disappearance of outward differences between Hinduism and Buddhism. During the Gupta and the post-Gupta periods, Tantrism developed and shared certain common features of ritual and practice within Hinduism, Buddhism and even Jainism.44 In course of time, Buddhist elements

found expression in all the three major branches of Hinduism, namely, Sakticism, Saivism and Vaisnavism. In Assam, this syncretism is most distinctly visible in literature and iconography from the tenth and eleventh century onwards. Mantra-yana seems as the introductory stage of tantric form of Buddhism45 where Mantra (hymn or prayer) occupies an important place of it.46 Mantra-yana tradition closely attached with Mahayana. According to Tibetan tradition, Mantrayana, originated with Nagarjuna that concerns with mantras (hymns) and yantras or magic circles.47 Early Mahayana Buddhism was mainly based on Sutra literatures namely, Prajaparamita Sutra, Lotus Sutra (Sadharmapundarika) and Avatamastaka Sutra etc.48 Among the Mahayana sutra literatures, especially, Heart sutra that composed between 150C.E.-200C.E49 shows a tendency towards development of Mantra tradition50 Thus, Mantrayana was a transitional state of Mahayana to Vajrayana.


43 S.R. Goyal, A History of Indian Buddhism, op.cit., p. 238. 44 P.C. Bagchi, „Evolution of the Tantras‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol. iv, The Cultural Heritage of India,The Ramkrishna Mission Institute of Culture,Calcutta, second edition, 1956, p. 221. 45 Some earliest Buddhist works such as Aryamanjusrimulakalpa, the Guhyasamajatantra and Sadharmapundarika that assigned to second or third century C.E. were full of manras and dharanis and its

merits; For details, see B.Bhattacarya, „Tantrika Culture Among the Buddhists,‟ pp. 263- 272; B. Bhattacarrya, „Origin and Development of Vajrayana‟, I. H.Q., vol. iii, 1927, no. 1, p. 742. 46 The Mantra-yana tradition believes the Mantra as the chief means of attaining salvation. Hajime Nakamura, Indian Buddhism, op.cit., p. 331. 47 Benoytosh Bhattacarya, „Tantrika Culture Among the Buddhist,‟ The Cultural Heritage of India, vol. iv, op.cit., pp. 271-272. 48 Hajime Nakamura, Indian Buddhism, op.cit., pp. 149 -158. 49 Ibid., p. 160. 50 Sonam Rinchen and Ruth Sonam, The Heart Sutra: An Oral Teaching, NewYork,


Next stage of its development is Vajrayana, which incorporated many leading tenets of Mantryana, and modified by local and primitive cults and practices.51 Giacomella Orofino opines: „The Buddhist Tantras, which constitute the final phase of Indian Buddhist literature, constitute a highly complex religious phenomenon, in which Mahayana thought coalesced with popular traditions and cults of ancient India to form a mystical and gnostic system that was highly symbolical in character. It was called the Diamond Vehicle or Vajrayana (from vajra, the "diamond" as symbol of the perfect and immutable nature of ultimate reality), and the Mantra Vehicle or Mantrayana (from mantra, the sacred formulas that were of crucial importance in this system).‟52

Manjusrimulakalpa, the early Mahayana work that bears the spirit of Mantrayana53 gave the outward foundation of the Vajrayana system.54 However, it does not refer to Vajrayana, Vajra stands for Sunyata that means indestructible and eternal. Sunyata of Vajrayana includes three principles, viz reality

(Sunyata), consciousness (Vijnanva) and blesses (Mahasukha).55 The distinctive feature of Vajrayana Buddhism is its rituals.56 Vajrayanist performed various rites and rituals involving psycho-physiological realization of ultimate truth.57 Mahayana form of Buddhism conceives Pragya (perfect knowledge) and Upaya (universal compassion)

51 From the end of the Gupta period onwards, primitive ideas of sympathetic magic and sexual mysticism more permeated to Indian religion. A.L. Basham, The Wonder That Was India, op.cit., p. 265. 52 Giacomella Orofino, „The Great Wisdom Mother and the Good Tradition‟in David Gordon White (ed.), Tantra in Practice‟, Princeton and Oxford, 2001, p. 402. 53 N.B. Early Mahayana Buddhism was mainly based on Sutra literatures, namely Prajaparamita Sutra, Lotus Sutra (Sadharmapundarika) and Avatamastaka Sutra. The Mahayana Sutras are often called as the epithet of Vaipulya (extensive and glorious) as they aimed at artistic effectiveness. For details, see Hajime Nakamura, Indian Buddhism, ibid., p. 319 and pp. 149 -158 54 Manjusrimulakalpa deals with the formulae and practices, which lead to both material prosperity and spiritual regeneration. Benoytosh Bhattacharya, The Indian Buddhist Iconography, op.cit., p. 15. 55

Sunyata is different from from the Sunya of Madhyamika or the Vijnanvadin (dialecticians) Lalan Prasad Singh, Buddhist Tantra, op.cit., p. 27. 56 According to one tradition, there are four Tantric processes of Vajrayana.They are 1. Kriyatantra; 2. Caryatantra; 3. Yogatantra; 4. Annuttarayogatantra (the process goes to nearer to sakta tantra). Lalan Prasad Singh, Buddhist Tantra, ibid., p. 39; Waddell, Lamaism, op.cit., p. 164 57 Gayatri Sen Majumdar, „Buddhism in Ancient Bengal‟, op.cit., pp. 248-249.


and believes that the union of these two can lead to attain „Boddhicitta.‟58 In Vajrayana, this abstract principle to be realizes through human body. Pragya‟ represents woman and Upaya represents male entity and the esoteric commingling of the two is the giver of supreme bliss (Mahasukha).Thus, the basic

principle of this tantra is the Boddhicitta In course of time, the ideas of „Pragya‟ and „Upaya‟ became the symbols of Siva and Sakti.59 Vajrayana assumed the form of an elaborate worship of all sorts of gods and goddesses of which are used as a substitute or alternative for the earlier abstract meditation. They introduced many innovations of the theory of the five Dhyani Buddha and developed large numbers of deities.60 These deities are found mentioned in

different works in different periods. Fa-Hien (394-414C.E), mentioned Aksobhya, Tathagata and Manjusri as Avalokiteswara. Hieun-Tsang (629-645C.E.) refers Avalokiteswara, Hariti, Padmapani, SakyaBuddha, Matreya and Manjusri and in the 8th century, Santideva (695-730 C.E), mentions Cunda, Marici, Manjughosha and many others, which was a period of great popularity or expansion of Tantricism.61 With the development of Tantricism in the 7th century C.E, various

forces of nature physical, physiological, moral and intellectual were defined under separate personalities namely Matri(divine mother), Dakini and Yogini (goddess with magical power).62 In early Buddhism, Mandalas meant only a platform made of mud for conferring the code of disciple. In esoteric Buddhism, mandalas acquired great significance and configurations of pictures of Buddhas and Boddhisatvas systematically arranged in Mandalas that represent a symbolical significance of meritorious deeds.63 Tantra tradition, which happened to be an esoteric tradition


58 Ibid., pp. 248-249. 59 For details, see Lalan Prasad Singh Buddhist Tantra, op.cit., pp. 35-36. 60 The conception of the five „Dhyani Buddhas emerged from Adi- Buddha or the primordial Buddha. Vajrayanist Buddha are embodiments of the the five Skandhas or cosmic Kulas or families of the five Dhyani Buddhas from which deities emerge according to need. For details, see Benoytosh Bhattacharya,‟Mahayanic Pantheon‟, The Cultural Heritage of India vol-I,

op.cit., pp. 530-536; The Way of the Buddha, op.cit., p. 315. 61 Benoytosh Bhattacharya says that Gurhyasamajatantra, is perhaps the first book that inculcated Vajrayana philosophy systematically and crystelized properly the Buddhist pantheon. For details, see Benoytosh Bhattacharya, „Mahayanic Pantheon, op.cit., p. 527. 62 L. A. Waddell, Lamaism, op.cit., p. 129. 63 Hajime Nakamura, IndianBuddhism, op.cit., pp. 328-29.


initially, later the Siddhacharyas popularized it among the common masses through their miraculous yogic powers.64 Contrary to the ritualism, mantra-charms, etc of the vajrayana, Sahajayana system,65 reveals an easy way, which could be beneficial and acceptable to the common masses. „Sahaja‟, literally means „to be born together‟, signifies that Reality and Appearance are inseparable from each other. Sahajiyas therefore try to realize the secret truth (tattva) by transforming and sublimating the inborn propensities of human character including the sex –impulses.66 Sahajayana Buddhism emphasized the devotional aspects of Vajrayana. It laid more emphasis on Guruvada or the cult of preceptor. The selection of a proper

guru or preceptor for guiding to initiate in the path of Sadhana is very important in the Sahajiya School.67 Sahajayana school of Buddhism spread and developed by the new form of Buddhist personality represented by the Perfected one (siddha).68 They represent a new form in Indian Buddhism.69 The idea of

Siddhi, pschic and supernatural power is universal in Indian religious systems. Almost all sects attach great importance to Yuga and some form or other and it is believed that the practice of Yoga yields thse powers.70 The Buddhist had introduced many non–Buddhist elements into their system and appropriated the elements of the much older Siddha tradition in India.71 The Buddhist Tantrics had attained supernatural power through the practice of yoga.72


64 Pranshu Samdarshi, „The Concept of Goddesses in Buddhist Tantra Traditions‟, op.cit., p. 88. 65 Gayatri Sen Majumdar, „Buddhism in Ancient Bengal‟, op.cit., pp. 78 & 258. 66 Unlike Vajrayanists, the Sahajiyas stresses more on human body, which they take as the epitome of universe; the bodybuilding is

the prime necessity in Sahajiya yogic practices, since without the body, there was is no possibility of the realization of the great bliss.Gayatri Sen Majumdar, „Buddhism in Ancient Bengal‟, op.cit., pp. 258-259. 67 Ibid., p. 259. 68 Siddha means attainment of certain supernatural power or attainment of Siddhi by performing certain Yogic practices. They attached with mystic school and developed a kind of theology. 69 For details, see Ronald M. Davidson,


Indian Esoteric Buddhism: A Social History of the Tantric Movement, op.cit., pp. 196-197. 70 P.C. Bagchi, „The Cult of the Buddhist Siddhacarya‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol. iv, op.cit., p. 273. 71 S.R. Goyal, A History of Indian Buddhism, op.cit., p. 232. 72 For details, see ibid., pp. 257-258; P.C. Bagchi, „The Cult of Buddhist Siddhacaryas‟ The Cultural Heritage of India, vol. iv, op.cit., pp. 273-274.


The mystic songs of Buddhist Siddhas, known as „Caryapadas‟, helped in the spread of Sahajiya tenets. 73There is also clear expression found in some Caryapadas about the protest against ritualism and conventionalism in the religious life of Tantric Buddhists in general.74 It is said that, in the early

period, Mantrayana was performed secretly and after hundreds years of secrecy, Buddhism got wide publicity and spread mainly in the society outside of the Varnasrama.75 Outside the monastic disciple, the non-intitutional Sahajiya Buddhist Siddhas76 interacted the people of different classes of the society and spread the esoteric knowledge. Mahasiddhas such as Saraha, Luipa, Padmavajra, Anangavajra, Indrabhuti publicly preached their doctrines, encouraged the people to follow their tenets, doctrine and practices, and popularized the Sahajayana Tantricism.77


73 Siddha means attainment of certain supernatural power or attainment of Siddhi by performing certain Yogic practices. They attached with mystic school and developed a kind of theology centering round the esoteric doctrines and esoteric practices of Sahajiya Buddhism.Maheswar Neog, „Major language and

literatures of modern India; Assamese‟, The Cultural Heritage of India,vol-v, The Ramkrishna Mission Institute of Calcutta, Second edition, 1978, p. 420; L.P. Singh. Buddhist Tantra, op.cit., p. 65. 74 Sahajiya Siddha manifested their philosophy through their songs that known as Carya Pada. Caryapadas are

chiefly religious nature containing its sublime thought. They not entirely attached with any philosophical school namely Madhyamika or Vedanta rather represent a Special school of religious thought of early medieval period of Eastern India. S.B. Dasgupta, Obscure Religious Cult, op.cit., p. 50; Lalan

Prasad Singh, Buddhist Tantra, op.cit., p. 54; Gayatri Sen Majumdar,„Buddhism in Ancient Bengal,‟ op.cit., p. 259. 75Akira Hirakawa, A History of Indian Buddhism, op.cit., p. 243; Taranatha says, “When the Tantras were handed down from Guru to disciples secretly for nearly three hundred years, they got

publicity through the mystic teachings, songs and miracles of the Siddhas, Nathas and Yogis”. Binoytosh Bhattacarya, „Tantrika Culture among the Buddhists‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol. iv, op.cit., p. 263. 76 Institutional esoterism is based on decisions predominantly made within the

monastic community, and the non-institutional esoterism is the product of the Buddhist siddha culture. The former is based on decisions predominantly made within the monastic community, and the latter is the product of the Buddhist siddhaculture. Ronald M.Davidson, Indian Esoteric Buddhism: A Social History

of the Tantric Movement, Columbia University Press, New York, 2002, pp. 76-77. 77 The teachings of the Vajrayana have been handed down by a long line of persons particularly in songs of the eighty four Siddhas. The preceptor disciple tradition begun from the time of Saraha Nagarjuna and it continued up to

the Sabaripa. They transmitted Annuttara guhya mantra; gradually Kriya and Carya were openly practiced. However, before the attainment of Siddhi, nobody openly practiced the yoga and Annuttara tantras. D.P. Chattopadhaya (ed), Taranatha‟s History of Buddhism in India, op.cit., p. 153. Benoytosh Bhattacharya, The Indian Buddhist Iconography, op.cit., p. 12; R.S. Sharma, „Material Milieu of Tantricism‟, Indian Society: Historical probing, op.cit.,

Kalacakrayana(Kalacakra or wheel of time) was the last major product of Indian Vajrayana Buddhism, which is the culmination of Vajrayana system of esoteric practice and thought.78 Little differences occur between Vajrayana79 and Kalacakrayana, in respect of the method of worship, mantras, rites and rituals. The outward difference with Vajrayana lies in the matter of introduction of some deities that are fierce in appearance.80 Some of the deities of

Kalacakratantra are Heruka, Acala, Vajra-bhairava, Sambhara and Dakinis etc.81 The Kalacakra literature demonstrates an intimate knowledge of 'Anuttarayoga' tantras such as the Guhyasamaja, Hevajra, and Cakrasamvara.82 Kalacakratantra is also associate with planets and stars, astrology and astronomy.83 It is believed that the original home of Kalacakratantra was developed about 10th century in the eastern India. After that, it became very

popular in Tibet, and gradually it traveled to other parts of India and Asia.84 Kalacakra literatures of India are mostly composed by a small group of scholars who flourished in northeastern India during the early decades of the 11th century C.E.85 One of the most notable exponents of this system was Abyankaragupta, who was a contemporary of Ramapala (c.1077-1120 C.E.).86


78 Kalacakrayana attempts to explain creation and the secret power of nature by the union of female energies not only with Dhyani Buddhas but also even with Adi-Buddha himself. Lalan Prasad Singh, Buddhist Tantra, op.cit., p. 89; John Newman,„Islam in the Kalacakra Tantra‟, Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, vol. 21, no. 2, 1998, p. 313. 79 The word „kala‟ means time; death and destruction, Kalacakra is the wheel of destruction,

and kalacakrayana means the vehicle for protection against the wheel of destruction. The main object of the followers of the Kalacakrayana was to obstruct the ever changing Kalacakra and to keep themselves above the Kalacakra. Practically, it is not a distinct school of Tantric Buddhism, but a particular name of the Vajrayana school. As referred in Kanai Lal Hazra, History of Theravada Buddhism in South-East Asia with Special Reference to India and Ceylon,

op.cit., p. 47f. 80 Gayatri Sen Majumdar, „Buddhism in Ancient Bengal‟, op.cit., p. 257. 81 Waddell views that Kalacakra tantra is a coarse Tantric development of the Adi-Buddha theory combined with the puerile mysticism of the manta-yana, and demonical „Buddhas‟ under the name of Kalacakra, Heruka, Acala, Vajra-bhairava, etc. L.A. Waddell, Lamaism, (Buddhism in Tibet), op.cit., p. 131.

82 John Newman, „Islam in the Kalacakra Tantra‟, op.cit., pp. 313-316. 83 B. Bhaatacarya „Tantrika culture among the Buddhists, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol. iv, op.cit., p. 271. 84 L.P. Singh, Buddhist Tantra, op.cit., p. 106. N.B.Waddell believs this system of Tantricism developed in the tenth century, in Northern India, Kashmir and Nepal. L.A. Waddell, Lamaism (Buddhism in Tibet), op.cit., p. 131. 85 JohnNewman, „Islam in the Kalacakra Tantra‟, op.cit., pp. 315-316. 86 Gayatri Sen Majumdar, „Buddhism in Ancient Bengal‟, op.cit., p. 256.


Vajrayana Buddhism takes elements from non-Buddhist religious traditions and assimilates them to the Buddhist context. However, in the Kalacakra tantra, syncretism is unusually distinct.87 With the development of this Kalacakra Tantra, innumerable Hindu deities have been incorporated in the Mandala(diagrams of deities) of Sri Kalacakra and the process of cultural fusion accelerated in India.88 It has also been opined that Kalacakra Tantra was developed in

order to unite Buddhists and Hindus against the Muslim invaders.89 Thus, Buddhism of the 11th - 12th century was a unique synthesis of Mahayana ideals and tantric elements and centered round the worship of tantric divinities, magic circles and diagrams accompanied by complicated rituals and incarnations. Hajima Nakamura views that assimilation of the Hinduism and Buddhism that found expression in Kalacakratantra (1027-1087 C.E.) was the result of the

invasion of Muhammadans of India. To quote, „This was a cannon urging alliance of various religions for checking the inroad of Muhammadans.‟90 The fusion between Buddhism and the native worship dates back to Nagarjuna‟s time91 and reached its culmination as the medieval period drew to close.92 Mahayanism

provided Buddhism a more popular base and immensely widened its popular appeal. It was, therefore in India for the fear of losing ground to these more enterprising rival systems, the votaries of Brahmanical religion made a compromise. They considered Buddhist rituals and practices as the essential part of their spiritual mechanism and therefore neo Brahmanical trends absorbed those to


87 JohnNewman, „Islam in the Kalacakra Tantra‟, op.cit., p. 313. 88 For details, see Biswanath Benerjee, Sri Kalacakratantra Raja, New Asiatic Printers, Calcutta Park street, Calcutta, 1993, p. xiii. Both Kalacakratantra and Saiva tantra belong to the metaphysical schools of Buddhism and Hindu Tantra, which aim to attain the perfect enlightment that is state of perfect Monism. The non-duality of Kalacakra and Visvatmata, and Siva with Sakti form the hallmark

of these Tantric systems Neither Visvatmata is separated from Kalacakra, nor is Sakti separated from Siva. L. P. Singh, Buddhist Tantra, op.cit., p. 106. 89 Biswanath Bandyopadhyaya, „A Note on the Kalacakratantra and its Commentary‟, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1952, no .18, pp. 71-76. 90

Hajime Nakamura, IndianBuddhism, op.cit., p. 339. 91 Samuel Beal(tra.), SiYuKi, Buddhist Records of the Western World, vol. II, London, p. 224; Gail Omvedt, Buddhism in India : Challenging Brahmanism and Caste, Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2003, p. 109. N.B. Waddell views that „About the end of the sixth century C.E. Tantricism or Saivic mysticism, with it‟s worship of female energies, spouses of Hindu god Siva, begun to tinge both Hinduism and Buddhism‟. Cited in L.A. Waddell, Lamaism, op,cit., p. 14. 92 The Way of the Buddha, op.cit., p. 313.


counteract the dominating influence of Buddhism.93 In the same socio-cultural environment of India, Hinduism also developed idol worship, Bhakti, Puja, tirthayana and tantric practices that are popularized through Purana.94 In the words of N.N. Bhattacharya, “It was only after the advent of Mahayanism that

there was an attempt to give Buddhism the character of a distinct religion and to the take it to the masses. In doing so, the Mahayanists made compromise with the existing local and regional cults, beliefs and practices by incorporating them within the frame of their special doctrines. It was in this Mahayanic form which had the potentiality to adjust itself with the local cults and rituals that Buddhism made headway in the NorthEast.”95As there are now

several points common to both Hinduism and Buddhism, especially Mahayana Buddhism, there developed harmonious blending between Hindu and Buddhist systems.96 In this regard, non-institutional Siddhas largely contributed to the synthesis of Buddhism and Hinduism. 97 There are differences of opinion regarding the original place of development of Mahayana Buddhism. According to an early Buddhist text Astasahasrika prajnaparmita, „Mahayanism had its

origin in south whence it spread to the eastern countries and then it prospered in the north‟.98 It also opines that Mahayana began as a movement in the North-West and moved southward as it developed.99 It has already been mentioned in the second chapter of the dissertation, that the early Buddhist remains of Assam are largely affiliated to Mahayana and


93 The difference between between Hindu and Buddhist Tanta is that Buddhist tantra aims for a happy and comfortable life style for the tantric practitioner, Hindu tantra aims primarily for supremacy and power for the practitioner over his fellow men. Pranav Jyoti Deka, Nilacala Kamakhya,

Distributors Assam Book Depot, Lawyers Book Stall, Guwahati, 2004, p. 6. 94 For details, see D.N. Jha, Early India, Munshiram Manohar, New Delhi, 2004, pp. 204-214; Brajadulal Chottopadhaya, The Making of Early Medieval India, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1994, pp. 28-37. 95 N.N. Bhattacharya,

Religious Culture of North-Eastern India, Monarhar, New Delhi, 1995, pp. 123-124 96 The Way of the Buddha, op.cit., p. 313. 97 The Mahasiddhas made contact with indigenous Indian culture previously non-Buddhist groups and synthesized many non-Buddhist methods and introduced into the Buddhist

mainstream. G.W. Farrow and I. Menon, The Concealed Essence of the Hevajra Tantra With the Commentrary Yogaratnamala, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1992 (1st ) reprint 2001, Motilal Banarsidass, p. x . 98 The principal center of Mahasanghika and their offshoots, who were forerunners of Mahayana situated in the Guntur district. Nalinaksha Dutta, „Emergence of Mahayana Buddhism‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol. I, op.cit., p. 517. 99 Joseph Walser, Nagarjuna in Context, op.cit., p. 22.


Vajrayana forms of Buddhism.100 Mahayana form of Buddhism penetrated from its western boundary in the early Chriatian era, while the Theravadin form of Buddhism came from the Southeast Asia mainly from Myanmar (Burma), eastern boundary of Assam.101 The development of the forms of Buddhism in Assam There is no clear evidence about the exact form of Buddhism that was introduced in Assam. It has been described earlier in this chapter that in the early


centuries of the Common Era the common believers who did not confine to the monasteries, expressed their faith and devotion by constructing numerous stupas.102 Thus, it may be presumed that this group of Buddhists constructed the stupas of Suryapahar area. However, the literary sources such as early Mahayana works Aryamanjusrimulakalpa, and Taranatha‟s „History of Buddhism in India‟ throw the light about the nature of some Buddhist practices, by which

we may presume the forms of Buddhism that prevailed in early Kamarupa before the rule of Bhaskararmana. Taranatha refers that one Dhitika was responsible for the propagation of Buddhism in early Kamarupa.103 Following the reference of Taranatha, S. Sasanananda tries to establish that Thera Dhitika, who was

almost contemporary of Asoka, spread the Theravada Buddhism in Assam.104 S.Sasanananda cites „Thera Dhitika‟ in place of „Arya Dhitika‟of the source.105 The word Arya generally relates with Mahayana Buddhism.106 The nature of propagation of Dhitika that is portrayed by Taranatha seems to Mahayana doctrine. Dhitika, using the miraculous power, spread Buddhism in


100 P. C. Choudhary, Assam- Bengal Relations, Spectrum Publications Guwahati, Delhi, 1988, p. 332. 101 Nishipad Dev Choudhary, „The Antiquity of Buddhism in Assam‟, Journal of Assam Research Society, vol. xxix, 2004-2006, p. 206. 102 Suniti Kumer Chottopadhaya, Editor‟s preface, The Cultural Heritage of India, op.cit., vol. I, p. lxi. 103Taranatha mentions Dhitika who entrusted with the law by Arya Upagupta, was responsible for the spared of Buddhism in

Assam. Debiprasad Chattopahaya (ed.), Taranatha‟s History of Buddhism in India, Lama Chimpa, Alaka Chottopadhya (trans.), Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi, 1970, pp. 46-47. 104 S. Sasanananda, Buddhism in Assam, Bahri Publication, New Delhi, 1986, pp. 101-103. 105 Ibid., pp. 101-103; Debiprasad Chattopahaya (ed), Taranatha‟s History of Buddhism in India, op. cit., p. 47 106Sthaviravada School associated with the Theravada. Sthavira is the Sanskrit word for elder

(referring to senior monks), which in Pali is Thera. Mahayanists believe one becomes an Arya or bodhisattva by developing Bodhicitta. S.R Goyal, A History of Indian Buddhism, op.cit., p. 229.


Kamarupa.107 Though there was strict injunction of Buddhism against the performing of miracles, it is the Mahayana path, which allows miracles to glorify the religion and to bring the ignorant to the path of Dharma.108 Taranatha also portrays Asvabhaha preached Mahayana doctrine in Kamarupa in following words, „Born in a family of merchant, he became follower of the Mahayana quite in early life. He received the vision of Arya Manjusri and could recite

from his memory about fifty Sutras. He never deviated from the ten-fold virtue. He preached the doctrine to a thousand upasaka-s and a thousand upaiakas. He went towards Kamarupa. His disciples reached a place on the den of a poisonous Ajagara snake. It was then asleep. They set up their camp by the road, which woke up the poisonous snake. It sniffed the human smell, swallowed some of the upasaka-s and bit many others. Those who tried to escape fell down

reeling by its poisonous breath‟.109 M.M. Sharma opposes the authenticity of this episode. He writes, „If Asvabhaha really preached in Kamarupa with any effect, it should not have escaped the notice of Hieun-Tsang who visited the kingdom only a decade or two afterwards. The authority of the pilgrim is more reliable than that of Taranatha who wrote about one thousand years later‟.110 It is to mention that Asvabhaha flourished in sixth century C.E.111 In the

second century, B.C.E. King Dutthagamini of Ceylon laid the foundation stone of the Ruwanwali or Mahathupa dahoga.112 At that occasion, mention is made of various centers of Theravada Buddhism in India from which representatives went to Ceylon.113 However, in the list of the centers, there is no


107 Debiprasad Chattopahaya (ed.), Taranatha‟s History of Buddhism in India, op.cit., pp. 46-47. 108 Pranav Jyoti Deka, NilacalaKamakhya, op.cit., p. 61. 109 Debiprasad Chattopahaya (ed.), Taranatha‟s History of Buddhism in India, op.cit., p. 253. Note: Nikhileswar Sengupta looks Ajagara snake in this

episode, represents as the symbol of the opposition led by Brahmonical society that faced by Asvabhaha. Nikhileswar Sengupta, „An Aspect of Buddhism in Assam‟, procceding of North East India History Association, session-x, 1989, p. 161. 110 M.M. Sharma, „Religion‟, in H.K.Barpujari(ed.), The Comprehensive History of Assam, Publication Board of Assam, Guwahati 1990, p. 334. 111 Asvabhaha (c.450-530 C.E.) wote a commentary on the Mahayana Samgraha, and this commentary was translated by Hsuang-Tsang in to Chinese in to ten volumes, Hajime Nakamura, Indian Buddhism, op. cit., p. 276. 112 The Way of the Buddha, op.cit., p. 322. 113 For details, see S.B. Dasgupta, Obscure Religious cult, op.cit., p. 9.


mention about the region including Bengal. Thus, the nature of Buddhism that spread in this land by Dhitika cannot equated to Theravada school of Buddhism. When Mahayana Buddhism had not fully developed as a separate identity, 114 a group of Buddhists entered the region and associated with the cultic centers

of non-Aryan or pre-Vedic people. It has been mentioned by Taranatha that Dhitika, using magic or sorcery, came closer to the existing place of the Sun worship by a Brahmin that also known as Siddha115 for the propagation of Buddhism in the region.116 Sun worship has been prevailing in Assam from the very early period.117 Sankhayana Grihasmgra refers to the prevalence of the worship of Sun in ancient Assam, which is of Alpine–Iranian origin.118 Scholar

identifies Suryapahar with the place of sun worship or „Ravikhsetra‟ that is mentioned in Kalikapurana.119 Buddhist remains at Suryapahar shows that Buddhist group got associated with the existing place of Sun worship in Assam.120 Of course, there was no any specific mention in Taranatha‟s history, about the place, where Dhitika had propagated Buddhism except „Kamarupa‟.


114 In the initial stage of the development, the propounders of Mahayana seem to have been homeless ascetics who did not belong to any orthodox Sangha, around fifth century CE, it began to occupy privileged positions in selected monasteries. For details, see Joseph Walser, Nagarjuna in Context, op,cit.,

pp.13-36. 115 In Mandasor stone of Bhutivarman dated c.474 C.E., siddhas are described as among those who worship the Sun, specially those who propose to obtain magical powers. Fleet 1888, pp. 79–88 as cited in Ronald M. Davidson, Indian Esoteric Buddhism A Social History of the Tantric Movement, op.cit., p. 174 116 Debiprasad Chattopahaya (ed), Taranatha‟s History of Buddhism in India, op.cit., pp. 46-47. 117 For details, see Bijoy Kumar Sarkar „Iconography of

a Few Seated Surya-Images from Assam: A Critical Study‟ Proceeding of 31st session of Noth-EastIndia History Association, Tura, 2010, pp. 3137. 118 Sankhyayana Grihasangraha, as referred by P.C. Choudhary, The History of the People of Assam to the Twelfth century A.D., Spectrum Publication, Guwhati, third edition (revised) 1987, p. 406. 119 H. K. Barpujari (ed.), The Comprehensive History of Assam, vol.1, op.cit., vol.1, p. 324. 120 Buddhism associated with Sun. Amarkosa mentions „Arkabandhu (friend of the sun) as one of the many synonyms of Buddha (Gautamaca rkabandhu ca madyadevi-sutaca sah). Nagarjuna (second centuryC.E.) refers to Buddha as Aditya–bandhu (Madhyamika-sutra). Biswanarayan Sastri, „Sun worship in Assam‟, J.A.R.S.,1 & 2, vol. xxxi (new series), 1989-90, p. 45.


It has been already mentioned in the chapter 2 of this dissertation that the early Buddhist groups performed their practice of Tara mantra at Kamakhya121 the place of indigenous non- Aryan mother cult.122 There are several references found in Aryamanjusrimulakalpa, the early Mahayana Sutta work of pre-GurhaSamajatantra,123 about the prevalence of Mantra practice in Kamarupa. It has found mentioned in the work that the Mantras given by Manjusri Kumarbhuta

exercised successfully in various places including Kamarupa along with the bank of Lauhitya.124 Mahayanists considered Manjusri Kumarbhuta as one of the important and honoured Boddhisavas.125 There is also mention in the same work that Kamarupa was a fertilize soil for the development of the Tara formula.126 Tara is a prominent deity of Mahayana Buddhism.127 Again, the work also refers to about the prevalence of mantra practice of Kartikeya in Kamarupa.128 Nispannajogawali of Abhyankara Gupta (C.E. 1084-1130) mentions several pantheons of Buddhism, which are also Hindu deities that are found in Puranic


121 Sometime Kamakhya is substituted by Kamarupa. H.K. Barpujari (ed.), The Comprehensive History of Assam, vol. I, op.cit., p. 339. 122 The name of Kamakhya and the mode of its worship was originated from Austric and other aboriginal cult. The fissured stone in Kamakhya at Nilachala symbolize the female cult Ka-mei-Kha gradually personified as Devi. For details, see B.K. Kakati, The Mother Goddess Kamakhya, Publication Board Assam, Guwahati, third


edition, 2004, pp. 16 & 8-40. 123 For details of these views, see Benoytosh Bhattacarya, „Tantrika Culture Among the Buddhist‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, op.cit., pp. 263 & 272. 124 T. Ganapati Sastri (ed.), Aryamanjusri mulakalpa, vol. II, 30 Patala (Chapter), Trivandrum Sanskrit series, no. lxxvi, 1922, p. 325. 125 Akira Hirakawa, A History of Indian Buddhism, op.cit., p. 319. 126 T. Ganapati Sastri (ed.), Aryamanjusri mulakalpa, vol. III, Trivandrum

Sanskrit series, no. lxxxiv, 1925, p. 648; B.K. Kakati, The Mother Goddess Kamakhya, op.cit., p. 32. P.C. Choudhary, Assam Bengal Relations, Spectrum Publications, Guwahati, Delhi, 1988, p. 303. 127 „Tara is the supreme female goddess of Mahayana pantheon‟ The Way of the Buddha, op.cit., p. 314. 128 „Kartikeyashya e mantrah kathita Manjubhanina Tasmidese tada sidhi bhabiswati na sansaya Sriparbate tada dese Vindhyakuksinitambayu Dipebyeya cha sarbata

Kalingadesu kityate Trrygunya Mlecchadesesu samantata Ambhuge kukshiniranta nripakhyanta anantaka Kamarupakalakhya hi Himadre kuksimasrita…..‟ Aryamanjusrimulakalpa vol. III, op,cit., p. 628. N.B. A numbers of Kartikeya image found in different parts of Assam, suchs as, Da-Parvatiya , Urvasi, Devastan (Nagaon district), for details see H.K. Barpujari (ed.), The Comprehensive History of Assam, op.cit., vol. I, pp. 364-366 & 375-376.


literature and Kartikeya was one of them.129 Thus, the nature of the Buddhism in Kamarupa that reflects in Aryamanjusrimulakalpa, is undoubtedly Mahayana, because of the prevalence of Mahayana deities with mantra practice. The above discussion shows that the Buddhist groups, after coming to the region,

developed meditational practice centering round stupa worship and mantra practice,130 which are some important elements of Mahayana Buddhism. Mantrayana is the introductory stage of tantric form of Buddhism. The practice, associated with the efficacy of mantras, magic spells, etc. gave birth to a new form of Mahayanism, which is broadly known as Tantric Buddhism.131 Gradually, with the association of indigenous, existing religious system, Buddhists had

developed tantric practice. Both the areas viz. Surya Pahar and Nilachala, presumably the original center of Buddhist practice in Assam developed as places of tantric centers in succeeding periods.132 Vajrayana in Assam It has been mentioned already in the second chapter of this dissertation that Kamarupa emerged as one of the important centers of Vajrayana among the four Vajrayana centers that is situated in India in the seventh-eight century.133 Tantric form of Buddhism or Vajrayana developed with the incorporation of Sakti element of Mahayana.134 There are four female deities, namely, Locana, Mamaki, Pandara and Tara, worshipped by the followers of Vajrayana. Among this group of four, the


129 Benoytosh Bhattacharya, The Indian Buddhist Iconography, pp. 2-3 & 364. 130 The association of Buddhists with female cult found refered in the first and second centuryC.E Buddhist work Lotus sutra or Sadharmapundarika. For details, see Hajime Nakamura Indian Buddhism, op.cit., p. 334. 131 N. Dutta, „Emergence of Mahayana Buddhism‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, v. 1, op cit., p. 516; The Way of the Buddha, op cit., p. 315. 132 There are some Siva


Lingas along with Younipith found in the stupa complex of Surya Pahar area. The Siva Lingas along with Younipith represent Siva and Sakti, which always play an important role in tantra. Thus, it suggests that the place also developed as Tantrik center. 133 Hevajra Tantra was composed shortly before 693 C.E., mentions the four important Vajrayana Peethas (sacredplaces) are Jalandhara, Oddiyana, Purnagiri and Kamarupa‟. For details, see B. Bhattacarya


Origin and Development of Vajrayana‟, I.H.Q., vol. iii, no. 1, 1927, pp. 733-746; D.C. Sircar, „Sakta Pithas‟, J RASB, vol. xiv, no. I, 1948, p. 12. 134 Sakti is one of the important principles of esoteric practice for obtaining emancipation since the very origin of the Tantra. For details, see Lal Mani Joshi, Studies in the Buddhistic culture in India, Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi, 1967, p. 279f ; L.P. Singh, Buddhist Tantra, op cit., p. 36 ; P.C. Choudhary, The History of the People of Assam to the Twelve Century A.D, Spectrum publication third edition ( revised), 1987, p. 422.


most prominent deity is Tara.135 During the period of mantryana tradition, Tara mantra was practiced in Kamarupa. It is said that Tara Tantra is a secret tantra belonging to Yoga-Tantra class, which prescribed the revolting practices.136 This Tara was worshipped as Mahacina SwetaTara along with Sambara Heruka at Kamakhya in the seventh –eight century137 when Kamarupa developed as a center of Vajrayana. There are various Vajrayana pantheons such as Sambara


Heruka, Kurukulla Vajravarahi and Vajra-Vairocini were prevailed in Kamahhya. 138 Thus, the mantra vehicle of Mahyayana form developed to Vajrayana that occured entirely outside the established Buddhist monastic framework. As discussed in the previous chapter of the dissertation, there are number of images such as Avalikiteswara Hariti, Chunda Kubera etc. affiliated to Mahayana and Vajrayana139 found in Assam. There are some terracotta images of Buddha in bhumisparsamudra (The Buddha is seated cross-legged, his left hand rests in his lap, and his right hand is draped over his right knee, touching the earth)

also found in Assam. The Buddha in bhumisparsamudra represent the point at which Sakyamuni achieves enlightenment.140 David Snellgrove identified several bhumisparsa Buddha images of the early Pala-period of Bengal as Aksobhya as the Guhyasamajatantra and other anuttarayoga tantra texts define Aksobhya's characteristic hand gesture is the bhumisparsamudra.141 The Guhyasamaja „the Bible of the Tantric Buddhists‟ articulated Akshobhya as one among the five dhydniBuddhas sits in


135 Naresh Mantri, Journal of Indian and Buddhist studies, vol. xx, no. 1, 1971, pp. 152-153 as referred in Hajime Nakamura, Indian Buddhism, op.cit., p. 334. 136 G.W. Briggs, Gorakhnath and the Kanphatha Yogis, Oxford University press, London,1938, Motilal Banarsidss, 2009, Delhi, p. 280. 137 Pranav

Jyoti Deka, Nilacala Kamakhya, op.cit., p. 46. 138„Kamakhya-Kameswari has evolved due to intermixing of Boudha cult of Chinnamasta- Vajravarahi and Kameswari cult.‟ Pranav Jyoti Deka, Nilacala Kamakhya, pp. 4, 14 & 46. 139 B. Bhattacarya, „Mahayanic Pantheons‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol. I, op.cit., pp. 526527. 140 Jacob Kinnard, „Reevaluating the Eighth-Ninth Century Pala Milieu: Icono-Conservatism and the Persistence of Sakyamuni‟, Journal

of the International Association of Buddhis Studies, vol. 19, no. 2, Winter 1996, pp. 281-301. 141 David Snellgrove (ed.), The Image of the Buddh, Paris, UNESCO, 1978 as rreferred in Jacob Kinnard, „Reevaluating the Eighth-Ninth Century Pala Milieu: Icono-Conservatism and the Persistence of Sakyamuni‟, ibid.


bhusparsamudra.142 As mentioned earlier in this dissertation, that Kamarupa was a center of Vajrayana. Thus, it can be presumed that the images of Buddha in bhumisparsa that is found in the region represent Sakyamuni in a tantric form and not the Sakyamuni of the Pali and Mahayana texts. Sahajayana and Assam Sahajayana school of Buddhism i.e. one of the offshoots of Vajrayana was spreaded and developed by Sahajiya siddhas. According to the tradition, the number

of the Buddhist Siddhas was eighy –four that flourished mainly from the 10th to 12th centuries.143 The activities of the Sahajiya Buddhist are confined mostly in eastern India, Tibet and Nepal. They generally attached with the monasteries such as Nalanda Odantapuri Vikramsila, Somapura, Devikota and Phullahari etc.144 These Siddhas of Sahajayana School formed a wide cultural zone in this part of the region including Assam, Bengal, Nepal, Tibet and

China and developed a common bond of kinship.145 The Siddha Sadhana involved the practice of a new form of Yoga developed by the Siddhacarya. According to it, there were thirty-two nerve channels (nadis) within the body, they are known as lalana, rasana, avadhuti etc. There are also numbers of other stations called either lotuses or wheel within the body. They are compared with the places of pilgrimage like Uddiyana, Jalandhar, Purnagiri and Kamarupa.146 It has been said that in Assam, the Sahajiya had established strong holds in Rangjuli, Bijoypura (Barnagar), Kondoli, Dovaka and Bajulia and associated these

places with the heroes of their songs and ballads.147


142 B. Bhattacarya, „Mahayanic Pantheons‟, op.cit., p. 534. 143 P.C. Bagchi, „The cult of Buddhist Siddhacaryas‟ The Cultural Heritage of India, vol.iv, op.cit., pp. 273-274. 144 Manikuntala Haldar (De), Baudha Dharmer Itihas (in Bengali), MahaBodhi Book Agency, Kolkata, 1996, reprint 2007 Kolkata, p. 230; S.B. Dasgupta, Obscure Religious cult, op.cit., pp. 1012. 145 The period was marked by both sociopolitical contact with other parts of India . In the middle of the 8th century.C.E.i.e in the period of Harshavarmadeva (725-750C.E.) Kamarupa extended its boundaries that touched parts of Bengal and Orissa and concluded relationship with Nepal. 146 S.R. Goyal, A History of Indian Buddhism, op.cit., pp. 258-259. 147 RajmohanNath, The Background of Assamese Culture, Datta Barua, Guwahati, 1978, p. 47.


There are numbers of Sahajiya Siddhas hailed from Assam.148 Saraha is one of the earliest Buddhist Siddhacarya149 associates with Assam. Based on the Tibetan work Grub-to‟b, Giuseppe Tucci mentions that Rahula alias Saraha was a Sudra from Kamarupa.150 P. C. Choudhary believes he was from Oddiyana but his activities were confined to Rani or Roli.151 K.L. Barua identifies Roli or Rani with the principality of Rani in western part of Guwahati of modern


Kamrup district of Assam.152 Mahasiddha Saraha flourished about the year 1000 C.E. It is believed that Saraha converted Ratnapala who was probably a king of Kamarupa to Buddhism. The former therefore flourished towards the end of the tenth or beginning of the 11th century C.E. 153 He composed Buddha Kapala–tantrasya panjika, jnanavati-nama, Buddha Kapala sahana, Dohakosa giti, and Saraha gitika etc.154 The language of some of the Caryas of Saraha represets

the earliest phase of the development of the Assamese language.155 His center of activities was in the Kamarupa region.156 Nagarjuna is another noted Buddhist Siddha who was associated with Assam. He was the disciple of Rahula or Saraha and flourished not long before the visit of Alberuni in India in 1030C.E.157 Nagarjuna was associated with two Sadhana namely Ekjata and MahacinaTara.158 It is believed that Ratnapala or his successor


148 For details see P.C. Bagchi, „The cult of the Buddhist Siddhacarya‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol.iv, op.cit., p. 276; B. Bhattacarya, Origin and development of Vajrayana, op.cit., pp. 745746. 149 L.P. Singh, Buddhist Tantra, op.cit., p. 65. 150 Journal of Asiatic society of Bengal, vol.xxvi, p. 141, as cited K.L. Barua, „Kamarupa and Vajrayana‟, J.A.R.S., 1934, no. 2, p. 47; Debiprasad Chattopahaya (ed.), Taranatha‟s History of Buddhism in India,

op.cit., p. 136; H.K. Barpujari (ed.), The Comprehensive History of Assam, vol.I , op.cit., p. 340. 151 In Bka-AbabBdum Idan, Saraha is said to have been from Brahman from Odivisa that represents Orissa. As cited in P. C. Choudhary, Assam- Bengal Relations, op.cit., p. 305 ; Bhupendranath Datta (tr.), Mystic tales of Lama Taranatha, Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, Calcutta, 1957, pp. 2-4. 152 K.L. Barua, „Kamarupa and Vajrayana‟, J.A.R.S., 1934, no. 2, pp. 45-47;

H.K. Barpujari (ed.), The Comprehensive History of Assam, vol.I, op.cit., pp. 340-341; P.C. Choudhary, The History of the People of Assam to the Twelfth century A.D., p. 423. 153 For details, see Maheswar Neog, Religions of North East, Publication Board Assam, Guwahati, 2008, p. 72; H.K. Barpujari (ed.), The Comprehensive History of Assam, vol.I, op.cit., pp. 340-341. 154D.P. Chattopadhaya (ed.), Taranathas History of Buddhism in India, op.cit., p. 382. 155


Parikshit Hazarika, Carya Pada, Dalimi Prakashan, Guwahati, seventh edition, 2007, p. 45; H.K. Barpujari (ed.), The Comprehensive History of Assam, vol.I op.cit., p. 340. 156 N.N. Bhattacharya, Religious Culture of North-Eastern India, op.cit., p. 128. 157 H.K. Barpujari (ed.), The Comprehensive History of Assam, vol.I, op.cit., pp. 340-341. 158 For details, see K.L. Barua, „Kamarupa and Vajrayana‟, J.A.R.S., 1934, no. 2, p. 46-47; P.C. Choudhary, Assam- Bengal Relations, p. 305.


Indrapala built the present Ugratara temple of Uzanbazar area in Gauhati, after the introduction of worship of Ekjata by Nagarjuna.159 Siddha Nagarjuna was also a famous Kaviraj or physician and certain medical pills, still prevailed in the Assam Valley, which are associated with his name and being prepared according to his prescriptions.160 Another Siddha is Luipada, who is believed as one of the Adisiddhacharyas.161 Sometimes the name of the Siddhas


attaches with the land that they hailed from or associated. Siddha Hadipa is also known as Jaladharipa on accounts of his long residence in Jalandhar.162 The name of LuiPada is the identical with Luhita. Brahmaputa in early Assam is better known as Luhita. It is to note here that the river Lauhitya is found expression in the inscriptions of Assam from 8th century onwards and homage was paid to river Lauhitya (Brahmaputra) because of benefit from the river in strategic, material, commercial and cultural matters.163 The language that he used in some of his works was Kamarupi aprabhamsa. 164 Accordingly, it may

presume that Luipada might have hailed or associated with Kamarupa. He has been mentioned as the author of the texts, such as BhagavadAbhisamaya, Vajrasattva Sadhana, Tattvasvabhava-Dohakosha-Gitikia-DrishtiNama, Luhipada-Gitika and Buddhodaya.165 The Padas 1 and 29 of the Charyageetikosha or the

Caryapada are also ascribed to him.166 The period of Luipada is placed in the 11th century C.E. It is on the ground that Luipada was contemporary to Sri Dipankara. When SriDipankara went to Tibet in 1038 C.E., he


159 Tara, Buddhist goddess entered in to Hindu fold as UgraTara H.K.Barpujari (ed.), The Comprehensive History of Assam, vol.I, op.cit., p. 341; Biswanarayan Sastri, „Some aspects of Sakticism in Assam, J.A.R.S., xxxii, p. 4; B.K. Kakati, The Mother Goddess Kamakhaya, p. 19. 160 K.L. Barua, „Kamarupa and Vajrayana‟, op.cit., p. 48. 161The first Caryapada was attributed to Luipa and in its commentary in Sanskrit, Munidatta

mentions him as the Adisiddhacharya. Haraprasad Shastri, Hajar Bacharer Purano Bangala Bhashay Bauddhagan O Doha (in Bengali), Bangiya Sahitya Parishad, Kolkata, 1916, reprint, 2006, p. 5. 162 R.M. Nath, „Luipada and Matsyendranatha‟, J.A.R.S., vol.vii, no. 1, 1939, pp. 48-57. 163M.M. Sharma, Inscriptions

of Ancient Assam, Department of Ancient Assam, Guwahati University, 1978, p. 136. 164Parikshit Hazarika, Carya Pada, op.cit., p. 44. 165 D.P. Chattopadhaya (ed.), Taranathas History of Buddhism in India, op.cit., p. 393. 166 Haraprasad Shastri, Hajar Bacharer Purano Bangala Bhashay Bauddhagan O Doha (in Bengali) op.cit., p. xxi.


was assisted by Luipada.167 He has also been mentioned as the co-author of the Abhisamaya-Vibhanga along with the great scholar Atisa.168 According to Taranatha, Nagarjuna was the teacher of Savaripa and latter‟s disciple was Luipada.169 Another most important Siddha who contributed to the development of syncretic traditions between Hinduism and Buddhism is Minnatha or Matsyendranatha. Some scholars identify Matsyendranatha with Luipada.170 However, the

doctrinal difference between the two reveals that they were two different persons.171 Matsyendranatha is figured as the spiritual son and successors of Jalandha, who had initiated the four main disciples, namely Gorakhnath, Pangal, Nimnath and Parsanath.172 Taranatha referred Mina as the disciple of Kukkuti Siddha who was the fisherman on the east of India.173 Siddha Minnatha was a fisher who was associated with Kamarupa.The site where fisher Mina was in deep contemplation as mentioned in the Buddhist legend is identical with Brahmaputra and Umanada.174 He was constantly associated with Kamarupa and compiled famous Buddhist tantric texts Akulviratantra in Kamarupa. The association of Minnatha with Kamarupa is confirmed by the colophon to the

concluding chapter of his Akulaviratantra where it is clearly mentioned that he received spiritual inspiration from the yoginis at Kamarupa and Akulviratantra was compiled in Kamarupa ( iti -Kamarupasthane Yogini-Prasadat labadhan Akulviram sampatam‟.175 The association of Minnatha with Kamarupa is also reflected in the

167 Parikshit Hazarika, Caryapada, op.cit., p. 43. 168 Sukumar Sen, Charyageeti Padabali (in Bengali), Ananda Publishers, Kolkata, 2002, pp. 20-1 169 Luipada was a writer of the court of the king of Udddiyana and named as Samanta Subha before the meeting with Savaripa. Bhupendranath Datta (tr.),Mystic


tales of Lama Taranatha, op.cit., p. 8; D.P. Chattopadhaya (ed.), Taranathas History of Buddhism in India, p. 151; H.K. Barpujari (ed.), The Comprehensive History of Assam,vol.I, op.cit., p. 341. 170 For detais, see P.C. Bagchi, „The cult of Buddhist Siddhacaryas‟ The Cultural Heritage of India, vol.iv, op.cit., p. 276. 171 For the details, see R.M. Nath, „Luipada and Matsyendranatha‟, op.cit., pp. 48-57. 172 G.W. Briggs, Gorakhnath and the Kanphatha

Yogis, op.cit., p. 77. 173 N.B. Minnatha was referred asMatsindrapada, Matsendranatha, Minnatha and Macchagana. Taranatha mentions Mina and Maccindra as different person. Siddha Maccindra is reffered as the son of Siddha Mina. Bhupendranath Datta, (tr.), Mystic tales of Lama Taraanatha, op.cit., pp. 74-75. 174For details, see Bhupendranath Datta (tr.), Mystic Tales Lama Taranatha, op.cit., p. 74; G.W. Briggs, Gorakhnath and the Kanphatha Yogis, op.cit., p. 232. 175 Vide. H.K. Barpujari (ed.), The Comprehensive History of India, vol.1, op.cit., pp. 278.


Jayaratha‟s commentary of Tantraloka of Abhinavagupta.176 The Buddhist tantric background of the land inspired Minnatha to choose the place for composition of the tantric literature. Siddha Mina was followed by the people of different professional classes viz.Hali (a peasant), Mali (a gardener), Tambuli (a tooth painter or betel leaf seller).177 Thus, in the early medieval period, Sahajiya Siddhhas flourished in Assam.Though there is no any authentic evidence


of the existence of monasteries center, the non-institutional Sahajiya Siddhas were quite influential in this region. Buddhist tantrics generally performed four processes of Tantric practices.They are 1. Kriyatantra; 2. Caryatantra; 3. Yogatantra; and 4. Annuttarayogatantra (the process goes to nearer to sakta tantra).178 It seems that the Siddhas from the region performed all these practices. Siddhas Saraha and Luipa publicly preached Kriya and Carya tantra. Luipa attained the Mahamudrasiddhi by studying the Cakrasambhara system.179 They also performed Annuttarayogatantra, which is a secret tantra.180 From the time of Saraha and Nagarjuna up to Sabaripa had entered the tradition of transmitting Annuttara Gurhya –mantra through the chain of preceptor to

disciple.181 Thus, the Sahajiya Siddhas of Assam performed all higher Tantras.182 Naropa is another tantric saint first introduced the nameVarahi‟ and repeatedly mentioned the name in his works Kriya vajra varahi and Jnana vajra varahi. He had perhaps constant touch with the region. It is believed by scholar that the name of Varahi was taken from some Buddhist female saint living on the Varaha hill of Nilacala hill complex.183

176 It has mentioned „ Bhairavat praptam yogam vyapya priya tatsakasattu Siddhena minakhyena varanane Kamarupe mahapithe Macchandena mahatmanain Tantraloka,‟ pp. 24-25 as cited B.K. Baruah, A Cultural History of Assam (early period), vol.I, Bina library, Guwahati, fourth edition, 2003, p. 188 177

Bhupendranath Datta (tr.), Mystic Tales Lama Taranatha, op.cit., pp. 74-75. 178 Lalan Prasad Singh, Buddhist Tantra, op.cit., p. 39; S.R. Goyal, A History of Indian Buddhism, op.cit., p. 239. 179 Debiprasad Chattopahaya (ed.), Taranatha‟s History of Buddhism in India, op.cit., p. 153. 180 In Annuttara yoga tantra, all gods are represented as embracing their Saktis and rites performed to get nirvana accompanied by a circle of female Bodhisattvas (Locana, Mamaki, Pandara and Tara). G.W. Briggs, Gorakhnath and the Kanphatha Yogis, op.cit., p. 283. 181 Benoytosh Bhattacharya, The Indian Buddhist Iconography,

op.cit., p. 14. 182 Kacakratantra is the highest kind of Yoga tantra. L.P. Singh, Buddhist tantra, op.cit., pp. 93-95. 183 Pranav Jyoti Deka, Nilacala Kamakhya, op.cit., p. 7.


There are some prime deities of Kalacakratantra viz. Heruka and Vajrabhairava,184 who were worshipped in Kamarupa (Nilachala). Abhinavagupta who flourished in Kamarupa about 9th century C.E.,185 has discussed Kalacakra in detail in his Tantraloka.186 Naropa was one of the founder saints of


Annuttara and Kalacakra tantra187is believed to be associated with this land. Thus, it indicates about the prevalence of Kalacakrayana in Assam. Kalacakratantra accelerated the process of assimilation between Hinduism and Buddhism. Though there are traces of the prevalence of some of the Kalacakratantra deities in Assam, but due to the gradual amalgamation of the deities with Hinduism in succeeding period, no pure forms of Kalacaktratantra

is visible in Assam. However, the syncretism between Buddhsim and three major branches of Hinduism viz. Saktism, Saivism and Vaisnavism are found expression in literature and iconography in Assam. Syncretism is an essential feature of the religion. It has been opined that the term syncretism generally denotes an unconscious, wide spread tendency to coalesce due to the meeting of different cultures.There is a blending of religious ideas and

practices, by means of which either one set adopts more or less thoroughly the principles of another or both are amalgamated in a more cosmopolitan than narrow theistic sense.188 When two or more religions were contemporary to each other, there was always a strong tendency towards fusing their Gods. When a religion became dominant and powerful in any particular region, it generally absorbed the characteristics as well as deities of the other contemporary religions. It was the case


184 Waddell is of the opinion that Kalacakra is the development of Adi-bddha theory combined with puerile mysticisms of the Mantrayana introduced demonical Buddhas under the names of Sambhara, Kala-Cakra, Heruka, Achala, Vajra-Vairaba etc., L.A. Waddell, Lamaism, op.cit., p. 131. 185 K.L. Barua, Early History

of Kamrupa, Lawyers Book Stall, Guwahati, 1960, p. 99; K.C. Pandey, Abhinavagupta a Historical and philosophical Study, vol.1, Chowkambha Sanskrit Series office, Benaras, 1935, p. 2 . 186 Abhinavagupta in his Tantraloka has expounded the doctrine of Kala (time) and the spiritual process of keeping oneself


above the influence of cycle of time. L. P. Singh, Buddhist Tantra, op.cit., p. 97. 187 Naropa was born in Bengal in the city of Nagara, esteemed in his East Indian hermitage of Phulahari. For details, see Ronald.M. Davidson, Tibetan Renaissance, Motilal Banarsidas, New Delhi, 2008, pp. 45 & 126. 188 James Hastings (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, vol.xii, New York, 1974, pp. 155156.


with Buddhism too.189 The Syncratism between Buddhist practice and Brahmnism in Assam is visible in following major Brahmanical divisions in Kamarupa. Syncratism with Saktism Kamarupa is traditionally recognized as an important Sakta center and the abode of Hinduise deity Kamakhya. However, the Hinduise

deity Kamakhya developed through a long process of psychosexual experimentation, philosophies that contributed by the both Buddhist and Hindus. In early period, the Austric and other earliest inhabitant of Assam worshipped the fissured stone that personified as Devi at Nilachala.190 It is to say that the concept of sakti or primordial energy symbolized in a woman is an amalgam of many elements drawn from various sources, aboriginal, non-Aryan (not- excluding non-Indian) and Aryan.191 Although the cult of mother goddess existed even in the earlier period192, it became central to tantricism that developed widely during Gupta and post-Gupta periods.193


89 Sarita Khettry, „Buddhism and Conemporary Religios of the North-West: Syncretism, Assimilation and Conflict (c.First century B.C. –c. fifth Century C.E.)‟, Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 69th session, Kanpur, 2008, pp. 70-73. 190 Banikanta Kakati, The Mother Goddess Kamakhya, op.cit., p.

16. 191Saktism means worshipping a female goddess as the supreme deity. H.K Barpujari (ed), The Comprehensive History of Assam, op.cit., pp. 317-318 & 366; M.M. Sharma, Inscriptions of Ancient Assam, op.cit., p. 104.


192 The female cult has worshipped across the world along with Indus Valley. Concerning the female cult in Vedic tradition, there are occasional references of Ambika and Uma (taitareyarya Aranyaka or Kena Upanishad (3/25) found in Vedic literature however, not as prominent deity. see for details

Govinda Gopal Mukherje, „Sakta Literature,‟The Culture Heritage of India, vol.v, op.cit., p. 131. 193 During the Gupta period, female deity, mostly of tribal origin and background attained a position of importance and clearly associated with the important Brahmanical gods. The Sakti elements in Hindu literatures attained its maturity in Puranic period. The Devimahatmya of the Markandeya Purana (c. sixth century C.E.) is the first comprehensive account

of the goddess to appear in Sanskrit-the explanation is sought in terms of Sanskritisation. MarkandeyaPurana composed about second and third century C.E. The chapters lxxxi-xciii of the Markandeya Purana constitute an independent and complete work called Devi-Mahaytma. Rajenndra Chandra Hazra, „The Puranas‟ in The Cultural Heritage of India,vol.II, pp. 253-256; Govinda Gopal Mukherje, „Sakta Literature‟, The Culture Heritage of India, vol.v, op.cit., pp. 131-134; D.N. Jha, Early India, op.cit. p. 170.


Mahayana Buddhist inclined towards female cult that found reference in early Mahayana Buddhist works.194 Thus, both Hinduism and Buddhism were associated with female cults. The Buddhist group associated with the non-Aryan cultic site at Nilachala and worshipped Tara deity. Female spirits were an integral part of tantra and gave the utmost importance to female divinities.195 Buddhist tantricism developed in Nilachala with female deity Sweta Tara and


Vajrayogini. Side by side with the Buddhist tantric deities, Hinduised form of Tantricism was developed there with the female deity Mahagauri and gradually, by the eleventh century, the Hinduise deity Kameswari Kamakhya replaced this Mahagauri. 196 Pranab Jyoti Deka in his book Nilacala Kamakhya discussed in details how the goddess Kamakhya Kameswari has evolved through the intermixing of the Buddha cult of Chinnamasta-Vajravarahi and Hindu

Kameswari cult. KamakhyaKameswari was conceptualized from the synthesizing Hindu SaktiTantra and Boudha Annuttara tantra. The seed of incarnation of the tantra for the goddess Kamakhya addressed to Vajra-Yogini, VajraVarahi and Vajra-Vairocini, which became closely associated in the form of Chinnamasta and Bouddha Chinnachamunda in 9th century. This Chinnachamunda in course of time was modified to Kamakhya Kameswari cult.197 Thus, the deity Kamakhya, which seems appeared as a new deity in the early-medieval Brahmanical literature of Assam was contributed by both the Buddhist tantricism and new Brahmanical religion.

                                               194 In some dharanis of the LotusSutra or Sadharmapundarika, that compiled between first and second century C.E. some hymns were addressed to female deities. According to Binoytosh Bhattacharya, the inclination of Buddhism to female cult first revealed in Gurhyasamajatantra, the bible of Tantric Buddhism, compiled about 300 C.E.; Benoytosh Bhattacarya, „Mahayanic Pantheon‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol.1, op.cit., p. 526; Hajime Nakamura, Indian Buddhism, op.cit., p. 186. 195 Pranshu Samdarshi, „The Concept of Goddesses in Buddhist Tantra Traditions‟ ,op.cit., p. 93. 196 For details, see Pranav Jyoti Deka, Nilacala Kamakhya, op.cit., pp. 45-46. 197 For details, see ibid. pp. 4, 14, 23 & 43-46.  


Nevertheless, Kamakhya is Hindu goddess but her roots lie in the Boudha vajrayana Tantricism.198 In Buddhist tantra, the superiority of goddesses comes across in a substantial way and goddesses who embodied supreme enlightenment were designated as “the Buddhas” and the mother of all Buddhas.199 Buddhist deity Tara occurs in the Manjusrimulakalpa is elevated to the position of highest deity where she is elevated to the position of highest deity. Gradually, Tara rose to the mother ship of all Buddha and the concept developed that creation itself is due to the sakti or female energy of Adi-Buddha. Accordingly,

the Goddess is recognized as the ultimate source of everything in the universe.200 This concept also developed in Hinduism. In course of time, the Kalikapurana portrayed Kamakhya as the spouse of Siva and gave a new shape connecting with pan Indian mythology and the deity became panIndian Brahmanical

mother goddess.201 Syncretism with Saiva The Tantric Buddhist practices were syncretised with another prime deity of Hinduism, i.e. Siva. There is age-old association between tantric Buddhism and Saivism that mutually influenced each other and sometimes Buddhist appropriated their belief and faith with Saivite practice. Vajrayana adopted a number of forms of Mahadeva Siva and accordingly, Hara became Heruka, Sambhu became Sambara, and Bhairava turned into Vairocana etc.202 Saivite influences in the forms mostly of

198 Until ninth century, there were not even veil references of Kamakhya that found in the inscription.The deities Kamakhya-Kameswari first time appeared in the ninth century inscription. Kameswara –Mahagauri in is mentioned in Tezpur Copper Plates of Vanamala (line 10 -12) of 9th century. Guwakuchi grant of

Indrapala (the line 49) of 11th century (c1071 C.E) also mentions Mahagauri –Kamesvarayoh. The Brahmanical literature Kalika Purana of 10th- 11th century elaborately portrayed the deity. For details, see M.M. Sarma, Inscriptions of Ancient Assam, pp.104, 112 & 202. 199 Pranshu Samdarshi, „The Concept of

Goddesses in Buddhist Tantra Traditions‟, op.cit., p. 93. 200 N.N. Bhattacarya, The Indian Mother Goddess, New Delhi, Manohar, 2nd edition, 1977, p. 210. 201Parallel to the development of pan-Indian socio-political ideology, regional elements started to take shape through assimilation with greater tradition

of the region. Kalika Purana appropriated local cults through common rituals, including the cults that associated with Buddhism in greater Indian perspective and developed the concept of Pan-Indian Hinduise mother goddess. For further details, see Brajadulal Chattopadhaya, Making of Early Medieval India, op.cit., pp. 33-34. 202Hara Sambhu and Bhairava are among the various names of Siva. Pranav Jyoti Deka, Nilacala Kamakhya, op.cit., p. 96.


Kapalika and the Pasupata faith, influenced Buddhist tantras203 Saivite influences found distinct in the Buddhist Tantric literature. One of such tantric text is Cakrasamvara Tantra, which is significantly influenced by Saiva Hindu faith.204 Kalacakratantra and Saiva-Tantra is to some extent similar in both

philosophical and ritualistic aspects.205 Tibetan regarded Kailasa as the home of Samvara, the wellknown Saiva site just inside the Tibetan border and thus Buddhist appropriated the Saiva site replacing Siva by Samvara on Mount Kailasa.206 The Syncretism between Saivism and Buddhism is found

expression in the myth and iconographic expression in Assam. In early Assam, Siva worship was prevalent amongst both the Aryan and non-Aryans.207 Buddhism also had its contact with its inhabitants before the development of the Aryan culture to the life and thought of the people of Assam.208 Thus, these two faiths came into constant touch with each other. In Sri Surya Pahar, where the votive stupas of early centuries are found, the lingas are made on the same platform. The Brahmanical sculptures of tha area are said as the product of the ninth century idiom.209 The myth recorded in the Kalikapurana focuses the

alliance between followers of Buddhism and Siva against the Dvija or twice born Brahmana. According to this myth, this Siva was assisted by his ally of the followers of Ugratara against Vasistha and other twice born (Dvija). 210 The followers of Ugratara


203 Ronald M. Davidson, Indian Esoteric Buddhism, op.cit., pp. 211-221. 204 The Cakrasamvara Tantra, in its initial stage of development, was composed outside of normative monastic Buddhist institutional.The earliest version of the Cakrasamvara Tantra was a somewhat shorter text that exhibited significant

influence from Saiva Hindu sources and relatively little Buddhist influence. For details, seeDavid Gray, The Cakrasamvara Tantra: A Study and Annotated Translation, American Institute of Buddhist Studies, Columbia University Press, New York, 2007, pp. 13–14. 205 L.P. Singh, Buddhist Tantra op.cit., p. 106. 206 Ronald M. Davidson, Indian Esoteric Buddhism, op.cit, p. 210. 207 B.K. Kakati, „The Mother goddess Kamakhya‟, op,cit., p. 10. 208 In the words of

N.D.Choudhary, „No sculptures of Brahmanical religion (Saivism Vaisnavism and Saktism) have been found in Assam earlier than 5th -6th century C.E, which can also be taken as an indirect proof that a large section of people of Assam accepted Buddhism and continued it till 4th 5th C.E. Thus, Buddhism was


developed much earlier than the development of Brahmanical religion in the region. Nishipad Dev Chodhary, „The antiquity of Buddhism in Assam,‟ op.cit., p. 215. 209 H. K. Barpujari (ed.), The Comprehensive History of Assamm, vol.1, op.cit., pp. 463-464. 210 Biswanarayan Sastri (ed.), Kalika purana Murtivinirdesha, Motilal Banarsidass,Delhi, 1994, pp.xxv - xxvii; Jyotindra Narayan(ed.), Kalikapurana, Dutta Barua Publishing Company, Guwahati, 2007, ch. 81, p. 300; B.K. Kakati, The Mother Goddess Kamakhya, op.cit., p. 18.


undoubtedly represent the followers of Buddhism.211 Thus, the episode of the legend indicates the closeness of Saivism and Buddhism in Kamarupa. The association between these two faiths is also suggested by the fact that in winter season Buddhists from Himalayan region still visit Umananda, the abode of

Siva.212 The syncretism between Buddhism and Saivism in Assam is best reflected in cult Heruka. Heruka (Tibetan khrag 'thung) is one of the most popular Tantric Buddhist pantheons, particularly in Tibet.213 There are various forms of Heruka referred in Sadhanamala. In Vajrayana, Heruka rarely represented single but usually in the embrace of his consort Vajrabarahi. When he is in yab-yum (embracing his female consort), Heruka is known as Hevajra which is the

popular form of Heruka in Tibet.214 This Heruka was worshipped in Kamarupa(at Nilachala) in the form of Sambara Heruka along with its consort Tara Kurukilla.215 The concept of Heruka is revealed in Kamakhya tantra, which is an offshoot of Hevajra tantra.216 There are many myths centering round the origin of Heruka. According to one of them, Heruka emanates from Vajrapani who caused trouble to the twentyfour sites of Bhairava and destroys

Maheswara.217 It seems, the deity appeared in the world to subjugate the Hindu deity Bhairava or Siva. Heruka is also portrayed as the image of Maheswara. In Sadhanamala, he is defined as standing on a corpse in the Ardhaparanyaka attitude. He is well clad in human skin and his body besmeared with ashes.218 Thus, scholar believes that Heruka has taken the image of Maheswarathe wearing of skulls, ashes and other adornments to attract to the noble


211 Ugratara, the Goddess of Buddhist Tantricism, in in course of time became Hinduised. B.K. Kakati, The Mother Goddess Kamakhaya, op.cit., p. 19. 212 Gangaram Choudhary, Sapta Bodhisattvas and their sculptural Representation in Assam, Assam Research Society for Buddhistic Studies, Guwahati, Assam,

1967, p. 8. 213 Benoytosh Bhattacharya, The Indian Buddhist Iconography, op.cit., p. 155. 214 Haraprasad Sastri, „The Northern Buddhism‟, Indian Historical Quaterly,vol-1,no-3,1925,p. 472;Benoytosh Bhattacharya, The Indian Buddhist Iconography, op.cit., pp. 155-156. 215 For detais See Pranav Jyoti

Deka, Nilacala Kamakhya, op.cit., p. 46. 216Hevajra Tantra advices a person full of desire to unite with the perception of sixteen forms of void (union of Prajna with upaya is Heruka).For delais, see Pranav Jyoti Deka, Nilacala Kamakhya, ibid., p. 63. 217 Ronald M. Davidson, Indian Esoteric Buddhism,

op.cit., p. 202; idem., „Relections on the Maheswara Subjugation Myth Indic materials, Sa-Skya-pa Apologetics and the myth of Heruka‟ in Paul Williams, (ed.) Buddhism, Critical Concepts in Religious Studies , vol.vi, Routledge, London, Newyork, 2005, pp.1-32. 218 Benoytosh Bhattacharya, The Indian Buddhist Iconography, op.cit., p. 156.


Buddhadharma those of the lowest moral level.219 The origin of the Heruka myth that referred in Sarvabuddhasamayoga, describes Heruka in the manner of a cemetery divinity.220 On the other hand, in a myth in Kalikapurana Heruka was portrayed as born out of Siva. When goddess Mahamaya came forth having

pierced through the Sivalinga, it was broken into three pieces. From the three pieces of Siva linga there came out Bhairava, Bhairavi and Heruka. 221 This Heruka is also described in Kalikapurana as the manner of a cemetery divinity, rather than either as the tamer of Maheswara or as his imitation. Following is the verse mentions in Kalikapurana, “Smasan Herukakhyam raraktavarnam bhayankaram/asicarmadharam raudram bhunjanam manujamisam Tisrbhir mundamalabhir

galadrakabhi rajitam Agninirdagdhavigaladdantapretoparithitam// pujyec cintanenaiva Satravahanabhusanam//”222 (There is a cemetery called Heruka, ferocious and red in color. He carries a sword and human skin, angry, devouring human flesh. Festooned with three garlands of heads, all oozing blood from their severed necks, he stands on a ghostlike corpse, its teeth falling out from the cremation fire. Ornamented with weapons and his vehicle; let him be

worshiped only with your mind). The site of the cremation ground as specifies in Kalikapurana is identifies by scholar the place with two hundred meters east of the current location of the main temple where Kamakhya was located. The cremation ground is now called MasanBhairo (Smasana-Bhairava), and a small temple there is dedicated to the ferocious divinity of the site. 223 The idol sculptured in the stone face, on the north of the presently non-existing of Heruka (at present it is called Bhairabi mandir),224 there is

219 Ronald M.Davidson, Indian Esoteric Buddhism, op.cit., p. 202. 220 Ibid., pp. 202-213. 221 Kalikapurana Chapter, 76, verse 88-90 as cited in Biswanarayan Sastri(ed), Kalikapurana Murtivinirdesh, op.cit., p. 81. 222 Kalikapurana, 63.135–137, referred in Pitambara, Siddhantavagisha, Tirtha

Kaumudi, Biswanarayan Sastri (ed.), Anundoram Barua Institute of Language, Art and Culture, Assam, 1998, p. 270. (N.B.Pitambara was court pandit of Naranarayana (1540-1584C.E.) who quotes Kalikapurana and Yogini Tantra in compiling his work). 223 Ronald M. Davidson, Indian Esoteric Buddhism, op.cit., p. 213. 224 The temple of Bhairabi was earlier known as temple of Heruka. For details, see Pranav Jyoti Deka, Nilacala Kamakhya, op.cit., p. 92.


depicted a „hybrid‟ deity which represents Kala Bhairava, a mixture of Hindu Mahakala Bhairava and Boudha Heruka. Thus, Heruka was portrayed as a local demon, like a ghost or the divinity of a cremation ground and Buddhism appropriated with local deities of Assam.225 In succeeding period, Heruka also

assumed the form of Vasudeva who was worshipped by ten-syllable mantra. 226 The word Tathagatakaritaditya that found in the Gauhati Copper Plate Grant of Indrapala (c1058 C.E.),227 is interpreted by the scholar228 as the amalgamation between the Saivism and Buddhism. Tryambakananda introduced adayatyavada (monism) of Saiva philosophy and from the days of Sangamaditya, this philosophy spread in Kashmir. Tryambakaditya or his disciples end their

names as Aditya. One who attains the siddhi, through the Buddhist practice is known as Tathagata. Thus, the mention of Tathagatakaritaditya in the Gauhati copper plate grant of Indrapala (c1058C.E.) is also the reflection of the amalgamation between the Saivism and Buddhist Tantricism.229 The Saiva movement powerfully advanced in the days of Sankara (788C.E.850 C.E.) and the struggle between Buddhism and Saivism was at its height in south India in the seventh

century.230 However, the above discussion shows that in Assam, there is peaceful adaptation of the two faiths. Tantricism was great synthesizing force and the synthesis between Saivism and Buddhism best reflected in the Natha sect which developed by Buddhist Siddhas. The discussion will be taking place in this chapter. It is not only syncretism between Buddhism with Saivism or Sakism but also the syncretism between Vaishnavism and Buddhism in Assam.

Syncretism with Vishnu: Vaisnavism was the main agent of Brahmanical appropriation of Buddhism. Avatarvada (evolved form) of Vishnu played a dominant role to incorporate various

225 Ronald M. Davidson, Indian Esoteric Buddhism, op.cit., pp. 213 -214. 226 YoginiTantra mentions „Herukang Dvadashvarnena Basudeva rupinang‟ SurenBhagawati and J. Narayan Dutta Barua (eds.), Yogini Tantram, Dutta Barua, Guwahati, 1994, p. 483.


27 Guwahati copper plate grant of Indrapala (c1058) mentions “ Uttarena Tathagatakaritaditya bhattaraka Satkasasanabhabisabhusimni khetralisthasakhotakbrisha…” M. M. Sharma, Inscriptions of Ancient Assam, op.cit., pp. 184 & 191-192. 228 Acarya Manoranjan Sastri, „Dharma aru Darshan‟, Giridhar Sarma (ed.), Asomiya Jatir Itibritta, Asom Sahitya Sabha, Jorhat, second edition, 1996, p. 116. 229 Ibid., pp. 116-117. 230 G.W. Briggs, Gorakhnath and the Kanphatha Yogis, op.cit., p. 250.


popular deities that prevailed in India.231 The syncretism leading to Vishnu in the region found in the iconography at Sukreswar (Guwahati) that is popularly known as Buddha- Janardana and a statue is found at Numaligarh representing the similar development. The statue seated in a manner of yogic

posture cross-legged in a lotus, having four hands holding sankha, gada, padma (three of the four belongings of Vishnu, according to Hindu beliefs) in three hands respectively.Though believes, the fourth hand of the statue holds chakra, but it is broken now. It is also supposed the two lower hands of the

statue are in Bhumisparsamudra (earth-touching motive, that of meditational practice of Buddhism), thus the statue represents the amalgam of the concept of Buddha and Vishnu.232 Yoginitantra, the Brahmanical literature about sixteenth century refers that Janardana is to be worshipped as Buddha at Sukreswar.233

One of the important examples of the synthesis of Buddhism and Vaisnavism is the statue that is found at Numaligarh. The image has four hands and it is seated in rajlila mudra. His upper two hands carried „Sankha‟ and „Gada‟ while his lower two hands are in „upadesa mudra‟ and carries a rosary, which is


unusual for representation of god Vishnu. It is definitely the combination of Vishnu and Avalokiteswara in one form.234 This syncretism with Vishnu and Buddhist tantricism is reflected on the cult Hayagriva that is worshipped at Hajo, situated at 20 kilometer from Gauhati on the north bank of the Brahmaputra.Devotees of both religious faiths Hindu and Buddhist regard the place of Hayagriva as a holy spot and visit the site. Among the Tibetan Buddhists, Hayagriva occupies a high place of honour, which they called as „Rta-mgrin‟ and pronounced as „Tam Din‟.235


231 Boby Das, „Hayagriva in Assam a Brief Study,‟ PNEIHA, thirty first Session, 2010, pp. 47-51. 232 H. K. Barpujari (ed.), The Comprehensive History of Assam, vol.1, vol-1, op.cit., p. 392. 233 „Janardanacha Devesam Kalau Baudhaswarupin‟ Suren, Bhagawati and J. Narayan Dutta Barua (eds.), Yogini Tantram, op.cit., p. 374. 234 H. K. Barpujari (ed.), The Comprehensive History of Assam, vol.1, op.cit., p. 395. 235 L. A. Waddell, Lamaism, op.cit., pp. 62, 164,

Hajo, the place of worship of Hayagriva in Assam, associated with Buddhist tantricism is much earlier to Kalikapuran.236 Padmasambhaba, who propagated Lamaism, traversed most of the places situated between lower Assam and Tibet.237 With the growing influence of neo-Brahmanical trends, Kalikapuran illustrated Hayagriva as the incarnation of Vishnu connecting with pan Indian literature.238 However, the same literature also portrays Hayagriva as a demon.239 In another place of KalikaPurana, Hayagriva is also present as the commander and doorkeeper of Naraka and when Krishna led an invasion against Naraka, Hayagriva was killed by Krishna.240


236 Boby Das, „Hayagriva in Assam a Brief Study,‟ op.cit., pp. 47-51. 237 L. A. Waddell, Lamaism, op.cit., p. 313. N.B. Lamaism based mainly on the rigorous intellectual disciplines of Madhyamika and Yogacara philosophy utilizes the symbolic ritual practices of Vajrayana (Tantric Buddhism). The new

Encyclopaedia, vol.2, 15th edition, 2007, p. 756. 238 According to Hindu belief, Hayagriva is a deity with the head of horse and an incarnation of Vishnu that had been mentioning from the time of Mahabharata onwards. Gradually, the story developed in variously refers in Puranas, viz. Matsya Purana,

Skanda, Markandeya. as referred in Banikanta Kakati, Mother Goddess Kamakhya, p. 68; Jogendra chandra Gosh, Haygriva worship In Assam, J.AR.S., vol. II, no.4, 1935, pp. 79-80. 239 Following are the lines referred in the chapter 78 of Kalikapurana. „On the south of Varnasa there is a lake called Lauhitya,

and in the east there is a hill Manikuta, where the god Hayagriva resides. The lord Visnu assuming the form of Hayagriva killed the demon Jara (Jarasura) and also killed the demon Hayagriva ….‟Here Jarasura and Haygriva are mentioned as fever and respectively. Biswanarayan Sastri (ed.), Kalikapuran,Chokambha Sansktrit Series, Varanasi, 1972, p. 1167. 240 Jyotindra Narayan Dutta Barua (ed.), Kalikapurana, chapter 42, op.cit., pp. 135-139; Boby Das, „Hayagriva in Assam a Brief Study‟, op.cit., p. 51.


In subsequent period, Hayagriva of Assam became an incarnation of Vishnu241 but an ally with Madhava.242 However, Hayagriva retains its tantric mode of worship.243 The work of 16th century, i.e. Yogini Tantra has prescribed meat of buffalo, fish among various offerings in worshipping Hayagriva like a

tantric deity which are unusual items of offering to the Vishnu.244 The non-institutional Sahajiya Budddhist Siddhas further contributed to this assimilation between Hinduism and Buddhism. Siddhas are of outside the formal institutions of religious authority and had wide contact with different religious groups (Saiva Kapalika, Sakta, etc.) and they represented a wider spectrum of values.245 Siddha is a non-Buddhist designations and practices and

the Buddhists appropriated this. Indian used the term “siddha” to specify a successful group of saints that is found among the followers of Jaina and Siva. In the Mandasor stone inscription, dated 474 C.E. siddhas are described as among those who worship the sun and, specifically, those who propose to obtain

magical powers (siddhyarthin). Siddas also mentioned in Arthasastra, However, Buddhist siddhas have both continuities and discontinuities with siddhas tradition.246 They introduced many nonBuddhist methods in the practices of Buddhism, exhibit non-Buddhist behaviours and contributed to the syncretism with Hinduism.247 It has already mentioned that


241 Hayagriva is mentioned as one of the incarnation of Vishnu in 16th century, Vaisnava literature in Assam. Mahapurusa Sankardeva added „Hayagriva‟ „Dhruva‟ and Hari with other 21 incarnations mentions in Sri Sri Sankardev and Sri Sri Madhav dev, Narayan Chandra Goswami, (ed.), Bhagavat Purana Kirtan

Gosha aru Nam Gosha , Students stores, Gowahati, second edition 2001, p. 9; Nabin Chandra Sarmah, Purani Asomiya Sahityar Subas, Bani Prakash, 1988, p. 207. 242 Boby Das, „Hayagriva in Assam a Brief Study,‟ op.cit., p. 51. N.B. In the Puspabhadra grant of Dharmapala (first half of 12th century) referred to a temple dedicated to Sri Madhusudana (l.18). Here the donee is also Madhusudana who is celebrated to have worshipped the lotus feet of Madhava. M.M Sharma, Inscriptions of Ancient Assam, op.cit., pp. 264265. 243 Tantric rituals influenced the Vishnu in the form of Hayagriva, who was woshipped with

Tantric rituals eight syllables, twelve syllables and eighteen syllables mantras H. K. Barpujari (ed.), The Comprehensive History of Assam, vol.I, p. 332; J.C Ghosh, „Hayagriva worship In Assam‟, op.cit., p. 48 ; for details, see Maheswar Neog, Religions of the North-East, Publication Board Assam, Guwahati, 2008, pp. 38-40; Boby Das, „Hayagriva in Assam A Brief Stuty‟, op.cit., pp. 47-51. 244Suren Bhagawati and J. Narayan Dutta Barua (eds.), Yogini Tantram,

op.cit, pp. 550-551; Maheswar Neog, Religions of the North-East, op.cit., p. 40; 245 Ronald M.Davidson, Indian Esoteric Buddhism, op.cit., pp. 173-184 & 234. 246 Ibid. 247 Ibid., pp. 171-174; G.W. Farrow and I. Menon The Concealed Essence of the Hevajra TantraWith the Commentrary Yogaratnamala, op.cit., p. x.


Luipa attained the mahamudrasiddhi by studying the Cakrasambhara system. The rituals of Cakrasambhara apparently were composed outside of the mainstream Indian Buddhist monastic order and are associated with Saiva Hindu sources.248 In this regard the contribution of Siddha Minnatha who is the symbol of assimilation between Saiva tantra and Buddha tantra attached to the two schools such as Yogini Kaula and Nathism represents the syncretism between Hinduism and later Buddhist practices is very important.249 Minnatha attaches with the traditions among both Hindus and the Buddhists. Matsyendranatha or Minnatha

figures neither in the Brahmanical nor in the Buddhist pantheon in India proper.250 Followers of Nathism regard Matsyendranatha as the first of the human exponents of the Natha cult or the originator of this sect.251 In Nepalese and Tibetan traditions, Matsyenranatha is identified with Avalokiteswara.252 Even at the present day the Buddhist of Nepal, hold annual procession in honour of the defied Matsyndranatha.253 Minnatha attaches with two schools such as Yoginikaula and Nathism, which represents the syncretism between Hinduism and later Buddhist practices.254


248 David Gray, The Cakrasamvara Tantra: A Study and Annotated Translation, American Institute of Buddhist Studies, Columbia University Press, New York, 2007. 249 Matsendra alias Minnatha propagated Yogini-Kaula, Hatha and Natha practice. Yogini Kaulas doctrine is popular in Kamarupa. The followers of

Yogini Kaula adopted many practices of the Sahajiya school of Buddhist tantra. Both the Yogini Kaulas and Buddhist Sahajiya tantrics had the same goal: to transcend duality by concentrating the mind. Swami Ishatmananda, „Shakti Puja and Sri Ramakrishna‟, Prabuddha Bharata, vol. 115, no. 6, June 2010, p. 366;

For details, see P.C.Choudhary, Assam-Bengal Relation, op.cit., p. 243; P.C. Bagchi, „Evolution of Tantra, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol.iv, p. 223. 250 George Weston Briggs Gorakhnath and Kanphata Yogis, op.cit., p. 233. 251 S.B. Dasgupta, Obscure Religious Cult, op.cit., p. 198; B. Bhattacharya, „The

Tantrika Culture among the Buddhists‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol.iv, op.cit., p. 269. 252 P.C. Bagchi, „The Cult of the Buddhist Siddhacarya‟, The Cultural Heritahe of India, vol.iv, op.cit., pp. 282-383. 253 S.B. Dasgupta, Obscure Religious Cult, op.cit., p. 198; A. Barth, The Religions of India,

London 1882, as referred, G. W. Briggs, Gorakhnath and Kanphata Yogis, op.cit., p. 231. 254 Matsyendranath is considered as the propounder of the Kaula path. The followers of which are also called the Yogini Kaulas of Kamarupa. They worshipShakti alone and have adopted many practices of the Sahajiya school of tantra. Both the Yogini Kaulas and BuddhistSahajiya tantrics had the same goal: to transcend duality by concentrating the mind. Swami Ishatmananda, „Shakti Puja and Sri Ramakrishna; Prabuddha Bharata, vol. 115, no. 6, June 2010, p. 366.


Minantha introduced a new class of kaula that is known as Yoginikaula. 255 Kaula, derives from the word kula, that means sakti.256 The Yoginikaula school of Matsyendranath is syncretic of the character, which advocates the philosophy like Sahajiya school of Buddhism.257 In the Kaulajnananirnaya, it reveals

that there are something common in Yoginikaula and the Buddhist Tantras of Sahaja class.258 Similar to Buddhist sahajiya, the Yoginikaula disregards the traditional lore, discredits the outward purificatory rites, and denounces the attempt to attain salvation by the study of the Satras and by exoteric practices, such as sacrifices, fasting, bathing, visiting holy places etc.259 Thus, Yoginikaula is the fusion between Tantricism (containing the elements

of Saktism) and Buddhist mysticism. 260 Jayaratha in his commentary on the celebrated Tantraloka of Avinavagupta refers to the story of the origin of Kaulism. He mentions that Kaulajnana transmitted to Minnatha through Bhairava and his consort (Bhairabi) in the Mahapitha Kamarupa.261 The doctrine yoginikaula became popular in Kamarupa and the work Koulajnananirnaya was available in every household of

55T here are number of Tantras belonging to the principal Brahmanical sects namely, Saiva Tantras, Vaisnava Tantras and Sakti Tantra. SanmohaTantra is a complete Saktic character assimilated a very large number of cults of various origins regional tribal, sectarian, and established a well-developed and

complicated pantheon of goddess (all representing various asoects of Sakti). The SanmohaTanta mentioned three classes of Tantras or Sadhanas, Divya, Kaula and Vama. P.C.Bagchi. Evolution of Tantra, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol.iv, op.cit., pp. 219-223; B.K Baruah, A Cultural History of Assam, op.cit., p. 187. 256 Kula stands for Sakti and so, Kaula schools is Saktic in character. Kula is gross (sthula), subtle (suksma) and ulterior(Para), Senses

(Indriya) and the five gross physical elements (bhutadi) and in the sense of cause and effects.Jaidev Sing (ed) Abhinavagupta Para trisika – Vivarana , The secret of Tantric mysticism, Motilal Banarsidas, fifth edition, 1988, p. 31; P.C. Bagchi, „Evolution of Tantra‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol.iv, op.cit., p. 223. 257 The fundamental doctrine of the Sahaja class is the ideal state of Yogin is a state in which the minds enter the vacucty becomes free from duality and rejects the illusiory character of the world. The yogini kaula advocates the doctrine of Sahaja. It defines Sahaja almost in the terms of

the Buddhist mystics as a state in which the mind attains immobility becomes free from duality and illusion‟. P.C. Bagchi, „Evolution of Tantra‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol.iv, op.cit., p. 223. 258 P.C. Bagchi, Kaulajnananirnaya and Minor Texts of the School of Matsendranath‟ Introduction, p. 33. As reffered in P.C.Bagchi, „Evolution of Tantra‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol-iv, op.cit., p. 223. 259 Ibid. 260 B.K. Baruah, A Cultural

History of Assam, op.cit., pp. 187-188. 261 Bhairavya Bhairavat praptam yogam vyapya priya tatsakasattu Siddhena minakhyena varanane Kamarupe mahapithe Macchandena mahatmana‟ (Tantraloka, pp. 24, 25) as referred in B.K. Barua, A Cultural History of Assam, op.cit.,p.188; P.C. Choudhary, Assam-Bengal Relations, op.cit., p. 306; P.C. Choudhary, The History of the People of Assam to the Twelve-century A.D., op.cit., p. 426.


Kamarupa.262 This religious community converted to Brahmanical religion in Kamarupa that has come to be known as Nathas. Minnatha was also the symbol of assimilation between Saiva tantra and Buddha tantra. In the Savara tantra, Minnatha is included among the 24 Kapalika who flourished during the time of

Ratnapala of Kamarupa.263 According to one myth illustrated in Buddhist work throws the light about the amalgamation of the dogma between Sahajayana and Saivism as the upadesha (teachings) from Siva inherited by Minnatha while Siva was giving lesson to Parvati.264 According to the myth, one day, a fish swallowed Mina, the fisher of Kamarupa, when he was in deep contemplation. While he was inside the fish, overheard the upadesha (teachings) given by Siva

(Deveswara) to his wife Uma. He meditated over that upadesha and born later. He spent thirteen years in the belly of the fish, before that he had a son. Later, both father Mina and Matsyandra took initiation from Siddha Carpati. 265 Nathism was a conglomeration of Saivism, Buddhism and Saktism, with Saivism as the pre-dominating factor.266 The Natha cult seems to be synchronous with the Buddhist Sahajiya cult, though however, the origin of the cult may

be traced to much earlier date. It was essentially a Saiva Yogic School and developed most probably from the early Siddha cult of India.267 It is a crypto- Buddhist or an esoteric Buddhist cult, which later seceded from the Buddhist fold and transformed itself in to a Saivite cult.268


262 The language of the work Kaulajnananirnaya corresponds to the old Kamarupi dialect and the work is attributed to Minnatha. P.C. Bagchi (ed.), Koulajnananirnaya Calcutta, 1934; B.K. Baruah, A Cultural History of Assam (early period), op.cit., pp. 187-188; Rajmohan Nath, Background of Assamese Culture, op.cit., appendix, p. 6. 263 P.C. Choudhary, Assam-Bengal Relations, op.cit., p. 306. 264 G.W. Briggs, Gorakhnath and the Kanphatha Yogis, op.cit., p. 77. 265 Bhupendranath Datta, (tr.), Mystic Tales Lama Taranatha, op.cit., pp. 74-75. 266 For details, see D.Nath, „The Nathas of Assam: A

Historical Reconstruction‟, The Proceedings Of North East India History Association, Dibrugarrh, 2008, p. 109; R.M. Nath, „Lui-Pada and Matsendranatha‟, op.cit., p. 53; P.C. Bagchi, „Evolution of Tantras‟, The Cultural Heritage of India,vol-iv, op, cit., p. 223 267 S.B. Dasgupta, „Some later Yogic Cult, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol.iv, op.cit., p. 297. 268 Gorakhnatha, Matsyendra natha‟s disciple, who was regarded as renegade in Tibet, introduced a

new type of meditation and tried to give the religious sect a Brahamnical character. P.C. Choudhary, The History of the People of Assam to the Twelfth Century A.D., op.cit., p. 426; D. Nath,„The Nathas of Assam: A Historical Reconstruction, op.cit., p. 108; Benoytosh Bhattacarya, „Tantrika Culture among the Buddhist‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol.v, p. 269; S.B. Dasgupta, Obscure Religious cult, op.cit., p. 192.


The followers of Nathism regard Minnatha or Matsendranatha as the originator of Natha sect.269 The Nathas were originally nine in number and they are sometimes included in the list of eighty-four Buddhists Siddhas. Minanath, Goraksanath, Jalandhari and Cauranginath who are the most prominent among the Naths were all included in the list of the Buddhist Siddhacaryas.270 It has been said that the name Natha has come from a religious sect, which derived its

name from Gorakhnatha. 271 The original home of the is Natha cult is believed in north and north-east Bengal, from this region, it spread out to the other parts of the country sometime after twelfth or the thirteenth century.272 The development of Nathism is resulted by the reforms of Gorakhnatha that took place outside Assam. There is no evidence to show that existed in the society of Brahmaputra valley called Natha till the time of the British. The term

borrowed from Bengal where Gorakhnatha‟s religious cults has left a mark. 273 Yogi or Katani was the indigenous community who lived in valley of Brahmaputra. It was during the period of Pala rulers of Kamarupa, the Yogi community formed as a religious community of crypto-Buddhist faith.274 While in Bengal and other places, the Buddhist Sahajayana cult converted to Nathism, in Assam the Buddhist Sahajayana became directly Brahmanised or Vaisnavised

parallel.275 In Assam, the Yoginikaula sect converted to Brahmanical. Thus, the nature of the development of this sectarian Buddhism and the process of syncretism in the region is not similar than other parts of India. In course of time the after coming Natha, from other side of Assam, this sect assimilated with Nathas.276 The above discussion shows that when Mahayana had not developed into a fully independent institution, a section of the follower of Buddhism entered


269 P.C. Bagchi, „Evolution of Tantra,‟ The Cultural Heritage of India, vol.iv, op.cit., p. 223. 270 B. Bhattacharya, „The Tantrika Culture among the Buddhists‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol.iv, p. 269; S.B. Dasgupta, Obscure Religious cult, op.cit., p. 200. 271 D. Nath, „The Nathas of Assam: A Historical Reconstruction‟, op.cit., p. 108. 272 Sukumar Sen, „The Natha Cult‟, The Cultural Heritage of India, vol.iv, op.cit., p. 280. 273 D. Nath, „The Nathas of Assam: A Historical Reconstruction‟, op.cit., pp. 114-115. 274 Ibid., pp. 114-115. 275 Ibid., p. 110. 276 Ibid., pp. 110-117.


Assam.277 Initially, the propounders of Mahayana without having institutional support constructed the stupas as the beginning of their activities.278 Buddhists after coming to the region, involved with stupa worship or mantra practices, the practices that connect with meditation of Mahayana Buddhism. They performed their rites in the religious places such as Suryapahar and Nilachala the places, which already developed as the sacred place of the non-

Aryan or Alpine inhabitant. Buddhist of the region appropriated and adapted with the local cult and developed tantric practices. Early Kamarupa was surrounded by the areas where there is the evidence of the existence of both Thervada and Mahayana forms of Buddhism. In the records of Chinese travelers, the referenes to the popularity of Buddhism in Tamralipta and Karnasuvarna are found.279 The Buddhists of the area of Pundravardhana, which was included as

a part of early Assam, were follower of both Theravada and Mahayana schools.280 In Assam in the early period Buddhist Mahayana traits penetrated through western boundary 281While the Hinayana tradition came with the migration of the tribes such as Khamtis and Singphos from Burma.282 The esoteric practices of Buddhism were developed in early period with their association with its dominated indigenous practices, along with the importation of some ideas of Bon religion from Tibet. The Mahayana Buddhism most likely began as „an underground‟283 and in initial stage Mantrayana was performed secretly. That is why Hieun Tsang who visited Assam in 7th century stated regarding the prevalence of Buddhism in


277 Scholar opines that Mahayana form of Buddhism penetrated Assam from its western boundary in the early Chriatian era. Nishipad Dev Choudhary, „The Antiquity of Buddhism in Assam,‟ op.cit., p. 206. 278 Hajime Nakamura, Indian Buddhism, op.cit., p. 151. 279 Fahien who visited India in last decades of 4th century and stayed two years in Tamralipti found not less than twenty-two Buddhist Viharas and a large number of sculptures and paintings of Buddha

in Tamralipta alone. Thomas waters (tr.), On Yuan –Chwang‟s Travels in India, London, 1904-05 reprint 1973 New Delhi, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, pp. 185-192. 280 Shaman Hwui Li, Samuel Beal (ed.), The Life of Hiuen Tsang, London, 1884; 1st enlarged Indian edition 1973, Academia Asiatica, Delhi, p. 131. 281 Nishipad Dev Choudhary, „The Antiquity of Buddhism in Assam‟, op.cit., p. 206. 282 Ibid. 283 Akira Hirakawa, A History of Indian Buddhism, op.cit.,

Kamarupa in following words‟ The law of Buddha has not widely extended‟ and „whatever Buddhists there were in it ( Kamarupa), performed their acts of devotion secretly.‟284 Nevertheless, after hundreds years of secrecy, Kamarupa became a prominent center of Vajrayana. Gradually, all the branches of esoteric practices of Buddhism, such as Vajrayana, Sahajayana and Kalacakrayana tantricism were expressive in early Assam. All these sectarian tenets of

esoteric forms of Buddhism in Assam were running side by side with the Puranic form of Hinduism. Gradually, both the religious practices came nearer to each other.285 In course of time, these forms of Buddhism in Assam syncretised with three major branches of Hinduism, namely, Sakticism, Saivism and Vaisnavism. With the ascedency of neo-Brahmanical trends, these practices were blended with Hinduised practices. It has been said „Where

different ethnic and religious groups share the same cultural space over a long period of time they are obliged to learn the ways of mutual

accommodation.286 In Assam, there is mention no mention of any sectarian conflict rather evidence of peaceful assimilation of two religious faiths are there. Buddhist, deity Heruka was not portrayed either as a superior or inferior one. Heruka andVajravarahi, are not portrayed as trampling upon the

supine Hindu deities Bhairava and Kalaratri. Kalikapurana depicted Heruka was born from Siva and portrayed in the manner of a cemetery divinity. The assimilation between Vishnu and Buddhist tantricism is also reflected in the cult Haygriva that is worshipped at Hajo.287 Though at some places in


284 T Watters (ed.), T.W. Rhys Davids & S.W. Bushell (eds.), On Yuan Chwang‟s travels in India, Royal Asiatic Society, London, 1904, vol.II, p. 165. Samuel Beal, Si-yu-ki (trans.), Buddhist Records of the Western WorldLondon 1906, vol.ii, p. 195f. as referred in P.C. Choudhary, Assam Bengal Relations,

op.cit., p. 295. 285 Kunal Chakrabarti views, “in popular understanding Buddhist and Brahmanical icons came to perform the same function. Even in the realm of underlyingmetaphysical premises tantricism brought the Buddhist and brahmanical ways ofworshipclose. When both the religions began to receive

royal patronage irrespective of thepersonal faiths of the rulers it carried the universal message that the differences betweenthem, if any, were marginal and that both were entitled to be venerated in almost equal manner.‟‟ Kunal Chakrabarti, Religious process: Puranas and the Making of a Regional Tradition,

Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2001, p. 142. 286 D.P. Chattopadhaya, „In search of the Roots of Religion of Dharama‟, Irfan Habib (ed.), Religion in Indian History, Tulika Books , New Delhi, 2007, p. 11. 287 Boby Das, „Hayagriva in Assam: A Brief Study‟, op.cit., pp. 47-51.


Kalikapurana Buddhist Hayagriva is portrayed by the literate Brahmana as demon288 but in the sculptures the Vishnu and Buddha enjoy equal status. Nonetheless, this syncretism is a good example of cohesion and assimilation between Buddhism and Hinduism. Thus, we can say that there was no strong

political and institutional support extended to Buddhism in early Kamarupa. However, some ritualistic practices that developed in forms of Mantryana, Vajrayana, Sahajayana and Kalacakrayana appropriated with Hinduism that occupy an important place in the socio-religious life of Assam prior to the 13th century.




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