As is well known, the archaeological remains of Buddhism speak themselves of the glory of Buddhism in ancient times. L.M.Joshi has following to say:
“…Even if we judge only by his posthumous effects on the civilization of India, Sakyamuni Buddha was certainly the greatest man to have been born in India. Before becoming a major faith and civilization force in the world, Buddhism had been a mighty stream of thought and a tremendous fountain-head of human culture in its homeland. Ignorance or neglect of the available Buddhist literature is not the only shortcoming of the traditional approach. The fact that the knowledge of Indian archaeology if confined to a handful of scholars in another factor which has prevented most students from viewing Buddhist culture in its entirety.
Moritimer Wheeler observes that ‘archaeologically at least we cannot treat Buddhism merely as a heresy against a prevailing and fundamental Brahmanical orthodoxy.’ For in spite of the ravages of time and destruction by Indian and foreign fanatics, Buddhism is still speaking vividly and majestically through its thousand of inscriptions, about one thousand rockcut sanctuaries and monasteries, thousands of ruined stupas and monastic establishments, and an incalculable number of icons, sculptures, painting and emblems, that it prevailed universally among all the classes and masses of India for over fifteen centuries after the age of the Buddha, and that its ideas of compassion, peace, love, benevolence, rationalism, spiritualism and renunciation had formed the core of the superstructure of ancient Indian thought and culture.” [Joshi:1977:357]
This is the state of affairs, even if we consider only the Buddhist structure in their ruined condition. So many of the Buddhist monuments were, however, not allowed to degenerate to ruins. They were taken up for Brahmanical use. This happened in all areas of India. As far as Buddhist shrines in Andhra Pradesh, where Tirupati is situated, are concerned, it is an accepted fact that many shrines of Buddha in Andhra Pradesh, were converted for Brahmanical worship.
Andhra and Deccan
K.A.N. Sastri observed:
“…In the Andhra country also, where Buddhism had flourished in great strength in the early centuries of the Christian era, there came about a strong Hindu revival … Mathas grew up and were occupied by monks … and … many Buddhist shrines and viharas were turned to Hindu uses…” [Sastri:1966:434]
“…Its (Buddhism) decline in Andhradesa, where it had flourished in the early centuries A.D., was noticed by Yuan Chwang, and this decline proceeded further after his time. the renascent Hinduism of the period began the worship of the Buddha at Amaravati as an incarnation of Vishnu and into Hindu shrines…” [Sastri:1966:436]
Ter and Chezarala
“At Ter is Sholapur district and Chezarala in the Krishna district are found Buddhist chaitya halls built in bricks, perhaps in the fifth century A.D. and surviving to this day because they were appropriated to Brahmanical uses after the decline of Buddhism. We refer to the Trivikrama temple at Ter and the Kapoteshvara temple at Chezarala. These two small buildings, each not more than 30 feet long, are now the only means of judging the external appearance of the Buddhist structural temple as the rock-cut chaityas has no exteriors except their facades.” [Sastri:1966:448]
Mention may be made here, of other experts in Archaeology and Sculpture who agree with this finding of Sastri. Sri. K. R. Shreenivasan agrees:
“Fortunately there are two apsidal shrines of this period of original Buddhist dedication and subsequent conversion to the Hindu creed, still existing in their entirety. They are the Trivikrama temple at Ter, in Western Deccan, and Kapoteswara Temple at Chejerala, in coastal Andhra. Both are dated earlier than 600 A.D., but not earlier than 300 A.D. Of the two, the Kapoteswara may be the earlier one judged from the stylistic and architectural points of view.” [Sreenivasan:1971:24]
Regarding the Durga Temple at Aihole Sri. K.A.N. Sastri mentions that it was also a Buddhist Chaitya.
“Very different from Ladh Khan is the Durga temple which was another experiment seeking to adapt the Buddhist chaitya to a Brahmanical temple” [Sastri:1966:451]
It may be pointed out here that name of temple as Durga has nothing to do with the famous Brahmanical goddess Durga and it was never dedicated to Her.
Similar is the case of Anantasayangudi cave-temple, Sri K. R. Shreenivasan confirms that this was originally for a Buddhist dedication.
“…A similar rock-cut cave excavation, now called Anantasayangudi in Undavalli on the south bank of the Krishna, also belongs to this class. It is perhaps of the Vishnu-kundin times and was meant originally for a Buddhist dedication…” [Sreenivasan:1971:33]
“…The Anantasayangudi cave-temple at Undavalli is the largest of the group and is three-storied structure akin to the Ellora Buddhist Caves 11 and 12, the Do-tal and Tin-tal. It belongs to the seventh century if not earlier, and was perhaps intended originally for the Buddhist creed, but was adopted later for a Vishnu temple, the principal deity being a recumbent Vishnu or Anantasayin…” [Sreenivasan:1971:81]
About cave no. 15 of Ellora, it is accepted by all scholars that it is a case of reconditioning of Buddhist shrine for Brahmanical use.
“The Dasavatara, or cave no.15, is an odd example in as much as it is the only two-storied cave-temple or cave-complex of a very large size. It is apparently a case of reconditioning of what was all prepared and cut out for Buddhistic requirements. It would mark the earliest example of Rashtrakuta work at Ellora. Its front pavilion carries the inscription of Dantidurga (c. 752-56) and is an accomplished piece of contemporary rock architecture.” [Sreenivasan:1971:72]
About same fact Yazdani observes:
“… The revival of Brahmanic faith in the Deccan had begun during the rule of Chalukyas, who built rock-hewn shrines of that faith at Badami, the seat of their government; but they were tolerant to the followers of Buddhist religion and the shrines of the latter faith continued to the built under their regime. During the reign of Rashtrakutas, who ousted the Chalukyas from the greater part of their kingdom in the Deccan, an aggressive religious spirit seems to have prevailed, for they not only converted Buddhist viharas into the temples of their own faith, *fn.* but also built new shrines on such a grand scale as to eclipse in the eyes of their co-religionist the glory of Buddhist religion…” [Yazdani :1960 :731]
To chisel out Buddhist images was the method used
Yazdani further observes:
“Cave XV, called the Dasavatara, was originally a Buddhist vihara, and the images of Buddha, although chiseled off with care from many a niche, may still be noticed in some places. This cave has a long inscription of Dantidurga carved over its entrance.” [fn.]
As to how conversion of these shrines was effected Yazdani observes:
“…Dasavatara, which was originally a Buddhist shrine and was later converted into Brahmanic temple and adorned with both Shaivite and Vaishnavite bas-reliefs..” [Yazdani :1960 :754]
About other Buddhist shrines he has observed:
“In the sphere of religion Buddhism had lost ground more and more since the days of Huen Tsang, and the Buddha of Amararama (Amaravati) had in fact come to be worshiped as an incarnation of Vishnu; the other four aramas of Bhimapura, Dakaremi, Palakolanu, and Drakshrama are believed to have been once famous centres of Buddhism. But subsequently became Hindu Shrines…” [Yazdani :1960 :500]
Shaivas and Vaishnavas were together in this
Thus we find that to chisel out old Buddhist images and replacing them with newly carved Brahmanic images was popular method of converting Buddhist shrines into Brahmanic ones, and also we find that Vaishnavas and Saivas were together in this. For example, in Ellora cave XV we find, after the chiseling out Buddhist images, one wall occupied by Vaishnavas and other by Shaivas:
“…Sculptures on one side are mostly Vaishnava while those on the other are entirely Shaiva…” [Sastri:1966:543]
As a matter of fact there are innumerable cases, but it is not necessary to see more examples. The following will suffice as examples of Buddhist shrines taken over for Brahmanical use in days of decline of Buddhism.
“…Even today images of Buddha are worshiped as Siva or Vishnu in many places in Bengal…” [Majumdar R.C.: 1966: 402]
“…One of the centres founded by Samkara was located in Puri in Orissa. According to Swami Vivekananda, a leading modern teacher of Samkara’s school, ‘the temple of Jagannath is an old Buddhistic temple. We took this and others over and re-Hinduised them. We shall have to do many things like that yet.’ …” [Joshi L. M.: 1977: 351]
Name of Adi Samkara is associated with this temple. Dave observes:
“The tradition is that the temple of Badrinarayan was erected by Adi Shankaracharya in about 9the Century A.D. He secured the image which was lost, by diving deep in the Narada Kunda. …(he) founded here one of his four principal monasteries known as the Uttaramnaya Jyotirnath.” [Dave J.H.: 1970: 142]
Like other Buddhist centers taken over by Brahmins, here also, the caste restriction are not strict.:
“The Naivedya of Badari, if offered, can never be refused. There no untouchability before the Lord, no impurity in accepting the Lord’s Prasad from any one. … One refusing the Prasad with ignorance and a sense of superiority is worse than a chandala unfit for any religious duty. Even touched by the lowliest (chandala), it is never impure.” [Dave: 1970: 15. Chandala is the original word in Sanskrit quotation]
Dave describes this Murthi:
“…Inside the temple Lord Narayana is seated in Padmasana with two hands in yoga mudra. The image is of black saligram stone about three feet high…” [Dave: 1970:145]
L.M.Joshi avers that this Image is the image of Buddha.
“…Among other temples of the Buddhist, took over by the Hindus, mention may be made of the one at Badrinath in Garhwal in which even the original Buddha image is still in situ and worshiped as that of Vishnu…” [Joshi: 1977: 351, emphasis ours]
It is an accepted ancient Buddhist centre, where Buddhism flourished till about 9th century. It was such an important centre of Buddhism that the ancient school of Buddha images goes by its name.
“Mahakachhayana, one of the famous disciples of Buddha, actively preached Buddhism in Mathura. When Buddha visited the city, he noticed the abundance of women-folk. It is mentioned as the most famous place in Millinda Panha. Upagupta, the preceptor of Emperor Asoka whom he converted to Buddhism was the son of Gupta and a perfumer. The accepted view is that Upagupta was born in Mathura where he built a big Buddhist monastery which existed till the 7th century A.D. He converted many people of Mathura to Buddhism. Eighteen thousand pupils attained sainthood through Upagupta. The well-known courtesan Vasavadatta, who was ultimately converted to Buddhism was a resident of Mathura. Fa-Hein called Mathura the Peacock city. In his day Buddhism was flourishing here. Huen Tsang also visited it and found it 20 li in circuit. In his day there were five Deva temples, three stupas built by Asoka, twenty Buddhist monasteries and 2000 Buddhist priests.” [Dave: 1970: 88]
After the fall of Buddhism, Brahmins erected temples on Buddhist sites and established their supremacy.
“Bhutesvara Mahadeo’s Temple is the place where there was the stupa of Sariputta, one of the famous disciples of Buddha.
“The Kesav Deo Temple was built on the site of the great Buddhist monastery called Yasa Vihara.” [Dave: 1970: 90]
However, this temple was destroyed by Mohammed of Gazni in 1017 A.D.
That the parts of Siva-Linga at Ayodhya and Bansi are Buddhist Relics, is well known. I.K. Sarma observes:
“…We shall cite here a unique linga shrine near Buddhist Dhauli, the ancient Tosali, capital of Kalinga 11 Km. South of Bhuvaneswar. The unusually high Bhaskaresvara Linga, 2.75m. high and 3.70m. circumference at the bottom, on excavation, was found to be resting on a lateritic pedestal shaped into an agrhapitha. This pillar was recognized as an Asokan Pillar broken at the top. A monolithic Lion capital was recovered from a nearby trench. Several other relics (Bell capital, massive yaksa images) of Asokan vintage were found and now preserved in the State Museum Bhuvaneswar. This appears to be the case with the lotiform bell with Mauryan polish used as the base of Siva linga in the Nagesvaranatha temple at Ayodhya, Dist. Faizabad, U.P.; Lotiform capital and leg part of a lion in the Linga set up at Bansi, Dist. Basti, Eastern U.P. From these evidences we can infer that certain sacred Buddhist Sthalas were converted into Shaiva Ksetras after a general decline of Buddhism…” [Sarma I. K.: 1988: 10, emphasis ours]
On the authority of Journal of Mythic Society, p.151 and Eliot, Hinduism & Buddhism vol. II p.211, L.M.Joshi observes:
“Samkara is known to have founded his Sringeri matha on the site of a Buddhist monastery…” [Joshi: 1977: 314]
Bodhi Gaya Buddha temple at Buddha Gaya was in the custody of a Shaivite Mahanta and he used to extract money by applying gandha to forehead of the image of Buddha upto beginning of 20th century. Even today, in the managing committee of that temple, non Buddhist Hindus only dominate. [Lokhande: 1979: 120]
There is an ancient image of Buddha near Sarnath, which is famous by the name of “Siva – Sangheswara” (Siva – the Lord of Sangha). [Lokhande: 1979: 120]
A Buddha image is worshiped near Delhi in the name of “Buddho – mata” [Lokhande: 1979: 120]26
There are two beautiful images of Buddha near Nalanda. One is popular as Teliya Baba (one who is pleased by pouring oil on him) and the other as Dheliya Baba (one who is pleased by being beaten up by a lump of earth). [Lokhande: 1979: 120]
Coming back again home, i.e. near Tirupati, even the Mahanagaparvata (Guntepalli) was not spared in Andhara Pradesh. I.K.Sarma observes:
“…Mahanagaparvata regained its pristine position as a Buddhist centre from early first century and renovation works went on briskly, perhaps, after a temporary spell of aggrandizement by the Jains. Even some new Vihara caves were established (nos. 36, 3, 38 and 39). The later inscriptions listed here under not only indicate Mahayana- Vajrayana affiliation of the establishment but proclaim the continuance of Mahanagaparvata as a great Buddhist centre in the ancient Vengi country right upto 11the century A.D. … The place was finally usurped by the Saivites and the oldest circular Caitya cave was named as Dharamalingesvara and a Nandi was placed in its front. The place is venerated as a great living ksetra by the locals and on Sivaratri day, particularly the female folk, worship the Caitya as a bestower of fecundity. [Sarma: 1988: 85, emphasis ours]
Role of Puranas
It is noteworthy that Buddhist places were regularized as Hindu temples by writing Puranas. Role of Puranas is well recognized in re-establishing Brahmin supremacy, but it is not properly understood that one of the main aims of writing Puranas was to claim Buddhist places of worship. L.M.Joshi observes:
“…Not only the Buddhist holy places and shrines were occupied and transformed into Hindu Tirthas and devalayas and this occupation of non-Brahmanical places and sanctuaries were strengthened by invented myth or pseudo- history (purana), but the best elements of Buddhistic culture, including the Buddha, were appropriated and homologized in sacred books…” [Joshi: 1977: 338]