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Sundberg The wilderness monks of the Abhayagirivihara and the origins of Sino-Javanese esoteric Buddhism In: Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 160 (2004), no: 1, Leiden, 95-123
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JEFFREY ROGER SUNDBERG
The wilderness monks of the Abhayagirivihara and the origins of Sino-Javanese esoteric Buddhism
Introduction to the problem
Abandoned for a millennium,1 the smashed Siddhamatrka2 inscription commemorating the foundation of a Javanese branch of the famous Sinhalese monastery named Abhayagirivihara received mention in the earliest architectural exploration of the ruins of Javanese antiquity. First noticed in 1814, it was recovered bit by bit in the Dutch archaeological excavations of the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century. It surfaced briefly in an examination of the inscription of Kelurak by Bosch, and was then treated more fully by De Casparis in an incremental series of revelations of the text which he had managed to decipher.3 The published portions of the text, however, do not reflect the full extent of known fragments, and the inscription has not yet divulged all of its mysteries. This article is an effort to tease out one of them.
As a preface to this essay, I wish to offer a word of thanks to Professor Raghu Vira and his family, whose ambitious Sata-Pitaka Series is the source of a scholarly Indological feast and has helped to recover memories of a lost world. I am grateful to John Banks, the Reverend Mahinda Deegalle, Nobumi Iyanaga, Roy Jordaan, Lokesh Chandra, Mark Long, Iain Sinclair, David Snellgrove, and the two necessarily anonymous Bijdragen referees for advice and assistance with this article. 2 This script is sometimes referred to as prae-nagari, especially in the earlier Dutch archaeological literature. The proper term for this script is siddamatrka, as Bosch (1928:4) clarifies in his paleographic discussion of the script. 3 The readings published to date are to be found in Bosch 1928:63-4 (given that Bosch accomplished minor miracles with his painstaking work on the inscrutable Kelurak inscription, his work is a surprisingly sporadic transliteration of the comparatively highly legible four fragments then in the National Museum under the catalogue number D50, accompanied by a usable photograph of them), De Casparis 1950:11-22 (a rather complete, annotated reading of the five parts now in the National Museum under the number D50), De Casparis 1961 (providing a few
JEFFREY ROGER SUNDBERG, who graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and from the University of Southern California, is an electrical engineer. He is a specialist in VLSI design and high-speed signal integrity. His address is: 2601 W. Broadway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85745-1787, USA.
. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (BKI) 160-1 (2004):95-123
© 2004 Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde
Jeffrey Roger Sundberg
De Casparis in his capacity as head of epigraphy for the Netherlands Archaeological Service has provided the primary readings of the inscription, and his transcription has been published in three partial recensions. His 1961 article, based on fragments found during the 1954 excavation season on the Ratu Baka, gets to the heart of the matter of why this Sailendra inscription was issued: the inscription commemorates the founding of a branch of the Abhayagirivihara of the Sinhalese, documenting their existence on line 11 of the twelfth strophe with the words jinavaravinayoktaih Siksitanam ... <ya> tlnam abhayagirivihahrah karitah sinhalanam, translated by De Casparis (1961: 245) as 'This Abhayagirivihara here of the Sinhalese ascetics, trained in the sayings of discipline of the Best of the Jinas, was established'. De Casparis also helpfully determined that this inscription was written in AD 792. As I intend to substantiate, there is epigraphical, historiographical, as well as paleographical evidence to connect the Sinhalese, and particularly the 'wilderness' monks associated with the Abhayagirivihara, with the diffusion of the Yoga Tantras to recipient kingdoms and cultures in Java, China, and Japan. The evidence to be evaluated forms circular and interconnecting associations. It is difficult to determine where to begin, but as the focus of this article is Java, let us begin with the chronological end, with the discovery of the inscription on the Ratu Baka plateau.
Identification of the Abhayagirivihara on the Ratu Baka plateau
Both the location of the finding of the Abhayagirivihara inscription as well as the architectural details of a feature on the southeastern portion of the Ratu Baka plateau suggest that the buildings of the Abhayagirivihara are to be found there. The find-spot of the inscription is something of a mystery as the fragments of the inscription have been found piece by piece at various times, but the preponderance of the clear archaeological evidence suggests that its provenance is the area around the feature described as a 'pendopo' on the southeast of the plateau. For orientation see Figure 1.
fragmentary readings of the key finds from the then newly-found 1954 pieces) and De Casparis 1981:73-4 (a complete but slightly faulty transliteration and translation of the first three stanzas, the only complete stanzas allowed by the presently known fragments). The attentive student will note that some of De Casparis's published transliterations vary from recension to recension. Sarkar (1971:48i-48vii) has republished De Casparis's 1950-1961 transliterations, but has mislocated many of the newer De Casparis readings (his transcription is thus wrong in many details) and his translation should be treated with substantial wariness, especially the last ten lines of the inscription. Lokesh Chandra (1995:10-8) has provided a more cogent translation of the first three stanzas as given by De Casparis's 1981 transcriptions and added a substantial explication of the imagery. I intend to publish a more complete transcription and study on a later occasion.
The wilderness monks of the Abhayagirivihara
To the Dawangsari stupas
Figure 1. Raru Baka plateau. Adapted from Dumarc,ay (1993:185). We have a reference to the Abhayagirivihara inscription in the earliest archaeological description of Java, that of Crawfurd, Raffles's agent, thankfully rescued from dusty libraries and republished by Bernet-Kempers (1949: 177-93). When Crawfurd first ascended the Ratu Baka, the entire plateau was engulfed in thick vegetation which required clearing before even the roughest impressions of its nature could be obtained. After burning and destroying the grass and trees, Crawfurd found a terrace 68 feet square and four feet high. This terrace was surrounded at a distance of 14 feet by a wall 11 feet high. In this construction there were four doors,4 one on each side, facing the cardinal directions (Crawfurd had used a mariner's compass). Crawfurd notes:
This mention of four doors is seemingly an error on Crawfurd's part: the pendopo has
only three doors, to the north, the west, and the south. It is clear that he is discussing the pendopo, however; the description matches no other feature on the plateau, and the mention of the inscription accords rather well with the other of its documented discoveries.
Jeffrey Roger Sundberg
On top of the terrace in two situations, are seen some loose blocks of stone which appear to have constituted the elevated foundation of the sheds, which the Javanese I believe in imitation of the Hindus term Pendapa or Mandapa. Dr. Tytler who accompanied me in one of my last excursions to Prambanan, discovered in the largest of the two piles of stone on the terrace a fragment of a slab of stone on which was a Deva Nagari inscription, and a little way to the south of the building a mutilated stone figure which I imagine to represent Mahadewa destroying Tripurasura. (Bernet-Kempers 1949:185-6.) Although many more fragments, presently totalling ten, are now known to us than that seen by Crawfurd in the centre of the rubble-pile of the 'pendopo', his report is significant to us because, as we will shortly see, the earliest sighting of this Abhayagirivihara inscription places it directly in the centre of a building which has telltale architectural characteristics that associate it with some of the meditation monasteries outside the parent Abhayagirivihara monastery located in Anuradhapura in north-central Sri Lanka. However, before we attribute the Abhayagirivihara inscription to this particular building on the basis of Crawfurd's description, we should keep in mind that others of the fragments were found outside the formal walls of the pendopo, in two instances rather far away from it if the archaeological reports are to be trusted. While two fragments, those denoted by Bosch as fragments 'a' and 'b', 5 were found in 1886 by IJzerman near the ring wall of the so-called 'palace',6 two more fragments were found sometime before 1915 by Rothe, who discovered them 'close to the restoration of the gate-building' (De Casparis, 1950:11). There was a fifth, spearhead-shaped fragment, designated 'e', which was known to De Casparis in 1950 but not to Bosch in 1928, and this latter piece is likely to have been one of the wartime's poorly catalogued finds. However, the origins of the 1954 fragments, the first to receive proper professional archaeological documentation, show clearly that the newer, Yogyakarta fragments were unearthed not very many metres at all from the southeast corner of the pendopo. Thus on balance we can feel
The inscription is at present divided into two parts. The five parts that had surfaced before Indonesian independence are now in the storeroom of the National Museum. Bosch's photograph depicts four of these which he labels 'a' to 'd', while the fifth fragment, 'e', was read by De Casparis and documented in his 1950 book. The 1954 excavation season turned up five more fragments, which are now in the building of the Suaka Peninggalan Sejarah dan Purbakala of the Special District of Yogyakarta, Bogem. I thus refer to 'Museum' and 'Yogyakarta' portions of the inscription. Portions of these new fragments are presented by De Casparis in his 1961 and 1981: 73-4 publications. Although approximately the lower middle sixth of the inscription presumably still remains to be found on the Ratu Baka plateau, it would be desirable if the Museum and Yogyakarta fragments could be reunited under the conservancy of the National Museum and a prominent place arranged for public display. 6 IJzerman's 1886 findings were likely uncovered in the same position, just outside the eastern side of the ring wall, as the 1954 findings.
The wilderness monks of the Abhayagirivihara confident in saying that this inscription was associated with the pendopo as illustrated in the map. This pendopo is somewhat remarkable in shape and layout. Two platforms, one square and one rectangular, are raised about 1.4 metres high and joined together by a narrow walkway about 2.5 metres long and 2 metres wide. The walkway has stairwells on the east and the west sides that lead to the stone-paved courtyard. Three more stairways provide access to the platform. The entire pendopo is surrounded at a distance by a tall wall which is pierced in the middle of three sides, north, west, and south, with doorways that once contained double-hinged wooden doors. The eastern wall was left intact and was not pierced with a door. The architecture is wholly devoid of decoration with the exception of a series of small cornices which were perched at regular intervals along the top of the surrounding wall. This pendopo itself bears clues to its function as the centrepiece of the Abhayagiri monastery erected to house the Sinhalese monks and serves to confirm the fact that the inscription both derives from the pendopo and concerns the pendopo, for this pendopo uncannily resembles the distinctive layout of the 'meditation monasteries' on the western outskirts of the Abhayagirivihara in Anuradhapura.7 These monasteries have been extensively documented and analysed by Wijesuriya (1998) and the present discussion of these.ruins derives largely from his work. Let me attempt to correlate the physical features of the Sri Lankan monasteries with those of the Javanese pendopo. First, this style of monastery is distinctively characterized by the double platform. Wijesuriya (1998:4) notes that 'the main feature is a building which has two raised stone platforms, linked to each other and surrounded by a boundary wall. There is ample evidence to show that one of the platforms once carried a superstructure, while the other had been an open, raised terrace. There are also other constructions such as baths, urinals, and meditative walkways, including footpaths and man-made ponds. No buildings suitable for lay worship have yet been discerned. The monastery was almost invariably placed on a rocky outcrop and often placed in proximity to caves (Wijesuriya 1998:31). Concerning the 'double platform', Wijesuriya (1998:20) notes that there are two side-steps on the bridge which connects them, and that the entire affair, other than occasional mouldings and in one instance a urinal which was elaborately carved to represent a palace, was devoid of ornamentation. Finally, a note on their orientation: Wijesuriya (1998:60) observes that all the buildings were situated along the cardinal directions, with sixteen of the seventeen instances of the 'double platform'
7 The credit for first observing the correlation between Javanese and Lankan pendopos is due to the prominent archaeologist Deraniyagala, now director of the Archaeological Survey of Sri Lanka (see Miksic 1993).
Jeffrey Roger Sundberg
around the Abhayagirivihara being built along the east-west axis, while one was built along the north-south axis. If we now compare the general features of the Javanese pendopo with those of the Sinhalese 'double platform' monasteries, we find they rather closely accord: plain, cardinally oriented double platforms, one square and one rectangular, accessed by stairs on either side of a connecting walkway, the whole surrounded by a wall, provided with footpaths and man-made ponds, and positioned on a rocky prominence in proximity to small caves. The discrepancies include the fact that in the Javanese instance there are a regular series of sockets for roof-bearing pillars in both platforms whereas this feature only obtains on one side of the Lankan platforms, and both the Javanese platforms have access stairs whereas only the rectangular Lankan platform possesses such a feature. The Javanese building has some slight decorative elaboration on the exterior drainage spout of the outer wall. Furthermore, the Javanese instance lies along a north-south axis whereas the Lankan ones, with one exception, are generally built along an east-west axis. Finally, the Lankan monasteries open to the north, east, and south, while the Javanese pendopo is closed to the east but opens to the north, west, and south; this westward orientation seems particular to the Ratu Baka as a whole and may have something to do with a purpose as a funerary ground.8 Now we turn to the purpose of these remote 'double platform' monasteries. Wijesuriya's analysis shows that they are tapovana, or 'ascetic forest' monasteries which provided monsoon-season shelter from the elements and from wild beasts. According to Sinhalese chronicles, these were inhabited by monks known as arannaka for their forest-dwelling habits or pamsukulika because of their vow to wear only rag-robes, the more extreme of these ascetics taking their rags from cremation grounds. Their ascetic activities were most prominently supported by King Sena I, who built the Mount Arittha (modern Ritigala) monastery for them, endowing it with royal privileges and great numbers of servants, gardeners, and craftsmen. In the case of the Javanese Abhayagirivihara, we have seen strong evidence that at least one building, that of the pendopo near which the inscription was found, has a strong architectural connection to a similar structure on the fringes of the Abhayagirivihara in Lanka. May we then import into Java Wijesuriya's attendant concepts of the purpose of these monasteries as summer shelters for ascetic forest-dwelling monks? To me, it seems unlikely that the Sailendra king would benefit from procuring monks of this variety: why cast across the Indian Ocean to find an ascetic rag-garbed monk when you could more or less compel the existence of such a type from local Javanese stock, and what direct ritual or pedagogical benefit could such foreign monks
For a preliminary discussion of this possibility, see Sundberg 2003.
The wilderness monks of the Abhayagirivihara render to the Sailendra king? This is, after all, a stratum of Buddhist monastic experience that is unlikely to travel well: it does not require a preceptor from the opposite side of the Indian Ocean to teach an ascetic monk to lead a rough life. If the world is likely to esteem the ascetic highly, the ascetic is unlikely to pay attention to the world at all; so, seen from the opposite point of view, what blandishments could you offer to a Lankan monk to come and conduct his austere life in proximity to the court of a different king? A wilder jungle than the one in which he already lives? Even more ragged rags to wear? Furthermore, nothing about the terrain suggests that it should be considered as even slightly uncultivated: the Ratu Baka plateau was an immense civil engineering project involving clearing, quarrying, excavating, and filling up the natural hill and refashioning it as a flat, manicured, terraced, and walkwayed plateau.9 As such, it is almost impossible to conceive of the area as 'wild'. If it was difficult to access from the south and east because of the steepness of the bluff, from the northwest easy and flat access could be gained to the 'wilderness' monastery via the paved paths, stairs, and walkways across the terrace. In short, both the tapas and the vana were likely missing from the Javanese tapovana-type monastery. Finally, the existence of these 'rag-wearing monks' seems to be formally associated with a Sinhalese king, Sena I (reigned circa 833-85310), of seemingly slightly later date than the 792 Abhayagirivihara inscription, although it is difficult to conceive a different role for this type of distinctive architecture, limited as it is to the wilderness periphery of the Anuradhapura Abhayagirivihara. In anticipation of developments to follow later in this article, allow me to point out that both tantrists and ascetics received direct royal patronage from the Sena I. Gunawardana (1979:249) points out evidence that the Sinhalese chronicles record that Sena I fell under the malign teachings of an Indian teacher of the false Vajiriyavada doctrines. In casting about for a more suitable explanation of exactly what kind of monastery was established on the Ratu Baka and what kind of monks were administering it, we should note several archaeological aspects of the ground around the pendopo and the Ratu Baka plateau which may have some bearing on determining the function and the extent of the Abhayagirivihara
My rough calculation suggests that something like a minimum of 25,000 cubic metres, possibly much more, of limestone material was cut out and moved to fashion the Ratu Baka plateau into the topographic form it assumes today. 10 Wijesuriya (1998) provides two different dates for this king, citing on p. 23 regnal dates of 833-853, and on p. 36 a date of 846-866. Gunawardana (1979:8) seems to favour the date of 833853 for Sena I. The regnal years of the Sinhalese kings have not been reconstructed with absolute certainty, being based upon concatenations of regnal lengths of a succession of kings rather than fixed with respect to dates on a well-described calendar. The poor concordance with the royal names recorded in the Chinese chronicles suggests that there is much room for revision.
Jeffrey Roger Sundberg
monastery there. First, while the Anuradhapura tapovana monasteries were devoid of any opportunity for the laity to worship and therefore contained no stupas, the Javanese instance has one rather close at hand, the round ruins of a small stupa having been uncovered not very far to the north of the pendopo, between the pendopo and the small caves carved into the rock side there. That said, other considerations could be raised to suggest that the instance of the Abhayagirivihara on the Ratu Baka occupied more extensive grounds than just the tapovana-like pendopo. We might on the basis of the Anuradhapura 'Western Monasteries' analogy attribute the centre of Buddhist lay cultic practice to the pair of substantial stupas near Dawangsari on the bluff to the east. Having personally thrice walked a route from the stupas to the pendopo, I can assure the reader that the monastery is indeed remote, and from a position at the Dawangsari stupas the pendopo is visibly placed on an isolated rocky outcrop. I would greatly welcome an archaeological investigation of the area immediately around these stupas, for if we accept the proposal that these Dawangsari stupas are the Javanese analogy to the Abhayagiri stupa, then it makes sense to seek the main buildings of a more conventional vihara in the immediate environs of these stupas. If we do not accept that the Javanese Abhayagirivihara comprised more extensive monastic grounds than the rather small pendopo, then we might consider the pendopo, built with Sri Lankan architectural considerations in mind, to serve as a paramount symbol and token of the parent monastery. In support of this I note that even a relatively small monastery like Ritigala has about 16 of these double-platform meditation monasteries (see the map in Wijesuriya 1998:62), which leads us to suspect that the number of Sinhalese monks housed or centred upon the Ratu Baka pendopo could not be great, possibly comprising as few as 6-8 souls,11 perhaps a single master and his disciples. In sum, the clues provided in the Abhayagirivihara inscription about the presence of the Sinhalese monks are indeed borne out by telltale architectural evidence which conceptually links the Javanese construction of the Ratu Baka pendopo, and possibly a much more extensive area as well, with the remains of the Anuradhapura monasteries. The evidentiary grounds for centring the 'Abhayagirivihara of the Sinhalese ascetics' there in the southwest corner of the Ratu Baka plateau are about as strong as anything that we can say about Central Javanese antiquity.12
11 My preliminary reading of the inscription suggests that there is no information about the precise numbers of monks at the vihara. Of course, one-sixth of the inscription remains to be found. 12 One consequence of our fairly firm identification of at least one building of the Abhayagirivihara requires a reposting of at least one sign in the Ratu Baka park. The series of pools on the lower terrace to the east of the Abhayagirivihara pendopo are presently termed the kaputren or '[bathing] place of the princesses' in the guideposts of the archaeological park,
The wilderness monks of the Abhayagirivihara
The importance of Lanka and the Abhayagirivihara to the Sino-Japanese esoteric tradition
This section will focus on the meaning and significance of Lanka, and specifically the esoteric forest-dwelling monks of the Abhayagirivihara, to two patriarchs in the Chinese esoteric Buddhist tradition. These two patriarchs, Vajrabodhi and his disciple Amoghavajra,13 were Indians in the service of the T'ang emperor and together stimulated the cultivation of the practices and rites of the Yoga Tantras in the imperial Chinese court, starting a lineage or tradition of teachings which by 805 had spread to Japan and Java. As we shall see, Lanka figures so integrally into these monks' ideological history that at least one biography of Amoghavajra says that he did indeed come from Lanka. Before commencing their biographies, let us briefly assess exactly how influential these two patriarchs were. Building upon the groundwork of Subhakarasimha and his adherence to the doctrines of the Caryatantric Mahavairocana-sutra, the master-disciple team of Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra ministered to three T'ang emperors and founded the rituals of their preferred text, the Yoga-tantric Sarva Tathagata Tattva Sangraha (hereafter abbreviated as STTS). Beyond their ministrations to Chinese emperors, royalty, generals, and politicians, they translated copious numbers of tantric texts and established in China the Vajrayana School, which persists to this day as the Japanese Shingon sect. The cumulative effects on the culture and polity of the mid-T'ang years are incalculable, and memories of their benevolent activity lasted for centuries. The two patriarchs are' the subjects of multiple biographies, including some done by disciples. The standard biographies were composed almost 150 years after Amoghavajra's death in 774, written on Sung imperial order by Tsan-ning in his Sung-kao-seng chuan, which collated and compared all of the documents, inscriptions, biographies, and stelae available. Tsan-ning's biography drew heavily upon the work of two of Amoghavajra's disciples, Chao Ch'ien's Hsing-chuang and Fei-hsi's Pei-ming, but ignored several other available sources including some biographies by direct disciples of Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra. These various biographies differ among themselves in details and are not mutually consistent in their presentation of facts, including such fundamental facts as where these two tantric masters were
a designation that accords with both local popular legend and some archaeologists' belief that the Ratu Baka constituted a giant palace for the Javanese kings. This attribution of the kaputren is almost certainly false; no bathing princesses were likely allowed anywhere near the ascetic Buddhist monks of the vihara, tantrists or not. 13 Amoghavajra is rather frequently referred to by his Chinese name Bukong jingang.
Jejfrey Roger Sundberg
born and where they met. As some biographies have Amoghavajra being born in Lanka and others have him meeting Vajrabodhi in Java, an examination and evaluation of the details of these biographies will greatly concern my present thesis. Set out below is an extract from Tsan-ning's biography of Amoghavajra (Taaisho shinshu daizokyo (hereafter abbreviated as T) 50 #2061 712b26-cl3) as translated by Chou (1945:290-2). The scene is set after the death in 741 of Vajrabodhi, who had urged Amoghavajra to go to India and Lanka to collect the needed tantric texts, especially the all-important STTS which up until then had been lacking in Chinese libraries: When he [Amoghavajra] arrived in Ceylon, the king sent a deputy to welcome him. The guardsmen on foot and on horse were stationed in ranks along the street when he entered the city. The king, having made obeisance at his feet, invited him to stay in the palace to be entertained for seven days. The king himself bathed Amoghavajra daily, using a golden barrel of fragrant waters. The crown prince, the queens, and the ministers acted similarly. When Amoghavajra first met the acarya Samantabhadra, he presented gold, jewellery, brocade, and embroideries and requested the Master to expound for him the doctrine of Yoga in the Chin-kang-ting ching of eighteen chapters and the method of erecting an altar in accordance with the Mahakarunagarbhadhatumandala in the Vairocanasutra. He also permitted Han-kuang, Hui-pien and other disciples to receive the abhiseka of Five Divisions [referring to the tantric coronation ritual of the Five Divisions of the STTS] together. Amoghavajra, after that, had no regular teacher for his studies. He sought everywhere for the scriptures of the Esoteric Sect and obtained more than 500 sutras and commentaries. There was nothing that he did not go into thoroughly as, for example, the samaya, the various deities' secret mudras, forms, colours, arrangements of altars, banners, and the literal and intrinsic meanings of the texts. [paragraph omitted on Amoghavajra's magical ability to pacify mad elephants] Then Amoghavajra visited India, where he caused auspicious omens many times. In 746, he returned to the capital [Chang'an] and presented a letter from King Silamegha of Lanka, with ornaments of gold and jewels, the Sanskrit text of Prajna-paramitasutra, miscellaneous pearls, and white cotton cloths. The emperor ordered him to stay temporarily in the office of the Court of State Ceremonial. Later he was summoned to the palace to erect an altar for the Emperor's abhiseka ceremony. Then he moved to the Ching-ying Temple. Note how very much we learn, in our quest for data about the influence of Sri Lanka upon Siniatic tantrism, from this passage from Amoghavajra's official biography. First, Amoghavajra's visit to India is brushed off in a sentence, while his experience in Lanka is presented in rich and substantial detail. In fact, the very first stop on his text-gathering itinerary was Lanka, and after his fulfilling experience and rewards there, he had little to gain from a continuation of the journey. Amoghavajra found it all in Lanka: all the texts, over 500 of them, which he required but could not obtain in China; and the
The wilderness monks of the Abhayagirivihara experienced teacher of the tantras who consecrated both Amoghavajra and his disciples in the esoteric rites. After that, India really didn't matter and the description of the entire subcontinent is passed off in one sentence. No mention is made of texts gathered, sights seen, teachers found, researches conducted, or miracles performed, despite this journey being Amoghavajra's first trip back to both his own birth-land and the birth-land of the Buddha. His great spiritual breakthrough in Lanka is confirmed by the fact that he returned accompanied by an embassy from the Sri Lankan king, an event that is independently documented in the T'ang diplomatic annals. The exclusive importance of Lanka is confirmed by Amoghavajra's second departure to Lanka in 750, a trip ostensibly cut short by an illness (Weinstein 1987:57). Second, it is significant that Amoghavajra took the tantric consecration in Lanka. This second consecration (Amoghavajra's first consecration into the mysteries of the Yoga Tantras was given in China by his preceptor Vajrabodhi) was the capstone, the non plus ultra, of his religious education and training. To me, it is interesting that Amoghavajra required, requested, and accepted another consecration lineage aside from that offered by Vajrabodhi, his dead primary preceptor, mulacarya and noted patriarch of the Chinese Esoteric School. Third and finally, this new Lankan empowerment seems to have given him a renewed impetus, and upon his return he performed a tantric consecration upon Emperor Hsiian-tsung of China, whom Amoghavajra had given a tantric consecration shortly before setting off on his Lankan pilgrimage. This shows the remarkable reach of the Sinhalese tantric master Samantabhadra: within four years of Amoghavajra requesting instruction in the esoteric teachings, this Sinhalese consecration lineage touched one of the most powerful men in the medieval world, providing the Chinese emperor with another tantric initiation which perhaps superseded the one done under the lineage of Vajrabodhi only. Let us read a little more deeply, examining some of the implications of what is said and what remains unsaid in the extant historical record. In the biographies we get the sense that to the Indian tantric masters there was something special about Lanka, something that we find as early as the tantric missionary monk Punyodara, who arrived in China in 655 (Levi 1935:83). In his wanderings around the Buddhist world before setting out for China, Vajrabodhi, writes his disciple Lii-hsiang (T 55 875bl4), was first invited to South India by the local king to pray for rain, after which AvalokitesVara appeared to Vajrabodhi and ordered him to pay homage to the Buddha's tooth relic in Lanka and to climb 'Mount Lanka' to worship the Buddha's footprint. Vajrabodhi was also ordered by AvalokitesVara to go to China to deliver the people there and to worship ManjuSri (Chou 1945:315). Vajrabodhi went to Lanka, and, after an obscure hiatus of some three years during which he was somehow detained in Southeast Asia, possibly in Sri Vijaya or Java,
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finally arrived in China - but without his copy of the full STTS, which legend says he lost in a terrible storm at sea, retaining only the abridged version of the STTS.14 Vajrabodhi established his reputation in China as a tantric master despite his lack of access to the major texts of his discipline, and late in his life instructed his favoured disciple Amoghavajra to journey back to India and Lanka to find them. Amoghavajra knew where he had to go to obtain the tantric texts he needed to fill his library and fulfil his education: Lanka and South India. Although Amoghavajra seems himself to have been of Kashmiri or central Indian origin and tutored in China by Vajrabodhi, the South Indian Brahmin preceptor who himself had studied for many years at the northern monastic university of Nalanda in modern Bihar, we find that Amoghavajra forwent the opportunity to set out toward the famous Nalanda, instead making a direct line to Lanka. He likely did so, I will claim, either because the STTS originated in Lanka or because Vajrabodhi told him that a little effort in Lanka would turn up a copy of it. Amoghavajra's teachings, at least up until 746, were conducted entirely without full access to the STTS, the major text of his lineage faith. He must up until then have had to improvise all of his teachings and doctrines as he went, and the acquisition of complete and authentic texts in Lanka, sealed with a consecration by Samantabhadra, may have been the reason for their sudden, seemingly eager, acceptance by the Emperor Sutsung, itself a rather substantial indicator that the roots of the STTS tradition lay in Lanka. However, there is some hint from Amoghavajra that the text of the STTS would not be forthcoming from the Indians. In his prolegomenon
to his Instructions on the gate to the teaching of the secret heart of great yoga of the
scripture of the diamond tip, (T 39 #1798 808al9-24), written before his successful Lankan journey, Amoghavajra wrote the following about the STTS, which
In his tale of the Iron Stupa, Amoghavajra quotes Vajrabodhi's telling of the tale (see Orzech 1995:317 from which this translation of T 39 #1798 808bl6-28 is directly excerpted): 'I set forth from the western country [India] to cross the southern ocean in a fleet of more than thirty great ships [...] we ran into a typhoon [...] At that time I always kept the two scriptures [that is, the full and abridged versions of the STTS] I was bringing nearby so that I could receive and keep them and do the offerings. Now, when the captain saw that the ship was about to sink, everything on board was cast into the ocean, and in a moment of fright the one-hundred-thousand-verse text was flung into the ocean, and only the superficial text was saved. At that time I aroused my mind in meditation, doing the technique for eliminating disasters, and the typhoon abated, and for perhaps more than a quarter mile around, the ship wind and water did not move. All on board took refuge in me, and bit by bit we got to this shore and arrived in this country. In the seventh year of the reign period Opened Prime (CE 721) [I] arrived in the Western Capital (Changan) and the Chan master Yising sought consecration from me. When it became known that [I had] this extraordinary Gate of the Teaching, [he] commanded ISvara to help translate it into Chinese. Yising and the others, as it turns out, personally transcribed it. First [we] relied upon the order of the Sanskrit text and then [we] discussed its meaning so as not to lose words. [Yet] its meaning has not yet been [fully] explained.'
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he terms the Scripture of One-Hundred-Thousand-Verses and of which he had access only to Vajrabodhi's very abridged version (Orzech 1995:315): 'This scripture [which] has one hundred thousand verses in its expansive text, is unknown in this land [China].[...] Now, as for this abridged yoga, those in the Western Land [India] who obtain consecration expound it and confer it on one another. But when it comes to the expanded text, they still do not transmit it.' In the allusion of the last sentence we may have come to the painful heart of the matter: it may have been that Amoghavajra could obtain from a Lankan lineage a text for which Vajrabodhi was unqualified and failed to obtain from an Indian one, hence the insistence with which Amoghavajra was urged to go to Lanka.15
15 I will leave it to the reader to judge the plausibility of this hypothesis as definitive evidence is lacking. Note, however, that there is significant evidence suggesting peculiarity about the stories of Vajrabodhi's loss of the full text of the STTS. According to the noted Tibetanist David Snellgrove, who as editor of an ancient palm-leaf version of the STTS is one of the few individuals in the world today who has seen and handled a copy of the STTS in the way that it would be known to the Indian masters, the palm-leaf manuscript of the STTS might weigh half a kilogram at most (personal communication with David Snellgrove). The weight of this manuscript, even with a protective wooden box, is not enough to be a significant factor in weighing down a foundering ship. Furthermore, Vajrabodhi seems to have had the presence of mind to preserve the shorter, abridged version of the STTS - but certainly if he could clutch only one of his manuscripts under his arm to save it, he would choose the complete one rather than the abridged one. Indeed, why was he travelling with two manuscripts, the second merely an abridgement of the first? It would be like going on vacation with a novel and the Reader's Digest version of that same novel. Let us add to the mystery by noting that Amoghavajra presents the story of the loss of the manuscript by quoting Vajrabodhi in the third person, as though Amoghavajra were not there (Orzech 1995:317). Yet by Chou's chronological reckoning (1945:321), Amoghavajra must have met Vajrabodhi in 717 or 718, possibly in Java, but certainly before their 719 arrival in China. If we accept as a resolution that this story of the jettisoned texts is a device, a fiction every bit as false as the story of the Iron Stupa, obscuring the embarrassing fact that Vajrabodhi never actually obtained them, then we have some fairly plausible explanation for the strangeness of the story and the necessity for Amoghavajra to make another trip. Perhaps the lie was necessary to preserve a sense of authority, to avoid the awkward truth that the master did not in fact ever qualify to possess the texts which were essential to his esoteric teachings. Thus it is significant that Amoghavajra took a second consecration, significant that Vajrabodhi told him to go to Lanka and South India, and significant that no preceptor for Vajrabodhi's initiation into the mystery rites of the STTS is recorded. If we examine the circumstances of their respective encounters with the Buddhist textholding world, it becomes clear how it was possible for Amoghavajra to succeed in obtaining a text of the STTS while Vajrabodhi failed. Picking pertinent facts out of their biographies, it is instructive to note that Vajrabodhi seems to have been a rather weak and certainly itinerant presence in the Buddhist tantric world of India and Lanka. Vajrabodhi operated as an individual for whom the standard biographies provide no named patron-teacher, while Amoghavajra's masters Vajrabodhi and Samantabhadra are explicitly named. Vajrabodhi wandered alone without any patron, much less a royal one, and did his wandering at the erratic behest of AvalokiteSvara, who appeared to him in visions and guided him to Lanka, Southeast Asia, and ultimately China. He may have stayed on in Lanka long enough - the biography says six months - to gain some understanding of what kind of tantric systems they were experimenting with, but it is unlikely that he would have had the amanuensis staff necessary for a large-scale transfer of the tantric
Jeffrey Roger Sundberg
Whether or not we accept the offered hypotheses concerning Amoghavajra's reason for choosing Lanka, certain details in their biographies concretely suggest that the Abhayagirivihara was understood to be the place from which these teachings came. For example, in Amoghavajra's disciple Lii-hsiang's biography of his master (T 55 881bl), Amoghavajra is stated to have stayed in the Temple of Buddha's Tooth (Chou 1945:290, note 33). During the medieval period, the Tooth Relic and the Begging Bowl were, famously, in the possession of the Abhayagirivihara (Gunawardana 1979:16) to the point that it seems clear that Amoghavajra received his final tantric consecration into the mysteries of the STTS under the directorship of Samantabhadra there at the Lankan Abhayagirivihara. This is expected: where else among the three main Sinhalese nikaya would you find tantric masters if not among the monks at the famously heterodox Abhayagirivihara? Further references to the preceptor monk Samantabhadra have deep bearing on our efforts to discover the significance of the remains of a tapovana monastery on the Ratu Baka plateau, for traditions hold that Vajrabodhi's alleged tantric master Nagabodhi went to Lanka and preached esoteric doctrines among the ascetic monks of the Secret Forest School (guhavaneyah vasinah) at the Abhayagirivihara.16 As Nagabodhi is held by the Shingon
texts. Furthermore, the Abhayagirivihara housed 5,000 monks when Fa-hien visited it the century before, and Vajrabodhi would be but one transitory, migrant soul, lacking a prominent lineage, in a field of thousands of monks, leading us to wonder how far he could have penetrated into the system, especially given the importance to the tantric tradition of very strong masterstudent relationships. He then floated, seemingly in Southeast Asia, for three years before finally striking out for China. Amoghavajra, by contrast, was exceedingly well prepared to succeed in obtaining the most prized editions of the tantric texts. He had as a political patron the emperor of China, went straight to Lanka and the Abhayagirivihara accompanied by 21 monks and Tang diplomatic credentials, and spent five years in Lanka copying texts - in fact, the Sinhalese king also assisted in the production of at least one worthy sutra for diplomatic presentation to the emperor by his ambassador. There is little reason to be astounded that Amoghavajra succeeded in obtaining the STTS where Vajrabodhi failed. It should be said that the monk Kukai, the famous Japanese disciple of Huiguo, holds in his Record of the Dharma transmission that Vajrabodhi did have an explicitly named preceptor in the person of Nagabodhi, a monk who was over 900 years old but with the face of a thirty-year-old. Nagabodhi is claimed to have been a disciple of Nagarjuna, also centuries old, allegedly a confidante of the Four Guardian Kings of the Universe, frequent guest at the submarine palace of the Naga king, and rescuer of the texts of the Yoga Tantra from the Iron Stupa, where he received his personal consecration from the Mahasattva Vajrasattva (Abe 1999:198, 221-2). The reader may judge the plausibility of the higher-level characters claimed by Kukai as his Dharma lineage. To me, it is interesting that these accounts peter out into the unbelievably supernatural at precisely the point where the historical biographies lose the lineage: the elusive master of Vajrabodhi. 16 Coquet (1986:84) provides more detail on the monks of this Secret Forest School. These ascetics studied the Small and Large Vehicles as well as the Triyana, the three stages leading to the Yoga Tantras. They called themselves disciples of Kasyapa, the disciple who received the esoteric doctrines from the Buddha. Despite the number of tantric masters this Secret Forest School
The wilderness monks of the Abhayagirivihara school to be identical to Amoghavajra's teacher Samantabhadra as well as Subhakarasimha's tantric preceptor Dharmagupta of Nalanda (Coquet 1986: 84, 87), it is likely that Nagabodhi's biographies incorporated authentic details of Lankan existence taken from the life of Samantabhadra. Here in Nagabodhi's biography we certainly have an independent reference to the tantric expertise of the ascetic wilderness meditation monasteries that have been identified at the Abhayagirivihara on the Ratu Baka and to the west of the Anuradhapura. The association between the tantric master Vajrabodhi and the Lankan Abhayagirivihara is even more explicit than that of Amoghavajra: Lii-hsiang (T 55 875b28-c2) says that in Lanka, Vajrabodhi stayed for half a year in the 'Abhayaraja Temple', where he paid obeisance to the Buddha's Tooth Relic and was in turn honoured by the king and his people. The king's name was SriSila17 (T 55 876a25-26, cited in Chou 1945:315). Now it is this latter term, Abhayaraja vihara or 'Fearless King Vihara', which the Chinese used for the Abhayagirivihara, that allows us insight into the series of royally sponsored Sinhalese diplomatic missions to China that seem to have been stimulated by the coming of Amoghavajra. From numerous Sinhalese histories it is clear that the Abhayagirivihara, as the possessor of the Buddha's Tooth Relic and Begging Bowl, was subject to devoted royal Sinhalese patronage and this royal interest is reflected in the fact that Amoghavajra's biography records that he came back accompanied by a diplomatic mission. In fact, the journey of Amoghavajra seems to have sparked at least four official Lankan diplomatic missions to the T'ang court, commencing with one dispatched as soon as Amoghavajra had landed in 741 upon the shores of the Lion Kingdom with the T'ang diplomatic credentials in hand, and another which accompanied him on his return to Chang'an in 746. The T'ang imperial annals record the reception of six Sinhalese embassies during the dynasty, with missions being sent in the years AD 670, 712, 742, 746, 750, and 762. While we know nothing of the incentive behind the 67018 and 712
produced, they were still considered heretics for their doctrines, and after a number of persecutions were forced to leave Lanka and seek refuge in the Himalayas. Coquet (1986) unfortunately does not specify his sources, but these details are not included among the standard sources for Nagabodhi's background listed by Abe (1999:504, note 74) (I wish to sincerely thank Nobumi Iyanaga for his extensive and thorough consultation of these sources). This said, the level of detail Coquet presents regarding the forest monasteries could hardly be contrived and may be taken from a Tibetan history. 17 Srislla is not known as the formal name of any of the Sinhalese kings. Based upon the chronologies of the kings, it seems that Aggabodhi VI (circa 740-780) was the king who received Amoghavajra, while the Javanese Abhayagirivihara was likely constructed during the reign of Mahinda II. 18 During this 670 embassy, the Sinhalese king may have transmitted the Sanskrit text with tantric overtones which was later translated by Prajfia in 787. For a brief mention of this, see Levi 1935:83, note 1.
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missions, the four missions sent in the 20 years after Amoghavajra's arrival in Lanka in 742 are a keen indicator of the fervour with which the Sinhalese pursued their relationship with China, and this interest probably persisted until their 762 discovery that the country had lapsed into revolution, anarchy, and near collapse after the An Lu-shan Rebellion in 758 and the consequent warlordism, Muslim, and Tibetan invasions. Not only was the 762 mission the Lankans' last during the T'ang dynasty, it was the last embassy until 989, well into the Sung dynasty, a hiatus of 230 years. This interchange of religious knowledge and texts between highly adept monks became a high-level religio-diplomatic interchange between Buddhist kings, in this case between those of the Sinhalese king at Anuradhapura and the T'ang emperor at Chang'an. As we shall see, there is a parallel development in which the Javanese kings became patrons involved in the Sinhalese dispensations, likely involving precisely this same style of interchange of tantric texts and, in the Javanese case, monks as well.
The link between the Javanese, the Abhayagirivihara and the Sino-Japanese tantric masters
Given the importance of the Sinhalese tantric masters at the Abhayagirivihara to the Indian tantric patriarchs of China at a time slightly anterior to the rise of a tantric-flavoured Mahayana Buddhism on Java, one could make a wellinformed inference that such Sinhalese tantric preceptors were represented among the monks imported to staff the Javanese Abhayagirivihara. In fact, the discovery near the giant gate of the Ratu Baka of a short tantric inscription, seemingly originating from the famous story of Trailokyavijaya in the STTS,19 would add convincing support to the suspicion that the Abhayagirivihara monks were invited to Java because they were the foremost masters of the Yoga Tantras, skilled commentators on the doctrines of these tantric texts and custodians of the most authentic recensions of the STTS. However, these suggestive threads may be gathered together and woven more strongly into plausibility by some considerations of Javanese archaeological data. I commence the commentary on a technical note on several obscure points of Siddhamatrka paleography. Bosch's paleographic examination (1928:8-13) of the Javanese Siddham inscriptions in his article on Kelurak20
This short mantra, reading om takl humjahsvaha, is the personal mantra of Vajrapani and seems to derive from the C o m m a n d of S u m m o n i n g of All the Tathagatas which is used to compel beings to a location. It occurs in the story of the bodhisattva Vajrapani's forceful conversion of Mahesvara to the Buddhist cause. For a more extensive examination of this inscription a n d its implications, see Sundberg 2003. 20 De Casparis (1950:13-4) reprises these arguments a n d De Casparis (1975:35-6) presents some of them in English.
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found eight characteristics, some stylistic and some morphological, which distinguish the Kalasan and Abhayagirivihara21 (hereafter abbreviated as KA) script from that of the very Indian-looking Kelurak and Plaosan and furthermore seemed to him, despite Bosch's assiduous efforts to discern one, to be without known direct precedent in the corpus of inscriptions of the Pala and Rastrakuta kings, although he found close approximations.22 Even such leads as germane to the Javanese as the Nalanda inscription (see Bosch 1928:1, 1-16), which explicitly involves the Sailendra king Balaputradeva and his construction of a monastery for his kingdom's monks in residence at Nalanda, cannot suffice to point to an origin for the KA variety of the Siddham script. While forty years' worth of publication of Epigraphia Indica and Biihler's (1980) paleographic examinations allowed Bosch to establish his paleographic studies of the Javanese specimens of the Siddham script, Dani's extensive paleographic examinations (1963) and the modern accessibility of Epigraphia Zeylanica allow us an even wider survey of the possible Indian origins of the Javanese script. Unfortunately, despite this broader base of knowledge, an Indian prototype for the KA script has proven equally difficult for modern scholars to find.23 Precedents for the paleographic peculiarities of the Javanese KalasanAbhayagirivihara Siddham script could have been discovered by Bosch and De Casparis if they had oriented their attention a quarter turn clockwise from Yogyakarta, not west to India but north to the variety of Siddham used by the tantric masters in China and Japan to write their dharanl. In the preserved specimens of the dharanl as written by the patriarchs we find at least one
These t w o inscriptions share the s a m e script and were almost u n d o u b t e d l y written by the s a m e h a n d although 14 years separated the writing of the two: Kalasan w a s written in 778 and Abhayagirivihara in 792. 22 Bosch (1928:13-4) actually concluded from his frustrating failure to find a direct Indian prototype for all the paleographic oddities that the KA script h a d originally derived from North India b u t h a d developed independently in Buddhist monasteries in the Indonesian archipelago for a n u m b e r of centuries. 23 As De Casparis (1979:394, note 42) notes, the script of the Jetavanarama inscription is indeed very close in style to the KA inscriptions. G u n a w a r d a n a (1966:57) notes that this inscription did not originate within the Jetavanarama b u t rather the Abhayagirivihara, a n d specifically the K u t t a m p o k u n a area to the northwest, which m u s t stand very close to the meditation monasteries. Personal inspection of the photograph of the Jetavanarama inscription shows that there are some stylistic features in this inscription which are strongly reminiscent of the Javanese inscriptions, including the extended, curling superscript letters which can flow backwards for the space of as m a n y as three characters. However, in the Lankan inscription the vowel tokens extend back over only the previous character. The Jetavanarama 'sa' is formed with a kinked horizontal element; KA forms this aksara with a straight horizontal element. The loop which denotes the Jetavanarama ' m a ' is m u c h more pliable, like a spline, than the circle-terminated KA specimens. G u n a w a r d a n a (1966:58-61) makes a fairly detailed paleographic examination of the Jetavanarama inscription a n d generally runs it back to a Bihar-area prototype which straddles the forms used by D h a r m a p a l a and Devapala, b u t h e cannot determine a precise origin or dating.
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element which is uniquely congruent with the peculiarities of the KA script: the formation of the character 'ja'. Luckily, this can be found in Van Gulik's Plate V (1980:159) showing So-gen's painstaking 1837 tracing of an original dharanl drawn by Amoghavajra. While this autograph by Amoghavajra is promising and is in fact reinforced by Sharf's publication (2001:190) of an original 805 painting depicting Amoghavajra and given to Kukai in which the same 'ja' occurs, the material that can be attributed to him is too limited to guarantee that we can establish a morphology of the varnapatha as written by him. However, we can ascertain that this KA script shares very much with the script of the tantric masters if we refer to Van Gulik's Plate II (1980: 156), a series of palm leaves inscribed by PrajnatSra,24 an Indian monk who worked in China from AD 785 to 810, who translated extensively, and who taught Sanskrit to Kukai and Enchin.25 Within this array of characters we can identify specimens of the characters which so intrigued and frustrated Bosch and which accord so well with the KA script. We find the 'ha' with a little 'hanger' (upper left leaf, second line, fifth aksara), the 'ja' with a little stem (lower left leaf, fourth line, tenth aksara including lacunae), a 'na' with a very clear nonvertical triangular terminus at the end of the branch26 (upper right leaf, fourth line, sixth Siddham aksara including the lacuna), and the 'bha' with a triangular notch in the corner where the line doubles back on itself (upper right leaf, sixth line, fifth aksara). The varnapatha as implemented by Prajnatara is as close as we presently could hope to find as a foreign inspiration for the script employed by the Sailendra kings in 778 and 792.27
Prajna's biographies h a v e b e e n s u m m a r i z e d in Lokesh C h a n d r a 1990:162-3. H e came from KapiSa a n d at the age of 23 entered the monastic university of N a l a n d a , w h e r e h e studied sutra a n d iastra including the VajmSekhara. H e stayed in the country of Chen'li for 18 years. H e then w e n t to South India, w h e r e he studied the Yoga Tantras, m a n d a l a s a n d m u d r a s of the Five Families, a n d the guhya- or vidyadhara-pitaka. H e then studied Chinese a n d h e a d e d to Kuang-fu after being s t r a n d e d for a short while in Sri Lanka. H e arrived in 781 a n d w o r k e d there until 810, translating eight Sanskrit w o r k s (including the Avatamsaka sutra a n d the Sat-paramita sutra) into Chinese. It is interesting to note that in 787 h e translated a 'partially' tantric text (T 3 #159) w h i c h h a d been sent by the king of Sri Lanka to the e m p e r o r of China m o r e than a century before (LeVi 1935:83, note 1). I cannot d e t e r m i n e w h e t h e r or n o t Prajnatara is identical to C h i h - k u a n g ' s teacher Prajnabodhi, also of South India (Van Gulik 1980:22).
Van G u l i k (1980:56) g i v e s a h i s t o r y of t h e e x a m p l e s of t h e p a l m leaves w h i c h c o n s t i t u t e h i s Plate II. H e n o t e s t h a t Prajnatara g a v e t h e m to E n c h i n (814-891) w h o t o o k t h e m b a c k to J a p a n w i t h h i m . I cannot reconcile the dates of Enchin's existence w i t h the years that Prajnatara w a s k n o w n to b e active.
26 This triangular notch at the t e r m i n u s of the m a i n stroke is often the only distinction b e t w e e n the ' n a ' and one form of the 'ra' in the KA script. 27 The KA inscriptions could not be written by Prajnatara as h e w a s d o c u m e n t e d to b e in China in 792. However, it could be h y p o t h e s i z e d that h e w a s available to teach religion a n d calligraphy to the Javanese prior to his 785 arrival in China. Prajnabodhi w e n t to China from India via the S o u t h e r n Seas (Van Gulik 1980:22). Given the small n u m b e r of Indian m a s t e r s w h o
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Figure 2. Specimen characters 'ja na bha ha' taken from the inscription of Nalanda (top), Kalasan (middle), and the preserved writings of Prajnatara (bottom). The reader will note that the peculiarities of the Javanese KA script are also found in the Siddham writing of the tantric masters in China and Japan. This lateral discovery of a similar varnapatha in contemporary China still begs the question of its provenance. What the paleographic similarity allows us to say is that it is likely that both scripts derived from the same source and that the source was likely to be associated with esoteric Buddhism; the stylistic variants may turn out to be Sinhalese in origin. With this in mind we cannot rule out the validity of Bosch's suggestion (1928:8-16) that Javanese Siddham was not derived from one of the monumental styles of writing but rather from the form employed in the manuscripts. In passing, note that it is strange that these unique forms show up in Kalasan of 778 and Abhayagirivihara of 792, neither of which seems to make strongly and explicitly tantric references, yet not in the starkly tantric inscription of Kelurak of 782. Keeping in mind this rather astonishing paleographical evidence linking the carvers of the KA inscriptions to the Indians who served as the patriarchs of the Sino-Japanese Esoteric School, let us cast about for more information which might tend to substantiate this link. One of Amoghavajra's circle of six chosen disciples, the monk Huiguo (AD 746-805), maintained a Javanese disciple named Bianhong (Chou 1945:329;
served as the nucleus of the Sino-Japanese tantric school, it is possible that paleographic and other idiosyncrasies became accepted as normative standards, thus explaining the difficulty of finding them in the Indian homeland.
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Abe 1999:126, 505 note 48) within Huiguo's own Dharma Heir circle of six master-level monks, a circle that included the famous Japanese monk Kukai, himself founder of the Japanese tantric sect known as Shingon Buddhism. Bianhong arrived at the Ch'ing-lung-sseu monastery from Java in 780 in order to obtain the Garbha consecration (Coquet 1986:89). Bianhong's presence at the highest level of Huiguo's disciples suggests not only that the Javanese were sufficiently aware of the Chinese esoteric preceptors to send one of their elite monks to join them, but also confirms that the specific set of VajrabodhiAmoghavajra-Huiguo esoteric lineage doctrines28 would be available to, among others, Javanese temple architects and would not likely greatly deviate from those teachings which had been transmitted to Kukai.29 Having noted the documented presence in China of at least one accomplished Javanese tantric Buddhist monk, is there, conversely, any evidence in Java of the presence of Chinese or Japanese Buddhists? Hints of this are in the lintel-piece now in the Sono Budoyo Museum in Yogyakarta (see Figure 3), which to my eye clearly depicts sages30 of a Siniatic appearance - these features seem to be suggested especially in the shape of the eyes and the fluidity and length of their beards and moustaches - in marked contrast to the Indian and Javanese figures who appear on the other temples of Java.
To phrase this differently in light of Amoghavajra's biographical history and second tantric consecration in Lanka, w e should a d d the second lineage Samantabhadra-AmoghavajraHuiguo. 29 Iain Sinclair, in a personal communication, pointed o u t the interesting fact that the Javanese m o n k Bianhong received mastership in only the Mahakarunagarbodbhava from Huiguo, which either means that h e w a s considered unsuitable for the Vajradhatu mastership or else h a d already received it before joining Huiguo's circle. Kukai received both from Huiguo, as is clear from H u i g u o ' s final testament as recorded by his lay disciple Wu-yin (Abe 1999:126, 505 note 48). 30 In a n original draft of this article, I identified these figures as m o n k s as I h a d n o other plausible stock category to which these Chinese-looking characters might belong. After profitable consultation with Iain Sinclair a n d reference to Figure 23 of Davidson (2002:333), I a m presently inclined to identify these characters as Vidyadhara, Buddhist sorcerers of i m m e n s e fascination to Indian a n d Chinese Buddhist audiences of the time. However, I cannot at present reject the notion that these un-tonsured figures represent m o n k s subject only to the M a h a y a n a vinaya, a topic of considerable importance in Kukai's Japan a n d pertinent to the lintel's figures because the Mahayana vinaya did not require the shaving of a disciple's head (Abe 1999:50-5). M o n k s of this specific devotion to the Mahayana vinaya were indisputably benefacted by the Javanese kings as they are explicitly mentioned in stanza 3 of the Kalasan inscription (Sarkar 1971,1:36) - their vihara w a s presumably attached to the temple of Tara. Alternately, these figures m a y be references to the great tantric ascetic m o n k Mahakasyapa, w h o s e long hair a n d u n s h a v e n beard served as a n indicator of the longevity of his cave samadhi. Subhakarasimha reportedly tended MahakaSyapa's locks (Chou 1945:258). We recover the practices of this tantric ascetic cult in Burma in the eleventh century, where the MahakaSyapa-led 'Ari' (likely arannaka or 'forest-dwelling') sect of tantric m o n k s wore 'strong beards a n d u n t r i m m e d hair' a n d were active until a n orthodox reform in 1248 (De Casparis and Mabbett 1992:297-8). In order not to press an uncertain identification, I shall refer to the figures on the lintel merely as sages.
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Figure 3. Figures with Siniatic features on lintel from Sono Budoyo Museum, Yogyakarta. Photo courtesy of John Banks. It is unlikely that these Chinese sages would be honoured with a depiction on a lintel if their presence either physically or theologically were not established in the kingdom of Mataram and held in esteem there. This raises the question of why the Siniatic sages were given such a position of dignity. Could it be that the Chinese were considered to have a more complete collection of texts than the Indians or the Sinhalese? The Chinese doubtlessly stocked some Buddhist texts like the Scripture for Humane Kings which, because a Sanskrit original for this text may never have existed (Orzech 1998:289-91), were unavailable in any monastery in India. However, with the exception of these apocryphal Sanskrit texts it is unlikely that the Chinese had any concrete objects of religious value to the Javanese, so the depiction of the Chinese sages is likely to represent the doctrines they concocted rather than the textual resources or cultic implements available to them. We can conclude little about the presence of these Chinese other than that they represent a lateral flow of tantric thought, not stemming from the textual ur-source of the great monastic universities of India or the great monastic libraries of Lanka but rather a doctrinal reflux which seemingly transcended the imperative of
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obtaining pure texts31 and took place based upon the merit and renown of the masters in China or even Japan, masters who were known to accommodate at least one senior Javanese disciple within their small elite coterie.
Perspectives on the placement of the Abhayagirivihara on the Ratu Baka plateau
We are now ready to consider the appearance of the Lankan Abhayagirivihara in Central Java in a new light. A Sailendra king founded a branch of the Abhayagirivihara on the southern platform of the Ratu Baka. At least one of the buildings was placed on an artificial plateau, as conspicuous and prominent a position as any imaginable on the plains of Sorogedug and Prambanan, signifying that the Sailendra regent who placed it there had an extraordinary respect for the Abhayagiriviharins and commemorated their coming to Java. Why did he need representatives of this monastery? Why did he accord them such high status, and what kind of doctrines did they preach? While there is nothing especially tantric about the message inaugurating the institution of their monastery, we expect no esoteric commentary in a public inscription. However, there is contemporary evidence that the Javanese king Panarabwan (reigned 784-803) had scribed his name in the interior loop of one of the letters of a Buddhist tantric mantra written on a golden vajrashaped plate and placed somewhere near the large gates on the western approach of the Ratu Baka plateau. The following three facts are available to us. First, Amoghavajra, the foremost and most adept tantric master in the imperial service of the T'ang dynasty, went specifically to Lanka to gather the requisite texts of his doctrine (especially the complete text of the root-tantra STTS) and received his ultimate consecration at the hands of a Sinhalese tantric monk associated with the tantric ascetics of the forest monasteries of the Abhayagirivihara. Second, there is a mantra which is associated with Trailokyavijaya, the most prominent story within the STTS, embedded into the earth on the Ratu Baka by a Javanese king known to have held the throne of Mataram at the time of the founding of the Sinhalese monastery there. Third, the Abhayagirivihara inscription shares the same unique and paleographically conspicuous forms with the Sino-Japanese Siddham writings. All this combines to suggest that the ascetic monks of the Abhayagirivihara received a royal invitation to the Javanese court precisely because these
As Van Gulik (1980:12-45) makes clear in his extensive and surprising analysis, it is doubtful if the Chinese and Japanese monks could even understand Sanskrit, and their Indian literary competence was limited to mastering the characters necessary for accurately reciting and writing dharanl. Whether or not the Javanese Buddhist adepts were competent in Sanskrit is questionable - there are very good Sanskrit spellings in the 792 Old Malay MaftjuSrigrha inscription, but evidence from slightly later periods shows that the sense of Sanskrit orthography often grew corrupt.
The wilderness monks of the Abhayagirivihara
Sinhalese ascetic monks were acknowledged as the foremost propagators of the Yoga Tantra in the world of medieval Buddhism. These forest-dwelling Sinhalese monks had the extensive library of tantras; they had the mastery of the esoteric rituals; they had a lineage tradition which fifty years before had reached out and touched the Emperor of China, and they had the fame. In return for their merits and reputation, they were given a premier location above the plains of Prambanan and Sorogedug in return for their willingness to attend the Javanese king and the ritual needs of the Javanese state. It is interesting to note that the Abhayagirivihara on the Raru Baka plateau was built for the Sinhalese in their style, to suit their tastes, to accord with their architectural heritage, and to meet their needs. To my knowledge, this is the one piece of concrete evidence which shows the adaptability of the Javanese and their willingness to employ cultural elements from the entirety of the Indian subcontinent in their quest to replicate an Indianized Mahayana Buddhist kingdom in Central Java. I wish to turn briefly to the implications of the present research. We can be fairly certain that anything that Amoghavajra picked up from Lanka in 746 was available to the Javanese in 778 or before, and we may be thankful that so much of this material was catalogued and is preserved in Sino-Japanese editions. To seek a way through the ruins of Buddhist Java, we should have in hand the more modern of the texts of the Chen-yuan New catalog (AD 800),32 as these sources have a greater chance than any others of explaining what we see. We are justified in using T'ang esoteric texts and Shingon iconographical commentaries to explicate Javanese Buddhist temple architecture; in fact, we would be foolish to ignore them. Let us examine two facets of this freedom to select from tantric material in contemporary Sino-Japanese catalogues. The first topic at hand is another Siddham inscription, found on the back of a metal statue of an enthroned Vairocana, unearthed with a hoard of other metal Mahayana deities from the fields around Rejoso village to the east of Candi Plaosan (see Nugrahani 1998 for a complete description and identification of the finds). On the back of this Vairocana statue are three lines of Siddham inscription, consisting of the words jina jik and then a bilinear inscription of the well-known Buddhist Mahayana credo which begins ye dharma hetu pmbhava. The slogan jina jik33 on the Rejoso Vairocana is explained by noting its frequent occurrence in tantric texts which treat Vairocana,
As Lancaster (1981:197) notes, 'The task is a large one, for the surge of interest in Tantra in the eighth and ninth centuries brought a massive volume of literature to the Chinese Buddhists'. 33 For those readers whose paleographic curiosity has been stimulated by the discussion of the forms of the Siddham 'ja' in the discussion above, the 'ja' characters of the words jina jik are written in the conventional Indian script, that used in the inscriptions of Kglurak and Plaosan, rather than the distinctive script which we find that Kalasan, Abhayagirivihara, and the SinoJapanese Siddhamatrka texts shared in common.
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and thus indicates the worship of this particular form of the deity during the Central Javanese period. For example, we find that in Amoghavajra's commentary on the ritual aspects of the Scripture for humane kings, the
Instructions for the rites, chants, and meditations of the Prajnaparamita dharanl Scripture for humane kings who wish to protect their states (T 19 #994 514a-519b),
the mantra om jina jik svaha is described as a Buddha-department samaya34 mantra, by which 'all of the Buddhas of the Dharmadhatu of the ten directions will assemble like a cloud and totally fill the void. [They] empower the practitioner [who will thus] be freed from all obstacles, and the vow cultivating the purification of the triple karma will be swiftly accomplished.' (Orzech 1996:234.) This mantra shows up in other Yoga Tantra class material like
the Advayavajrasamgraha35 (Snellgrove 1964:249-52) and the Mayajalatantra,
where it also serves as a samaya mantra.36 Second, I draw attention to a remark by Lancaster concerning the textual foundations of the wall panels of Barabudur. Lancaster (1981:198) notes that 'if we need further proof that the Avatamsaka and Gandavyuha-sutras were considered to be important by the tantric masters, we can find it in noting how many of them were translated by these masters. [...] Therefore if the structure of Barabudur is connected with Tantra as is suspected, it is not out of place to find the Gandavyuha being used as a key text.' Prajna translated the Gandavyuha and Amoghavajra the Bhadracaripranidhana, which he promoted incessantly during his last year (Chou 1945:299). Fontein's observation (1967:5) that 'the only translation in which the Bhadracarl is appended to the Gandavyuha is Prajna's translation in forty chapters' may therefore have relevance for the understanding of the Barabudur, especially given the association of Prajna and the circle of Huiguo at the end of the eighth century. While not wishing to deny the indisputable arguments adduced by Snellgrove (1996) and Klokke (1995) against the interpretation of the Barabudur as an explicit mandala of the STTS, we cannot exclude a tantrically conceived background for this monument. To my mind, the efforts of Ishii (1991), who attempts to explain the Barabudur using T'ang and Javanese tantric manuals, represents an interesting step in this direction. However, I suggest the worthiness of consideration of the top levels of the Barabudur as the 'secret universal palace of the mind' as described by Kukai in his Record of the Dharma Transmission, a universal palace in which resided the Dharmakaya
Assembly, unification, sacrament, or pledge - see the extensive explication of this important tantric term in Snellgrove 1987:165-6. 35 In this text, the mantra om ah jina jik hum accords with the White Vairocana, born o n the eastern petal o n a lunar disk, born of the syllable om of the Tathagata family, symbolized b y dung, and consisting of mirror-like knowledge. 36 Personal communication with Iain Sinclair, author of a recent University of Western Sydney thesis on this tantra.
The wilderness monks of the Abhayagirivihara Tathagata Mahavairocana accompanied by his attendants, all of whom were none other than Dharmakaya Tathagatas (Abe 1999:221). The Dharmakaya Tathagata Mahavairocana was the first patriarch in Kukai's lineage, originator of the teachings of the STTS. Whatever concept or idea the Barabudur was designed to represent, there is a substantial chance that it was designed with the Sinhalese monks in mind. The Barabudur monument in Magelang stands no more than ten arc-seconds off of a line passing directly from Anuradhapura to the Ratu Baka plateau.37
Further directions for research
While I hope to have established the relevance for a deeper examination of the role of the Sinhalese and in particular the monks of the Abhayagirivihara in the cultivation and the propagation of the Yoga Tantras to (in chronological order) China, Java, and Japan, much more could be done by researchers and archaeologists to better establish these leads. First, there should be a systematic examination of biographical material on those mentors and disciples of Amoghavajra to see if more references to Java or Sri Lanka can be found. Ideally, all these biographies as well as the biographies of Amoghavajra's six closest disciples and those who accompanied him on the journey to Lanka should be studied and translated into English for greater worldwide comprehension. For the archaeologists and epigraphers in Java and Sri Lanka, complete editions of all extant Siddhamatrka material, including high-resolution photographs or careful and detailed facsimiles, should be published so as to better establish the paleographic links with the Kalasan-Abhayagirivihara and other inscriptions. In particular, I refer to the following Siddhamatrka material known to be held in the archaeological repositories of the nations of Sri Lanka and Indonesia: - The pripih inscriptions recovered from the foundation boxes at the heart of the southern main temple at Candi Plaosan (Gutomo 1998:54, drawing upon a reading of Kusen. It should be noted that the silver pripih inscription recovered from the Plaosan temple pit evidently remains unpublished).
I am indebted to Mark Long for sharing this information. Long wishes to emphasize that his figures are still being refined because they were calculated with the general coordinates for the Ratu Baka plateau and the city of Anuradhapura, rather than made with the precise coordinates of the parent and daughter Abhayagiri monasteries in those locations. The true deviation of the Barabudur from the line between the monasteries is therefore likely to be less than ten arc-seconds. More of Long's groundbreaking studies of the metrics and numerical symbolism of Barabudur may be found at his accomplished website, www.borobudur.tv as well as in Voute and Long (forthcoming).
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- The copper plate of Nagarl from Anuradhapura, now in the Columbo Museum, which reads orn vajmtiks'a ram. - The series of eight lithic Siddham inscriptions38 obtained from the northern precincts of the Abhayagirivihara, especially important because they were also subject to translation by Amoghavajra.39 Finally, the Yogyakarta branch of the Suaka Peninggalan Sejarah dan Purbakala (Protection of Historical and Archaeological Heritage) might wish to undertake a preliminary evaluation, perhaps using survey methods of electro-resistive or proton-magnetometric subsurface exploration, of the ground around the Dawangsari stupas in search of traces of monastic or other ritual buildings.
References Abe, Ryuichi 1999 The weaving of mantra; Kukai and the construction of esoteric Buddhist discourse. New York: Columbia University Press. Bernet-Kempers, A.J. 1949 'Crawfurd's beschrijving van Prambanan in 1816', Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (TBG) 83:177-93. Bosch, F.D.K. 1925 'Een oorkonde van het groote klooster te Nalanda', Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (TBG) 65:509-55. 1928 'De inscriptie van Keloerak', Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (TBG) 68:1-64. Buhler, G. 1980 Indian paleography from about B.C. 350 to about A.D. 1300. Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint. Casparis, J.G. de 1950 Prasasti Indonesia I; Inscripties uit de Cailendra-tijd, Bandung: Nix. 1961 'New evidence on cultural relations between Java and Ceylon in ancient times', Artibus Asiae 24:241-8.
I am indebted to the Reverend Mahinda Deegalle for his efforts to procure a legible photograph of these tablets. Unfortunately, the stone is sufficiently worn that a proper paleographic analysis will require direct inspection. 39 Portions of these eight granite tablets have been identified in Schopen (1982:101-2) as being taken from a Mahayana text called the Arya-Sarvathathagatadhisthana-hrdayaguhyadhatukarandamudra-nama-dharanl-mahayana-sutra. This was available in a late eighth-century Tibetan translation and, significantly for the present topic, two translations by Amoghavajra (T 1022a and T 1022b). The dharani on six of the tablets represents the Dharani of the Seal of the Casket
of the Relics and the Concealed Essence of the Empowerment of All Tathagatas. Schopen shows that
this text is not characteristically tantric but rather more closely related to the doctrines of the Saddharmapundarlka. The texts of two of these eight Abhayagirivihara tablets remain unidentified by Schopen.
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Klokke, Marijke J. 1995 'Borobudur: A mandala? A contextual approach to the function and meaning of Borobudur', HAS Yearbook, pp. 191-219. Leiden: International Institute for Asian Studies. Lancaster, L. 1981 'Literary sources for a study of Barabudur', in: Luis O. Gomez and Hiram W. Woodward Jr (eds), Barabudur; History and significance of a Buddhist monument, pp. 195-205. Berkeley CA: University of California Press. [Berkeley Buddhist Studies Series 2.] Levi, S. 1935 , 'Punyodara (Na-t'i), un propagateur du tantrisme en Chine et au Cambodge a l'6poque de Hiuan-tsang', journal Asiatiaue, pp. 83-100. Lokesh Chandra 1993 'Oddiyana; A new interpretation', in: Lokesh Chandra and Tara Chandrika, Cultural horizons of India. Volume 3. Studies in Tantra and Buddhism, art and archaeology, language and literature. New Delhi: International Academy of Indian Culture and Aditya Prakashan. 1995 'The contacts of Abhayagiri of Srilanka with Indonesia in the eighth century', in: Lokesh Chandra and Tara Chandrika, Cultural horizons of India. Volume 4. Studies in Tantra and Buddhism, art and archaeology, language and literature. New Delhi: International Academy of Indian Culture and Aditya Prakashan. [Sata-Pitaka Series 381.] Miksic, J. 1993 'Double meditation platforms at Anuradhapura and the pendopo of Ratu Boko', Saraswati Esai-esai Arkeologi. Kalpataru; Majalah Arkeologi 10:23-31. Nugrahani, D.S. 1998 Katalog artefak temuan Rejoso 1997. N.p.: Suaka Peninggalan Sejarah dan Purbakala, Propinsi Jawa Tengah di Prambanan. Orzech, Charles D. 1995 'The legend of the iron stupa', in: Donald S. Lopez (ed.), Buddhism in practice, pp. 314-7. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press. 1996 'Mandalas on the move; Reflections from Chinese esoteric Buddhism circa 800 C.E.', Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Scholars 19.2: 209-43. 1998 Politics and transcendent wisdom; The 'Scripture for humane kings' in the creation of Chinese Buddhism. University Park PA: Pennsylvania State University Press. [Hermeneutics, Studies in the History of Religions.] Sarkar, Himansu Bhusan 1971 Corpus of the inscriptions of Java; (Corpus inscriptionum Javanicarum); (up to 928 A.D). Calcutta: Mukhopadhyay. Two vols. Schopen, G. 1982 'The text on the "Dharani Stones from Abhayagiriya"; A minor contribution to the study of Mahayana literature in Ceylon', Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Scholars 5:101-8.
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Sharf, Robert H. 2001 'Visualization and mandala', in: Robert H. Sharf and Elizabeth Horton Sharf (eds), Living images; Japanese Buddhist icons in context, pp. 151-97. Stanford CA: Stanford University Press. [Asian Religions and Cultures.] Snellgrove, David L. 1964 'Advayavajrasamgraha', in: Edward Conze (ed.), Buddhist texts through the ages; TranslatedfromPali, Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan, Japanese and Apabhramsa, pp. New York: Harper and Row. [Harper Torchbooks 113.] 1987 Indo-Tibetan Buddhism; Indian Buddhists and their Tibetan successors. Boston MA: Shambhala. 1996 'Borobudur: stupa or mandala', East and West 46 / 7-4:477-83. Sundberg, Jeffrey Roger 2003 'A Buddhist mantra recovered from the Ratu Baka plateau; A preliminary study of its implications for Sailendra-era Java', Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 159:163-88. Voute, Caesar and Mark Long forthcoming Borobudur; Java's pyramid mountain of the Buddhas. [Manuscript.] Weinstein, Stanley 1987 • Buddhism under the Tang. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Cambridge Studies in Chinese History, Literature, and Institutions.] Wijesuriya, Gamini 1998 Buddhist meditation monasteries of Sri Lanka. Pikakotte: State Printing Corporation. [Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of Sri Lanka 10.]