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Jain and Buddhist Centres in Kerala

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Item Code: NAX084
Author: B. Padmakumari Amma
Publisher: Dravidian University Campus
Language: English
Edition: 2008
Pages: 284 (68 Colored Illustrations)
Other Details 9.00 X 6.00 inch
Weight 330 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

Here is a systematic, thorough and comprehensive study of the Jain and Buddhist centres in Kerala. It was the growing strength and prosperity of the agricultural Brahmin settlements and the shrinking of long-distance trade under the feudal system, rather than the persecution by Brahmins that led to the decline and fall of these groups in Kerala. This is a fine and authentic presentation of facts regarding Jainism and Buddhism in Kerala.


Here is a systematic, thorough and comprehensive study of the Jain and Buddhist centres in Kerala. This was undertaken by Smt. B. Padmakumari Amma as part of the Ph.D. programme in the Department of History, Calicut University (1990 -96) under my supervision. She took up the work with a sense of commitment not always found among researchers today, with the result that the outcome is more than a routine academic study.

Apart from the necessary library work, she planned and executed fieldwork on a large scale, visiting each and every site from Kasargode to Kanyakumari connected with these creeds in an attempt to strengthen and supplement the slender database. She examined the place names, inscriptions, monuments and other archaeological evidence, and also Tamil, Sanskrit and Malayalam literary works in order to be able to present an integrated picture.

After a critical evaluation of early studies, she proceeded to collect information from all available primary sources and review them in the light of recent studies beginning with the reconstruction of Kerala history by Professor Elamkulam P.N.Kunhan Pillai and others in the middle of the last century. The publication of new source materials in the course of the 20" century made this research possible and desirable.

Earlier conclusions were formulated at a time when there was no sound chronological framework of Kerala history, and therefore the bits of information could not be pasted together in a meaningful way. It was blindly assumed that the Jains and Buddhists were the dominant groups in Kerala society until the Kerala Brahmins somehow gained the upper hand, got the rulers on their side, and persecuted and banished or suppressed them. Very often scholars imagined that all the place names ending with "palli" denoted either a Jain or Buddhist centre. This is not true. Palli in Tamil and Old Malayalam stood for a small hamlet as in Pali and other Prakrit languages. This was distinguished from the Brahmin settlements called agrahara or brahmadeya or simply grama in inscriptions and literature. It is true that Jain and Buddhist or Christian or Muslim settlements were established in such hamlets, but the suffix palli in itself did not prove their existence.

It would appear froma scrutiny of evidence that Jain monks arrived in Kerala along with traders from different parts of India. They followed the land routes across the passes in the Western Ghats, leading to the Vayanad, Palakkad, Idukki and Thiruvananthapuram districts of the present day. Their shrines are found on these routes. Available evidence would indicate that they came only after the arrival and settlement of the Aryan Brahmin settlers in the 32 original gramas, mentioned in the legendary Keralolpatti chronicle, and the establishment of the Cera kingdom of Makotai or Mahodayapuram. As the traders belonged mostly to the Jain groups, they brought the Jain monks and settled them in some pockets of Kerala. However, unlike the Vedic Brahmins who were householders, the Jains were ascetics, and did not have successors to look after their monasteries and shrines. When the flow of trade slowed down after the disappearance of the Cera kingdom in the beginning of the 12" century and the establishment of a feudal system with nearly self-sufficient villages, the flow of new Jain monks and ascetics also stopped. There were no new monks to replace the old ones. The Jain shrines were neglected or abandoned, and taken over by the Hindu natives as in the case of Kinalur, Tiruvannur, Irinjalakkuda, Trikkana Matilakam, Kallil, Citaral, Nagaraja temple etc. The lay followers might have been absorbed in the local communities and castes. There are no signs of persecution or struggle either in archaeology or contemporary literature.

The case of Buddhism was slightly different. Contrary to the assumption of early writers on the subject, researchers found relics of Buddhism in the form of sculptures only in Kuttanad and the surrounding area, suggesting that they belonged to the Srimulavasa Vihara which flourished from the 9" to the 12" century in the neighborhood of Trikkunnappuzha where the vihara was most probably located. The vihara was swallowed by the sea sometime during the 12" or 13" century, and that was the end of the Buddhist connection with Kerala.


That the foundations of Indian culture were deeply embedded in Dravidian culture is now an inconvertible fact. Dravidian culture is one of the most ancient cultures of the world. Those cultures, slightly contemporaneous to one another, slowly started fading out. However, the primordial Dravidian culture continues to thrive without losing its quintessence despite the apparent changes in systems of dress and address.

Dravidian University is established through a Legislature Act by the Government of Andhra Pradesh in 1997 with the extended support of Southern States at Kuppam, a tri-lingual junction in the south-western part of Andhra Pradesh, 4 km. away from Karnataka, 8 km. from Tamil Nadu and about 4 hours drive from Kerala, to promote a spirit of integration among the speakers of Dravidian languages, thus building a strong path of National Integration and to advance research and studies in Dravidian language which are about 27 both inside India and outside like Baluchistan and to create a strong awareness of the integrated character of Dravidian Studies, a major branch of Indology.

One of the main objectives of Dravidian University is to unearth the linguistic, cultural and historical traits common to the Dravidian languages that have spread across the whole of India and the neighboring countries. Keeping this in view, the University and the neighboring countries. Keeping this in view, the University established the Department of Dravidian and Computational Linguistics in November 2005. The department carries out research in the area of Dravidian linguistics and computational linguistics. Publishing research works in both these areas is another important activity of the department.

There is no denying the fact that one of the main factors of unifying India, geographically and culturally is the contribution of Jainism and Buddhism. The influence they exerted on the evolution of modern Indian languages is also remarkable. These two religious precursors made their way to the southern parts of India and extended their field of activities up to Sri Lanka. They contributed in their own way, and significantly too to the concept of finding India as one and strengthened what became a dream- realization that India is one. The way the religions chose deserves much praise, almost a revolutionary mode of implementing their cult through the path of Ahimsa, love and peace. Violence and compulsion were unknown to them. They went on preaching and - practicing the basic virtues of humanity and what ever we find as admirable traits of Indian culture, our religious tolerance and the principles Gandhi preached and practiced is the contribution of these basic virtues.

Jainism and Buddhism marked their strong influence in the South Indian states especially in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. We can quote great names like those of Kundakundacharya who belonged to Jainism and Nagarjuna who was a Buddhist philosopher. All the same may be due to geographical factors their influence was not felt much in the land of Kerala. It is worth a matter of research how much these religions were able to influence the lives of the people in the Southern most part of India. A lot of evidence has been wiped off in the merciless torrent of time.in the name of reforms and revolutions. There fore it seems that the only way before a historian is to amass what ever relics and evidences are available and reconstruct ancient history. Such a study or research would be undoubtedly a praiseworthy analysis of the development that has occurred not only in the social life of India, but also in its cultural, literary and linguistic fields. Dr. Padmakurmari Amma is the authoress of this book. Her achievement is the result of relentless study tours followed by collecting valuable materials, analysing them scientifically and arriving at reasonable assessment. The Dravidian University has: great pleasure in publishing this research work. It is with great pleasure and pride that this book is being presented before inquisitive readers.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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