[Advaita-l] Is Tirupati's Balaji a Buddhist deity (Avalokiteshwara)?

Aditya Kumar kumaraditya22 at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 26 03:59:05 EST 2018

 Thanks for the excerpt, was a good read. Although I admit that the author is biased, the key issues raised are indeed plausible.
There are many similar themes in Buddhism and Vaishnavism - - Both are sects that revolted against orthodoxy- Equality of women and Shudras (on par with any high priest)- Both embraced the vernacular languages- Both have borrowed extensively from/rely on the agamas- Both endorse an oversimplified approach (against rituals/bhakti)- Both sects preach exclusive/supremacist philosophy (Buddha is the only way, Vishnu is the only true god)
I am sure there are many similarities and I have not even touched the socio-political history because it's outside the scope of this forum. I am not saying this is a bad thing. So what if Vaishnavism and Buddhism are similar? I believe we are already a liberal society where women are given sanyasa, foreigners are chanting rudram, no matter how coarsely. We have even somehow accepted that Buddha was an incarnation of Vishnu. 
The core theme being similar, it might have been possible that Sri Ramanujacharya converted all Buddhist places of worship into Vaishnava ones. That was probably why he was exiled from the country? He was the actual pracchanna bauddha! From a psychological point of view, it is common for a thief to accuse the accuser as a thief(please note, this is just an example. I am not saying Sri Ramanujacharya was a thief! or a liar!). So in turn, the Vaishnavas branded the Shankarites as pracchanna Bauddhas. Interestingly, Ramanujacharya found a solace in Hoysala kingdom whose king was a Jaina. 
Afterall, whether Buddhism or Vaishnavism, everyone were vying for political patronage. Post the demise of Buddhism in India, it entered through a backdoor called Vaishnavism - a different name/form but essentially the same philosophy at it's core. It's only after Ramanuja that pancharatra school became a sub-school within Vedanta and the Sri Vaishnavas were considered Brahmins! Whether Vaishnavism considers Vedas as pramana or not is immaterial because their interpretation is completely different (one god supreme). 
Please pardon/ignore if you found this to be spiteful. Purely academic interest. 
    On Monday 26 February 2018, 9:35:29 AM IST, Gopal via Advaita-l <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:  
  Hari om.

A few years back, a local professor, a vaishnava by birth but follower of
buddhism for 'strategic reasons'  wrote an article on the same topic
quoting a similar (or the same) article, and the author.  I had to do
research to figure out the basis of such commentaries. It turns out in the
modern Indian society, neo-buddhists, buddhists and a few sections have
been highlighting these ideas for political/ hidden agenda gains. This is
not the forum to discuss that. It is suffice to say we refused to publish
that article by the Professor of comparative religions focusing on South
Asia from a top university in the DC area. The basis we stated that the
Professor's article sounded more as a sectarian propaganda than an
objective analysis.

If one goes over the internet, it is relatively easier to find the possible
motivation of the blog author and the clones among intelligentsia  he
appears to have generated..

Kindly take with a pinch of salt what you see in the social media. It is
important to see where and from whom is the origin.  Also, Perumal as some
one lying in ksheera saagara has one of the oldest ideas from earliest of
the Alwars. If the modern 'buddhists' are searching for an identity and
some gods to save them, they have to look somewhere else.

Controversy over Balaji is not limited to Avalokiteswara. Tamils claim the
image is of Muruga, saivetes have claimed it is of Ambaal. Historically it
appears sri Ramanuja and later Sri Sripadaraja/Vyasaraja have settled the
matter.  Anyway, I am glad there are (until now) no claims on Balaji to be
a icon of a 2 millenia-old middle eastern prophet or one of his dozen

But the buddhist claim is sort of funny as some buddhist texts themselves
outline the osmosis of theological icons (what we call as deities) from
hinduism into buddhism. Please see the attached article as a sample. One
can investigate further taking clues from this article. This was from Adyar
library's felictation volume for Kunjunni Raja (so as to say, a valid

There are references to Balaji standing in the forests in Sangam
literature, and later early 3-4 century AD alwars.  One has to remember
that until the advent of Shankara, south india had been the fertile haunts
for older schools of Buddhism and Jainism. Also, the worship of active
sivan and murugan  had been predominant among the population there, as it
seems from the literature. The contrary legends of claims that surround
(surprisingly only) the famous hindu temples appear to have outlived the
meager historical records from those times. But our neo-buddhist friends
are very choosy in highlighting favorable sources..  For example, to
understand the antiquity of 4000 divya prabandham, one has to look at the
meters and the language of the verses by different alwars lived in
different time periods and compare with other works in Classical Tamil of
different ages. The earliest prabandham verses are closer to hard and
complext meter and linguistic forms of classical tamil, closer to some
texts from Sangam literature. The reference to Perumal comes from those
prabandham verses.

I  attaching a dropbox URL to the file mentioned above the mail got stuck
due to the file size earlie:

..gopal gopinath

On Sun, Feb 25, 2018 at 5:57 AM, Aditya Kumar via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> I had earlier posted a query regarding the difference between
> Ranganathaswamy and Padmanabhaswamy. Seems like everything falls into place
> now. Tirumala's Balaji is not Vishnu, it is the Buddhist deity
> Avalokiteshwara or Padmapani. Similarly, Ranganathaswamy is a spitting
> image of 'reclining Buddha' whereas the Vedic deity Narayana is
> Padmanabhaswamy.
> Link to article : http://creative.sulekha.com/dr-k-jamanadas-proves-
> tirupati-temple-as-a-buddhist-shrine_295854_blog
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