The time from installation of proxy image at the foot of the hill around 830 A.D. to the installation of Bhoga Srinivasa in 966 A.D. in Tiruvirankoyil on the top of the hill is a crucial period not only in the History of Lord of Tirumalai but of Indian Buddhism as a whole because this was the time Brahmnism gained ground and Buddhism was defeated.
The attack of Brahmanism against Buddhism was multi pronged. Kumaril fought on Karmakanda and Shankara on Vedanta, both on Philosophy; Naynars on Shaivism and Alwaras on Vaishnavism, both on Bhakti; the Rajputs were created to fight militarily and the Acharyas were engaged in shastrartha, all this was happening at a time when foreign hordes of newly formed religion of Mohammed were knocking on the western borders. The leaders of this country were more interested in driving away the Buddhist rather than stopping the invaders. The country paid a heavy price for it. There was a hectic activity all around, in legislative, judiciary, executive and military fields and all the activity was directed against the Buddhists. This is the time when Hindu Tirupati erupted, and the following is the history of it.
The history of modern Hindu Tirupati starts not at Tirumalai or Chandragiri, but at Trichannur. The first inscription concerning the temple of Venkatesvara is found here, mentioning that a proxy image of Lord was installed at Trichannur. There were actually three images installed. One was mula murthi, second was utsava murthi, and the third one was specially meant for conversion of people to Vaishnavism. The first two were already present in 826 A.D. or so, and the third came a few years later.
First records are not at Tirumalai
T.K.T. Veera Raghavacharya observes:
".. the earliest inscriptions - that is, all those that are found till we reach the date of the consecration of the Mannavalapperumal in the Tiruvengadam temple - are to be found only in Tiruchchokinur. The only exception to this is the solitary slab which was found as a stray piece in front of the Tiruvengadam temple... commemorating the birth of one Vijayaditya... about the year 790. The year of the consecration of Manavalapperumal as will be shown later was much later than this. There is an interval of one and three quarter centuries between the two during which period there are no inscriptions in Tirumalai to tell us anything about the temple on the hill." [Raghavacharya: I,106]
First record mentions of the Proxy Image
This inscription tells us that a proxy image of Lord on the hill is installed at Tiruchchokinur at the foot of the hill:
"The earliest inscription found in Tiruchchokinur was made in the 51st regnal year of Kovijayan Dantivikramar. This we take to be 826 A.D. This inscription tells us in distinct terms that the proxy of Tiruvengadatupperumandigal existed in the Tiruvilankoyil at Tiruchchokinur. ... The main point to note in this inscription is that a Tiruvilankoyil (or a proxy temple) for the Tiruvengadam Deity was built and that a proxy Deity was set up ... The term Tiruchchokinu Tiruvengadattupperumanadigal would only go to show that he was not the original Deity on the Vengadam hill, but only a copy thereof. There were temples dedicated to Tiruvengadattupperuman in other places also. ..." [Raghavacharya: I,106]
Purpose of Proxy Image was religious conversion
Veera Raghavacharya says it was due to the activities of Alvaras and specially due to the work of Tirumangai, that this Temple came up. The reason of coming up of this Temple, as he gives, was for the convenience of the devotees, to save them the trouble of climbing the hazardous hill. Indians, since centuries are used to shrines on hazardous hills in all parts of the country, but no proxy image is usually worshipped except perhaps that of Kedarnatha. But for this relatively less hazardous shrine, we are told that it was for convenience of devotees. May be it was so. But could that be the only reason? If we look at the activities of this proxy temple we would get clear picture that the main object was to start the conversion to Vaishnavism. In addition to this the real object seems to be to woo away the people from going up to the Hills.
T.K.T. Veera Raghavacharya observes:
"The base of operation nearest to Tirumalai was Tiruchchokinur as Tirupati had not then come into existence. An auxiliary temple was constructed there and a duplicate Tiruvengadamudaiyan was installed. Conversion of Saivites into Vaishnavism was obviously carried on in a supplementary shrine where another image was set up to preside over the conversion ceremony. By the time attempts were made by the Saivites to stem this tide by the construction of a temple for Shiva in the same village (Sri Parasaresvara or Tippaladisvaranudaiyan) it was considered better to transfer the work to Tirumalai itself by entering into some sort of an agreement with the Vaikhanasas there" [Ibid. 108]
How conversion was carried out
T.K.T.Veera Raghavacharya observes:
"Regarding the Tirumantira Salai Perumandigal, ... We gather that Brahmins were being fed in that temple. Tirumantira Salai is, as the name indicates, the temple or shrine where the new convert to the Vaishnava faith was initiated into the Ashtakshara or Tirumantram. It therefore happens to be the place where the convert was also provided with food for the day. The endowment made by Gunavan Aparajitam was for feeding two Brahmins daily, not necessarily Vaishnavas." [Ibid:110]
"In the early days one of the main functions of the leaders of Vaishnavism was to convert the Saivites to Vaishnavism. It is a well known fact that branding on the fore part of the shoulder with the Chakram and Sankham marks was necessary function before being initiated into the Tirumantram or Ashtaaksharam. He must be an acknowledged and accredited Acharya who can do this. Tradition tells us that Tirumalai Nambi gave his two sisters in marriage only after the intended bridegroom embraced Vaishnavism and went through the ceremony of branding and initiation into Ashtakshara. Sri Ramanuja's father is one of the two. We know that Sri Ramanuja created a band of 72 persons, known as Simhasanadhipatis who were given the authority and the power to carry on this proselytising work. But our inscriptions relate to a period which may be at least two centuries anterior to Sri Ramanuja. The procedure adopted at that time seems to be that the function took place in the presence of the Deity in the Tirumantirasalai. The Sudarsana and the Paanchajanya blocks used for the branding would have been duly consecrated and in enjoyment of the daily puja to the Deity. It is only such a consecrated instrument that would have been permitted to be used for this ceremony. After the daily Tiruvaradhanam was over the branding would take place. In all the Sri Vaishnava Mathams there is a presiding Deity and the Sudarsanam and Paanchajanyam also share the daily puja. The acharya-purushas who have been doing this work have likewise been doing puja to some Murthi or other and the Sudarsanam and Paanchajanyam would find a place in the pantheon. After Sri Ramanuja organised his School of Acharyas, there was no need for a Tirumantirasalai in temples. But before his days there were only a few recognised Acharyas; the temple was therefore the most accredited place. Even to this day this kind of branding takes place in Tirumalai by the seven recognized Acharya Purushas of the Temple during the Brahmotsavam.
"We can now have a clear picture of the three Murthis (with perhaps a separate temple of each) existing in Tiruchchokinur at the time of the downfall of the Pallava supremacy and the establishment of that of the Cholas." [Raghavacharya: 113]
As it cannot be said that all these murthis appeared on one day, even in 826 A.D. when these murthis are described as 'in existence', it could be very conveniently seen that the first installation of the murthi at Trichakkanur must have been even earlier than 826 A.D.
Socio-political conditions need to be taken into account
The appearance of the temple at Trichakkanur as a Proxy Temple and proxy image has to be viewed, taking into consideration the social and political conditions of the land, as has been rightly remarked by Veera Raghavacharya, who observes;
"In fact the history of Tiruvengadam Temple is seen to commence not on the Hills, but in the small village of Tiruchokinur (Tiruchochokinur or Tiruchchukanur) now going by the name of Tiruchannur or Chiratanur about ten miles South of the Hills by road. Changes in the political conditions of the country seem to have largely influenced the building of a temple on the Vengadam Hill itself and in the founding of a new village near the foot of the hill by Sri Ramanuja known as Tirupati. The Pallava rule during which the temple was built was overthrown by the Cholas and Shaivism gained the upper hand for some time. For a correct understanding of the inscriptions which reveal this history, it is necessary that we should understand the religious atmosphere of the corresponding period and the political conditions favourable or unfavourable at the time." [Raghavacharya: I, 81]
However, he has described the conditions at the time of fall of Pallavas, around the end of tenth century. Instead, it should be the time around the end of 7th to end of 9th century, that should be the subject matter of our discussion, because that was the time of rise of the cult of Hindu Tirupati, when installation of Proxy Image was done. We will have to consider the situation regarding social, political, and religious atmosphere of India in general, and South India and Andhra Tamil region in particular.
Brahmanism amended its laws
This was the time when Brahmanism got itself braced to combat Buddhism on all fronts. It made tremendous changes in its criminal, civil and personal laws to fight Buddhism with all might. These changes are termed kalivarjya i.e. forbidden in Kali age. Dr (M.M.) P. V. Kane has enumerated 55 changes. The prominent among these changes are those which were necessary to outdo moral precepts of Buddhism, such as abandoning procreation by husband's brother on a widow, considering other types of sons illegal except auras and dattak, abandoning killing of cows on certain yajnyas, killing of animals in honour of bridegroom, guests and pitars, actual killing of animal in Yajna, selling of soma, committing suicide by old people, narmegha, ashwamegh, rajsuya, killing of animals in Yajna, and drinking intoxicating liquors.
Second group of injunctions were put on the society to strengthen the caste system. These included prohibition of widow marriages, prohibition of inter caste marriages, prohibiting women polluted by rape etc. to mix in society even after prayschitta, prohibiting mixing in the society of persons who have committed adultery with lower varnas in spite of the prayschitta. Some prohibitions on food and drinks by different castes made caste system more and more rigid. Importance of brahmin caste was enhanced e.g. killing of a Brahmin even as an aatatayin was prohibited, and Brahmins were exempted from capital punishment. Sanyasa and Vanprastha were prohibited for others.
The third group of injunctions isolated Indians from the rest of the world. Brahmins were prohibited from undertaking distant journeys, or undertaking pilgrimages of distant lands and crossing the sea was totally prohibited. All these injunctions were imposed on the society with the intention of preventing free association with Buddhist ideas and preventing free assimilation among the castes. Thus Brahmnism started to isolate its members from the rest of the world. The maritime people of Chola and Pallava country, who used to have great links with far east Buddhist countries, stopped their voyages and lost their maritime skill in due course. And the sphere of activity of people gradually shrank more and more and ultimately remained restricted to the caste and to the village or at the most five villages, panchakroshi.
These kali varjya injunctions, it has been pointed out by Dr. Ambedkar, are not condemned but only prohibited. This new technique of forbidding but not condemning, which he calls very strange, is a new one invented by the Brahmins, in utter contrast to the procedures followed in earlier ages. This was necessary because the policy of Brahmins was to copy Buddhist on one side and to condemn Buddhism on the other, so that principles like equality and condemnation of Chaturvarnya etc., which are unwanted for the Brahmins could be kept out but popularity of Buddhism could be utilised for their selfish ends. L.M.Joshi has rightly observed:
"In the sacred writings of Neo-Brahmnism one encounters a strange paradoxical situation, viz. systematic assimilation as well as a sustained condemnation of Buddhism." [L.M.Joshi: 1983: 216]
Anti-Buddhist activities were at peak
This was the time when the religious activities against the Buddhists were at their zenith. L. M. Joshi has observed:
"...The views that, constant Brahmanical hostility towards Buddhism both in letter and spirit seems to have been the foremost factor in loosening its hold on Indian classes and masses, and that the anti-Buddhist propaganda in Brahmanical literature was not a mere 'war of the pen' but was periodically accompanied with its social counterpart, such as social boycott and royal edicts against those who violated the 'divinely ordained' scheme of chaturvarnya, and establishments by Brahmanical kings, etc. have been put forward for the consideration of our historians who account for the decay of Buddhism by exaggerating the effects of Turkish conquest of India." [L.M.Joshi:1973:xxi]
Brahmanical Crusade against Buddhism
This was the time, when Brahmanism started country wide crusade against Buddhism. Speaking of this age L. M. Joshi describes this crusade thus:
"...It was the age when Buddhist logic and dialectics were perfected by Dharmakirti and Shantirakshita; when Buddhist moral and spiritual fervour received supreme expression at the hands of Shantideva and Kamalashila; when some of the master minds of ancient India including Shantideva, Chandrakirti, Dharmakirti, Shantirakshita, Uddyotkara, Kumarila and Sankara, were busy in a life and death struggle for the defense of their own doctrines; when Buddhist logicians like Samkarananda and Brahmanical teachers like Gaudapada were trying to harmonise the tenets of Buddhist and Brahmanical philosophies; when Tantrika adepts like Sarahapada, Nagarjunaa II, and others began to broadcast that Esoteric Gospel which soon transformed Sakyamuni's Gospel, dominated the whole medieval period of Indian culture, and which, through Gorakhanantha, Kabirdasa, Nanaka and others, was transmitted down to Ramakrishna, Raman Maharshi and Sri Aurobindo of our own days; it was during this most critical and decisive period in the history of Indian Buddhism, in fact, of Indian culture as a whole, that while a host of Buddhist Doctors of Indian Buddhist Universities were engaged in their scientific and cultural missions in distant parts of Asia, their Brahmanical counterparts at home were actively engaged in orgnising a countrywide intellectual and cultural crusade against Buddhist ideals and practices; when Brahmnism, re-armed with Buddhist arsenal, sacked its rival creditor; when Tantrikism washed off distinctive traits of Buddhism and swept all religious sects of the country in one massive stream of devotional mysticism; when Buddhism began to recede into background and Brahmnism reshaped itself into 'Hinduism' considerably refined and enriched by constant contacts with Buddhist ideals and practices, and remodelled according to the new circumstances brought about by the growth and popularity of Shramanic ideologies for centuries, Brahmnism now emerged, under its puranic garb as the undisputed national 'Hindu' culture. In the two fold process of assimilation and condemnation of Buddhism, the Brahmanical priests sacrificed at the altar of mythical Vishnu even the most historical and overwhelmingly non-Brahmanical personality of Buddha and mystified the historical existence of Buddhism as a delusive trick of a Puranic God. 'This well-conceived and bold stroke of policy,' remarks R. C. Majumdar, 'cut the ground from under the feet of Buddhism which was already steadily losing ground and the ultimate result was the complete effacement of Buddhism from India as separate sect.' (The Cultural Heritage of India, 2nd edn., vol.IV,p.48) The transformation of Brahmnism or the birth of Hinduism, we may add, had been the eclipse of Buddhism in its homeland - one of the major tragedies in the annals of Indian culture - a fact frequently overlooked or confused by most of our historians." [L. M. Joshi: 1977: xxii]
Reason for Buddha being given place in avatars, Principle or Strategy?
This was the time when Buddha had been given a place in Avatars of Vishnu, by some of the Puranas. The time of this is estimated by Bhandarkar as follows:
"... Thus Buddha had come to be recognised as an incarnation of Vishnu before the date of Dharmparikha, which is Vikrama 1070, corresponding to 1014 A.D. If the approximate date assigned to the temple at Sirpur is correct, Buddha must have been admitted into the Brahmanic pantheon before the eighth century. ..." [Bhandarkar R.G., Vaishnavism, Saivism &c., p. 64].
Why did the Brahmins give place to Buddha in their Avatars? Did they really like His ideas and ideals or was it only as a part of their strategy to win over the masses away from Buddhism? Adherence to chaturvarnya was the life of Brahmnism, they could never give it up and to follow Buddha would have meant giving it up. So they adopted Buddha only for name sake. Similar picture we see even today, about Sankaracharya reverently garlanding the photo of Late Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. [ Tarun Bharat, Nagpur, 18.4.89] That was necessary; Buddha was too great to be ignored. About avatara of Buddha L.M. Joshi observes:
"Buddha had penetrated the Indian mind very deeply; His images had covered thousands of pillars, walls and gates of so many monasteries all over the country, His teachings had been popularised and broadcast through an almost inexhaustible mint of Pali and Sanskrit literature, many emperors and subtle thinkers had espoused the cause of His rational and humanitarian mission, and His praise had been sung by numerous Indian for centuries; He was too great to be neglected. He naturally came in as the most exalted member in the galaxy of avataras. The acceptance of Buddha as an incarnation had been accomplished probably in sixth century A.D. first in the Matsya Purana. The Matsya Purana's verse is found engraved on Pallava monuments of cir. 700 A.D. at Mahabalipuram, where the Buddha is mentioned as the 9th avatara of Vishnu." [L. M. Joshi: 1977: 317].
Puranas invented stories to capture and retain Buddhist places of worship
New Puranas were written and old were edited and re-edited to give stories for new revival of Brahmanism, for supporting chaturvarnya. Sthala puranas and myths were invented to capture and retain the Buddhist places of worship, as already mentioned in chapter 2. This latter purpose of Puranas is not yet properly explored.
Shaivas and Vaishnavas were together in uprooting Buddhists and Jains
Alvars and Nayanaras forming the bhajan parties and they were 'singing out the Buddhism out of this country. Vaishnavas and Shaivas were coming together. We are told a story of meeting at Shiyali of a great saint of Vaishnavism, Tirumangai Alvar, under whose guidance this proxy temple is said to have established and who is said to have stolen a solid gold image of the Buddha from monastery at Nagapattinum for renovating the temple of Vishnu at Srirangam and who is the only Alvar whose image is depicted with a sword in his hand, with the great Saivite saint Nanasambandar who is said to have worked against the Jains, vanquished them in debate and converted the king of Madura and his subjects to Saivism and the story goes that on his occasion eight thousand Jains were put to death by impalement, and a festival in Madura Temple is supposed to commemorate the gruesome event of this day. Whether the story of the meeting of these two saints is historically correct or not, the fact remains that it shows the trend of friendship between the Saivites and Vaishnavites at the time, making it improbable for Tirumangai to set up a Temple for conversion of Saivites.
Examples of Ellora
Rashtrakuta reign had started in northern part of Deccan and they were very much hostile against Buddhists. We find in their reign, the images of Buddha being chiselled out from the monuments at Ellora, Cave XV, Dasavatara being the glaring example. We also find archaeological evidence at Ellora, where shrines like the Kailas were being excavated. Here we find Vishnu and Siva Murthis coming up side by side.
Rathas Mahabalipuram were Buddhist
This was the time when the work of Seven pagodas, also called the Rathas at Mahabalipuram seems to have stopped. The great monuments were left unfinished. Percy Brown wonders why this has happened. He observes:
"From the unfinished state of nearly all the rock architecture at Mamallapuram, much of it lacking that final efforts which would have made these shrines really serviceable, it would seem as if some unexpected political cataclysm had intervened, causing the rock-cutter to throw down his mallet and chisel and hasten away, never to return. History records no such upheaval, so an explanation must be looked elsewhere..." [Percy Brown, Indian Architecture, vol.I, p.80].
The reason was not far to seek. A glance at the anti- Buddhist sentiment prevailing among the higher ups in the society around, could give a clue. Kalabhras, the friends of the Buddhists, were put down and none left to protect these people, and the 'monasteries were looked after by local deities'.
Percy Brown further observes:
"These monolith shrines were of Saivite attribution, and in their proximity are images, also carved in rock, of a lion, an elephant, and a bull, symbolizing respectively Durga, Indra and Shiva. Yet the fact that these Siva shrines are in a style architecture traditionally associated with the Buddhists, seems to imply that they were a type of structure not the monopoly of any one religion, but had a common origin. There is evidence in support of this in certain emblematical subjects carved within the gable ends of the three chaitya hall examples, each of which is full of allegory. (Plate LX). And in more than one of them there is a central symbol not unlike a stupa. Each gable a conventional or diagrammatic rendering of a prayer hall, the curved barge-boards taking the place of the vaulted roof, the decorated brackets on either side simulation the ribs of the vault, while, most significant of all, the central object is a tabernacle or sacred relic. Each of these representations of tabernacles or reliquaries takes a different form, just as the ratha on which it is depicted also is of a certain design, so that both ratha and reliquary may be identified as belonging to one another. It is possible, therefore, that each ratha is a shrine consecrated to one of the manifestations of Siva, its shape being conditioned by the tradition which has ordained that it should take such a form for that particular manifestation"
But Percy Brown ignored that these could have been Buddhist Structures. He noticed and described the Buddhist features, but strangely enough, thought that it was Buddhist influence on Saivite structures. The presence of lion, elephant and a bull reminded him of Durga, Indra and Siva, not of Buddha, though it is universally accepted that the worship of Indra had ceased a long time before the work of Mamalapuram had even started. The observation by Percy Brown of Buddhist features on the structures and to think them to be Saivite in spite of the clear appearances of Buddhist features is unjustifiable. Therefore, it is certain that these Seven Pagodas were meant to be Buddhist structures and had to be relinquished by Buddhist because of anti-Buddhist sentiments all around and though the Buddhists had started the work, they could not finish it.
The structure which goes by the name of "descent of Ganges", as per Brahmanic scholars, it may be noted was already declared by Fergusson to a Naga Representation.
Rise of Rajputs was for suppressing Buddhism
This was the time when a new people i.e. Rajputs were coming up on the horizon, in North India, who were subsequently to dominate the history of India for some centuries to come. Rise of Rajputs is too big a subject to be discussed here. It could form a subject matter of a separate work. [See my Decline & fall of Buddhism] Suffice it to say here that these people were made prominent by the Brahmanism, for the specific purpose of suppressing Buddhism by use of force, from among the remnants of Hunas and other foreign hordes who had been broken down by the activities of kings like Baladitya and others.
Dr. Ambedkar has observes:
"...One view is that they are foreigners, remnants of the Huns who invaded India and established themselves in Rajputana and whom the Brahmins raised to the status of Kshatriyas with the object of using them as means to suppress Buddhism in Central India by a special ceremony before the sacred fire and who were therefore known as Agnikula Kshatriyas..." [Who were the Shudras: 1970:204]
He has also given views of Vincent Smith, William Crooke and R.D.Bhandarkar. A relevant portion is reproduced here. Vincent Smith observed:
"...These foreigners like their fore-runners the Sakas and the Ye-chi universally yielded to the wonderful assimilative power of Hinduism and rapidly became Hinduised. Clans or families which succeeded in winning chieftains were admitted readily into the frame of Hindu polity as Kshatriyas or Rajputs and there is no doubt that the Pratiharas and many other famous Rajput clans of the north were developed out of the barbarian hordes which poured into India during the fifth and sixth centuries. The rank and file of the strangers become Gujars and castes ranking lower than Rajputs in their precedence. Further to the south, various indigenous or aboriginal tribes and clans underwent the same process of Hinduised social promotion in virtue of which Gonds, Bhars, Kharwars and so forth emerged as Chandels, Rathors, Gaharwars and other well known Rajput clans duly equipped with pedigree reaching back to the sun and the moon." [Quoted by Dr. Ambedkar, Ibid. p.204].
On the top of Mt. Abu, an Yajna was conducted where certain new clans were created to fight against Buddhism. About this, William Crooke observed:
"...The group denoted by the name Kshatriya or Rajput depended on status, rather than on descent, and it was therefore possible for foreigners to be introduced into these tribes without any violation of the prejudices of the caste, which was then only partially developed. But it was necessary to disguise this admission of foreigners under a convenient fiction. Hence, arose the legend, how by a solemn act of purification or initiation under the superintendence of the ancient Vedic Rishis, the fire born septs were created to help the Brahmins in repressing Buddhism and other heresies. This privilege was confined to four septs known as Agnikula or fire born - viz., the Parmar, Parihar, Chalukya and Chauhan." [Quoted by Ambedkar, Ibid.p.205].
Hiranya-garbha prasuta Kings of South India
The rite mentioned above was called Hiranya-garbha mahadana and the king was designated as "Hiranya-grabha-prasutta," i.e. one who performed the sacred rite of hiranya-garbha which consists in the performer passing through an egg of gold which was afterwards distributed among the officiating priests." [Sircar : 1970: 225]
Concerning ourselves with South India, we find that this rite was performed, among others, by Maharaja Madhava-varman I of Vishnukundin family. [Ibid.:208] and by king Attivarman who was father of Damodaravarman of Ananda family, and by Madhava-varman III of Visahnukundins, [Ibid.:225] and by Chalikya Vallabhesvara, i.e. Pulakesin I, of Chalukyas [Ibid.:231] and also by the mighty Pandyan king Maravarman Rajasimha I. [Ibid.p.268].
Ranas of Mewar too
Also some tribal chiefs were among those who were made the Rajputs. Giving example of House of Mewar which played important role in political and military history of India and gave heroes like Bapa Raval, Rana Sanga, and Rana Pratap, Stella Kramerish observes:
"Formerly they (Bhils) ruled over their own country. This was prior to the arrival of Rajputs. The Rajputs, the 'sons of kings', invaded the country, subsequently Rajasthan, in about sixth century A.D. They become Kshatriyas, the nobility par excellence of India. Some of these Rajput princes, including the most exalted of them, the Rana of Mewar, at the inception of their rule , had their foreheads marked with the blood of a Bhill. It was drawn from his thumb or big toe. This was an acknowledgment of the precedence of the Bhils as rulers of the country." [Stella Kramerish: 1968 :90; fn.:-Koppers,'Die Bhil',p.14].
Activities of Kumarila and Sankara
On doctrinal front, activities of Kumarila Bhatta, Vachaspati Misra and Acharya Sankara were in prominence, in conducting debates and annihilating the Buddhists. We get a vivid description of pleasure of Acharya on seeing the people of non- brahmnic faith being burnt to death, from Sankara Digvijaya. L.M.Joshi observes:
"Far more fatal to Buddhism were the onslaughts of Kumarila, the fiercest critic of Buddhism. The Slokavartika shows that he was a hostile critic and avowed enemy of Buddhist ideals. He is reported, both in India and Tibetan traditions, to have organised religious crusade against Buddhists. He is said to have instigated king Sudhanvan of Ujjaini to exterminate the Buddhists. This report has not been accepted by modern scholars as a genuine and historical fact. No other historical details of this pro-Brahmanical king of Ujjaini are known to us. Hsuan-tsang refers to a king of Ujjain who was brahmana by caste and well versed in heterodox lore, but not a Buddhist. This king was ruling when the pilgrim visited the city of Ujjaini. From the Mricchakatika we learn that the king's brother-in-law in Ujjaini harassed the Buddhist monks. He beat with blows a newly turned mendicant, Samavahaka by name, and treated other bhikshus as 'bullocks by cart'. It may not be an impossibility that the evidence furnished by the Samkardigvijaya, Hsuan-tsang and the Mricchakatika - three independent sources - allude to some historical episodes in which the Brahmanical followers persecuted the followers of Sakyamuni in the country around Ujjain.
"There can be no doubt as to the fact that Kumarila was the strongest protagonist of Vedic ritualism, Brahmanical theology and priestly superiority. The Tibetan historians also record his wars against the Buddhists. The Keralautaptti documents his extermination of the Buddhists from Kerala. The name of Kumarila is thus associated with the decline of Buddhism in diverse sources. According to Gopinath Kaviraja, Kumarila 'was one of the most potent forces actively employed in bringing about this decline.' " [L.M.Joshi: 312].
Kings like Sudhanvan, thus we see, standing behind the activities of Sankara. His was not only a doctrinal battle of pen, but it was backed up by fire and sword. Nagarjunakonda was destroyed by Sankara's orders and under his personal supervision as we have already seen. About such activities, Swami Vivekananda has observed:
"And such was the heart of Shankar that he burnt to death lots of Buddhist monks by defeating them in argument. What can you call such an action on Sankara's part except fanaticism" [complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, vol. VII, p.117; quoted by Bhau Lokhande:131].
Real reason for proxy image was conversion and not more convenience of devotees
Such were the times when the proxy image of Lord at Tirumalai was installed in a proxy temple at Tiruchannur under the guidance of Tirumangai Alvar. It is very difficult to believe that the reason of putting up a proxy temple on the plains at Tiruchannur was simply to provide convenience to the members of public to save them the trouble of climbing the hill. It was much more than that. If we look at the environment as described above and if we consider the activities of the temple of Tichannur in subsequent years of converting people to Vaishnavism, we can come to conclusion that the real reason to provide a shrine at Trichannur was religious conversion rather than just simple convenience of devotees to avoid climbing the hill.
Thus, providing the image at Trichakkanur as a substitute for the image on the hill, was the most clever move by the Brahmins. If giving place to Buddha in avataras of Vishnu was a masterpiece move in the strategy of Brahmins, this move of providing, proxy temple of Lord of Tirumalai, was a supreme mark of intelligence and master brains were behind it. This move did succeed in weaning away people from going up the hill which was the main intention.
Whose conversion was sought
We have to consider at least two points which are important while discussing this subject.
First, who were the people who were being sought after, for the conversion by the Vaishnavas to Vaishnavism. Raghavacharya considers that these converts were Saivites. This could not be true, at least, in earlier times as we have already seen that Vaishnavas and Saivas were together in driving out the Buddhists. The only conclusion is that the people sought to be converted were of so called heretical sects, specially Buddhists. As the Lord Buddha was included in the Avataras, the job had become easier, easier for both, the converters and converts. Devotees of the Lord on the hill had only to be told that, "Your god is same one who is now at Tiruchchukanur at the foot of the hill."
Why not Kanchi?
Second, why Trichannur was selected for this purpose. Kanchi was site of more important and prosperous Vishnu shrine and was the center of all religio-political activities of all sects of the time, so why not Kanchi? Temple at Tichakkanur was very unimportant and insignificant, so why this should be selected as a place for a new center for conversion, if the conversion was meant for Saivites. It is very clear that conversion was meant for the devotees of the Lord on the hill and that the Tichakkanur was selected because it was in proximity to the temple on the hill of Tirumalai. Other effect of this could have been that it was possible to identify those staunch Buddhists who did climb up the hill in spite of the temple below. These people could be readily identified and persecuted and eliminated.
Even in modern times we find that those who like to convert people to their own faith, have to go into interior and inaccessible areas, that is the place for their field work. Similar was the purpose of Brahmins to woo away the people from the worship of deity on the hill. The selection of Trichkkanur would be considered very appropriate, only if the shrine on the hill would have been a Buddhist shrine and these people who were sought to be converted to Vaishnavism were Buddhists. However, an intermediate stage may be postulated when Buddhist got converted to Saivism, and later to Vaisnavism.
Installation of the silver image on the hill
Afterwards we get another important event occurring on the hill that is the consecration of the Bhoga Srinivasa in 966 A.D. and Shifting of the activities from Tiruchannur and subsequent abandoning of Temple at Tiruchannur. The reason for this is said to be the apprehension of conflict with Saivites.
"...it was stated that the silver replica of Tiruvengadamudaiyan was consecrated in Tirumalai with a view to avoiding any possible source of friction between the Saivites and the Vaishnavites, since a temple for Siva, known as Sri Parasaresvaraswami, was constructed some time after the Tiruvilankoyil in Tiruchochunur. There is no mention anywhere that tension existed between the two sects at that period in Tiruchochokinur. It was also pointed out as a result of a close study of the wording of some inscriptions, that the Vaishnavite Temple was doing proselytising work and therefore open to all and that feeding also was open to members of both sects on equal terms. There was therefore the possibility of the friction and the astute Vaishnavas of the day wanted to eliminate all chances of such friction arising at a future date. Right up to the days of Sri Ramanuja, however, there was no sign of such friction." [Raghavacharya: I,120].
Friction among the Saivites and Vaishnavites
Two minor incidents of friction, if it could be so called, are described. One was in 1008, and other 1013 A.D. which were incidences of inquiry by the Officers of the Royal court into the affairs of mismanagement of trust by the temple authorities.
"We do not find any other instance of friction. That about or some time before, the year 1000 A.D. there was some friction as evidenced by the two incidents mentioned in our inscriptions. The reader will now see the wisdom of the Vaishnava leaders of the time in transferring their activities to Tiruvengadam Hill, practically abandoning the Tiruchchukanur Tiruvilankoyil. In a small village the two Temple of rival sects could not have worked in healthy cooperation. It is very necessary to go into the history of the Temple of Sri Parasaresvara to feel convinced of their wisdom." [Ibid. I,124]
"...the Vaishnavites from the date of founding of a Saivite temple apprehended the possibilities of friction and therefore removed the centre of their activities to Tiruvengadam Hill." [Ibid. I,128].
"There is, and there naturally can be, no inscription which would state why the Tiruvilankoyil had for all practical purposes to be abandoned and the Vaishnava activities centered in Tirumalai itself. The Chola rule was in full swing and all the Chola kings were staunch Saivites. There was therefore no wisdom in sticking to Tiruchchukanur. We have to read between the lines to explain the most important step which the Vaishnavites of the day took. At that time Sri Alvandar was steering the ship is the Tamil country for the spread of Vaishnavism and he must have advised the Sri Vaishnavas to transfer their activities to Tirumalai." [Ibid. :I,129]
Before summarising the whole situation we would like to recapitulate the dates:
* 1.Around 826 AD- Proxy Image is installed and Vaishnava activities started at Trichakkanur instead of on the hill
* 2.966 AD - Bhoga Srinivasa installed on the Hill, and all Vaishnava activities transferred back to hill.
* 3.1006 A.D.- first signs of any friction between Vaishnavas and Saivites.
* 4.Siva Temple constructed not long before 1008 A.D.
* 5.This Siva Temple did not get any grant from Chola Kings till 1073 A.D. in spite of Chola rule starting in 1008.
There was no rivalry at early stage
If some attention is paid to chronology of events it becomes clear that this activity of converting Saivites came at a later date. We are now thinking of time, when both Saivites and Vaishnavites were fighting together to wipe out the heretical sects of Buddhism and Jainism. During earlier times of A.D. 830 or so there was no rivalry between Vaishnavas and Shaivas. That came later, at the times of Ramanuja or so, during the Chola rule. In the earlier times Buddhist were the real enemies of Vaishnavas and Shaivas and they had to be dealt with. So all the activities of all Brahmanic sects were primarily directed against the Buddhists. That was not the time or infighting among the Vaishnavas and Shaivas. Mr. Dave has very rightly remarked, as mentioned earlier, that the time of emergence of cult of Tirupati was the time of combined fight of Vaishnavas and Shaivas against Buddhism.
By 966 A.D., things had changed. Buddhists were suppressed. The quarrels among Vaishnavites and Saivites started now. The coming up of a Saiva temple at Tiruchakkanur is said to be the cause of this, as observed by Veera Raghavacharya. It always happens that when a common enemy is put down, the internal rivalries prop up. There may be no surprise if the same happened here. Now the Saivites and Vaishnavites had no reason to work together, as the Buddhists were suppressed. But this is only one aspect.
Indoctrination of masses
The other aspect which is often ignored is that during the activities of the proxy temple, the devotees of the Lord on the hill were indoctrinated to Vishnu worship and they had to be shifted back to the original Shrine on the hill, because it was too great to be ignored, now in the form of Vishnu without any mention about the Buddha avatara. By this time masses had forgotten that it was Buddha they were worshipping as an avatara of Vishnu. Now the devotees are told to worship the Lord as Vishnu, not as a Buddhavtara Vishnu but as avatara of Krishna, prominently. This is more important reason of abandoning Trichokkinur than the apprehension of conflict with Shaivas.
Ramanuja made Tirupati important artificially
Then the great Ramanuja comes on the scene and regularizes worship and adjusts all loose ends, whatever there might have been. A new township, by name Tirupati, is established at the foot of the hill and its importance increased rather artificially, as observed by Veera Raghavacharya:
"... circumstances made it imperative that Tirupati should be made more important by artificial means, such as making it obligatory for anyone having any dealings with the Tirumalai Temple to keep a house in Tirupati." [Ibid.: I,6].
And thus the conversion becomes full, final and irreversible. But until the Vijayanagar kingdom comes, still there is no Garuda shrine, and no Veda recital.