Signs of early Dakiniyana Buddhism

by Ramesh Susarla, The Hindu, Aug 19, 2006

GUNTUR, India -- Evidence of the existence in India of the Dakiniyana school of Buddhism in the second century A.D. has been found at Kantamanenivarigudem, close to Guntupalli caves in West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh.

The Archaeological Survey of India found a decorated pillar in the vicinity of a chaitya. It was excavated along with a damaged Dhyana Buddha statue, shards of pottery and chaitya pillars, ASI Director D. Jithendra Das said. The top half of the green limestone pillar carries a half-lotus medallion and a frieze of animals such as lion, deer and boar.

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This three-line inscription at the lower half of the pillar displays early Brahmi characters and Prakrit language. ASI officials found to their surprise a clear mention of the existence of an established Dakiniyana school.

The script, deciphered by ASI Assistant Director D. Kanna Babu at Amaravathi in Guntur district, announces: "Gift of vessel full of coins (Masakas) made to the benefit of Aryasangha and followers of Dakiniyana residing at Jinanagamahaparvatha by the householder (Nagaputa) hailing from Sakuda along with his wife Bodhi and daughter." Paleographically the script dates back to the second century.

The epigraphical discovery contains challenging features for researchers on Buddhism as it mentions a school unknown till date.