Tuesday, February 19, 2008
92. Avalokitesvara @ Kadire
The charming bronze idol in the Kadire Manjunatha temple represents the Avalokitesvara (or Lokeswara), a former Bodhisatva, who was considered as embodiment of compassion and an incarnation of Buddha during the Tenth century CE.
In Nepal, Macchendra Nath is being worshipped as an incarnation of Avalokitesvara, a form of Buddha modeled after Shiva. It appears that Alupe King Kundavarma installed the bronze idol during ca.968-1068 CE posthumously in honour of Macchendra Nath whose cult was absorbed into Vajrayana Buddhism and was worshipped as Avalokitesvara in Nepal and other areas. The date of installation of the idol written in the inscription at the bottom of the idol has been interpreted as 968 CE by Dr. Gururaja Bhat, whereas Manjeswara Govinda Pai reinterpreted the date as 1068 CE.
The idol reflects the art of bronze casting that was perfected in Tamilnadu during the Chola period of ca.850-1150 CE. The bronze might have been cast in situ at Kadire or brought from the Chola kingdom.
A chronological recapitulation: Macchendra Natha, a disciple of Adinatha, who founded the Shaiva Natha cult, a school of Hatha Yoga, came from Chandragiri in Bengal to Kadire by walk around the early tenth century CE, with his disciple Gorakh Natha and settled near the Buddhist monastery known as Kadarika Vihar, near Kadire, in Mangalapura. Natha historians claim that Macchendra and Gorakh along with some of their contemporaries discovered the Kundalini system of Yoga which was advancement over the older Patanjali Yoga. The Jogis of Natha cult are known for traveling widely all over the country. Natha cult was practiced by ‘split-ear mendicants’ who wore large circular rings in their ears.(Victor M Fic, 2003) Macchendra also founded the Kaula cult at Triambakeswar, in present Maharastra. During the Tenth century Karnataka, according to Kavi-raja-marga, is said to have spread from River Kavery to River Godavary, encompassing the present Maharastra.
After his death, the Natha cult of Macchendra was absorbed into Vajrayana Buddhism, which was also known for experiments in Tantra. The Natha cult also influenced the Baula cult (Sufism). Jnaneswar or Jnanadeva (b.1275 – d.1296 CE) was a disciple of Natha cult, but later his disciples founded the Warakari cult
Macchendra while at Kadire installed a memorial stone in memory of his departed son Manju Natha in the tradition of spirit worship that was vogue in the region. The selection of the name ‘Manju’ shows combined influence of native Tulu word ‘manji’ (=dew, snow, fog) and Buddhist Pali word ‘manju’(=beautiful, charming).Following Macchendra’s incarnation as Avalokitesvara, the Manju Natha was regarded as incarnation of Manjusri, the Buddha of Wisdom, or Buddhist equivalent of Lord Brahma of Hindu pantheon. A bronze idol of Manjusri was installed. The township around the temple was designated Manjarur. The name Manjarur has been recorded by Arabian travelers like Ibn Battuta during 1342 CE.
With passage of time the native spirit worship was absorbed into the mainstream Hinduism and Manjunatha was regarded as a form of Lord Shiva. The Manjunatha temple is estimated to have been built around 14th century CE by Dr. Gururaja Bhat.
Thus Kadire Manjunatha temple is a window to the theological heritage of Mangalore, a convergence of cascading transitions of overlapping religious cults of Buddhist, Natha, Spirit and Shaiva traditions.
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