Buddhism in Tamil Nadu
- Buddhism set its foot in South India during the 2nd Century BC, the period of the 3rd Sangam, which was long after the advent of Jainism in Tamilnadu. Buddhist monks from various parts of the world visited Kaveripattinam, located on the eastern coast of Tamilnadu.
- Manimekalai, an ancient Tamil epic, is Buddhist literature that speaks volumes about the tenets of Buddhism.
Inscriptions on Buddhism in Tamil Nadu
- Hieun-T-Sang, a Chinese chronicler belonging to the 7th Century, wrote about the Pandyan kingdom of Madurai and the stupa built by the ruler at that time.
- Buddhism flourished during Pallava rule in \(400 – 650 AD \), and also during the Chola period from the 9th Century to 14th Century.
KANCHIPURAM: This place was considered the greatest centre of Buddhist learning, which was also mentioned in the Tamil epic Manimekalai.
- Mahendravarman, the ruler of the Pallava dynasty, wrote about Buddhism in his Sanskrit work “Mattavilasa Prahasana”.
- Famous Buddhist scholars like Dharmapala, and Dinnaga belongs to Kanchipuram.
Reasons for the Spread of Buddhism:
- Buddhism opposed the stringent practices and rituals proposed by the Vedas and other Brahmanical literature.
- It also vehemently opposed the caste divisions exerted by the upper class on the people of lower strata.
- The Buddhist teachings were done in the Pali language, which common people felt appealing and acceptable.
- The Ideals of Buddhism were considered more close to the reality of commoners than the other principles.
- The Truth’s/ Dhamma propounded by Buddhism evoked the feelings of people, which made them accept Buddhism.
- Patronage from various rulers of the kingdom helped the religion to reach greater heights and increased its spread across regions.
- The Buddhist Sanga played a vital role in spreading the message of Buddhist principles.
- The learning centres like Buddhist Universities played an important role in taking the ideals to the students, who took them to various parts of the world.