Notes on the Nagarjunikonda Inscriptions
The Indian Historical Quarterly
Notes on the Nagarjunikonda Inscriptions
NAGARJUNIKONDA AND NAGBRJUNA
The discovery of the Prakrt Inscriptions at
Nagarjunikonda recently edited and published by Dr.
Vogel in the Epigraphia Indica, vol. XX, pt i, is of
great importance to the history of Buddhism.
Importance of the site of Nagarjunikonda
In my note on the ''Discovery of a Bone-relic at
an Ancient Centre of Mahayana" published in the
I.H.Q., (1929), vol.V,pp.794-796, I dwelt on the
importance of the site, Nagarjunikonda, as a famous
resort of the Buddhists of the early centuries of the
Christian era, and probably also, as an early centre
of Mahayana. Just as BodhGaya grew up on the bank
of the Neranjara as a very early centre of Hinayana
and a place of pilgrimaga for the early Buddhists so
also did Amaravati (extending to Jaggayapeta) and
Nagarjunikonda on the bank of the Krsna (including
its tributary Paler) as a flourishing centre of
proto-Mahayana and Mahayana in the pre- Christian and
the early Christian era and a place of pilgrimage for
the later Buddhists. On the basis of the style of
sculptures and the palaeographic data, Burgess,
agreeing with Fergusson, holds that the construction
of the Amaravatr Stapa was commenced in the 2nd
century B.C., and enlarged later and decorated with
new sculptures, the latest of which was the great
railing erected a little before 200 A.D.(1) It was
some time after the completion of this Amaravati
Stupa, that the stupas at Jaggayyapeta and Nagarjuni-
konda came into existence, their dates being,
according to Burgess and Vogel respectively, the
3rd or 4th century A.D.(2) This estimate of date is
based on palaeographic evidences and the mention of
the king called Madhariputa Siri Virapurisadata
(=Matharrputra Sri Virapurusadatta) of the Ikhaku
dynasty.(3) The inscriptions on the
1 Burgess, Buddhist Stupas of Amaravati and
jaggayyapeta (Arch. Survey of Southern India) p.
2 Ep. Ind., XX, p. 2.
3 Buhler assigns 3rd century A.D. to the reign of
king Purisadata, Ep. Ind., XX, p. 2, quoting Ind.
Ant., XI (1882), pp. 256ff.
ayaka-pillars at Nagarjunikonda contain not only
the name of this king, but also that of his father
Vasethiputa Siri Camtamula and his son and successor
Vasethiputa Siri Ehuvula Camtamula.(1) It appears
from the inscriptions that the principal donor of the
subsidiary structures of the stupa, was Camtasiri,
the sister of the king Siri Camtamula, and the
paternal aunt (pitcha) , later on, probably
mother-in-law, of the king Siri Virapurisadata.(2)
Hence, the time of the inscriptions, mentioning the
names of the kings Camtasiri and Virapurisadata, is
the 3rd or the 4th century A.D. It should be
remembered that the period mentioned here relates to
the subsidiary structures of the main stupa, and
not to the stupa itself--the Mahacetiya, which must
be assigned to an earlier period.
Yuan Chwnng's testimony about Nagarjuna's place of
The Buddhistic remains at Nagarjunikonda of
Palnad Taluk of the Guntur District and the Tibetan
tradition about the residerice of Nagarjuna at
Sri-parvata near Dhanyakataka tempt us to trace some
connection of Nagarjuna, the expounder of Madhramika
philosophy, with this locality, and have, in fact,
led scholars to enter into speculations about the
identification of Po-lo-mo-lo ki li of Yuan Chwang,
Yuan Chwang states that from Kalinga he travelled
northwest about 1800 li (=300 imles roughly)
through hills and forests and reached southern
Kosala, where he found--'an old monastery with an
Asokan tope" said to be the residence of Nagar-
juna.(3) He further states that while residing here
Nagarjuna met Aryadeva who hailed from Sengkala
(Simhala) (4) About 300 li (=50 miles) to the
south-west of the 'old' monastery of Nagarjuna stands
the mountain called Po-lo-mo-lo-ki-li (rendered into
Chinese by 'Hei-feng' meaning 'Black Peak' and
'Hei-feng-feng' signifying 'Black Bee mountain').(5)
On the authority of Beal and Burgess, and
1 Ep. Ind., XX, p. 3.
3 Watters, Yuan Ghwnng, II, p. 200; Taranatha
Geschichte des Buddhismus (Schiefner), p. 83.
5 Watters, op. cit., II, p. 207; Cunningham, Ancient
Geography. new ed., pp. 598f, Varamula girl =
Varula = Elura.
Fa-hien's Parvata-giri, Watters with some
hesitation restores it as Bhramara-giri, and
identifies it with Sriparvata,(l) where, according to
the testimony of Tibetan writers, Nagarjuna spent the
latter part of his life.(2) Yuan Chwang, however,
does not state clearly that Nagarjuna lived at Po-lo
mo-lo-ki-li, which may have been a Buddhist
establishment built at his instance within the
province of Daksina Kosala. To identify this mountain
with Sriparvata, which, if identified with a mountain
near Dhanakataka, must have been more than 50 miles
distant from any part of Daksina Kosala, seems to me
to be wide of the mark.
Tibetan and Sanskrit Traditions
Yuan Chwang's mention of Nagarjuna in connection
with Daksina Kosala and the identification of this
country, as suggested by Cunningham, with "the
ancient province of Vidarbha or Berar, of which the
present capital is Nagpur'(3) reminds us of the
Tibetan tradition which says that Nagarjuna was born
of a brahmin family of Vidarbha.(4)
The Lankavatara could have been pointed out as
the source of this tradition if the "Vedalyam of the
undermentioned verse(5) could have been shown to be a
locality in Vidarbha or if the word had been a
variant for Vaidarbha."(6)
1 Watters, op. cit., p. 207.
2 Taranatha, op. cit., pp.71, 81, 303; dPag. bsam.
ljon. bzan, p.86: dPal. gyi. ri=Sriparvata or
3 Cunningham, op. cit., p. 595.
4 Taranatha, op. cit., Appendix, pp.301, 303; dPag.
bsam.ljon. bzan, p.85:Iho phyogs-Vaidarbhar-bram.
zehi. rigs. su. hkhruns.
5 Lankavatara, Sagathakam, p.286:
[At Vedali in the south, there will be the renowned
monk known by the name of Naga, supporter of the
doctrine of both existence and and non-existence].
6 The reading 'Vedalyam' of Nanjio, followed by H.P.
Sastri, (Buddhistic Studies, ed. by B. C. Law,
p.853) is not warranted by the Tibetan version of
the verse, which is as follows:
Iho-phyogs Vedahi yul du ni /
dge-slon dpal-ldan ches grags-pa // etc.
See Walleser, Life of Nagarjuna (Hirth Anniversary
volume), p. 19.
The Manjusrimulakalpa furnishes us with a few
particulars about Nagarjuna corroborating the
Lankavatara but does not mention his birth-place or
the chief centre of his activities. It says,--
[ln the fourth century after my
parinirvana,(1)there will be a monk known by tile
name of Naga engaged in doing good to the Faith. By
attaining the Mudita stage (i.e. the first of the ten
bhumis) he will live for 6oo years. He will attain
perfection in Mayurividya.(2) That master of the
knowledge of the various sastras and dhatus, and of
the non-reality of all things, will after demise be
reborn in the Sukhavati, and will in due course
The Madhyamik-Nagarjuna confused with the
The Manjusrimulakalpa, belonging to a date prior
to the 11th century A. D.,(3) has very probably
mixed up the traditions relating to more than one
person bearing the name Nagarjuna. It corroborates
the Lankavatara(4) when it states that Nagarjuna-will
be the master of the
1 In the Appendix to Taranatha, op.cit., pp.301,
303, Wassiljew writes that according to Sumbum of
Toguan chutuktu, Nagarjuna was born in Vidarbha in
the south, 400 years after Buddha's parinirvana.
See also dPag. sam. Ijon. bzan, p. 83.
2 Nanjio speaks of six Mahamayuri-Vidyarajnis (nos.
306-311). The earliest translation, dated 317-420
A.D., is attributed to Poh Srimitra, the next in
order being that of Kumarajiva. See also As.
Researches, XX, p. 516; R. L. Mitra, Nepalese
Buddhist Literature, PP. 173, 292.
3 Its Tibetan translation was made in the IIth
century. See Csoma Korosi, Asiatic Researches,
4 As the passage occurs in the last chapter
(Sagathakam) of the Lankavatara, the date of the
tradition may be taken to be as old as
doctrine of existence and non-existence and that
he will after attaining the Mndita stage (i.e.
Pramudita, the first of the ten bkumis), be reborn in
Sukhavati, but it omits the prophecy that Nagarjuna
will propagate the Mahayana(1) doctrine of Buddhism.
On the other hand, it says that he will attain
perfection in the Mayuri-vidya and will live for 600
years. To attribute mastery of the Mayuri Tantra(2) to
the expounder of Madhyamilka philosophy looks absurd
on the face of it, hence, it may be unhesitatingly
stated that the Manjusra-mulakalpa makes a con-
fusion between the traditions about the
Madhyamik-Nagarjuna and the Tantrik-Nagarjuna. That
there was a Tantrik Nagarjuna is proved by the
tradition preserved in the dPag-bsam-ljon-bzan (p.
86), in which it is recorded that, according to the
account of the 84 mahasiddkas (grub-chen-gra-bshi),
one Nagarjuna was born at Kahora, a part of Kanci,
was educated at Nalanda, where he learned the
Sastras, practised the Siddhis and visualized the
goddess Tara. He lived for some time at Ghantasaila
and thence came to Sriparvata.
Of the two traditions mixed up in the
Manjusrimulakalpa, I think, one originated in the
Lankavatara and the other in the Mahasiddhi-Vrttanta.
Taking Nagarjuna to be a single person, his span of
life has been supposed to be of 600 years.
Taranathas(3) obtained much of his information
from the Manjusrimulakalpa and gave currency to the
view that Nagarjuna lived for 600 years, or more
correctly, 529 or 571 years. Though the author of the
dPag bsam. Ijon. bzan(4) has recorded the traditions
separately he was not sure about the fact that there
were two Nagarjunas, as he described the first
Nagarjuna as successful in the sadhana connected with
the goddesses Mahamayuri and Kurukulla.(5) In the
Tibetan tradition, how-
the 5th century A.D., because the Chinese
translations of this chapter were made by
Bodhiruci (513 A. D.) and Siksananda (704 A. D.).
See also J.R.A.S., 1905, p. 835; Walleser, Life of
Nagarjuna (Hirth Anniversary volume). pp. 20, 21.
2 This has been pointed out by Dr. B. Bhattacharya in
his Intro. to the Sadhnnamala, vol, II, p. xlv.
3 Op, cit., p. 730.
4 pp. 85, 86
5 For particulars about these Tantrik goddesses, see
Dr. B. Bhattacharya's Preface to the Sadhanamala,
vol,II I.H.Q, SEPTEMBER,1931
ever, one Nagarjuna is counted as a Tantrik guru,
being the disciple of Saraha(1); hence it is quite
possible that the incidents of the life of the second
Nagarjuna have been mixed up with those of the first.
Confusion was further helped by the fact that this
Tantrik Nagarjuna had as his disciple one Kanaripa,
who was also called Aryadeva(2)
Taranatha's statements utilised for dentangling
For disentangling these traditions, we may
utilise Taranatha's division of Nagarjuna's life of
600 years into three periods, viz., 200 years in the
Madhyadesa, 200 years in the south, and 129 or 171
years on Sriparvata.(3) Taranatha linked up the
life-span of the first Nagarjuna with that of the
last, and as the belief in the capacity to prolong
life through Tantrik methods was then current, he did
not think it absurd in ally way that a person should
live for about 600 years. Nagarjuna of Madhyadesa was
very probably the student of the Prajna- paramitas and
the expounder of the Sunyata philosophy, while the
Nagarjuna of Sriparvata was born in the south
probably 400 or 500 years after the first Nagarjuna
and spent the latter part of his life on
1 dPag. sam. ljon. bzan, p. 124, based on the
account of the 84 Mahasiddhis. See also
Sadhanamala, II, intro., p. xli. Taranatha (p.
105) also mentions him.
2 Ibid., p. 124. It is not unlikely that this is
also a confusion made by the Tibetan writers with
Aryadeva of the Madhyamika school.
3 Taranatha, op. cit., p. 73.
4 It may be shown from traiptions of these two
Nagarjunas that the Madhyamika Nagarjuna lived in
or about the first century A. D. The second
Nagarjuna, whose disciple met Yuan Chwang, may be
placed in the beginning of the 6th century A. D.
If the total length of time from the birth of the
first Nagarjuna to the death of the second
Nagarjuna be taken as 529 or 571 years, as
Taranatha states, then the date of the first
Nagarjuna is to be taken back to just tht
beginning of the Christian era or a few decades
earlier. The latter alternative fits in with the
prophecy as recorded in tire Lanka- vatara and the
Manjusrimulakalpa that Nagarjuna will come into
existence in the fourth century after Buddha's
death. Some may say that Nagarjuna, the Madhyamika
expounder, lived in the fitst century B.C. In
another paper, this point will be dealt with.
Sriparvata, convertin it into a centre of Tara
worship.(1) In all pro- bability it was the Tantrik
Nagarjuna, who was regarded as the great
alchemist.(2) Yuan Chwang says that he met a disciple
of Nagarjuna(3) and that the first Nagarjuna lived
somewhere in Daksinakosala at a place consecrated by
an "Asokan tope, which perhaps will come to light at
some future date. In his Geographical Dictionary,(4)
Mr. De writes that there is near Nagpur a place
called Ramagiri (mod. Ramtek) where a temple is said
to have been dedicated to Nagarjuna. Taking into
account all these evidences, it may be stated that
the first Nagarjuna had nothing to do woth the
Nagarjunikonda, Srlparvata, or Dhanyakataka, and that
his activities were confined to Daksina-kosala. The
Sanskrit inscription at Jaggayyapeta recording the
establisment of a Buddhapratima by the donor and his
aspiration to Buddhatva(5) cannot but be a record of
a comparatively late date and hence its reference to
Nagarjunacarya is evidently to the Tantrik Nagarjuna.
The Gandavyuha,(6) a work of about the 2nd or the
3rd century A,D., speaks of Dhanyakara as a great
city of Daksinapatha and a seat of Manjusri, who
lived in an extensive forest at
Mala-dhvajavyuhacaitya and converted a large number
of Nagas and other inhabitants of that place, but
refers neither to Nagrrjuna nor to Sriparvata. It is
in the Manjusrimulakalpa(7) that Sriparvata and 1
Dhanyakataka find mention as important centres of
Buddhism, and hence these should be associated with
the second Nagarjuna rather than with the first.
1 The conversion of a centre of Tara worship into
that of Durga or Parvati is not uncommon. There is
now a Sivadurga temple at Sriparvata (See De,
Geog. Dict., p. 193). This fact has led Beal to
identify Po-lo-mo-lo-ki-li with Srlparvata.
2 This raises the questions, as to the
contemporaneity of Nagarjuna with Satavahana; the
authorship of the Suhrilekha (JPTS, 1886); the
discoverer of the so-called elixir of life, and
the identity of Nagarjuna about whom fresh
information has been supplied by Prof. Sylvain
Levi in his article "Sur le Buddhisme de basse
epoque dans l'lnde" in the Bulletin of the School
of Oriental, vi, pt. 2. As these topics
fall beyond the scope of this paper, I wish to
deal with them in a subsequent issue of the
3 Watters, op. cit., I, p. 287.
4 Sv. Ramagiri.
5 Burgess, op. cit., p. 112.
6 A. S. B. Ms., leaf 21b.
7 Manju'srimulakalpa, pp.88, 628,
The occurrence of the terms 'Pacanekayika, '
'Sutantika, ' Trepitaka, Sutatikini, ' 'Petakin',
Vinayamdhara(1) in Barhut, Sanci and other ins-
criptions, has been generally accepted to imply that
the Buddhists of the 3rd or 2nd century B.C, had a
Tripitaka, one of which was the Sutta Pitaka, divided
into 5 Nikayas, just as we have it today. Until the
discovery of the inscriptions at Nagarjunikonda we
had not come across any epigraphic record specially
naming the Nikayas.
Vinayadharas and Samyuktabhanakas of Mahavanasaila
On the pillar of an outer railing of the
Amaravati Stupa there is an inscription which
describes some nuns as Vinayadharas(2), and another
inscription which speaks of the monks of
Mahavanaseliya as Mahaxinayadaras, (3) These two
inscriptions distinctly prove the existence of a
Vinayapitaka at that time.
An inscription on one of the slabs found near the
central stupa of Amaravati refers to a monk of
Mahavanasala (Mahavanasala- vathavasa), who was a
pupil of the Samyutabhatuka mahatheras [Samyutabhatukanam
mahath(e) ranam](4) . Burgess translated the word
as "the brother of Samyutaka," The letter "ta"
of ''bhatuka" in the plate is distinctly ''na." Burgess
probably was not aware of the use of the word 'bhanaka',
a term not rare in the inscriptions(5) and read it as
'bhatuka.' It is only in the works of Buddhaghosa,(6)
we find that monks were used to be grouped as ''Dighabhanakas",
"Majjhimabhanakas", "Samyuttabhanakas" or "Anguttarabhanakas".
Now, the Samyuttabhanakas of the above mentioned
1 Vogel, Ep. Ind., VIII, pp. 173, 196; Bloch,
J.A.S.B., 1898. pp. 274. 280; Stede, Pali Dict.,
sv. Pitaka; Luders' List.
2 Burgess, op cit., p. 37.
3 Ibid., p, 102.
4 Burgess, op. cit., P. 91 (Plate xlviii, no. 35),
see also p. 105.
5 See Index to Luders' List.
6 Sum, Vil., p. 15; Visurddhimagga, pp. 74, 76, 77:
Anguttara- bhanaka; pp. 36, 266, 275, 286:
Dighabhflnaka;pp. 275, 286, 431: Majjhimabhanka;
pp. 275, 431: Samyuttabhanaka.
are associated with the Mahavanasala(1). Burgess
adopts the reading 'sala' for 'sala', and I think, he
would have no objection if one adopted the reading
'sela.' From the Gandavyuha(2) we learn that on the
east of the great city Dhanyakara, there was a great
forest called Victramaladhvajavyuha. So it is very
likely that there was a series of forest-covered
hills which went by the name of Purvasaila or
Purvamahavanasaila and Aparasaila or Aparamahavanasaila,
and these are referred to in Nagarjunakonda inscriptions
From what has been said above as also from the
Amaravati inscriptions it may be inferred that
there were, on the forest-covered hills near
Dhanyakara, a few Buddhist establishments with a
large number of monks and nuns the latter being much
in evidence as donors and donees of gifts. The
establishments belonged to a Buddhist sect which had
a Pitaka divided into Sutra and Vinaya, the former
having sub-divisions, one of which was the
It is for the first time in the inscriptions at
Nagarjunikonda that we get the use of the words,
Digha, Majjhima and Matrka, in passages like
Digha-Majhima-mikaya-dharena' in the Ayaka-pillar
C1, and "Digha-Majhma-pamda-m[a]tukadesa[ka-va][ca-kanam]"
and" Digha-Ma-nigara- dharena" in the Ayaka pillar
Any comment on the expressions "Digha-Majhima" or
"Digha Majhima-Nikaya-dhara" is hardly necessary
except this that the use of such appellations is not
usual in the Pali literature, where the appellations
"dhammakathika",(5) ''dhammadhara" are very
1 See Burgess, op, cit., p. 105.
2 A. S. B. ms., leaf 21a:
3 Ep.. Ind., XX, p. 4.
4 See infra, for Digha and Majjhima.
5 Dhammakatikas, according to Buddhaghosa, are really
Abhidhammikas, but he further says that ordinary
Dhamma preachers are also called Dhammakathikas.
Attha., p. 29.
Samyutla, III, pp. 162ff: See the answer given to the
question, "kittavata nu kho bhante Dhammakathiko
Its use is found also it the Amara,mti and other
inscriptions, See Burgess, op. cit., p. 24 and
Index to Luders' List.
commonly found. The Pali expressions which
repeatedly occur in every Nikaya for referring to the
masters of the various branches of the Buddhist
literature are, "bahussuta agatagama dhammadhara
vinayadhara matikadhara",(1) and not Nikayadhara The
slight difference noticed in the sets of such
appellations in the Nagarjnikonda inscriptions and
the Pail texts tends to show that the inscriptions
were concerned with a Buddhist sect which was not
exactly the Theravada (the Pali School) but had a
literature and tradition very similar to those of the
We now pass on to the next expression
'Pamca-matuka' which also points to the inference
that the inscriptional records are concerned with a
sect other than the Theravada. The word 'matuka' is
evidently a corrupt form of Sanskrit matrka or Pali
matika. The common explanation of matika as given in
the Pali texts is Abhidhamma, By the term
matikadhara, the Pali texts refer to a master of the
Abhidhamma Pitaka. The interpretation has its origin
in the tradition that Buddha preached Abhidhamma to
his mother in Tavatimsa heaven and gave its matika
(=substance or main themes) to Sariputta among his
disciples, and that Sariputta later on expanded the
matiha's and developed them into the Abhidhamma
pitaka; hence the Abhidhamma has become synonymous
with matika. The older of the Sarvastivada
traditions, as preserved in the A-yu-wang king
(Asokaraja sutra) and A-yu-wang-tchouan
(Asokarajavsdana sutra),(2) while giving an account
of the First Council, says, that Mahakasyapa, after
completing the recitation of the Vinaya with the help
of Upali, proceeded to recite the Matrka or
Matrkapitaka. Kasyapa said to the bhiksus that by the
matrka or matrkapitaka one is to understand the
following topics: 4 smrtyupasthanas, 4 samyak-
pradhanas, 4 rddhipadas, 5 indriyas, 5 balas, 7
bodhyangas, astangika- marga, (i.e. the 37
Bodhipakkhiyadhammas) as also the 4 Pratisamvits, the
Samadhis; in short, the exposition of the precepts
and the dharmas constitutes the matrka. In the Pali
texts also, these 37 Bodhipakkiya-
1 Majjhima, I, p. 223; CV. i II; Anguttara, III, p.
78: dullabho bahussuto dullabho dhammakathiko,
dullabho vinayadharo; Atth4ra., p.15: Anandatthero
hi bahussuto tipitakadharo. For further references
, see P.T.S. Pail Dictionary, s.v.
2 J. Przyluski,Le Concile de Rajagha, pp. 45, 334;
cf. Rockhill, Life of the Buddha, p. 160; mDo
(Sutra), Dulva (Vinaya) and Ma-mo (Matrka).
dhammas(1) are often pointed out as the
essentials of Buddhism. Though matika came to mean
the Abkhdhammapitaka in the Pali texts, its use in
its original sense is not excluded. While discussing
whether the Kathavatthu can be regarded as
'Buddhabhasita', it is contended by Buddhaghosa that
Moggaliputta Tissa did not compose the work from his
own knowledge but from the matika given by the
Teacher (sattha dinnayena thapitamatikaya deseti).(2)
In support of this contention Buddhaghosa adds that
the Madhupindikasuttanta is regarded as Buddhavacana
though it was Mahakaccana's composition on the ground
that it was only an exposition of the matika given
(tkapitama-tikaya) to him by Buddha. It is also in
this sense that we find its use in the Vinaya texts,
but there are a few passages(3) in which 'matika'
means the Patimokkha-Sutta. Later on, however, Matika
more properly Dvematika, became a technical name for
the Bhikkhu- Patimokkha and Bhikkhunipatimokkha.(4)
1 Digha, II, p. 119-120: (Mahaparinibbanasutta):
Katame ca te bhikkhave dhamma maya abhinnaya
desita......? Seyyathidam cattaro satipatthana,
cattaro sammappadhana, cattaro iddhipada, panc'
indriyani panca balani, satta bojjhanga, ariyo
atthangiko maggo In the Majjlhima Nikaya (II, p.
245), Buddha just after enumerating these asked
Ananda if there were any two monks who held
different opinions about them (imesu dhammesu dve
pi bhikkhu nanavade ti?), to which Ananda answered
in the negative. This conversation was concluded
by the remark that there might in future be
difference in opinion relating to minor rules of
discipline (ajjhajive adhipati-mokkhe) but not to
2 Attha., p. 4.
3 E. g. Vinaya, Mv., I, p. 98:
Khandhake Vinaye: c'eva Parivare ca Matike /
Yathatthakari kusalo patipajjati yoniso //
See also Vidhusekhara Sastri, Patimokkhastta, p.
12-13: Naiva matikaya na padabhajane vuttam
(Kankha-Vitarani Pac. 19), in which matika means
pada, i.e, of the Patimokkhasutta.
Samantapasadika, p. 18; Attha p. 19:
4 See Mabel Bode, Pali Literature of Burma, p.6.
She says in the footnote that her attention was
drawn by Dr. Barnett to a book reedited in Burma
as Dvematika, which included Bhikkhu- and
Bhikkhuni-patimokkha, Kammakammavinicchaya, extracts
from the Parivara and other Vinaya texts, and a Patimokkhuddesa.
instances, it may be slated that even in Pali
literature, Matika means not only the
Abhidhanma-pitaka but also the Patimokkhasutta, and
for the matter of that, the Vinaya Pitaka. Childers
in his Pali Dictionary (s.v. Matika), writes on the
authority of Burnouf's translation of the Saddharma
Pundarika, that it means "the list of the Vinaya
precepts, omitting all the explanations and other
details". The "matuka" of the Nagarjunikonda
inscriptions may therefore be taken to mean both
Vinaya and Abhidhamma.
Panca of Pamcamatuka
Now let us turn to the significance of the
numerical adjective pamca in the expression
'pamca-matuka.' The Pali Vinaya-Pitaka is usually
regarded as consisting either of 4 parts or of 5
parts thus: (i) Patimokkha, (ii) Vibhanga, (iii)
Khandhakas, and (iv) Parivara, or, (i) Parajika; (ii)
Pacittiya, (iii) Mahavagga; (iv) Cullavagga and (v)
Parivara.(1) The latter division is more common, and
hence pamca-matuka may be taken to refer to the Pali
Vinaya or a version very similar to the same.
Much information is now available from the
Chinese sources about the Vinaya texts of the
different schools,(1) and a flood of light has been
thrown on them by Mons. Przyluski in his "Le Concile
Among the Vinaya texts in Chinese, catalogued by
Nanjio, we notice that four works have 'matrka' as a
part of their names, viz.,
Sarvastivada-nikaya-vinaya-matrka, (1132) ;
1 The corresponding Sarvastivada titles are,--(i)
Vinaya-vastu, (ii) Pratimoksa-sutra; (iii)
Vinaya-vibhaga; (iv) Vinaya-ksudraka-vastu, and
(v) Vinaya-uttara-grantha, see my Early History
etc. pp. 283ff.
2 For Dharmagupta Vinaya, see jourual Asiatique,
1916; and for the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya, see
Ibid., 1914; also Csoma Korosi in the Asiatic
Researches, XX summarised in my Early History
etc., pp. 282 ff.; see also my introduction to the
Bodhisattva Pratimoksa Sutra (I. H. Q., June,
3 A work though published in 1926-28 is not widely
known even among scholars writing on the first two
Buddhist Councils, the main source of which are
the Vinaya texts of different schools. They depend
for their information on the paper by Prof. La
Vallee Poussin published two decades ago. See
Buddhistic Studies (1931), Ch. II:
Buddhist councils, p.26.
matrka (1134); Vinaya-matrka-sastra (1138) of the
matrka-gatha (1140). Of these, the Vinaya-matrrka-sastra
furnishes us with the information that the Vinaya Pitaka
(i.e. of the Dharmaguptas) consisted of five parts, viz.
Khanda (kathina, etc.), Matrka, Ekottara, Bhiksu-
Pratimoksa and Bhiksuni-Pratimoasa. (2) Likewise, we
are told that the Vinaya Pitaka of the Mahasanghikas
was also divided into five parts and that the
Mahasanghikas had a particular fancy for the number
'five', specially in connection with the Vinaya, for
they have repeatedly mentioned this number while
speaking of the divisions of the Vinaya rules.(3) We
have seen that the matrka has been used to denote
the Vinaya Pitaka as much as the Abhidhamma; hence,
the Pamca-matuka of the Nagarjunikonda inscriptions
may be taken to mean either a Vinaya-Pitaka or am
Abhidharma Pitaka, in five divisions, Now, let us see
if any school had the Abhidhamma Pitaka in five
divisions. The Abhidhamma Pitaka, so far as is known
to us, consists of seven texts whether in Pali(4) or
in Sanskrit,(5) and the Mahasanghikas, so far as the
traditions go, did not recognise the seven texts of
the Theravadins as Buddhabhasita, (6) but had an
Abhidharma Pitaka of their own according to the
testimony of Yuan Chuang,(7) who further supplies us
with the information that he himself studied certain
Abhidharma treatises of the Mahasanghika
1 Przyluski, op. cit., pp.I69. 3I6. ''The title
P'i-ni-mou (Vinay matrka) indicates that this work
is a matrka of a Vinaya, and at the end of the
fragment translated, it is written that the Vinaya
appertains to the Haimavata school.
2 Przyluski, op. cit., pp. I77, 353.
3 Ibid., pp 212: ''I y a cinq regles de la purete";
p. 2I5: "Dans le Vinaya cinq choses sont relatees;
p. 216: 'Il ya a cinq Vinaya"
4 Pali (Theravada) : (i) Dhammasanogani, (ii)
Vibhanga, (iii) Kathavatthu, (iv) Puggala
Pannatti, (v) Dhatukatha, (vi) Yamaka and (vii)
5 Sanskrit (Sarvastivada): (i) Jnana-prasthana-sutra
with its six supplements, viz., (ii) Sangiti
Paryaya, (iii) Dhatukaya; (iv) Prajnaptisara (v)
Dharmaskandha, (vi) Vijnanakaya and (vii)
Prakaranapada. See my Early History etc., pp. 288
6 See Dipavamsa, ch. v, 32-38.
7 Watters, op.eit., II, pp. I6I, 2I7.I.H.Q, SEPTEMBER.000
cit.. II. pp. 161, 217.
school with two monks at Dhanakataka. If it could
have been ascertain- ed that their Abhidharma had
five divisions, we would have no hesitation in
stating that the Pamca matuka referred to the Abhi-
dharma Pitaka of the Mahasanghikas. The only
Abhidharma Pitaka existing in five parts, as far as
we know, is that of the Dharmaguptas, whose
Vinaya-Pitaka was in four parts, (1) but as the
inscrip- tional and literary evidences do not point
to the existence of that school in this locality,
they may be left out of account. Coming to the Vinaya
Pitaka, we find that five of the principal schools,
viz., Theravada, Mahisasaka, Haimavata, Sarvastivada
and Mahasanghika had their Vinaya Pitakas in five
divisions,(2) and in view of the fact that the
appropriate place of the Vinaya Pitaka is after the
Nikayas, the term 'pamca-matuka' refers, I think, to
the Vinaya- Pitaka and to the one belonging to the
Mahasanghikas, because the inscriptional and
literary evidences, as we shall see presently,(2)
SCHOOLS OP BUDDHISM CONNECTED WITH NAGARJUNIKONDA
The testimony of Yuan Chwang about the schools of
Buddhism prevalent in Dhanakataka and its
neighbourhood is our best guide in this enquiry. He
says that in the twenty monasteries existing at the
time, there were the monks of the Mahasanghika
School, and that on a hill to the east of Dhanakataka
stood the Purvasaila monastery, and on a hill to the
west, the Aparasaila monastery.(4) The inscriptions
so far discovered in this locality nowhere mention
the name of the Mahasanghikas, as we find in the
Karle Caves (Mahasaghiyas) .(5) The names of
schools, rather local schools, that are mentioned in
these inscriptions are:
(i) Mamghi (Burgess, op. cit., p. 105).
Ayira-haghana (Ep. Ind., XX, pp. 17, 20).
(ii) Caityikas (Burgess, op. cit., pp. 100, 102).
Cetiavadakasa (Ibid., p. 102).
1 Przyluski, op. cit., pp. 353, 357, 359.
3 See infra, p. 649.
4 Watters, op. cit., II, pp. 214, 217.
5 For references, see my Early History etc., p. 243.
(iii) Aparamahavinaseliya (Ep. Ind,, XX, p. 41).
Mahavanaseliyana (Burgess, op, cit., p. 105).
(iv) Puvasele (used rot as a sect but a place name, see Ep.
Ind., XX. p. 22).
(v) Rajagiri-nivasika (Burgess, op. cit., p. 53)
Rajasaila (Ibid., p. 104).
(vi) Sidhathikanam (Ibid., p. 110).
(vii) Bahusutiya, (Ep. Ind., XX, p. 24).
(viii) Mahisasaka (Ibid).
Drs. Burgess and Vogel have drawn our attention
to five of the abovementioned schools, viz., (1)
the Caityikas, comprising (2) the Aparaseliyas and
(3) Puvaseliyas, and (4) Bahusutiyas and (5)
Mahisasakas. Of these the Mahisasakas need not be
taken into account, first because, the donor who
makes the gift to this sect hails from the distant
province of Vanavasa, and secondly because it is a
branch of the Sthaviravadins and not of the
Mahasanghikas. All the other sects mentioned in these
inscriptions are branches or sub-branches of the
Aryasamgha = Mahasamgha
My first object is to show that the Mahasanghikas
have been here referred to as Ayira-hamgha or simply,
Hamgha, for reasons stated below. Whenever a sect is
named in the inscriptions it is preceded by the
expression 'Acariyanam, e.g., Acariyanam Aparamahavina-
seliyanam; Acariyanam Bahusutiyanam; Acaiyanam
Mahisasakanam, hence Acariyanam Ayira-hamghanam refers
to the sect of Ayirahamghas or simply Hamghas. In
the Chinese titles of the Vinaya texts, the
Mahasanghikas is sometimes shortened to Sanghika,
(1) and it is quite natural. The use of the term 'Hamghi'
before "gahapatiputasa Dusakasa"(2) is significant,
Burgess takes Hamghi as a proper name, whereas, I
think, it means 'one belonging to the Hamgha (Sangha)
sect.' It is still more significant that a householder
(gahapati) is pointed out as belonging to the sect, a
thing rather unusual in
1 See Nanjio, 1159 [Pratimoksa-sanghika (san-khi)-
vinayamula), an extract from the text no, 1119
Mahasanghika (Mo-ho-san-khi) vinaya].
2 Burgess, op. cit., p. 105. See also pp. 72, 78,
Buddhism, but it should be remembered that the
Mahasanghikas, as the forerunners of the Mahayanists,
were the first Hinayanists to give a place to the
laity in the Buddhist dharma, The derivation of the
term 'Mahasangha', as offered by Yuan Chwang is as
follows,--"And because in the assembly, both common
folk and holy personages were mixed together, it was
called the assembly of the great congregation".(1)
Hence, we should take 'Hamgha' or 'Samgha' as a
proper name and a shortened form of Mahasangha. Then
the use of "arya' for "maha'' is not uncommon in
Sanskrit or pali; hence ''Aryasangha" may well be
taken to mean the Mahasangha'.
All the Andhakas (=Pubbaseliya, Aparaselriya,
Rajagiriya, Siddhatthid) are spectifically named in
The Caityikas were a branch of the Mahasanghikas.
Probably, a section of the Mahasanghikas attached
great importance to the worship of the stupa or
caitya as is to be found in the Mahavastu,(2) and got
the appellation of Caityika. But it is doubtful
whether the Aparaseliyas or Pubbaseliyas were
independent sects, though the commentary on the
Kathavatthu attributes to them some differences of
view in regard to doctrine, and psychological
analysis. In the Mahavamsa(3) it is stated that in
later times, some(local) schools came into existence
in India, viz., Hemavata, Rajagiriya, Siddhatthika,
Pubbaseliya, Aparaseliya and Vajiriya.(3) Four
of these sects, viz., Rajagirikas, Siddhatthikas,
Aparaseliyas and Pubbaseliyas are collectively called
the Andhakas.(4) The members of the Mahasarnghika
sect, it seems, came to be known after the names of
the hills, on which they had their monasteries, without
probably vital differences in doctrinal and disciplinary
matters, Yuan Chwang remarks that be saw only the
Mahasanghikas in the existing monasteries of
Dhanakataka, and specifically refers to two monasteries,
one on the Aparasila and the other on the Purvasila,
without pointing out that they were two independent
sects. Mrs. Rhys Davids infers from the statements
of Buddhaghosa in his commentary on the Kathavatthu
1 Beal, Records of the Western Countries, II, p.
2 Mahavnastu, II, pp. 362ff.
3 Mahavamsa, p. 29.
4 Points of the Controversy, intro.
that the Mahasanghikas were not actually existing
at Buddhaghosas time. Buddhaghosa, however, speaks of
the Andhakas as existing in his time.(1) The
inference that can be drawn from these statements is
that either the Mahasanghikas came to be called by
their prolonged residence in the Andhra country as
the Andhakas or the four sects that issued out of the
Mahasanghikas were, by their residence on the hills
of the Andhra country, called the Andhakas. To
reconcile the statements of Yuan Chwang and
Buddhaghosa, we may say that the Mahasanghikas
residing within the Andhra country were known as the
Dr. Burgess overlooked the fact that the terms,
Rajagiri or Rajasaila and Sidhathika,(2) so often
mentioned in the Amaravati inscriptions, refer in
some cases to the local sects as much as the
Puvaseliya and Avaraseliya do. Sidhathika is not in
all instances the name of a person as Dr. Burgess
supposes it to be. Except the Mahisasakas, all the
sects named in the inscriptions are branches or sub
branches of the Mahasanghikas, hence it may be
concluded that the whole Buddhist establishment at
Nagarjunikonda belonged to the Mahasanghikas
thourgh visitors came there from far off countries'
for the great sanctity of the Stupa, containing as it
did, the bone-relic of Buddha.(4) It follows
therefore that 'Digha-Majhima-Nikayadhara' or
'Pamcamatukadesakavacaka, ' mentioned in the
inscriptions belonged to the Mahasanghikas or the
Andhakas as they were later on called.
Doctrrinal Evidences point to the Andhakas
A remarkable aspect of the Nagarjunikonda
inscriptions is the mention of a few points relating
to the Buddhist doctrine, Buddha is described as
jita-raga-dosa-moha (one who has conquered
attachment, ill-will and delusion) and
dhatuvaraparigahita (possessed of the excel- lent
dhatu), and the donor expects as a result of his or
her gifts merits which he or she can transfer
(parinametum) to his or her relatives and friends--an
article of faith not recognised in the Pall works
1 Paints of the Controversy, p. xxxiv.
2 Burgees, op., cit., pp. 101, 103, 104, 110.
3 Watters, Yuan Chwang, II, p. 214;
Manjusrimulakalpa, p. 88, and infra, pp. 652-3.
4 I.H, Q., vol. IV, PP. 794-6. Discovery of a
where attadripa attascarana is the maxim. The
fruits expected are (i) religious merits, for
himself, his relatives and friends resulting in their
happiness in this world and the next (ubhaya-loka
hita-sukhava- hananaya),--a merit which reminds us of
the Asokan inscriptions: esa budha dekhiye iyam me
hidatkye iyammana me Palatikaye ti and (ii)
Nivana-sampati (nirvanadom) for himself or
The recording of the view that gifts may bring
happiness to all, but nirvana only to oneself,
deserves our careful consideration. The distinction
drawn in this way is rather uncommon and is not made
even in the inscriptions recording the gifts of the
Queen of Vanavasi to the Mahisasakas(2) or in the
long inscription of the Sinhalese donor.(3) This may
well serve as an evidence to prove that all the
inscriptions of Nagarjunikonda except the two
mentioned above belong to one sect, viz., the
Mahasanghikas or their sub-sects, or in other words,
Then the expresions 'dhatuvara-rarigzahita' or
'nivana-sampnti-sampa daka' raise the presumption that
the Andhaka-conception of Nirvana was different from
that of the Theravadins or their sub-sect the Mahisa-
sakas. In the Kathavatthu, there are two
controversies (ix, 2; xix, 6), re- lating to the
conception of Nirvana as prevailing among the
Andhakas, The one attributed to the Puvaseliyas is
that the Amatapada (=Nirvana), is ''an object of
thought of a person not yet free from bondage",(4)
and the other attributed to the Andhakas is that "the
Nibbanadhatu is kusala (good)" in the sense in which
mental states are spoken as kusala (good) and it is a
faultless state,(6) Both these statements bear the
implication that the Mahasanghikas or the Andhakas
conceived of Nirvana as a 'positive faultless
state'-a conception which can hardly be accepted by
the Theravadins, who speak of realizing the Nibbana
within one's own self (paccattam veditabbo vinnuhi)
and not of grasping the same as some object producing
pure happiness.d Hence, the expression
nivana-sampati-sampadaka (the obtainment of the
wealth of Nirvana) cannot be the utterance of an
adherent of a sect other than the Andhakas.
1 Ep. Ind., XX, pp. 16, 18, 19, 20, 21: "atano" or
2 Ep. Ind., XX, p. 24.
3 Ibid., p. 22.
4 Mrs. Rhys Davids, Points of the Controvevsy, pp.
5 Ibid., p. 339.
6 See Majjhima Nikaya, Mulapariyayasutta.
In the second Apsidal Temple inscription F, the
following wards occur at the end of 1. I:
Tambapamni-dipa-pas[a] dakanam theriyanam Tambapa[m]nakanam
It has been translated by Dr. Vogel thus: "For
the benefit of the masters and of the fraternities
(of monks) of Tambapamna (Ceylon) who have converted
Kashmir, Gandhara Cina, Cilata (Skt, Kirata) ,
Avaramta (Sk. Aparanta), Vanga, Vanavasi, Yavana(?)
Damila(?) Palura (?) and the isle of Tamba-pamni
The gift has been made by an upnsika Bodhisiri
for the benefit of her husband Budhamnika, and of her
father, the householder Revata residing at Govagama,
as also for many others.
Our object is to see how far Dr. Vogel is
justified in making such an assertion, unknown in the
history of Buddhism, as that "the fraternities of
Ceylonese monks had converted Kasmir"(2) and other
places named in the inscription. His sole authority
for this statement is the word ''pasadakanam'' in the
line quoted above. Childers explains ''pasadaka" by
'causing serenity and happiness' and then refers to
its use as dipapasadako thero (Maha- vamsa, XX, 8)
which literally means that "the priest who brought
peace or pleasure to the island, " from which
Chlilders gives the secon- dary meaning "the priest
who converted the island." Childers made himself
quite clear in his notes subvace pasado, but probably
Dr. Vogel did not care to go through them, having in
his mind a meaning which satisfied his new theory.
The Pali word for initiation into Buddh- ism is
''pabbajanam" (becoming a Buddhist monk) or
periphrastically, "saranasilesu patitthapanam'' (Mah,
XII. p. 19). The distinction made between pasadanam
and pabbajanam is made clear in the verses 42 and 43
of the Mahavamsa (ch. XII) relating to the mission
of Majjhima to Himavanta:
Visum te panca ratthani panca thera pasadayum,
purisa satasahassani ekekasseva santike
pabbajimsu pasadena sammasambuddhasasane.
1 See Ep. Ind., XX, pp. 22, 23.
2 Ibid., pp. 7, 23.
[The five (i. e. Majjhima and his four
companions) gladdened(1) the five kingdoms
separately, each of them ordained (lit. brought out
from the world) 100,000 persons, believing (as they
did) in the doctrine of Buddha].
In the Mahavamsa, it is said in connection with
Mahinda that he was waiting for a suitable time for
"pasadetum Lankadipam XIII vs, 2). This passage may
admit of the secondary meaning 'for converting the
island of Lanka" but in verse 64 (of ch. XIV),
"pasidimsu nagara" clearly means ''the city people
Without further multiplying the instances of the
use of the word Pasadaka'(2) (for which see P. T. S.
Pali Dictionary) I may make myself clearer by
pointing out that in Hinayana (specially Pali)
Buddhism, 'conversion' has no sense unless a person
is admitted into the Order, Anyone, even an animal or
a spirit or a Naga may develop faith (pasada) in
Buddha, his Dhamma aud his Sangha, but that does not
make the being a Buddhist; so also any non-Buddhist
may be believers (pasadaka) in Buddhism, but unless
and until he is either estab- lished in the
Trisaranas and Panca-silas or admitted into the Order
as a Samana, he cannot be called a person
'converted'. Hence, strictly speaking, "pasadakam"
can never mean "conversion" The entry of any saint
into a country gladdens the hearts of the people of
the country. It is in this sense that the word
"Pasadakanam'' in the inscriptions should be
untlerstood, and the passage: Kasmirm Tamba-
panni-dipapasadakanam therriyanam should be
translated thus: Those nuns (not monks, as Dr. VogeI
writes, for the word is theriyanam) who gladdened the
hearts of the people of Kasmira...Tambapannidrpa. The
inscription, I think, refers in a general way to the
nuns of all countries who by their saintly lives
bring joy and peace to the people of the countries
visited by them. The reason for glorifying the nuns
only is probably due to the fact that the donor is an
upasika, and as such she wanted to eulogize the
Dr. Vogel takes the theris to whom the gift is
made as all belonging to Tambapanni, following the
grammatical construction of the sentence,
Tambapamnakam suparigahe, etc. He shows no hesitation
in remarking in the introduction (p. 7) that "the
fraternities of Ceylonese
1 Not 'converted' as Prof. Geiger translates.
2 Every chapter of the Mahavamsa is ended by line
"Sujanappasada samvegatthaya etc."
monks who had converted Kashmir...the isle of
Tambapanni (Ceylon). But as this statement is not
supported by any data, not even by the Ceylonese
Chronicles, one should think twice before coming to
any conclusion. In Sanskrit, the genitive is
sometimes used for specifying (nirdharane) one out of
many, and therefore, the passage may very well be
translated as "Among the nuns who have brought joy
and peace to the people of Kasmira...Tamhapamnidipa,
the gift is made for acceptance by the nuns of
Tambapanni alone." It has been already pointed out
that Dhanyakataka, Sriparvata and other places in the
neighbourhood became very important as holy centres
of Buddhism, and as such they were visited every year
by a large number of pilgrims which fact is borne
out by Yuan Chwang's records.(1) Hence it may safely
be stated that nuns congregated there from various
countries and rich devotees hailing from a particular
country quite naturally erected establishments for
the residence of monks and nuns of their own country;
in this particular case, an upasika of Ceylon(2)
provides a Caitya hall for the nuns only of her own
Another reason, why Dr. Vogel's interpretation
that Ceylonese monks (theriya?) converted the Indian
provinces cannot be accepted is the significant
silence of the Mahavamsa about suck a fact of
momentous importance to Ceylon. The Mahavamsa, on the
other hand, speaks of the conversion of Ceylon and
the Indian provinces by Indian monks and even refers
to various centres of Buddhism in India,(3) wherefrom
went monks in large number to attend the ceremony
of consecretion of the Mahathupa of Dutthagamani.
Hence, Dr.Vogel's rendering of the passage in
question cannot be accepted as correct unless more
evidences are forthcoming regarding the activity of
the Ceylonese monks in the conversion of places in
India as far north as Kashmir.
1 Watters, op. cit., II, p. 214.
2 As Dr. Vogel admits that this is a donation of a
Ceylonese devotee, cannot Covagama, the home of
the donor's father, be identified with Gonagama of
the Mahavamsa (ch. VIII, 24), according to which
it was a pore of Ceylon where landed
Bhaddakaccana, grand-daughter of Amitodana Sakya?
3 Mahavamsa, ch. XXIX, pp. 29ff..Rajagaha,
Isipatana, Jetavana vihara, Vesali, Kosambi,
Ujjeni, Pupphapura, Kasmira, Pallavabhogga,
Alasanda, Bodhimandavihara, Vanavasa,