In recent decades the relationship between tantric traditions of Buddhism and Śaivism has been the subject of sustained scholarly enquiry.
This article looks at a specific aspect of this relationship, that between Buddhist and Śaiva traditions of practitioners of physical yoga, which came to be categorised in Sanskrit texts as and whose teachings are found in many subsequent non-Buddhist works, the article draws on a range of textual and material sources to identify the Konkan site of Kadri as a key location for the transition from Buddhist to Nāth Śaiva It has long been recognised by indologists that Vajrayāna Buddhist and Nāth1 Śaiva traditions have much in common, in particular adepts, sacred sites and metaphysical terminology.
An image dated to the 11th century in the Lokanātha temple at Haṭṭiyaṅgaḍi, Coondapur, might be of Jāmbāla.73 A 12th-century inscription at Dharmavolal (today known as Ḍambaḷ, 60 km east of Hubli) records the worship of Buddha and Tārā.74 An image of Akṣobhya from Puttige, Mūḍabidure, dates to the 12th or 13th century.75 A 13th-century inscription from the village of Koḷivaḍ (20 km east of Hubli) records the worship of Tārā.76 According to the Jain exegete Vīrānandī, Buddhist ascetics called Ājīvakas were active in the Kanara region in the 12th century.77 Finally, two Tuḷu inscriptions, one dating to 1187 The accounts of tantric Buddhism in India by the 17th-century Tibetan scholar Tāranātha include several references to the Konkan.
The two oldest are Mahānubhava works in Marathi (which corroborates statements elsewhere that Virūpākṣa was from the Maratha region):24 the c.
1280 , a 16th-century Sanskrit treatise on the worship of the goddess Tārā by the Bengali author Brahmānandagiri, includes Virūpākṣa in a list of eight human gurus to be worshipped.27 The last non-Buddhist text to mention Virūpākṣa is the c.
He wanders across India and has various adventures, including the conquest of a demon threatening all the gods; the assumption of the appearance of an ascetic and subsequent humbling of the Veda-obsessed brahmins of Drākṣārāma (an episode which brings to mind the at Drākṣārāma);38 and a sojourn in Kāñcī, where he teaches the citizens by day and sports with women by night.
This last episode includes an echo of the popular Tibetan story in which Virūpākṣa stops the sun in its course until the king pays the bill for his drinks.39 Here he falls for one of the women of Kāñcī and, in order to impress her, grabs the moon and makes it into a goblet with which to ply her with drink.
Sixth-century statues of Tārā and Avalokiteśvara are found in the western Deccan.61 The colophon of the ninth-century of Jayabhadra (who was also known as Koṅkaṇapāda) says that its author visited a temple of Tārā at the Konkan site of Mahābimba.62 A statue of Mañjughoṣa from the Kadri monastery but now in the Mangalore government museum dates to the ninth century or earlier.63 One of the 29 caves at Panhale Kaji contains a tenth-century image of the Vajrayāna deity Acala (Figure 3).
The early ninth-century Vajrayāna adepts Dharmākara and his fellow initiate Pālitapāda lived in the Konkan.64 Pālitapāda was twice visited there, probably at Kadri, by Jñānapāda, the founder of an important eponymous tradition of exegesis of the records the establishment of a temple of Tārā Bhagavatī.71 An 11th-century stone statue of Tārā from Baḷḷigāve is still visible at the site and may be one of those mentioned in the contemporaneous inscriptions.72 As will be explored in more detail below, the Kadri Mañjunātha temple contains bronze sculptures of the Vajrayāna deities Lokeśvara and Mañjuvajra (as well as a bronze of the Buddha), with an 11th-century inscription recording the establishment of the Lokeśvara image in the , i.e., a Buddhist monastery at Kadri.
As noted above, Tibetan hagiographies point to south India and the Deccan as being central to his activities and almost all Indian material and textual sources associated with him are from the Konkan and Deccan.41 The was composed at the request of the pontiff of the Bhikṣāvṛtti monastery in Srisailam43 and Virūpākṣa is said therein to have been born in present-day Maharashtra and to have travelled to Karnataka.44 The and may not, in its present form, be much older than that, but which preserves some old legends from the Kadri site,46 identifies Virūpākṣa with Śiva Mañjunātha of Kadri.
All of the Nāths whose stories are told in the Virūpākṣa’s legend thus points to the south of the Indian subcontinent and in particular the Konkan as the likely location of the transition of his teachings from Vajrayāna to Nāth Śaivism, but gives little detail of how it might have happened, with only the Marathi actually indicating a transition from Buddhism to Śaivism.
called Virūpākṣa (or sometimes Virūpa), who is little known outside of Tibetan Buddhist traditions, in which he first appears in perhaps the 12th century.10 Tibetan hagiographic treatments of Virūpākṣa and textual cycles associated with him are particularly rich and diverse, 11 as are his depictions in Tibetan paintings12 and statuary.
Here I shall draw upon these Tibetan materials to note only (1) that they indicate that after spending his early life in east India, Virūpākṣa was active in the Deccan and the south;13 (2) that the Sanskrit , whose teachings were attributed to Virūpākṣa, was translated into Tibetan (probably in the late 11th century)14 and an associated cycle of Tibetan texts (usually referred to in Sanskrit back-translation as Virūpākṣa has left few traces in Indian material and textual sources.
17th-century Sanskrit , a celebration of the temple of Mañjunātha at Kadalī (now known as Kadri, a part of the coastal town of Mangalore), in which Virūpākṣa is again one of nine Nāths, seven of whose stories, including that of Virūpākṣa, are taught , Virūpākṣa is one of the nine Nāths of the text’s title and his life story is told in detail.