Yes, but Buddhism and Jainism don't seem to be so widespread in South India as people try to claim. Contrary to North India, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Buddhist sites aren't so widespread in South India. I have seen lot many Jain sites in Karnataka never heard of such Jain sites in other parts of South India. I know many Dravidianist would try to downplay the role of Hinduism in South India by bringing in Buddhism and Jainism.HISTORY OF MAHAYANA BUDDHISM IN SOUTH INDIA----EVIDENCES AND AND POINTERS
(Paper presented at the National Conference on The Socio-Cultural Impacts of Buddhism in Kerala, on 24th-26th February 2016 in Pathanamthitta, Kerala, Organized in collaboration with Indian Council of Historical Research and Indian Council of Social Science Research )
ABSTRACT: South India had a major role in the Genesis and Development of Mahayana Buddhism. This paper looks into some of the contributions by the Buddhist scholars of South India in the development of Mahayana movement. It also sheds light into the widespread presence of Mahayana in South India from 2nd-11th century CE by bringing evidences from various Buddhist scriptures and other sources
The purpose of this paper is to give Pointers for further Research and Archeological investigation.!
I Hope you may find this paper useful in your search of the glorious past history of Buddhism in South India before the revival of Hinduism !!
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From the inscriptions , it became evident that the above dilapidated tower was "Pudaveli Gopuram" of the Chudamani Vihara, A famous Mahaya Buddhist Monastry near in Nahgapattinam that was constructed by the Srivijayan king Sri Mara Vijayattungavarman of the Sailendra dynasty during the reign of Rajaraja Chola I in1006 CE!.
The British rulers decided to dismantle it and build a school in its place.When they chopped off an Ancient tree as part of their construction. To the surprise of all, the laborers found a Brick Chamber below the roots of the tree. There were Five exquisitely carved Ancient Buddha statues well preserved inside that chamber!The statues were hidden below a tree, probably to protect them during a raid by some hostile forces. --- This triggered a major Archeological investigation about the history of Buddhism in Nagapattinam by 1930s, around 350 Bronze statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were discovered from various parts of Nagapattinam District.
Out of the 350 bronze pieces, the British authorities kept 80 pieces in the Chennai Museum, These include many rare sculptures such as that of Shadakshari Lokesvara (Four-armed form associated with the mantra Om Mani Padme Hung). and they distributed the rest to many other Museums in India and Abroad !
Ancient statue of Shadakshari Lokesvara from Nagapatttinam, Tamil Nadu .[ Picture Below ]
It is rare to find Avalokitesvara’s Shadakshari form in South India, though it is very popular in Tibet. Shadakshari Lokesvara is the form associated with the popular mantra, ‘Om Mani Padme Hung’. In this statue (4 inches) from Velippalayam in Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu, he has Buddha Amitabha at his crown of matted hair (jatamakuta). He has four hands with emblems such as padma (red lotus), mala (rosary) and mani (wishfulfilling jewel). According to the archeologists, this is from the 11th Century CE
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