via Scroll.in, 03 August 2022: Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu as an ancient link with Srivijaya via the Chola empire.
Dutch art historian Jan Fontein, who served as the curator of Asiatic art at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, called Nagapattinam “the last stronghold of Buddhism in South India.” In a 1980 article for the museum’s bulletin, he said, “It is quite possible that the port’s foreign contacts and its proximity to the flourishing centres of Buddhism in Sri Lanka helped to prolong the survival of Buddhism as a distinct religion in Nagapattinam long after it had ceased to exist in most other parts of India.”
The town witnessed the arrival of royal envoys from South East Asia who would combine diplomacy with pilgrimages. One of them, the Sumatra-based Srivijaya Empire, which enjoyed friendly relations with the Cholas, took the initiative to build a large Buddhist monastery in Nagapattinam. Behind the initiative was Cudamanivarman, a shrewd member of the Sailendra family of the Srivijaya Empire whose reign reportedly lasted from 988 to 1004 CE. Cudamanivarman approached Rajaraja Chola through an envoy for permission to construct the monastery, which he wanted to be an important centre for Asian pilgrims and the dwindling members of the once-thriving Buddhist community in southern India.
Renowned for his religious tolerance, the Shaivite Chola emperor – whose reign was from 985 to 1014 CE – supported the idea of a new Buddhist monastery in the coastal town. “Rajaraja is said to have permitted Cudamanivarman, king of Kataha [Kedah in modern-day Malaysia] to build a Buddhist shrine at Nagapattinam to which he himself made a grant of the village of Anaimangalam,” noted historian TV Mahalingam in a 1948 paper titled Buddhism in the Tamil Country in the Medieval Period. “The construction of the temple appears to have been begun by Cudamanivarman before the 21st year of the reign of Rajaraja I, and was completed by his son Mara Vijayottunggavarman.”
Source: Why did Sumatran kings once build a Buddhist monastery in Tamil Nadu?
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