Philippine Esoteric Buddhism
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Filipino Esoteric Buddhism refers to the traditions of Esoteric Buddhism found in Philippine islands as well as in Maritime Southeast Asia which emerged in the 7th century along the maritime trade routes and port cities of the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra as well as in Malaysia. Loanwords with Buddhist context appear in languages of the Philippines.
This tradition was also linked by the maritime trade routes with Indian Vajrayana, Tantric Buddhism in Sinhala, Cham and Khmer lands and in China and Japan, to the extent that it is hard to separate them completely and it is better to speak of a complex of "Esoteric Buddhism of Medieval Maritime Asia." In many of the key South Asian port cities that saw the growth of Esoteric Buddhism, the tradition coexisted alongside Shaivism.
- 1 Background
- 2 Terminology and linguistics
- 3 Archeological findings
- 4 Incorporation of beliefs to Anitism (Folk religion)
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Although no written record exists about early Buddhism in the Philippines, the recent archaeological discoveries and the few scant references in the other nations historical records tell about the existence of Buddhism from the 9th century onward in the islands. The Philippines's archaeological finds include a few Buddhist artifacts. 
The ancient Batangueños were influenced by India, as shown in the origin of most languages from Sanskrit and certain ancient potteries. A Buddhist image was reproduced in mould on a clay medallion in bas-relief from the municipality of Calatagan.
According to experts, the image in the pot strongly resembles the iconographic portrayal of Buddha in Siam, India, and Nepal. The pot shows Buddha Amithaba in the tribhanga pose inside an oval nimbus. Scholars also noted that there is a strong Mahayanic orientation in the image since the Boddhisattva Avalokitesvara was also depicted.
Archaeologist Peter Bellwood discovered the existence of an ancient goldsmith's shop that made the 20-centuries-old ngling-o, or omega-shaped gold ornaments in Batanes. Archaeological finds include Buddhist artifacts.
Evidence indicates that Butuan was in contact with the Song dynasty of China by at least 1001 AD. The Chinese annal Song Shih recorded the first appearance of a Butuan tributary mission (Li Yui-han 李竾罕 and Jiaminan) at the Chinese Imperial Court on March 17, 1001 AD and it described Butuan (P'u-tuan) as a small Hindu country with a Buddhist monarchy in the sea that had a regular connection with the Champa kingdom and intermittent contact with China under the Rajah named Kiling. The rajah sent an envoy under I-hsu-han, with a formal memorial requesting equal status in court protocol with the Champa envoy. The request was denied later by the Imperial court, mainly because of favoritism over Champa.
A golden statuette of the Hindu-Buddhist goddesses Tara in Agusan river and the Kinnara was found in an archaeological dig in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur. The Philippines's archaeological finds include many ancient gold artifacts. It is probable that they were made locally because archaeologist Peter Bellwood discovered the existence of an ancient goldsmith's shop. Archaeological finds also include Buddhist artifacts.
In 1225, China's Zhao Rugua, a superintendent of maritime trade in Fukien province, wrote the book titled Account of the Various Barbarians (Chinese: 諸番志) in which he described trade with a country called Ma-i in the island of Mindoro in Luzon, (pronounced "Ma-yi") which was a pre-Hispanic Philippine state. The book describes the presence of metal images of Buddhas of unknown origin scattered about in the tangled wilds. The gentleness of Tagalog customs that the first Spaniards found, were very different from those of other provinces of the same race and in Luzon itself, can very well be the effect of Buddhism.
In the 13th century, Buddhism and Hinduism was introduced to the people of Palawan through the Srivijaya and Majapahit . The other finds are the garuda, the mythical bird that has been common to Buddhism and Hinduism, and several Padmapani images. Padmapani has been also known as Avalokitesvara, the enlightened being or Bodhisattva of Compassion. Surviving Buddhist images and sculptures are primarily found in and at Tabon Cave. Recent research conducted by Philip Maise has included the discovery of giant sculptures and cave paintings within the burial chambers in the caves depicting the Journey to the West.
A relic of a bronze statue of Lokesvara was found in Isla Puting Bato in Tondo, Manila. and the Laguna Copperplate Inscription, which is the artifact that specifically points to an Indian cultural (linguistic) influence in Tondo, does not explicitly discuss religious practices. However, some contemporary Buddhist practitioners believe that its mention of the Hindu calendar month of Vaisakha (which corresponds to April/May in the Gregorian Calendar) implies a familiarity with the Hindu sacred days celebrated during that month.
Terminology and linguistics
The linguistic influence left its most lasting marks on every Philippine language throughout the archipelago with the following Buddhist and Hindu concepts directly from the original Sanskrit:
- budhi "conscience" from Sanskrit bodhi
- diwa "Spirit; Soul" from Sanskrit jiva
- dukha "one who suffers" from Sanskrit dukkha
- diwata "deity, nymph" from Sanskrit Devas
- guro "teacher" from Sanskrit guru
- sampalataya "faith" from Sanskrit sampratyaya
- mukha "face" from Sanskrit mukha
- laho "eclipse" from Sanskrit rahu
- Tala "star" from Sanskrit Tara
- kalma "fate" from Sanskrit kama
- damla "divine law" from Sanskrit dharma
- mantala "magic formulas" from Sanskrit mantra
- upaya "power" from Sanskrit upaya
- lupa "face" from Sanskrit rupa
- sabla "every" from Sanskrit sarva
- lawu "eclipse" from Sanskrit rahu
- galura "giant eagle (a surname)" from Sanskrit garuda
- laksina "south (a surname)" from Sanskrit dakshin
- laksamana "admiral (a surname)" from Sanskrit lakshman
The Philippines's archaeological finds include a few of Buddhist artifacts.
In 1225, China's Zhao Rugua, a superintendent of maritime trade in Fukien province wrote the book entitled Zhu Fan Zhi (Chinese: 諸番志; literally: '"Account of the Various Barbarians"') in which he described trade with a country called Ma-i in the island of Mindoro in Luzon,(pronounced "Ma-yi") which was a prehispanic Philippine state. In it he said:
The country of Mai is to the north of Borneo. The natives live in large villages on the opposite banks of a stream and cover themselves with a cloth like a sheet or hide their bodies with a loin cloth. There are metal images of Buddhas of unknown origin scattered about in the tangled wilds.
"The gentleness of Tagalog customs that the first Spaniards found, very lfferent from those of other provinces of the same race and in Luzon itself, can very well be the effect of Buddhism "There are copper Buddha's" images.
In the archipelago that was to become the Philippines, the statues of the Hindu gods were hidden to prevent their destruction by a religion which destroyed all cult images.[which?] One statue, a "Golden Tara", a 4-pound gold statue of a Hindu-Malayan goddess, was found in Mindanao in 1917. The statue denoted the Agusan Image and is now in the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago. The image is that of a Hindu-Malayan female deity, seated cross-legged. It is made of twenty-one carat gold and weighs nearly four pounds. It has a richly ornamented headdress and many ornaments in the arms and other parts of the body. Scholars date it to the late 13th or early 14th century. It was made by local artists, perhaps copying from an imported Javanese model. The gold that was used was from this area, since Javanese miners were known to have been engaged in gold mining in Butuan at this time. The existence of these gold mines, this artifact and the presence of "foreigners" proves the existence of some foreign trade, gold as the main element in the barter economy, and of cultural and social contact between the natives and "foreigners."
As previously stated, this statue is not in the Philippines. Louise Adriana Wood (whose husband, Leonard Wood, was the military-governor of the Moro Province in 1903-1906 and governor general in 1921-1927) raised funds for its purchase by the Chicago Museum of Natural History. It is now on display in that museum's Gold Room. According to Prof. Beyer, considered the "Father of Philippine Anthropology and Archeology", a woman in 1917 found it on the left bank of the Wawa River near Esperanza, Agusan, projecting from the silt in a ravine after a storm and flood.
From her hands, it passed into those of Bias Baklagon, a local government official. Shortly after, ownership passed to the Agusan Coconut Company, to whom Baklagon owed a considerable debt. Mrs. Wood bought it from the coconut company. A golden statuette of the Hindu-Buddhist goddess Kinnara found in an archaeological dig in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur.
The Philippines's archaeological finds include many ancient gold artifacts. Most of them have been dated to belong to the 9th century iconography of the Srivijaya empire. The artifacts's distinct features point to their production in the islands. It is probable that they were made locally because archaeologist Peter Bellwood discovered the existence of an ancient goldsmith's shop that made the 20-centuries-old lingling-o, or omega-shaped gold ornaments in Batanes. Archaeological finds include Buddhist artifacts. The style are of Vajrayana influence. Surviving Buddhist images and sculptures are primarily found in and at Tabon Cave. Recent research conducted by Philip Maise has included the discovery of giant sculptures and cave paintings within the burial chambers in the caves depicting the Journey to the West. Scholars such as Milton Osborne emphasize that despite these beliefs being originally from India, they reached the Philippines through Southeast Asian cultures with Austronesian roots. Artifacts[verification needed] reflect the iconography of the Vajrayana Buddhism and its influences on the Philippines's early states.
List of Esoteric Buddhist iconography
- Bronze Lokesvara – This is bronze statue of Lokesvara was found in Isla Puting Bato in Tondo, Manila.
- Buddha Amithaba bass relief - The Ancient Batangueños were influenced by India as shown in the origin of most languages from Sanskrit and certain ancient potteries. A Buddhist image was reproduced in mould on a clay medallion in bas-relief from the municipality of Calatagan. According to experts, the image in the pot strongly resembles the iconographic portrayal of Buddha in Siam, India, and Nepal. The pot shows Buddha Amithaba in the tribhanga pose inside an oval nimbus. Scholars also noted that there is a strong Mahayanic orientation in the image, since the Boddhisattva Avalokitesvara was also depicted.
- Golden Garuda of Palawan - Another gold artifact, from the Tabon Caves in the island of Palawan, is an image of Garuda, the bird who is the mount of Vishnu. The discovery of sophisticated Hindu imagery and gold artifacts in Tabon Caves has been linked to those found from Oc Eo, in the Mekong Delta in Southern Vietnam.
- Bronze Ganesha statues – A crude bronze statue of a Hindu Deity Ganesha has been found by Henry Otley Beyer in 1921 in an ancient site in Puerto Princesa, Palawan and in Mactan. Cebu the crude bronze statue indicates of its local reproduction.
- Mactan Alokitesvara – Excavated in 1921 in Mactan, Cebu by H.O.Beyer the statue is bronze may be a siva-buddhist blending rather than "pure Buddhist".
- The Golden Tara
- Golden Kinnari
- Padmapani and Nandi images – Padmapani is also known as Avalokitesvara, the wisdom being or Bodhisattva of Compassion. Golden jewelry found so far include rings, some surmounted by images of Nandi – the sacred bull, linked chains, inscribed gold sheets, gold plaques decorated with repoussé images of Hindu deities.
- The Laguna Copperplate Inscription (above) found in 1989 suggests Indian cultural influence in the Philippines by 9th century AD, likely through Hinduism in Indonesia, prior to the arrival of European colonial empires in the 16th century.
Incorporation of beliefs to Anitism (Folk religion)
The Tagalog and Visayan belief system was more or less anchored on the idea that the world is inhabited by spirits and supernatural entities, both good and bad, and that respect must be accorded to them through worship. The elements of Buddhist and Hindu beliefs has been syncretistically adapted or incorporated in the indigenous folk religions. In the Philippine mythology, a diwata (derived from Sanskrit devata देवता;  encantada in Spanish) is a type of deity or spirit. The term "diwata" has taken on levels of meaning since its assimilation into the mythology of the pre-colonial Filipinos. The term is traditionally used in the Visayas, Palawan, and Mindanao regions, while the term anito is used in parts of Luzon region. Both terms are used in Bicol, Marinduque, Romblon, and Mindoro, signifying a 'buffer zone' area for the two terms. while the spelling of the name "Bathala" given by Pedro Chirino in "Relación de las Islas Filipinas" (1595–1602) was perhaps a combination of two different spellings of the name from older documents such as "Badhala" in "Relacion de las Costumbres de Los Tagalos" (1589, Juan de Plasencia) and "Batala" in "Relacion de las Yslas Filipinas" (1582, Miguel de Loarca), the latter was supposedly the correct spelling in Tagalog since the letter "h" was silent in Spanish. Bathala or Batala was apparently derived from Sanskrit "bhattara" (noble lord) which appeared as the sixteenth-century title "batara" in the southern Philippines and Borneo. In Indonesian language, "batara" means "god", its feminine counterpart was "batari". It may be worth noting that in Malay, "betara" means holy, and was applied to the greater Hindu gods in Java, and was also assumed by the ruler of Majapahit.
- Golden Tara
- History of the Philippines
- History of the Philippines (900-1521)
- Buddhism in the Philippines
- Hinduism in the Philippines
- Tantric Theravada
- Tibetan Buddhism
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- Virgilio S. Almario, UP Diksunaryong Filipino
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- Camperspoint: History of Palawan. Accessed August 27, 2008.
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- Haspelmath, Martin. Loanwords in the World's Languages: A Comparative Handbook. De Gruyter Mouton. p. 724. ISBN 3110218437.
- Jesus Peralta, "Prehistoric Gold Ornaments CB Philippines," Arts of Asia, 1981, 4:54-60
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- Osborne, Milton (2004). Southeast Asia: An Introductory History (Ninth ed.). Australia: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-74114-448-5.
- Laszlo Legeza, "Tantric Elements in the Philippines PreHispanic Gold Arts," Arts of Asia, 1988, 4:129–136.
- Agusan Gold Image only in the Philippines.
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- Anna T. N. Bennett (2009), Gold in early Southeast Asia, ArcheoSciences, Volume 33, pp 99–107
- Dang V.T. and Vu, Q.H., 1977. The excavation at Giong Ca Vo site. Journal of Southeast Asian Archaeology 17: 30–37
- Philippine Folklore Stories by John Maurice Miller
- Scott, William Henry (1994). Barangay: Sixteenth Century Philippine Culture and Society. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press. ISBN 971-550-135-4.
- Buddhism In The Philippines - aboutphilippines.ph