gaudapaada and buddha (was Re: brahman by ...)

Kim Poulsen poulsen at DK-ONLINE.DK
Thu Nov 28 18:53:36 CST 1996

Vidyasankar Sundaresan:
>and this in turn is
>related to their respective views on own-nature (svabhAva) and
>other-nature (parabhAva).

>For more about the buddhist denial of svabhAva and the GK's attitude
>towards svabhAva, read
> Comparisons
>between GK and madhyamaka are not easy, and it is very easy to take
>extreme positions on this.

   (Thank you for the URL). I think that the only way to convey my meaning
regarding the points of your letter, is to make a short investigation of
specific term - svabhaava. It may demonstrate the synthetic approach,
question the general opinion of Nagarjuna's sayings and shed some light
on the both the positive and negative remarks (especially the essential
unity of all doctrines) made by Gaudapada and

   First, what is svabhaava? What was the meaning of svabhaava long before
Nagarjuna. The best definition I recall occurs in the ABC of Giita 8.3 -,
answers to Arjuna's seven questions, they will serve as a framework
to pin our philosophical investigation on. To concentrate on the 3
we have:

A)      Parama Brahman - the Immutable. Both meanings of parama must be
understood - supreme and beyond. This is the absolute, beyond everything
mutable: worlds, planets, beings. Everything in endless space (empty of
anyTHING contained in it) rests in its state of passive potentiality, its
state . Seen isolated it may be called the emptiness, shhuunyata, as with
madhyamikas. Or it may be called the immutable (with the theosophists) or
Brahman. It is aksharam, it is paramam, it is brahman. As the universal
it is the highest goal, the highest abode, etc. etc.

B)    Svabhaava (self-existence) is called adhyaatma (the over-soul). This
is the
state of unity. As the homogenous origin of differentiated matter is is
svabhaava prakR^iti or aakaasha, as a goal of evolution it is referred to
self-existence. It may be called over-soul when alluding to the essential
of all jiivas. As aakasha it is that portion of endless space that is used
a manifestation (like our solar system).
   When referring to human entities it is called adhiyaGYa, a great
when they do not pass on, having escaped bondage. This is the buddhist
and the position of Krishna describing himself.
This state of unity may be viewed under three apects -
I) adhibhuuta, material, elemental
II) adhidaivata, divine
III) adhiyaGYa, human

C) The causer of arising existence (from) past existence, the creation, is
  ( I will have to watch my syntax :-) The compound here may be viewed as
compounds bhuutabhaava and udbhaavakara, but disregarding syntax, the
bound or conditioned by karma (and not self-existent) can be seen alluded
to by the 3
I) bhuuta, past and elemental
II) bhaava, present, (human) existence
III) udbhaava, future, higher existence
(see Nagarjuna and his 3 kinds of bhaava in saMsaara)

D) may be disregarded for the moment. It concerns the iishvara, the logos
(avalokiteshvara to the buddhists) in it own state - "whoso at the time of
thinks of me alone...reaches my state". This refers to the prakriti of
iishvara and
"the time of death" is treated of in the tibetan "Book of the Dead".

    These 4 (or 7) principles or states are, so to speak, the framework or
of the giita. Using the idea of essential unity of doctrines taught by
and Shankara, we can examine the ideas of Nagarjuna (I have to be brief,
unfortunately, this is after all advaita-l)..

     bodhicittavivaraNa  28. "The three natures, viz. the imagined
the dependant (paratantra) and the parinishhpanna have only one
nature of their own: emptiness. They are the imaginations (kalpanaa) of
mind (citta)".

   parikalpita is our D), it is the subjective, the subtle state, while
is our C), etc. In G.K IV these terms are also employed frequently by G.
He starts his treatise by using the maNDuukya terms and ends it using the
mahayana terms. The commentators fills in other terms for the same
principles. Shankara is very clear about the almost identicality of
and Vedanta.
   The two major differences are

1) while the Vedanta philosopher by a positive statement will affirm his
with A) (brahman and paramaatman) Nagarjuna by a series of denials and
negative statements will deny the reality of anything else. He even denies
ultimate reality of a non-conditioned state like svabhaava, there is but
absolute, it is the "svabhaava" of the other states .
  It is this philosophy which cannot be refuted (being based on solid
but may have a problem with its attittude, so to speak.

2) By terming their absolute shhuunyata, the buddhists seems to be
against unfounded ideas about Brahman, but the mutual terms akshara, para
parama are found far more often in both cases

I will conclude my notes in a third post. Many more points could be made.
Please remember that commentaries often are occupied with translating
terminology, and that this synthetic approach in itself is a strong case
for trying this line of research

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list