ADVAITA-L Digest - 15 Jun 1999 to 16 Jun 1999 (#1999-54)
Anand V. Hudli
anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jun 21 12:42:36 CDT 1999
Giridhar <giridhar at CHEMENG.IISC.ERNET.IN> wrote:
>Tibetan sources dated around 700 AD like tattva sangraha
>quote directly from mandukya upanishad and karika stating
>that 'this is upanishhad teaching'.
>Not sure about 2, but certainly there are almost verbatim passages
>in the mandukya karika from Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka-karika like passage
>7.34 of Madhyamaka-karika and 2.31 of mandukya karika.
>Please refer to Natalia Isayeva book for further references.
Let me make sure I am referring to the correct verse:
svapnamAye yathA dR^ishhTe gandharvanagaraM yathA |
tathA vishvamidaM dR^ishhTaM vedAnteshhu vichaxaNaiH ||
Here the world is said to be like a dream, magical act, or a
city in the sky (a mirage) - an illusion. This is known through
the upanishads by the wise.
If this verse also occurs in nAgArjuna's work, what are the
implications, assuming the Buddhist nAgArjuna lived before GauDapAda?
1) nAgArjuna's work borrows the illusion idea from the upanishads.
2) GauDapAda borrows nAgArjuna's idea,
3) Both 1) and 2).
Shankara, commenting on the verse, gives a list of upanishadic statements
that substantiate the claim made above. The term mAyA
or illusion, which some claim to have been "introduced" into advaita due
to Buddhist influence, is clearly specified in the Brihadaranyaka 2.5.19,
"indro mAyAbhiH pururUpa Iyate", and also occurs in the R^ig Veda samhitA.
Anyone who reads the Brihadaranyaka, the 3rd section (brahmana)
of the 4th chapter for example, cannot see anything but a strong basis for
what is often called "mAyAvada" by those who oppose advaita. The third
brahmana deals with the three states of waking, dream, and sleep. Here,
the self, is said to be like a large fish (mahAmatsya) swimming
alternately to the eastern and western shores, the waking and dream
states. And, in the fifth brahmana, occurs the oft-quoted statement,
"yatra tvasya sarvamAtmaivAbhUt.h, tatkena kaM pashyet.h ..." Once the
whole universe is the Self of the knower of Brahman, there is no "other"
object to be perceived. This makes it very likely that the Buddhist
theory of illusion was derived from the upanishads. Although the
Buddhists deny the Self, they must have found the concept of illusory
nature of the world, as outlined in the upanishads, an appealing one.
GauDapAda himself states that his arguments about mAyA are based on
VedAnta,(not the Buddhists), "devaH svamAyayA sa eva budhyate bhedAniti
vedAntanishchayaH". So when GauDapAda is aware that VedAnta is the source
of the mAyA (illusion) theory, why would he depend on Buddhist sources?
Besides, the illusion theory of advaita is fundamentally different
from that of the Buddhists.
The answer is likely to be the following. nAgArjuna and a couple of other
Buddhist Logicians developed the dialectical framework with a great
degree of sophistication. As Prof. Stephen Phillips says in his book
"Classical Indian Metaphysics", the Buddhist logicians, particularly
nAgArjuna, dignAga, and dharmakIrti, were responsible for the sharp
increase in sophistication of dialectical techniques in subsequent
Indian philosophy. For example, dignAga's contribution was the formal-
ization of rules of inference. Prof. Phillips states regarding dignAga:
"...his scheme of syllogism was studied closely by all succeeding
philosophers, whatever the school."
So the formalization of dialectical techniques of the Buddhists
influenced a number of different schools, not just advaita. And when
we consider advaita, we should remember that advaita is as much concerned
with the dialectical (logical argument) aspect as it is with the
exegetical (interpretatiion of texts) aspect. Some authors within
advaita, however, show a leaning towards one aspect or the other.
Shankara is even handed because he uses both dialectical and exegetical
aspects excellently. However, with others, such as GauDapAda and
shrIharSha, the dialectical aspect is emphasized. It is just a matter
of the preferred style of the authors and the audience they were
GauDapAda's arguments seem to have been with the realist logicians,
not so much the mImAmsakas. So he devotes little time to the exegetical
aspects of advaita. Even in places where he has to base his statements
on the shruti, he is terse. Shankara provides the relevant quotes in the
shruti in his commentary on the kArikA's. Since GauDapAda's concern is
mainly with the dialectical aspect of advaita, he is also likely to be
aware of the dialectical techniques of the Buddhists just as anyone from
another school, say nyAya. In the course of his arguments, then, GauDa-
pAda, may have quoted from nAgArjuna. But this is much ado about
Suppose, an advaitin of today, makes use of propositional/predicate
calculus in his arguments, it is conceivable that he might say
something like "...From DeMorgan's laws, it follows that ... (refer to
the book Introduction to Propostional Logic, by author X)...." This does
not mean that advaita has to depend on modern propositional calculus to
make its point. These formalisms are just tools; one tool can be easily
used in place of another. The basic philosophy remains the same.
This is what GauDapAda does in his kArikA. The conclusion to the
implications that I raised above is that implication 1) is the only
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