Antiquity of advaita vedanta (was : an open letter to all)

Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Jun 14 21:46:18 CDT 2000

On Wed, 14 Jun 2000 10:43:45 PDT, nanda chandran <vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:

>Regarding the objections raised by Ravi and Anand about the necessity of
>learning bauddha logic, let me point out something.
>Some of the greatest Advaitins are outspoken admirers of MAdhyamaka
>While GaudapAda keeps saluting the Buddha repeatedly in his KArikA,
> Sri
>Harsha finds nothing better than the MAdhyamaka dialectic to refute other
>schools. The great VAchaspati Mishra, one of the greatest scholars in
>philosophy, openly lauds the intellectual calibre of the MAdhyamika.

 Could you explain these remarks with explicit quotes please? Else,
 they will have to be taken as outright distortions aimed at
 confusing the minds of the gullible on the list.

 I will make some specific points here. Try to answer them if you will.

 1) In the words of
 Anantakrishna Sastri, one of the great scholars of advaita in the 20th
 century, he speaks of mAdhyamika or shUnyavAda (I quote) "...tanmataM
 dUShitaM bhAmatInyAratnAvalyAdau vistareNa" (foot note on page 142 -
 advaita-siddhi, parimal publications), "...that system has been
 refuted in detail by works such as bhAmatI, nyAyaratnAvalI, etc."
 And guess who the author of bhAmatI is? VAchaspati Mishra himself.
 So now we have a problem. Pt. Anantakrishna Sastri says VAchaspati
 Mishra has refuted mAdhyamika in his bhAmatI whereas you say that
 the same VAchaspati openly lauds mAdhyamika. Who should we believe?
 Please solve this problem for us!

 2) You are right that shrIharshha uses Buddhist logic to refute
    nyAya theories. But he is very clear in showing his allegiance to
    vedAnta! The conclusion is he uses the techbiques only as a tool,
    to put forth his own thesis of vedAnta. It is possible to put forth
    the advaita doctrine using modern logic. Would doing so mean that
    we are somehow indebted to the western logicians? No it doesn't.
    To argue for advaita, we can use Buddhist logic, modern logic or
    some other technique. Buddhist logic is NOT indispensable, not even

 3) As far as GauDapAda saluting Buddha, nothing can be farther from
   the truth. His salute to "dvipadAM varaM" has been shown by Shankara
   to refer to nArAyaNa Himself. And we have the concurrence of the
   shrIvaiShNava scholars on this point as well. GauDapAda salutes
   nArAyaNa in his kArikA, not Buddha. (Of course, you may argue that
   Buddha was considered an avatar of ViShNu, but that point is irrelevant

 4) Speaking of Shankara, we are yet to see brilliant claims   of  his
    worshipping Buddha. While you are working on this, please explain
    why Shankara is so sharply critical of EVERY school of Buddhism in
    his sUtra-bhAShya. Concluding his refutation of Buddhism with the sUtra
   "sarvathAnupapatteshcha", Shankara says "na kAMchidapyatropapattiM
    pashyAmaH", " we do not see any (logical) propriety here (in
    Buddhism)." Shankara means that Buddhism is logically flawed. He
    says the Buddha taught mutually contradictory theories either because
    he was so terribly incoherent in his teachings or because he really
    wished to harm his followers by confusing them. The question I have
    is: should we then conclude based on what your insight in mAdhyamika
    provides us that Shankara was incapable of understanding what the
    Buddha meant, something that you have been able to accomplish?

>I can sympathize with Ravi's concerns regarding my posting an article on
>MAdhyamaka. But Ravi please understand that the MAdhyamaka doesn't try to
>preach anything. It has no doctrine at all.

 Preaching that it has no doctrine is itself a preaching!

> It just analyzes what we call as
>knowledge and questions them. If it is based purely on reason how could you
>stand to lose, by understanding their arguments?
>Advaita as a philosophical school was non-existent at the time of

 On what basis do you conclude this? Again, specific facts please.

>So there's no contradicting Advaita here. Infact, Advaita as a
>theory, implicitly accepts the MAdhyamaka arguments of the ultimate
>unreality of the phenomenal world.

 Wrong. Please see MadhusUdana's arguments on this topic.

> For that is what gives logical base to
>the theory of mAyA. But that doesn't make Advaita prachanna bauddham and
>I'll explain why in the last part of the article.

  It doesn't change the fact Buddhism should be viewed as logically
  flawed. advaita is certainly not prachchhanna-bauddha-mata but
  that does not mean we have to accept Buddhism inspite of the solid
  refutation of it by our AchAryas.

>In those days of yore, there was healthy interaction between philosophers
>different streams. VAda or discussion itself is the main reason that Indian
>philosophy reached the levels that it did. And GaudapAda or KumArilla
>never had any problems about learning Bauddha logic. Because the main
>criterion was a sincere quest for the truth. Advaita itself is a result of
>over two millenea of philosophical effort in India.

>And mAyA is probably along with shUnya the most misunderstood topic in
>Indian philosophy. It is to understand it in the intellectual sphere I'm
>asking you to understand the MAdhyamaka dialectic and how it ultimately
>differs from Advaita.

 Do you mean mAyA has been misunderstood by advaitins themselves?
 Again, I am looking for specific evidence in this regard.

>As Aristotle says, "the mark of an educated mind is to entertain a thought
>without accepting it". Being Advaitins who pride ourselves on our jnAnic
>path, we should atleast have that level of tolerance.

 Please stop preaching tolerance. This has nothing to do with that.
 It is not that the list has never discussed Buddhism. In fact, it has
 been discussed ad-nauseum as some would recall. Tolerance is one thing,
 being obsessed with Buddhism is quite another. Some amount of comparative
 discussion is OK but outright distortions of views of the likes of
 GauDapAda, VAchaspati, and others should not be tolerated. In fact,
 my suggestion is to be intolerant of distortions.


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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