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

Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Jun 20 18:24:40 CDT 2000

Regarding the claim that the GauDapAda kArikA  (or part thereof)
reads like a Buddhist text, that is completely inaccurate.
The main feature, or shall we say, the bed-rock of the mAdhyamika
doctrine is pratItya-samutpAda, called dependent arising or
dependent origination. Renowned Buddhism scholar Gadjin Nagao
says in his book "The Foundational Standpoint of Madhyamika Philosophy"
that Nagarjuna "regarded Sakyamuni as the great master precisely because
of his elucidation of dependent arising". Such is the importance of
the doctrine of pratItya-samutpAda. In a nutshell, this says everything
in the universe is  dependent on other things. And further, or as
a consequence, there is no permanent, enduring, self-nature (svabhAva)
of anything. The very existence of any thing is dependent on other things,
so nothing can be said to be inherently existent. Every thing is said
to have a lack of self-nature (niHsvabhAvatva or nairAtmya).

It is hard to over-emphasize the importance given to pratItya-samutpAda
in MAdhyamika. Another Buddhism scholar Gunapala Malalasekera has
said in his book "Aspects of Reality taught by Theravada Buddhism,"
that "Just as the Four Noble Truths... form the heart of the Buddha's
teaching, so does the doctrine of dependent arising constitute its

Given this background, it is hard to justify how the GK can be described
as having Buddhist influence. GauDapAdAchArya only argues for the
birthless-ness of everything which naturally follows from the fact
that everything is indeed Brahman as per "sarvaM khalvidaM brahma"
and Brahman is indeed birthless, "aja". He calls it viGYAna (consciousness)
and describes it as aja (birthless), achala (stationary), avastu
(non-object), shAnta (peaceful), and advaya (nondual) in 4.45.
The mAdhyamika can *never* say  this about *anything*.


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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