shUnyavAda and KShaNikatva (momentariness)
anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Jun 22 11:31:16 CDT 2000
On Thu, 22 Jun 2000 06:42:20 -0700, Ritwik Bhattacharya
<bhattacharya_ritwik at YAHOO.COM> wrote:
>As a new member of the list, I am very disappointed by the way this
>thread has been handled on all sides. There seems to be an intense
>intolerance, especially on the part of the so-called "Advaitins", to
>any claims of influence on advaita from other sources. As someone said
>on one of the posts, it is quite obvious that both advaita and buddhism
>have been influenced by each other. Can we not leave it at that ?
I am sorry to know that you are disappointed but I would also hereby
request all new members to give me an opportunity to present the issue
in as brief and simple manner as I possibly can.
WHen you say it is obvious that advaita and buddhism have influenced
each other, what is the basis of this "obvious" observation? Surely,
authors in the advaita line from Shankara have rejected the theory
that buddhism has influenced advaita, giving several reasons. Among
those who hold that buddhism has indeed influenced advaita have been
1) schools other than advaita, eg. dvaita, etc., and 2) some modern
Now you have two conflicting views. 1) One says Buddhism has not
influenced advaita, and 2) the other says the opposite. Please note
that both cannot be right, because the line of Shankara categorically
rejects even a slight influence of Buddhism on advaita. They don't accept
that "OK we got some ideas from Buddhism, but there are not too many!"
Also I point out that using dialectical methods of BUddhist logic has
been done by the advaitins, but so have been navya-nyAya methods in a
much larger scale by advaitins. On this account, we don't call advaitins
prachchhanna naiyAyikas or prachchhanna tArkikas. Do we? So why insist
on saying that advaita was influenced by buddhism?
If you say it is obvious that Buddhism has influenced advaita then
you are obliged to point out what the basis is because you are breaking
away from the opinion of Shankara's line. You may quote 1) some
scholars, 2) some argument from other schools, or 3) you may just say
"it is just so obvious to me." None of these alternatives is really
fair to advaita. As for 1), it is an established fact that there are
many different opinions by academics on this issue. If you just take
the opinion of some scholars, then you are not being fair. If your
opinion is based on 2), ie. arguments of other schools, then you are
obliged to also consider the response of advaita scholars to those
arguments. If 3) your opinion is based on some "gut feeling", then
again, "gut feelings" can be wrong many times. They cannot be taken
seriously, especially in this issue which is complex.
There is a fourth alternative. If 4) you say Buddhism influenced
advaita with some kind of analysis of your own, then we would like
to discuss it here. Bring it up.
All I am saying is that to brush aside the conclusion of Shankara's line
that categorically denies any Buddhist influence, you need more solid
grounds than just saying that the influence is obvious! That is precisely
what I am looking for. If I see some substantial argument/facts that
prove Shankara's followers wrong or even likely to be wrong, I will
share the same view as you do that there was a Buddhist influence on
It is easy to use words such as "intolerance" of so-called advaitins
but it is not accurate. Intolerance implies irrational behavior. When
many objective arguments are being made for the lack of Buddhist
influence on advaita, this does not qualify as intolerance.
>Some people have also said that such "dangerous" misinterpretations of
>old texts can leave the newcomer confused. To this, I can only say that
>a true seeker of the Truth is hardly likely to be concerned with such
>trivialities as who influenced who. Is it not a basic tenet of Advaita
>that the Truth is only one ?
Again, it is easy to use words such as "true seeker of truth" but what
exactly do they mean? If it is a foregone conclusion that buddhism
influenced advaita, then it is necessary for a true seeker of truth
to find out the roots of advaita as they come from Buddhism. It changes
the whole perspective. Without understanding the very roots of a
discipline, one would be ill-advised to embark on a study of advaita,
starting somewhere in the middle, so to speak. GauDapAda and Shankara
lived several centuries after Buddha and nAgArjuna. One can NEVER gain a
truly complete grasp of advaita starting in the middle at
GauDapAda/Shankara. On the other hand, if buddhism did not influence
advaita, then it is correct to start from GauDapAda and Shankara.
The perspective changes a lot.
This is the significance of the buddhist influence issue that many people
do not understand. A true seeker of truth must not only have good
intentions, good feelings, etc., but he/she must also be prepared to
undertake a inquiry to actually find the truth!
bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam
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