shUnyavAda and KShaNikatva (momentariness)

Ritwik Bhattacharya bhattacharya_ritwik at YAHOO.COM
Fri Jun 23 09:50:24 CDT 2000

--- "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at> wrote:
> On Thu, 22 Jun 2000, Ritwik Bhattacharya wrote:
> > Not necessarily. Speaking for myself, as someone who is interested
> in
> > what Advaita Vedanta has to say, I am trying to read the essential
> > texts that lay out Advaita philosophy,
> That presumes you know what the essential texts are.  Is the
> Mulamadhyamakakarika an essential text?  On what basis could you
> answer
> this question?

Offhand, I can't. I'm a PhD student, and I am taking the same approach
to advaita as I do to my research. I start out with a paper (text) that
is widely believed to deal with the topic I'm interested in, read it,
and then read papers (texts) referred to by that text. In the context
of advaita, I have started out by reading commentaries to the Gita,
Upanishads, etc. by Shankaracharya, who is generally known to be a
proponent of Advaita. My future course will be directed by references I
find to other texts. If these eventually include the
Mulamadhyamakakarika, then I will be in a position to say whether it is
an essential text or not.

> > and to see whether what they are
> > saying is reasonable.
> Again we have to ask "reasonable" by what standard?  Reading and
> interpreting are not simple straightforward objective things.  Lately
> western philosophy has been considering these subjects but our sages
> discussed them at length 100's of years ago.

I agree that it is not simple. Nevertheless, I am not willing to take
anybody else's interpretation of anything as the golden truth, so I
must, for myself, read and understand what the commentators and the
texts say.

> > I will then decide whether to delve deeper into
> > Advaita or not. But to do this, I have no need to try ot verify the
> > historical statement of whether Buddhism influenced Advaita, or
> vice
> > versa.
> >
> You are right in a historical sense it is really a moot point
> because for one thing Buddhism is extinct in India.  From the
> standpoint of a seeker of Truth it is still relevant in the sense
> that
> many of those essentuial texts you mention deal with issues brought
> up by
> the Buddhists.  How will you understand what they are talking about
> if you
> don't understand the issues?

If you are referring to what I think you're referring, it's easy.
Whenever a disciple brings up an objection from a non-Advaitin's
standpoint, it is generally made clear what the objection is, or where
a detailed description of it can be found. Basically, it goes back to
my first paragraph, that I will try to track down references to any
texts in the ones I've started with.

> > Also, I disagree with that statement in general. For example, if
> > someone were to make a claim as to the lifestyle of some obscure
> > Saharan tribe, I would not spend 15 days to try to find out if he
> is
> > distorting the truth.
> Because you don't want to not because it couldn't be done.  One of
> the
> goals of Advaita Vedanta is to analyze (and ultimately destroy) this
> "I
> want" and "I don't want"

Oh no, not because I don't want to, but because it is not relevant to
my aim.


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