Antiquity of Advaita Vedanta

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Jun 25 16:53:52 CDT 2000

Anand Hudli <anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:

>  Harvey further quotes the explanation of an early Buddhist nun called
> Vajira. She uses the analogy of a "chariot" to describe the non-self
> theory. A chariot can be viewed as a collection of parts functioning
> together. Similarly, the conventional term "being" refers to what are
> called five khandas functioning together. There is no self involved
> here, only the five khandas, none of which is a "self".

Very interesting. The upanishads use the analogy of the chariot too. But
there, the point being made is that without the horses (the senses -
inriyas), a chariot is simply useless, and without a charioteer (the Atman)
to control the horses, it can only run amok. And note the epic
personification of the Lord as the charioteer on whose side lies victory

> Further, it is apparent to one who reads Buddhist works, including
> nAgArjuna's, that there is a deliberate attempt to deny what is
> called "reification", treating abstract things as though they are real.
> It is parallel to the modern-day scientific/materialist demand for a
> "proof" or "measurement" of things such as consciousness. The scientist
> will say that consciousness is simply a high-sounding term we give to
> a bunch of chemical reactions in the brain. (In fact, we had a member
> in this list who was arguing along those lines.)

See bRhadAraNyaka upanishad, maitreyI brAhmaNa - the dialogue between
yAjnavalkya and his wife, maitreyI.

And that is precisely why (along with yAjnavalkya) Sankara has argued that
non-duality is beyond experience too. To equate fleeting perceptions of
mystic union with Brahman, without investigating what is behind such
perceptions, can be often misleading.

> neo-advaitins. I am not suggesting a "I-am-so-insignificant-compared-
> to-these-great-people" defeatist attitude. All I am saying is that
> we should have a solid, bullet-proof (as they say here in the US) case
> if we have to prove all these people wrong or question their integrity.

And to this I would the Buddhist side - both the traditional leaders and the
neo-Buddhists have been saying all along that to read an eternal Self in
Buddhist works is a misrepresentation. They are also people with great
integrity, and people who live their tradition.

Best wishes,

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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