buddha and his teachings(Re: message to my friends)

Sankaran Jayanarayanan sjayana at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Aug 16 16:15:41 CDT 1998

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian <ramakris at EROLS.COM>

>Sankaran Jayanarayanan wrote:
>> This has not been established, either on this list or elsewhere. That
>> Shankara did not respect Buddha/Buddhism is obvious, but with
>> GauDapaada, the matter is unresolved.
>Unresolved for who? His disciple's disciple (namely sha.nkara) has very
>clearly interpreted it that way. So end of story.

This is where the story begins, actually :-)

There are doubts as to whether or not the commentary attributed to
Shankara is authentic. The reason is obvious: when terms like "Buddha is
the greatest among all the bipeds" is liberally interpreted by the
commentator as an invocation to a Guru, and verses very evidently
composed by Buddhist commentators like Nagarjuna are lifted almost
verbatim, and the commentator doesn't notice the similarities to
Buddhism (note the fact that Shankara's Bramha suutra bhaashhya does
reveal knowledge of Buddhism), doubts on the authorship of the
commentary on the kaarikaa are legitimate. After reading both the BSB
and the commentary on the MANDuukya kaarikaa, it's obvious that the
latter reveals a great lack of knowledge of Buddhism. I could go into
the details in a much more clear-cut manner if only I had a copy of the
BSB with me now.

As to what exactly constitute the authentic works of Shankara are not
yet decided on this list.

> So question is: Do you
>know more about Gaudapada than sha.nkara? If no, then the matter is not
>unresolved. If yes, this list is not the place for your views :-).

If I remember one of the guidelines (#5) correctly: a discussion on the
commentaries comparing advaita with Buddhist doctrines is allowed. I
understand that they ought to be sent to the list manager, but your
posting has come directly to the list, and I am doing likewise for my
present posting.

>Please take my following comments objectively. I know you can, if it
>were some other people I wouldn't have replied:
>1. With all due respect to you, Ravi is the list owner and his wishes
>are final.

I respect his position as list administrator and understand that he has
the last say. But there was a suggestion that he wouldn't be autocratic
in his rejection of postings.

>2. Please note that Kumarila Bhatta and Sureshvara also say that the
>Buddha's teachings must have been misinterpreted by his followers.
>Sureshvara in his bR^ihadAraNyaka vArttika says that the Buddha must
>have denied only the reality of external things and not the self and
>that his followers must have misunderstood him.

This I didn't know :-) I have read of Kumarila Bhatta's views, but not
of Sureshvara's.

>But do note that whatever be the case, we are NOT interested, WHOEVER
>the commendation comes from. This includes Ramana Maharshi also. As per
>list rules RMs explanations of sha.nkara's teachings are allowed. This
>is because it's a major task following just the teachings of advaita
>we are NOT interested in people coming and confusing the issues even
>further. May I point out that if the Buddha taught the same as
> sha.nkara
>there is no need to mention Buddha's teachings separately, following
>sha.nkara is enough? But if he did not, then obviously the teachings
> are
>not suitable for this list.

I hope you realize the absurdity of your above statement! You can
substitute "Buddha" with "Ramana" and it would still be logical :-) It's
like the muslim who said,"If a text is in accordance with the Koran,
burn the book -- it cannot be of any use. If not, you should burn it
because it goes against the Koran."

The reason for quoting Ramana or others is so that we can understand
some salient points of advaita better which Shankara may not have dwelt


>Ravi had especially requested enquiries on moderation policy as a
>PERSONAL mail. I wish you had followed that. I am replying to your mail
>only because Ravi seems to be getting lot of flak from various

I had to reply to his first email, since there was the point about
GauDapaada that required clarification. I didn't want to get into this
mess, and this shall certainly be my last posting on this topic.

>I think Vaidya had the best post on this topic. Read
>carefully. I think this should be made required reading for people who
>want to join the list.


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