Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Fri Aug 6 18:51:48 CDT 1999

Greg Goode <goode at DPW.COM> wrote:

> Advaita-vedantins consider him a dualist, do they not?  But in
> Buddhism and other Mahayana schools, he's considered the father of
> philosophy because of his Mulamadhyamakakarika (Treatise on the
> Way).  Can someone offer pointers about why Advaitins see him as a
> dualist?  Thanks!


sha.nkara does call the buddhists as dualists explicitly. That would
include Nagarjuna obviously.  In the bhAshhya to gauDapAda kArika
3.17, sha.nkara states his view on who the dualists are. In this verse
gauDapAda mentions that the dualists are constantly confounding each
others doctrines, whereas the advaita doctrine does not have any
conflict with any of these (avirudhha). sha.nkara explains gauDapAdas
use of the word "dvaitinaH"-dvaitins as:

svasiddhAnta-vyavasthAsu svasiddhAntarachanAniyameshhu
kapila-kaNAda-buddha-arhatAdidvaitinAm ...

Note the last compound where he lumps the followers of kapila
(sA.nkhya), kaNAda (vaisheshhika logicians), buddha and arhat (jains)
as dvaitins. So there is no doubt that would include Nagarjuna also.

The reason is also given in the same place. All these schools do not
believe in "unity" of the self, or seeing the same self in everyone.
So they are dvaitinaH. sha.nkara says this explicitly. Please refer to
the bhAshhya.

Another reference would be the work of maNDana mishra, the
brahmasiddhi. There he asks the question what is illusory, difference
or oneness? As per maNDana and sha.nkara the buddhists deny both. The
advaitins deny *only* difference as an illusion, but not the unity of
the self.

>From one point of view, stating difference to be an illusion could be
interpreted as "non-dualism". But at least as far as advaita vedAnta
goes, denial of unity is also dvaita. So, the confusion about being
the father of "non-dualism" is because of the difference in the
meaning in advaita and buddhism. The statement ekam-eva-advitIyam
brings this difference out succinctly, i.e., only one, not many.


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