advaita and buddhism (was RE: [Advaita-l] discussion aboutpanchayatan puja)

Rishi Lamichhane rishi.lamichhane at
Thu Mar 2 21:24:24 CST 2006

Dear Mahalingam,

There are some problems with that analysis. The first is that Hinduism
is Advaita Vedanta or that it is predominantly Advaita Vedanta. This
is the first notion that we must learn to drop because it annoys the
hell out of all other Hindus and its simply not true. Advaita is in a
sense the culturally dominant position in Hinduism for a long time now
but this shouldn't give Advaitins the right to define the tradition.
And most mature Advaitins absolutely do not and are very good at
drawing appropriate lines.

Whether one considers Buddhism part of Hinduism or not depends on
comparing Buddhism with other schools that are well-accepted to be
Hindu schools. You can't say "I'm not going to compare because they
are more or less the same". How do you know that they are more or less
the same if you don't compare them?

I would like to say a few things about Buddhism which I have had the
chance to understand better with some interactions with well-informed
Buddhists.  The base explanation of Buddhism is unlike anything in the
other Hindu schools. The Buddha's basic point is that the individual
is a collection of aggregates which were unified into a single entity
(the self) only by concepts. The "I" is just the different parts of
what we call "me" and there is no fundamental unity behind it, but its
just a unity given by conceptual thought.

The different Buddhist schools in some sense or other base themselves
upon this. The Madhyamika, with whom Advaita is most often compared,
extends this analysis to all phenomena. Note that the Buddha in Pali
canon also said sabbe dhamma anatta, so that Madhyamika is not saying
something completely different.

(Note that the Madhyamika do not deny the reality of appereances,
appereances are not product of ignorance but based on the appereances
we create objects and this is the mistake. This is why they are not
nihilists, but probably we could call them realists in a strange way.)

What they are saying is that an object is just a collection of its
parts and the mind creates the object per-se by providing the concept
which unifies the parts. The object has no nature of its own, its
appearing to be an independent object with its own nature is due to
ignorance. Thus Chandrakirti says svabhava is nisvabhava, that
essential nature of a thing is that it has no essential nature.

And in my opinion given this description, what the Buddhists mean by
shunya is exactly the same as what Vedantins mean by mithya. And its
not just my opinion, this is also what can be clearly seen from for
example Swami Dayananda of Arsha Vidya (in his article available
online on asti, bhati, priyam etc... wonderful article). He says:

"Therefore, "flower" is only an arbitrary word to indicate a lot of
things put together. And every one of them is a non-flower, please

Exactly the same idea since Swami Dayananda is saying that the flower
is just a group of things that are not-flower, which when arranged in
a certain way we call "flower". So in this sense, the flower is a
creation of our mind. This is what Swami Dayananda calls "mithya". It
is the consequence of something being dependent on something other
than itself.

Now Swami Dayananda goes on to explain Vedanta from this and goes
beyond what is taught by the Buddhists and this is where the article
is absolutely brilliant in my opinion:

"You can see that as far as the human mind can go, everything is based
on what it is not and without which, it doesn't exist".

The flower is not the petals, but the flower cannot exist without the
petals. The petal is not the cells, but cannot exist without the

So if we go back the flower, we discover something interesting. The
flower is not a flower (since flower is just arbritary word to
describe a collection of parts). The flower is not petals (because the
petals themselves are abritrary words to describe collection of
parts). The flower is also not cells, quarks, etc... It is also
incidentally not a mountain, not a car, not a computer.

This non-flower, non-petal, non-mountain, non-cell, non-quark, what is
it? Swami Dayananda says that is "asti" (ie: Sat, Brahman). One thing
he doesn't mention in the article but clearly follows is that the
flower being neither a flower, nor a petal, nor a mountain etc... is
"not this, not that", our familiar definition of the Self.

So not only is the flower not really a flower - this is where the
Buddhists stop - but it is also not anything else - everything else it
could possible be can also be reduced to something else. The flower is
"not this, not that". Now this "not this, not that" is not another
object since as we all know, the Self is NOT an object.

I think the Madhyamika is a great place to start Advaita from. In
fact, we cannot really deny this - Gaudapada, Sri Harsha, etc... used
Madhyamika techniques to help them establish Advaita. If it was
completely useless, they would not have done so.

Please do read all of Swami Dayananda's article, and I suggest reading
it several times since I think it is one of his best teachings I have
ever seen,

I'm sorry if this message was way off topic.



On 3/2/06, lallimahal mahal <lallimahal at> wrote:
> How can there bea  comparison between Advaitham and
> Buddhism.....Buddha was a Hindu and he gave a new
> interpretation to certain tenets of Hindu Dharma which
> describes Advaitha.Moreover if there has to be a
> comparison between two as similar philosophies why
> should bhuddhism be aconsidered as an alternative who
> had disillusions about Hindu Dharma.
> It started with King Ashoka who ,while, performing the
> duty of a Kshatriya,got into disillusionment and took
> upto Buddhism..Similarly Buddhism was taken as a
> refugeby Dr. Ambedkar when he wanted to go away from
> Hindu Dharma for what he thought was an inherent evil
> in the Hindu Dharma.  Advaitha had to be reiterated by
> Adya Sankaracharya  to remove the wrong intepretations
> given to Vedas and remove the disillusionment about
> sanathana Dharmam.
> Hence Buddhism is a part of sanathana Dharmam with a
> little amendments here and there..but they are not
> comparables..
> My humble thinking....
> Mahalingam.
> --- Krunal Makwana <krunalmakwana at> wrote:
> > namo nArAyaNAya
> >
> > Dear Amuthanji
> >
> > Amuthanji said:
> >
> > >it is quite difficult to compare advaitAnubhava
> > with
> > >buddhist nirvAna. the traditional view is that both
> > >are different. but svAmi vivekAnanda's view is that
> > >they are essentially the same. the description of
> > >nirvAna given by certain buddhist monks (and nuns)
> > are
> > >so similar to advaitAnubhava that it is compelling
> > to
> > >conclude that they are the same. of course, the
> > >traditionalists would brush aside the buddhist
> > >experience of nirvAna as a puruSha tantra j~nAna,
> > but
> > >this may not be true in all cases. cutting the
> > matter
> > >short, it is irrelevant for our purposes to worry
> > >whether nirvAna is the same as advaitAnubhava. that
> > is
> > >'their' headache :-)
> > >
> >
> > I expose my ignorance here for buddhism as i have
> > not studied it properly,
> > but whenever i hear the phrase 'nirvAna' i associate
> > it with the 'nirvAna'
> > of the gItA rather than the buddhist version. But i
> > agree that maybe
> > 'shunyatA' and 'advaitAnubhava' may be described
> > differently, but (imo) in
> > essence they would be the same in the pAramArthika
> > sense. But saying this i
> > agree that we should leave 'that' headache aside,
> > lol!
> >
> > >imo, as far as siddhAnta ('philosophy') is
> > concerned,
> > >it is best to stick to one and only one. whether or
> > >not we integrate other siddhAnta-s within our own
> > is a
> > >personal choice, but care should be taken so that
> > our
> > >siddhAnta itself doesn't get distorted in the
> > process!
> > >
> > >however, it is certainly true that certain
> > *practices*
> > >may be borrowed from other darshana-s, if
> > necessary,
> > >provided they do not conflict with our siddhAnta.
> > for
> > >instance, aShTA~Nga yoga has been traditionally
> > >integrated within advaita though the siddhAnta of
> > yoga
> > >(sA~Nkhya) is certainly not acceptable to advaita.
> >
> > I totally agree with you here! advaita vedanta
> > should be the philosophy that
> > should be followed in philosophical terms but to
> > reach advaitAnubhuti any
> > methods can be used, as long as they don't conflict
> > with advaita vedanta.
> > e.g. ISKCON's pay much attention to hari nAm jApa,
> > this in philosophical
> > terms does not conflictwith AV, so to perform nAm
> > jApa is agreeable if the
> > sAdhak chooses it as a method.
> >
> > IMO advaita vedanta should be the philosophical,
> > spiritual and religious
> > backbone that the sAdhak uses to perform any of his
> > duties, whether they are
> > nAm jApa etc.
> >
> > bhagavatpAda on a spiritual and philosophical basis
> > was a stauch advaitin
> > and never backed down on his position, this is
> > apparent in his bhAshya's and
> > his spiritual doctrines that brahman is the sole
> > reality and everything else
> > is false (relatively real) e.g asango'ham : brahma
> > satyam jagat mithyA etc,
> > but when reading his stotra's and his organisation
> > of panchAyatan deva pUjA
> > it comes across that the means can be many but end
> > is 'kaivalya advaita'.
> > Saying this a verse of the gItA comes into mind
> > where by different methods
> > (even though they may be wrong) they reach
> > 'advaitAnubhAva':
> >
> > Even those who, being devoted to other deities and
> > endowed with faith
> > worship (them), they also, O son of Kunti, worship
> > Me alone (though)
> > following the wrong method. Verse 23 ch 8
> >
> > Here krsnAcarya shows that all methods only lead to
> > krsnahood
> > (advaitAnUbhUtI) even though they may be wrong. I
> > assume by this and taking
> > into account a verse which krsna said before:
> >
> > Others verily worship my by adoring exclusively
> > through the sacrifice of the
> > knowledge of oneness; (others worship me)
> > multifariously, and (others) as
> > the multiformed existing variously. verse 15 ch 8
> >
> > That krsna accept different forms of worship even
> > though they are not
> > advaitin but accepts that all lead to advaita. Here
> > i assume that nAma jApa
> > and etc are forms of worship that 'maybe' (please
> > correct me if i am wrong)
> > wrong because advaita only accepts certain
> > procedures but does not deny that
> > other procedures may help in realisation (this is
> > the greatness of advaita).
> >
> > If careful study is done in AcArya's stotra they may
> > seem to be very
> > dvaitic, this is because of the sheer love AcArya
> > had for brahman in it's
> > various forms (hence the reason why he organised
> > panchAyatana deva pUjA) but
> > always propounded that the final goal is keval
> > advaita.
> >
> > I apologise from rambling on abit.
> >
> > If i am wrong in any areas, please correct me, as
> > this is a learning process
> > for me.
> >
> > namo nArAyana
> >
> > Krunal
> >
> >
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