[Advaita-l] Upanishads, Samkhya and Buddhism

Murali Karamchedu murali_m_k at msn.com
Wed Aug 22 13:53:11 CDT 2007

Dear List Members,

For what it is worth, here is the position that Coomaraswamy presents in his 
comparative study of Buddhism, Vedanta, Samkhya and Yoga.


1. Coomaraswamy first states that Vedanta's position is that of identity of 
Brahman and Atman, and contrasts this with that of Buddhism as follows:

   "Even the most idealistic Upanishids do not start by denying, as Gautama 
denies, the existence of an I, a knowing, perduring subject; it is only by a 
process of elimination that the thought is reached that the Subject is 

2. Transmigration of an individual - the enduring Atman,  from body to body 
is substituted in Buddhism by Transmigration of character.

3. The Anatta theory of Buddhism is directed against a conception of an 
enduring Atman.


1. "Samkya is an explicit dualism, postulating the eternal reality of 
Purusha and Prakriti, spirit and Nature. ...Nature is the naturally 
undifferentiated equilibrium of the three qualities sattva, rajas and tamas, 
'goodness, passion and inertia'; evolution results from the proximity of the 

2. "What migrates from body to body is not the spirit, for this is 
unconditioned, but the characteristic body, the individual 'soul', 
consisiting of buddhi, ahamkara, manas and the inner and outer organs of 
sense, bearing the impressions (samskaras, vasanas) of its previous deeds, 
and obtains a new physical body in precise accordance with their moral 

3. The doctrines of Buddhism differ from those of Samkhya in their tacit 
denial or refusal to talk of Purusha.


1. Yoga differs from Samkhya and early Buddhism in that it is not Atheistic, 
it recognizes an Isvara.

Murali Manohar

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