[Advaita-l] Sankara's praise of Buddha

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Wed Sep 21 23:59:55 CDT 2011

On Wed, 21 Sep 2011, D.V.N.Sarma డి.వి.ఎన్.శర్మ wrote:

> Is there any correspondence between the Buddha of Lalita vistara or
> Buddha Charita and the puranic Buddha?

Not really.

>  Why are we so non-critical
> about these spiteful puranic interpolations.

One may as well ask why we are so non-critical about pro-buddhist 
propoganda like Lalitavistara or Buddhacharita? (Which are kavyas not 
factual biographies and are dated by historians approx. 700-800 years 
after Shakyamuni lived.)

We have an unfortunate tendency to cry "interpolation" whenever we come 
across uncomfortable ideas but that is not how indologists use the term. 
If we find 99 manuscripts which say the young Krishna Bhagavan stole 
butter and one that says Shiva Bhagavan stole it we can conclude that the 
latter contains an interpolation.  Or if we read some work that is written 
in shlokas and suddenly in the middle we see a sequence of shikarini 
verses, they could very well be an interpolation.  Or if we read some text 
on nyaya and come across terms and ideas which belong to samkhya or from 
navya nyaya which we know is a later development  we can suspect interpolation.
It is a conjecture sometimes well-supported and sometimes controversial. 
That's all.

So if we suspect the puranic story of the buddhavatara is an 
interpolation, the way to prove it would be to compare other puranic texts 
and manuscripts.  In fact we see a lot of correlation between different 
puranas in this regard.  So there probably is no interpolation. 
"Spitefulness" proves nothing; it is a fact that most Hindu thinkers had a 
negative attitude towards Buddhism.  Philobuddhists are not entirely 
unknown, Jayadeva and Harshavardhana for example but they are the 
minority.  Then you also have people like the Nayayika Jayanta Bhatta who 
was friendly with Buddhists in his personal life but still sought to 
refute their ideas in his philosophical work.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list