[Advaita-l] Sankara's praise of Buddha

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 23 13:04:01 CDT 2011

Dear Jaldharji,

Many people believe, me included, that Lord Buddha was a real historical figure as real as Lord Krishna was.


Sunil KB

From: Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Sent: Thursday, September 22, 2011 9:52 PM
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Sankara's praise of Buddha

On Thu, 22 Sep 2011, D.V.N.Sarma డి.వి.ఎన్.శర్మ wrote:

> What I was trying to point out is that Buddha is a historical figure
> with incontrovertible evidence for his existence and ministry.

Really?  As I mentioned previously, Buddhacharita and Lalitavistara were composed many centuries after Shakyamuni.  Even the Tripitaka was composed 200 to 450 years later.  Perhaps they do nevertheless record the original sayings of the Buddha but you brought up the idea of objective thought. Well, we have no objective reasons to believe someone called Siddhartha Gautama existed only intuitions and surmise.

> Trying to transport him into mythological story of Tripurasura
> samhara to discredit his teaching is immature and naive.
> Buddhism is the major religion of Asia and that itself is
> sufficient vouch for its credentials.

There are more Christians and Muslims in Asia than Buddhists.  Does this mean anything?  Should it?  I don't think popularity is much of a standard for truth.

This story like all puranic kathas is to teach a point.  That being that buddhist teachings are dangerous and likely to lead the sadhaka astray. It doesn't mean that they should not be studied and refuted in a more logical away anymore than the skull and crossbones warning on a bottle of poison means that chemists should not study poison.

> We have to get out of the habit of thinking that only Hindus are
> best in the world in every respect. Objectivity in thought is
> really will help us.

I don't know about every respect but the Vedic tradition culminating in Advaita Vedanta is the best in the world at explaining dharma and moksha and it is the standard by which I judge Buddhism and find it wanting.  This doesn't mean Buddhists aren't nice people or sincere or interesting.  They are simply wrong on the subjects of dharma and moksha as so many others including many "Hindus" are.  Employing strict and measurable standard like this firmly and fairly is the essence of objective thought.

On Thu, 22 Sep 2011, D.V.N.Sarma డ.వ.ఎన.శరమ wrote:

> If they are not the same the same the question arises who is this puranic
> Buddha.

In case I wasn't clear what I meant is both the puranic and hagiographical accounts are literary renditions of the life of a possibly historical figure.  Neither are factual biographies and neither can be privileged over the other on objective grounds.  Therefore we can say there are two Buddha-images to select from and we as a tradition are defined in part by our strong preference for the one where Buddha is a confuser of demons.

-- Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
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