[Advaita-l] Advaita and Madhyamika Buddhism

Praveen R. Bhat bhatpraveen at gmail.com
Sun Sep 18 07:47:15 CDT 2016

Namaste Venkatraghavanji,

On Sun, Sep 18, 2016 at 5:03 PM, Venkatraghavan S via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Nagarjuna's description of emptiness is the negation of each of the four
> logical possibilities - it is not:
> 1) existent (this is the Buddhist view of existence as characterised by
> impermanence, suffering, non-self)
> 2) non-existent (ie characterised by the absence of an existent thing)
> 3) existent and non-existent (which is a logical impossibility in the same
> locus at the same time) and
> 4) neither existent nor non-existent. This is the problematic denial from
> the standpoint of classical logic. The negation of neither (p) nor not (p)
> is either (p) or not(p).
> ...

Doesn't this sound more like our definition of सदसद्भ्याम् अनिर्वचनीया माया
than ब्रह्म?! Since you clarify that the Buddhist definition of existence
is different, still I think Madhyamika calls it a dependent existence.

Where does this leave us? Essentially the sense I get of Nagarjuna's
> philosophy is not the denial of self as the ultimate reality, but the
> denial of any statements in relation to the self - as statements relating
> to the self have no meaning. ie refraining from saying it exists, it
> doesn't exist, it exists and does not, or it neither exist nor it doesn't.

I think the crucial difference may be in the fact that "no denial of the
self"  is a lot different from "affirmation of the self". Two Shruti
statements come to mind, one being असन्नेव स भवति and अस्तीत्येव
उपलब्धव्यः। Even for परोक्षज्ञान, affirmation/conviction that there is an
existent entity beyond time and space is necessary. I remember reading the
refutation of Buddhism (Vijnanavada I suppose) long back in
Gambhiranandaji's translation of Brahma Sutras that Bhashyakara says
against shUnyatA so: with shUnya, how does karma (which Buddhists too
believe in) continue from one thing to another? To that the Buddhist says,
there may be something that holds it or something to that effect.
Bhashyakara says that if you agree there *is* something, it amounts to
saying the same existence that we talk of and then, we don't have any
arguments with you! I can't recall the reference now, maybe people with the
know-how can add and/or correct the same please.

> I am not sure whether this has been characterised correctly in advaita.

I doubt that this could be the case. Most of the refutation of Buddhism was
also done by other Astika darshanas. Uttaramimamsa added over and above it.

Kind rgds,
--Praveen R. Bhat
/* Through what should one know That owing to which all this is known!
[Br.Up. 4.5.15] */

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