gaudapaada and buddha (was Re: brahman by ...)

Kim Poulsen poulsen at DK-ONLINE.DK
Mon Nov 25 21:14:17 CST 1996

> > "The Jnana of the Buddha is all-pervasive, but does not extend to
> > objects...But this is not in the teachings of Buddha...We salute this
> > knowledge to the best of our ability."

   I have a few remarks to this. In my humble opinion it is the full
knowledge of the Buddha which does not extend into his doctrine.
The Nikhilanada translation completely distorts the meaning as I will
show below (a logical result from his opinion that the Buddha is
not mentioned.).
   In buddhist philosophy the word dharma when used with the word
buddha denotes the Buddha's doctrine. The mistakes of the various
translators starts here:

aadibuddhaaH prakR^ityaiva sarve dharmaaH sunishchitaaH |
(||4. 92||)

"All the doctrines of The Firmly Resolved Ones (Buddhas) are the
Nature of The Primeval Buddhas (aadibuddhaaH)"

   That is to say, the teaching of each earthly Buddha (bodhisattva)
is the vehicle for the Dhyani Buddha, the planetary spirit. To
make it even clearer - it is the knowledge of this Dhyani
Buddha which manifests in the teaching.

(Nikhilananda here "translates", that is conjectures dharma into
jiiva and makes up his own term from su-nishchitaH. The same
word is a term for a Buddha, - Monier-W. and elsewhere. The term
aadibuddha is made to disappear.)

kramate na hi buddhasya GYaanaM dharmeshhu taayinaH |
sarve dharmaaH tathaa GYaanaM na etat.h buddhena bhaashhitam.h || 99||

na hi buddhasya GYaanam, ..the knowledge of the Buddha does not,
kramate, ...go, dharmeshhu taayinaH, ...into the doctrines of the taayin.h
(Buddha, viz. Gautama Buddha) ).

(here Nikhilananda completely destroys the word taayin.h, as
was sunishchita before - two distinctive epithets of the Buddha)

sarve dharmaaH tathaa GYaanaM, .....all these doctrines and so the
knowledge, na etat.h buddhena bhaashhitam.h, ....(was) not expounded
by this Buddha.

   Whatever the interpretation of these words (and there are several, one
which may be an attack on buddhism) it is very clear that Gaudapada
is discussing Buddhas, the historical Buddha and that he accepts idea
(well-known from Mahayana teachings) of the Dhyani-Buddhas and their
earthly reflections - the human Bodhisattvas.

  The claim that Buddha and buddhism are not mentioned in these shlokas,
well, hmmm....I lack words.

 Now to the interpretation of the last part of the treatise. After
expounding the
view that braahmaNa is a state one attains, not something one is born into
(thus accepting the distinctive view of the Buddha), Gaudapada reaches
the vital part (for this discussion.)

GYaanaM GYeyam cha viGYeyaM sadaa buddhaiH prakiirtitam.h || 88||

"Knowledge, that which must be known (the object of knowledge) and
viGYeyaM are revealed by the Buddhas of Sat"

    These buddhas are the knowers (initially, in the beginning so to
In their viGYaana, consciousness (the term is distinctly used as such in
buddhist thought), there is that which must be learned, the viGYeyam.

Furthermore, this triplicity when revealed takes the form of a Doctrine -

  "All dharmas are, by their very nature, beginningless and unattached like
the akasha. There is not the slightest variety in them, in any way, at any
time." (4.91)

   By its very nature truth is one and without beginning. To be called a
a teaching must contain truth, and they must all in essence be the same.
Shankara makes a very clear point of this in the commentary.

  In this context the student should take a glance at giita 13.7-11
and 13.12-17 (that which must be known). The unbiased observer will find
a strong semblance between the verses of knowledge and the teaching
of the Buddha. Now these are said to be the distinct teaching (4.88) of a
Buddha of the will-aspect, so to speak.

 Here occurs the lines translated above:

 "All the doctrines of The Firmly Resolved Ones (Buddhas) is the
  Nature of The Primeval Buddhas (aadibuddhaaH)"

   Here Gaudapada makes the distinction between the revealers or
expounders, the will-full Buddhas and the aadibuddaaH, the initial

   The observant student of the giita will see that while the verses of
knowledge is closely connected to the Buddha's teaching, some
part of the verses of the objects of knowledge are missing from his
teaching (for example Para-Brahman ...which is the immutable, and
as such are alluded too by the arhats, the point of my first letter.)

   To make a very long story short Gaudapada makes the comment:

"sarve dharmaaH tathaa GYaanaM, .....all these doctrines and so the
knowledge, na etat.h buddhena bhaashhitam.h, ....(was) not expounded
by this Buddha."

   Leaving all hostile explanations the following observations must be
made. On this field of experience, this kshetra, Earth, there is something
which must be known. The Buddha was born to reveal it, Gaudapada
makes this very clear, and failed (at least in part) to do so.
  "*All* these tenets were not taught publicly by this Buddha". It is
not a refutation of buddhism, since he accept the status of the
Buddha. It is the reconciling explanation as to why Advaita contains
many tenets upon which buddhism remain silent. "The view of the
Buddha", Shankara says in Nikhilananda's translations, "is said to
be similar to or very near ot the truth of the non-dual Atman. But this
knowledge of non-duality, which is the Ultimate Reality can be attained
through Vedanta alone."
  Or said different, the paramartha, the highest meaning of these
doctrines, was not touched upon by the Buddha, and must be
 found in the Vedanta.

   I bow to the greatest man who walked on the face of this Earth.
   Having departed, I remain unhumbled by bowing to his feet,
   yet I still bow to his force lingering on this Earth.

  OM tat.h sat.h

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