If advaita stands, all other systems(including dvaita) fall

Anand Hudli ahudli at APPN.CI.IN.AMERITECH.COM
Wed Jan 8 09:12:00 CST 1997

            M Suresh wrote:
>   Somehow I have always found the criticism of dvaitins that advaita is
>  identical
>   with buddhism to be very valid.
>   Buddhists say that the reality behind everything is emptiness and advaitins
>  say
>   that the reality behind everything is non-dual brahman. Both are two
>   words to denote something which is beyond all dualities and can be treated
>   equivalents.
      Not so. We have to look at what the Shruti says about Brahman. It
      is not emptiness because shruti describes it as "satyaM jnaanaM
     anantaM", "ananda", etc.

    Further, there is a crucial difference between how advaita describes
    the world and how the nihilists desribe it. According to the latter,
    the world is totally nonexistent. It is like the horns of a hare --
    a purely fictitious entity. But according to advaita, the world is
    an illusion superimposed on Brahman. The argument is that an illusion
    must have a real substratum. The illusory snake has the real rope as
    its substratum. No illusion can occur without a basis in reality or
    in other words, no illusion can be based on an unreal entity.

    The shruti says "neha naanaa .asti kinchana." There is no variety
    whatsoever. It only negates duality. But there is an implied
    nondual reality. If the ultimate reality were void or nothingness
    it would have said, "neha kinchidasti" (there is nothing here).

    I would also like to clarify that not all Buddhist schools are
    nihilistic. Some for example accept reality but assert that it is
    an instantaneous entity. Nevertheless, they contradict the shruti
    in some way or the other.

>   Of course in buddhism it is negation and in advaita it is affirmation, but
>  both
>   are concepts which point to the same eternal non-dual state beyond all
>  concepts.
>   Therefore IMO the core of both buddhism and advaita teachings are the same
>  though
>   they differ in details and practice.

    As far as the teachings and practice are concerned, Buddha probably
    took some concepts from the upanishhads, which explains why there
    may be some similarities. But don't be deceived by these similarities.
    The orthodox advaita position is that Buddha accepted some parts of
    the Vedas and rejected others. So he did not accept Vedas in their
    entirety. That is precisely why Buddhism is considered a heterodox
    or anti-Vedic philosophy. But there is more to this charge than just
    some orthodox brahmins' censure of a heretical doctrine.

    You cannot selectively accept parts of the Vedas and reject others.
    The whole of Vedas is usually divided into karma and jnaana kaaNDas.
    Each kaaNDa has a role to play and the relation between the two
    kaaNDas is extensively dealt with in Sureshvara's sambandha-vaartika,
    an introduction to his monumental vaartikaa on the brihadaarNyaka.
    The advaitins don't reject the karma kaaNda outright as the Buddhists
    do. What I am trying to say is that karma kaaNDa has a role to play
    in Brahman realization, in that it purfies the mind and makes it fit
    for inquiry into Brahman. We see two extreme positions on the karma
    kaaaNDa by the miimaamsakas and the Buddhists. The mimaamsakas treat
    the karma kaaNDa as the true import of the Vedas, thereby relegating
    the jnaana kaaNDa to mere arthavaada. The Buddhists take the other
    extreme position, completely abolishing the karma kaaNDa. It is only
    advaita that recognizes the importance of both the karma and jnaana

>   This is the reason why many advaitins are somewhat familiar with buddhist
>   philosophy.

    I hope this familiarity is not from reading the dvaitins' criticism
    of advaita and Budhhism.
> -Suresh.


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