Buddha - a nAstika?

Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Apr 3 15:48:25 CST 1998

 Nanda Chandran wrote:

>About Buddha being nAstika, one would then wonder why he's worshipped
>Hindus as an avatar of Lord Vishnu! In the Brahma Sutras Badarayana
>terms the Samkhya school as nAstika. But now it's considered Astika!

 The difference here is that only the version of sAnkhya that
 accepts a God (Ishvara) and acknowledges the primacy of the
 vedas is accepted as Astika. The atheistic version of sAnkhya is
 not accepted. The influence of the Astika version of sAnkhya is
 clearly seen even in the Bhagavad Giitaa. So there is no denial
 of this type of sAnkhya. Now, there is no point in debating whether
 the atheistic sAnkhya came first or the Astika version came first,
 or if they co-existed together. Such questions will never be
 resolved in a forum like this, probably not even by historians.
 Most of the dates that historians assign to events in Indian history
 are dubious or at least controversial.

>Wonder where the distinction begins and ends and what purpose it
>Does Gaudapada dismiss the Madhyamikas merely because they're nAstika
>and ignore their theories? The Gaudapadiya karika is more addressed
>towards them than the Vedantins. For the traditional Hindu way is not
>mere dismissal of the opponent on disagreement, but to meet the rival
>his own grounds and assimilate.

 I agree with you regarding the traditional Hindu way. You are
 right in saying that opposing theories are to be addressed and
 should be discussed and disproved. But that has already been done
 to a fair extent in this list. Please refer to the archives for
 detailed discussions regarding Buddhism and advaita. It has been
 pointed out that Buddhism is not the same as advaita. Even if the
 two share some things in common (according to some here), that
  does not mean that we should start discussing the two schools
 here. An example would clarify. In a list/newsgroup on christianity,
 one could argue that the christian concepts of devotion, love for
 God have parallels in Vaishnava theology as well. So why not discuss
 Vaishnava bhakti in the christian forum? Such a stance would not be
 consistent with the objectives of the christian forum.

 This is the point being made for advaita discussions only on this
 list. At the same time, I should emphasize that advaita is not a
 narrow minded theological school, but has in the past confronted
 with reasoning (not fanatism) a great number of other schools
 ranging from nihilism and Buddhism to theological schools (like the
 VishiShTa-advaita and dvaita) to schools that are based on
 texts such as the pancharAtra's to mImAmsA to the grossly
  materialistic chArvAkas.

 The point I am trying to make is that whenever someone here in
 the list or elsewhere for that matter, tries to establish a
 theory regarding Buddhism and advaita, that will not be the first
 time such an attempt is made. Given the truly vast polemic
 literature of advaita, it is inconceivable that anything new is being
 said in this matter. Most likely it will be a repitition or
 rephrasing of an old argument that has already been met with by
 our AchAryas before. We should, therefore, accept the form of
 advaita that has come down to us over the centuries since Shankara.
 This is not to discourage anybody from questioning the basis of
 advaita. An attempt should first be made to find the answers to
 such fundamental questions from a Guru or at least in the texts of
 advaita, and not just some "research book" published by a PhD in
 some university.  So our time will perhaps be spent more wisely by
 just focussing on advaita alone.


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