Questions for those familiar with Tamil History

Anand V. Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Jun 15 10:43:58 CDT 1999

I am trying to find out if there is independent confirmation of
 the influence of the upanishads and the mahAbhArata on Buddha
 and early Buddhism. Such an influence is evident from comparison
 the teachings of the upanishads and the mahAbhArata with Buddha's.
 I agree that the absolutism of the upanishads does not appear in
 Buddhism but there are other aspects of the upanishads which could
 have influenced it. For example, the muNDaka upanishad upholds the
 stage of sannyAsa or renunciation, and treats the vidyA of the
 karma-kANDa, the ritual section, as aparA or lower vidyA.

 vedAntebhyo gR^ihItvArthAn.h yo mahAbhAratAdapi |
 viprANAm.h mishhatAmeva kR^itavAn.h koshasaJNchayam.h ||

 Gathering concepts from the upanishads and the MahAbhArata,
 and in the presence of Vedic pundits, (Buddha or someone writing
 for him) composed the collection of (his own) works.

 This verse, that I got through private communication, is
 said to be from a work known as "mattavilAsaprahasana" of
 Mahendra VarmA, a king of the Pallava dynasty, who is
 said to have ruled Kanchipura about 1500 years ago.

 I have the following questions for those who are familiar
 with Southern Indian History and literature.

 1) Who was Mahendra Varma ? Did he rule Kanchipuram
    about 1500 years ago as claimed?

 2) Did he write a work called "mattavilAsaprahasana"?

 3) If yes, does the above verse appear in that work?

 4) If the above verse appears in the work, does the
    verse refer to Budhha, as claimed?

 5) What is the context of the verse? What are the
    arguments/statements leading up to the verse?

 If the answers to these questions are in the affirmative,
 we may have here an independent historical confirmation of what
 is evident from a comparison of Buddha's teachings vis-a-vis
 the teachings of the upanishads and also those of the
 MahAbhArata - ie. Buddha got key ideas for His own teachings
 from the upanishads and the MahAbhArata. Discussion of what
 is true Brahminhood in the mahAbhArta (see for example the
 nahushha episode) find their way into the Dhammapada.
 It is ludicrous to say that the mahAbhArta itself was composed
 under Buddhist influence. How can the epic which narrates many
 tales of violence culiminating in the great Kurukshhetra war,
 preaches duty above all even if it means causing pain to others,
 have anything to do with Buddhist ideals?

 Please note that Mahendra VarmA's period (1500 years ago)
 would put him before the usually accepted times of both
 GauDapAda and Shankara. So the argument that Mahendra Varma
 was writing to defend Shankara's school becomes invalid.


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