Questions for those familiar with Tamil History

Ravi miinalochanii at YAHOO.COM
Wed Jun 16 16:30:36 CDT 1999

       Re: Questions for those familiar with Tamil History
       Wed, 16 Jun 1999 16:42:44 -0400
       "Jayana, Sankara" <Sankara.Jayana at>
       msr at

Hi Ravi,

Can you please post this to the advaita-l list?



"Anand V. Hudli" <anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:

> 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.

Buddhism introduced the concepts of "vyavahaara" and "paramaartha"
satyas in the 2nd century AD, attempting to understand the Buddha's
enlightenment (the conclusion being that the teachings of the Buddha
are themselves only vyaavahaarika satyas, but what Buddha knew was
paaramaarthika satya). I'm quite sure that the Buddha himself did not
use the idea of higher and lower truths to explain enlightenment.

Notwithstanding the apaurushheyatva of the upanishhads, historians
would want to know whether the muNDaka was composed before
2nd cent. AD. If so, you can make a very good case of Buddhism
(as oppossed to the Buddha himself) borrowing ideas from the
Upanishads, since the vyavahaara/paramaartha split of truths is central

to the philosophy of maadhyamika Buddhism.


> Buddha got key ideas for His own teachings
> from the upanishads and the MahAbhArata.

According to the book "Gotama Buddha," a biography of the
Buddha by H. Nakamura, the Buddha rejected all philosophies
on enlightenment, and the reject list of philosphies includes
the absolutism (Atman/Bramhan) of the Upanishads.
In fact, it is only after speaking to some Brahmins,
understanding their philosophy, and noting that their philosophy
is "defective," that the Buddha goes on to preach to the public.
(This is yet another point of agreement between Buddha and
Nagarjuna -- that all views are to be rejected, including Buddha's
teachings themselves, in order to attain the paramaartha).
If you're saying that the Buddha was familiar with "brahminical"
doctrines, you are absolutely correct. A lot of early Buddhism
was against the existing Brahmin establishment of animal sacrifices,
caste system and so on, all of which were rejected by the Buddha
(And most of which were resurrected by Shankara).

Nakamura's compilation of Buddha's life is based on the
accounts of Buddha's life by his closest disciples, and also
some folklore, all of which contain extensive references, and is
quite a scholarly work.

> 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.

Some believe that only those portions of the MB which teach
"brahminism by conduct" show Buddhist influence (i.e, they were
added later on), just as some believe that the Giitaa was a later
addition to the MB.

> 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?

Some Jains accept the Ramayana, interpreting it to suit their own


> Anand


Do You Yahoo!?
Get your free address at

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list