Last word on the Buddhism-advaita issue (Hopefully!)

Anand V. Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Jun 16 17:16:38 CDT 1999

Mahendra Varma does not seem to be taken seriously, but I am sure
 the next person whom I quote will be. The following are excerpts
 from the book titled, "Divine Discourses", a collection of discourses
 by the Paramacharya of Sringeri, HH Shri Abhinava Vidyateertha. The
 book has been published by the Vidyateertha Foundation, Madras in

     ...However, since time immemorial, we in India are familiar
     with the Veda. The Veda is beyond the confines of human
     schools of thought and is the final deciding authority. Here,
     some may object, "The Buddhists do not accept the Veda as
     authoritative." (page 42)

 Then the ParamAchArya goes on to say (emphasis mine):

     I too concede that the Buddhists do not accept
     the Veda as an authentic means of knowledge **but**recognize**
     only**Vedic.**After**all,**they**had**studied**the**Veda. **They
     **the**portions**that**did**not. That is why they got the name
     "Avaidika" or "one who does not follow the Veda." ... (page 42)

 Next, he continues to give some examples  of what the Buddhists
 accepted from the Veda. These examples are from the taittirIya

     satyaM vada |
     (Speak the truth)
     They accept this teaching of the Veda. ...

     dharmaM chara |
     (Practise Dharma)

     This too appeals to them. ...

     svAdhyAyapravachanAbhyAM na pramaditavyam.h ||

     (Do not be careless about learning and teaching.)

     They concur with this order. Then comes:

     mAtR^idevo bhava |

     (Venerate your mother as a god.)

     pitR^idevo bhava

     (Venerate your father as a god.)

     AchArya devo bhava | ...

     (Venerate your teacher as a god.)

     atithidevo bhava |

     (Venerate your guest as a god.)

      They follow all this... Indeed the early Buddhists came from
      families familiar with the Veda. But when the Buddhists
      encountered the Vedic teaching,

      agnIshhomIyaM pashumAlabheta

      (One should immolate an animal for Agni and Soma)

      they rejected it. (page 44)

 Next, he gives an example of how partial rejection and partial acceptance
 of something can be against sound reasoning. He then continues:

      ... Thus, once one takes a text such as the Veda as a Pramana or a
      valid means of knowledge, one should accept it in its entirety. Here,
      one such as the Buddhist may object, "There are internal
      contradictions in the Veda and, as such, it is unacceptable." What
      superficially  appear to be contradictions are actually not so.
      They can be fully resolved by means of proper, interpretive logic.
      ... (page 44)

 He then gives essentially the same argument as Shankara in his commentary
 on BrahmasUtra (3.1.25) which says "ashuddhamiti chenna shabdAt.h" In this
 commentary, the opponent, presumably a Buddhist, quotes from the Shruti:
 na hiMsyAtsarvA bhUtAni, no creature should be injured. Since Vedic
 sacrifices involve killing of animals, so it is unclean. But, Shankara
 points out, the prohibition of killing animals quoted above is only a
 general rule. The same Veda which has the general rule prohibiting
 animal slaughter also contains the statement: "agnIshhomIyaM pashumAlabh-
 eta", one should immolate an animal for the deities, agni and soma.
 This latter statement becomes an exception to the general rule. There
 is no contradiction between the two statements. The two statements
 can be combined/resolved as:

 Do not injure any creature unless it is required as part of a Vedic
 ritual such as a yajna, etc.

 Further, regarding what is and what is not dharma, the Veda is the
 final authority. We cannot impose our own notions of Dharma on the
 veda and declare it unclean or lacking in providing correct information
 about Dharma.

 So Shankara has, with one argument, taken care of two objections:

  1) The Veda is unclean because it involves killing of animals.

  2) The Veda has internal contradictions so it cannot be an
     authoritative source of knowledge (on Dharma).

 Further, as HH Shri Abhinava Vidyateertha points out, the Veda
 usually has a qualification attached to a sacrifice. "If you
 desire such and such a thing, then do such and such a sacrifice/rite."
 So the conclusion is: If you don't have the desire for the thing
 indicated, there is no need to undertake the prescribed sacrifice.


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