Questions for those familiar with Tamil History

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Jun 16 17:47:38 CDT 1999

>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

The muNDaka is usually dated by Western scholars to around 2nd century BC at
the latest.

>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.

Such arguments ignore the very complexity of the structure of the epic.
There is almost no character in the epic whose birth is sufficient to
determine caste. Vyasa's mother is a fisher woman, Dhritarashtra and Pandu
are Vyasa's biological sons, as is Vidura. However, Vyasa is a Brahmana and
Vidura is a Sudra, but the other two are Kshatriyas. The epic is designed
fundamentally on the complexity and fragility of caste considerations. To
argue that its portions on how conduct makes a brAhmaNa are Buddhist
influenced ignores the basic theme of the epic. Similarly, van Buitenen, a
seasoned Sanskrit scholar, argues that the story is designed to put the gItA
where it currently occurs. His arguments are also based on the structure of
the core myth. Opinions there are galore, but arguments about interpolations
into an original text need to be made carefully. This is where I find that
only a few scholars make any sense. The rest seem to base their conclusions
on the thinnest possible grounds.


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