Advaita and Buddhism

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Jun 25 16:57:56 CDT 1999

I'm sorry for the delayed response, since at present I've very limited
access to the net.

With regard to the points raised by Vidya :

1. Is the Madhyamaka absolutist?

I admit that I’m following the interpretation of TRV Murti and V
Bhattacharya with regard to the Madhyamaka. Ofcourse, as you point out, even
claiming that reality is absolute would ultimately be classified as a “view”
and thus make NAgArjuna shy away from it.

Well, I guess I’ll have to wait for the day when my knowledge of Samskrutam
is good enough to read the PrAjna PAramita Sutra and the MAdhyamaka ShAstram
in the original.

2. Is JayarAsi a materialist?

With regard to the information we get from early Astika and nAstika texts,
plus the Sarvadarshanasamgraha and the SarvasiddAntasamgraha we know that
the LOkAyatas were materialists - "LOka" - only this world exists and none
else. Only artha (wealth) and kama (pleasure) are the true goals of life.

Since they were opposed to the Vedic religion, they denied both God and
soul. Their argument is that since we cannot perceive them, there's no
reason to believe that they exist. Hence it's logical that they accepted
only perception as the true means of knowledge.

But when the Astikas stressed that though we don't perceive them, we can
infer the existence of the Soul and God, the LOkAyatas had to go and
disprove inference as a means of knowledge.

Here's where JayarAsi comes in. JayarAsi in his Tattvopaplavasimha makes it
clear that he’s an exponent of the LokAyata school and also salutes
Brhaspati, who he calls as SUtrakAra. So that settles that issue as to which
school he owed his alliegence to. Using hair breath arguments, he dismantles
the NaiyAyika syllogism on inference. But the true logician that he is, he
goes one step ahead and refutes perception too!

But the question which would immediately arise is, when JayarAsi, denies the
ultimate validity of pramAnas and thus the world - how can he be called a

It's true that JayarAsi cannot be classified as a materialist. He even
states that the four tattvas (earth, water, fire and air) that were accepted
by the original CharavAkas cannot be affirmed as real!
When questioned about the validity of the ChAravAka teaching in such a
position, he says even their philosophy cannot be established as knowledge,
but since it represents common sense, it may be used as a guide to life.
Tattvopaplavasimha is a pure epistemological treatise, where the author
refutes both Astika and nAstika theories. What his world view was, one
cannot be truly sure. But he endorses that the four tattvas have more claim
to reality than that which is not perceived (brahman).

But that he was a LOkAyata cannot be questioned, since he himself claims to
be one. Plus this is supported by Sri Harsha's reference in his
KhandanakhandakAdya, to a school of LOkAyatas, who like the MAdhyamakas and
the Advaitins refuted the ultimate validity to the pramAnas.

So the real question would be whether the ChAravAkas can be really
classified as "materialists"?

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