Antiquity of advaita vedanta (was : an open letter to all)

Sankaran Kartik Jayanarayanan kartik at ECE.UTEXAS.EDU
Tue Jun 20 11:13:42 CDT 2000

On Sat, 17 Jun 2000, Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote:

> nanda chandran <vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:
> >Doesn't "idam Buddhe ne bAshitam", in GaudapAdiya KArikA refer to the
> >Buddha? Or does it mean, " This was not taught by 'God' "?
> >
> >Or does it mean that here it refers to the Buddha, because here GaudapAda
> >says something negative about the Buddha. And in other instances in the
> same
> >text where "Buddha" is praised, the Buddha refers to NArAyanA?
> The verse (kArikA 4. 99) reads naitad buddhena bhAshitam. The verse doesn't
> stand alone. The entire set of verses from 4. 91 to 4. 99 need to be read
> together, as they are full of references to "buddha". As far as I can see,
> throughout these verses, the reference is generic, to one who
> is "awakened". The verses should also be related to kArikA 1. 16 -
> anAdimAyayA supto yadA jIvaH prabudhyate ajam anidram asvapnam advaitaM
> budhyate tadA. Throughout the kArikAs, the word "buddha" is used, but to
> read references to the Mahayana concepts of dhyAnI-buddhas, pratyeka-
> buddhas etc. is too much of a stretch.

Yes. There is absolutely no mention in GauDapaada's kArikA of key mahAyAna
concepts like shUnyata, pratItya samutpAda, etc., which establishes that
this was not meant to be a mAdhyamika text at all, but only a vedAntic
text. But I do disagree with the notion that the "Buddha" mentioned here
is NOT the historical Buddha, but a generic awakened one.

> In Advaita works, there is what is called pada-sangati, i.e. the
> connectedness of words in sentences and in verses. Gaudapada's kArikA 4. 1
> should be read along with 4. 2. The "dvipadAm varam" who is saluted in the
> first verse is described as having taught asparSa-yoga, in the second verse
> (avivAdo 'viruddhaS ca deSitas tam namAmy aham). The entire fourth book of
> the kArikAs is an exposition of asparSa-yoga. The final verse comes back to
> a salutation (namaskurmo yathAbalam). These "namaH" should all be related
> to one another, as they are found in the same chapter of the same book.
> It is clear that whoever is being mentioned here is one who taught the
> difficult method of asparSa-yoga, the highest advaitic sAdhana. Is there
> anything that shows that asparSa-yoga was first taught by the Buddha or by
> Nagarjuna? I am unaware of it.

Actually, the first two verses don't claim that the Buddha taught asparsha
yoga. The second verse says that asparsha yoga is "deshitaH taM," that
which is *obtained from scripture*.

Moreover, if you see Nagarjuna's mUla madhyamaka kArikA, the invocation

deshayAmAsa saMbuddhastaM vande vadatAM varaM .
"I bow down to the Buddha... the greatest among the teachers."

The GK 4.1 reads:
GYeyAbhinnena saMbuddhastaM vande dvipadAM varaM .
"I bow down to the Buddha (whose knowledge is non-different from the
object of knowledge), the greatest among the bipeds."

They are both praising the saMbuddha, but in a different way. GauDapAda
praises the Buddha, but is very careful not to praise the Buddha's

Again, the verse GK 4.99 reads:

kramate na hi buddhasya GYaanaM dharmeshhu taayi naH .
sarve dharmaastathaa GYaanaM naitadbuddhena bhaashhitaM ..

"The knowledge of the Buddha, who is all light, is ever untouched by
objects. All the entities as well as knowledge are also ever untouched by
any object. This was not taught by the Buddha."

Though Shankara interprets the first Buddha to mean nArAyaNa and the
second to mean the historical Buddha, it still doesn't mean that the
historical buddha is NOT being saluted in the first line. It could simply
mean that the historical Buddha can be venerated (or the *knowledge of
the Buddha* can be venerated) as nArAyaNa without necessarily accepting
his teachings.


> Regards,
> Vidyasankar



bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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