shUnyavAda and KShaNikatva (momentariness)

Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Jun 22 11:31:16 CDT 2000

On Thu, 22 Jun 2000 06:42:20 -0700, Ritwik Bhattacharya
<bhattacharya_ritwik at YAHOO.COM> wrote:

>As a new member of the list, I am very disappointed by the way this
>thread has been handled on all sides. There seems to be an intense
>intolerance, especially on the part of the so-called "Advaitins", to
>any claims of influence on advaita from other sources. As someone said
>on one of the posts, it is quite obvious that both advaita and buddhism
>have been influenced by each other. Can we not leave it at that ?

 I am sorry to know that you are disappointed but I would also hereby
 request all new members to give me an opportunity to present the issue
 in as brief and simple manner as I possibly can.

 WHen you say it is obvious that advaita and buddhism have influenced
 each other, what is the basis of this "obvious" observation? Surely,
 authors in the advaita line from Shankara have rejected the theory
 that buddhism has influenced advaita, giving several reasons. Among
 those who hold that buddhism has indeed influenced advaita have been
 1) schools other than advaita, eg. dvaita, etc., and 2) some modern

  Now you have two conflicting views. 1) One says Buddhism has not
 influenced advaita, and 2) the other says the opposite. Please note
 that both cannot be right, because the line of Shankara categorically
 rejects even a slight influence of Buddhism on advaita. They don't accept
 that "OK we got some ideas from Buddhism, but there are not too many!"
 Also I point out that using dialectical methods of BUddhist logic has
 been done by the advaitins, but so have been navya-nyAya methods in a
 much larger scale by advaitins. On this account, we don't call advaitins
 prachchhanna naiyAyikas or prachchhanna tArkikas. Do we? So why insist
 on saying that advaita was influenced by buddhism?

 If you say it is obvious that Buddhism has influenced advaita then
 you are obliged to point out what the basis is because you are breaking
 away from the opinion of Shankara's line. You may quote 1) some
 scholars, 2) some argument from other schools, or 3) you may just say
 "it is just so obvious to me." None of these alternatives is really
 fair to advaita. As for 1), it is an established fact that there are
 many different opinions by academics on this issue. If you just take
 the opinion of some scholars, then you are not being fair. If your
 opinion is based on 2), ie. arguments of other schools, then you are
 obliged to also consider the response of advaita scholars to those
 arguments. If 3) your opinion is based on some "gut feeling", then
 again, "gut feelings" can be wrong many times. They cannot be taken
 seriously, especially in this issue which is complex.

 There is a fourth alternative. If 4) you say Buddhism influenced
 advaita with some kind of analysis of your own, then we would like
 to discuss it here. Bring it up.

 All I am saying is that to brush aside the conclusion of Shankara's line
 that categorically denies any Buddhist influence, you need more solid
 grounds than just saying that the influence is obvious! That is precisely
 what I am looking for. If I see some substantial argument/facts that
 prove Shankara's followers wrong or even likely to be wrong, I will
 share the same view as you do that there was a Buddhist influence on

 It is easy to use words such as "intolerance" of so-called advaitins
 but it is not accurate. Intolerance implies irrational behavior. When
 many objective arguments are being made for the lack of Buddhist
 influence on advaita, this does not qualify as intolerance.

>Some people have also said that such "dangerous" misinterpretations of
>old texts can leave the newcomer confused. To this, I can only say that
>a true seeker of the Truth is hardly likely to be concerned with such
>trivialities as who influenced who. Is it not a basic tenet of Advaita
>that the Truth is only one ?

 Again, it is easy to use words such as "true seeker of truth" but what
 exactly do they mean? If it is a foregone conclusion that buddhism
 influenced advaita, then it is necessary for a true seeker of truth
 to find out the roots of advaita as they come from Buddhism. It changes
 the whole perspective. Without understanding the very roots of a
 discipline, one would be ill-advised to embark on a study of advaita,
 starting somewhere in the middle, so to speak. GauDapAda and Shankara
 lived several centuries after Buddha and nAgArjuna. One can NEVER gain a
 truly complete grasp of advaita starting in the middle at
 GauDapAda/Shankara. On the other hand, if buddhism did not influence
 advaita, then it is correct to start from GauDapAda and Shankara.
 The perspective changes a lot.

 This is the significance of the buddhist influence issue that many people
 do not understand. A true seeker of truth must not only have good
 intentions, good feelings, etc., but he/she must also be prepared to
 undertake a inquiry to actually find the truth!


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

Archives :
Help     : Email to listmaster at
Options  : To leave the list send a mail to
           listserv at with
           SIGNOFF ADVAITA-L in the body.

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list