shUnyavAda and KShaNikatva (momentariness)

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Thu Jun 22 11:04:36 CDT 2000

On Thu, 22 Jun 2000, Ritwik Bhattacharya wrote:

> Not necessarily. Speaking for myself, as someone who is interested in
> what Advaita Vedanta has to say, I am trying to read the essential
> texts that lay out Advaita philosophy,

That presumes you know what the essential texts are.  Is the
Mulamadhyamakakarika an essential text?  On what basis could you answer
this question?

> and to see whether what they are
> saying is reasonable.

Again we have to ask "reasonable" by what standard?  Reading and
interpreting are not simple straightforward objective things.  Lately
western philosophy has been considering these subjects but our sages
discussed them at length 100's of years ago.

> I will then decide whether to delve deeper into
> Advaita or not. But to do this, I have no need to try ot verify the
> historical statement of whether Buddhism influenced Advaita, or vice
> versa.

You are right in a historical sense it is really a moot point
because for one thing Buddhism is extinct in India.  From the
standpoint of a seeker of Truth it is still relevant in the sense that
many of those essentuial texts you mention deal with issues brought up by
the Buddhists.  How will you understand what they are talking about if you
don't understand the issues?

> That is debatable. For one, I doubt that anybody can claim to "know"
> the truth of this matter (buddhism vs. advaita). Hence, it is virtually
> impossible to say whether the truth is being distorted or obscured. Of
> course, this is not to grant license to anybody to distort somebody
> else's statements.

In the case of Madhyamaka Buddhism we are reconstructing an extinct way of
thinking so a little leeway should be permitted.  But Advaita has a long
unbroken historical tradition and literature that still exists today.
There it is a lot easier to detect distortions and a lot less need to be
tolerant of them.

> Also, I disagree with that statement in general. For example, if
> someone were to make a claim as to the lifestyle of some obscure
> Saharan tribe, I would not spend 15 days to try to find out if he is
> distorting the truth.

Because you don't want to not because it couldn't be done.  One of the
goals of Advaita Vedanta is to analyze (and ultimately destroy) this "I
want" and "I don't want"

> The point I'm trying to make is that we should be
> intolerant of distortions, only as far as they concern our primary aim.
> As I described earlier, to me, the entire topic of who influenced who
> is completely irrelevant.

I think I have learnt a thing or two from this thread but if you think
something else is more important please bring it up!  We have a lot of
silent members on this list unless they speak up I'm going to assume that
they're interested in the same things I'm interested.

> Precisely my point :). I am not seeking the truth of whether buddhism
> influenced advaita or not. I am trying to find out WHAT advaita says
> about the nature of "Truth".

And to know that surely you also need to know what it doesn't say about
the truth and what it says about people who have different ideas about the

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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