shUnyavAda and KShaNikatva (momentariness)

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Jun 22 12:46:06 CDT 2000

Ritwik Bhattacharya <bhattacharya_ritwik at YAHOO.COM> wrote:

>> To refuse to learn doesn't make one a mystic it makes one ignorant. A
>> true
>> seeker may be completely sincere but without knowing what he is
>> seeking he
>> is never going to find it.
>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 right there you also have the answer to the question why this debate has
tended to be so vehement.

What is the nature of "Truth" is a deep question on which advaita vedAnta
and madhyamaka buddhism part company. So say Anand, I and others - on the
basis that the first school posits an eternal Self (Atman) that is an
enduring essence (svabhAva), while the second school posits no-self
(anattA/nairAtmya) with no enduring essence (niHsvabhAvatA).

To paraphrase Nanda, it is the doctrine of anattA that allows one to evolve
a consistent school out of the Upanishads, and therefore, to understand
madhyamaka buddhism is necessary to understand advaita vedAnta. While I
agree that learning to compare and contrast the finer philosophical points
made by each school is a highly educative experience, to conflate Buddhism
and Vedanta in this way is to end up understanding neither. Again, this may
be dismissed as just a particular opinion, but having stated both sides, it
is up to each person to investigate the issues and decide for themselves.
For example, does the madhyamaka school reject the Buddhist doctrine of
momentariness, one of the four noble truths taught by the Buddha? Secondly,
is our reason and intellect all that great that we should assert our own pet
theories, rejecting what thinkers of the Advaita tradition have been saying
and also what thinkers of the Buddhist tradition have been saying? I have
tried to keep my involvement in this debate to a minimum, but really, if you
go back to the archives, what Anand has been doing is to point what the
leading thinkers on both sides have been saying.

What is really appalling is this - Nanda seems to have a knack of bringing
up the most unrelated material, e.g. his recent statement about a
Sankaravijaya wrongly attributed to Anandagiri, while easily accusing others
of doing so, e.g. his comments on bhakti vs. jnAna with respect to Anand's
quotation of a SrIvaishNava author. He fails to see that Anand's quotation
was solely on textual information about how various traditions have viewed a
particular thing, and not on the intrinsic philosophical differences between
advaita vs. viSishTAdvaita.

Indeed, throughout this discussion, the boundary between mere information
and profound knowledge has often been blurred. I don't think that is a good
sign at all. Before getting to the profound knowledge, one's information has
to be solid. To make interpretations based on insufficient information, and
to misinterpret the available information - this is what has been going on.
And what also doesn't seem to be understood is that disagreement does not
involve disrespect, for one can respectfully disagree with some things a
person says and agree with other things. So long as this is not understood,
the arguments will remain fierce. Like Rama pointed out, there is a strange
sense of deja vu about it all.


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