Nagarjuna not an absolutist

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jun 26 11:11:45 CDT 2000

>If there was an influence, we should have seen some kind of a
>non->committal, avoidance of absolutism, lack of a definite position in
> >GauDapAda's kArikA. But where is it?

Anand it is not as simple as this.

You quote a lot of authors - predominently non-Indian - Chinese, American
etc Most of them are agreed that Buddhism is the anti-thesis of Upanishadic

But take a look at Indian authors - Radhakrishnan, TRV Murti, Chandradhar
Sharma, Vidhushekara Bhattacharya, Ananda Coomaraswamy etc You'll find that
almost without exception Indian authors outspokenly assert that Buddhism is
complementary to the Upanishadic thought.

Why is this?

The reason is that outside India, Buddhism is viewed as an independant
entity. NAgArjuna, VAsubandhu, DignAga and DharmakIrti are studied within
the Buddhist tradition.

But in reality if you take a look at the development of Indian philosophy,
Buddhism never developed independently. It developed along with the Astika
schools. NAgArjuna's arguments are mainly against the SAmkhya, Vaishesika
and the SarvAstivAda schools.

Most of these Buddhist authors came from Brahmanical backgrounds. Ashvaghosa
is supposed to have been a VedAntin. It is very likely that all the great
Buddhist logicians - NAgArjuna, Asanga, VAsubandhu, DignAga, DharmakIrti -
were originally of the NyAya school.
In his VigrahavyAvartani KArikA NAgArjuna shows total familiarity with NyAya
doctrines which he criticizes. It was Asanga who introduced the NyAya
syllogism into Buddhist philosophy which was taken up by his brother
VAsubandhu. DignAga and DharmakIrti are only developing further the NyAya
logic itself and fight a running war with the NaiyAyikas.

And if you look at MahAyAna, the works are predominently epistemological in
nature - which as we all know was the speciality of the NyAya school.

So Buddhist philosophy grew with Brahmanical philosophy which influenced it
considerably. If you do not have a sound knowledge of brahmanical philosophy
- with its excessive tilt towards the Atman doctrine - you're most likely to
misinterpret the anatta doctrine of the Buddhists, which was only to counter
the excessiveness of the "Self" in the Atman doctrine. Read only Bauddha
philosophy and you'll most likely assert that there's no self. And this is a
common feature of foreign buddhist scholars who've little knowledge of
brahmanical philosophy.

But if you take Indian scholars, they're able to appreciate Bauddha
philosophy better, because of their knowledge of brahmanical philosophy.
And most of them accept that Bauddha philosophy doesn't teach the opposite
of the Brahmanical philosophy - it is only the negative *aspect* of what the
brahmanical schools taught.
Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at

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