Antiquity of Advaita Vedanta

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jun 26 13:17:35 CDT 2000

>There is one important thing to remember. Our usage of Roman script allows
>us to write Self/self, Atman/atman, Brahman/brahman, and make a distinction
>between such members of a pair. Neither in Indian/Tibetan/Chinese/Japanese
>scripts, nor in spoken language, is such a distinction possible. That in
>itself can lead to lots of misconceptions.

>I remember having read in Walpola Rahula's book that the Buddha does
>not use the word "Atman", at all in the dhamma. Peter Harvey's
>authoritative book, "An introduction to Buddhism" has this to say:

>  Harvey further quotes the explanation of an early Buddhist nun called
>Vajira. She uses the analogy of a "chariot" to describe the non-self
>theory. A chariot can be viewed as a collection of parts functioning
>together. Similarly, the conventional term "being" refers to what are
>called five khandas functioning together. There is no self involved
>here, only the five khandas, none of which is a "self".

>So I feel that the Buddha meant to achieve two ends with his
>non-self theory - 1) to reject the Brahminical and Jain theories of
>"atman" or "jiva". and 2) to eliminate the "suffering" of people which
>the Buddha saw was due to egoism. So what he ended up doing was
>essentially "throwing the baby out with the bath water" by rejecting
>both the Atman (Self) and the ego (self, ahaMkAra).

Anand, please understand the difference between the HinayAna and the
MahAyAna. You're quoting from two distinct, different sources in
the same breath, without realizing the difference between them.

PAli or TheravAda Buddhism as in Sri Lanka and the SarvAstivAda
schools are basically HinayAna Buddism. They deny the self and
while for the first, nirvAna is simply what comes after the
cessation of consciousness, the latter advocates an atomic,
material nirvAna.

MahAyAna as taught in the MAdhyamaka and the VijnAnavAda schools
represents a totally different line of thought. And all the chariot
logic used by Vijira, NAgasena and Buddhaghosa - HinayAnist
philosophers, is simply logically inconsistent for them. They
interpret NairAtmaya and pratItya samutpAda from a totally different
angle. Their philosophy is much more advanced and subtler.

>As the Buddhist nun Vajira states, the conventional
>self, what we mean when we say "I" is only due to the functioning of
>parts of the body, aggregates. An independent entity called "self",
>independent of this functioning does not exist.

"To think of self or the not-self is not the truth. They're
discriminated by the confused" - NAgArjuna in MahAyAna Vimshaka.

Here itself your argument stands invalidated. Please learn to
distinguish between the HinayAna and the MahAyAna.

>I am not suggesting a "I-am-so-insignificant-compared-
>to-these-great-people" defeatist attitude. All I am saying is that
>we should have a solid, bullet-proof (as they say here in the US) case
>if we have to prove all these people wrong or question their integrity.

I'm trying to show something, but nobody seems to be listening.

What's the point in merely saying this person - Vivekananda or
Chinmayananda - said so and so it is true. If you're not willing to argue
within the confines of reason and textual evidence, please say so and we can
terminate this discussion here and now.

I can present evidence from all concerned texts - the shruti, the Advaita
texts, the MahAyAna texts, the texts of the MAdhyamaka and VijnAnavAda
schools - to prove my argument that MahAyAna Buddhism is only the negative
aspect of Advaita. And I can supplement my arguments on the basis of pure
reason, without falling back on any "acknowledged guru" for support.

But the opposition only seems to be inclined to show some opinion of this or
that modern author to prove their points. Else they simply try to bat down
my arguments under the weight of tradition or the word of somebody famous.

I get the distinct feeling that I'm just wasting my breath out here.
There doesn't seem to be any real interest in learning and understanding.
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