Antiquity of Advaita Vedanta (was Re: An Open Letter to All)

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Wed May 10 22:15:42 CDT 2000

On Wed, 10 May 2000, Dnyanesh Pawaskar wrote:

> A related question of mainly historical significance. Is it really true
> that at some point of time in medieval India, Buddhist monks were drowned
> in the Ganga by supporters of the then Shankaracharyas? These claims are
> made mainly by Christian fundamentalists as a shield whenever they are
> questioned about the evangelization techniques (the Goa Inquisition, for
> instance) employed by foreign missionaries in India.

>From the literary and archeological evidence we have we can conclude that
while philosophical debate could get quite heated, on a personal level,
astikas and nastikas got along amicably.

Look for example at the Jains who on a theological level share many of the
same traits the Vedic tradition finds objectionable in Buddhism.  Today
they are so integrated into Hindu society most people are not even aware
they are anything other than a Hindu sect.

Ashoka is regarded as one of the greatest of Buddhist kings.  In his
famous Shilalekha or rock edict he (calling himself Devanampriya "beloved
of the Gods") urges respect for Brahmans and Shramans.

Harsha was a 7th century king of Kanyakubja (modern Kanouj in UP) who is a
celebrated Sanskrit kavi.  One o his plays Nagananda has a Buddhist theme.
He is said to have celebrated a three-day utsava where Buddha was
worshipped on the first day, Shiva Bhagawan on the second day, and Vishnu
Bhagawan on the third.

There are many other examples.  However it must be acknowledged there have
been ugly incidents in our past.  Sadly no religion (or secular philosophy
for that matter) has a spotless record in this matter.  But we have never
engaged in systematic persecution like the Inquisition.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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