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

Rajiv Malhotra rajiv.malhotra at WORLDNET.ATT.NET
Thu May 11 09:33:19 CDT 2000

Mr Vyas wrote:
Thailand has many beggars, what are we to make of that?
Yes, but as a relative matter, Thailand cannot be put in the same state of
poverty as India.
  Slavery was ended in Tibet by the Communists not compassionate Buddhists.
Tibet has the worst kind of slavery now. Also, Tibet has always acknowledged
its gratitude to India. It has become a safe haven for India's wisdom when
India was dominated by muslims and then Christians.
Given Tibet's excellent and well deserved image in the West, and given
Hinduism's unfortunate 'taboo' image in the West, my projects to enhance
Hinduism's image depend heavily on cooperation with Tibetans and Buddhists,
who have been extremely helpful and supportive. We are now creating a
unified Indic religions front in America to deal with the aggressive
Greco-Semitic religions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam. Hence, I
respectfully disagree with the above remarks based on my real-world
experience in terms of public activism that I am involved in. Such remarks
are based on ignorance.

Learning about Buddhism is important to understand the development of
Advaita Vedanta and other astika darshans but on a practical level it is
Each person has a different experience. My spiritual journey benefited
greatly from many sources both Vedantic and Buddhist, especially Madhyamika.
My foundation sponsored a course and conference at Columbia University on
this very subject of Vedanta-Buddhism principles. It was called
"Nondualism". The consensus from both sides was that there was so much in
common that the historical differences were probably exaggerated for
political (caste) reasons.

In any case, one must be practical above all theory. In the US, Hindus are
1%, Buddhists (including American) probably another 2%. The remaining 97%
are Greco-Semitic religions. 50% of Americans are fundamentalists to varying
degrees. The risk is from the Christian Right, not of Buddhists. Have you
surveyed what the textbooks say about Hinduism? I have done a review of
these stereotypes in American Academics. The Buddhists have become
supporters of Hinduism to offset this Christian bashing of Hinduism. So lets
keep all factors in mind before we become rash.
The context today has changed from the debates during Shankara's times. But
many persons are still stuck in the past. Lets understand what we face here
and now and then develop accordingly. Ours is not a static religion based on
one single revelation. It keeps evolving and growing with the times. In that
spirit, lets reassess Buddhism's value as part of the banyan tree of Indic


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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