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

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon May 15 09:20:21 CDT 2000

>It would be wrong to think that the Buddhist Sunyata and the Vedantic
> >Brahman are the samething.

Ofcourse there are differences between the MAdhyamaka and Advaita VedAnta.
But it is purely on a technical, philosophical level. Philosophically, their
approaches are different - while the Bauddha approaches from the negative
side, the VedAntin approaches from the positive side. In the practical
sphere too, their sAdhana is different.

But that need not mean that the end is different. Else it would mean 1.
Shankara and Buddha experienced *different* realities, which itself would
imply that either Shankara's or Buddha's reality is false.

The more logical and unprejudiced answer would be that they approached the
same reality from different angles. And IMO, the ShrAdothpAda ShAstram of
Ashvaghosa, probably the earliest systematic work of philosophy in MahAyAna,
is itself the link between VedAnta and Buddhism. And according to history
Ashvaghosa was himself a VedAntin and the work reads like an Advaita manual
(and it is atleast 700 to 900 years before ShankarAchArya). The concept of a
single reality, non-dual in nature, the duality experienced in the world
being mAyA are all there. In the same work we can also find a basic
exposition of the concept of ShunyavAda and VijnAnavAda, which was later to
be developed by NAgArjuna and the YogAcArins.

With this key, the link between Buddhism and VedAnta can be well understood.

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