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

Vivek Anand Ganesan v_ganesan at YAHOO.COM
Thu May 18 15:41:27 CDT 2000


  I hope list members would humor my amateurish
.  I just wanted to say that the assertion of identity
between Buddhism and Advaita lends itself to the charge
of "Crypto-Buddhism" that has been laid on Advaita by other
Vedanta schools.  The following seems to be the full course
of this charge :

  1)  ShrI Gaudapada "derived" Advaita from Madhyamika.
  2)  ShrI Shankara placed it on firmer vedantic grounds
      by writing his "maya-vadin" commentaries to the
  3)  The Vaishanava Acharyas re-established the orginal
      "theistic" interpretation of the shastras.
  4)  Each of the Vaishnava Acharyas exceeded his immediate
      predecessor in the extent of theism until the grand
      finale of Bhakti-vedanta of ShrI Chaitanya.
Among Vaishnava circles the above "history" is repeated
ad nauseum.  Does not the assertion of "Madhyamika is
essentially the same as Advaita" end up proving 1?  Does it
not lead to protagonists of Advaita charging that Advaita
nothing but Buddhism in disguise?

  An alternative explanation was given by ShrI Anand Hudli
while ago.  ShrI Anand said ( if I understood him
that even though the Buddhists opposed the vedas they
borrowed Vedandtic ideas and integrated them in to their
philosophy.  The following is my version of "history" :

  1)  Gautama Buddha rejects the Vedas and teaches a
      "middle" way.
  2)  Circa 500 years after Buddha, a new form of Buddhism
      ( Mahayana ) emerges that claimed to provide a more
      "esoteric" interpretation of the Buddha's teaching.
  3)  A lot of Brahmims converted to Mahayana Buddhism.
      I believe quite a few of the Mahayana philosophers
      were brahmin converts.
  4)  Having had prior exposure to the Vedantic teachings,
      these brahmin-buddhist-converts "vedantized"
  5)  Advaita Acharyas refuted these views ( and many
      ) and re-established the "correct" interpretation of
      the shastras.
  6)  Vaishnava ( and shaiva and other ) acharyas who
      dis-agree with the Advaita view, often use the charge
      of "crypto-buddhism" to somehow lend legitimacy to
      their hollow claims against advaita.  This is mostly
      done out of sheer exasperation at the razor-sharp
      logic and dialectic of Advaita.

By this token, how is Advaita=Madhyamika?  Please correct
if I have erred in any of my statements above.


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