[Advaita-l] Re: Advaita-l Digest, Vol 33, Issue 1

S.N. Sastri sn.sastri at gmail.com
Tue Jan 3 00:02:34 CST 2006

Query from murali mohan--

Can someone pls enlighten me on whether Gautam Budha's teachings were
fundamentally the same as Advaita ? I think Budha never talked about Brahman
or the Absolute , but otherwise are they the same ?
Also why Budha had to start a new religion instead of reforming the religion
he was born with, as was done by other greats like Shankara etc?

The fundamental difference between Advaita and Buddhism is this: Advaita
accepts a permanent Self which is of the nature of pure Consciousness (known
as Brahman), while according to all schools of Buddhism everything,
including consciousness, is momentary-  nothing lasts beyond a moment.
Sankara rejects this theory of Buddhism by pointing out that if everything
including consciousness is momentary, no remembrance of previous experiences
is possible.

Another difference is that Buddha did not accept Vedic rituals, particularly
those involving sacrifice of animals. Buddha stressed right conduct and the
path of knowledge to attain enlightenment. But Sankara has said repeatedly
in his commentaries that the karma kANDa of the Vedas has as much validity
as the jnAna kANDa and that Vedic karma should be performed until a person
attains total detachment. It is because of this difference that Buddha
deviated from the Vedic religion. Buddha himself did not establish a new
religion. It was his followers who made it a new religion. Dr. S.
Radhakrishnan points out similarities between Advaita and Buddhism in his
book "Indian Philosophy'.

P.668:-- "We need not say that the Advaita Vedanta philosophy has been very
much influenced by the Madhyamika doctrine (of Buddhism). ---- The Nirguna
Brahman of Sankara and Nagarjuna's Sunya have much in common".

P.702- "Towards the end of my discussion of Nagarjuna's system, I suggested
certain points of similarity between the Sunyavada and the Advaita Vedanta.
---   In giving a rational, as distinct from scriptural, foundation for the
Advaita, Gaudapada finds nothing so useful as the Madhyamika theory. Many of
his karikas remind us of Nagarjuna's work. (See karika, ii.32; iv. 22; iv.

 It must also be pointed out here that Gaudapada specifically says in
Mandukya karika iv. 99, "This view was not expressed by Buddha".  This
statement can be understood if we see Sankara's commentary on this which
says: "That the nature of the supreme Reality is free from the differences
of knowledge, known, and knower and is without a second, was not expressed
by Buddha; though a near approach to non-dualism was implied in his negation
of outer objects and his concept of everything as mere consciousness. But
this non-duality, the essence of the ultimate Reality, is to be known from
the Upanishads only".


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