[Advaita-l] Adi Sankaracharya and Buddhism

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Mon Jan 12 21:55:43 CST 2009

Dear Ramaniji,
I too believe in calling a spade a spade.
Firstly Buddhism was not wiped out of India by Adi sankaracharya. It is only after Bakhtiyar Khilji in the 1193 CE killed the 10000 monks and students of the Nalanda university and burnt the entire library of Nalanda and also destroyed several thousand Buddha Viharas that Buddhism practically disappeared from India. It is another thing that some anti-Hindu Dalit writers are telling that the Hindus destroyed the Nalanda University.
Secondly Lord Buddha  learnt Sankhya from Allara kalama.  Sankhya does not talk about God as God cannot be proved. (See Sankhya sutra).  Buddhism, like Sankhya, too is Godless but not necessarily Atheistic. Lord Buddha did say that there is a cause of this world and he believed in the Sankhya concept of Cause and Effect. At his 35 years of age he gave the Hinayana teachings, where he said about Anatta ie the the Ego-self that does not exist 
After 22 years of that he gave the Mahayana teachings, to his more advanced students, who had already mastered his basic teachings given earlier. Mahayana does talk about Tathagatagarbha, which moves from one birth to the other birth and also about the concept of Shunyata. You have seen Adi Sankaracharya's explanation of Lord Vishnu's name "Shunya" in his bhashya on the Vishnusahasranama. Even one of the Shiva Sahasranama calls Lord Shiva as Shunya. This Shunya is the same as Brahman. Lord Buddha also talked about the Shunyata. The concept of Shunyata is difficult to explain in short. However I will try to simplify. When you evaporate a glass of water it loses shape and vanishes but it does not lose its existence. Similarly when one leaves the five Skandhas (ie, the Koshas or the the five bodies born out of Prakriti) what remains is "Shunyata". When one realises Shunyata one realises Prajna. That is the essence of "Prajnaparamita" of the Mahayana
 Buddhism. Pajna is Brahman. Remember the Vedic dictum "Prajnanam Brahma". Shunyata is not Zero or non-existence. The word "Shunya" comes from the root "Sve", which means to expand. Its meaning is the same as the word "Brahman", which comes from the root Brih, which also means to expand. Adi Sankaracharya was called concealed Buddha by Yamunacharya, the teacher of Ramanujacharya, not for nothing.
Lord Buddha did not criticise the Vedas but he told the brahmins of his time to understand the true meaning of the Vedas and not to be overly rirtualistic. He told them also to meditatate as the brahmins of that time lost all these practices. .He was against animal sacrifice and he prevented Bimbisara from sacrificing animal in a yajna.  In Mahabharata Bhashma says that animal sacrifice was iontroduced by DFhurtas, ie. the clever hypocrites.I agree with Dr. Sarvapalli radhakrishna, who said that Lord refined Brahmanism. It is not for nothing that Hindus call the ninth avatara of Lord Vishnu.
Sunil K. Bhattacharjya

--- On Mon, 1/12/09, ramani veeraraghavan <ramanivee at yahoo.com> wrote:

From: ramani veeraraghavan <ramanivee at yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] (no subject)
To: sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Date: Monday, January 12, 2009, 6:05 PM

Shri Sunilji,
I have quoted below the relevant verses from Viveka Choodamani of Shri Adi Shankara, especially negating the basic concept of Bhuddism which says the universe (philosiphical) is endless. According to Shri Adi Shankara realisation of Brahman is the end.
Call a spade a spade. Nothing wrong in it. I am learning Brahman from the works of Shri Adi Shankara.
History says Shri Adi Shankara propagated Hinduism. My only query when he is trying to bring in the facts about brahman was he influenced by other religions? Or whether he thought hinduism alone can lead to the realisation of Brahman?
212. The disciple questioned: After these five sheaths have been eliminated as unreal, I find nothing, O Master, in this universe but a 
Void, the absence of everything. What entity is there left forsooth with which the wise knower of the Self should realise his identity.

213-214. The Guru answered: Thou has rightly said, O learned man ! Thou art clever indeed in discrimination. That by which all 
those modifications such as egoism as well as their subsequent absence (during deep sleep) are perceived, but which Itself is not 
perceived, know thou that Atman – the Knower – through the sharpest intellect.

215. That which is perceived by something else has for its witness the latter. When there is no agent to perceive a thing, we cannot 
speak of it as having been perceived at all.

216. This Atman is a self-cognised entity because It is cognised by Itself. Hence the individual soul is itself and directly the 
Supreme Brahman, and nothing else.

217. That which clearly manifests Itself in the states of wakefulness, dream and profound sleep; which is inwardly perceived in the 
mind in various forms as an unbroken series of egoistic impressions; which witnesses the egoism, the Buddhi, etc., which are of 
diverse forms and modifications; and which makes Itself felt as the Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute; know thou this Atman, thy 
own Self, within thy heart.
V Ramani

--- On Tue, 1/13/09, Sunil Bhattacharjya <sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com> wrote:

From: Sunil Bhattacharjya <sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] (no subject)
To: ramanivee at yahoo.com
Date: Tuesday, January 13, 2009, 6:26 AM

Dear Ramaniji,
<<Adi Shankara propagated Hinduism against Buddhism.>>
Adi Sankaracharya did criticise the interpretations  of the Yogachara (sect) scholars Dignaga and Dharmakirti but to my mind he was not against the fundamental teachings of Lord Buddha.
Sunil K. Bhattacharjya

--- On Mon, 1/12/09, ramani veeraraghavan <ramanivee at yahoo.com> wrote:

From: ramani veeraraghavan <ramanivee at yahoo.com>
Subject: [Advaita-l] (no subject)
To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Date: Monday, January 12, 2009, 4:13 PM

My endeavour is to realise Brahman. All I can understand is that it is beyond
wisdom. It is for all. Even Shri Adi Shankara propagated Hinduism against
Buddhism. I do not know whether it was the call of the situation. Even if so
Sanadhana Dharma seems to be wiser of all religions. But still every religion
has its own believes including Hinduism. Though born as hindu I would like to be
detached to it for various reasons. Hinduism helped emergence of many
philosophers. May be basically I want to be detached with respect to the
religious rights. 
The meditation chanting gets reverberated in my mind restlessly. Earlier I was
doing the chanting and nowadays the Mantra chant me (that is how I feel) I
realize Brahma in truth. I see it in being kind to other soul. I feel ultimately
Brahman will bring in equality and do away with all ill happenings in this
world. I look at it as the endeavour of the brahman.  
Brahman might be the theory of evolution. Hinduism believes in four yugas. But
it may be the wrong understanding of the nature (I do not wish to hurt the
feelings of any one, but trying to exchange my views) According to me it is
brahman leading to evolution, civilization etc. I strongly believe we are for
better tomorrow. By proper realisation of brahman we can know the origin of the
universe and what not.
Physical universe is nothing but one’s own perception. If it were the case
are there millions of universes? The answer is it is nothing but the realization
of Brahman. Theory of maya helped the understanding. There is nothing but
Brahman is true. 
Vivaka choodamani (Shri Adi Shankara)
225. Brahman is Existence, Knowledge, Infinity, pure, supreme, self-existent,
eternal and indivisible Bliss, not different (in reality) from the individual
soul, and devoid of interior or exterior. It is (ever) triumphant.
This has given a thought process.
V Ramani

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