Re: The Theism of the Upanishads
Vidyasankar Sundaresan writes:
> Mani Varadarajan writes:
> > In fact, I would say that Advaita has borrowed far more non-Vedic
> > elements than Visistadvaita has. There is considerable evidence
> > that Gaudapada was heavily influenced by Madhyamika Buddhism.
> Gaudapada makes it his business to refute in Madyamika Buddhism
> terminology the very conclusions of Madhyamika philosophers.
The following excerpts from Gaudapada's Karikas should give
ample evidence as to how Gaudapada seems to be concerned with
interpreting Vedanta along Buddhist lines. How else can you
explain his equation of the dream and waking states, a position
characteristic of Vijnanavada Buddhism?
He says in his Karikas:
yathA svapne dvayAbhAsaM spandate mAyayA manaH
tathA jAgrad dvayAbhAsaM spandate mAyayA manaH
Just as the mind while dreaming vibrates having a
two-fold appearance, while awake the mind, having a
two-fold appearance, vibrates through maya.
[Significantly, Sankara himself controverts such a position
(ad Brahma-sutra Bhashya ii.2.29):
We now apply ourselves to the refutation of the
averment made by the Bauddha, that the ideas of posts,
and soon, of which we are conscious in the waking state,
may arise in the absence of external objects, just as
the ideas of a dream, both ideas being alike.
The two sets of ideas, we maintain *cannot* be treated
on the same footing, on account of the difference of their
In other words, Sankara disputes the conclusion of his
In the Gaudapada Karika (GK) IV.22, he sets forth his ajAtivAda
(non-common origination) viewpoint in characteristic Madhyamika
svato vA parato vApi na kimcid vastu jAyate
sad asat sadasad vApi na kimcid vastu jAyate
No given thing whatsoever is born either from itself
or from another.
No given thing whatsoever is born existent, non-existent,
or both existent and non-existent.
Nagarjuna, in his Mulamadhyama-Karika XXI.13, says almost
*exactly* the same thing:
na svato jAyate bhAvaH parato naiva jAyate
na svataH parataS caiva jAyate jAyate kutaH
Neither is an entity born from itself nor from another,
nor is it born from both itself and another. Whence is
The second line cited from GK IV.22 seems to be taken
from the Mulamadhyama-Karika I.7:
na san nAsan na sadasan dharmo nirvartate yadA
kathaM nirvartako hetur evam sati hi yujyate
When no object either existent, non-existent, or both
existent and non-existent evolves, how in that case is
there applicable an evolver?
Note that *none* of these citations in any sense correlate to
passages from the Upanishads. In fact, the Sad-vidya teaching
in the Chhandogya Upanishad seems to be a direct retort to this.
Uddalaka, instructing his son Svetaketu, vigorously articulates
his vision of an intelligent Brahman, resolving to become
manifold out of His own will.
To further show pure Advaita's origin in Buddhism, take its usage
of the word "mAyA". Even adherents of Advaita today accept that
nowhere in the principal Upanishads, the Gita, and the Brahma-sutras,
does the word mAyA appear as used by Advaitins. However, Gaudapada's
Karikas show the distinct influence of Buddhist thought.
>From GK IV.59:
yathA mAyAmayAd bijAj jAyate tanmayo 'nkuraH
nAsau nityo na cocchedI tadvad dharmeShu yojanA
From a seed made up of 'mAyA' is born a sprout
consisting of the same, that is neither eternal
nor destroyed. In this way, there is the application
The Buddhist Catuh-sataka uses the exact same expression:
yathA hi kRtakAd bIjAj jAyate tanmayo 'nkurah
For insofar as it takes birth from such a seed,
that sprout is constituted of the same.
I can cite many more parallels, but these should suffice.
For completeness, Vidya, please show us where Gaudapada refutes
Buddhism. I know of one instance where he says, "idam Buddhena
na bhAShitam" ("this was not said by the Buddha"), implying
in that context that "the Buddhists are close to us, but just
need to say a little more"!
There is much truth in Buddhist philosophy; my point in this
discussion is not to devalue their thought. But your denying
Gaudapada's and consequently Sankara's indebtedness to their
Buddhist forebears simply belies the hard facts in the case.
> Svetasvatara Upanishad propounds in Samkhya terminology, the very
> opposite of Samkhya. Does that mean that the Svetasvatara is a
> Samkhyan Upanishad or that it was heavily influenced by Samkhya?
Agreed, it only shows that the two have common terminology.
However, it is hasty of you to say that the Svetasvatara propounds
teachings that are "the very opposite" of Samkhya. As we have
discussed before, Samkhya's primary error is in identifying
prakriti as the cause of the universe, rather than Brahman.
Otherwise, their philosophy is very close to Vedanta. I would
not object to the analogy
Kapila's Samkhya -> Upanishads :: Gaudapada -> Buddhism
The Gita itself identifies itself with generic Samkhya, but
never adopts the doctrines characteristic of Kapila and
Isvarakrishna. Gaudapada's relation to Buddhism, as we
have seen, is much closer.