Mahayana Buddhism and Early Advaita Vedanta (Study)

by Asokan N. | 2018 | 48,955 words

This thesis is called: Mahayana Buddhism And Early Advaita Vedanta A Critical Study. It shows how Buddhism (especially Mahayana) was assimilated into Vedantic theorisation in due course of time. Philosophical distance between Mahayana Buddhism and Advaita-Vedanta became minimal with the advent of Gaudapada and Shankaracharya, who were both harbinge...

Chapter 2.7 - Arya-Satya Pariksha (examination)

After examined the Tathagata-Pariksha, Nagarjuna observes the Four Noble Truths which is the core of the Buddhist Philosophy. If all this is empty there is no uprising and ceasing and that also implies the nonexistence of the Four Noble Truths. So a discussion is made here on the Four Noble Truths, at first that Suffering exists, then the Cause of Suffering leading to the third i.e., Craving (Trishna) then the freedom of suffering by the practice of bhavana, which is Nirvana.[1] In the discussion of emptiness Nagarjuna reaches the conventional truth and the Paramarthika Truth, that without relying upon the Samvriti-Sathya, we cannot understand the Paramarthika. And so without understanding the Paramarthika, freedom (Nirvana) cannot be attained.

If you perceive the existence of the existents in terms of self-nature then you will also perceive these existents as non-casual condition. Whatever is dependent arising, that is emptiness. That is dependent upon convention. That itself is the Middle Path. Dependent arising and emptiness are abstract concepts desired from concrete empirical events, the dependently arisen ‘pratitya-sumut-panna’ and the empty (Shunya) respectively. Here Nagarjuna is trying to explain the reality of arising and ceasing of Phenomena, and of human behavior. Samvriti and Vyavaharira and prajnapti are Synonyms–as discussing on the terms with being good and bad i.e., ‘dharma’ and ‘adharma’. And then in the analyzing of the dharma one should arrive at dependent arising and emptiness as being as universal truths. This would mean that Samvriti-Sathya and Paramartha-Sathya are thought constructions founded in experience. As such, they are not absolutely real or absolutely unreal. This, then would be the middle position (Madhyama Pratipat). This middle path could be adopted in understanding all forms of experiencemoral, religious etc. These Samvriti and Paramartha are explained in terms of dependent arising, the conception of emptiness (Shunya).

The term ‘pratitya-sumut-panna’ (dependent origination), which does not refer strictly to anyone’s temporal experience, does not transcend temporarily altogether. It is, therefore, a term most appropriately used to describe the events perceived by the Buddha through his “knowledge of things as they have come to be” (yathabuta-jnana). It is the experience of ‘Specious Presents’. It is ‘Prajnapti’. And it can be described as ‘pratityasumutpada’, as ‘Shunyata’. And this metaphysical enterprise is not empty there exists no uprising and ceasing. These suggests or (implies) the nonexistence of the four noble truths. It is ‘Prajnapti’ or ‘Shunyata’ into an absolute truth, it is the middle path. By explaining that suffering exists in terms of self-nature, Nagarjuna is reminding the metaphysicians that the Buddha’s conception of suffering is founded not only in the idea of dependent arising but also the notion of impermanence.[2] Whoever perceives dependent arising also perceives suffering, its arising, its ceasing and path. He who treads the path perceives the dharma, experiences the freedom. These truth of ‘yathabuta-jnana’ and the four ‘Arya-Satyas’ (Noble Truths) are the foundations on which the whole edifice called Buddhism is built.

Footnotes and references:


Ibid., p. 326


Ibid. p. 353.

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