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 3.5 - A General Survey of the Mandukya Karika

As we have seen Mandukya Upanishad is the seed of the Mandukya-karika Gaudapada was the first to make the fullest use of three states;waking, dream and deep sleep described in the Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanishad for the purpose of establishing Advaita.[1]

First karika of the first chapter says,

“All pervasive is traditionally known as being three fold; Vishva-cognisor of outside, Taijasa-cognisor of inside, and Prajna-knower of gratification; that is the non-dual sarvajna. That is beginningless, undifferentiated, that is Brahman, it should be experienced as ‘Prajnanaghana’. Knowing the quarters one after another he can realize the ‘brahmatman’ identity.”

The shining atman imagines himself by himself through maya. He is the one who can cognizes the three entities. This is the conclusion of Vedanta (Upanishads).[2] Reality delighting in it, one should not be slipping away from the reality.[3] Advaita prakarana, Chapter three, Gaudapada eulogizes the ‘avacchedavada’ theory that Atman like the Akasha, rises indeed in the form of jivas (individual souls) like ghatakasha (spaces enclosed by earthen jars, and in the form of aggregates (bodies etc.) like earthen jars etc. This is the illustration in the matter of birth or origination (Ajati). Ghatakasha dissolves in the Mahakasha Brahman (jivatma dissolves in Brahman). This is known as avacchedavada.

In the sutra II, Gaudapada says,

“the essence that is indeed expounded in the Taitiriya upanishad of them the supreme jiva is clearly shown up as Atman like Akasha”.[4]

The verse eighteen in the third chapter describes “non-duality is indeed the highest reality; duality is spoken of as its outcome (or modification). For them (the dualists exists) duality in both ways, therefore (or with that dvaita) this Advaita does not conflict that the sutra 25th of the Advaita prakarana”.[5] From the denial of origination in the Ishavasyopanishad, origination is barred out. By the Shruti who possibly would produce this (atman) the cause of origination is barred out.[6]

Here again Gaudapada introduces the Asparsha yoga in the Shloka 39 of Chapter III which says,

“This is verily the ‘non-touch yoga’ by name, difficult to be realized by all ordinary yogins. The yogins are indeed afraid of it, seeing, fear in something free from fear. Asparsha is amanastha. When by knowledge of the truth about atman (the mind) ceases to imagine, it is in the state of mindlessness, there is no perception in the absence of perceptible object”.[7]

The practice and attainment of this yoga is very difficult even for yogis.

But Gaudapada describes method to be undertaken like this in the Shloka 41 as

“there (would be) the draining out of the sea by one drop (of nature at a time) by means of the point of (a blade of) kusha grass, so would be the central of the mind-without all-out foiling”.[8]

When the mind does not cling to anyone and without movement, and not presenting any appearance culminates into Brahman.

“Resting in itself calm with nirvana, indescribable, highest happiness; unborn and (one) with the unborn knowable, omniscient, (this of it) they say”.[9]

Control of mind is a laborious task. It is like mentioned in Yoga of Patanjali. The aspirant gets amavibhava or amanastha, a state of non-mind. TMP says, “In Yoga, there are four obstacles: laya (lapse), Vikshepa (distraction), Kasaya (passion), Rasasvada (satisfaction). One should cross the hurdles and march resolutely onward the truth.[10] Advaita refers with many words like abhaya, sarvajnata, prabodha, dvaitopasama, prapancopasama, Advaita prapti etc.

Footnotes and references:


Raghunath Damodar Kalmarkar, Op.cit. p.1


Ibid. p. 12


Ibid. p. 19


Ibid. p. 22


Advaitam paramartho hi dvaitam tatbheda ucyate teshamubhayata dvaitam tenayam na virudyate’ Gaudapadiya-karika III. 18


Ibid. p. 25


Richard King, Op. Cit. p.150


Utseka udhdheriyadvatkushagrenaikabhindhuna manaso nigrahasthadvabdhave dhaparikedhathah’ Gaudapadiya-karika III. 41


Svastam shantham sanivarnamakatya shukamuttamam ajamajena nyeyen sarvajnam parichaksathe’ Gaudapadiya-karika III. 47


T.M.P. Mahadevan, Op. Cit. p. 182

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