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 4.2 - Reality in Madhyamika (b): Nature of Prajna

The true Philosophy of Nagarjuna is non-dual knowledge-intuition of the real. The intellectual intuition is the very heart of the reality in Madhyamika. It is the truth in intuition knowledge and real coincide. Essence and existence are identical. The non-dual knowledge ‘Prajnaparamita’ (highest wisdom) is established as the wisdom of the Madhyamika. So Madhyamika Philosophy is systematized as Prajnaparamita. It is Tathagata also. So, Metaphysics of Madhyamika is to be developed in Prajnaparamitasutras or treatises. Several treatises and sutras are dedicated to ‘prajna’ literature. Nagarjuna himself have written several works on prajna doctrine.

Prajna is non-dual knowledge. Prajnaparamita is equated with Tathagata, perfect being. It is ‘dharmakaya’ of the Buddha. The 8 conception of dharmakaya is essentially religious.[1] Tathagata or Bhutakoti is endorsed with all divine qualities. He is credited with a free Phenomenalising activity by he assumes at will actuated by infinite compassion to help all other beings. This dharmakaya is of two forms, sambhogakaya that is the body of bliss and nirmanakaya which is the assume body.[2]

Thanks to the mahakaruna, extreme compassion which makes the Tathagata, the deity, a personal god and he takes individual interest in beings and continuously strives for their wellbeing. It is almost similar to the brahmanical purpose of Ishvara. The bodhicitta has two-fold nature in its effect. One is flower of emptiness (Shunyata) and the perfume of compassion (Karuna).

The logical necessity to find a meditating principal between the absolute and phenomena has given rise to the religion of the Madhyamika and the acceptance of Ishvara. The Prajnaparamita is the distinctive feature of the Madhyamika system. It integrates every part of its Philosophy and dielectric. It is the Absolute, beyond reason. Prajna guides the entire Philosophical and metaphysical aspects of the Madhyamika system. Prajna is non-dual knowledge (jnanam advayam). Prajna removes avidya, which makes things into–the material attachment and passions. Prajnaparamita, the Absolute-identifies with Tathagata–the Phenomenal aspect. The religious consciousness of Tathagata serves as the principle of mediation between the Absolute (Shunyata) and the phenomenal beings. This again developed as Trikaya of Buddha. The dharmakaya, nirmanakaya and sambhogakaya. These three of them have their own purposes in the religious aspect and practice in the horizon of Buddhist consciousness.

Footnotes and references:


Dharmakaya is cosmic body of the Buddha, the Absolute.


T.R.V. Murty, Central philosophy of Buddhism, p. 280.

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