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 5.2 - Comparative study of Samata (sameness)

“The Bodhicitta in the Madhyamika ultimacy cultivates the Prajna. In the middle way there is no extremes, it means no clinging of the mind to any objects. So, there is no distinction or division in the vision of objects and understanding and so there is no duality. Conditioned originates belong to the empirical level or mundane level. Duality means clinging to the division that this is the eye and this is the form, there is the bodhi and this is the Buddha.”[1]

The non-clinging dharma is the sameness (Samata). It is at the same time clinging and non-clinging. Thus, Buddha and Nagarjuna realized the ultimate Bodhi not halting the way. The way means seizing and clinging to the subjects, determinate to mundane things. It is the essential way of nature and things seen as they are.

Gaudapada uses Madhyamika dialectics of ajati (non-origination). This dialectic is found in Nagarjuna, who used to reject the reality of creation. Gaudapada wants to affirm the reality as Brahman, and Brahman alone to the exclusion of everything else. This he does on the basis of the Upanishads.”[2]

And again P.K. Sundaram says in his comparative analysis on Gaudapada and Buddhism

“The Madhyamika denied both these extremes holding that the mutual considerations for or against the realist and realistic positions effectively cancelled each other and what resulted was the nonexistence of both the mind and matter (Sarva-shunyata).”[3]

Vidhusekhara Bhattacharya has pointed out that Gaudapada adopts the stand point of the Vijnanavada, favouring subjectivism reducing every phenomenon to ideas composing the world as a favourite dream. The so-called objects of the external world are the projections of the mind. Externality is an illusion. Internal happenings of the mind are the only reality.

“Shunyata of Madhyamika is not the negation of all. But it is the negation of duality of subject-object. There exists non-substantiality. But the transcendent dynamic stream of consciousness which creates from itself the phenomena substance (atma), elements (dharma) or rather subject-object and all relation of object and subjects. It constructs the constructive ideation and phenomenal world.”[4]

Footnotes and references:


Venkata Ramanan, ‘Nagarjuna’s Philosophy’, Bharathiya Vidya Prakasham, Varanasi, 1971, p. 164


P.K. Sundaram, ‘Gaudapada and Buddhism’, p. 96


Ibid. p. 95


TRV Murty, ‘The Central Philosophy of Buddhism: A Study of the Madhyamika system’, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1960, p. 318

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