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 5.4 - Comparative study of Knowledge (Prajna or Brahmajnana)

It is knowledge (Prajna;Brahmajnana) that frees us; other factors are auxiliary to this. The state of mukti (nirvana) is a complete identity with the Absolute. The Madhyamika absolute is Shunyata, but it is to be understood in a dialectical analysis of reason and knowledge. Then we can reach the pure consciousness, imminent and transcendental from empirical to awareness of vijnapti-matrata. Shunyata or prajna is the non-dual intuition. It is contentless, positionless and awareness of Absolute consciousness. In Vedanta it is Brahman. The empirical experiences are phenomenal and limited by sense and sense perceptions, due to maya or avidya. According to Advaita Vedanta, the Supreme that is Brahman can be realized through discipline, which is taught by practices of yoga and other purification methods like, bhakti and jnana. Both these aim to realize the Absolute.

Advaita presupposes the positive methods of mental purification by bhakti or karma or jnana.

“In Madhyamika dialectic, it empowers the thought process and by cleanliness of mind and its subtle transformation through altruistic work which will help the person to sublimate his inner being the antahkarana, inner organ which subdues all other activities by the constant mental processes.”[1]

“The comparative, philosophical and psychological analysis goes hand in hand but Madhyamika takes one step forward to understand the mental activities which guide and control the human being as a psycho-physical organism and at the same time as a metaphysical identity with the totality of the universal phenomena, which is nothing but prajna.”[2]

According to the Madhyamika conception, advaya is knowledge freed from conceptual distinctions, as a kind of purification of the faculty of knowing. Vijnana is like, manas is considered to be unborn (aja) non-dual immovable and immaterial, yet it appears as dual, moving and objective. Manas is primarily conceived as a sort of vijnanamatra unifying the different sensations, and it retains this primary significance of being related to external experiences.

The manifestation came to mean illusion due to metaphysical considerations, what experiences and what is experienced is not the ultimate reality. Speaking about the nature of reality,

“Madhyamika and Advaita Vedanta have different philosophical arguments. Madhyamika has its own dialectic of psychological and material means substantial approach and causal conditions of continuity.”[3]

Footnotes and references:


Ibid. p. 322


P.T. Raju, ‘Structural Depths of Indian Thoughts’, New York, p. 324


Cathorine Conio, Op. cit. p. 129

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: