Advaitam and other schools of VedAnta

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Feb 16 16:14:49 UTC 1999

>I  agree.  (B.N.Hebbar)  Also,  I  would  like  to  add  that  even
>within  the  YogacArins,  it  is  only  Vasubandhu's  "version"  that
>is  closest  to  Shankara's  Advaita.  The  Svatantra-VijnAnavAda  of
>Dinnaga, DharmakIrti  etc.  fall  back  on  the  old  momentariness
>doctrine  and  it  is  this  "version"  of  YogAcara  that  Shankara
>criticizes  in  his  comm. on  the  BrahmasUtras. (B.N.Hebbar)

I don’t agree J BhAvaviveka the Madhyamika, couldn’t resist from putting
forward theories of his own, breaking the school’s tradition of no
theory. So his school is called "svatantra" MAdhyamaka. ChandrakIrti and
other Madhyamikas, who belongs to the prasangika branch, slam him for
deviating from the traditional method of reductio ad absurdum.

It’s actually from the svantantra MAdhyamaka, that the
SautrAntika-YogAcAra school arose, of which the leading exponents are
DignAga and DharmakIrti.

The basic problems of the initial YogAcAras are :
1.  the theory that the whole world is an mental creation and
2.  the lack of distinction between the psychological and absolute

Sarvam buddhimayam jagat - the whole world is ideal - is found in the
source of the YogAcAra views - the LankAvatAra SUtrA itself. Asanga and
VAubandhu, too take the same line. There’re obvious problems with this
theory, which ShankarAcharya attacks.

DignAga and DharmakIrti, the former a pupil of VAubandhu himself and the
latter a pupil of the former, to over come the weakness of the doctrine
of the whole world being ideal - take refuge in the SautrAntika doctrine
- which endorses the existence of the world based on the inference that
the world must exist, because we perceive it - the balance is again
loaded on the side of the mental faculties.

Ofcourse, ShankarAcharya is able to find chinks in this Bauddha armour

>I  disagree.  To  say  that  the  Upanishads  teach  AdvaitavAda
>uniformly  is  purely  a  subjective  opinion.

The Upanishads do not uniformly expound one theory. There seem to be
contradictions between one Upanishad to another. This in my opinion,
just reflects the super sensible nature of the object of discussion -
which the shruti again endorses as beyond the intellect and the senses.

It’s true that there’re some Upanishads which hardly seem to endorse
Advaitam. But again if one were to look at them collectively, Advaitam
represents the most consistent view. Apart from this we’ve to remember
that Shankara lived at a time when Buddhism reigned supreme. The
nAstikas were tearing apart theories of the astikas for  logically
inconsistency. So apart from the collective view, Advaitam also
represents the best possible logical theory for AtmavAda.

Ofcourse, we’ve RAmAnuja and VedAntadesika, two great philosophers,
criticizing Advaitam. But to find faults with a theory, doesn’t in any
way mean that one’s own theory is right. Logically, the simplest view is
the easiest to defend. Advaitam, taking its stand on Brahman alone being
real, is on better footing than other schools of VedAnta, who dig
themselves into deeper pits by also endorsing the reality of the world.
If one can find thousand faults with Advaitam, one can find ten times
the number of faults with other theories. The other schools of VedAnta
can consider themselves lucky that they didn’t exist at the time of
VAsubandhu and NAgArjuna or DignAga and DharmakIrti!

>Each  sticks  to  his  school  of  thought  with
>great  resourcefulness  and  tenacity. However, all  leave  the  sabhA
>in  peace  and  friendship!!!

I’m glad that such amity still exists, though I’ve heard things quite to
the contrary. Anyway I don’t recognize any such warmth in accusations
like "prachanna bauddha" or was it "prachanna mahAyAnika"!

OK, with respect to the debating you witnessed, let me ask you what the
basis of the debate was? Was it based on logic and reason or was it
based on the shruti, interpreted with logic and reason? If it was on the
former, as I said before, all other schools will be in trouble before
Advaitam. If it’s on the latter, Advaitam can hold itself as well as the
rest, if not better. But if both criterias were used - that’s the facts
are supported by empirical experience as well as the shruti - Advaitam
will be on a better footing than the rest.

But again, Advaitam doesn’t have any problem with the other shools of
VedAnta. There’re all, right in the relative sense. But only in absolute
terms are they falling short.

You say you can’t accept that VijnAnavAda is prachanna VedAnta - but
fail to give any reasons.

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