Questions on Indian idealism

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Dec 19 00:03:06 UTC 2000

>1. Am i correct in believing that the Advaita Vedanta has much in >common
>with the two idealistic schools of Mahayana Budhism

Yes, there are points and themes in common.

>(soonyavada and vijnaanvada) so much so that there is very little
> >difference between the Advaita and the two idealistic schools of

The question is rather ill-posed. zUnyavAda is different from
vijnAnavAda, even though they have things in common. Similarly,
advaita vedAnta is different from zUnyavAda and different from
vijnAnavAda, even if it has things in common with both.

>2. Kumarila Bhatta's "Sloka Vartika" contains an attack on Indian >idealism
>(he attacks the "dreaming argument", the so called
>mystic trance of the yogis, the theory of "two truths", etc.) Am i >correct
>in assuming that he attacks here both Mahayana Budhism as
>well as Advaita Vedanta?

As Kumarila was pre-Sankara, this becomes a very complicated
question. To adequately address it, one needs to check whether
the doctrines criticized by Kumarila can be found in the very
meagre corpus of pre-Sankaran texts of vedAnta. I am unaware
of any studies that progress beyond speculating about this. It
would be far more preferable to conclude, after a careful study of the
texts, rather than to assume things a priori.

>3. Am i correct in assuming that the Advaita Vedantists surreptiously
> >borrowed ideas from the Mahayana Budhists(in particular the

Re: the two truths, if there was any borrowing, it was not very
surreptitious. It was done out in the open, but also note that
the vedAntin "two truths" theory differs in crucial ways from
the Mahayana Buddhist theory. Check gauDapAda's kArikAs, as also
Sankara's discussion in the sUtrabhAshya. As a matter of fact,
one can't borrow anything surreptitiously. Borrowal implies full
knowledge/consent on the part of the donor. Surreptitiousness
implies stealing, without knowledge or consent of the owner.

1. ownership/copyrights on philosophical ideas?
2. see bRhadAraNyaka 4. 5. 15, for the upanishadic origin of
   the mature advaita vedAnta theory of two truths.

Note that in mattavilAsaprahasana, a farcical play by Mahendra
Varman, the "curiously-minded" king (600 CE), a Saiva accuses
the Buddha himself of having borrowed Upanishadic ideas. This
kind of estimation is fine in a drama, but I think comparative
study of philosophies should account for many subtleties.

Best regards,

ps. Re: vAcaspati mizra, the author of law-books, e.g. vyavahAra
cintAmaNi was another author of the same name, who lived
in the 15th century. The author of bhAmatI and nyAya-vArttika
and sAMkhya-tattvakaumudI was
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