Questions on Indian idealism

Satya Upadhya satya_upadhya at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Dec 19 21:22:44 UTC 2000

>1.    The `suunya-vaada of Maadyamika can hardly be characterized as
>"idealism" -- the whole point is that they are any kind of "--ism".

--> From what i understand, the vijnaanavadis deny the reality of the world
but admit the reality of ideas. The sunyavadis, besides denying the reality
of the world, also deny the reality of ideas. The common feature in both is
to deny the reality of the world, thus. Hence, in his refutation of Budhist
idealism, Kumarila Bhatta (circa 7th-8th century) considers it sufficient to
show the reality of the world (in his "Sloka Vartika").

>2.    The sirtuation with Yogacara (Vij~aana-vaada) is very complex.
.  Dan Lusthaus has written an interesting paper available
>from his website - sorry don't have URL to hand but i's easy to
>find -- entitled something like "What Yogacara is not".

--> I have taken a look at the Lusthaus article, and i do not agree with his
conclusions. I may mention that he appears to be factually wrong in several
important instances like when he says that there is no Yogacara text which
admits only ideas to be real. This appears to be  wrong as such texts do
exist, to the best of my knowledge. For example, there is the text
"Alambana-pariksa" [meaning 'the critical examination of the material
objects alleged to correspond to ideas'] by the great Dignaga in which he
wants to prove that the admission of such objects is philosophically

--> Further, both the vijnanavadis and the sunyavadis believe in the so
called "theory of two truths" which makes a distinction between the barely
emperical or practical point of view ("samvriti satya") and the ultimate or
metaphysical truth ("parmartha satya"). [With minor terminological
modifications, it is submitted that this theory of "two truths" was
surreptiously borrowed by the Advaitists--it is not present in the

>I have not looked into this in detail -- just understanding Yogacara
>alone is hard enough.   One pointbto note is that one must determine
>first whether one thinks that Buddhists use the terms
>"" and "paramaartha-satya" ontologically or
>epistemologically -- the latter seems to be the preferred
>understanding among the classical Buddhist Mahayana scholars.

--> Thanks for this hint. From what i know the Mahayana Budhists wish to
establish their idealism both epistemologically and ontologically (again,
this is contrary to what Lusthaus says in his article).

It is
>often rumoured that Gaudapada was a crypto-Buddhist

--> Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (vol.8, pg 232-233) contains an
interesting description of this controversy.


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