The Buddha and the Upanishads

Richard Gombrich richard.gombrich at BALLIOL.OX.AC.UK
Thu Dec 7 11:00:06 UTC 2006

Dear Jan,  Here is a list of some of my publications which show the  
Buddha referring to passages in the Upanishads, mainly to the BAU.

Old bodies like carts. Journal of the Pali Text Society, vol. 11:  
1-4, 1987.

  Recovering the Buddha's message. In Earliest Buddhism and  
Madhyamaka. D. Ruegg and L. Schmithausen, editors. Leiden: E.J.  
Brill, 5–23, 1990. Reprinted in The Buddhist Forum: Seminar papers  
1987-1988. T. Skorupski, editor. London: School of Oriental and  
African Studies, University of London, 1: 5–20, 1990.

  The Buddha's Book of Genesis? Indo-Iranian Journal, vol. 35: 159– 
78, 1992.

  A visit to Brahmå the heron, Journal of Indian Philosophy, v.29,  
April 2001, 95–108.

  How Buddhism began: the conditioned genesis of the early teachings.  
2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2006.

  Religious experience in early Buddhism? Eighth Annual BASR Lecture,  
1997. British Association for the Study of Religions Occasional Paper  
17. Printed by the University of Leeds Printing Service, Leeds [1998].

  Kindness and compassion as means to Nirvana. (1997 Gonda Lecture)  
Amsterdam: Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1998.

I am just completing a set of ten lectures as Numata Visiting  
Professor at SOAS in which I draw this material together and add some  
more, but I am afraid it will be a while before these lectures are  

It is of course perfectly possible that the texts we now have of the  
Upanishads were compiled over a long period; I don't see how that  
hypothesis could ever be conclusively disproved.  However, unless we  
subscribe to the view that the Buddha was omniscient and could  
therefore respond to texts which would be composed in the future, I  
do not understand how his references to important passages in the BAU  
etc. can fail to be interpreted as showing that they already existed  
when he preached.



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