The Buddha's familiarity with upanisadic ideas

Jan E.M. Houben j_e_m_houben at YAHOO.COM
Fri Dec 8 19:33:06 UTC 2006

Thanks to Luis Gonzalez-Reimann, Antonio
Ferreira-Jardim, Ruzsa Ferenc, Matthew Kapstein,
Richard Gombrich, Tim Cahill and John Huntington
for all their valuable thoughts and references on
this topic which is indeed of considerable
importance ... 
So we have a Buddha who is remarkably familiar
with passages in BAU, and we have, according to
others, indications that passages in the current
BAU are post-Buddhist. If the BAU was not yet
written down in Buddha's time these two positions
seem not mutually contradictory (see also
Matthew's observation). Moreover, the Upanisads,
if they existed in the Buddha's time, were not
yet isolated from their Vedic context for public
polemic purposes, since traces of this appear
only significantly after the Buddha, most solidly
with Sankara's commentaries on them. That means
that the Buddha must have become familiar with
the BAU in its early oral recension from a
private teacher, who, in the Magadha of his time,
could have been a Vaajasaneyin. Is there any
information that Gautama's (or his father's)
family-guru belonged to this school? Or did his
family keep priests of all the three Vedas
(probably not yet AV) and could he have become
familiar with the esoteric teachings (Upanisads)
of all three Vedas?
Jan Houben

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