The Buddha's familiarity with upanisadic ideas

veeranarayana Pandurangi veerankp at GMAIL.COM
Sat Dec 9 14:46:48 UTC 2006

dear freinds,
I suggest that while discussing the popularity of Upanishads, the
brahmasuutras which disucss these upanishadic sentenes should be taken into

On 12/8/06, Timothy C. Cahill <tccahill at> wrote:
> Jan!
>    Familiar with the *ideas*, yes.  With the *passages*, well, I guess
> not.  (Although the Richard Gombrich had me very hopeful there for a
> second!)  No info that his father was a Vaajasaneyin, as far as I know.
> Nor can we be sure that his father kept a priest from/for each Veda, but
> Peter Harvey mentions that the republic of the Sakka people "was not
> Brahmanized, and rule was by a council of household-heads, perhaps
> qualified by age or social standing."  So perhaps the Magadha connection
> was not strong for our young Buddha.
>    I'm not clear about your question: "...could he have become
> > familiar with the esoteric teachings (Upanisads) of all three Vedas?"
> My guess is that as a youth he had no special acquaintance with
> speculations on the utility of rituals since he wasn't a brahman, nor a
> Jain.  He probably acquired such a background as a result of being a
> spiritual seeker as an adult in an environment where such questions were
> in the air.  The Buddha probably knew the word "upaniSad" not as a
> set/stratum of texts but as a common noun (= 'connection', 'hidden name',
> 'equivalence').  So I'm curious about your statement that 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.
>    Oh, never mind!  I just realized I'd misread you.  Of course, these
> "upaniSads" are supposed to be esoteric for their brahman communities, but
> become public property, open for debate to all others (Jains, Ajivikas) in
> an age of lively debate of 'new' ideas.  You're of course quite right in
> saying that they don't become eligible for debate theologically (within
> the Vedanta tradition) until much later. And this is "isolation from their
> Vedic context."
> best,
> Tim

Head, Dept of Darshan,
Yoganandacharya Bhavan,
Jagadguru Ramanandacharya Rajsthan Sanskrita University, Madau, post
Bhankrota, Jaipur, 302026.

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