The Buddha and the Upanishads

Timothy Lubin LubinT at WLU.EDU
Mon Dec 11 15:52:01 UTC 2006

In my reference to the cautionary approach mentioned by Christian W., I
was not quoting him but alluding to certain line of argument I have
heard in Pali studies (to which I thought he was referring), but I did
misstate it: I should have specified that the "strong form" of the
argument pertained to the content of the Pali tradition rather than to
knowledge of Buddhism in general, for the knowledge of which we have
Chinese and Gandhari sources.  
I should also have noted that I do not myself *endorse* this strong
form of the argument, even limiting it to the Pali literature.  I am
quite willing to consider parts of the canon older on philological
grounds (and I use similar arguments in my own work on late Vedic texts
and minor upani.sads).
But I do feel that the specificity with which the Buddha's actual life
and words are reconstructed frequently overreaches.  And even if it is
*possible* that parts of the Pali sources are as old as the BAU and ChU,
the textual basis for an argument for the priority of the Buddhist ideas
must remain very tenuous, I think.

>>> Jonathan Silk silk at HUMNET.UCLA.EDU> 12/11/06 1:16 AM >>

... Tim Lubin wrote, in referring to some remarks of Christian

>virtually nothing can be asserted with certainty about what Buddhism 
>[was?  JAS]
>taught much prior to Buddhaghosa,

This is not so. Not only do we now have Gandhari materials some of 
which may contain not only contents but may actually be physically 
significantly older than Buddhaghosa, but we have long had Chinese 
materials which significantly predate him as well. There are, to be 
sure, some significant challenges in dealing with this material, but 
in terms of confirming (otherwise later) Indic language materials, at 
the very least, they cannot and should not be ignored.

Jonathan Silk
Department of Asian Languages & Cultures
Center for Buddhist Studies
290 Royce Hall
Box 951540
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1540
phone: (310) 206-8235
fax:  (310) 825-8808
silk (at)

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