In the review of the Vedantasara on page 318 of Vol. IV of the Theosophist, I find the reviewer asserting that Sankaracharya’s Adwaita teaching is identical with the Buddhistic exposition of Gautama Buddha, and that Sankaracharya “throughout his works keeps wisely silent about the esoteric doctrine taught by Gautama Buddha.” He further challenges the Arya to disprove his statements. I now beg to draw the attention of the reviewer to page 76 of the Arya for this month, where a translation of Sankaracharya’s remarks against Buddhism is given, and would like to know how he can reconcile this with his assertions.
9th June 1884. An ENQUIRER.
Note.—The translation in the Arya is of Sankaracharya’s Commentary on the Brahma Sutras of Vyasa. The Bouddhas, therefore, referred to therein, could not have been the followers of Gautama Buddha who lived only about twenty-five hundred years ago, while Vyasa, who mentions the Bouddhas in his Sutras—against whom only does Sankaracharya argue—preceded him by several thousand years. Consequently the fact that Sankaracharya remains silent throughout his works about the esoteric doctrine taught by Gautama Buddha, remains perfectly sound and unassailed. Probably the so-called “Buddhist” religion in the time of Vyasa, the writer of the Brahma Sutras, was degenerated as we find the Vedic Religion in our times. Gautama was one of the reformers, and although his followers may have been known by the same name, it does not follow that the opposition to a religion called Buddhistic necessarily means antagonism to the teachings of Gautama. If that were the case, Gautama himself might be called an opponent of Buddhism, for he went against its abuses, and thus against the degenerated system known as Buddhism before his time. We maintain that the Arhat Doctrine of which the latest public expounder was Gautama Buddha, is identical with the Adwaitee Philosophy, whose latest public exponent was Sankaracharya. Hence the latter Philosopher’s silence about the former’s teaching. The objections urged by “An Enquirer” were already anticipated and answered by Mr. Subba Row in his article on “Sankara’s Date and Philosophy.” (See Vol. IV, Theosophist, page 306.)—D. K. M.