Saturday, May 20, 2006

Shoonyavaada and Mayavaada - Introduction

Hari AUM
Prostrations to all.

The teachings of Buddha are collectively termed as Buddhism. As time passed, Buddha’s teachings were also interpreted in different ways & thereby various systems of Buddhism itself were created. The main two systems of Buddhism can be said to be Shoonyavaada or madhyamaka school which was propounded by Acharya Nagarjuna and Vijnaanavaada or yogaachara school of Kshanika Vijnaanavaadins.

Kumarila Bhatta (a purva mimamsaka) and Udayanaacharya (a naiyyaayika) thoroughly proved that Buddhism is baseless and the concepts of Buddhism are wrong. Once this was done, Sankara then re-instated the Advaita Vedanta system propounded in the Upanishads from time immemorial. But the various Vedanta acharyas (mainly the Vaishnava Acharyas like Ramanuja and Madhva) after Sankara started calling Sankara a pracchana bauddha (veiled Buddhist). The reason for this is misunderstanding of the two systems of Advaita and Shoonyavaada or Yogaachara. Another important reason is establishing their own system by falsifying or proving the other system to be false!!!! A seeker need not be surprised at this approach in the Sanaatana Dharma which was full of compassion or karuna for all other systems and beings in the world – because such acharyas claim that Siva is only a baddha jeeva whereas Vishnu or Narayana alone is the Supreme Lord based on some sruthi statements.

The theory of Madhyamaka school of Nagarjuna is called Shoonyavaada because in it the ultimate reality is VOID – it is not existent but it is mere void. This void alone is the ultimate reality and the world that is seen is only a projection of the mind. This void is not a conscious entity like the Brahman in Advaita Vedanta. It is a state where there will be no person or no object. This is contrary to Advaita which states that Brahman or EXISTENCE is the ultimate reality and at that state there will be nothing but only SAT or EXISTENCE.

Even though there are clear demarcations and distinctions between the various Buddhist systems and Advaita Vedanta, but still the Vaishnava systems claim that both are equal. If a person of the stature of Jaya Teertha and Madhvacharya themselves try to dissect Advaita through wrong and misunderstood notions, what to speak about normal people putting up and upholding such views in the illusory world.

Another wrong notion which the Vaishnava school has towards Advaita is the terming of the philosophy as Mayavaada. This is completely wrong as Advaita doesn’t stop after explaining that Maya is the cause of the world. It goes further to say that Maya itself is an illusory power of the ultimate reality of Brahman which is the substratum of the illusion of Maya and its effect of the world. Thus Advaita doesn’t propagate Mayavaada but it propagates Brahmavaada alone. Maya is something very terse and complex in Advaita and it is meant as a temporary solution to the answer-seeking disciple who is in the initial stages of the spiritual path.

If people need to know really about Maya in Advaita, they need to go through the Maya Panchakam of Sankara or any such works of Advaita acharyas with an open mind (if there is no open mind, whatever will be seen will only be according to one’s perception and not the reality).

I was going through a website on the system of Dvaita propounded by Madhvacharya ( At that time, I came across a set of postings by one Shrisha Rao (one of the person who maintains the website) on the similarities between Shoonyavaada of Buddhism and Mayavada of Sankara (this is a wrong terming because Sankara never propounded Mayavada and neither did he start a new system of Advaita – Advaita is something which was ever-present and it was spread by Sankara through his activities and commentaries).

These articles might be a little bit confusing (as it is quoting from some of the works of Madhva and the sub commentaries on the same) but still it serves good for a seeker as when these wrong understandings are removed, then the advaita knowledge becomes more clear & the path to the spiritual goal of realization becomes very near.

Below are the links for the articles which are in five parts. All must necessarily read it (of course when there is time) and there need be no fear that one may get confused because AMMA and all the great Mahatmas with their works are always there to take us out of the confusions or doubts arising when these articles are read.

Shoonyavaada and Mayavaada
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

The above links are about how the Dvaitins see the school of Advaita and the various schools of Buddhism. But this is just one phase of the issue or topic. The below link gives the interpretation and answer to the criticisms (in a very short manner) by an Advaitin named Vidyasankar Sundaresan in his web site Even though the content here is very small but it is very well enough to show that Advaita is very much different from all the schools of Buddhism.

Advaita Vedanta site on similarity between Advaita and Buddhism

The above link was about an advaitin who is closely associated with the Sringeri Math. Below is an article about how Kanchi Jagadguru Swami Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi takes the two schools of Advaita and Madhyamaka.

The entire set of the description about Shankara sampradaya can be got below:

The advaita vedanta web site is a really good web site to start knowing about the various basic and conflicting topics in Advaita.

FAQs about Advaita:

Let me hope that there are no confusions after reading the above articles and if there are any we can discuss them over here so that such doubts are removed permanently.

Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


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