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Buddha’s Ghostwriters and Hinduism

A Reader recently wrote:

I wish to know if buddhist philosophy was actually codified by The Budda himself or by some other saint like Nagarjuna later?

The Buddhist philosophy, i think, is actually based on the vedic philosophy in terms of rebirth and salvation defined as coming out the cycle of rebirths but does not follow the vedic tradition. hence this interest in the origins of the philosophy. I am more interested in knowing how Buddhism is close to Hinduism. somehow I like to believe Buddha as the ninth incarnation of Vishu in the ten incarnations of Vishu.

I have heard that Buddha refusing to answer questions about the vedic philosopy and recommended his followers to follow vedas only if they understand. is it so?

My Response:

DISCLAIMER: My opinion follows, there are going to be dissenters whenever verifiable fact competes with faith.

I will admit right now that my knowledge of Hinduism is nowhere near that of Buddhism. To my knowledge, the Vedas (one of the Hindu ‚Äúscriptures‚Äù) did advocate an escape from Samsara (the cycle of rebirth), but I know they had definite ideas of Heaven and Hell, which Buddhism does not support (for the most part). Buddhism has always been a bit vague about exactly what happens when one reaches Nirvana. Generally speaking, yes, much of the “religious” side of Buddhism came straight from Hinduism.

Buddha never codified anything himself as far as I am aware. According to legend, his words were written down just after his death, although more probably the first writings were collected over a long period of time after his death. Very little of what is attributed to Buddha is verifiable– remember that this was a VERY long time ago, and modern scholars aren’t even in agreement about the CENTURY in which Buddha lived. In my admittedly academically slanted opinion, he almost certainly came up with the 4 Noble Truths and Eightfold Path himself, but beyond that, I wouldn’t bet on anything. Still, the words of the later authors ring true, so they are of value whether Buddha actually said them or not.

With all Buddhist doctrine and texts, weigh the words yourself and believe what makes sense to you. Remember the basic POINT of Buddhism: You aren’t trying to please any kind of god or supreme being, you are trying to reach a very personal goal of Enlightenment. Use what works for you and give up what seems unbelievable. You should keep on reading and learning, however, so you are better able to make informed decisions whether to accept or disregard parts of the doctrine. Bear in mind, that not all sects of Buddhism will agree with me on this; some are very doctrinal and strict.

Buddha (or someone writing in his name) is said to have refused to answer questions about “religious” topics, such as the existence of god(s), afterlife, magic, and so forth. He stated that there was simply no way to experience those things firsthand, so there was no way to know for certain about them; anything else would be speculation and a waste of time.

Maybe someday I’ll do a multi-part series on Hinduism; it’ll give me a chance to get back up to speed on that material. Is there any interest in the subject?

2 comments to Buddha’s Ghostwriters and Hinduism

  • Maybe someday I‚Äôll do a multi-part series on Hinduism; it‚Äôll give me a chance to get back up to speed on that material. Is there any interest in the subject?

    I'm waiting for the series !
    Now come to the basic question from the reader:

    I like to believe Buddha as the ninth incarnation of Vishnu in the ten incarnations of Vishu….

    Being a Hindu I understand the feelings of the reader. It's true Hinduism believes Buddha as the ninth incarnation of Vishnu . But on looking the Buddha's philosophy it's no near the Hinduism thoughts. Buddha rejects Vedas simply .There is good reference to correct History of India after Buddha & Ashoka….till now….
    most important research is here:

  • Babu

    Did The Buddha simply rejected the Vedas? or asked his followers to follow it according to his understanding. i.e. giving a choice based on their understanding and not outright rejecting it. In other words, he foccused his followers attention on more practical down to earth issues rather than discuss about meta phyics.