Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Buddha in Hinduism (video)

Wisdom Quarterly edit of Wikipedia entry Gautama Buddha in Hinduism
() "Mystical Spirit" explores and links great pantheistic spiritual traditions including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Shinto. Traveling across India, France, and Japan, viewers are taken on a mystical journey including yoga, Swami Shivananda, the Dalai Lama, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, and the secrets of Tantric Buddhism and Japanese Shinto.

The Buddha in Hinduism is viewed as an avatar of the space "god" Vishnu. In the Puranic text Bhagavata Purana, he is the 24th of 25 avatars, prefiguring a forthcoming final incarnation.[1]

Similarly, a number of Hindu traditions portray the Buddha as the most recent (ninth) of ten principal avatars, known as the Daśāvatāra (Ten Incarnations of God).

Hinduism officially regards the Buddha (bottom center) as one of the 10 avatars of Vishnu.

The Buddhist Dasharatha Rebirth Tale (Jataka Atthakatha 461) represents Rama as a previous incarnation of the Buddha as a bodhisattva (being striving for supreme enlightenment) and supreme Dharma king of great wisdom.

The Buddha's teachings deny the authority of India's ancient sacred scriptures, the Vedas. Consequently, Buddhism is generally viewed as a nāstika (lit., "It is not so," heterodox) school[2] from the perspective of orthodox Hinduism.

Views of the Buddha in Hinduism

Due to the diversity of traditions within what is collectively called "Hinduism," as if it were one "religion," there is no specific viewpoint or consensus on the Buddha's exact position with regard to Vedic tradition:

In the Dasavatara stotra section of his Gita Govinda, the influential Vishnuite poet Jayadeva (13th C AD) includes the Buddha among the ten principal avatars of Vishnu and writes a prayer regarding him:

O Keshava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of Buddha! All glories to You! O Buddha of compassionate heart, you decry the slaughtering of poor animals performed according to the rules of Vedic sacrifice.[3]

This viewpoint of the Buddha as the avatar who primarily promoted non-violence remains a popular belief among a number of modern Vishnu adoring organizations, including the Hari Krishna movement (ISKCON).[4]

Other prominent modern proponents of Hinduism, such as Radhakrishnan and Vivekananda, consider the Buddha a teacher of the same universal truth (sanatan dharma) that underlies all religions of the world:

Vivekananda: May he who is the Brahman of the Hindus, the Ahura Mazda of Zoroastrians, the Buddha of Buddhists, the Jehovah of the Jews, the Father in Heavens of Christians, give strength to you to carry out your noble ideas![5]

Radhakrishnan: If a Hindu chants the Vedas on the banks of the Ganges, ...if the Japanese worship the image of Buddha, if the European is convinced of Christ's mediatorship, if the Arab reads the Koran in the mosque... It is their deepest apprehension of God and God's fullest revelation to them.[6]

Steven Collins sees such Hindu claims regarding Buddhism as part of an effort -- itself a reaction to Christian proselytizing efforts in India -- to show that "all religions are one" and that Hinduism is uniquely valuable because it alone recognizes this fact.[7]

There is Vaishnuite sect of Maharashtra, India known as Varkari. They worship Lord Vithoba (also known as Vitthal, Panduranga). Though Vithoba is mostly considered a form of little Krishna, there is an old and deeply rooted belief that Vithoba is a form of the Buddha.

Many Maharashtra poets (Eknath, Namdev, Tukaram, etc.) have explicitly mentioned him as the Buddha, though many neo-Buddhists (Ambedkaries) and many Western scholars tend to reject this opinion.

The figure of Vithoba as an avatar of Vishnu may have been identified with the Buddha in an attempt to assimilate Buddhism into Hindu tradition. The teachings of the Buddha have also been incorporated in Varkari Vaishnavism (Vishnu worship). And they have been integrated with traditional Vedic philosophy uniquely.

Hindu reactions to the Buddha

A number of revolutionary figures in modern Hinduism, including Gandhi, have been inspired by the life and teachings of the Buddha, and many of his attempted reforms.[8]

Buddhism finds favor in contemporary the Hindutva movement, with Tibet's 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, being honored at Hindu events, like the Vishva Hindu Parishad's second World Hindu Conference in Allahabad in 1979.[9] More