Depicting Buddha as Hindu

BY Dr. K. Jamanadas

For last two three years, Sangha-parivar is trying to depict to the international community, that they respect the Buddha. While doing that they use terminology depicting him as a Hindu. About Ambedkar also, similar thing is seen, books are written to show the work of Hegdewar and Ambedkar was same. We find Shankaracharyas garlanding the photo of Dr. Ambedkar. We find Brahmanic dignitaries like Sankaracharya paying a visit to Nagpur Diksha-bhoomi to pay tributes.

Declaring Buddha as an avatara of god was the beginning

They declared the Buddha as an avatara of Vishnu, some times around eighth century, as a verse to this effect from Matsya Purana is engraved in a monument at Mahabalipuram. The process seems to be completed by the time of Jaydeo writing "Gita Govind" in 12th century, including Buddha's name in it. We are also aware that an average Brahmin takes a great pride that Buddhism was driven away from this land by Adi-Sankara.

How a non-existent religion can die?

About declaring the Buddha as ninth avatara of Vishnu, L. M. Joshi observes that it was a "remarkable cultural feat", achieved by the Brahmanic Puranas, which later caused confusion in the minds of people with the result that Buddhism came to be treated as a "heretical" and "aesthetic" branch of Brahmanism.

The present scholars like P. V. Kane, Radhakrishnan and even Swami Vivekanand, have pushed this confusion further back to the time of origin of Buddhism, by saying that Upanishadas are the origin of Buddhist thought. To this list must be added the name of B. G. Tilak, who devoted a full chapter in "Gita Rahashya" to prove that Buddhism was an off-shoot of Hinduism, (and one more chapter for proving that Christianity arose from Buddhism and hence eventually from Hinduism). Commenting Swami Vivekanada's statement that the Swami and other Hindus did not understand Buddha's teachings to be an honest confession, Joshi observes:

"... Not only the ancient and medieval brahmin teachers did not understand Buddhism; modern scholars born into the Brahmanical tradition have not shown any better understanding. Shankara, Kumarila, Udayana, and Sayana- Madhava did not understand Buddhism. This is true also of Tagore, Gandhi, Coomaraswamy and Radhakrishnan. ..." [L. M. Joshi, "Aspects of Buddhism in Indian History", Buddhist Publication Society, Candy, 1973, (Wheel publ. 195/196), p.12]

Showing a great surprise of Brahmanic scholars claiming both that Buddhism was just a refined "Hinduism", and also claiming with pride that Buddhism was driven away by the Brahmanas and it has died down, he sarcastically observes:

"... The causes of the decline of Buddhism in India are attributed either to Tantrika practices or to Muslim invasion, or to both. Nobody even imagines that if Buddhism were only a "reformed" or "refined" version of "Hinduism" how it could be said to have declined and died away while "Hinduism" is still flourishing and is the faith of majority of Indians. Buddhism can be said to have declined only when there was evidence for its existence at a certain period in Indian history apart from the existence of "Hinduism". If Buddhism did not exist apart from Brahmanism or "Hinduism" it did not die at all. A non-existent tradition or way of life does not die. The theory of decline of Buddhism, from the standpoint of "traditional" history is a false theory. On the other hand, if the decline of Buddhism in India was a historical fact, the theory of its origin as a "reformed" Brahmanism is a false one and must be discarded." [L. M. Joshi, Ibid., p.14]

I feel that our friends of Buddhism from abroad, who visit Indian Buddhist centres, as a mark of great respect and reverence to the Buddha, should be warned of the practices of present day Sangha- parivar. The institutions like those of shri Jaysuriyaji could play a great role in this.

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