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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

(Mis)Understood Buddhism

Disclaimer: The writer has no intention or motive to kickstart any controversies.  The post merely espouses a personal point of view.

The modern interpretation of Buddhism is based on these underlying assumptions (rather misconceptions):
  • Gautama Buddha established a religion totally distinct from Hinduism
  • Gautama Buddha was himself a naastik and preached so too
  • Gautama Buddha is only as important in the buddha hierarchy as a Padmasambhava, Avalokatishwara, Quan-Yin or Medicine??? Buddha
  • There is no mention of gods, demi-gods or variety of hells in Buddhism
  • Buddhism does not engender the concept of or belief in soul reincarnation
  • Pali is the presiding script of Buddhism even from Buddha's time
  • Zen, euphoric self-gratification and aimless meditation all are equally endorsed by Buddhism
All of the above are underlying, yes, undermining buddhism and lying about its truth.

Gautama Buddha, born as Prince Siddhartha to King Shuddodana and Queen Maaya in Kapilavastu, is himself considered one of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu by North India and a sizeable population of South India. That his mother saw a six tusked white elephant enter her womb to conceive as a child with 32 virtuous signs on his person, is in itself a proof of Buddha's inherent greatness. It is not totally baseless to claim he is but one of the many Buddhas in a long succession who appear on Earth to emancipate humanity from dukkha or misery. But today's buddhism is merely a subtle hypnotic indoctrination about the culture of the nations that export it as their bonafide religion. That is the reason we see a pre-eminence acceded to other languages, prominently Pali (and not Sanskrit, rightfully), as well as an inordinate obsession with flavors of Buddhism like Hinayana, Mahayana and Theraveda. Not to be outdone is the propaganda of elevating those considered either disciples of Buddha or exotically named precursors, popping out of nowhere merely to whet the pseudo-spiritual appetite of the eagerly deceived.

Buddhism can be considered as an offshoot of Hinduism, more as a reformist version. Gautama Buddha detested animal sacrifice which was an un-vedic edict prevalent during his times and was a clever ruse of certain north indian brahmin sects, in order to maintain a stranglehold on the vedic society. Buddha's passion for truth and compassion for people prompted him to restate the Vedas in their true wisdom and to make it simple enough to reach the common man. Buddha, after achieving enlightenment (or buddhahood), preached Nirvana as the final goal of human emancipation. Buddha had no compelling urge to replace Hinduism with his own brand. Even in the world of Buddhist teaching, there is a concept of the formidable enemy "Mara", hundreds of hells, a judge of the dead, demi-gods in war with demons, as well the trimurtis and tridevis. Entrenched deeply in the finality of the Vedas and not entirely disowning god-based iconography, Gautama Buddha hardly fits the image of a Naastika, let alone anti-god. It is even mentioned in Buddhist texts that he had counselled the gods on true liberation. It is then absolutely no wonder as to how an enlightened human and his teaching evolved into a myth eventually. This is what we are experts at - envelope a myth over a purported mystery, when it actually harkens to a deficiency in our own understanding about enlightenment.

If at all you think I am totally off track here in my presentation about Buddhism, please spare some time to read this illuminating article  UNDERSTANDING BUDDHISM THROUGH ANCIENT INDIAN SCRIPT where Dr. Satkari Mukhopadyay dispels all aspersions and myths around the real Buddhism.

I rest my case, my Lord!

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