Buddhism: a Development and Challenge to Vedic Philosophy

Buddhist teachings are for the benefit of all humankind thus they try to offer practical guidance to the important question of man’s liberation. To attain this liberation, Buddhism borrowed heavily on Vedic philosophy but differed with it on other teachings and practices.

Vedic philosophy had a big impact on Buddhism in that it paved the way for rejection of external symbols and distortions towards the nurture of morality and foundations of the way of life such as law of karma, rebirth, and emphasis on morality (Huineng, Price, & Wong 2005, p 56). While Buddhism took up the moral precepts of Vedas, it failed to address the foundations of metaphysics convincingly. 

In Buddhism the awakening of faith is accredited to (Ashvaghosha, p. 4) regarded as the eleventh of the twenty three successors of Shakyamuni. In addition, the denouncement of caste-system based on birth and non-violence can be attributed to the Vedic philosophy. Max Müller and Navlakha, (2000) note that in Upanishad (p. 2), Buddhism emphasis on meditation to attain nirvana and the four cardinal truths on life, desire, suffering, and cessation is adopted from Yoga Darshan which is based on Vedic philosophy. The Vedic philosophy taught the illusionistic a cosmism with true reality being only the eternally redeemed, awakened, and the eternally pure which were adopted in Buddhism. Buddhism advocates for living a virtuous life, though through the mean which stresses avoiding extremes like asceticism whereby one is not to do any evil and should cultivate good in order to purify their mind, this forms another foundation for which the Vedic philosophy was based on (Max Muller & Oldenberg 1979, p. 44). 

Buddhism challenged and criticized the Vedic philosophy in the conception of deliverance since Vedas saw deliverance as a manifestation of a state that has been in existence since time immemorial while Buddhist saw nirvana as the reality differing from the Dharma, the impersonal and evanescent process, and manifested in Samsara and becomes effective upon their abolishment (Max Muller & Oldenberg 1979, p. 37). As Vedas tried to penetrate to the last reality dwelling within them as the seed out of which everything arose, Buddhism wished to leave all sensations, volitions, perceptions, and conscious acts in order to attain a state of bliss. Moreover, Buddhism is based on the belief that everything has to be characterized as being without independent existence.



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