A response to Vipulamsa Varnyagunojjwala
This piece is disputing the following article on Medium: https://medium.com/@Paratpara/was-gautama-buddha-a-hindu-11b5468a2b3e
Varnyagunojjwala doesn’t seem to have much of a knowledge of history in Ancient India:
- Buddha “abandoning” his family was normal for Kshatriya princes at the time as they were expected to go on a journey of self-discovery. Buddha was not the first nor the last person to do this. They would go on a journey for a few years and return more learned. This was a very normal practice during the 800 – 400 BCE era of Northern India:
Probably it was the riches of India that produced the epicureanism and materialism of the seventh and sixth centuries before Christ. Religion does not prosper under prosperity; the senses liberate themselves from pious restraints, and formulate philosophies that will justify their liberation. As in the China of Confucius and the Greece of Protagoras—not to speak of our own day—so in Buddha’s India the intellectual decay of the old religion had begotten ethical scepticism and moral anarchy. Jainism and Buddhism, though impregnated with the melancholy atheism of a disillusioned age, were religious reactions against the hedonistic creeds of an “emancipated” and worldly leissure class.II
Durant, Will. Our Oriental Heritage: The Story of Civilization, Volume I (pp. 524-525). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
IV. THE TEACHING OF BUDDHA
Portrait of the Master—His methods—The Four Noble Truths—The Eightfold Way—The Five Moral Rules—Buddha and Christ—Buddha’s agnosticism and anti-clericalism—His Atheism—His soul-less psychology—The meaning of “Nirvana”
Like the other teachers of his time, Buddha taught through conversation, lectures, and parables. Since it never occurred to him, any more than to Socrates or Christ, to put his doctrine into writing, he summarized it in sutras (“threads”) designed to prompt the memory. As preserved for us in the remembrance of his followers these discourses unconsciously portray for us the first distinct character in India’s history: a man of strong will, authoritative and proud, but of gentle manner and speech, and of infinite benevolence. He claimed “enlightenment,” but not inspiration; he never pretended that a god was speaking through him. In controversy he was more patient and considerate than any other of the great teachers of mankind. His disciples, perhaps idealizing him, represented him as fully practising ahimsa: “putting away the killing of living things, Gautama the recluse holds aloof from the destruction of life. He” (once a Kshatriya warrior) “has laid the cudgel and the sword aside, and ashamed of roughness, and full of mercy, he dwells compassionate and kind to all creatures that have life. . . . Putting away slander, Gautama holds himself aloof from calumny. . . . Thus does he live as a binder-together of those who are divided, an encourager of those who are friends, a peacemaker, a lover of peace, impassioned for peace, a speaker of words that make for peace.”36
Durant, Will. Our Oriental Heritage: The Story of Civilization, Volume I (p. 531). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
- The context of the Buddha’s time is also important. Northern India had philosophical atheism be the dominant philosophy in ancient India. Hinduism was fading at the time and the Buddha saw his movement as a return to Vedic Dharma in an effort to quash Charvaka philosophy’s notions of pleasure-pain principle. The Charvakas were the dominant philosophical position during Buddha’s time; not Vedic Dharma.
Please see, Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant:
- Varnyagunojjwala has provided no sources for his “excerpts” at all. I searched the latter two quotes and I have found no evidence to support they’re even true. Those “excerpts of the Buddha” seem to have been made-up by him alone. Why does he not have any citations for his Buddha “excerpts”? Without credible citations, he hasn’t shown that he’s concerned with the evidentiary value of his statements.
- Furthermore, he doesn’t even seem to understand there’s a difference in sect between Buddha’s Theravada and the latter Mahayana Branches which each have different sub-sections. Vastly different sub-sections at that, yet he wrongfully portrayed Mahayana Buddhism as monolithic.
- Ramayana is not Shruti, it’s Smriti, which can be re-contextualized and is a natural part of Vedic Dharma. He acts as if it is part of Shruti, when it is not.
- Buddhism having parallel words to Hinduism would simply make it a different sect of Hinduism, not a different faith. His commentary on this point makes absolutely no sense.
- His claim the Greek Polity had no culture and then claim they had a culture and vicariously supported Buddhism to “remove Hinduism” is not supported by the evidence. Archaeological research from Indian archaeologists have found that within Gandharian society Hindus were respected equally, treated well, and supporting synchronization efforts.
Innovative years on the borders of India
There was a succession of more than thirty Hellenistic kings, often in conflict with each other, from 180 BC to around 10 CE. This era is known as the Indo-Greek kingdom in the pages of history. The kingdom was founded when the Greco-Bactrian King Demetrius invaded India in 180 BCE, ultimately creating an entity which seceded from the powerful Greco-Bactrian kingdom centred in Bactria (today’s northern Afghanistan). Since the term “Indo-Greek Kingdom” loosely described a number of various dynastic polities, it had several capitals, but the city of Taxila in modern Pakistan was probably among the earliest seats of local Hellenic rulers, though cities like Pushkalavati and Sagala (apparently the largest of such residences) would house a number of dynasties in their times.
During the two centuries of their rule, the Indo-Greek kings combined the Greek and Indian languages and symbols, as seen on their coins, and blended ancient Greek, Hindu and Buddhist religious practices, as seen in the archaeological remains of their cities and in the indications of their support of Buddhism. The Indo-Greek kings seem to have achieved a level of cultural syncretism with no equivalent in history, the consequences of which are still felt today, particularly through the diffusion and influence of Greco-Buddhist art.
According to Indian sources, Greek (“Yavana“) troops seem to have assisted Chandragupta Maurya in toppling the Nanda Dynasty and founding the Mauryan Empire. By around 312 BCE Chandragupta had established his rule in large parts of the north-western Indian territories as well.
In 303 BCE, Seleucus I led an army to the Indus, where he encountered Chandragupta. Chandragupta and Seleucus finally concluded an alliance. Seleucus gave him his daughter in marriage, ceded the territories of Arachosia (modern Kandahar), Herat, Kabul and Makran. He in turn received from Chandragupta 500 war elephant which he used decisively at the Battle of Ipsus.
The peace treaty, and “an intermarriage agreement” (Epigamia, Greek: Επιγαμια), meaning either a dynastic marriage or an agreement for intermarriage between Indians and Greeks was a remarkable first feat in this campaign.
- I’ve found no evidence he holds any credible credentials to even be speaking on these historic matters. I was willing to forgo that, because I thought he had evidence, but he has not a single citation for any of his claims nor source links for anything that he writes. So far as the current evidence provided, I don’t think he’s very credible and he seems to have an unhealthy hatred for Buddhism.
 “The Buddhist Schools: Theravada and Mahayana.” Do Buddhist Believe in God?, www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhistworld/schools1.htm
 Ghose, Sanujit. “Cultural Links between India & the Greco-Roman World.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 30 Apr. 2019, www.ancient.eu/article/208/cultural-linksbetween-india–the-greco-roman-worl/.