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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spiritual evolution theory

Today I exchanged e-mails with my friend Kṛṣṇadas about the spiritual evolution theory -

Dear Kṛṣṇadās, Rādhe Rādhe
"This whole story that Buddha rejected Hinduism to put an end to animal sacrifices, Shankar established māyāvāda to substitute Buddha's voidism and pave the way for Caitanya's bhakti movement, where does this originate? Does it come from Bhaktivinoda or is it also somewhere in Jīva or Baladeva's writings? And what do you think of the whole idea? Jay Rādhe! Advaitadas

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Dear Advaita, the theory that Buddha rejected Hinduism to put an end to animal sacrifices and that Shankar established māyāvāda to substitute Buddha's voidism is there in the Purāṇas, though not exactly spelled in this way. There is something in Agni Purāṇa and Skandha Purana. Jīva Goswāmī quotes some verses in the Sandarbhas that Shankara is Shiva himself who descended on Viṣṇu's order to mislead wicked people. Sankara is called pracchanna-bauddha in those verses. I am sure you know all this. I have never seen any statement in Purāṇas or anywhere else that Śankara would pave the way for Caitanya's bhakti-movement. There is a direct mention of Caitanya Mahāprabhu in a version of Bhaviṣya Purāṇa, but that is definitely a post-Caitanya text written probably in the 18th century. I personally doubt that Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa would be the father of the theory. Maybe it was Bhaktivinode, I don't have a clue. I personally am not very much in favor of such theories, though admittedly one can observe a certain development. Caitanya could not have appeared at the time when the anti-Vedic Buddhism was on its peak, His message would be hardly accepted. Only when people accepted the Vedic authority and Rāmānuja and Madhva, and in a way even Sankara, paved the way, Caitanya could start preaching His own philosophy.
Radhe, Radhe,kd

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