Gautama Buddha in Hinduism

Gautama Buddha in Hinduism is viewed as an Avatar of Vishnu. In the Puranic text Bhagavata Purana, he is twenty fourth of twenty five avatars, prefiguring a forthcoming final incarnation. [ [ Bhagavata Purana, Canto 1, Chapter 3] - SB 1.3.24: "Then, in the beginning of Kali-yuga, the Lord will appear as Lord Buddha, the son of Anjana, in the province of Gaya, just for the purpose of deluding those who are envious of the faithful theist." ... SB 1.3.28: "All of the above-mentioned incarnations [avatars] are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord [Krishna or Vishnu] " ] A number of Hindu traditions portray Buddha as the most recent of ten principal avatars, known as the "Dasavatara" ("Ten Incarnations of God"). The Buddhist Dasharatha Jataka (Jataka Atthakatha 461) represents Rama as a previous incarnation of the Buddha as a Bodhisattva and supreme Dharma King of great wisdom.

Siddhartha Gautama's teachings deny the authority of the Vedas and consequently Buddhism is generally viewed as a "nāstika" school (heterodox, literally "It is not so" [ "in Sanskrit philosophical literature, 'āstika' means 'one who believes in the authority of the Vedas' or 'one who believes in life after death'. ('nāstika' means the opposite of these). The word is used here in the first sense." Satischandra Chatterjee and Dhirendramohan Datta. An Introduction to Indian Philosophy. Eighth Reprint Edition. (University of Calcutta: 1984). p. 5, footnote 1.] ) from the perspective of orthodox Hinduism.

Views of the Buddha in Hinduism

Due to the diversity of traditions within Hinduism there is no specific viewpoint or consensus on the Buddha's exact position in reference to the Vedic tradition:

In the Dasavatara-stotra section of his Gita Govinda, the influential Vaishnava poet Jayadeva Goswami (13th C AD) includes the Buddha amongst the ten principle avatars of Vishnu and writes a prayer regarding him as follows:

O Keshava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of Buddha! All glories to You! O Buddha of compassionate heart, you decry the slaughtering of poor animals performed according to the rules of Vedic sacrifice. [ [ Dasavatara stotra] ]

This viewpoint of the Buddha as an avatar who primarily promoted non-violence (ahimsa) remains a popular belief amongst a number of modern Vaishnava organisations, including ISKCON. [ [ Lecture 1974 by founder of ISKCON - A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada] "Because people were addicted so much in violence, in killing the animals, therefore Buddha philosophy was needed"']

Other prominent modern proponents of Hinduism, such as Radhakrishnan and Vivekananda, consider the Buddha as a teacher of the same universal truth that underlies all religions of the world:

Vivekananda: May He who is the Brahman of the Hindus, the Ahura Mazda of Zoroastrians, the Buddha of Buddhists, the Jehovah of the Jews, the Father in Heavens of Christians, give strength to you to carry out your noble ideas! [ Hinduism, in The World's Parliament of Religions, J. H. Barrows (Ed.), Vol. II, Chicago 1893, p. 978. ]

Radhakrishnan: If a Hindu chants the Vedas on the banks of the Ganges, ... if the Japanese worship the image of Buddha, if the European is convinced of Christ's mediatorship, if the Arab reads the Koran in the mosque ... It is their deepest apprehension of God and God's fullest revelation to them. [ Eastern Religions and Western Thought, New York 1969, pp. 326–7.]

Within Hinduism, avatars such as Rama or Krishna are popularly worshipped as the Supreme God, but it is much less common to find Buddha the avatar being worshipped by Hindus in the same way.

Reaction to reforms instigated by the Buddha within Hinduism

A number of revolutionary figures in modern Hinduism, including Gandhi have been inspired by the life and teachings of the Buddha and many of his attempted reforms. [ [ Mahatma Gandhi and Buddhism] ]

Buddhism finds favor in contemporary Hindutva movement, with Lama Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama being honored at Hindu events, like the Vishva Hindu Parishad's second World Hindu Conference in Allahabad in 1979. [McKean, Lise: Divine Enterprise. Gurus and the Hindu Nationalist Movement. Chicago University Press, 1996. Elst, Koenraad: Who is a Hindu (2001)]

The Buddha in Hindu scriptures

Amongst the Puranic texts he is mentioned as one of the ten Avataras of Vishnu.

The Buddha is described in important Hindu scriptures, including the Puranas. A partial list of Puranas mentioning the Buddha is as follows:

*Harivamsha (1.41)
*Vishnu Purana (3.18)
*Bhagavata Purana (1.3.24, 2.7.37, 11.4.23) [ [ Bhagavata Purana 1.3.24] ]
*Garuda Purana (1.1, 2.30.37, 3.15.26) [Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi 1982.]
*Agni Purana (16)
*Narada Purana (2.72)
*Linga Purana (2.71)
*Padma Purana (3.252) etc. (Dhere Ramchandra Chintaman) [Dhere Ramchandra Chintaman, Shri Vitthal: ek maha samanvaya, Shri Vidya Prakashan, Pune, 1984 (Marathi)]

Another important scriptures which mention him is an Avatar is Rishi Parashara's "Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra" (2:1-5/7).

In some of the Puranas, he is described as having taken birth to "mislead the demons":

::IAST|mohanārthaṃ dānavānāṃ bālarūpī pathi-sthitaḥ
::IAST|putraṃ taṃ kalpayām āsa mūḍha-buddhir jinaḥ svayam |
::IAST|tataḥ saṃmohayām āsa jinādyān asurāṃśakān
::IAST|bhagavān vāgbhir ugrābhir ahiṃsā-vācibhir hariḥ |
- attributed to Brahmanda Purana

Translation: "In order to delude the demons, he (Lord Buddha) was present in the form of a child on the way while the foolish Jina (a demon), imagined him to be his son. Later on, Lord Sri Hari (as avatara-buddha) expertly deluded Jina and other demons by his strong words of non-violence."

In the Srimad Bhagavatam Buddha is said to have taken birth to restore the "deva"s to power:

::IAST|tataḥ kalau sampravṛtte sammohāya sura-dviṣām
::IAST|buddho nāmnāñjana-sutaḥ kīkateṣu bhaviṣyati |
- (srimad-bhagavatam 1.3.24)

Translation: "Then, in the beginning of Kali-yuga [he] will become the Buddha by name, the son of Anjana, in Bihar, for the purpose of confusing those who were enemies of the devas." [ [ Bhagavata Purana 1.3.24] ]

In many Puranas, the Buddha is described as an incarnation of Vishnu who incarnated in order to delude either demons or mankind away from the Vedic dharma. The Bhavishya Purana contains the following:

At this time, reminded of the Kali Age, the god Vishnu became born as Gautama, the Shakyamuni, and taught the Buddhist dharma for ten years. Then Shuddodana ruled for twenty years, and Shakyasimha for twenty. At the first stage of the Kali Age, the path of the Vedas was destroyed and all men became Buddhists. Those who sought refuge with Vishnu were deluded. [Wendy O'Flaherty, "Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology." University of California Press, 1976, page 203.]

The Buddha avatar, which occurs in different versions in various Puranas, may represent an attempt by orthodox Brahminism to slander the Buddhists by identifying them with the demons. [O'Flaherty, page 200.] Helmuth von Glasenapp attributed these developments to a Hindu desire to absorb Buddhism in a peaceful manner, both to win Buddhists to Vaishnavism and also to account for the fact that such a significant heresy could exist in India. [von Glasenapp 1962 page 113, cited in O'Flaherty, page 206.] However, it is also likely that the buddha referenced in the Puranas is another buddha, different from the Buddha.Fact|date=September 2008 As stated in the Lankavatara sutra, the demon Jina's son was also a buddha and was prayed to by the demon Ravana, the king of Lanka, whose death at the hands of Rama predated the birth of the Buddha.Fact|date=September 2008

ee also

*Buddhism and Hinduism
*God in Buddhism
*Indian religions


External links

* [ Buddha: The Refiner of Hinduism?] (
* [ The Buddha as an Avatar of Vishnu] (article by A. Seshan from The Times of India)
* [ Mahatma Gandhi and Buddhism] (pdf file)

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