Bhagavadgita Pages, Chapters 1 to 18
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Buddhism according to Vivekananda
Here is what Swami Vivekananda says about The Buddha and Buddhism: These are his words and his words only.
Caution: Swami Vivekananda a Hindu Spiritual teacher (January 12, 1863--July 4, 1902) is revered throughout India and indeed the world over for his intellect, erudition, and the introduction of Vedanta and Yoga in Europe and America. If you are looking for political correctness, this is not the place for you and you won't find it in his teachings, opinions and observations.
Hinduism spawned Buddhism, one of the Great Religions of the world. Here is what Vivekananda (January 12, 1863--July 4, 1902) says about Buddhism. The words are his and his alone. Some statements in these passages may be disturbing to some readers. But this is history. This is Vivekananda-- pure, perfect, pristine, and unadulterated-- who speaks his mind unafraid.
The following is an extract from Wikipedia about Swami Vivekananda.
Swami Vivekananda (Bengali: স্বামী বিবেকানন্দ, Shami Bibekānondo; Hindi: स्वामी विवेकानन्द, Svāmi Vivekānanda) (January 12, 1863–July 4, 1902), born Narendranath Dutta is the chief disciple of the 19th century mystic Ramakrishna and the founder of Ramakrishna Mission. He is considered a key figure in the introduction of Vedanta and Yoga in Europe and America and is also credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a world religion during the end of the 19th Century. Vivekananda is considered to be a major force in the revival of Hinduism in modern India. He is best known for his inspiring speech beginning with "sisters and brothers of America", through which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World's Religions at Chicago in 1893.
Swami Vivekananda was born in an aristocratic Kayastha family of Calcutta in 1863. His parents influenced the Swami's thinking—the father by his rational mind and the mother by her religious temperament. From his childhood, he showed inclination towards spirituality and God realization. While searching for a man who could directly demonstrate the reality of God, he came to Ramakrishna and became his disciple. As a guru Ramakrishna taught him Advaita Vedanta and that all religions are true, and service to man was the most effective worship of God. After the death of his Guru, he became a wandering monk touring the Indian subcontinent and getting a first hand account of India's condition. He later sailed to Chicago and represented India as a delegate in the 1893 Parliament of World religions. An eloquent speaker, Vivekananda was invited to several forums in United States and spoke at universities and clubs. He conducted several public and private lectures, disseminating Vedanta, Yoga and Hinduism in America, England and few other countries in Europe. He also established Vedanta societies in America and England. He later sailed back to India and in 1897 he founded the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, a philanthropic and spiritual organization. Swami Vivekananda is regarded as one of India's foremost nation-builders. His teachings influenced the thinking of other national leaders and philosophers, like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, Aurobindo Ghosh, Radhakrishnan.
Swami Vivekananda belongs to Kayastha family.
kAya = काय in Sanskrit and காயம் (KAyam) in Tamil refer to body; காயம் has other meanings too.
Going by present knowledge, genetics and evolution, the origin of the castes from various body parts of a deity appears unscientific and open for question. That being so, You, I, He and She are not born from the various body parts of the deity. Our true ancestors - that is of the humanity- are the African Adam and African Eve in scientific and genetic terms. Why are we still insisting that we have the supreme halo of the Saptarishis and their disciples as our ancestors. This gotra game is self-cheating, self-aggrandizing, self-elevating, self-important put-down of other castes.
Works of Swami Vivekananda Volume 3 [ Page :
525 ] BUDDHISTIC INDIA
When Buddha was born, he was so pure that whosoever looked at his face from a distance immediately gave up the ceremonial religion and became a monk and became saved. So the gods held a meeting. They said, "We are undone." Because most of the gods live upon the ceremonials. These sacrifices go to the gods and these sacrifices were all gone. The gods were dying of hunger and [the reason for] it was that their power was gone. So the gods said: "We must, anyhow, put this man down. He is too pure for our life". And then the gods came and said: "Sir, we come to ask you something. We want to make a great sacrifice and we mean to make a huge fire, and we have been seeking all over the world for a pure spot to light the fire on and could not find it, and now we have found it. If you will lie down, on your breast we will make the huge fire." "Granted," he says, "go on." And the gods built the fire high upon the breast of Buddha, and they thought he was dead, and he was not. And then they went about and said, "We are undone." And all the gods began to strike him. No good. They could not kill him. From underneath the voice comes: "Why [are you] making all these vain attempts?" "Whoever looks upon you becomes purified and is saved, and nobody is going to worship us." "Then, your attempt is vain, because purity can never be killed." This fable was written by his enemies, and yet throughout the fable the only blame that attaches to Buddha is that he was so great a teacher of purity.
Volume 3, Page 527: You see that non-killing of animals and charity towards animals was an already existing doctrine when he (The Buddha) was born; but it was new with him -- the breaking down of caste, that tremendous movement. And the other thing that was new: he took forty of his disciples and sent them all over the world, saying, "Go ye; mix with all races and nations and preach the excellent gospel for the good of all, for the benefit of all." And of course, he was not molested by the Hindus. He died at a ripe old age. All his life he was a most stern man: he never yielded to weakness. I do not believe many of his doctrines; of course, I do not. I believe that the Vedantism of the old Hindus is much more thoughtful, is a grander philosophy of life. I like his method of work, but what I like [most] in that man is that, among all the prophets of mankind, here was a man who never had any cobwebs in his brain, and [who was] sane and strong. When kingdoms were at his feet, he was still the same man, maintaining, "I am a man amongst men."
Those last dying words of his always thrilled through my heart. He was old, he was suffering, he was near his death, and then came the despised outcaste -- he lives on carrion, dead animals; the Hindus would not allow them to come into cities -- one of these invited him to a dinner and he came with his disciples, and the poor Chanda, he wanted to treat this great teacher according to what he thought would be best; so he had a lot of pig's flesh and a lot of rice for him, and Buddha looked at that.
The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda Volume 3 [ Page : 528 ] BUDDHISTIC INDIA
The disciples were all [hesitating], and the Master said: "Well, do not eat, you will be hurt." But he quietly sat down and ate. The teacher of equality must eat the [outcaste] Chanda's dinner, even the pig's flesh. He sat down and ate it.
He was already dying. He found death coming on, and he said, "Spread for me something under this tree, for I think the end is near." And he was there under the tree, and he laid himself down; he could not sit up any more. And the first thing he did, he said: "Go to that Chanda and tell him that he has been one of my greatest benefactors; for his meal, I am going to Nirvana." And then several men came to be instructed, and a disciple said, "Do not go near now, the Master is passing away." And as soon as he heard it, the Lord said, "Let them come in." And somebody else came and the disciples would not [let them enter]. Again they came, and then the dying Lord said: "And O, thou Ananda, I am passing away. Weep not for me. Think not for me. I am gone. Work out diligently your own salvation. Each one of you is just what I am. I am nothing but one of you. What I am today is what I made myself. Do you struggle and make yourselves what I am. . . ."
These are the memorable words of Buddha: "Believe not because an old book is produced as an authority. Believe not because your father said [you should] believe the same. Believe not because other people like you believe it. Test everything, try everything, and then believe it, and if you find it for the good of many, give it to all." And with these words, the Master passed away.
See the sanity of the man. No gods, no angels, no demons -- nobody. Nothing of the kind. Stern, sane, every brain - cell perfect and complete, even at the moment of death. No delusion. I do not agree with many of his doctrines. You may not. But in my opinion -- oh, if I had only one drop of that strength! The sanest philosopher the world ever saw.
The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda Volume 3 [ Page : 230 ] VEDANTA IN ITS APPLICATION TO INDIAN LIFE
The essence of Buddhism was all borrowed from the same Upanishads; even the ethics, the so-called great and wonderful ethics of Buddhism, were there word for word, in some one or other of the Upanishads.
The Complete Works of Swami
Vivekananda Volume 6 [ Page : 224-225 ] LETTERS
The Tantrika rites among the Tibetans that you have spoken of arose in India itself, during the decline of Buddhism. It is my belief that the Tantras, in vogueamongst us, were the creation of the Buddhists themselves. Those Tantrika rites are even more dreadful than our doctrine of Vamachara; for in them adultery got a free rein, and it was only when the Buddhists became demoralized through immorality that they were driven away by Kumarila Bhatta. As some Sannyasins speak of Shankara, or the Bauls of Shri Chaitanya, that he was in secret an epicure, a drunkard, and one addicted to all sorts of abominable practices -- so the modern Tantrika Buddhists speak of the Lord Buddha as a dire Vamachari and give an obscene interpretation to the many beautiful precepts of the Prajnaparamita, such as the Tattvagatha and the like. The result of all this has been that the Buddhists are divided into two sects nowadays; the Burmese and the Sinhalese have generally set the Tantras at naught, have likewise banished the Hindu gods and goddesses, and at the same time have thrown overboard the Amitabha Buddha held in regard among the Northern School of Buddhists. The long and the short of it is that the Amitabha Buddha and the other gods whom the Northern School worship are not mentioned in books like the Prajnaparamita, but a lot of gods and goddesses are recommended for worship. And the Southern people have willfully transgressed the Shastras and eschewed the gods and goddesses
Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda Volume 7
[ Page : 59 ] INSPIRED TALKS
Buddha was a great Vedantist (for Buddhism was really only an offshoot of Vedanta), and Shankara is often called a "hidden Buddhist". Buddha made the analysis, Shankara made the synthesis out of it. Buddha never bowed down to anything -- neither Veda, nor caste, nor priest, nor custom. He fearlessly reasoned so far as reason could take him. Such a fearless search for truth and such love for every living thing the world has never seen. Buddha was the Washington of the religious world; he conquered a throne only to give it to the world, as Washington did to the American people. He sought nothing for himself.
The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda Volume 4 [ Page : 136-137 ] ON LORD BUDDHA
He was the only man who was bereft of all motive power. There were other great men who all said they were the Incarnations of God Himself, and that those who would believe in them would go to heaven. But what did Buddha say with his dying breath? "None can help you; help yourself; work out your own salvation." He said about himself, "Buddha is the name of infinite knowledge, infinite as the sky; I, Gautama, have reached that state; you will all reach that too if you struggle for it." Bereft of all motive power, he did not want to go to heaven, did not want money; he gave up his throne and everything else and went about begging his bread through the streets of India, preaching for the good of men and animals with a heart as wide as the ocean.
He was the only man who was ever ready to give up his life for animals to stop a sacrifice. He once said to a king, "If the sacrifice of a lamb helps you to go to heaven, sacrificing a man will help you better; so sacrifice me." The king was astonished. And yet this man was without any motive power. He stands as the perfection of the active type, and the very height to which he attained shows that through the power of work we can also attain to the highest spirituality.
I wish I had one infinitesimal part of Buddha's heart. Buddha may or may not have believed in God; that does not matter to me. He reached the same state of perfection to which others come by Bhakti -- love of God -- Yoga, or Jnana. Perfection does not come from belief or faith. Talk does not count for anything. Parrots can do that. Perfection comes through the disinterested performance of action.
The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda Volume 4 [ Page : 462 ] MODERN INDIA
Without the Buddhist revolution what would have delivered the suffering millions of the lower classes from the violent tyrannies of the influential higher castes? When, in course of time, Buddhism declined and its extremely pure and moral character gave place to equally bad, unclean, and immoral practices, when Indian society trembled under the infernal dance of the various races of barbarians who were allowed into the Buddhistic fold by virtue of its universal all-embracing spirit of equality -- then
The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda Volume 3 [ Page : 264 ] THE SAGES OF INDIA
Thus, in spite of the preaching of mercy to animals, in spite of the sublime ethical religion, in spite of the hair-splitting discussions about the existence or non-existence of a permanent soul, the whole building of Buddhism tumbled down piecemeal (in India); and the ruin was simply hideous. I have neither the time nor the inclination to describe to you the hideousness that came in the wake of Buddhism. The most hideous ceremonies, the most horrible, the most obscene books that human hands ever wrote or the human brain ever conceived, the most bestial forms that ever passed under the name of religion, have all been the creation of degraded Buddhism.
The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda Volume 3 [ Page : 265 ] THE SAGES OF INDIA
But India has to live, and the spirit of the Lord descended again. He who declared, "I will come whenever virtue subsides", came again, and this time the manifestation was in the South, and up rose that young Brahmin of whom it has been declared that at the age of sixteen he had completed all his writings; the marvelous boy Shankaracharya arose. The writings of this boy of sixteen are the wonders of the modern world, and so was the boy. He wanted to bring back the Indian world to its pristine purity, but think of the amount of the task before him. I have told you a few points about the state of things that existed in India. All these horrors that you are trying to reform are the outcome of that reign of degradation
Shankara came, a great philosopher, and showed that the real essence of Buddhism and that of the Vedanta are not very different, but that the disciples did not understand the Master and have degraded themselves, denied the existence of the soul and of God, and have become atheists. That was what Shankara showed, and all the Buddhists began to come back to the old religion. But then they had become accustomed to all these forms; what could be done?
Then came the brilliant Ramanuja. Shankara, with his great intellect, I am afraid, had not as great a heart. Ramanuja's heart was greater. He felt for the downtrodden, he sympathised with them.