Debating the Buddha

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

Debating the Buddha

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:32 pm

Greetings,

In the Sutta Pitaka we see the Buddha having many debates with ascetics and wanderers from other spiritual traditions. Accordingly, the debates and their outcomes are always presented from the Buddhist perspective.

Did any other spiritual traditions keep their own records of debates that took place between their own spritual leaders and the Buddha and his disciples?

If so, do you have any examples you could share?

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Debating the Buddha

Postby bodom » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:41 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

In the Sutta Pitaka we see the Buddha having many debates with ascetics and wanderers from other spiritual traditions. Accordingly, the debates and their outcomes are always presented from the Buddhist perspective.

Did any other spiritual traditions keep their own records of debates that took place between their own spritual leaders and the Buddha and his disciples?

If so, do you have any examples you could share?

Metta,
Retro. :)


If they did i doubt they would keep record of the debates they lost to the Buddha :tongue: Nobody messes with Buddha :thumbsup:

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Debating the Buddha

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:47 pm

Greetings,

bodom wrote:If they did i doubt they would keep record of the debates they lost to the Buddha :tongue: Nobody messes with Buddha :thumbsup:


Yeah, he da man!

;)

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Debating the Buddha

Postby bodom » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:52 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

bodom wrote:If they did i doubt they would keep record of the debates they lost to the Buddha :tongue: Nobody messes with Buddha :thumbsup:


Yeah, he da man!

;)

Metta,
Retro. :)


That is a very interesting question though, something ive never looked into and would be very intrigued to read if there was. I think it would give another historical look at the Buddha other than what we have learned from the tipitaka.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Debating the Buddha

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:03 pm

I dont think there is, I am sure (99% at best) I have read in general religion books that no mention of the Buddha is in the Jain texts or elsewhere.


but he is the Best! definitely not the Boss.
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Re: Debating the Buddha

Postby Kare » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:08 pm

I think I have heard that the Jains have some records of those debates - where of course the Jain always is the winner ... :roll:

But this may be nothing but a rumor - and I have no idea where I might have picked it up.

There is, however, a book collecting dust in my shelves, titled "Buddhism as presented by the Brahmanical systems", which might be of interest. I have not read it yet (I'm suffering from ganthalobha - buying more books than I get around to read) - but I see that it contains writings from the classical Brahmanical literature. I doubt any of them go all the way back to Buddha himself.
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Re: Debating the Buddha

Postby SDC » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:36 pm

Interesting question, Retro. It would definitely be interesting to see if there is a record. I imagine it would be hard to find. A long line of humble people would have had to ensure the protection of that information.

Because quite a few of those that debated with the Buddha became followers after losing, so there would be no need for them to ensure that it was documented (to be remembered) in the teachings of their previous religion. As for those that were disgraced and did not seek refuge, they probably did not go back and report the facts accurately anyway. Even if they did, those that became interested in the Buddha after hearing of his wisdom probably sought him out to become followers. Those that were uninterested probably tried to forget the story that same day and also made sure that no one spread the word.
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Re: Debating the Buddha

Postby withoutcolour » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:41 pm

I believe most of the debates recorded by other folks go a little like this:

"Nuh uh."
"Uh HUH."
"Nuh uh."
"YUH HUH."
"Nuh uh TIMES A THOUSAND."
"Yuh huh times INFINITY."
"Nuh uh times infinity PLUS ONE."
" :tantrum: "

But that's only what the OFFICIAL texts say.
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Re: Debating the Buddha

Postby fig tree » Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:27 am

Kare wrote:I think I have heard that the Jains have some records of those debates - where of course the Jain always is the winner ... :roll:

But this may be nothing but a rumor - and I have no idea where I might have picked it up.

There was a previous thread here http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1955&p=25752&hilit=jain#p25752, and I almost could have sworn I read either here or on e-sangha about someone who reported a debate where they believed one of their own tradition beat the Buddha.

Kare wrote:There is, however, a book collecting dust in my shelves, titled "Buddhism as presented by the Brahmanical systems", which might be of interest. I have not read it yet (I'm suffering from ganthalobha - buying more books than I get around to read) - but I see that it contains writings from the classical Brahmanical literature. I doubt any of them go all the way back to Buddha himself.

Another year's worth of dust, eh?

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Re: Debating the Buddha

Postby pt1 » Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:01 am

fig tree wrote:...and I almost could have sworn I read either here or on e-sangha about someone who reported a debate where they believed one of their own tradition beat the Buddha.


Yes, I think I remember this too. I think it was a debate between a Jain and various buddhist characters in succession (I think Sariputta was included), ending with the Buddha, and the Jain won every time. However, if I remember right, the Buddha, Sariputta and others were arguing from a Mahayana point of view, so at the time I didn't take the debate as a big deal.

It would be interesting to know if perhaps Jains preserved debates between the Buddha and Mahavira, as I think they were contemporaries. The book that Dmytro suggested (in the thread that fig tree linked) might have something on it.

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Re: Debating the Buddha

Postby adeh » Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:32 am

Ven. Sujato in "A History of Mindfulness" says on page 149:the Jains themselves preserve a tradition that the Buddha spent time as a Jain ascetic.
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Re: Debating the Buddha

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:42 am

i remember reading once that Sariputta is mentioned in texts from other sects, either hindu or jain... but not buddha, which is interesting as he died before the buddha, i cant seem to find where i read that though and have been thinking about it a bit lately...
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Re: Debating the Buddha

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:53 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:i remember reading once that Sariputta is mentioned in texts from other sects, either hindu or jain... but not buddha, which is interesting as he died before the buddha, i cant seem to find where i read that though and have been thinking about it a bit lately...


A late Jain text states that they thought that "buddhism" (sic - not an Indic word) was led by two people, Gautama who emphasized wisdom (?) and Sariputra who emphasized compassion. May stand corrected on those last two points, though.

Earlier Jain stuff makes mention, too, you can check Gombrich's recent "What the Buddha Thought", for some details.
Or, I'd also have a peek into Basham's "Ajivikas", as well.
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Re: Debating the Buddha

Postby appicchato » Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:03 pm

pt1 wrote:...the Buddha, Sariputta and others were arguing from a Mahayana point of view...


?...
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Re: Debating the Buddha

Postby Heavenstorm » Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:45 pm

Vedantas too like to proclaim their own victories and how their fore fathers like Adi Shankara defeated and "annihilated" the "misguided" schools of Buddhism from India. On the other hand, Theravadins' cousins, Mahayanists have a couple of "historical records" on the repeated defeats of Adi Shankra by Dharmakirti (or Dharmapala?) over a course of three lifetimes or more. Should I mention the Muslims and Christians as well?

Morale of the story: No one like being a loser........... :)
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Re: Debating the Buddha

Postby seanpdx » Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:32 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

In the Sutta Pitaka we see the Buddha having many debates with ascetics and wanderers from other spiritual traditions. Accordingly, the debates and their outcomes are always presented from the Buddhist perspective.

Did any other spiritual traditions keep their own records of debates that took place between their own spritual leaders and the Buddha and his disciples?

If so, do you have any examples you could share?


From what I've read, there are no recorded conversations between the Buddha and Mahavira. Furthermore, there are no recorded discussions in (early?) jain literature with the Buddha. There apparently are, however, discussions recorded in jain literature with disciples of the Buddha.

As far as "contemporary" records go, the jains would be the only legitimate source to the best of my knowledge. Bronkhorst may have some info on this, as well as Gombrich (mentioned previously). I can peruse some of my sources when I get a bit more time if you like, if nobody beats me to it.
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Re: Debating the Buddha

Postby Kare » Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:54 pm

This has maybe only an indirect relevance to the question, but there is a Jain text, Paesi-kahanayam, which has many similarities with the Payasi-sutta (DN 23). This is a debate on the soul, and it is one of the most entertaining texts in the DN. The text of the Buddhist sutta is a dialogue between the Buddhist monk, Kumara-Kassapa, and governor Payasi. The commentary says it took place some time after the death of the Buddha. One interesting point is that Indian names often have a meaning. In Pali the name Payasi has no clear meaning. But in the Jain text the same person is called Paesi. In Ardha-Magadhi, the language of the Jain text, the name Paesi can easily be seen as Sanskrit Pradeshin, which means "District Governor" - which is what Paesi/Payasi was. Therefore the story may originally be a Jain story, written in Ardha-Magadhi. Some Buddhist editor then may have borrowed the story, making some changes to make it Buddhist, and just transferred the name Paesi into Pali > Payasi. If the original had been in Pali, we might have expected the name to be Pradeshin > Padesi. Therefore, this text may be evidence of borrowing and cross-influences between the different religious schools in ancient India.

As mentioned, the Payasi-sutta is an entertaining text with many interesting parables. In the debate the Buddhist monk argues strongly in favor of the existence of a soul (and of course he wins the debate), and this may also be an indication to an 'external', non-Buddhist, origin of the sutta.
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Re: Debating the Buddha

Postby pt1 » Thu Jan 28, 2010 5:06 am

appicchato wrote:
pt1 wrote:...the Buddha, Sariputta and others were arguing from a Mahayana point of view...


?...

Hi Bhante, I guess I didn't explain this properly - my impression on reading the discussion was that the argument between a Jain and Sariputta/Buddha was based on Mahayana buddhism terminology and understanding, and so had very little to do with Theravada. Whether that means that the discussion recorded in Jain texts was much later than the time of the Buddha, or that it was just a historically inaccurate Jain story, I don't know. I tried looking for that e-sangha thread on Wayback machine, but no luck.

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Re: Debating the Buddha

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Jan 28, 2010 7:51 am

I don't know the answer to the OP's question but with all these posts about how the Buddha beat the opposition surely the point of each these debates is the teaching that that they illustrate, not who ended up the winner and who ended up the loser.
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