Is the doctrine of interdependent origination found in Vedas . What is real origin of this? I have heard of indra net .just curious


5 Answers 5


Joanna Jurewic would have tried to interpret Dependent Origination from the perspective of “Vedic thought", but what is important to you and I is to clearly understand what Dependent Origination (paticcasamupada) is. The Blessed One said that if you would be freed of dependant arising, if there is no dependant origination, there is no you in terms of that. When there is no you in terms of that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. Then you would be liberated”.

The doctrine of Paticcasamuppāda (Pāli); Dependant Arising is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of Buddhist metaphysics. It states that phenomena arise together in a mutually interdependent web of cause and effect. This is the understanding that any phenomenon ‘exists’ only because of the ‘existence’ of other phenomena in an incredibly complex web of cause and effect covering time past, time present and time future. Because all things are thus conditioned and transient (anicca), they have no real independent identity (anatta) so do not truly ‘exist’, though to ordinary deluded minds this appears to be the case. Simply stated this can be said as:

With this as condition, That arises. With this NOT as condition, That does NOT arise.

This "Coming to be, and Ceasing to be" is happening all the time. All phenomena are subject to this unending interaction. And since all phenomena are dependent on other phenomena, they are all transient and impermanent. Avidyā the first condition. And then because in this life one has been ignorant, and acted in such a way as to produce karma, the cycle continues. The realization one gets out of understanding of Paticca Samuppāda (the universal law of cause and effect) is the ability of seeing things in life according to cause and effect. Once a person acquires that skill, he will be able to free from the idea of ‘me’ by seeing it as a deceit (the true nature). Then, he understands that the concept of ‘me’ is just a (false) view.


The doctrine of (Inter) Dependent Origination is solely the doctrine of the Buddha & unrelated to the Vedas. If it was related to the Vedas there would be no Buddha and no Buddhism since the term 'Buddha' solely rests on the premise that the Buddha 'discovered' or 'was enlightened' to the previously unknown truths that lead to Nirvana (here-&-now perfect peace & freedom of suffering).

There are some secular scholars such as Joanna Jurewicz, Linda Blanchard & possibly Richard Gombrich that claim Dependent Origination is related to the Vedas in that: "the 12-nidana chain mirror the creation myth involving the deity Prajapati & the Buddha repurposed the Brahmanic creation myth ". This view is wrong & primarily arises from a misunderstanding of the term 'nama-rupa' (the 4th link in Dependent Origination). 'Nama-rupa' is a term that originates from the Vedas however the Buddha redefined the term to mean 'mentality-materiality' ('mind-body') instead of the Vedic 'name-form'.

Unfortunately, the majority of official Buddhist translators today, such as Bhikkhu Bodhi & Thanissaro Bhikkhu, while not sharing the Vedic views of Linda Blanchard, etc, also mistranslate 'nama-rupa' in Dependent Origination as 'name-form'. This mistranslation occurs because there are contexts in the Buddhist scriptures where the Buddha is answering questions to Brahmans who have no understanding of Buddhism thus in these contexts (but not in the context of Dependent Origination) the translation of 'name-form' is appropriate since it has the same meaning as found in the Vedas.

The real origin of Dependent Origination is described in the Maha Sakyamuni Gotamo Sutta, where, before his enlightenment, the Buddha-To-Be was searching for how suffering occurs.

The Buddha-To-Be asked himself: "Why do people suffer?" He replied: "People suffer due to change & loss; due to aging & death"...he continued...Why does aging-&-death occur? Because of 'birth' ('identity'). People self-identify themselves to be 'of this clan', 'of this family', 'this self' or 'this person'. Why does 'birth' occur? Due to becoming. People 'become' what they believe themselves to be. Why becoming? Attachment. The mind attaches to sense objects & pleasurable feelings. Why attachment? Craving. The mind craves for sense objects & pleasurable feelings. Why feelings? Sense contact. Why sense contact? Sense organs. Why sense organs? Having a body & mind. Why does a body & mind exist? Due to consciousness. Why does consciousness exist? Due to having a body & mind. Why is the body, mind & consciousness not at peace & primed to create its own suffering? Due to 'sankhara' ('inner formations'). Why sankhara? Ignorance.

In summary, those that claim Dependent Origination has its origin in the Vedas cannot be Buddhists (since they deny the Buddha's enlightenment) and simply do not understand how suffering comes to be & how suffering is extinguished (which is the sole purpose of Buddhism).

The Buddha declared: "What I teach now as before, O monks, is suffering and the cessation of suffering". Thus, the Buddha did not teach from the Vedas.

  • It's interesting what you say about namarupa and it sounds like there might be actual corroboration out there for it but it sounds like your own personal view when you say "those that claim Dependent Origination has its origin in the Vedas cannot be Buddhists". Why couldn't it be that they just have wrong view? Why can't they be Buddhists with wrongview?
    – Lowbrow
    Aug 10, 2016 at 22:49
  • 3
    Thanks. As I explained at the start, the word 'Buddha' means 'self-enlightened' or 'completely original'. If one believes the Buddha borrowed from Brahmanism to devise his central teaching of Dependent Origination then one cannot believe in the self-enlightened Buddha. Regards. Aug 10, 2016 at 23:14
  • It is only in recent years Bhikkhu Bodhi turned to using the translation of 'name-form'. Previously, with his mentors, he used 'materiality-mentality'. Further, in DN 15 (which is a departure from the many other suttas on Dependent Origination), the nama-rupa described there is 'name-form'. There are certainly contexts in the suttas where the translation 'name-form' applies. But as Bhikkhu Bodhi explains in his recent book, he decided to change the translation to 'name-form' in all contexts, Imo, this is incorrect because there two different contexts. Aug 10, 2016 at 23:19
  • “Don’t blindly believe what I say. Don’t believe me because others convince you of my words. Don’t believe anything you see, read, or hear from others, whether of authority, religious teachers or texts.”
    – Lowbrow
    Aug 11, 2016 at 6:48
  • The Buddha says not to believe a word we say. Not everyone is so logical when they believe things. People can believe some crazy stuff :)
    – Lowbrow
    Aug 11, 2016 at 6:52

The OP is asking about the possible link of the origin of Dependent Origination to the Vedas, based on Indra's net. Indra's net first appeared in the Atharva Veda.

The Buddhist use of Indra's net is found in the Avatamsaka Sutra, a Mahayana text, whose composition started at least 500 years after the passing of the Buddha. This is not an Early Buddhist Text, and in my opinion, does not contain the original teachings of the historical Buddha.

The idea of "interdependent origination" in the Avatamsaka Sutra is described as follows from the "Indra's net" wikipedia article:

They [Buddhas] know all phenomena come from interdependent origination. They know all world systems exhaustively. They know all the different phenomena in all worlds, interrelated in Indra's net.

The above has nothing to do with the 12-nidana dependent origination of the Pali Canon.

On the other hand, the paper "Playing with Fire: The pratītyasamutpāda from the perspective of Vedic thought" by Joanna Jurewicz indeed tries to connect the dependent origination of the Pali Canon to Vedic thought, stating that the Buddha "formulated pratītyasamutpāda as a polemic against Vedic thought".

Already at the beginning of the paper, Jurewicz wrote:

Since I am not a Buddhologist, I do not attempt to analyze here all the meanings which have been ascribed to these links in Buddhism; I restrict myself to their principal and most general meanings.

Reading this paper, I find that indeed Jurewicz is neither a Buddhologist, nor is she discussing Buddhism as taught by the Buddha.

Instead, in my opinion, she finds ways to link the Buddha's dependent origination to Vedic thought, in the same way one may look at clouds and find the shape of sheep. It's a work of coincidental pattern matching (aka apophenia) and absurd speculation of the Buddha's original intentions behind the formulation of dependent origination.

It is quite obvious that there is nothing like the dependent origination of the Pali Canon, in Vedic thought.


Indra's Net metaphor was not used in Buddhism until Mahayana's Avatamsaka Sutra written in the 3rd century CE.

Buddha lived 8 centuries before Indra's Net was repurposed for Buddhism.

Dependent Origination has nothing to do with Indra's Net. Indra's Net is a metaphor used to illustrate that all phenomena in the Universe are interrelated or interconnected. That's not what Dependent Origination is about.

According to Mahayana, Dependent Origination (which could also be translated as "Gradual Automatic Emergence" or even simply "Evolution") describes how subjective experience of the self and the world arises from the cyclical self-supporting tendency of representation, recognition and discrimination.

In the beginning there is complete randomness, with nothing more probable than anything else. This undifferentiated mass of being is nevertheless full of potential possibilities. Initially, the undifferentiated mass of being randomly gives rise to disbalances or abnormalities or fluctuations that appear and disappear without leaving a trace. However, at some point one such disbalance creates a local condition making further such disbalances more probable. This starts the process of evolution of self-supporting disbalances. Ones that create better conditions for further such disbalances to arise, "survive" and "pass on" their function. This way the primordial randomness gradually evolves into structured regularity - the physical, chemical and informational processes that tend to follow their certain courses of action.

As these processes co-exist, they interact. Interacting, they leave imprints on each other. As these processes are self-reproducing, they repeat with some variations. Repeating, the interactions of processes lead to accumulation of imprints. These accumulated imprints are de-facto representations holding information about the past interactions. Because they represent past interactions, they evolve to react differently when a new interaction is reminiscent of a pattern exhibited by past interactions. This leads to arising of recognition of patterns, the basic semiosis (the process of recognizing and interpreting signs), with its corollary of discrimination or discernment. Recognition of a pattern differentiates it from its background and from other patterns. This ability to represent, recognize, and discriminate is the foundation of consciousness.

This covers the first three steps of Dependent Origination.

From further growth of recognition and discrimination, there occurs gradual development of the representation of distinct entities. As recognition develops and gets more sophisticated, representation develops and gets more sophisticated - and vice versa. Recognition and representation help each other to grow into awareness of distinct entities. Eventually from the perception of entitiess, contact with entities, and pursuit of entities - arises the boundary between "inner" and "outer".


Shakyamuni was the fourth Buddha (or twenty-eight, depending on your sources) to arise from this world. Saying that what he realized was unrealized previously is incorrect.

It is also a stretch to assume that only announced/known Buddhas obtained the state of non-returner.

The Avatamsaka Sutra, whether spoken/transmitted directly by Shakyamuni, or another Buddha, is an authentic transmission. Why? Because the words in it are composed of fractal visions which is why the assocation to Indras net. Only a unified mind can comprehend the visions in the sutra.

I'll go even further to observe that apart from the intricacies of (inter)dependent origination (12 links, etc), Buddhism's one shortcoming as a system of teaching is to not address the first cause, the reason why we are all here. It is possible that this subject is beyond comprehension. But this topic is generally avoided beyond generalities and vagaries and does appear to be a hole in the overall Buddhist cosmology. For a system/view that is wrapped around cause and effect, it has no original cause.

The Hindu religious system is the en-cultured coding of the knowledge of a highly realized understanding of quantum physics and vibrations. Hinduism at its core is not a religion per se. It was wrapped in a religion in order to preserve the teachings down through time.

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