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As I discuss in this question, by far the most popular school of Hindu philosophy today is the Vedanta school, which is based on the philosophical portions of the Vedas. But in the time when Buddhism was at its peak popularity in India, the most popular school of Hindu philosophy was the Purva Mimamsa school, which was based on the ritualistic portions of the Vedas.

Now one of the most famous Purva Mimasa philosophers was named Kumarila Bhatta, and in this excerpt from his work the Tantra Vartika, he argues that Hindus should not accept Buddhist texts as valid scripture, because Buddha was a violator of the Vedas:

Then again, we find that the Bauddha teachings were given by one who was a born Kshatriya; and as such, he transgressed the duties of his own class, in taking upon himself the work of taking and receiving presents (which are the monopoly of the Brahmanas); and hence how can we believe that true Dharma or Duty would be taught by one who has transgressed his own Dharma? It has been well said: "One who is found to be doing deeds opposed to a prosperous hereafter, should be shunned from a distance; because how can one who deceives himself offer any salutary advice to others?"

Such transgression of Dharma by Buddha is clearly mentioned in the Alankarabuddhi (a Bauddha work), where Buddha is represented as saying - "May all the pain proceeding from the sins due to the Iron Age, rest in me, and leave humanity at large absolutely free!" And in connection with this his followers eulogise his virtues in the following strains: "For the sake of the well-being of humanity, He transgressed his own duties as a Kshatriya, and having taken up the duties of the Brahmana, he taught, even to the people outside the pale of Vedic religion, such truths relating to Dharma, as were not taught by Brahmanas who were unable to transgress the prohibition (of such teachings being imparted by outsiders); and thus prompted by his mercy to others, he even went to the length of transgressing his own Dharma!" And we actually find His followers behaving in a manner entirely at variance with the teachings of the Veda.

I found the quote in bold interesting, because it seems reminiscent of the Christian notion that "Jesus died for our sins". So my question is, does the Buddhist text that Kumarila Bhatta is quoting from, the Alankarabuddhi, still exist?

By the way, when the Alankarabiddhi quote says "Iron Age", that's an English translation of the Sanskrit term "Kali Yuga", which refers to the Hindu notion that we are currently living in an age of evil. Now I think only some sects of Buddhism share this Hindu belief, so that may help in finding this text.

  • Do you mean "Abhisamayālaṅkāra" 《現觀莊嚴論》? [l] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abhisamayalankara [/l] It is the work of Asanga, said to receive from Maitreya dwelling in Tusita. It is a much later work after Buddha entered nirvana, Nagarjuna left. It strongly relates to the Tibetan Buddhism one of the concepts similar to "Jesus died for our sins". By this fragment I would say that written in this treatise is not Buddha's own word neither said directly by the Buddha. One should read these with caution and scrutinize. – Mishu 米殊 Jan 13 '17 at 8:54
  • @Bhumishu米殊 Well, I don't know whether I mean that or not. Does the specific quote "May all the pain proceeding from the sins due to the Iron Age, rest in me, and leave humanity at large absolutely free!" occur in that text? – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 13 '17 at 14:51
  • Dont know, never read it. Any more info regarding "Alankarabuddhi", a book? A Buddhist Sutra? Buddhist Treatise? Or an Indian Classic? In google maybe it share "alankara" therefore the Abhisamayalankara listed, which is the later work by an Indian monk who was proficient in Brahmanism later converted, one of the root gurus of Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism has this concept of "suffered (on behalf of) for others" 代受 – Mishu 米殊 Jan 17 '17 at 7:00
  • No, I don't have any information beyond that quote by Kumarila Bhatta. In any case Kumarila Bhatta lived in the 8th century, so there's a possibility the work he's referring to is lost. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 17 '17 at 7:22
  • I tried to use Google to find "Alankarabuddhi", and failed to find it, except "Alankara Buddhi" is mentioned on this page, which lists chapter titles of the Vedanta Dindimah -- perhaps you'd find more information there, in the Vedanta Dindimah. "Alankara" translates as "ornament", which is used in the title of many Tibetan works (though Kumarila Bhatta's date, roughly 700 CE, is quite early relative to Tibetan Buddhism). – ChrisW Aug 14 '17 at 21:28
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This may be a "lost in translation" issue. The term "alankar" usually refers to an instrument or ornament. It also refers to a ritual of rhythmic clapping in Tala. Since the Sutras are traditionally recited in rhythm, this might just be a reference to this practice of reciting the teachings. A modern-day equivalent would be "rap", referring to both the rhythm and the actual text.

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