Are there good apologetic resources (books, audios, sites, etc.) that give the buddhist answer to advaita vedanta and/or hinduism in general? To the substantial model of the atman-brahman or purusha/prakriti of Patanjali yoga.

I understand that in the West, Whitehead's criticisms were quite close.

  • Being a MahayanIst I find it impossible to find a significant difference in the teachings of the two other than the language and explanatory structure,
    – user14119
    Dec 19, 2019 at 11:18
  • 1
    yet the difference is fundamental. The Hindu model postulates a substantial Absolute untouched by nature, the Buddhist model denies the existence of any substance and postulates an Absolute process, the Absolute being only one face of the world.
    – Kalapa
    Jan 6, 2020 at 10:23
  • Advaita Vedanta does not propose that Brahman is a 'substantial Absolute'. Nor does Mahayana Buddhism propose an 'absolute process'. Rather, nothing would really exist and nothing would really happen. It's a tricky doctrine to grasp, but at least it's not ambiguous on this issue. But Hindus and Buddhists come in various flavours and many do not endorse the non-dual interpretation of their teachings, and Christians and Muslims likewise.
    – user14119
    Jan 6, 2020 at 12:28
  • @PeterJ Advaita does not propose that Brahman is a 'substantial Absolute'? Really? What about these quotes? - "There exists no other material cause of this phenomenal universe except Brahman" (Aparokshanubhuti 45), "Brahman is real, the universe is an illusion. The individual soul is Brahman itself and not different." (Brahmajnanavalimala 20), "Becoming thyself the self-effulgent Brahman, the substratum of all phenomena, ..." (Vivekachudamani 289), "The pot, wall, etc., are all nothing but clay. Likewise, the entire universe is nothing but Brahman" (Brahmajnanavalimala 19).
    – ruben2020
    Apr 30, 2020 at 16:59
  • @ruben2020 - Yes. that's the description. Where does the idea of substance appear? I think you've misread my comment. .
    – user14119
    May 1, 2020 at 12:26

2 Answers 2


There's the Milinda Panha. It records a dialogue between the Buddhist sage Nāgasena, and the Indo-Greek king Menandernda_Panha). English Translation available here. It's not considered a core text by all Buddhist disciplines, but it is one of the oldest surviving apologetic dialogues between Buddhism and Hinduism.

Another interesting text is the Buddhist critique of the Advaita Vedanta as explained in Michael Myers' Comparative Theology


"Vedanta and Buddhism: A Comparative Study" (1995) by Professor Helmuth von Glasenapp is a good essay.

First quote from this essay:

In the light of these researches, all attempts to give to the Atman a place in the Buddhist doctrine, appear to be quite antiquated. We know now that all Hinayana (sic) and Mahayana schools are based on the anatma-dharma theory. ... Nirvana being a dharma, is likewise anatta, just as the transitory, conditioned dharmas ... Nirvana is no individual entity which could act independently. For it is the basic idea of the entire system that all dharmas are devoid of Atman, and without cogent reasons we cannot assume that the Buddha himself has thought something different from that which since more than 2000 years, his followers have considered to be the quintessence of their doctrine.

And the conclusion:

Nothing shows better the great distance that separates the Vedanta and the teachings of the Buddha, than the fact that the two principal concepts of Upanishadic wisdom, Atman and Brahman, do not appear anywhere in the Buddhist texts, with the clear and distinct meaning of a "primordial ground of the world, core of existence, ens realissimum (true substance)," or similarly.

From here (1973) and here, you can find this summary passage by Professor T. R. V. Murti:

It has been the fashion to consider that the differences between the Madhyamika śūnyatā and Brahman are rather superficial and even verbal, and that the two systems of philosophy are almost identical. At least Professor Radhakrishnan thinks so, and Stcherbatsky's and Dasgupta's views are not very different. I hold a contrary view altogether: that in spite of superficial similarities in form and terminology, the differences between them are deep and pervasive.

From "Madhyamika Buddhism Vis-a-vis Hindu Vedanta (A Paradigm Shift)" (1994-95) by Acarya Dharmavajra:

Hinduism and Buddhism share a common culture and therefore tend to use the same or similar words. They do share certain concepts like Karma and re-incarnation, although their interpretation differ. Hindu concepts of karma and therefore reincarnation tend to be rather linear whereas the Buddhist concept is linked with pratityasamutpada. The Theravada concept of pratityasamutpada is also rather linear but the Mahayana/Vajrayana concept is more non-linear multi dimentional-multi leveled-interdependent inter-latched. But all similarities to Hinduism ends there. The Shunyata of the Buddha, Nagarjuna, Candrakirti is by no accounts a negative way of describing the Brahman of the Upanishad- Samkara-Vidhyaranya groups.

And also:

To sum it up, the Vedantic ultimate truth is the existence of an ultimate existence or ultimate reality. Reality here is used as something which exists (skt. satta). However, the Buddhist ultimate truth is the absence of any such satta i. e. ultimately existing thing or ultimate reality.

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