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I don't know a lot about those two, but I hear that they are full of wisdom. Since they date farther back than buddhism, I was wondering if the Buddha ever mentioned them.

What did he think of them?

If he didn't mention them as such, he probably mentioned some concepts that are contained in them; Apart from obvious concepts contained in those two that also are within Buddhist thought (E.g. Karma).

  • Buddhism and Hinduism share a lot of concepts. Karma, Rebirth, Samsara, Nirvana, Samadhi and so on. The question is, did Buddhism arise from a Vedic mileu, did it influence Vedic philosophy, or was it a more reciprocal relationship? In fact, it's very easy to read into Buddhism a simplified, secularized apophatic approach to Vedic philosophy. – R. Barzell Mar 21 '15 at 17:13
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    related question: Comparison of Nirvana, Tao and Brahman/Atma – Thiago Mar 21 '15 at 18:20
  • In Kashmiri Shaivism, various experients are mentioned - Mantreshvars, Mantra Maheshvaras, Vijñakalas, Pralayākalas, sakalas etc. And there are 2 Adhvas - Shuddha & Ashuddha. Shuddha advha is pure world of beyond time & space. Ashuddha adhva is constrained in time & space. Vijnanakalas experients cross Ashuddha adhva ( impure world) & knows this world of time & space. Gautama Buddha was said to be Vijñakalas in our system. Whereas the Vedas were revealed by Mantra Mantreshvars & Mantreshvars. So Gautam Buddha & Vedas both are correct, difference is due to experience of revealer only. :) – user10804 Jun 10 '17 at 14:32
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The original Vedas themselves have little that a Buddhist would consider "wisdom", I think, being comprised mainly of battle hymns, sacrificial procedures, and ceremony. They are mentioned often in the Pali texts, e.g.:

13.‘Well then, Vaseṭṭha, what about the early sages of those Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas, the makers of the mantras, the expounders of the mantras, whose ancient verses are chanted, pronounced and collected by the Brahmins of today, and sung and spoken about — such as Atthaka, Vāmaka, Vāmadeva, Vessāmitta, Yamataggi, Angirasa, Bhāradvāja, Vāsettha, Kassapa, Bhagu - did they ever say: “We know and see when, how and where Brahmā appears”?’ ‘No, Reverend Gotama.’

14.‘So, Vāseṭṭha, not one of these Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas has seen Brahmā face to face, nor has one of their teachers, or teacher’s teachers, nor even the ancestor seven generations back of one of their teachers. Nor could any of the early sages say: “We know and see when, how and where Brahmā appears.” So what these Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas are saying is: “We teach this path to union with Brahmā that we do not know or see, this is the only straight path...leading to union with Brahmā.” What do you think, Vāseṭṭha? Such being the case, does not what these Brahmins declare turn out to be ill-founded?’ ‘Yes indeed, Reverend Gotama.’

--DN 13 (Walshe, trans)

Since the rest of the Vedic literature, including the Upanishads, grew up around the time of the Buddha himself, it isn't mentioned as such, but the above quote is actually more applicable to the Upanishadic tradition than the original Vedas.

The texts also make various references to the five Vedas, e.g.:

the Three Vedas with their vocabularies, liturgy, phonology, and etymology, and the histories as a fifth.

-- MN 95 (Bodhi, trans)

Though I'm not sure this has anything to do with the Upanishads.

Short answer, yes, the Buddha mentioned the Vedas often, but the word "upanishad" was probably not yet in common use during his lifetime. It appears in the name of one of the Brahmanas (the Jaiminiya Upanishad Brahmana) composed before the Buddha, but probably wasn't used to refer to an entire genre of literature until much later.

As to what he thought about them, here's a passage from the Jatakas that exemplifies his thoughts while still a Bodhisatta (and rhymes, too):

"These Veda studies are the wise man's toils,
The lure which tempts the victims whom he spoils;

A mirage formed to catch the careless eye,
But which the prudent passes safely by.

The Vedas have no hidden power to save
The traitor or the coward or the knave;

The fire, though tended well for long years past,
Leaves his base master without hope at last.

Though all earth's trees in one vast heap were piled
To satisfy the fire's insatiate child,

Still would it crave for more, insatiate still,—
How could a Nāga hope that maw to fill?

Milk ever changes,—thus where milk has been
Butter and curds in natural course are seen;

And the same thirst for change pervades the fire,
Once stirred to life it mounts still higher and higher.

Fire bursts not forth in wood that 's dry or new,
Fire needs an effort ere it leaps to view;

If dry fresh timber of itself could burn,
Spontaneous would each forest blaze in turn.

If he wins merit who to feed the flame
Piles wood and straw, the merit is the same

When cooks light fires or blacksmiths at their trade
Or those who burn the corpses of the dead.

But none, however zealously he prays
Or heaps the fuel round to feed the blaze,

Gains any merit by his mummeries,—
The fire for all its crest of smoke soon dies.

Were Fire the honoured being that you think,
Would it thus dwell with refuse and with stink,

Feeding on carrion with a foul delight,
Where men in horror hasten from the sight?

Some worship as a god the crested flame,
Barbarians give to water that high name;

But both alike have wandered from their road:
Neither is worthy to be called a god.

To worship fire, the common drudge of all,
Senseless and blind and deaf to every call,

And then one's self to live a life of sin,—
How could one dream that this a heaven could win?

These Brahmins all a livelihood require,
And so they tell us Brahma worships fire;

Why should the increate who all things planned
Worship himself the creature of his hand?

Doctrines and rules of their own, absurd and vain,
Our sires imagined wealth and power to gain;

"Brahmins he made for study, for command
He made the Khattiyas; Vessas plough the land;

Suddas he servants made to obey the rest;
Thus from the first went forth his high behest ."

We see these rules enforced before our eyes,
None but the Brahmins offer sacrifice,

None but the Khattiya exercises sway,
The Vessas plough, the Suddas must obey.

These greedy liars propagate deceit,
And fools believe the fictions they repeat;

He who has eyes can see the sickening sight;
Why does not Brahma set his creatures right?

If his wide power no limits can restrain,
Why is his hand so rarely spread to bless?

Why are his creatures all condemned to pain?
Why does he not to all give happiness?

Why do fraud, lies, and ignorance prevail?
Why triumphs falsehood,—truth and justice fail?

I count your Brahma one th’ injust among,
Who made a world in which to shelter wrong.

Those men are counted pure who only kill
Frogs, worms, bees, snakes or insects as they will,—

These are your savage customs which I hate,—
Such as Kamboja hordes might emulate.

If he who kills is counted innocent
And if the victim safe to heaven is sent,

Let Brahmins Brahmins kill—so all were well—
And those who listen to the words they tell.

We see no cattle asking to be slain
That they a new and better life may gain,—

Rather they go unwilling to their death
And in vain struggles yield their latest breath.

To veil the post, the victim and the blow
The Brahmins let their choicest rhetoric flow;

"The post shall as a cow of plenty be
Securing all thy heart's desires to thee";

But if the wood thus round the victim spread
Had been as full of treasure as they said,

As full of silver, gold and gems for us,
With heaven's unknown delights as overplus,

They would have offered for themselves alone
And kept the rich reversion as their own.

These cruel cheats, as ignorant as vile,
Weave their long frauds the simple to beguile,

"Offer thy wealth, cut nails and beard and hair,
And thou shalt have thy bosom's fondest prayer."

The offerer, simple to their hearts' content,
Comes with his purse, they gather round him fast,

Like crows around an owl, on mischief bent,
And leave him bankrupt and stripped bare at last,

The solid coin which he erewhile possessed,
Exchanged for promises which none can test.

Like grasping strangers sent by those who reign
The cultivators' earnings to distrain,

These rob where’er they prowl with evil eye,—
No law condemns them, yet they ought to die.

The priests a shoot of Butea must hold
As part o’ the rite sacred from days of old;

Indra's right arm ’tis called; but were it so,
Would Indra triumph o’er his demon foe?

Indra's own arm can give him better aid,
’Twas no vain sham which made hell's hosts afraid.

"Each mountain-range which now some kingdom guards
Was once a heap in ancient altar-yards,

And pious worshippers with patient hands
Piled up the mound at some great lord's commands."

So Brahmins say,—fie on the idle boast,
Mountains are heaved aloft at other cost;

And the brick mound, search as you may, contains
No veins of iron for tile miner's pains.

A holy seer well known in ancient days,
On the seashore was praying, legend says;

There was he drowned and since this fate befell
The ocean's waves have been undrinkable.

Rivers have drowned their learned men at will
By hundreds and have kept their waters still;

Their streams flow on and never taste the worse,
Why should the sea alone incur the curse?

And the salt-streams which run upon the land
Spring from no curse but own the digger's hand.

At first there were no women and no men;
’Twas mind first brought mankind to light,—and then,

Though they all started equal in the race,
Their various failures made them soon change place;

It was no lack of merit in the past,
But present faults which made them first or last.

A clever low-caste lad would use his wit,
And read the hymns nor find his head-piece split;

The Brahmins made the Vedas to their cost
When others gained the knowledge which they lost.

Thus sentences are made and learned by rote
In metric forms not easily forgot,—

The obscurity but tempts the foolish mind,
They swallow all they're told with impulse blind.

Brahmins are not like violent beasts of prey,
No tigers, lions of the woods are they;

They are to cows and oxen near akin,
Differing outside they are as dull within.

If the victorious king would cease to fight
And live in peace with his friends and follow right,

Conquering those passions which his bosom rend,
What happy lives would all his subjects spend!

The Brahmin's Veda, Khattiya's policy,
Both arbitrary and delusive be,

They blindly grope their way along a road
By some huge inundation overflowed.

In Brahmin's Veda, Khattiya's policy,
One secret meaning we alike can see;

For after all, loss, gain and glory, and shame
Touch the four castes alike, to all the same.

As householders to gain a livelihood
Count all pursuits legitimate and good,

So Brahmins now in our degenerate day
Will gain a livelihood in any way.

The householder is led by love of gain,
Blindly he follows, dragged in pleasure's train,

Trying all trades, deceitful and a fool,
Fallen alas! how far from wisdom's rule."

-- Jat 543 (Cowell, trans)

As a Buddha, he seems to have become a bit more diplomatic, but still has little good to say about worship of fire, brahma, or the Vedas in general.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ChrisW Jun 13 '17 at 6:00
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Since they date farther back than buddhism, I was wondering if the Buddha ever mentioned them.

While the vedic tradition existed before the Buddha, it seems a few upanishad texts originated before and some during and/or after the Buddha's death. Moreover, I've read elsewhere that one theory is that the key upanishad concepts developed as a response to buddhist doctrine (sorry, I don't have the reference at hand, though)

Did the Buddha ever mention the Upanishads or the Vedas?

In the suttas, the Buddha debated constantly with brahmins and refuted their doctrine. A prime example is ātman vs. anatta.

But he also re-casted keywords and concepts used by these traditions with entirely new meanings (probably as a pedagogic strategy, and overall as a teaching principle; that is, using his audience's vocabulary to explain his doctrine). For example, kamma (translated as "action") in vedic tradition has been described as meaning "ritual" but the Buddha has redefined it as cetanā ("volition" or "intention"). namarupa (one translation is "name and form") is also an important doctrinal concept used by both traditions but with subtle distinct meanings. Similarly, with viññāṇa (trans. "consciousness"), which is considered essence of brahman (and thus, ātman), but in Buddhism, it's conditioned, subject to end.

These "reuses" may not have been limited just to words. It has be argued that vedic doctrinal concepts have been used by the Buddha to teach his audience a very different doctrine using the same "stage", from fire metaphors to conditioned arising (see Gombrich's "What the Buddha Thought" book)

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Very interesting conversation and thanks for the contributions.

I know old thread but needed to mention this....

One thing clearly that needs to be brought out is the laughable suggestion that the Upanishadic concepts are contemporary or later to Lord Buddha's time. The Vedanta as such predates by many centuries if not millenia prior to the Buddhist tradition. Also the fact that the Mahabharata of which the Bhagavad Gita is a part of refers to events about 3100 B.C. - the reference here is to the long held knowledge of the date by ancient Hindu monastic orders as well as recent correlation to that date by mapping the astronimical events in it with the Planetarium Software. At most the 3-5 century B.C references to the Gita only attribute to when they were put down in written form.

  • This doesn't answer the question (which asked whether the Buddha mentioned the Upanishads or Vedas, and asked what he may have thoughts of them). – ChrisW Nov 12 '17 at 11:23
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there were only 3 parst of the vedas during and before buddha, they were samhita,brahmanas and aryankas. upanishads were later added by interpolating buddhist philosophy to save vedic religion from dying.. Gita too existed before buddha but it was of only 84 verses, the rest of the 616 verses related to spiritual knowledge and philosophy like karma and moksha were added at a much later date after buddha, mostly by shankracharya by interpolating buddhist philosophies into it. other than the 84 versed gita and vedas there was hindu or vedic literature that dates buddha. even yoga was invented somewhere around 1st century ad. some claim that yoga existed before buddha on the basis of an image carved on a 4000 year old coin, which i think u will understand is totally nonsensical after seeing the image of the coin. rather the image looks like it depicts some animistic religion.i have uploaded the picture of the coin below. the original vedic religion was far from spiritual philosophy that we see today, it was more of a warrior and shaministic religion.it had no concept of rebirth but only of heaven and earth. common do u think kirshna when he died 100s of his consorts were burnt alive with his pyre according to sati ritual. do u think this guy krishna sat 4 hours on the battleground and taught the whole 700 verses of gita to arjuna.enter image description here

  • This doesn't answer the question (which asked whether the Buddha mentioned the Upanishads or Vedas, and asked what he may have thoughts of them). – ChrisW Nov 12 '17 at 11:23
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At that time the Brâmana Sela lived at Âpana, perfect in the three Vedas, vocabulary, Ketubha, etymology, Itihâsa as the fifth (Veda), versed in metre, a grammarian, one not deficient in popular controversy and the signs of a great man, he taught three hundred young men the hymns.

Source: Holy sutta Nipata http://www.ishwar.com/ebooks/pdf/holy_sutta_nipata.pdf.zip

So, yes Buddha mentioned not only Vedas but also Itihasas (Ramayana and Mahabharata).

The word Veda itself means knowledge and so claiming that there's no knowledge in Veda but just rituals is amusing.

Each veda has two sections, the mantra (samhita) and the brahmana (dealing with the rules for worship, mantra meanings, etc.). The brahmana section has another part - called the Aranyaka. The Upanishads in general form a part of the end of each Aranyaka. So Upanishads were called as Veda. Important thing to note - you would find Upanishadik knowledge in ritualistic part too.

The claim that Upanishads are of post-buddha era is entirely unscholarly.

According to scholars, all major Upanishads are pre-buddhist.

Patrick Olivelle gives the following chronology for the early Upanishads, also called the Principal Upanishads:

The Brhadaranyaka and the Chandogya are the two earliest Upanishads. They are edited texts, some of whose sources are much older than others. The two texts are pre-Buddhist; they may be placed in the 7th to 6th centuries BCE, give or take a century or so.

The three other early prose Upanisads—Taittiriya, Aitareya, and Kausitaki come next; all are probably pre-Buddhist and can be assigned to the 6th to 5th centuries BCE. The Kena is the oldest of the verse Upanisads followed by probably the Katha, Isa, Svetasvatara, and Mundaka. All these Upanisads were composed probably in the last few centuries BCE. The two late prose Upanisads, the Prasna and the Mandukya, cannot be much older than the beginning of the common era.

Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upanishads

  • This doesn't answer the question (which asked whether the Buddha mentioned the Upanishads or Vedas, and asked what he may have thoughts of them). – ChrisW Nov 12 '17 at 11:23
  • @ChrisW I've edited my answer. – user5633 Nov 12 '17 at 16:48
  • Thanks. Here is another translation of the sutta you referenced: "Now at that time the brahmin Sela was visting Āpaṇa. He was an expert in the three Vedas [etc.]" – ChrisW Nov 12 '17 at 16:59
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    @ChrisW No difference between two translations. It's just that your translation has mentioned the English equivalent word for Itihasas. – user5633 Nov 12 '17 at 17:04
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    No difference, no. I only posted it beause suttacentral is one of the more conventional reference sites (for suttas) here (on Buddhism.SE) ... and maybe easier to read than a PDF inside a ZIP file, which you posted. – ChrisW Nov 13 '17 at 17:11
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I found the Upanishads to be an amazing resource within the dharma. A wonderful collection of philosophical debate and discourse over the nature of the Universe. Couldn't recommend them (a reasonable collection of like the first 10 and some selected others) more highly.

The Vedas are another flavor. The hymns, rituals, routines of the Arya/Indus valley "clan". From an academic standpoint I find them fascinating as they give us an insight into the minds of the day. You even get a Tao Te Ching feel from them on a physical side. But their applications to Buddhism are topical at best.

Upanishads good immediately, Vedas good for deep deep backstory as your interest guides you there. I preferred Easwaran Eknath's translations as they were free on .pdf and the narrative was interesting. The Brihadaranyaka is my favorite.

  • Did the Buddha ever mention the Upanishads or the Vedas? – ChrisW Jun 29 '17 at 21:37
  • I know why he would or would not, but not if he did. sadly. – Kauva Aatma Jun 29 '17 at 22:24
  • This doesn't answer the question (which asked whether the Buddha mentioned the Upanishads or Vedas, and asked what he may have thoughts of them). – ChrisW Nov 12 '17 at 11:23
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A GOOD ANSWER BY THEIGO, iT IS VERY INJUSTICE TO BUDDHA THAT HE DERIVED THE WISDOM /PUSH FORWARD THE WISDOM OF VEDAS. After lots of trying of various methods by anyone who told of whatsoever nature, he achieved the wisdom through his own method and discovered the truth. how can truth be said to be of any "ism". truth is truth. The thing is that truth is speechless . It does not makes its own propaganda. there is no need . .Afterall the footrule to which anything is compared must also be of that caliber . No much importance should be given. What buddha said about truth is important and precious , not what he said about anything other than the truth.

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There are well over hundred Upanishads in existence but only a dozen or less of these are considered as Pre-buddhist. These are the Upanishads commented on by the Medieval Hindu commentator Sankara who flourished in the eighth century CE. They are also the ones that were considered as the “principal Upanishads” by early Western commentators like Paul Deussen. The earliest of the extant Upanishads are the Bṛihadāraṇyaka and the Chāndogya Upanishads all in prose. Not only are they the earliest but also the longest accounting for over three-quarters of the principal Upanishads. They are considered as being composed about the sixth century BCE. Three other prose Upanishads are also considered pre-Buddhist. These are the Taittiriya, Aitreya and Kausitaki Upanishads. The other “principal” Upanishads were the Kena, the Kaṭha, the Iśā, the Muṇḍaka, the Praśna, the Māṇḍūkya, and the Śvetāśvatara.

Buddha did not reject vedas or vedic philosophy, he rejected the evil practices and rituals in Vedas:

In Sutta Nipat 192, Mahatma Buddha says that:

Vidwa Cha Vedehi Samechcha Dhammam Na Uchchavacham Gachhati Bhooripanjo.

People allow sense-organs to dominate and keep shuffling between high and low positions. But the scholar who understands Vedas understands Dharma and does not waver.

Sutta Nipat 503:

Yo Vedagu Gyanarato Sateema …….

One should support a person who is master of Vedas, contemplative, intelligent, helpful if you desire to inculcate similar traits.

Sutta Nipat 1059:

Yam Brahmanam Vedagum Abhijanjya Akinchanam Kamabhave Asattam……

One gets free from worldly pains if he is able to understand a Vedic Scholar who has no wealth and free from attraction towards worldly things.

Sutta Nipat 1060:

Vidwa Cha So Vedagu Naro Idha Bhavabhave Sangam Imam Visajja…..

I state that one who understands the Vedas rejects attraction towards the world and becomes free from sins.

Sutta Nipat 846:

Na Vedagu Diththia Na Mutiya Sa Manameti Nahi Tanmayoso….

One who knows Vedas does not acquire false ego. He is not affected by hearsay and delusions.

Sutta Nipat 458:

Yadantagu Vedagu Yanjakaale Yassahuti Labhe Taras Ijjeti Broomi

I state that one who acquires Ahuti in Havan of a Vedic scholar gets success.

Now people who post these on internet say that Gautam Buddha didn't opposed Vedas he opposed the evil practices done in name of Vedas like animal sacrifice, caste system.

when Mahatma Buddha questioned birth-based casteism, animal sacrifice and other nonsense practices, he was answered that Vedas sanction so. Thus, like any sane morally upright person would do, Mahatma Buddha stated that: “If Vedas sanction these evil practices, then I reject Vedas.”

  • This seems to be more-or-less a duplicate of this answer. – ChrisW Jun 29 '17 at 21:40
  • I can't confirm these quotes and translations. For example I found the first quote at around Sutta Nipata 796 (not 192) ... and the English translation of that given here is quite different (contradictory really), saying, "A person undertaking (holy) vows goes high and low— they waver, fettered by conditional perceptions. But one who has learnt well and the Dharma penetrated goes not up and down— that one of wisdom profound." – ChrisW Jun 29 '17 at 21:40

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