The Buddha\'s and Sankara\'s Life and Philosophy,


Compare and Contrast





Of all the supreme Eastern philosophers, The Buddha and Sankara have been among the most noteworthy ones. Born at completely different times, The Buddha and Sankara unveiled qualities of human salvation (Soteriology) and deeply affected Eastern philosophies. So The Buddha\'s and Sankara\'s lives and philosophies have both similarities and differences, which will be examined in this essay.


The similarities in the lives of these two great philosophers will be outlined below. Firstly, The Buddha and Sankara are similar in that they were both urged to take up the marriage life (Vanaprasha) at the proper age in order to perform family succession1. Secondly, Sankara resembled The Buddha in term of renouncing the world. Single-mindedly in searching the Truth (Sat or Satya) to release man from worldly pain and suffering, they both courageously left everything behind and took up the life of forest dwellers (Vanaprasha). Thirdly, The Buddha, like Sankara in tirelessly rambled around India to teach and convince ordinary people as well as various religious leaders to spread their teachings. Beside the above similarities, they both had a very peaceful demise. The Buddha dated his death time and passed away peacefully, Sankara by heart consented with Kapalika to taking his head when he was meditating2.






1. See Sankara\'s life from the book called "Life of Saints" and http://www.buddhanet.net/bud_1t02.htm


2. See Sankara\'s life from the book called "Life of Saints"


Despite the similarities, Sankara and The Buddha exhibited a huge number of differences. From the very outset, The Buddha was unlike Sankara in family status. The Buddha was born in the Kshatriya caste1, the second of the 4 classes comprised of warriors and administrators. Whereas, Sankara was born in the Brahmin caste2, the highest caste of religious leaders. In addition, The Buddha\'s and Sankara\'s family circumstance showed nothing of similarities. The Buddha lived a life of ultimate luxury; joy and dance. He had three heavenly palaces for Indian three seasons, with a lot of maids and servants, the most beautiful wife in the countries and other unsurpassed worldly ego gratifications. In contrast, Sankara appeared in a very poor, rural family, and his father undertook the religious duty. The Buddha\'s mother died when he was just seven-days old, on the other hand, Sankara\'s father, Sivaguru died when Sankara was seven years old. The Buddha was more practical than Sankara in term of disseminating his philosophy. The Buddha did not try to go to everybody and preach the sermon. Sankara, On the other hand, wrote commentary, directly walked from places to places to argue with various people and religious leaders to restore, maintain, and promote his philosophy. Another dissimilarity signifies The Buddha\'s and Sankara\'s 4 stages of life (Ashrama). The Buddha started from the household (Gryhasha) and directly to renunciation (Sannyasin). However, Sankara began with life of a student (Brahmacarya) to forest dweller (Vanaprasha) and than to life of renouncing the world (Sannyasin).


Not only in their lives, but also within their philosophies such similarities and differences can also be observed.




o See The Buddha, His Life and Teaching; Birth, http://www.buddhanet.net/bud_1t02.htm
o See Sankara\'s life from the book called "Life of Saints"
Both The Buddha and Sankara demonstrated some similar philosophical ideas. First of all, they believed in the action and law of cause and effect (Karma). The Buddha and Sankara, alike, preached that people\'s action at the present life or at the moment, would bring certain consequences in the future or next lives. Secondly, The Buddha believed in the wheel of worldly pleasure (Samsara) and taught that people are born again and again (reincarnation) until they get rid all of their sins and reach Nirvana. Likewise, Sankara had a very similar opinion to reach Moksha.


In spite of the similarities, The Buddha and Sankar have some very different philosophies. One very significant and uppermost difference refers to Sankara\'s philosophy of Non Dualistic Vedantic Philosophy (Advaita Vedanta). Sankara solidly believed in Atman, which means the presence of Brahman as the deepest essence of the self in all entities. Atman is the basic of all kinds of knowledge (Jnana). For Sankara, Atman is an undeniably real entity. While, The Buddha believed that human is completely free from any divine being or any supernatural force, whatever the consequences they receive, is