Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and hindu gods

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Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and hindu gods

Postby zamotcr » Tue Aug 13, 2013 5:11 pm

Hello :thumbsup:

I was reading days ago that Avalokiteshvara/Guanyin and some schoolars said that Guanyin is an incorporation of Hinduism into Buddhism.

In Wikipedia it is stated:
Code: Select all
Some have suggested that Avalokiteśvara, along with many other supernatural beings in Buddhism, was a borrowing or absorption by Mahayana Buddhism of one or more Hindu deities, in particular Shiva or Vishnu (though the reason for this suggestion is because of the current name of the bodhisattva: Avalokit*E*svara, not the original one: Avalokit*A*svara.)


Does this make Avalokiteshvara less real? It does change something about Bodhisattvas?

Did Amitabha and other Buddhas and Bodhisattva's the same origin, from other culture or religions?
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Re: Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and hindu gods

Postby PorkChop » Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:14 pm

Sounds like polemics to me.

I've seen discussion boards where Theravadans have pointed the finger at Mahayanists for incorporating Hinduism into their Buddhism. While it may (or may not) be true that Mahayana co-opted Vedic Devas and re-cast them in the Mahayana-Buddhist world view; it is true that in every Theravadan country, various Hindu deities continue to be revered in their original Hindu forms. It's almost impossible to imagine Thai Buddhism without the ever-prevalent figures of the Hindu Ramayana, for example. Interesting that you bring up Avalokiteshvara, as he is worshiped in Burma as Lokanat, Sri Lanka as Nātha, and Thailand as Lokesvara. From the very beginning, Hindu Devas have been mentioned in the Suttas, and mindfulness of the Devas was one of the practices that the Buddha recommended, so it's a bit odd to see these attempts at a distinction.

http://www.art-and-archaeology.com/lank ... /we01.html
http://maungpaw.blogspot.com/2008/12/th ... -gods.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... call-devas
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Re: Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and hindu gods

Postby zamotcr » Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:19 pm

PorkChop wrote:Sounds like polemics to me.


Sorry, I didn't want to be polemic. I just asked this because this doubts sometimes trouble my practice and my vision of Guanyin, so I really want to know if this change anything.

PorkChop wrote:I've seen discussion boards where Theravadans have pointed the finger at Mahayanists for incorporating Hinduism into their Buddhism. While it may (or may not) be true that Mahayana co-opted Vedic Devas and re-cast them in the Mahayana-Buddhist world view; it is true that in every Theravadan country, various Hindu deities continue to be revered in their original Hindu forms. It's almost impossible to imagine Thai Buddhism without the ever-prevalent figures of the Hindu Ramayana, for example. Interesting that you bring up Avalokiteshvara, as he is worshiped in Burma as Lokanat, Sri Lanka as Nātha, and Thailand as Lokesvara. From the very beginning, Hindu Devas have been mentioned in the Suttas, and mindfulness of the Devas was one of the practices that the Buddha recommended, so it's a bit odd to see these attempts at a distinction.

http://www.art-and-archaeology.com/lank ... /we01.html
http://maungpaw.blogspot.com/2008/12/th ... -gods.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... call-devas


Yes, it is true. In the Canon there are a lot of Devas that were just Hindu gods.

Sorry, I don't want to offend anyone nor cause polemics.

:anjali:
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Re: Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and hindu gods

Postby PorkChop » Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:33 pm

zamotcr wrote:
PorkChop wrote:Sounds like polemics to me.


Sorry, I didn't want to be polemic. I just asked this because this doubts sometimes trouble my practice and my vision of Guanyin, so I really want to know if this change anything.

....

Yes, it is true. In the Canon there are a lot of Devas that were just Hindu gods.

Sorry, I don't want to offend anyone nor cause polemics.

:anjali:


Sorry for the confusion, I was speaking more your quoted source rather than you yourself. My point is that they were never really separate. The Buddha taught Devas as well as people, he taught that Devas were only in their positions due to previous merits, he recommended being mindful of the Devas and their good qualities. So whether Guanyin is a Bodhisattva Mahasattva as presented in Mahayana, or is some sort of Hindu Deva, it doesn't really make a difference. Being mindful of her & her good qualities is beneficial. You can still learn from her and she can help you along the path. There are certainly worse role models than a being of infinite compassion. :)
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Re: Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and hindu gods

Postby zamotcr » Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:57 pm

PorkChop wrote:Sorry for the confusion, I was speaking more your quoted source rather than you yourself. My point is that they were never really separate. The Buddha taught Devas as well as people, he taught that Devas were only in their positions due to previous merits, he recommended being mindful of the Devas and their good qualities. So whether Guanyin is a Bodhisattva Mahasattva as presented in Mahayana, or is some sort of Hindu Deva, it doesn't really make a difference. Being mindful of her & her good qualities is beneficial. You can still learn from her and she can help you along the path. There are certainly worse role models than a being of infinite compassion. :)


Thanks PorkChop, I think you are right, and also, it is supposed that Guanyin exists long time ago, so is not unlikely that he/she inspired those gods :sage:
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Re: Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and hindu gods

Postby plwk » Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:25 pm

As always, if it's of any use here...

From the same Wiki... Western scholars have not reached a consensus on the origin of the reverence for Avalokiteśvara.

I guess the answers may eventually tie back to the very foundation question of what Mahayana is...or isn't

If I may recommend reading firstly, Brahmanism, Buddhism, and Hinduism then Paul William's MahÄyÄna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations in his presentation of the origins of Mahayana from page 21 onwards to relook at the claim of '...that Guanyin is an incorporation of Hinduism into Buddhism'

And this curious one...
http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/Aval ... Compassion
Avalokitesvara first appears in Indian Buddhism. He is originally mentioned as one of a number of bodhisattvas. These bodhisattvas are personifications of various attributes of the
Buddha. Avalokitesvara is the personification of compassion. The development of a Buddhist doctrine of bodhisattvas is more or less contemporaneous with the development of brahmanic deity worship. Either the same societal forces led to both developments, or the bodhisattva doctrine was a response to the rival movement of brahmanic deity worship. The bodhisattva doctrine may have appeared as early as the second century B.C.E.

Bodhisattvas originally appear as attendants of the buddhas. Texts speak of there being vast numbers of bodhisattvas. A few of the bodhisattvas are more important than others. Avalokitesvara does not appear in the earliest texts about bodhisattvas. However, after a while he becomes one of the important bodhisattvas.
By the second century C.E., in the larger Sukhavativyuha, Avalokitesvara is described along with Mahasthamaprapta as one of the two bodhisattvas in Sukhavati, the pure land of the Buddha Amitayus. The two of them are described as the source of the light that illumines the pure land. They also teach the devotees of Amitayus, adapting their techniques to the understanding of the listeners. Avalokitesvara's rise in prominence did not stop at this point.

Probably around the fifth century C.E., a full-blown cult of Avalokitesvara emerged. Avalokitesvara evolves into the supreme savior of all suffering beings. He takes on the characteristics of various brahmanic gods, such as Brahma, Visnu, and Siva. Like Brahma, Avalokitesvara is described as the creator of the universe.
"From his eyes arose the sun and the moon, . . . from his mouth, the wind, . . . from his feet, the earth." He is also described as being the creator of the brahmanic dieties.
This attribution of power to Avalokitesvara may well have been aimed at proselytizing among brahmanic followers.

See here & here. Prof Lokesh Chandra offers an idea here too

Otherwise look online for works from:
Pachow, W. “The Omnipresence of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva in East Asia.” Chinese Culture Quarterly 28.4 (1987): 67–84.
Looks at a general survey of Avalokitesvara's prominence in Asia via historical and literary sources

Snellgrove, David.
1. “Celestial Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.” In Encyclopedia of Religion. Vol. 3. Edited by Mircea Eliade, 134–143. New York: Macmillan, 1986.
Explores a concise definition of Buddhas & Bodhisattvas in Mahayana and how they differ from Early Buddhism via what he uses the tern 'celestial'

2. "Indo-Tibetan Buddhism: Indian Buddhists and Their Tibetan Successors." 2 vols. Boston: Shambhala, 1987.
New look and understanding on the cults that surrounds and are devoted to the Buddhas & Bodhisattvas

Tay, C. N. “Kuan-yin: The Cult of Half Asia.” History of Religions 16.2 (1976): 147–177. Reissued in 1987
First exploration in English on Guan Yin via scriptures and commentarial literature, mainly focusing on China but also much of East Asia

For a more scriptural look: Try this

Probably as some would opine, the earliest mention on Avalokitesvara would be from the Saddharmapundarika Sutra, dated between 100BC-100AD and latest by 200AD where in the most revered & popular Chapter 25 of Kumarajiva translation to Chinese (from which the first English version came from Hendrik Kern in 1884 and subsequent ones) has it dedicated to Avalokitesvara.

There's a thread on Amitabha here

Avalokitesvara less real? What is 'real' to anyone these days? As how a Buddha, Nagarjuna or Asanga opined it?
I would ask myself if Bodhicitta, which has the facet of Great Compassion, is less 'real'? Is the Bodhisattva Path & the career of a Samyak Sambuddha less 'real'?
Who knows? You may be visited by Guan Yin in a cup of tea or on the cushion or when offering the less fortunate your sandals / coat or the flash of lightning or a dew drop?
Think about it...don't miss Him in every moment of life...

Who sees me in forms,
Who seeks me in sounds,
He practices a deviant way,
And cannot see the Tathagata
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Re: Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and hindu gods

Postby zamotcr » Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:34 pm

Thanks plwk for your concise answer.

I will look at each link you posted. Thanks so much and you're right.

I like the quote at the end:

"Who sees me in forms,
Who seeks me in sounds,
He practices a deviant way,
And cannot see the Tathagata"

Thanks! :anjali:
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Re: Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and hindu gods

Postby dude » Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:14 am

expedients
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