Veṅkaṭanātha’s Buddhist quotes

Veṅkaṭanātha (also known as Vedānta Deśika) quotes relatively often from Buddhist texts, especially from Pramāṇavāda ones (as was possibly customary within Indian philosophical circles. Does it mean that he could still directly access Pramāṇavāda texts? Or does he depend on second-hand quotations?

In some cases, it is clear that Veṅkaṭanātha could depend on second-hand quotations, because already Yāmuna and Rāmānuja used the same quotes and/or because they were widespread in Indian philosophy. A clear instance is the well-known enunciation of the sahopalambhaniyama (restriction according to which an object and its mental image always occur together, so that there is no need to imagine that they are separate), which is found in all three Yāmuna, Rāmānuja and Veṅkaṭanātha:

sahopalambhaniyamād abhedo nīlataddhiyoḥ | (PVin 1.54ab)

Then there are quotes which I could not trace in Veṅkaṭanātha’s own predecessors, but which are used by other non-Buddhist authors, such as this well-known one (reused also by Vācaspati):

nirupadravabhūtārthasvabhāvasya viparyayaiḥ || na bādhā yatnavattve ’pi buddhes tatpakaṣapātataḥ | (PV 2.210–211)

The text probably had a moral meaning, but it is reused by Vācaspati and Veṅkaṭanātha within an epistemological context, as supporting the intrinsic validity theory of Mīmāṃsā:

uktaṃ ca bāhyair eva
anupaplavabhūtārthasvabhāvasya viparyayaiḥ | na bādho yatnavattve ’pi buddhes tatpakaṣapātataḥ || iti (Seśvaramīmāṃsā ad 1.1.5, 1974 p. 74)

Last, there are quotes found only in Veṅkaṭanātha, like the following discussion of inference:

pakṣadharmas tadaṃśena vyāpto hetus tridhaiva saḥ | avinābhāvaniyamād hetvābhāsās tato ’pare || (Hetubindu, v. 1)

āha ca dharmakīrtir hetubindau
pakṣadharmas tadaṃśena vyāpto hetus tridhaiva saḥ | avinābhāvaniyamād dhetvābhāsās tato ’pare || iti (Sarvārthasiddhi ad Tattvamuktākalāpa 9)

What can we conclude out of it? That Veṅkaṭanātha was independently interested in Pramāṇavāda, since he looked for further quotes apart from the stock ones received by his forerunners. This is in itself a significant point, given that Buddhism had already disappeared from South India and was, thus, no longer a real menace. Thus, I would say that Veṅkaṭanātha was intellectually intrigued by Pramāṇavāda and thus wanted to find adequate answers to their challenges.

What do you think? Did you ever encounter “fresh” Buddhist quotations in times when Buddhism was no longer a living tradition?

(On Veṅkaṭanātha, see this post.)
(Cross posted on my personal blog)

About elisa freschi

My long-term program is to make "Indian Philosophy" part of "Philosophy". You can follow me also on my personal blog:, on Academia, on Amazon, etc.

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