Buddha Teaching : What he rejected and accepted

What Buddha Rejected

This survey of the philosophical and religious thought shows that at the time when the Buddha formulated his Sasana, certain ideas had a firm grip on the mind of the people. They were :

  • Belief in the infallibility of the Vedas ;
  • Belief in Moksha or Salvation of the soul, i.e., its ceasing to be born again ;
  • Belief in the efficacy of rites, ceremonies and sacrifices as means of obtaining moksha ;
  • Belief in Chaturvarna as the ideal for social organization ;
  • Belief in Iswara as the creator of and in Brahmana as the principle underlying the universe,
  • Belief in Atmana, or the soul,
  • Belief in Sansara, (wandering together), i.e., transmigration of the soul,
  • Belief in Karma, i.e., the determination of man’s position in present life by deeds done by him in his past life.

 In formulating the principles of his Sasana the Buddha dealt with this old stock of ideas in his own way. The following are the ideas which he rejected:

  • He condemned indulging in speculation as to the whence, whither and what am I ?
  • He discarded heresies about the soul and refrained from identifying it with either the body, sensations, volitions and consciousness.
  • He discarded all the Nihilistic views which were promulgated by certain religious teachers.
  • He condemned such views as were held by heretics.
  • He discarded the theory that the cosmic progress had a known beginning.
  • He repudiated the theory that a God created man or that he came out of the body of some Bramha.
  • The existence of the soul he either ignored or denied.

What Buddha Modified

  •  He accepted the great grand law of cause and effect with its corollaries.
  •  He repudiated the fatalistic view of life and other equally foolish view that a God predestined as to what should happen for man and the world.
  • He discarded the theory that all deeds committed in some former birth have the potency to produce suffering, making present activity impotent. He denied the fatalistic view of Karma. He replaced the view of Karma by a much more scientific view of Karma. He put new wine in old bottle.
  • Transmigration (sansara) was replaced by the doctrine of re-birth.
  •  He replaced the doctrine of moksha or salvation of the soul by the doctrine of Nibbana.
  • The Buddha Sasana is thus an original piece. The little in it which is old is either modified or restated.

. What Buddha Accepted

  • The first distinguishing feature of his teachings lay in the recognition of the mind as the centre of everything.
  • Mind precedes things, dominates them, creates them. If mind is comprehended all things are comprehended.
  • Mind is the leader of all its faculties. Mind is the chief of all its faculties. The very mind is made up of those faculties.
  • The first thing to attend to is the culture of the mind.
  • The second distinguishing feature of his teachings is that mind is the fount of all the good and evil that arises within and befalls us from without.
  • Whatsoever there is of evil, connected with evil, belonging to evil—that issues from the mind. Whatsoever there is of good, connected with good, belonging to good—all issues from mind.
  • If one speaks or acts with a pounded mind then affliction follows him as the wheels of the cart follow the feet of the bullocks who pull the cart. The cleaning of the mind is, therefore, the essence of religion.1
  • The third distinguishing feature of his teachings is the avoidance of all sinful acts.
  • The fourth distinguishing feature of his teaching is that real religion lies not in the books of religion but in the observance of the tenets of the religion.

Source : Extracted from Buddha & His Dhamma , Author Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar

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