9 Most Important Philosophical Principles of Buddhism
(1) Pratiya Samutpad:
The basic teachings of Lord Buddha consist of the four Arya Satya (the four Truths). Of these four Arya Satya the second one is Dukha-Samudaya (group of miseries). This Dukha- Samudaya Arya Satya is called Pratiyasamutpad which is regarded as the basis of all philosophical ideas of Lord Buddha.
The cycle of birth and death has been termed as Pratityasamutpad. It was in the search of this philosophy of life that Lord Buddha had renounced his kingdom and subjected himself to rigorous penance. Man takes birth and he dies.
The cycle of his birth and death is ever continued without any break. Man takes birth in order to die and he dies in order to take a new birth. The cause of birth and death is not any unknown power or unknown God.
We are not born on earth because someone asks us to do so. We, ourselves want to take birth, therefore we are born. There is no other cause of man. He, himself, is his cause. We shall not be born, if we, ourselves do not desire to be born.
To tell the world that ‘Man’s’ desire, and craving or ambition is the principal cause of his (man’s) birth is the contribution of Lord Buddha. Thus Lord Buddha considers man his own master (Swami), destiny maker (Bhagya-Vidhata), lord and protector.
Kshnikvad or Anityavad is very closely related with Pratityasamutpad. Kshanikvad proves the “cause and effect” (Karana-Karya) principle of Pratityasamutpad. It is because of some cause (Parana) that some work (Karya) is done, and in the absence of cause, there can be no work (Karya).
Thus all the things spring up due to some cause and they are transitory because they are born or they spring up. The deftness of birth and destruction proves that birth and death is the nature of this world, in other words, nothing is permanent in this world and everything is destined to destruction.
Anything in the world is only for a few days and then it is finished. Just as one flow creates the second flow, the second flow creates the third flow and this process ever goes on, similarly, one moment gives birth to the second one and the second one gives birth to the third one and this process goes on forever.
Because of illusion we regard this continuity of flow as eternal (Sanatana or Shashwat). In fact, nothing is eternal. Change is the nature of everything. Everything is undergoing change in some form or other. In other words, momentariness is the nature of everything.
Arthkriyakaritva means the power to do some work. The “present is born of the past, that is, the past has an inherent power or energy to produce or generate the present. Each moment is generated from its previous moment, and each moment is the originator of its onward moment. Thus the Buddhist philosophers believe that existence of everything is momentary.
The meaning of ‘Artha’ is ‘the thing’ (Vastu) or ‘the existence (satta) each thing (Vastu) is changeable and momentary. Thus each thing has the energy for effecting change. The seed sprouts out.
It means that the seed has the energy for ‘sprouting’. After being sprouted the seed is destroyed. This proves that the seed is momentary (Kshanik) and destructive. Thus the Arthakriyakaritva is based on momentariness (Kshanbhangvad) and Kshanbhangvad is based on Pratityasamutpad.
This goes to prove that Arthakriya energy is inherent in a thing or existence (Satya). Thus Satta and Arthakriya Samarthya is the same thing.
Buddhism does not accept the eternalness (Nityata) of soul (Atma). In the Brahmanic philosophy the .soul is accepted as immortal. Lord Buddha does not accept the eternalness of soul. Lord Buddha has said that just as an individual desires woman, man, son and wealth, etc., similarly, he desires soul as well.
He contends that for attainment of salvadon one must shun or sacrifice all desires. If one sacrifices all worldly things, but does not sacrifice the desire for soul, he cannot get salvation. Evidently, according to Lord Buddha the desire for soul (Atma-Kamana) is like the desire for any worldly thing.
He believes that soul (Atma) is a group of five elements (Tatva or Skandh). These five elements (Skandh or Tatva) are form (Roop), feeling (Vedana), identification or name (giving a name- sangya), impression (Sanskar), and the knowledge of external things through the ‘self’. Lord Buddha does not accept the eternal soul, but he does accept the momentary soul.
The individual docs exist. But he is a group of five basic elements (Skandha-Tatva). So he is not eternal and on-destructive. The individual is not different from the five elements (Skandha). He .is just an assemblage (Punja) of physical and menial states (conditions—Awasthayen)
Here it appears necessary to elaborate, in brief, the meaning of the five elements or Skandhas or Tatvas of which the soul is made.
(5) The Five Skandh or Five Tatva:
(i) Roop Skandh:
This includes the earth, water, fire, air and sky (Akash).
(ii) Vedana Skandh:
The experiences of happiness and miseries are called Vedana. The state of neither happiness nor miseries is a Dukh Sukhatmak experience. All these come under Vedana Skandh.
(iii) Sangya Skandh:
A particular thing is given a name according to its properties. This “naming” (A’amakarana) is Sangya- Skandh. Through a Sangya we are able to recognize. With the help of the word blue, yellow, red and white, etc. we may recognize a certain thing. This to be able to recognise is Skandh-Sangya.
(iv) Samskar Skandh:
The favorable or unfavorable feeling (Vedana) that we get is Samskar or impression. The propensities of attachment and revelry come under the Samskar Skandh. The consciousness (Chetana) of attachment and rivalry is known as Samskar or impression.
The Samskar may be of three types—Kam- Samskar, Vak-Samskar and Chitra-Samskar. The bodily work is Kam- Samskar. Reasoning or foul reasoning is Vak-Samaskar. The Sangya (Recognition) and Vedana (Feeling) are called Chitra-Samskar.
(v) Vigyan Skandh:
The knowledge of external things through “self’ is Vigyan-Skandh. Through form, taste touch and smell we come to know about external things. Through ‘self’ we get the internal experience of the- same this internal experience is Vigyan-Skandh. There is a close inter-relationship between Sangya, Vedana and Vigyan.
It is through the collaboration of the above five elements (Skandh) that soul (Atma) is formed. In other words, these five elements are the principal parts of soul.
(6) Karmavad: The Theory of Karma:
The explanation of Pratityapad in the foregoing pages is, really speaking, the essence of the theory of Karma. An impact of Upanishads is clearly perceptible in Lord Buddha’s exposition of the concept of birth and rebirth.
According to Lord Buddha ‘sin’ and righteousness is the result of one’s deeds. It is because of the result of one’s deed that one is happy or unhappy. The various peculiarities found in this world are not due to God’s will. In fact, these are the consequences of deeds of various persons.
Lord Buddha has given the message to mankind that all mysteries come through one’s deeds. Therefore each one is capable of removing (or remedying) his miseries. It should be particularly noted that according to Buddhism the soul is not reborn.
After death the soul of the individual come to an end, but his deeds continue to remain immortal or imperishable. As a result of these imperishable deeds his second body is formulated and the individual takes rebirth accordingly.
Thus Buddhism propounds the principle of the theory of Karma (Karmavad). Like Buddhism, the Brahmanism and Jainism also accept the point that one is sure to reap the consequences of his deeds.
The deed also influences the doer in some way. According to Buddhism the consequence of deed (Karm) is not dependent on God. (It is not Ishwaradhim). The Karm (work), in itself, is quite capable of giving the consequence. The Buddhist theory of Karma may be regarded as the middle course between the existence of God as advocated by Brahmanism and the materialistic viewpoint of Jainism.
As in Brahmanism, in Buddhism also, three forms of Karm have been accepted. These three are—(1) physical, (Sharirik), (2) Verbal (Vachik), and (3) mental (Mansik). Through mental aspect the idea of doing something is generated.
Through the verbal type this idea is expressed through speech and in the physical part, the individual does the actual work or Karm. If someone goes to a jungle to kill an animal, then this mental decision is his mental work.
Bodhisatva is the principal theory of the Mahayan School because of this famous theory the Mahayan School is also known as Bodhisatva. A Bodhisatva is the highest spiritual status. Bodhisatva is the highest ideal for any person.
Such a person is embedded with spiritual excellences. The literal meaning of Bodhisatva is the person desirous of attaining knowledge. (The meaning of Bodhisatva is knowledge).
Lord Buddha was a Bodhisatva when in his several previous births he was striving to attain knowledge. The stories of Lord Buddha’s previous births are the stories of Bodhisatva (Jatak Kathayen-Jatak stories).
It may be noted that in the Ilinayan School also we find an account of Bodhisatva. But in the Mahayan School it has been propounded as an ‘ism’ or ‘theory’.
(8) The Hinayan and Mahayan Schools of Buddhism:
During the lifetime of Lord Buddha, no school of Buddhism was formed. Lord Buddha for the welfare and happiness of the entire humanity explained the cause of birth and death. His explanation cannot be restricted to any time, place or school of thought.
The preaching of Lord Buddha are eternal truths and they are above time and place but after the Nirvan of Lord Buddha. Buddhism was separated under two divisions, Hinayan and Mahayan. This happened because of differences and rancors between the Bhikshus (Buddhist monks).
Various interpretations were given to the teachings of Lord Buddha. Accordingly, many schools on the basis of these varying interpretations were formed. It does not appear to be necessary to give her an account of all these different schools.
However, in short, Hinayan and Malwyan may be accepted as- the two principal schools of Buddhism. Schools of Buddhism are spread over many countries. The Hinayan School is principally found in Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand and in some other lands. The Mahayan School is found in Japan, Korea and in other lands.
Onwards, in brief, we shall refer to the basic difference between the Hinayan and Mahayan schools.
Ashwaghosha is regarded as the first profounder of Shunyavad. But Nagarjun gave it a form of school. In the Mahayan literature we find references to Shunyavad here and there.
But it was Nagarjun who consolidated the scattered ideas c Shunyavad into a systematic whole. Madhyamikkarika written b Nagarjun and Aryadeva s Chatushatika are regarded as standard work on Shunyavad.