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«A dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in South and Southeast Asian Studies and ...»

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Kosalan Philosophy in the Kāṇva Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa and the Suttanipāta


Lauren Michelle Bausch

A dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the

requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy


South and Southeast Asian Studies

and the Designated Emphasis


Critical Theory

in the

Graduate Division

of the

University of California, Berkeley

Committee in charge:

Professor Robert P. Goldman, Chair

Dr. Sally J. Sutherland Goldman Professor Alexander von Rospatt Professor Celeste Langan Spring 2015 © Lauren Michelle Bausch Abstract Kosalan Philosophy in the Kāṇva Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa and the Suttanipāta by Lauren Michelle Bausch Doctor of Philosophy in South and Southeast Asian Studies and Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory University of California, Berkeley Professor Robert P. Goldman, Chair This dissertation traces regional philosophy in religious texts, namely the Kāṇva Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa and the Suttanipāta. Receiving the Vedas in the East, Yājñavalkya and the Vājasaneyins enlivened earlier Vedic concepts and augmented Vedic propensities for asceticism. The region of Kosala flourished during the lifetime of Śākyamuni Buddha, and as a result, the Kāṇva School formed an important part of the cultural milieu in which the historical Buddha lived. The Suttanipāta depicts the Buddha as knowledgeable in Vedic practices and lore and as interacting with brāhmaṇas, arguably both before and after a separate Buddhist identity formed. Considering this background, the relationship between late Vedic and early Buddhist thought must be reassessed. Because value is acquired and erased when concepts circulate, the Buddha’s teaching in the Suttanipāta can be considered a philosophical project to create new concepts and to translate practices that respond to a changing milieu.

Through a close analysis of Yājñavalkya’s interpretation of the agnihotra and Sāvitrī ṛk as related to cognitive processes, this study uncovers the metaphysical meaning of philosophical concepts, such as svàr, vja, dh, and prajā, etc. In particular, the dissertation demonstrates that Yājñavalkya’s concept of karma (rite) in the Kāṇva Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa implies what is called karmic retribution. Vedic concepts for the unmanifest govern the idea of karmic retribution and the goal of becoming cognizant of the inflow of unmanifest energy in conscious cognition. The Buddha again revitalizes these concepts when teaching a brāhmaṇa audience in the Suttanipāta. The Buddhist concepts of upadhi, āsava, crossing over to the far shore, and the serpent shedding his skin enliven earlier Vedic philosophy, which was expressed in systems of conceptual metaphors. In this way, Kosalan philosophy in the Kāṇva Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa and the Suttanipāta advances theories of causality and two modes of knowing—one karmically conditioned by past actions (saṃjñā/saññā), and the other a direct knowing (prajñāna/paññā) unmediated by karmic retribution.

–  –  –

This dissertation would not have been possible without my epic adviser, Bob Goldman, and Sally Goldman, who believed in me and encouraged this research project.

You have been incomparable mentors and a constant source of inspiration and support.

Thank you for training me in devavāṇī. Without Doug and Upekkha, this dissertation would still not be finished. Thank you for teaching me to be more confident in myself and for providing me with an environment conducive to solitude and writing. In India, I read through my translations of Yājñavalkya’s kāṇḍas of the Kāṇva Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa with G.U. Thite, foremost Brāhmaṇa expert, and gained from his incredible erudition. Premasiri Pahalawattage took time to translate the entire Aṭṭhakavagga with me and thereafter to answer every last query I had while I translated the rest of the Suttanipāta, even after I left Sri Lanka. This dissertation has been enriched by the generous and insightful contributions of these indefatigable scholars and friends.

The topic of this dissertation was inspired by the work of Michael Witzel, Joanna Jurewicz, Johannes Bronkhorst, Jan Gonda, and Richard Gombrich. Meetings with Witzel about the Kāṇvas before I left for the field and with Jurewicz after my fieldwork proved particularly instructive. I consider my work on causality to supplement Bronkhorst’s understanding of the culture of Greater Magadha, keeping with his focus on this region, but focusing more on the Vedic aspect. Working with Celeste Langan, who has an infectious enthusiasm for learning, strengthened the theoretical framework of my project. In addition to her, many professors have helped me to grow intellectually in graduate school. I am especially grateful to the late Michael Hahn, Alex Rospatt, Gene Irschick, Gary Holland, Lawrence Cohen, Pat Berger, Osmund Bopearachchi, Penny Edwards, Uwe Hartmann, Stefan Baums, Mahesh Deokar, Usha Jain, Lila Huettemann, Madhura Godbole, Meenal Kulkarni, Kristi Wiley, Luis Gonzalez-Reimann, Steven Goldsmith, Martin Jay, Judith Butler, Ramona Naddaff, Luis Gómez, Doug Powers, Marty Verhoeven, and Rev. Heng Sure.

Shashiprabha Kumar assiduously supervised my research at Jawaharlal Nehru University for three semesters and directed me to attend the World Veda Conference in Ujjain. At JNU, Santosh Kumar Shukla’s lectures on Vedic interpretation based on Indian methodologies, along with his advice and Vedic contacts in Kāśī, enhanced my research. I am enormously indebted to Mr. C.B. Tripathi and Dr. B.R. Mani, my adopted family in India, for their contributions to my fieldwork: facilitating my visits to countless monuments and museums and instructing me in the history and culture of ancient India. I must also thank Bhagyalata Pataskar for directing me to the sixteen-day soma yajña of Yadneshwar Selukar Maharaj. My study of Vedic thought and practice came to life in Beed, thanks to Sudhakar Kulkarni, Sunil Gosavi, and Yogita Thigale. I am grateful to Kulkarni, an agnihotrin, and his family for allowing me to observe performances of the agnihotra ritual in their home in Pune.

The talented Lang Nixon has been a close friend and a source of unconditional

support, like a well-made dress that hugs you in all the right places. Yueni, Ajlai, and Sean:

iii thanks for accompanying me through graduate school. Yueni, your advice and insights have been invaluable and have helped me to grow. Thanks to Kelsi for seeing me through transitions and hard times, and to Steve for making sure that I periodically left my desk to keep up with the latest hipster outposts in Oakland. Angela, your courage and social graces have been uplifting in the final stretch. Finally, all my love to my parents, whose selfsacrifices made possible my education and philosophical pursuits. I appreciate the encouragement of my whole family—Mom, Dad, Melissa, John, Chrissie, and Jacob— during the last fifteen years of university studies and travel around the world as a buscadora.

“sukhino vā khemino hontu sabbe sattā bhavantu sukhitattā” (Suttanipāta 145).

iv Abbreviations

A Aṅguttara Nikāya AB Aitareya Brāhmaṇa ABORI Annals of Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute AV Atharvaveda BĀU Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad CN Cūḷaniddesa CU Chāndogya Upaniṣad D Dīgha Nikāya DhP Dhammapada JB Jaimanīya Brāhmaṇa JOCBS Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies JUB Jaiminīya Upaniṣad Brāhmaṇa KS Kāṭhaka Saṃhitā KŚS Kātyāyana Śrauta Sūtra M Majjhima Nikāya MBh Mahābhārata MN Mahāniddesa MS Maitrāyaṇī Saṃhitā MW Monier Williams Dictionary PTSD Pali Text Society Dictionary ṚV Ṛgveda S Saṃyutta Nikāya ŚāṅkhB Śāṅkhāyana Brāhmaṇa ŚB Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa ŚBK Kāṇva Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa ŚBM Mādhyandina Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa Sn Suttanipāta TB Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa TS Taittirīya Saṃhitā VS Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā VSK Kāṇva Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā VādhS Vādhūla Sūtra VP Viṣṇu Purāṇa YV Yajurveda

v Introduction

There was never a unitary Vedic tradition against which Buddhism reacted. Vedic religiosity was a dynamic aggregate, alive with regional variation. Vedic schools made differing contributions to ritual practice and philosophy, and we can recover them. This study investigates continuity and rupture in discrete exchanges between late Vedic and early Buddhist religious communities through two texts that arise and remain largely based in Kosala. The Kāṇva Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa features particular elements that influenced Buddhist concepts, but are not found in other Vedic texts. While this school boasts the first Upaniṣad, it lacks the Sūtra texts that became common to other Vedic schools in the last few centuries before the Common Era. The Suttanipāta depicts the Buddha as particularly knowledgeable about Vedic practices. The earliest layer of this collection, moreover, does not distinguish a separate Buddhist identity apart from Vedic munis.

Even in religion, shifts in the value of philosophical concepts inescapably occur with 1 usage. For this reason, terms must be translated according to context, with care not to apply anachronistic interpretations from classical Sanskrit that disregard the original sense.

The systematicity of Vedic textuality provides a map for the reconstruction of a Vedic philosophical code, if the data set is responsibly prepared—with attention to shifts in the conceptual register—and the reader has competency. This task requires recognizing that Brāhmaṇa texts express philosophical concepts through metaphor and then, as Jacques Derrida urges in “White Mythology,” uncovering the original sense in these metaphors.2 Arguably, the Buddha knew the Vedic code specified by the Kāṇvas and critiqued their concepts to enliven the philosophies the ancient sages lived. With the idea of philosophical critique in mind, this dissertation establishes that Kosalan philosophy grappled with understanding cause and effect and differentiated karmically-conditioned knowing from direct knowing.

I present the argument in the following seven chapters plus a conclusion. Chapter one establishes the Brāhmaṇa texts as philosophy. Focusing on transmission and place, the West received the Vedas and other Asian texts in the nineteenth century, prompting new projects to explain the influx of foreign ideas in relation to western religion, history, and philosophy. The work of Friedrich Max Müller and Ralph Waldo Emerson at this time shows that the task of philosophy to create concepts occurs even in ordinary language. Like the Brāhmaṇas, their work has not been recognized as philosophy, even though both critique Kant using concepts that enliven terms from Indian tradition. In a similar way, this chapter contends that when Yājñavalkya received the Vedas, he articulated a regional philosophy that has not been recognized as such by western Indologists.

Chapter two investigates the historical context of the Kāṇva Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa and the Suttanipāta in the Kosala region. It argues that the Vedic tradition recorded by the Kāṇva School formed part of the cultural background of the historical Buddha. The Kāṇvas carried on Yājñavalkya’s teachings in a region that comprised part of both āryāvarta and Greater Magadha. Located on the margins of both, Kosala was an important center for 1 Jacques Derrida, “White Mythology: Metaphor in the Text of Philosophy,” in Margins of Philosophy. Trans.

Alan Bass. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982).

2 Ibid.

1 munis, including Vedic ones. The Kāṇva Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa and the Suttanipāta are compilations which contain layers from different time periods. Despite comprising earlier material, the final redactions of both texts occurred during the Śuṅga dynasty in the second or first century BCE. This suggests a local response to a significant shift of power from the east back to the Madhyadeśa, which upheld a more orthodox Vedism than Yājñavalkya’s in Kosala-Videha.

Chapter three reevaluates the relationship between the Brāhmaṇas—here meaning both the genre of Vedic literature (Brāhmaṇa) as well as the Vedic priests (brāhmaṇa)—and the Buddha. It provides a literature review of previous scholarship to date and looks at how the Suttanipāta in particular offers an atypical account of brāhmaṇas in Pāli texts. Concepts and practices borrowed from Vedic tradition that have been studied by other scholars are examined in light of the task to reformulate and enliven concepts implicit in critique. The chapter suggests that the Kosalan brāhmaṇas, including the Kāṇvas, form the bulk of the audience of brāhmaṇas and munis addressed in this collection.

Chapter four contains three sections. Part A introduces Vedic concepts expressed as metaphors. Like Jurewicz, I employ Johnson and Lakoff’s theory of metaphor to unpack the explanatory connections (bandhu) in the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa. These metaphors form a coherent system of Vedic thought, which when understood, help to make better sense of early Buddhist philosophical frameworks. Part B shows how the agnihotrabrāhmaṇa of the Kāṇvas relates to other Vedic schools’ agnihotrabrāhmaṇas and identifies their particular contribution. The results of this comparison justify the exclusive focus on the Kāṇva School in Kosala in this dissertation. Part C examines the exegeses of two Vedic practices— offering the agnihotra and reciting the Sāvitrī ṛk—articulated in the Kāṇva Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa. It argues that the Kāṇva’s metaphorical interpretation of both of these practices establishes Vedic mechanisms for causality and trains the Vedic seer to be mindful of what arises in his mind. This causal interpretation of Vedic ritual may be seen as an early articulation of the concept of karma.

Chapter five shows that the metaphorical system of concepts in the Kāṇva text informed some of the Buddha’s teachings on causality. Since Sakyamuni himself praised both the agnihotra and the Sāvitrī in the Suttanipāta, this chapter traces two important terms that he employs, namely upadhi and āsava, back to their Vedic metaphorical system.

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