budo wrote: ↑Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:22 pm
[It wouldn't be a Buddhist practice
One might declare, that it would not be an orthodox Theravadin practice, at best.
But even that is debatable, as a large number of (what one might flippantly call) 'Hindu gods' are a specific and undeniable part of the Pali Tipitaka; see DN 21, Sakkapañha Sutta
Thus have I heard. Once the Lord was staying in Magadha, to the east of Rājagaha, by a Brahmin village called Ambasaṇḍā, to the north of the village on Mount Vediya, in the Indasāla Cave.580 And at that time Sakka, lord of the gods,581 felt a strong desire to see the Lord. And Sakka thought: ‘Where is the Blessed Lord, the fully-enlightened Buddha, now staying?’ Then, perceiving where the Lord was, Sakka said to the Thirty-Three Gods: ‘Gentlemen, the Blessed Lord is staying in Magadha...in the Indasāla Cave. How would it be if we were to go and visit the Lord?’ ‘Very good, Lord, and may good fortune go with you’, replied the Thirty-Three Gods.
The very gods, the Thirty-Three,
With Indra and Pajāpati,
Who sat enthroned in Council Hall,
These two heroes, passions purged,
Outstripped, and left them far behind.
On seeing which, Vasava,598 dismayed,
Chief amidst that throng of gods,
Cried: “See how these of lesser rank
Outstrip the gods, the Thirty-Three!”
Then hearing of his ruler’s fears,
Gopaka said to Vasava:
“Lord Indra, in the world of men
A Buddha, called the Sakyan Sage,599
Has gained the mastery of lust,
And these his pupils, who had failed
In mindfulness when claimed by death,
Have now regained it with my help.
In this case, the Pali-Sutta Tāvatiṃsa realm is an Indra-centered Pantheon, not by name a Vishnu-centered one (see: Wikipedia
). However, already in the Rig Veda (Hymn 7.99), Indra-Vishnu are equivalent and produce the sun in their combined aspects.
In the Hindu pantheon(s) of later times, Indra was quickly loosing influence and Vishnu and Shiva gaining in importance, which also spilled over into Buddhism (for example, in the early Khmer empire an admixture of Theravada and Shivaistic esoteric Tantrayana was practised).
Specifically, with regard of Buddha being a mere avatar of Vishnu, the following passage might be illuminating (from here
); it is at least the most concise explanation of the difference in concept to orthodox Mahaviharan Theravada.
Further the version of Mahayana that spread in the East including Sri Lanka has several concepts and tenets such as Bodhisattva, "Thrikaya" etc. which were derived from Hinduism. These were forced into Mahayana by the politically powerful Brahmans. These developments finally almost made Buddha an avatar of Vishnu. Further it was Mahayana and Vajrayana that has destroyed the uniqueness of Buddhism, its empiricism, and made it into a religion with mysticism and transcendental features, making it not different from any other religion.
Buddha in Mahayana and Tanthrayana is an eternal, omniscient, supernatural being. In contrast Early Buddhism clearly rejects eternalism, omniscience and transcendentalism as shown in Cula-Malunkya-sutta, Aggivacchagotta-sutta and Tevijja-Vacchagotta-sutta. Theravada which has retained certain features of Mahayana nevertheless doesn't make Buddha eternal or supernatural. Theravada may have allowed the depiction of Buddha as supernatural in size as in the temple statues and also borrowed from Mahayana the rituals, the Bodhisathva concept to some degree, and even some aspects of "Bhakthi Marga" but the nature of Nirvana, Buddha and Arahath and the Arya Astangika Marga which constitutes the essence of Buddhism has remained largely faithful to the doctrine as found in Early Buddhism.