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Buddha and Dashavataram
Date: Thu Jan 04 1996 - 13:01:28 PST

Buddha is not considered by most Sri Vaishnavas as one among the Dashavatarams
of Vishnu. Venkatesha Suprabhatam, constructed some 2000 years after the time 
Buddha names the ten avatarams of Vishnu in the verse:
Meena Krite Kamata kola Nrisimha Varnin
Swamin Parashwata tapodhana Raama Chandra
Sheshamsha Rama Yadunandana Kalkya roopa....

Likewise we donUt see mention of Buddha in the works of Andal either.
This does not diminish or dispute  the compassionate teachings of Buddha, but 
am just
making an observation. I will present here my views on why Buddha should not 
included as well as why he may be included as an avatara of Vishnu.

Buddha should not be considered as one among the 10 avataras of Vishnu for the
following reasons:

1. Buddha rejected the authority of the Vedas as well as the previous Avataras
regarded by Hindus.

 All the Vedic deities and other puranic deities (such as Naga) became dasas 
Buddha in the later Buddhist myths. 

Rama and Parasurama disputed over the destruction of Shiva Dhanus. But
Parasurama instantly recognized the Vishnu in Rama and reconciled with him,
because they were birds of the same feather (of Garuda!). No such 
is to be seen with Buddha and the Vedas. 
I also like to point out here (in response to Mr. Sampat RengiUs comments) 
having Parashurama as an avataram is not a problem. 

2. Buddha never claimed that he is God or an avatara of God.
He  did not show any miraculous powers.  When a mother who had lost her child 
snake bite sought BuddhaUs help,  he  advised her that all life is sorrowful 
to participate in the sorrows of life cheerfully.  This  is the most powerful
teaching of Buddha and the one I like to practice.  

3. Buddha was a rebellious reformer. He did accept some Hindu concepts such as
reincarnation, and expanded on some others such as Ahimsa. In comparison,
Mahatma Gandhi and Sai Baba make a better choice as one of the ten avataras of
Vishnu rather than Buddha. 

4. Buddhist texts such as the Jataka tales talk about the previous 
of Buddha as Bodhisatvas. They do not link Buddha to any of the avataras of

5. Mahaveera, a contemporary of Buddha, has more similarities to Buddha.
However, no attempt has been made to call him as one of the 10 avataras of
Vishnu. We should treat the Buddha the same way.

6. Buddha discovered truth by himself. Even if the truth he discovered may not
be different from that proclaimed by the Hindu sages prior to him. Let it be
that.  IsnUt it true that Spinoza (a Jew living under the mercy of Christians 
Amsterdam) came up with a philosophy similar to the Vedic? After all isnUt  it
also true that anyone can independently discover the same truth?
Thus, including Buddha in the 10 avataras for whatever reason  is both 
as well as arrogance on our part that only Vishnavites have a monopoly on the

7. Dr. Ambedkar, perhaps would not have embraced Buddhism, if he thought that
Buddha is an avatara of Vishnu. 

8. Only one of the dashavatarams are predicted for Kaliyuga and that spot is
allotted to Kalki.

Buddha could be included as an avatara of Vishnu for the following reasons.

1.  Jayadeva of 14 th century Orissa has included Buddha in the Dashavatara in
his beautiful lyrics.  Because he made Keshava(Krishna) as the one incarnating
as the fish, tortoise etc., he used Buddha to come up with the ten count.
Buddha is  a self-realized person  and so it is okay to include him,  
at a time when Buddha is of a lesser threat to Vedic Hinduism than other 

2. Jayadeva was influenced by Chaitanya and Vallabha Charya- both staunch
Krishna devotees. Everyone is after all an amsha of Narayana, and on this
grounds also  we can reconcile including Buddha as an avatara.
After all we are in HIM even if HE is not in us ( or not recognized by us)!

3. Having Balarama (Adishesha) as the avatara of Vishnu is cumbersome. How 
such a staunch devotee of Vishnu in Ramayana came about to become both the 
brother (to Krishna) and an avatara of Vishnu ? 
JayadevaUs classification does not solve this problem.

4. Gita talks about avataras in Chapter 4 and there are no names mentioned or
the number limitations imposed. Whenever and wherever there is a need the God
residing within will take charge (examples, Gandhi, Lincoln, Martin Luther 
Martin Luther,  etc). Thus we can include many great souls  from around the
world as avataras of Vishnu and rest of the population as the Avataras in the
making (sort of Bodhisatva concept).