chapter  4
6 Pages

Analogical Thinking in the Buddhist Tantras

The employment of systematic analogies is frequent in the Vedic literature, from the Rig-Veda itself, down to the Upaniÿads, the oldest of which (such as the Chiindogya and the Brhadara1;1yaka) precede the rise of Buddhism. A threefold symbolism is frequent in the Vedas, where all the gods were included in one or another of the three realms : heaven, atmos­ phere, and earth. A fourfold system had also become popular, with one of the four representing the perfect state. For example, of the four chief priests for the great Srauta ceremonies, it was the Brahman or high priest who knew all three Vedas and protected the ceremony from hostile demons, while the other three priests each knew one Veda. In the case of the celebrated Puruÿa hymn of the Rig-Veda, this glorified Person is three­ fourths outside our world and one-fourth in it. Of the four Ages, the Golden Age has four parts, the successive ones three, two, and one parts (or "fourths") and are correspondingly degenerate. In the Mandukya­ UpaniŒad, the waking state is the first fourth ; dream, the second fourth ; deep sleep the third fourth, and the Self (jtman) the fourth and called "the fourth" (turiya). Of course, the examples of the threefold and fourfold systems could be multiplied at length. The fivefold system became popular in the Upaniÿads, for example, in the Taittiriya-UpaniŒad, where the microcosm-macrocosm analogy is presented in terms of the fivefoldness of the world and of the individual .