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Buddha was obliged to deny the authority of the Vedas. And because he did not accept the authority of the Vedas, the Vedantists and the followers of Vedas, they called the Buddhist philosophy as atheistic

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"he was obliged to deny the authority of the Vedas. And because he did not accept the authority of the Vedas, the Vedāntists and the followers of Vedas, they called the Buddhist philosophy as atheistic"

Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

If there is evidence from the Vedas that animal can be killed under certain circumstances, then his whole preaching becomes topsy-turvied. So he was obliged to deny the authority of the Vedas. And because he did not accept the authority of the Vedas, the Vedāntists and the followers of Vedas, they called the Buddhist philosophy as atheistic. This is the explanation.

Anywhere, any, I mean to say, person who is interested in the transcendental feature of the Absolute Truth, they must be either these impersonalist or the localized or must be devotee of the Lord.

So these three features are there, presented of Kṛṣṇa conception, and how they are conceived and what are the different results, we shall try to explain in the next meeting. Now you can put your questions. (break)

They have to take shelter of the Vedas. Just like Śaṅkarācārya. Śaṅkarācārya is impersonalist, and we, the Vaiṣṇava . . . there are two classes of philosopher in India. One is impersonalist and the other is personalist. So we, so far we are concerned, we are personalist, and Śaṅkarācārya is impersonalist. Now, although we are two classes, impersonalist and personalist, we take Veda as the medium of knowledge. We may give different interpretation. That is another thing. But either party of Śaṅkarācārya or the party of Vaiṣṇava ācārya, they take the Vedānta-sūtra, the Vedānta philosophy, as the medium.

But Lord Buddha, although we accept him as the incarnation of God, and he was born in India and he propagated his philosophy from India, but because he denied to accept the Vedic principle, therefore he is known as atheist, because he, Buddha, did not accept the Vedic principles. He denied. And there was reason why he did not. That is a secret thing. That secret—because his whole philosophy was to stop animal killing. Animal killing. Now, in the Vedic scripture, you will find animal sacrifice is recommended. So he wanted to preach, "Stop animal killing."

Now, if there is evidence from the Vedas that animal can be killed under certain circumstances, then his whole preaching becomes topsy-turvied. So he was obliged to deny the authority of the Vedas. And because he did not accept the authority of the Vedas, the Vedāntists and the followers of Vedas, they called the Buddhist philosophy as atheistic. This is the explanation.

So one is accepted as atheist who does not believe in the tenets of the Vedas. That is the sum and substance of atheism. It may be a sound philosophy or whatever it may be, but atheism, one who does not believe in the authority of the Vedas, they are called atheist.