Lord Buddha preached ahimsa paramo dharmah: "The best religious principle is to become nonviolent"

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Srimad-Bhagavatam

SB Canto 6

Ātmavat sarva-bhūteṣu: one should feel the happiness and distress of others as his own. It is on this basis that the Buddhist religious principle of nonviolence—ahiṁsaḥ parama-dharmaḥ—is established.
SB 6.10.9, Translation and Purport:

If one is unhappy to see the distress of other living beings and happy to see their happiness, his religious principles are appreciated as imperishable by exalted persons who are considered pious and benevolent.

One generally follows different types of religious principles or performs various occupational duties according to the body given to him by the modes of material nature. In this verse, however, real religious principles are explained. Everyone should be unhappy to see others in distress and happy to see others happy. Ātmavat sarva-bhūteṣu: one should feel the happiness and distress of others as his own. It is on this basis that the Buddhist religious principle of nonviolence—ahiṁsaḥ parama-dharmaḥ—is established. We feel pain when someone disturbs us, and therefore we should not inflict pain upon other living beings. Lord Buddha's mission was to stop unnecessary animal killing, and therefore he preached that the greatest religious principle is nonviolence.

Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

People wanted to give Lord Buddha Vedic evidences that "In the Vedic literature animal sacrifice is recommended under certain condition. So how do you preach? You are Hindu and you are followers of Vedas. Why you are preaching nonviolence?" Therefore he had to give up Hindu religion. He said that "I do not care for your Vedas. It is my propaganda to stop animal killing. So if you follow me, then you must stop animal killing." Ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ.
Lecture on BG 4.7 -- Montreal, June 13, 1968:

State laws, there are some rules and regulation in the lawbook, in the statute book of the particular state. Similarly, dharma, another meaning of dharma is, it is the law of God. Maybe differently described in different countries according to different climatic condition or situation. But in every religious scripture the obedience to God is instructed. That is a fact. No scripture says that there is no God and you are independent. Either it is Bible or Koran or Vedas or even Buddhist literature, Buddhist scripture.

Generally, according to Buddha philosophy, there is no soul, no God. But they have to obey Lord Buddha. So there is also God because Lord Buddha is accepted by the Vedic literature. Just in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam there is a great list of incarnations, and Buddha, Lord Buddha, is accepted as one of the incarnations who would appear. It is in future tense. Kīkaṭeṣu bhaviṣyati. Buddho nāmnā añjana-sutaḥ kīkaṭeṣu bhaviṣyati. Now bhaviṣyati means "He will appear in future." Because Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was compiled by Vyāsadeva five thousand years ago, and Lord Buddha appeared about two-thousand-six-hundred years ago. Therefore before the appearance of Lord Buddha the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was written. This is called śāstra. Because there is accurate date and accurate calculation. Everything is there. Buddho nāmnā añjana-sutaḥ kīkaṭeṣu bhaviṣyati. The mother's name also given there, añjana-suta. And kīkaṭeṣu means Gayāpradesh. In India there is a province called Bihar. In that province there is a district Gayā. In that district Lord Buddha appeared. Lord appeared in Bihar province. He was kṣatriya, He was Hindu, and He propagated this religion of nonviolence, Buddhism.

His specific propaganda was to stop animal killing. So animal killing is recommended in the Vedic literature. Therefore people wanted to give him Vedic evidences that "In the Vedic literature animal sacrifice is recommended under certain condition. So how do you preach? You are Hindu and you are followers of Vedas. Why you are preaching nonviolence?" Therefore he had to give up Hindu religion. He said that "I do not care for your Vedas. It is my propaganda to stop animal killing. So if you follow me, then you must stop animal killing." Ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ. So later on, of course, Lord Buddha was patronized by a great emperor, Aśoka, and therefore practically all Indian population turned to be Buddhist, with few exceptions.

When Lord Buddha started this nonviolence, ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ, the Vedic scholars approached him that "How you can prescribe this ahiṁsā? There is already sanction in the Vedas, paśavo vadhāya sṛṣṭāḥ... How you can stop it?" So Lord Buddha said, "I don't care for your Vedas." Therefore he is considered as atheist.
Lecture on BG 4.11 -- Bombay, March 31, 1974:

People may question that "Lord Buddha is accepted as an incarnation of Lord Kṛṣṇa." Keśava dhṛta-buddha-śarīra jaya jagadīśa hare. "Then why he preached atheistic philosophy?" He preached, "There is no God." Śūnyavāda. But there was necessity at that time. Why? That is explained by Jayadeva Gosvāmī:

nindasi yajña-vidher ahaha śruti-jātaṁ
sadaya-hṛdaya darśita-paśu-ghātam
keśava dhṛta-buddha-śarīra jaya jagadīśa hare

At that time, people were killing animals like anything in the name of yajña. In the Vedas there are prescriptions that in the yajña a paśu can be, an animal can be slaughtered. In some yajña, not all. Tāmasika-yajña.

Anyway, Vedic injunction is there. So when Lord Buddha started this nonviolence, ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ, the Vedic scholars approached him that "How you can prescribe this ahiṁsā? There is already sanction in the Vedas, paśavo vadhāya sṛṣṭāḥ... How you can stop it?" So Lord Buddha said, "I don't care for your Vedas." Therefore he is considered as atheist. Anyone who doesn't care for Vedas, they are technically called as atheist. Veda nā māniyā bauddha haila nāstika. Nāstika means atheist.

Lord Buddha, his mission was to stop animal killing. Ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ.
Lecture on BG 7.16 -- Bombay, April 7, 1971:

In the Purāṇas... There are tāmasika-purāṇas where it is recommended that if you want to eat flesh, then you can get a goat and sacrifice before Goddess Kālī and you can eat that. The purpose is that if a conditioned soul has got the natural tendencies, then why they are mentioned in the śāstras? The idea is... Just like Lord Buddha. Lord Buddha, his mission was to stop animal killing. Ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ. Lord Buddha appeared, being compassionate with the poor animals. Sadaya-hṛdaya darśita-paśu-ghātam. There is a description of Lord Buddha's activities by a Vaiṣṇava poet, Jayadeva Gosvāmī. He says, praying to Lord Buddha,

nindasi yajña-vidher ahaha śruti-jātaṁ
sadaya-hṛdaya darśita-paśu-ghātam
keśava dhṛta-buddha-śarīra jaya jagadīśa hare

Lord Buddha appeared to stop this animal killing. But because in the Purāṇas there are sometimes regulative principle of killing animal, therefore he had to deny the authority of Vedas, because those who are after killing animals, they will find some clue that "Here in the Vedas the animal-killing is sometimes recommended." But that animal-killing is not a, I mean to say, instigation that "You go on killing animals."

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

Lord Buddha rejected Vedas and He presented his own philosophy: ahiṁsā, nonviolence. Ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ.
Lecture on SB 1.3.24 -- Los Angeles, September 29, 1972:

So Lord Buddha appeared at a time where people were too much addicted to animal killing. Still it is going on. Keśava dhṛta-buddha-śarīra, jaya jagadīśa hare. Sadaya-hṛdaya darśita-paśu-ghātam. Paśu-ghātam. Any religion where paśu-ghātam is there, that is not religion. That is not religion. That is simply barbarianism, under the name of religion. So God Himself becomes so much disturbed that these rascals are simply killing. At that time, of course, the Buddha religion was not there. The so-called followers of the Vedic religion. In the Vedas there are sanction for killing animal in a special sacrifice, but people took it as general, and they began to kill animals like anything, under the protection of Veda. Therefore when Lord Buddha began to preach his philosophy, ahiṁsā, nonviolence, he did not accept the authority of Vedas. Because people will misuse it. Therefore he said that "I don't care for your Vedas." Just like Lord Jesus Christ rebelled against the whole Testament. He formulated his own testament, New Testament. Similarly, Lord Buddha also, he rejected Vedas and He presented his own philosophy: ahiṁsā, nonviolence. Ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ. Because he was very kind upon on the poor animals. Sadaya-hṛdaya darśita-paśu-ghātam. Paśu-ghātam means animal killing. Nindasi yajña-vidher ahaha śruti-jātam. Śruti-jātam. Śruti means Veda. So in the Vedas, although there are, in particular cases, there are animal sacrifice... That is also very restricted. But we cannot say that there is no animal sacrifice. There is in some cases. So Lord Buddha, nindasi, He decried, "No, I don't accept your Vedas." Therefore Buddha religion is different from Vedic religion, because he rejected Vedas. And the Vedic followers, because he rejected Vedic principles, Vedic followers said that he, "You are nāstika." Nāstika means unbeliever.

Lord Buddha's also principle is ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ, no killing. Lord Jesus Christ also says, "Thou shalt not kill." In our Bhagavad-gītā it is also said, amānitvam adambhitvam ahiṁsā. Ahiṁsā means not to become violent, not to kill.
Lecture on SB 6.1.8 -- New York, July 22, 1971:

So on the whole, the Manu-saṁhitā, life for life is sanctioned. And that is practically observed all over the world. But similarly, there are other laws, that you cannot kill even an ant. Then you are responsible. You have no right to kill. And in the Bible also, we see, Lord Jesus Christ says, "Thou shalt not kill." So killing is not allowed in any religious principle. Anyone who is killing, he's not considered in the human society. You cannot kill. The... Lord Buddha's also principle is ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ, no killing. Lord Jesus Christ also says, "Thou shalt not kill." In our Bhagavad-gītā it is also said, amānitvam adambhitvam ahiṁsā (BG 13.8). Ahiṁsā means not to become violent, not to kill.

So as there is state laws that you shall be killed if you kill your fellow man, similarly in the God's law there are the same thing. Not only man; if you kill anyone, then you'll have to suffer, because everyone is God's creature. They are in different dress only. He's considered the supreme father. So father may have many children—one is not very intelligent, another is very intelligent. And if the intelligent son says to the father that "This, my brother, is not intelligent. Let me kill him," will the father allow? Because his one son is not very intelligent, and if the intelligent son desires to kill him to avoid the burden, will the father agree to this? No. Similarly, if God is the supreme father, how He can sanction that you live and you kill animal? The animals are also His sons.

Lord Buddha... Ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ is also Vedic religion, but they stressed especially on ahiṁsā.
Lecture on SB 6.1.40 -- Surat, December 22, 1970:

Mālatī: (break) ...that Lord Buddha, he adopted a new type of religion, but those who were strict followers of Vedas, they would not accept him. Does that mean that there were still people who were following those beliefs, scriptures, at his time, or did he convert all of India?

Prabhupāda: Yes. Lord Buddha was patronized by the then emperor, Ashoka. And anything patronized by the state, it becomes very popular. Yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhaḥ lokas tad anuvartate (BG 3.21). So Lord Buddha converted Ashoka, Emperor Ashoka, to this religion. Therefore whole India became Buddhist. And later on, when Buddhism was driven out of India, the Jainism and similar other religious principles became visible. Ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ. Lord Buddha... Ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ is also Vedic religion, but they stressed especially on ahiṁsā. In the Bhagavad-gītā you will find: amānitvam adambhitvam ahiṁsā kṣāntir ārjavam (BG 13.8). These are the different steps of progressing in knowledge and religion. The first thing is amānitvam. Amānitvam means very humble. Very humble. And therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu teaches that tṛṇād api sunīcena, "Just become humbler than the straw in the street or grass." To become religious means... Lord Jesus Christ also, he taught like that—"The humble and meek will attain the kingdom of God." Is it not said like that?

Haṁsadūta: He said, "The greatest amongst you shall be the last..."

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Haṁsadūta: "...and the servant of all."

Prabhupāda: So this is taught also in the Bhagavad-gītā. Amānitvam adambhitvam. No false pride. Then ahiṁsā. Unless one is prideless, unless one is humble, it is not possible to become nonviolent. So this nonviolence is also there, the Vaiṣṇava. So automatically they don't encourage animal-killing.

Sri Isopanisad Lectures

Nowadays everything has deteriorated, but Lord Buddha's propaganda was to make the rascals at least to stop animal-killing. Ahiṁsā paramo dharma.
Sri Isopanisad, Mantra 1 -- Los Angeles, May 3, 1970:

Gargamuni: (reading:) "It is also wrong to consider that simply by becoming a vegetarian one can save himself from transgressing the laws of nature. Vegetables also have life. One life is meant to feed another living being, and that is the law of nature. One should not be proud of being a strict vegetarian. The point is to recognize the Supreme Lord. The animals have no developed consciousness to recognize the Lord, but a human being..."

Prabhupāda: That is the main point. Just like there are the Buddhists, they are also vegetarian. According to Buddhist principle... Nowadays everything has deteriorated, but Lord Buddha's propaganda was to make the rascals at least to stop animal-killing. Ahiṁsā paramo dharma. Lord Buddha's appearance is described in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and many Vedic literatures. Sura-dviṣām. He came to cheat the demons. The demons... He made such a policy that the demons were cheated. How he has cheated? The demons, they are against God. They don't believe in God. So Lord Buddha propagated, "Yes, there is no God. But what I say, you follow." "Yes, sir." But he is God. This is cheating. Yes. They do not believe in God, but they believe in Buddha, and Buddha is God. Keśava-dhṛta-buddha-śarīra jaya jagadīśa hare. So that is the difference between a demon and a devotee. A devotee sees that how Kṛṣṇa, Keśava, is cheating these rascals. The devotee can understand. But the demons, they think, "Oh, we have got a nice leader. He does not believe in God." (laughter) You see? Sammohāya sura-dviṣām (SB 1.3.24). The exact Sanskrit word is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. You have seen, those who have read: sammohāya, for bewildering sura-dviṣām. Sura-dviṣām means persons who are envious of the Vaiṣṇavas. The atheist class, demons, they are always envious of the devotees. That is the law of nature. You see this father. Father became an enemy of a five-years-old son. What was his fault? He was a devotee. That's all. Innocent boy. Simply he was, I mean to say, attracted with chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. The father himself, he became a staunch enemy: "Kill this boy." So if a father can become enemy, what to speak of others. So you should always expect that as soon as you become a devotee, the whole world becomes your enemy. That's all. But you have to deal with them, because you are appointed servants of God. Your mission is to enlighten them.

Initiation Lectures

In the Vedic authority there is recommendation, under certain condition, of animal sacrifice. But Lord Buddha wanted to stop completely animal sacrifice. Therefore superficially he said, he denied the authority of Vedic ritual. Because if he accepted Vedic rituals then he could not preach this ahiṁsā paramo dharma.
Initiation of Jayapataka Dasa -- Montreal, July 24, 1968:

So Lord Buddha, he, of course, did not preach directly God consciousness, but we accept him as the incarnation of God. Keśava dhṛta-buddha-śarīra jaya jagadīśa hare. He had to preach amongst the atheist class of men who were too much addicted with animal slaughter and he wanted to stop animal slaughter. That was his main business. So I've several times explained. Therefore he rejected Vedic authority. Because in the Vedic authority there is recommendation, under certain condition, of animal sacrifice. But he wanted to stop completely animal sacrifice. Therefore superficially he said, he denied the authority of Vedic ritual. Because if he accepted Vedic rituals then he could not preach this ahiṁsā paramo dharma. So that is a great story. Anyway we accept, we Vaiṣṇavas, we accept Lord Buddha as incarnation. That is mentioned in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. He is incarnation of Kṛṣṇa. Keśava dhṛta-buddha-śarīra. So indirectly the Buddhists are worshiping God. They are denying, there is no existence of God but they are accepting the incarnation of God.

General Lectures

Lord Buddha preached ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ: "The best religious principle is to become nonviolent." He preached this philosophy, that "If somebody hurts you, you feel pain, then why should you kill other animal and put it into painful condition? So don't do these sinful activities." That was his main principle of philosophy that he preached.
Lecture (Day after Lord Rama's Appearance Day) -- Los Angeles, April 16, 1970:

So about Lord Buddha we have got a nice prayer:

nindasi yajña-vidher ahaha śruti-jātaṁ
sadaya-hṛdaya darśita-paśu-ghātam
keśava-dhṛta-buddha-śarīra jaya jagadīśa hare

This song was sung by a great Vaiṣṇava poet, Jayadeva Gosvāmī. So the purport of this verse, Sanskrit verse, is keśava-dhṛta-buddha-śarīra. "My dear Kṛṣṇa"—Keśava means Kṛṣṇa—"You have assumed the form of Lord Buddha. And what is Your function? Nindasi yajña-vidher ahaha śruti-jātam." In the Vedic literature there are numerous prescription of sacrifice. And in some of the sacrifices animal sacrifice is also recommended. So that animal sacrifice does not mean to kill the animal. Animal sacrifice means to prove the strength of Vedic hymns so that one old animal is put into the fire and he's given again a new life, renewed life, just to show the potency of the hymns, Vedic hymns. But in this age, Kali-yuga, those sacrifices are forbidden. So Lord Buddha, when he saw that people are sacrificing animals in the name of religious rituals without any pity for them, at that time Lord Buddha appeared. Therefore it is stated, sadaya-hṛdaya-darśita-paśu-ghātam: "My dear Lord, You have appeared as Lord Buddha, just being compassionate to the poor animals." Lord Buddha preached ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ: "The best religious principle is to become nonviolent." He preached this philosophy, that "If somebody hurts you, you feel pain, then why should you kill other animal and put it into painful condition? So don't do these sinful activities." That was his main principle of philosophy that he preached.

Philosophy Discussions

Lord Buddha preached that if you feel pain when somebody pinches you, you should not pinch (them). He does not say that you should not pinch a human being. Therefore his dharma is ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ. This is philosophy, something.
Philosophy Discussion on Hegel:

Śyāmasundara: So far the social ethics are concerned, he says that these begin with the family, then they go to the society or community, and then finally the state. He says that the family is the single entity and is the thesis. The individual finds his real nature only in the presence of others.

Prabhupāda: What about the family of the animals? They have got family. What does he say? The tiger has got family—he has got his wife, cats.

Śyāmasundara: When man finds himself in the presence of his family members he is able to understand himself by relating with others. So...

Prabhupāda: Relations with others, just like you are a family man, you don't encroach upon other families, this is society law. So the animals, they have got their family. Family, what do you mean by family, husband, wife, also two children, that is family. So the animals, they have got. So why you encroach upon the animal family? What is his answer?

Śyāmasundara: Families, when they relate together in communities, are related by certain laws or rights, that one voluntarily abstains from killing and stealing from other families so that no one will do the same to him.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Śyāmasundara: So but...

Prabhupāda: This is not applicable to the animal family?

Śyāmasundara: No.

Prabhupāda: This is philosophy. (chuckles) What kind of philosopher he is? Our, Lord Buddha preached that if you feel pain when somebody pinches you, you should not pinch (them). He does not say that you should not pinch a human being. Therefore his dharma is ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ. This is philosophy, something. What is this philosophy? Nonsense philosophy. That you protect your family but you eat the animal family. This Lord Buddha's philosophy has got meaning, but where is the meaning of this philosophy?

Śyāmasundara: Well, he doesn't consider the animal kingdom at all.

Prabhupāda: And he is a rascal. He is a rascal. A philosopher must be all-pervading(?). This is (indistinct).

Conversations and Morning Walks

1972 Conversations and Morning Walks

Lord Buddha promulgamated a new type of religion-ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ. "Don't commit violence. If I pinch your body, you feel pain. You should not pinch others." That is his religion.
Room Conversation with Maharishi Impersonalists -- April 7, 1972, Melbourne:

Prabhupāda: About Lord Buddha is also mentioned in the śāstra that Lord Buddha will appear in Gayā Pradesh, in the province of Gayā, and his business will be to cheat the atheists. That is described. Now, how he is cheating? He is the incarnation of God, but he is preaching amongst people who don't believe in God. So he is cheating in this way, that "Yes, there is no God. You hear me." But he is God. The people amongst whom he is preaching, they don't believe in God, but they accept Lord Buddha. But he is God. So by cheating, he is making others to worship God. God is there. But superficially they think, "We don't believe in God. We believe in Lord Buddha." And Lord Buddha is God. Therefore in the Bhāgavata it is said that his business will be cheat the atheist class of men. Sura-dviṣām. Sammohita-sura-dviṣām. Sammohita means bewilder. But his philosophy is that to make the people sinless. Ahiṁsā. "Don't kill." That is the greatest sin. So he is propagating that "Let these people be saved from the greatest sinful activities." Lord Buddha appeared... He also appeared in India. Why? He was also Hindu. He was kṣatriya, king. He promulgated this philosophy, ahiṁsā, when there was unnecessary killing of animals. According to Vedas, animal can be killed in sacrifice. That also to give a new life. But people misinterpreted and they began to kill animals like anything with the evidence of..., "In the Vedas animal killing is sanctioned." So Lord Buddha appeared, just being compassionate to the poor animals. Sadaya-hṛdaya-darśita-paśu-ghātam. Sadaya. He became very compassionate, that "All these poor animals are being killed unnecessarily." So he promulgamated a new type of religion-ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ. "Don't commit violence. If I pinch your body, you feel pain. You should not pinch others." That is his religion. So, but, he... Because others, they will argue, "Oh, in the Vedas..." As I told you, that Vedas is the evidence, so "Here is... Animal killing is ordered. How you are stopping it?" Therefore he said, "I don't care for your Vedas." And because he did not care for the Vedas, therefore in India, later on, nobody accepted Buddha philosophy.

1974 Conversations and Morning Walks

Lord Buddha, his only mission was to stop the sinful activities of animal... Ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ. He was teaching that. But these rascals, they would show the evidence...
Room Conversation with Prof. Regamay, Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Lausanne -- June 4, 1974, Geneva:

Prof. Regamay: Now there are some schools of Buddhists who are worshiping Buddha like a God.

Prabhupāda: Yes, He is God. He is God. They don't accept Buddha as incarnation of God. But from Vedas we understand that He is incarnation of God.

Prof. Regamay: But he brought to the world the ahiṁsā, but I think ahiṁsā appears already in the Bhagavad-gītā. But there was ahiṁsā also by the Jains.

Prabhupāda: Ahiṁsā, because at that time people were killing animals in the name of yajña. Just like in the Christian world the order is not to kill, but still, they are killing. So this misuse of scriptural injunction is always going on. A class of men there are who abuse the scriptural injunctions and go on with their own motive. So there was a period when people, under the protection of Vedas... Because Vedas, animal sacrifice is recommended for certain purpose, to test the proper chanting of Vedic mantras. The animal was not killed. The animal was put into the fire. Then again it would come out with new life. That is the proper chanting of the Vedic mantras. So for that purpose, animal sacrifice... Just like in biological laboratories, they experiment on the body of animals, frogs, guinea pigs. Similarly, a similar experiment was made, how the Vedic mantra is being properly chanted. The test was that animal should be put into the fire, and if the Vedic mantras were properly being chanted, then that animal would come with a new body. So an old cow or bull was put and he would come with fresh body. That was the purpose. Now later on, they began to eat meat by so-called animal sacrifice. In that period Lord Buddha appeared. About him it is, description is there, sadaya-hṛdaya darśita-paśu-ghātam. The Lord became compassionate on the animals, as they were being killed unnecessarily. So Buddha, Lord Buddha, his only mission was to stop the sinful activities of animal... Ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ. He was teaching that. But these rascals, they would show the evidence... Just like Christians says that "Lord Jesus Christ ate fish" or something like that. Because Lord Jesus Christ ate fish, therefore they should maintain slaughterhouse. This is their reasoning.

1976 Conversations and Morning Walks

Yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati, so He came as Buddha to stop this animal killing. His real business was stop the animal killing, that these rascals are going to hell in the name of religion, so at least stop their activities of animal killing. So therefore he started the mission, ahiṁsā paramo dharma: "Don't kill animals."
Evening Darsana -- July 11, 1976, New York:

Indian man (4): Prabhupāda? Buddha was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the incarnation of Kṛṣṇa, right? Then why he has preached the impersonal form of God?

Prabhupāda: That is explained in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. You have got Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam here? Find out that, when Lord Buddha appeared, that verse. Sammohāya sura-dviṣām (SB 1.3.24). His propaganda was to cheat the atheist class of men. Atheist class of men, they did not recognize existence of God, so He became one of them. Sadaya-hṛdaya darśita-paśu-ghātam. This atheist class, they were killing animals in the name of yajña like anything. So yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati (BG 4.7), so He came as Buddha to stop this animal killing. His real business was stop the animal killing, that these rascals are going to hell in the name of religion, so at least stop their activities of animal killing. So therefore he started the mission, ahiṁsā paramo dharma: "Don't kill animals." But in the Vedas there is recommendation, in the yajña, as you were saying, that there is..., animal killing is recommended. So people presented that "Here is animal killing recommended in the yajña." Therefore he denied the authority of Vedas. Nindasi yajña-vidher ahaha śruti-jātaṁ sadaya-hṛdaya darśita-paśu-ghātam. So this Buddha incarnation is cheating the atheist class of men. He said that "Don't kill animals. If you are killed you feel pain. Why you should kill animals?" That was his mission, to stop animal killing, sinful activities. So what was your question?

Indian man (4): I just asked why he has preached impersonal form of God.

Prabhupāda: Yes, because they were all godless, so he said, "There is no God, but you stop this animal killing." That was his mission. And he said, "There is no God, but whatever I say, you accept." So they agreed. But he is God. That is cheating. Superficially he said there is no God, but he is God. Somehow or other, if people stop animal killing and accept Lord Buddha, then he becomes at least one step forward to God realization. So in a cheating process he made good to others.

Correspondence

1970 Correspondence

Just like in the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" this is a moral instruction for the sinful man. Similarly Lord Buddha also emphasized ahimsa paramadharma "the highest religion is nonviolence."
Letter to Bhagavan -- Los Angeles 2 March, 1970:

Regarding the end of devotees of Lord Jesus Christ, they can go to heaven, that is all. That is a planet in the material world. A devotee of Lord Jesus Christ is one who is strictly following the ten commandments. Now just like in the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" this is a moral instruction for the sinful man. Similarly Lord Buddha also emphasized ahimsa paramadharma "the highest religion is nonviolence." So these instructions are for the sinful men. When one is pious, instead of being sinful, he is promoted to the higher planetary systems like Janaloka, Mahaloka, or Tapaloka and they are above the planet Svargaloka. So persons who are cleansed of sinful life become eligible for spiritual life. From the instructions of Lord Jesus Christ we find that the stress is given to make men free from sinful life—such as "Thou shalt not kill" "Thou shalt not covet"—like that. Therefore the conclusion is that the devotees of Lord Jesus Christ are promoted to the heavenly planets which are within this material world.