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Was Swami Vivekananda a Buddhist ?

Swami Vivekananda & Ramakrishna Mission follow Patanjali Rajayoga. Patanjali (240 BC) created Yogasutra having about 250 sutras and started the sankhya system. When analysed word by word, the yogasutra is seen as an adoptation of Buddhas sutras from Tipitika(sutta). This was researched by S.N. Tandon in his book “A Reappraisal of Patanjali’s Yogasutra in light of Buddha’s Teaching” from Vippassana Research Institute.
Patanjali(240 BC) was the chief priest of hindu king Pushya mitra sunga who ordered killing of Buddhist and Jain monks @ 100 gold coins for every severed head. It seems that Patanjali was concerned about saving this great path of nirvana, therefore he tried to save it by adopting it from pali to sanskrit.
Yogasutra teaching is about nirodha( Yoga citta vritti nirodha v.2) similar to the path of Buddha which is nirodha of body, emotions, thoughts, desires and samanskaras
Buddha is available at:
Hence all sadhus & yogis are following Buddha
Patanjali is considered as father of yoga. And since he learned from Buddha’s teachings , it can be said that all the yogis are basically following the path started by Buddha.
80% of Patanjali yogasutra is Buddhist with almost same words taken from pali.
The only difference between Yoga & Buddha’s path is that Yoga system acknowledges God as an omnipotent and omnipresent entity, whereas buddha questions presence of God & calls it a mental construct. Besides that Buddha’s method leads to nirvana from which there is no return (reincarnation) same as moksha in Yoga system(sankhya). It seems that the fathers of Yoga(patanjali et al) could never dare to question God’s existance due to tradition or due to social reasons, otherwise both are same.
In his book Rajayoga, Swami Vivekananda acknowledges that “Among the persons born on planet earth, Buddha is the greatest(tejasvi) of all”
Swami Vivekananda could have said this about his guru Ramakrishna Paramhansa , as all disciples praise their guru only, but no. He spoke the truth based on his experience.
Therefore Buddha is the Param Guru of all the Yogis , sadhus & ascetics in India.


  1. Interesting …
    This is what I know – Vivekananda was a Hindu who inculcated some of the teachings of Buddha as it is universal.
    Respect your research !!

  2. You’re an intelligent man, Buddha is the Lord.
    I’m doing some Post-Grad Studies in Buddhism.
    Can I email you?
    You’ve made me learn something new today. 🙂
    Blessings of the Noble Triple Gem, to you Sir.

  3. Swami Vivekananda was a universalist and belonged to a group called the Brahmo Samaj that was trying to promote Universalism, westernization, and intellectualism. He became the foremost disciple of Ramakrishna, a simple temple priest who was given to going into ecstasies and was deemed a “paramahamsa”–or fully enligthened living person– by some peers. He performed the rites and “realized” the meaning of a series of occult Tantric rituals. He had a Tantric teacher and an Advaita Vedantist teacher–and a Muslim teacher but not a Buddhist or Christian one although he did have visions of Jesus and the Madonna. He was essentially a shakta devoted to the Goddess Kali but also preached nondualist Vedanta. Not Buddhism. Extreme Advaita Vedanta is somewhat similar to Buddhism but scholars–especially Buddhist scholars–emphasize a sharp distinction between the 2 beliefs systems.
    Although Ramakrishna and Vivekananda appreciated Buddhism, they were not teaching Buddhist tenets or necessarily teaching Patanjali Yoga. Ramakrishna was an ecstatic bhakta, Vivekananda perhaps can be called a jnana yogi. Vedanta has more been equated with jnana yoga than with raja yoga.
    If a Vedantist of the Ramakrishna lineage follows Patanjali rajayoga, he or she does it individually according to temperament and whim, not because it was a foundation set by Ramakrishna or Vivekananda.
    The only thing Buddhist about Ramakrishna is that he was born Gaghadhar Chattopadaya. Gaghadhar is an epithet of Buddha. He was named this because his father purportedly made a pilgrimage to the tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment and had a dream that he was going to have a son who would be a divine incarnation. When he returned home, his wife announced that she also had prophetic dream and was pregnant. These kinds of stories are called “hagiography” and are somewhat mythic in quality.
    Buddhism was the prevailing official religious philosophy governing India from about 500 BCE to about 600 CE. The Yoga Sutras were written about 300 BCE, I think. Many belief systems were sycretic and later became formalized and labeled as this or that kind of Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. A kind of Hindu renaissance took place during the early half of the first millenieum of the Common era, and then what became known as Buddhism became more prominent in surrounding lands to India than in India itself.


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