When I look back at my childhood, I find that it is when I first came in contact with AryaSamaj that I was influenced by the belief that the Buddha’s teaching is pessimistic. I readMaharshi Dayananda in his famous work Satyarth Prakash where he wrote, "According tothe Buddha there is nothing but misery in the entire world—sarvasya sasārasya
duhkhātmakatva…. However the truth is that there is happiness as well as misery in the
world. It is a falsehood to say that the entire universe is full of misery." This belief,received from Arya Samaj in pre-War Myanmar, became deeply ingrained in my mind andwas further strengthened when I came to India during World War II. In those formativedays of my youth I read many articles and commentaries on the pessimistic teaching of the Buddha.
The writings of Dr. Radhakrishnan, a distinguished philosopher of our times and ex-President of India, further affected my thinking with his observations that: Insistence on suffering is not peculiar to Buddhism, though the Buddha emphasised itovermuch. In the whole history of thought no one has painted the misery of humanexistence in blacker colours and with more feeling than the Buddha. We cannot help feeling that the Buddha overemphasises the dark side of things. TheBuddhist view of life seems to be lacking in courage and confidence. Its emphasis onsorrow, if not false, is not true. There is a tendency in Buddhism to blacken what is dark and darken what is grey. Theoutlook is restricted on principle to all that is sharp, bitter and painful in life.At the theoretical level, the vision of Buddhists is limited to the thorny, bitter andmiserable aspect of life. However, despite these earlier intellectual conditionings, it became very clear to me afterreading the original words of the Buddha and after experiencing Vipassana (the practicalessence of his teaching) that many baseless allegations have been made against theBuddha and his teaching during the last 1000 to 1500 years. This happened because theaccusers were not truly familiar with the teaching of the Buddha. Their allegations had nofoundation in what the Buddha actually taught. Over the centuries, the repetition of these false accusations caused them to becomestronger and more dogmatic. The teachings of the Buddha were blackened to such anextent that not a trace of the truth about him or his teachings remained in India. While Ido not believe that Dr. Radhakrishnan did this deliberately and that these distortions of truth were committed unknowingly, his writings reveal how blemished India’s view of theBuddha had become. I conclude that this happened because the Buddha’s original wordshad long since disappeared from India. Therefore, the Buddha was quoted out of context,and even worse, things that he never said were put into his mouth. Thus, the fallaciousand misleading belief that the Buddha was a pessimist became stronger and stronger. The extensive collection of the original words of the Buddha (Tipiaka) returned to India
during the lifetime of Dr Radhakrishnan following the Sixth Synod in Rangoon (Yangon)from 1954-56. The Government of India published the many volumes of the Tipiaka
through the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara under the able guidance of Ven. Jagdish Kashyap.Dr Radhakrishnan even wrote a common preface to all the books of the Tipiaka. However,
it is evident that, as the President of India, he was extremely busy and apparently had notime to read and appreciate the contextual meaning of the teachings of the Buddhacontained in these books. Otherwise, he would certainly have altered his prior beliefs aboutthe asserted pessimism of the Buddha.
The criticism continues in modern times
The erroneous things said in India about the Buddha and his teaching have continuedunabated for more than a thousand years. No one has ever clarified the truth of this