Pre-buddhist or non-buddhist sources that talk about nama-rupa

Before the seas, and this terrestrial ball,
the World And Heav’n’s high canopy, that covers all,
One was the face of Nature

No certain form on any was imprest;
All were confus’d, and each disturb’d the rest.
For hot and cold were in one body fixt;
And soft with hard, and light with heavy mixt

But God, or Nature, while they thus contend,
To these intestine discords put an end:
Then earth from air, and seas from earth were
And grosser air sunk from aetherial Heav’n.
Thus disembroil’d, they take their proper place;
The next of kin, contiguously embrace;

Thus when the God, whatever God was he,
Had form’d the whole, and made the parts agree,
That no unequal portions might be found,

From Ovid’s Metamorphoses

@sujato :anjal:

For me what is very interesting about the parayana vagga is, Buddha probably accepted the brahmanic definition of namarupa. Because no where in the vagga does the Buddha redefine namarupa for the brahman students.


:slightly_smiling_face: Absolutely, Bhante.
Names & Forms, or Memes & Genes, Mind & Body, are our father & mother.

Absolutely, Bhante.
Our world consists of Names(Memes) & Forms(Genes).
It is like an Internet, in which the memes are the software, and the genes are the hardware.
Every living being is a nerd on that Internet, evolving and changing with their memes & genes forever, which is call the Samsara.
One day, the Prince Siddhartha (the Buddha) shouted out: let’s stop being a nerd! Stop playing useless games & sending meaningless emails on the Internet. Let’s go offline and have some real life! (Nirvana)
So according to him, anything you’ve done that is not enslaved by memes & genes, is your true freedom.

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Who was not a prince as he grew up in a Republic; and whose name was unknown.

Sure, why not?

This is explained in terms of child development.

No, they have name and form just like the rest of us.


If you know of any Jaina references to nama-rupa, I’d love to see them.

No, the Vedas and some of the Upanishads are pre-Buddhist. Most of the Upanishads are, it is true, later, but the Brihadarannyaka and Chandogya are certainly pre-Buddhist (despite the arguments of a couple of scholars). And they are an incredibly rich source of information on how and why the Buddha taught the way he did. We really need to look at them more closely and take them more seriously. In Buddhist studies it is often as if we are trying to understand Martin Luther without bothering to study the Catholic Church or the Bible.

Right. Just remember, as I suggest earlier, that this is a later brahmanical redefinition of an older and more primitive magical conception.

Yes, good point. If we treat the topic historically, then we see the analytical definition as given in the suttas (i.e. nama and rupa are each analyzed as certain mental and physical elements), as a rebuttal or redefinition of the brahmanical approach. It is not an absolute statement, but a dialectic: “What you take as xyz, if you look at it more closely, turns out to be abc”. Later generations of Buddhists ignored the dialectical context and took the statements as absolutes.

Yep, that’s pretty much it.


please sir have some faith. The lineage of monks protected this dhamma vinaya above there very life. It is highly unlikely they will forget Buddha’s name.


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Agree. Buddha’s family tree is well documented.

That is what I concluded after some deliberation.
I am gald you gave an answer to my question.
How does this reconcile with Vinnana Niroda lead to Namarupa Nirodha?
Doesn’t this mean Arahant do not have Namarupa?

No, this is talking about parinibbana.


Two publications could be of interest:
Olalde - Nāmarūpa; a Linguistic Perspective 2015/2017
Falk - Nama-Rupa and Dharma-Rupa 1943

The publications detail the pre-Buddhist sources as well…

As @sujato remarked, it might be that these concepts were not overly complex originally. Still, to access a remote 2500 year old world is always difficult - so even if it was simple for them it represents a challenge for us to reconstruct the specific simplicity it had for them.


I understand the Buddha to have seen dependent arising through the emptiness of consciousness. When namarupa arises, consciousness arises. When consciousness arises, namarupa arises. One cannot exist without the other. Yet, consciousness is not part of namarupa, it is distinctly separate. Yet the only way to experience anything is through the sense doors and consciousness. Consciousness is an aggregate (bundle) of grasping, a magic trick, with nothing substantial, empty, no inherent self, a killer. The Buddha wasn’t deceived by the magic trick, wasn’t led by it, didn’t reach out to grasp it. He just saw the seen as the seen, the heard as the heard, the cognized as the cognized and didn’t identify with namarupa or consciousness or locate an essential self therein. Consciousness and namarupa is totally and completely conditioned.

Please let me know if this sounds correct or if I’m off base here.

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I’m sorry venerable this was a long time ago when we still held the printed book in our hands! I’ve since then forgotten the titles of the corresponding Jain suttas or even the publishers. I think they didn’t have a concept of namarupa per se but they were deeply concerned, even obsessed, with the relationship between what’s living and animate and what’s dead, which reflected itself as well in their discourses on human spirit vis a vis the body. This is found in several of their most authentic suttas. Independently from that i recall that they did have a six senses scheme of sensorial experience (which may had been borrowed from Buddhism!). I’ll let you know if I find my notes on this, they’ll have the refs.

Definitely the traditions themselves are and what’s in their text is not all influenced by Buddhism; i was referring to the date of documenting these teachings in writing, which occurred well after Buddha and possibly even after committing BuddhaDhamma to writing.

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Thank you! for the links.

Please provide with the source(s), in particular sutta references.
As far as I know Gotama was his family name but his 1st name was not recorded in the suttas. Not sure where the name Siddhartha appears for the 1st time.

Siddhartha is a title, meaning “one that has accomplished the goal”.

You can read it in Pāli texts as Siddhattha. In Pāli texts this is a title, not a name.

The first text to treat “Siddhartha Gautama” as a proper name for the Buddha is Aśvaghoṣasyabuddhacarita (which can be read here) from approx 150CE, but it is not a sūtra, but rather, a medieval Buddhist historical epic of the time.


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Please refer to page 12 of Buddha and his teaching by Narada for the family tree of Buddha.
You can trust Ven. Narada for his teaching.

I’m afraid his teaching is traditional Theravada extracted from the Jatakas and other non-EBT sources. As soon as I read words such as Prince, Queen and King I know it is not EBT.

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@sujato :anjal:

Bhante , Is there an equivalent of mara in the upanishad teaching?

Sir, I do appreciate your independence in thinking. Buddha himself said even if one hung on to the end of his robe and followed him every where that person will not attain liberation. This is some thing that each individual must do for himself with such strength and faculties as they have.

But in defence of the theravada tradition ; This lineage is not dead yet. Its still producing visible fruits. I’m sure you have heard of world famous teachers such as Ajahn chah. And there are extremely wise monks here as well. I know because i met them.