Śūnya and Pūrṇa

  • S. S. Rama Rao PappuEmail author


Being and Nothingness, Fullness and Void, Plenitude and Vacuity, and One and the Zero are some of the categories metaphysicians use to describe Ultimate Reality. In Vedāntic Philosophy, Brahman is the Ultimate Reality which is Pūrṇa, Being, Fullness, and the One. In Mādhyamika Buddhism, Ultimate Reality is Śūnya, Nothingness and Void. Scholarly studies generally maintain that (a) Pūrṇa and Śūnya are ultimately the same or (b) they are different. Without taking sides on these positions, I would like to point the crisscrossing of the concepts and arguments used in both of these schools in their conceptions of Ultimate Reality. (e.g., both Brahman and Śūnya are infinite, unknowable, and silence, Brahman is advaita, and Śūnya is advaya).

It seems to me whether one accepts Śūnya or Pūrṇa as Ultimate Reality is dependent on whether one is a tough-minded or tender-minded philosopher. Consider the following popular example. Suppose we have before us a glass half-filled with water. How do we describe the glass and the water? We can say “the glass is half empty” or “the glass is half full.” Tough-minded philosophers describe the glass as “half empty,” and tender-minded philosophers describe it as “half full.”


Being Nothingness Fullness Void Plenitude Vacuity Zero Advaita Advaya 

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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyMiami UniversityOxfordUSA

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