When properly rounded, Yājñavalkya’s Rule would mark the origin of the Via Negativa, the first formulated Self-Negating Expression and the earliest definition for the Symbol ‘0’.
The radical young scholar-monks of the emerging Buddha-Dharma pick up the thread around 500 BCE. They set their results down in a pioneering text, the Maha Prajñā Pāramitha Sūtra, a text which in time defines the very basis of the Mahayana Tradition of Buddhism.
The literature of this period shows that Gautama’s formal schooling, that of a high-born Kshatriya Prince, was firmly in the classic Dharmic paradigm with a crew of noted scholars. These first Upaniṣads would have been standard fare for every beleaguered student in his day.
What is central to the Sūtra is its use of the Self-Negating Expression. In fact the Sūtra is simply the exclusive and exhaustive application of the Self-Negating Expression to almost every verse.
Secondly, unlike in the mystical Upaniṣadic verses, ‘Self’ in the Buddhist Sūtric articulation is consistently an empirical one. It is not simply to be asserted but directly observed in undeniable inferential link, as an identifiable Subject in counterpoint to an identified Object.
A-natman [‘No-‘Self’] is the key element that differentiates the literature of the Buddha-Dharma from its Vedic roots.
Sūtra, cognate with ‘Suture’, a strung-together lock, was originally meant as a mnemonic arrangement [hence the repetitious reinforcements], the anchoring reference to an oral teaching tradition.
The recensions of the larger text expand in stages and reach as high as 100,000 Slokas [Sloka, a metrical unit of 32 syllables]. By the time the Sūtra reaches these rarefied heights of loquacious amplification, the core insights of the original text are lost or faded into footnotes.
Pious scribes and well-meaning monks had tamed Shūnyam’s fierce bellow into a feeble whimper, a reverent purr.
The oral tradition and its dependence on mnemonic phrasing did not transfer well to the written word in high Sanskrit. A downward spiral progressively compacting the now unwieldy texts. The 300 Sloka version is the Vajrachedika Sūtra, [In English, the ‘Diamond’ or ‘Diamond-Cutter’ Sūtra].
‘Arouse the Mind with no abiding place‘ says its most the celebrated line. [The metaphor of the Raft, the central metaphor of Buddhism, also likely originates here.]
The language of the Diamond Sūtra is manifestly opaque to one unfamiliar with its intent. It is special because it is uniquely cognizant of the centrality of the Self-Loop. The Self-Eating Expression is the principal, the only theme of the Sūtra.
The 25 Sloka compacting of the MahaPrajñāpāramithā is the Hridaya Sūtra [‘Heart Sūtra’]. It is to be read and interpreted only as supplement to the Vajrachedika for its very tight phrasing can seriously miscue the entrant.