This linked answer took me a long way towards solving this riddle but didn't quite answer it. According to it, Shrimad Bhagvat clearly states that the purpose of Vishnu's incarnation as Buddha was to delude the people who are envious to the Gods (read athiests):

tataḥ kalau sampravṛtte sammohāya sura-dviṣām
buddho nāmnāñjana-sutaḥ kīkaṭeṣu bhaviṣyati [SB - 1.3.24]

This view is also prominent among many other schools of Hindu Philosophy.

Now I'm not challenging the existing scriptures, but simply trying to understand why. What sense would it make to "delude" some people by denying moksha, if they aren't going to get it in the first place? More over, seeing what Buddha has brought into the world (non-violence, meditation, etc.), that doesn't seem to be delusional at all. How do you explain that?

  • Puranas , unlike vedas have been modified multiple times before.I personally feel that , buddhas name was not there in original bhagavata.Its been inserted after buddha's death.
    – tekkk
    Feb 15, 2015 at 20:31
  • It wasn't about deluding atheists. It was about deluding Asuras (demons), who were using Vedic practices to render themselves invincible against the gods; see my answer here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/4021/36 Feb 16, 2015 at 12:01
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    There is no such thing. Buddha's teaching is the Highest Truth. Obviously those who cannot understand it will spin up stories such as this to keep their followers from deviating. The Truth is that the Buddha (and other great saints of Bharat) all taught the Highest knowledge. But their followers became sectarian. Thus when sects fight against each other, it is common to insert such statements into scripture to convince their followers that they are right. Read for yourself the great teachings of Buddha and decide for yourself, who is right and who is wrong!!
    – Sai
    Feb 16, 2015 at 16:24
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    @KeshavSrinivasan - There are a few issues with that theory. For starters, the current version of Vishnu Purana was composed around 320CE during the Gupta era. Since Buddhism was quite prevalent then, its quite possible that it was modified to counter the prevailing Buddhism at that time. Also, the linked text mentioning Jain tirthankaras as asuras also doesn't make sense. Feb 16, 2015 at 16:54
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    @Sai Your point regarding sects is true. The reason for sects differing in this particular case (Buddha), is that in one small matter the Vedanta and Buddhism hold diametrically opposite views -regarding the existence of soul. While Vedanta holds that such a soul or atman exists (that thou art), Buddhism does not. While Buddha stayed unanswered to this question, his followers took it to mean that atman doesn't exist. This small thing is all about the great Hindu-Buddhist divide. Here is an excellent read on this. Feb 16, 2015 at 17:01


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