Śūnyatā and Karl Marx
About a year and a half before the publication of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, Erster Band (1867), there appeared in two sentences within two of his letters, a particular view of the term शून्यता / Śūnyatā: rendered in his own English, as nothingness. He came to know about and understood this term in the context of some meditational practices of the monks, nuns and their householder devotees within some sects of the बौद्ध (Bauddha) धर्म (Dharma) / धम्म (Dhamma) propagated in the name of शाक्यमुनि बुद्ध / Śākyamuni Buddha, which have been rechristened employing the umbrella word Buddhism by some Europeans. It appears from the evidence available so far that Marx had an encounter with this idea through his study of a text in Buddhist studies by his friend Carl (Karl) Friedrich Koeppen (Köppen). This article is about that encounter and about some of its consequences for investigations on the histories of human civilizations in Eurasia and beyond. It has three sections. The first section is about Marx, Koeppen and some features of European Buddhist studies of the nineteenth century. The second section contains some statements and remarks on the use of the adjective शून्य / Śūnya and the derived abstract noun शून्यता / Śūnyatā ascribed to the Buddha. The third and final section offers some observations on the trajectories of Bauddha editing of the oral discourses of the Buddha and those of Marxist editing of the written texts of Karl Marx.