Not infrequently, I encounter a Buddhist newbie informing me of the ills of Vedanta and how the Buddha fought against Vedanta and its theory of Âtman. So I asked myself this question, “When was Vedanta first recognized as a separate school by Buddhists and by whom, in particular?”
To my amazement I found this. According to Hajime Nakamura, it was Bhavya (Bhâvaviveka) of the Madhyamika school, who lived between between 490 and 570, who first recognized Vedanta as a separate independent school who also brought a great deal of academic precision to the task of unpacking it. Nakamura writes the following providing us with more details:
"Among the works of Bhavya, there is the Madhyamakahrdaya-karika, on which he himself wrote a commentary called the Madhyamaka-hrdaya-vrtti, or Takajvala. Their Sanskrit originals were lost, but recently the Sanskrit manuscript of the Madhyamaka-hrdaya-karika was found. Their Tibetan translation has been handed down in the Tibetan Tripitaka. The work consists of eleven chapters. Among them the sixth chapter presents and criticizes the doctrines of the Samkhya school; the seventh chapter, those of the Vaishesika; the eighth, the Vedanta; and, the ninth, the Mimamsa” (H. Nakamura, A History of Early Vedanta Philosophy, p. 183).
Before Bhavya, Buddhists really didn't know or didn't care about Vedanta, enough to be critical of it and other schools. But this fact, I am guessing, won’t stop Buddhist newbies from their mischief who believe the Buddha was on a mission to destroy the Âtman and make the future safe for scientific materialism.