(21) Then in the beginning of Kali yuga, the Lord would appear as Lord Buddha in the province of Gayā, for the purpose of deluding those who are envious of the theist. He is pinkish in color with two hands and appears in the village called Dharmāraṇya. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam was composed prior to the beginning of Kali yuga (about 5000 years ago), and Buddha appeared about 2600 years ago. Therefore His appearance is foretold here.
(21) Then in the beginning of Kali yuga, the Lord would appear as Lord Buddha in the province of Gayā, for the purpose of deluding those who are envious of the theist. He is pinkish in color with two hands and appears in the village called Dharmāraṇya. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam was composed prior to the beginning of Kali yuga (about 5000 years ago), and Buddha appeared about 2600 years ago. Therefore His appearance is foretold here. There are many such prophecies, and they will indicate the positive standing of Bhāgavatam, which is without trace of mistake, illusion, cheating and imperfection, which are the four flaws of all conditioned souls.
At the time when Buddha appeared, people were in general atheistic and indulged in animal killing on the plea of Vedic sacrifice. Lord Buddha preached non-violence and said he did not believe in the Vedas. The atheists followed his principle and were trained in moral discipline and non violence, which are the preliminary steps for proceeding further on the path of God realization. Those who did not believe in God kept their faith in Buddha, who himself was an incarnation of God, and thus the faithless were made to believe in God.
When the Vedas are not accepted thru the authoritative disciplic succession, the casual readers of the Vedas are misled by the flowery language of that system of knowledge. Thus they are bewildered. To them the ritualistic ceremonies are considered to be all in all. They have no depth of knowledge. But the purpose of the Vedas is to lead one gradually to the Supreme Lord. The whole theme of the Vedas is to know the Lord, the individual soul, the cosmic world and the relation between all these items. When the relation is known, the relative function begins, and as a result one goes back to Godhead. To the bewildered, Lord Buddha is the emblem of theism. He therefore first of all wanted to check the habit of animal killing. There are two types of animal killers. The soul is also sometimes called the ‘animal’. Therefore, both the slaughterers of animals and those who have lost the identity of soul are animal killers.
Only the animal killer cannot relish the transcendental message of the Supreme Lord. It is nonsensical to say that animal killing has nothing to do with spiritual realization. Many so-called sannyāsīs have sprung up in Kali yuga who preach animal killing under the garb of the Vedas. The animal sacrifice mentioned in the Vedas is different from the unrestricted animal killing in the slaughterhouse. Because the demons put forward the evidence of animal killing in the Vedas, Lord Buddha superficially denied the authority of the Vedas. This was to save people from the vice of animal killing as well as to save the poor animals from the slaughtering process of their big brothers who clamor for universal brotherhood, peace, justice and equanimity. Technically Buddha’s philosophy is called atheistic because there is no acceptance of the Supreme Lord and the denial of the authority of the Vedas. But this is an act of camouflage by the Lord. Lord Buddha preached the preliminary principles of the Vedas in a manner suitable for the time being. He and Śaṅkara both paved the path of theism, and later on Vaiṣṇava ācāryas led the people on the path back to Godhead.