[Advaita-l] Pramanas - Sruti vs. Anubhava

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Tue May 1 04:22:01 CDT 2007

Dear Sri Ramakrishnan

First and foremost, let me appreciate your excellent paper. I admire the forthright way in which you said SSS is wrong, and then took on the onerous task of writing this paper, which is profound, very well organised, scholarly, and presented using very nice-looking fonts. I did not understand the Paper fully in my first reading, and found that an iterative approach works best, but that reflects my situation rather than the paper.

I assumed that when SSS appends the adjective 'kingpin' to anubhava, he is referring to the pramANa more commonly known as pratyaksha and wanted to know further about it. Per your mail, pramANa is not to be understood as one of the three pramANas, but as a means of understanding / knowing Sruti. 

The correct understanding of SSS's position, then is: anubhava is the kingpin amongst all the means of understanding / interpreting / knowing Sruti and that Sri SankarAchArya interprets Sruti in such a way that it is consistent with anubhava, which is the correct way to interpret.

Needless to mention, I don't think such a position is the correct one.

I owe the list an explanation for assuming pramANa to mean the usual pramANa, and to the followers of SSS who might feel that I have done great injustice to SSS by repeating in six or seven posts that SSS holds that anubhava is superior to Sruti. 

1. I consciously avoiding definite statements and requested followers of SSS to 'reconcile' etc. and used qualifiers like "if that indeed is the teaching of SSS". However the question posed earlier to Mrs. Savithri as to how the context of the quotations of SSS helps is answered: by making it clear that SSS is interpreting anubhav as a pramANa to understand vedas, and not as one of the pramANas.

2. The burden of section 3.4 in the first version of Sri Ramakrishnan's paper (I am unable to download the latest version - there seems to be some problem in geocities) is that SSS subtly "downplays the importance of Sruti as a means of knowledge by itself" and implies that "Sruti is subsidiary to anubhava itself". This is what led me to assume that the anubhava referred to by SSS is the pramANa called pratyaksha, as it is a pramANa along with Sruti. A second, more careful reading, in light of the clarifications provided by Sri Ramakrishnan, shows that the mistake is mine, not the author's.  

Now, for the specific replies.

----- Original Message ----
From: Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian <rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com>
To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 11:42:59 PM
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Pramanas - Sruti vs. Anubhava

Dear Siva Senani,

Since I was a little too rude in one of my previous replies, I am
breaking my own rules regarding not discussing the topics out of
sectional order.

* I appreciate your gesture in replying out of turn. Please note that I did not discuss the nature of avidyA because that section was clear to me. As to summaristion of your views, I thought the operative part of your rules was that one should follow all of them, if ** one expects a reply from you **. Without meaning to be disrespectful, I did not expect a reply from you - rather, I was expecting persons like Sri Bhaskar to respond - and so did not bother about following the rules. If one were to follow your rules even to refer to your paper, I have no hesitation in saying that notwithstanding the tremendous respect I have for your scholarship, I would neither read your paper nor refer to it.

Can you point any place where I have claimed that SSS says anubhava is
a superior pramaaNa to the veda? In spite of taking great pains to
reiterate the fundamental points in the section, it seems I have not
been successful. I already pointed out that a knowledge of basic
puurva-miimaamsaa is essential to discussing the section.

* Actually I had taken care to avoid attributing the thesis (that according to SSS, anubhava is superior to veda) to you and always said such an understanding follows - but it is easy not to notice it. Yes, I lack a good enough knowledge of pUrva-mImAmsA techniques, and so I avoided discussing your paper or Section 3 specifically. I only wanted to know how SSS reconciled the kingpin status of  anubhava with the Sankaran method of interpreting vedas (which question would have been put differently if the starting point of SSS was correctly grasped). 

The point is that anubhavaadayaH are an *exegetical* tool, apart from
shrutyaadayaH to interpret the veda. This has been ***well recognized
by SSS*** as I myself point out ***with quotes***. Please note the two
ways the word pramaaNa can be used. I have explained this in great
detail in the paper. So anubhavaadayaH are an "extra" pramaaNa for
exegesis of shruti. The limitations of anubhavaadayaH have been well
pointed out by Sureshvara, who I quote in great detail! How much more
clear can I make this, I do not know.

* As I said earlier, the mistake is mine, not yours.

Calling anubhava superior or inferior to any pramaaNa such as the
veda, pratyaxa or anumaana is nonsense. The last 3 are
self-establishing pramaaNas, and the first one is a tool to use a
particular pramaaNa - namely the veda. What I did point out was that
SSS after knowing fully well that anubhavaadayaH is merely a tool for
exegesis, compares it with pratyaxa and anumaana (like comparing an
apple with a car), and worse still, confuses where the tarka for this
analysis of anubhava comes from.

And we have people suggesting Rambachans study, which I have fully
read. It is like me saying the sky is blue, and someone replying
Barney the dinosaur [1] is purple :-). What is the connection? Zip,
nada, zilch. Ramabachan is mostly seeking to controvert people who
claim shruti is inferior to direct experience of brahman such as
nirvikalpa samadhi, which is no concern of mine. The point I was
showing (or trying to) was that anubhavaadayaH are an exegetical tool,
and the means of knowing, i.e., pramaaNa, is shruti itself!

But I do wish you would stick to discussing things in order,
especially after I made an explicit request to do that.

* I understand that you have published the paper with an intention to do good, and that most of your rules are meant to make your job easier in moderating the discussion. However, consider my point of view. Would we announce that currently section 2 is open to discussion and when everybody agrees that either SSS is wrong in considering avidyA to be epistemic or that Sri Ramakrishnan is wrong in considering avidyA to be neither epistemic nor ontic, or both, we would announce closure of discussion on section 2 and then throw open Section 3 for discussion? No, I thought, and hence my post on anubhava vs. Sruti.

In any case, if you have not, please download the latest version.
Perhaps that's more clearly written.

* Something seems to be the problem with the URL.

* Since you abhor excessive politeness, I hope you wouldn't mind my bluntness.


[1] a chidrens TV show character in the US.
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