[Advaita-l] Scientific method
raghavkumar72 at yahoo.com
Fri Jan 23 06:22:35 CST 2009
We shall have to go further back then even Shankara ?
It is no doubt heartening to note Sri Shankara emphasised the compatibility of shruti and yukti(reason) and his enunciation was also that shruti cannot contradict reason. If it does, it is over-ridden, interpreted or reconciled in various ways.
However, the fact remains that Karl Popper's well-known criterion of 'falsifiability' has never been emphasisied in the post-Vedic era or more likely perhaps it fell into disuse in our Shruti tradition.
For example, the theory or relativity PREDICTED something about the orbit of mercury, and this was actually observed to hold. Thereby the theory gains in strength. No alternative theory (Newtonian etc) could possible account for this orbital deviation.
In the case of shruti, the equivalent of this could have been something like -
"by the practise of a certain upanishadic upasana or a yajna, a childless couple get a child. They could not have otherwise got a child by natural or in vitro methods. Yet this Upasana/Yajna invokes Adhi-daivic subtle forces and beings which have the capacity to command or even over-ride the so-called natural laws, and so it is effective in conferring a child. Also lets says this works in many cases. Then the upasana or yajna acquires the status of knowledge. This strengthens the case for the Vedic World-view."
Now, it appears that the tradition of repeatedly verifying the efficacy and validity of shruti injunctions was not much there in the post-Vedic days. Once the Kalpa Sastra came up, the Vedas were 'frozen' and they started being treated as a closed book, a user-manual, rather than as an evolving source of knowledge about the Adhi-Daivam. There was even some trepidation to try and look at the basics upon which the Vedic edifice was erected. In fact, even a sincere and respectful attempt to rediscover the first principles of the Vedas, was looked upon at times as too audacious an attempt. The only thing encouraged was to faithfully chant with svara, the Vedic mantras, and execute the rituals with attention to the minutest detail. If the wife of the yajamana (sacrificer) is to look at the oblation (the aajyam) then so be it. The why of it is not to be asked.
This reminds me of the computer in one ashram. Some of people there knew that pressing a few buttons here and there will get a few things done. But any small bug or hitch and no one knows how to set things right since no one really knew how things actually work. Even so it seems to have happened with the Vedic Karma Kanda particularly. The sampradaya somehow stopped churning out Rishis but managed to keep churning out sincere and earnest ritualists who are worthy of respect, no doubt, but they only knew the mechanical procedures, the mantras etc.. without any idea of the accompanying knowledge which constituted the first principles of the Veda.
So if we are to look for the origin of the scientific method, we may have to go back to the Vedic Sages. By the time of Shankara, the Vedic Mimamsa tradition (karma kanda) had become too rigid. Shankara himself had to contend with some ultra-orthodox ritualists who said that the Vedic mantras themselves conferred the results. There was no intercession by intelligent Devatas or Ishwara, according to these Vedic ritualists. Such was their contention. Shankara has to say in the brahmasutra bhashya that "although, today, there are no competent people with Devata-related jnana, still you can't say that it was as bad as that in the past as well, since Vyasa etc are said to have communed with the Devatas etc." (my para-phrase) He implied that in the past there were competent people who had the anubhava-jnana of the Vedic mantras. So you cannot just regard the mantras as some kind of white-magic which just produces the adhrishta results. But by the time of
Shankara itself, the "scientific approach" seems to have got diluted considerably.
But in any case, its worth pursuing the idea with Wikipedia.
BTW,Wikipedia hardly gives credit to Bhaskara rather than Pythagoras for his blessed theorem although Bhaksara pre-dated Pythagoras by almost a several 100 years.
>From : raghavkumar00 at gmail.com
--- On Fri, 23/1/09, Bhadraiah Mallampalli <vaidix at hotmail.com> wrote:
> From: Bhadraiah Mallampalli <vaidix at hotmail.com>
> Subject: [Advaita-l] Scientific method
> To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
> Date: Friday, 23 January, 2009, 3:57 AM
> Dear list members,
> Wikipedia credits Alhazen 965-1039 for developing the
> scientific method.
> Can some one please approach Wikipedia in a gentle manner
> and make them understand that Adi Sankara (of 8th century)
> preceded Alhazen in expounding the scientific method?
> Sankara (No later than 8th century CE) said: Only what
> confirms to Shruti, and what agrees with logic and
> experience is truth.
> Please note Shri Arun Gupta's articles on Shruti
> explain clearly that Shruti is not just a religious book but
> actually the accumulated knowledge from past teachers.
> Shruti was never put to writing for fear of being lost
> (script going out of use and getting undeciphered etc), so
> that the knowledge should only be passed on from mouth to
> ear, hence the name Shruti. Effectively what Sankara said
> was that any proposition must agree with past knowledge (it
> should better agree, because the past knowledge is still
> being called "knowledge" here), and the
> proposition should agree with logic (as we argue now), and
> it must conform to experience (we should see the expected
> results now). Otherwise it must be wrong. Sankara also
> argued that portions of Shruti which are contradicted by
> logic and/or experience must be rejected. (We don't
> usually delete anything from Shruti as a first reaction, but
> simply override just to preserve history.) The burden of
> proving the existing vedas as truth is on the Vedic
> scholars, but this should not in principle affect
> Sankara's position with regard to his rule re: threefold
> determination of truth. Sankara's three-fold rule not
> only works for hard sciences but it also works for soft
> sciences and self knowledge.
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