[Advaita-l] apaurusheyatva of veda-s

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Fri Aug 19 10:34:57 CDT 2011

> Kindly pardon me I have changed the subject line as this thread has 
> nothing to do with yOga and jnAna. 
> Interestingly you said gravity force is apaurusheya...do you mean to say 
> only 'tattva' (gravitation in the above example) behind maNtra is anAdi & 
> apaurusheya but the wordings which are explaining that tattva (theoritical 
> explanation of gravitation by Newton in the above example ) is 
> paurusheya?? In short, what exactly we call as apaurusheya?? whether it 
> is ONLY veda tattva i.e. paramArtha tattva or veda maNtra-s which is 
> depicting that tattva?? Sri vidya prabhuji some time back told me that 
> both tattva & wordings are apaurusheya...If the Rishi-s were worded that 
> apaurusheya tattva, then we have to say tattva drashtAra-s or 
> tattvajnAni-s have composed the maNtra-s (!!??) to explain the difficulty 
> and means to know that tattva. In that case maNtra is paurusheya but 
> maNtra tattva is aparusheya...In that case each and every jnAna/force is 
> aparusheya only, what is so special in saying ONLY veda-s are aparusheya 
> then?? 

We should be careful not to stretch the application of the term "apaurusheya"
while talking and thinking in a language alien to the tradition of our darSana-s.
We must be even more careful when applying it to the example of gravitation,
quantum physics etc.
Firstly, the pUrva mImAMsA argument about apaurusheyatva of the veda needs
to be understood. Next, the vedAnta perspective needs to be understood. They
are close, but not exactly the same, as can be seen from the bhAshya on the
sUtra "SAstra-yonitvAt".
>From the pUrva mImAMsA viewpoint, the exact wording, not just the tattva that
is conveyed by the veda, is apaurusheya. In fact, the mImAMsaka will question
you as to what you mean by a tattva that is over and above the original verbal
expression in the veda. The mImAMsaka discards the notion that there is any
author of the veda - not human, not semi-divine, not rishi-s, not even ISvara. 
The veda just is, that is all, and it talks to us. Just as the universe just is, and
presents itself to our perception. There is no room for a creator of the universe
in the pUrva mImAMsA thinking, strictly speaking, and so also, there is no room
for an author of the veda. 
The vedAnta, on the other hand, takes this perspective into account, but also
goes on to accept that the veda mantra-s (i.e. saMhita-s), itihAsa, purANa,
vidyA, upanishad-s, Sloka-s, sUtra-s, anuvyAkhyAna-s and vyAkhyAna-s have
all been breathed out of one great Being (mahad bhUta) - bRhadAraNyaka 2.4.10.
Of course, this mahad bhUta is brahman, not a purusha in the limited sense,
but pUrva mImAMsA will take this as an arthavAda, not in a literal sense. But
the vedAnta can afford to take this in a more literal sense, thereby allowing two
possible interpretations of SAstra-yonitva - one saying that the apaurusheya 
SAstra is the source of brahmajnAna, another saying that brahman is itself the |
source of SAstra. Both as valid and possible within vedAnta.
Coming to the phenomenon of gravitation and the formulation of Newton's law
of gravitation, from the mImAMsA perspective, it is a misguided effort to think
of either the phenomenon or the verbal expression of the law as apaurusheya.
Rather, through proper application of pratyakshAdi pramANa-s, we realize that
gravitation is a property of physical objects, although it is not directly perceptible
by sight, sound, touch, taste or smell. That this property of matter always has
been, is and will be, irrespective of whether human beings understood it or not
is something that we may want to compare to apaurusheyatva, but we would be
better off using another pair of words to talk about it, viz. purusha-tantra vs.
vastu-tantra. What is vastu-tantra and not purusha-tantra is not necessarily
apaurusheya. If we were to start extending the applicability of apaurusheyatva
to anything and everything that is outside the realm of purusha-tantra reality,
then we would have to say that the oceans are apaurusheya, the mountains are
apaurusheya, the entire universe is apaurusheya. If we do that, we have to 
remember that we have stepped out of the original terms of reference for the
word apaurusheya.

ps. Although Rshi-s are technically mantra-drashTR only, note that the veda 
itself uses the term mantra-kRt and mantra-pati to refer to the Rshi-s, e.g. in
the mantra, "namo vAce yA coditA yA cAnuditA ..." 		 	   		  

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list