[Advaita-l] Scholarly Article on Why Vedas are Valid
rkmurthy at gmail.com
Sat Oct 22 09:32:42 CDT 2011
Namaste Sri Rajaram,
On 18 October 2011 14:37, Rajaram Venkataramani <rajaramvenk at gmail.com>wrote:
> Dear Shri Ramesh, I have responded to Shri Vidyasankar's queries. We
> need an defendable position on why Vedas are valid as a source of
> knowledge like pratyaksha and anumana. We cannot invoke faith - the
> only constraint.
I have read your response to Vidyasankar as well as your subsequent posts.
Now, all of us (Vidyasankar, Sri Lalitaalaalitah and myself) are not saying
anything fundamentally different. The point is simply that ANY pramANa has
to be taken as a given. When a pramANa is accepted and employed, knowledge
occurs.This is true for pratyakSha and anumAna also. One cannot establish
that pratyakSha itself is valid through other pramANa-s. Likewise, one
cannot establish the validity of the Sruti through other pramANa-s. However,
a given piece of knowledge (obtained through any pramANa) is available for
subsequent correction. Hence the concept of svataH pramANam and parataH
apramANam that was explained in the other thread.
Traditionally, something is rejected as a pramANa if any one of the
following conditions is satisfied
a) it reveals something already revealed by other pramANa-s
b) it reveals something that is contradicted by other pramANa-s
c) it reveals something uncertain or ambiguous
d) It reveals nothing
As the Sruti satisfies none of the above conditions, it is accepted as an
independent pramANa on atIndriya vishaya-s. It can be a secondary pramANa on
laukika vishaya-s also, but on these it can be accepted only when in
consonance with pratyakSha/anumAna. This is the basis for sha~NkarAchArya
saying that even a 100 Sruti statements cannot make fire cold. So if there
is a Sruti statement of this type (which contradicts pratyakSha) it has to
be interpreted in such a way that the conflict is removed. Hence there is no
Now, if you argue that other religionists may also ascribe axiomatic
validity to their texts, then yes, to that extent a vaidika may not be
better off. There are however some important differences:
a) There is a clear jurisdiction of pramANa-s. The Sruti has ndependent
validity only on atIndriya vishaya-s. So there is no conflict with other
pramANa-s, as already explained above.
b) svataH pramANam automatically implies parataH apramANam. So, conceptually
speaking, there is always an openness to "correction", if one may call it
so. This can be used in two ways. Firstly, on a laukika vishaya a Sruti
statement may be superseded by other pramANa-s (implying a need for a
non-conflicting interpretation as already mentioned earlier). Secondly,
within its domain, one statement might supersede another (as in adhyAropa
c) And specifically from the perspective of advaita-vedAnta there is the
mahAvAkya which negates pramAtRtvam itself, and thereby ALL pramANa-s.
Clearly, such knowledge cannot be further sublated because neither
pramAtRtvam nor pramANa-s remain. Also, this leads to jIvanmukti,
enlightenment/liberation while living, which is very different paradigm from
most other traditions/religions, which talk about going somewhere (heaven
etc) after death.
This last point (c) is not easy to explain without delving deep into vedAnta
philosophy, so it may be avoided if the purpose is only to write a short
paper on Sruti pramANam in general, although the jIvanmukti idea can make a
powerful impact on many people.
A short note on why ANY pramANa is accepted. At one level, one could argue
that it is because of avidyA. But without getting into vedAnta specifics,
one can just observe that a pramANa is accepted because the knowledge so
generated is useful or even necessary. For example, accepting sensory data
as a given makes it possible to go about one's daily life without getting
insane. And this acceptance is strengthened by the fact that it leads to
internally consistent results, which is one the things that makes it a
Therefore, one could argue that acceptance of a pramANa is dependent on what
value one attaches to the knowledge so generated. If one values the
knowledge that the Sruti generates, one will also be able to accept it as a
pramANa. In that sense, the acceptance of any pramANa is "pragmatic". It
also shows why everyone may not accept the Sruti as a pramANa, for it is
usually possible to go about one's daily life on the basis of other
pramANa-s alone. Only one who values dharma and mokSha will accept it as a
pramANa, and that too for those issues alone.
All in all, the quest for establishing one independent pramANa from another
is self-defeating. All that can be shown is that it is "not unreasonable" to
accept a given pramANa; because it yields useful knowledge to one who values
So I would argue that such an approach is unnecessarily defensive.
Regarding historical or academic issues, I can only offer you a personal
perspective, so please make of it what you will. While I am not a
professional historian or academic philosopher, I do have an amateur
interest in these subjects, and I see no issues in wearing these hats at
certain times and a mumukShu's hat at others. Of course the perspective is
vastly different from that of a typical academic Indologist. In my
experience, many traditionalist mumukShu-s and AchArya-s are willing to put
on such perspectives occasionally, so I don't even find it something unique.
At least a modern Hindu who needs to interact with the rest of society needs
to be comfortable with such perspectives.
Hope you found that of some use.
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