[Advaita-l] On rationality; was "Vedas are not apauresheya according to the Vedas ?"
rkmurthy at gmail.com
Fri Jan 18 11:16:37 CST 2013
Namaste Sri Siva Senani,
An interesting post from you. I would like to take up a few points
mentioned in your post.
<< A third related point is that many do not realise that Advaita (and
other interpretations of Vedanta) is not rational, in the sense that
siddhaanta is not established on the basis of reasoning - rather, we
know there is Brahman because Veda says so and because the same can be
experienced after the dawn of knowledge, but not due to reasoning.>>
The above seems somewhat misleading. The point to appreciate regarding
reasoning is that any logical system has to start with at least one
axiom, which has to be taken as a given. A self-consistent system is
one that does not contradict its own axiom(s). The various systems
that use the veda as a pramANa are all eminently rational, in the
sense that they are self-consistent with the axiom of veda pramANatva.
That some people may have an issue with axiomatically accepting veda
pramANatva is a different matter, but then one who is exposed to
advaita-vedAnta will realize that the acceptance of ANY pramANa, even
pratyakSha, is effectively axiomatic. There is no way of proving that
pratyakSha is valid. We just take it for granted, without even
<< In other words, the siddhAntin is a better mImAmsaka than the
pUrvamImAmsaka. After all, Vedanta is called UttaramImAmsa.>>
This is true, but then the purpose of vedAnta is not mImAMsA (of the
veda) alone. The primary purpose is "permanent" duHkha nivRtti, aka
<<The larger point is that we use rational methods to understand the
meaning of VedavAkyas correctly, and not to independently establish
what is said in the VedavAkyas, or even to establish the prAmANyata of
The real point is that there is no way of establishing the pramANatva
of ANY pramANa. The other real point is that rational methods are
**always** used "exegetically", i.e. to understand what is revealed by
ANY pramANa. In daily life, we constantly use rational methods to
understand what is revealed by pratyakSha, for example. Rational
methods per se never reveal anything. Therefore, there is nothing
special about using rational methods to understand the meaning of the
vedavAkya-s. The very purpose of reasoning is to help us understand
what is revealed by various pramANa-s.
<< The problem is that somebody without a thesis can refute every
thesis (example, Nagarjuna; to some extent Sri Harsha in
KhaNDanakhaNDakhAdya, and recently, Jacques Derrida) - and this is
what is called Sushkatarka.>>
Strictly speaking, it is the advaita-vedAntin who genuinely offers no
thesis. To offer a thesis, one has to accept at least one axiom and
then use rational methods to construct a system. At the bare minimum,
one or more pramANa-s have to be accepted as a given. But anything
that is pramANa-siddha is bAdhya since pramANa-s have to be taken as a
given. The Atman alone is svataHsiddha and hence abAdhya and satya.
But any objective statement about the Atman (such as "I am the body")
is pramANasiddha and hence bAdhya.
The one who truly transcends the need to accept axioms and offer
theses is the mukta, for he alone has given up the need to objectify
himself (i.e. the Atman). The essential rejection, in the sense of
mithyAtvanishchaya, of pramANa-s (and the tripuTi in general) goes
hand in hand with the fundamental realization of the
unobjectifiability of the Atman that is svataHsiddha. The
unobjectifiability of the Atman is not a thesis, but a deeply
insightful rejection (as mithyA) of all theses, the possibility of any
thesis, and even the very need to have any thesis, about the Atman.
Rather it is the Atman, under the axiom of pramAtRtvam, that goes
about accepting more axioms and constructing theses!!
All axioms and theses and all forms of objective knowledge are valid
only in vyavahAra. They depend on the "master axiom" of avidyA.
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