(nibbana) = (Nirguna Brahman) ?

Wed Oct 1 17:58:49 CDT 1997


Jaldhar replies to my post:

>> IMO, the astika shastras would be arguably wrong if they really were
>> equating buddhist nirvana with nothingness.
>You can argue.  But at some point you ought to show evidence :-)

In the 22 discourse of the Majjhima Nikaya, the Buddha says:

"And monks, against me, thus teaching and preaching, many ascetics and
brahmins falsely, groundlessly, untruly, in defiance of fact, bring
accusation thus: 'A nihilist is this ascetic Gotama. He preaches the
cutting off, the nullification of the present living being.' But for what I
am not, for what I say not, for that these good ascetics and brahmins thus
falsely, groundlessly, untruly, in defiance of fact impeach me. For, O
monks, as before so also now, I preach only Suffering and the cessation of

Personally, I no longer care what vedantins think of Buddhism, I'm happy to
drop the topic and simply disagree (along with the Buddha) about the
vedantin criticism of him. What interests me more is the vedantin criterion
of truth and your following comments (in response to my post) were
helpful... thanks.

>> What is the epistemological status of the astika shastras?
>> Is it a tenet of the orthodox faith to believe they are unerring
>> in their totality? How much can an orthodox follower of vedanta
>> disagree with explanations and arguments in the astika shastras
>> without being in trouble? What other parts of the vedic system
>> are considered to be unerring, which debatable, etc.?
>An Astika is someone who says asti (yes it is so) to three questions.  Is
>there a soul or atma?  Is there a God?  and Are the Vedas a pramana
>or valid source of knowledge?  The nastiks or heretics are those who say
>nasti (It is not so) to one or more of these questions.
>Astika schools (which are not limited to Vedanta schools) do not
>neccessarily agree on the rationale for saying asti.  For example an
>Advaita Vedantin would believe the  God is brahman and the same as the
>atma.  A Dwaita Vedantin would disagree.  A follower of Nyaya would claim
>the Vedas are valid because they are written by God which no Vedantin or
>Mimamsaka would agree with.  So there is a lot of room for debate.

So what is the source of the vedas according to vedantins?

Do vedantins really think the vedas are "coeval with the universe"?

Do vedantins think the vedas are"infallible"? In what sense are they
considered to be infallible if the vedas are allowed to be wrong about the
physical world, etc.?  How could the "cosmic blueprint" contradict the cosmos
of which it is the blueprint?

How wrong can the vedas be about little things (like the creation
of the world for instance) and still be "a valid source of knowledge"?

If they can be wrong about anything, how do we *know* they are not wrong
about almost everything? In a court case when a witness gets several facts
wrong, the facts he may have right are thrown into doubt and necessarily
so. Those facts he *may* have right must be subsequently established by some
other testimony or means. Somehow this common sense approach does not seem
to apply to the vedas and I'd like to know why that is so...

-Allan Curry

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