On Brahmasutras and VisishtAdvaita

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Thu Oct 2 01:05:35 CDT 1997

On Wed, 1 Oct 1997, sadananda wrote:

> Shankara appears to deviate quite a lot from the import of Brahmasutra in
> order to fit into the adviatic tenants. He may be justified from the
> advaitic theory but not from the direct word by word meaning of the sutras.

As others have pointed out, this theory was put forward in the 19th
century by George Thibaut and I don't think it would carry too much weight

One legitimate criticism might be that certain of the Brahma Sutras seem
to espouse a role for karma in the pursuit of moksha.  Shankaracharya
argues vehemently for the total seperation of karma and jnana.  However
the key is "seem too".   The sutras are so brief it is not easy to tell
when one topic ends and the next begins.  The view I just mentioned also
involves assumptions which are as unsupportable as the ones Shankaracharya
is supposed to have made.

> Ramanuja's criticism of Shankara's appears to be valid.  I recommend every
> advaitic seeker to read the criticism of Sri Ramanuja particularly on
> avidya.  Ramanuja's model has to be taken as granted whether logically
> sound or not since scripture says so.  But shaastra pramana implies that
> too.  Here I do have big problem as shaastra pramana and I am still
> thinking on this to resolve in my own mind before I respond to Anand and
> Vidyas' ascertains about shaastra as pramana.
> Some of the Ramaanuja's criticism of Shankara is invalid since at some
> other contexts while refuting other nyaayas he uses the similar type of
> logic that he objected in the first place with respect to Shankara
> bhaashya.
> I am slowly studying Ramanujas' Sribhaashya as presented by Krishnamachar
> but motivation goes down when logic is pushed aside at the expense of
> scriptural statement as pramaana which itself is interpreted to suite the
> authors argument.  I find selective statements of the Upanishads to suite
> the arguments while providing a circular arguments to others when the
> direct meaning does not agree.
> This is why I have deeper questions about shaastra as pramana without yukti
> or Logic. Logic is given a secondary role or dismissed all together
> particularly in VishishhTaadvaita.  I cannot say much about dvaita since I
> have not studied Madhava philosophy. But I do not think they differ much in
> their criticism of Shankara Bhaashya.

I don't know about Vishishtadwaita but Dvaita has given us some of Indias
greatest logicians.  Vyas Tirth was the greatest.  The polemics between
Advaita and Dvaita are classics of philosophy.

I think you are asking too much from logic.  It was long the dream of
logicians to one day create a system which was completely provable based
on its own tenets.  But work by Godel, Frege etc. in the early decades of
this century conclusively proved that _no_ logical system can be complete
in this way.  All depend on postulates which cannot be proven from within
the system.  This applies as much to sciences like geometry as to Vedanta.
For Vedanta the postulates we accept, our basic principles are the
statements of Shruti.  To "prove" the validity of Shruti from within
Vedanta will always end up in tautology.  This doesn't mean Vedanta is not
a logical system.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
I got engaged! See the pictures ==> http://www.braincells.com/jaldhar/sagpan

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