Nature of Consciousness

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Jul 28 17:52:55 CDT 1999

Sankaran Panchapagesan <panchap at ICSL.UCLA.EDU> wrote:

> I read somewhere (I think it was a post in the archives by Vidyasankar)
>that in (pUrva) mImAMsA, Kumarila Bhatta argues for apaurusheyatva of
>Sruti because he doesn't want to accept the concept of an omniscient
>Person, which the Jains were claiming for the Tirthankaras (and also the
>sAnkhyans for Kapila). I read that that is also related to why he
>argues hard against the concept of an omniscient ISvara who could be the
>author of the Sruti (could you elaborate on this if relevant?)

This point needs some clarification.

It is one of the standard arguments of almost every religious system to
argue in the following way about scripture. The omniscient Lord composed
scripture, therefore scripture is a valid source of knowledge. One knows
that the Lord is omniscient because 1. we infer from the observed universe
that only an omniscient Lord could have created it, and 2. our scripture
tells us that the Lord is omniscient.

The first alternative amounts to saying that the validity of scripture is
dependent upon the validity of the inference that an omniscient Lord
created the universe. If so, scripture becomes superfluous and we may
safely resort to perception and inference for all our knowledge. The second
alternative is a circular argument - we know that scripture is valid
because it was composed by the omniscient Lord and we know that the Lord is
omniscient because our scripture, which is valid, tells us so. There is no
escaping this circularity by any means open to most religious systems. In
India, the above argument was put forth by the nyAya-vaiSeshika school.

Now, what the mImAMsA does is to reject the first alternative, because
scripture has to be independently valid, or not at all. The second
alternative is rejected because it is a fallacious argument owing to the
circular reasoning involved. The way out is by holding that scripture is
independently valid, and that it is not composed at all, not by humans, and
not by an omniscient Lord. However, once this is accepted, there is no
reason to reject the notion of an omniscient Lord, because the scripture
itself tells us that the Lord is omniscient. This is not a rejection of the
view that the Lord is omniscient, as any notion of the Lord has to accept
omniscience as a necessary quality. However, it is a rejection of the
notion that this omnisicient Lord composed the scripture. There is a great
deal of difference between the two.


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