Veda in advaita & mImA.nsA (was Re: Nature of Consciousness)

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Wed Jul 28 19:22:31 CDT 1999

[I have taken the liberty of changing the topic of the thread]

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

> Actually, I read that Sri Kumarila Bhatta's philosophy was atheistic
> in the Srimad Sankara-digvijayam of Sri Vidyaranya, which I verified
> last night. There, when Sankara goes to the Bhatta's house in order
> challenge him to a debate, he finds that the Bhatta is burning
himself to
> death as a prAyaScittam. When asked why, he gives two reasons - one
> them is that in his philosophy he had denied the existence of ISvara
> though the Vedas clearly asserted his existence (the other reason is
> he was guilty of gurudrOham - he was the indirect cause of his
> guru's death from whom he had learnt Buddhism in order to refute
it). On
> his argument against omniscience I read in T.R.V.Murti's book where
> says that since the Veda is unauthored and eternal, it is more
> than the Buddha, Vardhamana (Mahavira), Kapila all of whom claim
> omniscience and also contradict each other.

Although, bhagavAn kumArila accepted an omniscient Ishvara, he still
accepted the concept of apUrva in the sense of the atheistic  mImA.nsA
(at least as far as my knowledge of mImA.nsA goes). I'll quote from
Mysore Hiriyannas "Outlines of Indian philosophy" (page 327).

"The single name of apUrva (literally meaning"never before") which
Prabhakara gives to dharma and adharma emphasizes their
inaccessibility to the other pramANa-s. It is conceived by him as the
result of sacrificial and other acts-not those acts themselves as in
the nyAya-vaisheshhika-and corresponds to the puNya and pApa of the
other doctrine. But it abides like the latter in the self, so that
apUrva is a subjective feature to be distinguished from the objective
act leading to it"

Please read the above carefully. Now, the atheistic mImA.nsaka-s take
up the position that this apUrva *alone* determines the happenings in
an individuals life. Now sha.nkarabhagavAn takes great objection to
this position and points out that apUrva is inert and there must be a
conscious being to apportion the results of apUrva. That being is the
omniscient Ishvara. Now claiming apUrva can act by itself is denying
the importance of Ishvara and the mAdhavIyam somewhat poetically says
that bhagvAn kumArila was an atheist because of that.

If you are not satisfied with my explanation I don't blame you, I am
not sure if I'm satisfied myself  :-).

BTW, there was some excellent post by Anand a long time back on
apUrva, when something was quoted about it from the lalitAtrishatI

Vidyasankar has already pointed out that unauthored shruti does not
imply the non-existence of an omniscient Ishvara. Note that shruti is
unauthored, it's not divinely inspired or of divine origin.

> > No, the existence of Lord Krishna who is the omniscient Ishvara is
> > known only through the veda-s. And the veda-s are reliable because
> > was not written by anyone including Ishvara.
> How is the concept of the unauthoredness of Sruti itself free from
> circular reasoning? i.e., which pramANa tells us that the Sruti is
> unauthored. Their unauthoredness cannot be proved on sense
perception and
> reasoning alone, right? The apaurusheyatvam itself rests on the
> of someone else (the mImAmsaka?) or the Sruti itself, which is
> unacceptable.

No, there are some reasonings given to show that shruti is unauthored.
I'll try to summarize in a later mail.

> Isn't it true that it must be accepted on faith and cannot/need not
> proved, which in turn means that the existence of ISvara should also
> accepted on faith. I read somewhere that Ramanujacharya also rejects
> proofs of ISvara and says that he must be accepted only on faith.

Nooo! Bhagavan Ramanuja says proofs of Ishvara by anumAna (inference)
are not possible and the supremacy of Lord Narayana and he being the
antaryAmin are known from shruti (which is a pramANa by itself).

> I'm asking whether it would be equally acceptable to Vedanta to
> an omniscient Rshi as the 'author' since the Rshi himself has
> Brahman, is Brahman, he is infallible in matters conerning

No it's not. SarvaGYAtmamuni in his samxepashArirakam goes into quite
a bit of detail on this. And who is to declare some Rshi as
omniscient? Soon enough everyone on the street will start claiming
omniscience :-).

> Also, whether Sankara himself has given any indication of his stand
on the
> matter.

Well, I can't offhand think of any direct statement. But remember that
the unauthordness of shruti is fundamental to its being praMANa. I'll
try to see if he has directly mentioned this matter. But, there is
certainly no doubt that he accepted the unauthordness since he accepts
it as pramANa.


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