saattvika tyaagam

Sankaran Panchapagesan panchap at ICSL.UCLA.EDU
Fri Oct 15 13:44:20 CDT 1999


> Giri was telling me the other day how the scriptures accepted by the advaita
> tradition as authentic describe a Lunar eclipse as due to Rahu/Kethu (in the
> form of serpents) swallowing the moon. Scientific knowledge gathered from
> other traditions, which is bread and butter to several of us, plainly
> contradicts this. How many list-members honestly believe that the  moon is
> swallowed by a snake during a Lunar eclipse?

I think someone else more knowledgeable might give a better reply to this,
and I hope someone will correct me if I'm wrong in what I say below.

        From what I understood from a post by Anand Hudli on Advaita
epistemology is that since each pramANa is supreme in its respective
sphere, the actual mechanism of the eclipse is to be understood by sense
perception and inference alone (science). The Rahu-ketu explanation was
the best explanation that the scientists of that time could come up with
(I think Rahu and Kethu are 'planets' (grahas) postulated to explain the
invisibility of the moon during the eclipse?).  So, whatever the Sruti may
say on the issue, as far as the explanation of the eclipse goes, only the
scientific explanation is correct according to Advaita.

        So Advaita has nothing to fear from Science falsifying any of the
statements of Sruti about the natural world. Only when it comes to matters
of dharma and brahma-vidyA (where Science can not say anything) is Sruti
the authority. i.e., the only statements Advaita claims truth for
(concerning brahmavidya) are statements that Science is not likely to be
able to falsify :-).


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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