Tat tvam asi?

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Tue Feb 19 00:30:48 CST 2002

I'm mixing two of your posts for brevity.

> Sure, with regard to Brahman all pramaanas are invalid. But for the normal
> man, the pramaanas are the only source of knowledge.

This is true but as stated somewhat misleading.  "pramanas" don't produce
"knowledge" specific pramanas produce specific knowledge.  No matter how
much you look through the Hubble Space Telescope you will not find out
anything about how the stock market is going to perform tomorrow.

So the question is what s the pramana which gives us knowledge (no matter
how fitful) about Brahman?  The Vedantic answer is the shabda pramana or
Vedic tradition.

> Mere quotations from Shruti are hardly proof enough to substantiate the
> argument that the Self is the "knower" as it is understood in the normal
> sense. Because the fundamental question here would be : how would you know
> that you're interpreting the texts right? For all you know the Upanishads
> might mean one thing when the talk about "knower" and you might be
> interpreting it in some other way.

That is not a problem because Shruti is apaurusheya (not man-made) and
passed down from the Rshis through an unbroken chain of teachers.

And note the problem you describe is common to all pramanas.  How do you
know you are interpreting your experiences right?  The human capacity for
wishful thinking is amply documented.  How do you know your logic is not
based on false premises?

Science gets around this with certain ideas like verifiability but Science
also restricts itself to only certain subjects and would not entertain
this one at all.

> The question is not whether any source of information is "authoritative" or
> can provide "some side information" about Brahman. The question is : can
> such sources of knowledge fetch liberation. If the shruti had absolute
> validity then merely reading about brahman in the shruti should fetch
> liberation.

..and for the suitably prepared person, that's exactly what it does.

> "Brahman" is merely a word or a lable to point to the spirt and the shruti
> as a collection of words is also atbest only a pointer to Brahman. The
> shruti tells us about Brahman which is beyond all sources of normal
> knowledge and shows us how to experience it.

Isn't that enough for a pramana?

> But Brahman being beyond
> conception, any such conception/path taught even by the shruti is not
> absolute but only relative.

And any other pramana is not?

> We should learn to distinguish between absolute and relative. The
> "authoritativeness" of the shruti is thus only relative. That's the reason
> that Advaita holds even shruti to be in the realm of avidhya.

Advaita Vedanta also holds experience and logic to be in the realm of
avidya for exactly the same reasons.

> Jaladhar, anyway this is not the first time I'm arguing this point with you
> and I'm already tired of it. I'm not going to argue anymore on this subject.

We are not really in disagreement.  I'll grant you that knowledge of
Brahman is relative etc.  The point is quite simple.  Of all the possible
a priori and partial knowledge available it is that provided by Shruti
which best describe Brahman and thus is the proximate cause of liberation.
You have done nothing to show that experience or logic would be any more
helpful in this task.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

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