Tat tvam asi?

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Feb 20 22:38:11 CST 2002

>"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.

Sure. But only point to note is even the shruti doesn't provide you exact
knowledge of brahman. Atbest it is only a pointer - absolute knowledge of
brahman is atma jnaanam and cannot be known from the shruti. Note that in
the Vivekachoodaamani, it is said that even very good knowledge of
scriptures or ability to expound them well doesn't in anyway mean knowledge
of brahman.

>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.

But this knowledge from the shruti is not atma jnaanam, but atbest only an
instruction as to how the atman might be experienced - even here such a path
is only relative as brahman is supersensible/beyond the intellect.

Also remember that even for availing of the shruti as a pramaana, you need
both pratyaksha (perception) and anumaana (inference) - the first for the
ability to read and the second for understanding what the shruti teaches
about brahman. What use will the shruti be to a fool?

> > 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
> > that you're interpreting the texts right? For all you know the
> > 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.

Even if it is apaurusheya it is only with your senses and mind that you
study the shruti right? Whatever might be the validity of the shruti in
itself, yet for the aspirant still it greatly depends on his ability to
understand what's taught in the shruti. It is due to the difference in
intellects that we see various Vedaantic schools which though differing in
their interpretations still claim that theirs is the true reading of
Vedaanta. Even in Advaita we have the Bhaamati and Vivaarana schools. Infact
I would make a distinction between the Advaita taught by Gaudapaada, Sri
Harsha and Citsukha and the Advaita taught by others. There's an outright
distinction in the path itself between the two.

So merely to say the shruti is apaurusheya is not enough. Whatever its
validity in itself - but are you capable of interpreting it without the use
of the intellect?

>How do you know your logic is not based on false premises?

In that case you only have to point it out.

But it is to be noted that in Advaita logic only has a negative value -
nothing positive is sought to be gained by logic - the aim is to destroy
logic itself (understand ajaativaada) and thereby undermine the validity of
the intellect - intellectual chitta vritti nirodah.

>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.

So that would mean that it depends on the person more than it does on the
shruti. If the shruti were absolute then anybody who studies it should be

So two points to note here is :

1. the shruti itself is not absolute and
2. without the intellect you cannot gain the maximum out of even the
relative knowledge provided by the shruti.

> > "Brahman" is merely a word or a lable to point to the spirt and the
> > 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 again note that in Advaita, pramaanas do not have absolute validity.
Why? Because reality is beyond the grasp of the senses and intellect. So all
knowledge (including that gained from the shruti) other than atma jnaanam is
only relative.

> > 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?

Where did I say so? All knowledge is only relative. Except Atman jnaanam
which is not knowledge in the normal sense.

>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.

I never claimed it in the first place - you've misunderstood me. Can reality
be grasped by the intellect? No. So reason can only show you what isn't
(unreality) and not what is (reality). But that itself is neti, neti - in
the intellectual sense. If you know all that's unreal, that which is left is
the real. I only said that it is better to give greater emphasis on reason
than merely quoting scriptures - for unless you validate it with logic, you
might be misinterpreting it. So shruti and reason go hand in hand.

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