[Advaita-l] Vedas versus Knowledge
profvk at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 4 21:37:57 CDT 2003
I am writing on this topic because there has been a lot of
discussion analogous to the following dialogue, which however is
most recent. (See the thread: Viveka Chudamani versus bhashyas)
my point is that I find absolutely no statement in any of
Shankara's BhAshhyas which comes close to downplaying shAstra
*before the dawn of GYAna*.
Perhaps not quite so, but see gItA 2.42 and commentary
The bottomline question relates therefore to the status of
Vedas in relation to the ultimate Knowledge and Enlightenment.
To enlighten ourselves on this topic I shall go back to a
masterly piece of four chapters in the Mahabharata, that goes
by the name of Sanatsujatiyam. It occurs in the Udyoga-Parva and
is a mini-encycopaedia on Dharma. It is a direct dialogue
between the blind king Dhritarashtra and the divine sage
Sanatsujata, who comes on a specific invocation-cum-invitation
by the wise Vidura. In 130 verses it gives what Spirituality is.
Dhritarashtra is enraptured and keeps asking questions adter
questions. One of the many questions that the King asks of the
sage is: What is the result of mastery of the Vedas?
The answer that comes from the sage is lucid and scholarly.
Truth is One. That is all what the Vedas are supposed to reveal.
The root word Vid, from which the word Veda is derived, has
several connotations: to be; to exist; to know; to be conscious
of; to enquire; to gain. The One that exists is the Ultimate
Supreme Consciousness. The thing to know is that One without a
second. That has to be enquired into. And by that enquiry you
reach the highest gain, namely, Moksha.This is all there is to
know from the entire Vedas.
Instead of learning this single lesson from the Vedas one keeps
on going round and round the truth. Thus the Vedas become a vast
ocean of words. Truth does not need so much scholarship. Those
who possess scholarship of the Vedas are called brahmins. But
the real brahmins are those who are firmly established in that
One Truth. There is no single knower of all the Vedas. By
knowing the Vedas one does not necessarily know what is to be
known. The knower of the Vedas knows only what the Vedas say;
but the knower of truth is different.
By studying the Vedas one gets to acquire knowledge but neither
these knowers nor the Vedas themselves know the Reality.
Cf. Yo veda vedAn sa cha veda vedyam na tam vidur-veda-vido na
vedAH Sanatsujatiya, II-43
Even then, it is the Vedas which point to that Reality for the
knower of the Vedas to become the knower of brahman. The Vedas
cannot make you the knower of brahman. LET US NOT CONFUSE
UNDERSTANDING WITH A LARGER VOCABULARY.
Like the branches of a tree which help to indicate the
directionin which to look for the archlike streak of the moontwo
days after the new moon, the Vedas only show youthe way. Only
when your conviction of a truthis not just in your brain but
also in your Being can you vouch for its validity.
Knowing the Vedas is not therefore Knowledge. This eloquent
testimony against the inability of the Vedas to take you across
the ocean of samsara comes from no less a person than the
foremost brahmin, knower of brahman, first progeny from the mind
of Creator BrahmA, and one of four such sons of BrahmA who had
their spiritual insight by a direct inspiration from the
DakshinAmUrti form of Lord Shiva, the form itself being a
manifestation for this very purpose of giving, not only
knowledge of brahman, but the state of being brahman. So much is
talked about the inability of the Vedas expressing themselves
about brahman, because the very nature of brahman is an
(Now the verse Gita II.46, which has been quoted very often in
this connection, would make sense).
Abstraction is a concept which we very often meet with in
Science, particularly in the field of Mathematics. But the
abstraction of Mathematics and that of Vedanta have a distinct
difference between themselves which put them totally apart. The
abstraction of Mathematics like Infinity for instance - can be
put in precise words and so, can be communicated not only
effectively but by exact language and symbolism. Not so in
Vedanta. The abstraction which leads to brahman can never be put
into precise language that is the sorry predicament of the
Vedas themselves but to know that such is the case is itself
right knowledge, that paves the way for an intuitive experience
of the Supreme Reality that is Brahman.
PraNAms to all seekers of Truth
Prof. V. Krishnamurthy
My website on Science and Spirituality is http://www.geocities.com/profvk/
You can access my book on Gems from the Ocean of Hindu Thought Vision and Practice, and my father R. Visvanatha Sastri's manuscripts from the site.
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