[Advaita-l] apaurushheyatva of the shruti (was Re: ADMIN: Narayana - Word)

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Sun Jun 1 12:08:40 CDT 2003

--- Nomadeva Sharma <nomadeva at yahoo.com> wrote:


> > It is the traditional view that shruti is
> > apaurushheya. R^ishhi-s are 
> > only mantra drashhTa-s. Language of expression
> > itself may have influence of temporal effects 
> is also not accepted by tradition. It is the view of
> Grammarians (like in some books of S.K.Belvalker)
> that
> the knowledge in Vedas is eternal, which was put
> into
> words by the Rishis. Correct me if I am not wrong,
> but
> AFAIK, all traditions hold that language, accents,
> metre, including Rishi's name, everything is
> apaurusheya.

I believe the above view is in conformity with the
mImAmsA-vedAnta tradition. Here's my understanding of
the apaurushheyatva (absence of authorship) of the

Shankara himself never actually proves the
apaurushheyatva of the shruti. He seems to assume it
from the mImAmsaka's theories. Here're are the
arguments for apaurushheyatva given in Jaimini's pUrva
mImAmsA sUtra with Shabara svAmin's commentary and
Kumarila BhaTTa's sub-commentary on it (translations
by Ganganath Jha): 

(1) The Self is an agent.

(2) A person's Moral Obligations (dharma) take the
form "One ought to do such-and-such-action." (e.g.
"One ought to speak the truth.")

(3) dharma is never perceived throught the senses (one
never sees, hears, etc. any object called "dharma"). 

(4) Neither can dharma be known from inference:
because the premises required in inference are to be
perceived by sense-experience (e.g. smoke --> fire,
and smoke is perceived by the senses), and therefore
we can have no inference without sense-perception.
Since we're unaware of the nature of dharma, and we
cannot perceive by the senses even any of the *marks*
of dharma, how are we to infer the properties of
dharma? All that we know is that dharma exists, and
can arrive at knowledge of dharma neither by
sense-experience nor by inference. 

(5) We are left with the only means of knowing dharma
-- Word revelation (shabda pramANa). 

(6) Since a person's composition will be
"contaminated" by defects, one must turn to something
that is apaurushheya (not authored), something that is
untouched by human agency -- the Veda. 

(7) We note that every statement in the Veda is an
injunction to action (karma), and the Vedas are thus
the source of dharma. 

Therefore the above theory of apaurushheyatva of the
shruti "saves" the Vedic dharma from the Buddhist. But
how does one *establish* the absence of authorship of
the Vedas? Here, Kumarila lays the burden of proof on
the opponent's doorstep to prove the authorship of the

IMHO, the above arguments pose a big problem for
Shankaran VedAnta -- the chief reason being that
Shankara doesn't accept the very first proposition of
the mImAmsaka, and teaches an opposing view -- that
the Self is an eternal Witness, and never an agent.
Once the agentship of the Self is denied, the rest of
the arguments fall apart. 

Besides that, there is one more difficult problem for
the VedAntin with the Jaimini-Kumarila (J-K) theory of
apaurushheyatva. Jaimini's pUrva mImAmsA sUtra 1.2.1
considers the pUrvapaksha: "If the prime importance of
the Veda is to impel one to action, how does one
explain the upanishhad portion which consists of no
injunction to action?" The answer given by J-K is that
the upanishhads constitute "arthavAda" or eulogy of
actions, making them remotely associated with action.
Shankara would refute this also, since the upanishhads
serve an entirely different purpose in VedAnta. 

Basically: I fail to see how the apaurushheyatva of
the shruti can be established in Shankaran VedAnta,
with or without the pUrva-mImAmsA theory. I believe
the dvaitins simply start with proposition (6) above,
and leave the burden of proof to the opponent. 

More on mImAmsA versus vedAnta at

> Regards,
> Krishna



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