[Advaita-l] apaurushheyatva of the shruti

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Jun 9 12:55:11 CDT 2003

On Tue, 3 Jun 2003, S Jayanarayanan wrote:

> Firstly, for the advaitin, though the Vedas be
> apaurushheya, the "motivation" for its study would be
> absent (I think). In the context of motivation for
> Vedic study, KumArila considers the fundamental
> question:
> --------------
> Why should one study the Vedas?
> Because the Vedas are the only source of dharma.
> Why should one enquire into dharma?
> Because there are is a desire to know its nature by
> the Self that is a doer and enjoyer of the results of
> action [1].
> --------------
> (Considering anything more fundamental and asking,
> "Why should one be concerned about the result of one's
> actions?" is answered by KumArila as, "One who doesn't
> care about the results of his actions is an ignorant
> fool and will not enquire into anything."[2] Moreover,
> making the enquiry into dharma as the starting point,
> KumArila is on firm ground, since the Buddhist - and
> most other opponents - have exactly the same starting
> point, assuming the prima facie theory of
> doer-enjoyer-nature of the Self. The Buddhists argue
> for the omniscience of the Buddha in their theory of
> dharma, and deny the Self in the final analysis, but
> that's a different story.)
> For the advaitin, the motivation for the study of
> shruti should be "moksha" or "AtmavidyA". (Shankara's
> Brahma sUtra bhAshhya 1.1.1) Now, to state moksha or
> Self-realization as the goal of life *independent of
> the Vedas* is a must if one is to find a motivation
> for Vedic study. But how is this established
> independent of the Vedas? If that's not established,
> the (Bauddha) pUrvapakshin would consider the study of
> Vedas as "useless".
> (The shruti will be split up into two portions by the
> advaitin (1) GYAna kANDa for removing avidyaa for
> those with sAdhana chatushhTaya and (2) karma kANDa
> for practice of dharma until one possesses sAdhana
> chatushhTaya. The "final goal" is therefore moksha.)
> Secondly, the Self is never a doer for the advaitin.
> This actually implies that one can never study the
> Vedas, for as KumArila notes, there are statements in
> the Vedas that speak of the necessity of Guruseva,
> ceremonies etc. while studying the Vedas, which would
> be impossible without action. Therefore things seems
> rather too perfectly fine for KumArila because the
> dharma taught by the Vedas completely explains
> everything, including Vedic study itself as dharma.

The Mimamsakas believe that the portions of the Vedas that mention the
Self are arthavada (eulogies.) praising the agent of action and
establishing that the effects of karma persist after death and rebirth.
But what is action as a phenomenon?  We say (without argument from the
purvapakshins) that an action is something that causes

1. creation  like making a pot out of clay (utpatti)

2. modification like bending gold into the shape of an earring (vikrti)

3. purification like throwing rice (saMskara)

0r 4.  attainment like reaching a far village (Ashreya)

Now which of these would apply to the upanishadic statements concerning
knowledge of Brahman?

Not 1 because knowlege does not create Brahman, it is always existent,

Not 2.  Because it is not the case that the jiva is not Brahman and is
being made into Brahman by knowledge.

Not 3 because how can a ritual purify knowledge?  It is either right or
wrong but sprinklig rice on it won't help.

4 seems promising but in the final analysis no because Brahman is not
obtained rather the existent knowledge of Brahman is recollected.

So by the Mimamsakas own reckoning knowing Brahman is not an action so
they must admit, either the upanishads are not Shruti at all (which no one
in India would admit to until European times) it is a special kind of
action hitherto unknown and unaccounted for, or it is not action at all.

Furthermore, we have statements like brahma veda brahmaiva bhavati
(Mundaka 3.2.9) "The knower of Brahman becomes Brahman" in which the
mere fact of knowing Brahman not any action is the goal.

So Vedantins reject the very premise "the Vedas only speak of Dharma" The
subject of the jnanakanda is knowledge of Brahman.  In fact Advaitins go
further and turn the whole Mimamsaka ideology on its head.  Instead of
knowledge of the self only being important in so far as it encourages the
performance of action, actions are only important in so far as they remove
the obstacles to knowledge of the self.  Apaurusheyatva is important for
that knowledge too because Brahman is also something that is known
only through shabda pramana.

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

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list