[Advaita-l] logic and shastra

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Jun 13 14:22:17 CDT 2005

[was Re: [Advaita-l] Re: Advaita-l Digest, Vol 26, Issue 2]

On Sat, 11 Jun 2005, Mahesh Ursekar wrote:

> Chapter VIII, The Advaita Vedanta of Samkara, page 517
> He states:

This sentence...
> "Samkara recognizes the need of reason to test scriptural views.

...does not match with this one:

> Whenever he
> has an opportunity, he tries to confirm scriptural statements by rational
> argument [3],

Logical arguments are subsidiary to scriptural statements.  Even if a 
scriptural statement has no logical basis at all it is still a pramana 
(valid means of knowledge) by the fact of being Shruti.  The relationship 
between shruti vakyas has to be determined by logical and linguistic means 
particularly the ones which are seemingly contradictory.  So in this sense 
Vedanta is logical.

But that is not to say it is scientific.  Science is another application 
of logic, this time to worldly phenomena.  Vedanta as we have said is an 
application of logic to sacred texts.

> Reasoning (tarka) which works as an auxiliary of intuition
> (anubhava), is commended by him. Reason with him is a critical weapon
> against untested assumptions and a creative principle which selects and
> emphasizes the facts of truth."

One, it is a bit disingenious to say e.g. "reason with him is" suggesting 
this is a unique methodology of Shankaracharya when in fact it is the 
common viewpoint of nearly all philosopers in the Astika tradition.

Two, It should be made clear that the assumptions that are being tested 
are those of the _interpretations_ of Shruti and not the truth status of 
Shruti itself.  It seems Radhakrishnan is trying to use Shankaracharya as 
the mouthpiece for a "critical" way of analyzing the Vedas (no doubt for 
political reasons given his background) and throwing out the bits that 
don't agree with "reason."  I hope I have made it clear that 
Shankaracharya would be horrified by such a notion.

> [3] See Samkara Bhasya on Gaudapada Karika iii. 27. In commenting on iii. 1
> of Guadapada's Karika, Samkara says: "It is asked whether the Advaita is to
> be taken as proved only on the evidence of sruti and whether reason cannot
> possibly demonstrate it and this chapter shows how the Advaita can be
> demonstrated by reason".

Here is the actual Sanskrit of Shankaracharyas' bhashya:

advaitam kimAgamamAtreNa pratipattavyaM aahosvittarkeNApItyata aaha 
shakyate tarkeNApi GYAtum | tatkathamityadvaitaprakaraNamArabhyate |

"To [the question] 'Should advaitam be founded only on Agama[1] or can it 
be founded on logic also?'  We respond: 'It is possible to be known through 
logic also.'  To show this, the Advaita Prakarana[2] begins."

[1] Shastras and tradition.

[2] Advaita prakarana the third part of the Gaudapadiya Karikas that this 
passage is part of the introduction to.

I think this shows that anumana is to be taken alongside shabda as a 
pramana not as a replacement for it.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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