[Advaita-l] logic and shastra

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Jun 13 19:09:30 CDT 2005

On Tue, 14 Jun 2005, Mahesh Ursekar wrote:

> Agreed completely. But there is the question of what a scriptural statement
> actually says, isn't there? Every statement interpreted by one school is
> refuted with 'logic' by another, each considering for reasons of their own
> theirs to be the 'Truth'.

Some of the big controversies do indeed suffer from such problems. 
However, you would be surprised at how much advaita, vishistadvaita, and 
dvaita have in common.  They are much, much closer to each other than they 
are to, say, Nyaya, or Jainism or science.

> So, in effect you don't really have a ground in
> which to say what a scriptural statement actually means!

Part of the problem with using a word such as "scripture" to describe 
shastra is that it gives the idea of "books."  While shastras are now 
(indeed since a long time) found in books, the cultural ideal is that 
of a work which is received orally and memorized.  Even today, the learned 
Brahmanas memorize their portion of the Vedas.  There are many other 
people who have memorized part or whole of the Gita or Tulsikrta Ramayana, 
or some stotras or shlokas etc.  In my language, Gujarati, the very verb 
"to learn" bhaNavu originally meant "to recite."

The shruti has authority because of the pristine condition in which it has 
been handed down since antiquity, in fact since before creation itself. 
It's meaning can be comprehended through grammar and linguistics, history, 
and anthropology as well as logic.

It is for this reason that Shankaracharya in the passage quoted uses 
the term "agama" -- that which is passed down.

> > 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 current Dalai Lama has gone on record to say that the Buddhist
> scriptures can be thrown away if any of their truths are proved wrong by
> science, however dear they may be to him. So, did the great Buddha say - do
> not take me as a God but question every thing I tell you and reject it if it
> doesn't agree with reason. Would you hold Shruti as fact even if 'proved'
> invalid by science?

Well the very first question I would ask is what is science?  Then what is 
this "proof" and what is its validity to apply to knowledge provided by 
the shruti?

Based on what I know about the definition of science and what I know about 
the shruti, I would say the chances of science disproving shruti are zero.

> >> Here is the actual Sanskrit of Shankaracharyas' bhashya:
>>> advaitam kimAgamamAtreNa pratipattavyaM aahosvittarkeNApItyata aaha
>>> shakyate tarkeNApi GYAtum | tatkathamityadvaitaprakaraNamArabhyate |
> Humble prostrations. Both for your having read this book and for letting me
> know that such books are available for the general public. Can you possibly
> point me to a place in Mumbai where I can get such treasures (in English
> only)?

No. Well yes I could but I'm not going to.  It's obviously context you 
lack and reading translations will not bring you farther than you are now.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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