[Advaita-l] logic and shastra

Amuthan Arunkumar R aparyap at yahoo.co.in
Wed Jun 15 17:20:19 CDT 2005

namo nArAyaNAya !

dear SrI mahesh ursekhar and list members,

before expressing my views, just for clarity, i'd like
to sum up the main developments in this thread so far.
the very first post on this thread (logic and shastra)
by SrI jaldhar vyAs succintly addresses the
limitations of science as a pramANa, the
non-redundancy of Sruti as a pramANa and the secondary
role of logic in analysing the Sruti; and to me, the
thread ends there :-) 

the confusion that arose due to the ambiguous use of
the word 'consciousness' for 'chit' was addressed
adequately both by SrI sa~njay Srivastava and SrI
vidyASa~nkar sundaresan and need no further

now, to my (rather redundant) views... 

( begin quote )
--- Mahesh Ursekar <mahesh.ursekar at gmail.com> wrote:

>  It would be better to say that I would consider the
> 5 (pratyaksha, anuman, 
> upamana, arthapatti and anupalabdi) more important
> that sruti. Only the 
> first 5 can establish or disprove the claims of the
> sixth. And if they show 
> the last praman to be invalid, I would not hesitate
> to throw it out of the 
> window. 

( end of quote )

first, a small digression. i'd like to point out the
essence of an axiomatic development of any subject.
Each subject has its own undefined terms (i.e.
undefined terms are terms that cannot be defined based
on something more fundamental than themselves). using
these undefined terms, the axioms of the subject are
stated. then, using methods of logical analysis, the
various conclusions of the subject are deduced from
the axioms. the 'saneness' of the axioms are checked
by testing one or several of the deduced results,
provided they permit such a testing using valid means.
only the axioms can be tested (indirectly). but the
undefined terms, by their very nature, cannot be
understood by this analysis for obvious reasons.  

now, applying the above "scientific" method to the
vedAnta, it is enough to note that the undefined terms
here, however greatly we may delude ourselves to the
contrary, are "Atman", "brahman", "chit", "mAyA" etc.
(i have not really attempted a formal axiomatic
construction of vedAnta and hence i don't claim
completeness in the above list. nevertheless, the
terms above which are stated as undefined seem correct
to me.) the axioms of vedAnta are the Sruti vAkya-s.
the logical analysis of the Sruti uses the 5 pramANa-s
that have been mentioned by SrI mahesh ursekar (and
quoted above). given this, the last sentence of the
previous paragraph, the impossiblity of understanding
the undefined terms like "Atman" etc. through such a
method  of logical analysis, is clear. this should be
a sufficient response to SrI mahesh's view (quoted

the undefined terms like "Atman" and "brahman" can be
*known* only by direct realization (Atma sAkshAtkAra
or aparokshAnubhUti) and not by any amount of logical
gymnastics. (of course, the above statement is made
based on a basic faith in vedAnta.)

even if the very necessity of a belief in the Sruti is
questioned, for sincere and well-intentioned reasons
as was done by SrI mahesh, i would like to point out
that logical analysis is not the most efficient way
out. this is because of the following reason : nobody
can exist without some blind belief or the other (like
the universal *BLIND FAITH* that the world exists;
this can never be proved on any grounds, from a
strictly logical viewpoint). the use of logic, which
is fundamentally based on such basic beliefs, will
thus be of no great help in *establishing* the
ultimate truth. 

for all the sceptics (i'm not pointing at anyone; in
any case, i'm one :-) ), the method of least
assumptions, using which the "undefined" terms of
vedAnta, mentioned above, can be directly known, seems
to be self-introspection of the form "nAn yAr?" ("who
am i?" or "ko'ham?") as taught by SrI ramaNa maharshi.
of course, this is a very personal view and opinions
can be widely different. 

other than this method, i don't see any other way
other than a strong belief (SraddhA) in the Sruti
vAkya-s. either way, logical reasoning plays only a
secondary role.   

to conclude, the best method(-this is again a personal
view) to test the Sruti vAkya-s to check if it can be
"thrown out of the window" is by direct experience
through self-introspection (Atma vichAra) and not the
use of logical analysis alone, though the latter can
be used as a tool to convince (or more precisely, to
delude :-) ) oneself in the process. 

hope this clarifies...
thanx for patiently reading.

vAsudevaH sarvaM,

Amuthan Arunkumar R,
4th year, B.Tech/M.Tech Dual Degree,
Department of Aerospace Engineering,
Indian Institute of Technology Madras.

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