[Advaita-l] logic and Shastra

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Thu Jun 23 10:48:24 CDT 2005

Just some belated observations on some bits of this thread:

Abishek RK wrote:

> Also I think that the Acharya has categorically stated:"Even if a
> hundred shrutis say that fire is cold they cannot be accepted" (sorry
> I cannot provide the source).

It's one of the upanishadbhashyas I believe (sorry I don't remember 
exactly which one either) but it doesn't imply anything concerning the 
validity or otherwise of scientific observations.  It is a basic principle 
of Mimamsaka interpretation (with which Vedantins of all stripes concur) 
that the shastras only deal with dharma and moksha.  So if ephemeral 
things such as fire are mentioned it must only be in the context of dharma 
or moksha.  As a parallel example, Heisenberg used a quantum cat as an 
example of his theories.  But if as a physics student you wrote your Ph.D. 
thesis on what breed of cat it was or what if the cat was replaced by a 
dog, you would be accused of totally missing the point.  It was just a 
supporting example.  Similiarly, Shruti is simply invalid on the subject 
of the temperature of fire.  Perhaps it coincides with physics, perhaps it 
doesn't.  It just isn't accepted.  (And vice-versa.  If a 1000 scientists 
say Ekadashi is on the 12th we disregard it because it is a point of 
dharma and the shastras say Ekadashi is on the 11th.)

Which leads me to another point.  The whole Noumenon from phenomenon thing 
is important in religions where God is primarily the creator of the 
universe.  So in the West for instance, scientists were originally known 
as natural philosophers.  Just as the theologian attempted to know Gods 
will through reading the Bible etc. the natural philosopher attempted to 
know it by studying His work.  But in Advaita Vedanta, Gods role as 
creator is not very important.  In fact this world of names and forms is 
Maya.  So it is pointless to examine God through it.

Mahesh Ursekar said:

> This above argument is not valid. If anuman required pratyaksha, the blind
> would be incapable of anuman but we know when a blind person bumps against
> something, he infers it is an obstrution to be avoided.

"An obstruction" is hardly much of a fact is it?  The stock example in 
Indian logic is the six blind men who each touch a different part of an 
elephant and come to a different conclusion about what they are touching.

But that doesn't mean that anumana can be reduced to just pratyaksha 
though it involves it.  Take the syllogism.  The stock example in Indian 
logic (from which it spread to the west incidently) is:

1.  There is smoke on that hill.

2.  Where there is smoke there is fire.

3.  Therefore there is a fire on that hill.

The anumana in step 3 is only possible because of the pratyaksha in step 1 
and the anubhava (experience) in step 2.

Similiarly shabda pramana cannot be reduced to anumnana or pratyaksha even 
though it involves them in the form of reading or hearing words and 
infering their meaning on the basis of grammatical rules etc.

Mahesh Ursekar wrote:

> Are you trying to say that the maha-vakyas as axioms provides are
> self-consistent system to establish Advaita only? That they may not
> necessarily hold for Christianity and Islam.

This should be quite obvious since those religions in their orthodox 
forms as practiced by the vast majority of their followers are dualistic. 
However there might some bits that do not contradict Advaita siddhanta and 
the attitude of our Acharyas is that those bits may be practiced.

And lastly,

Mahesh Ursekar wrote:

> Are we aspiring to become pundits or Jnanis?

I would hope it was both.  Somewhere down the lines some Indians have come 
to the conclusion that there is something virtuous about being ignorant 
but there's not.  The opposite of pandit is not jnani but murkha.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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