[Advaita-l] Pramanas - Sruti vs. Anubhava

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Fri Apr 27 10:37:39 CDT 2007

Dear Sir
Thank you for a very lucid analysis. My specific responses follow, starting with an asterisk.
----- Original Message ----
From: Raghavendra Hebbalalu <hs_raghavendra at yahoo.com>
To: Siva Senani Nori <sivasenani at yahoo.com>
Sent: Friday, April 27, 2007 2:52:10 PM
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Fw: Pramanas - Sruvit vs. Anubhava (was re: Some rebellious remarks on Sri SSS)

Siva-senAni-mahodayAya namaH,

The following is my humble understanding. 

Nobody has said that shruti is not a pramANa. But
anubhava is definitely a higher pramANa than shruti.
* Great; such a clear proposition statement makes for a very useful discussion. My stated position is the reverse.

shruti falls within manas. And the paramatattva is
"yato vAcho nivartante aprApya manasA saha". shruti
itself says that the paramatattva is beyond itself. I
think in brihadAraNyaka you have statements like -
"where vedas lose their vedaness" and so on. Isn't
verification of these shrutayaH by anubhava essential?

* We need Sruti to tell us about the parama-tattva because the parama-tattva is beyond vAk and manas, because it is bhoumA, and because it is otherwise unknowable. Sruti is not mere vAk or falling within manas, rather it is the yonih of Brahman. (I know that the acharya offered an alternate explanation of SAstryonitvAt also, but that explanation does not harm the point that Sruti is not to be categorised with vAk or manas). Having said that, vedas lose their vedaness for a brahmanj~nAni. Say, if x were a brahmaj~nAni, then such a person is not bound by vedas. The munDAkopanishad also is quite critical of vedic rites. However, we must note that all this is so for the brahmaj~nAni - and that when we discuss pramANas, it is for aj~nAnis. To the aj~nAnis, Sruti has to be the highest pramANa. For the j~nAni, the difference amongst pramAtr, prameya and pramANa does not exist.

Hasn't shrI shankara himself mentioned that even a
thousand shrutis won't make a fire cold? Here,one has
the anubhava of hot fire. That easily trumps hundred
shrutis that state the contrary. Can that not be
easily construed as anubhava over shruti?

* Indeed if you know that fire is hot, there is no need for Sruti. That is the whole thrust of Sri Sankara's teaching on how to interpret Sruti. The word of Sruti is final, when it reveals something apUrva, not known before, that is something not experienced. Say, I do not know the conditions on the planet Venus, I refer to the encyclopedia, and know stuff; here the encyclopedia is the pramANa. Similarly I want to know about God, and the Taittiriya Yajurveda tells me it is satyam-j~nAnam-anantam. Which is the better pramANa? Clearly, the reference book / Sruti is. Or consider a bunch of school kids who go to a hill-top, drop some stones, time them with stop watches, measure the drop by tying a thread to one of the stones dropped, and arrive at 'g' as 6.7 metres per square second. Their 'anubhava' says 'g' is 6.7, but the SAstra is very clear: it is 9.81 m/s^2. The difference is the wind resistance, as their guru would let them know. If the anubhava is of something
 contradicting SAstras, such an anubhava is not the right knowledge; that is the order of validation. What is the authority of a pramANa, whose very applicability is apriori decided by a higher source? Definitely an inferior one. 

There are plenty of people in other parts of the world
who are self-realized without probably having even
heard about the veda. So is their realization
questionable just because it has not gone through

* Sir, you are extremely polite, to the point of a fault, but straight talk is sometimes better; kindly bear with my lack of politeness. I have a very healthy scepticism regarding self-declared, or annointed-j~nAnis especially with wives, friends etc. being at the head of the queue for enlightenment. For every Jesus Christ, there are a thousand self-realised souls like Alice Auma, who as a part of cleansing the Acholi tribe of Uganda, raised the Holy Spirit Mobile Force which later morphed into the notorious Lord's Resistance Army, responsible for the death of thousands of young men of Uganda. Looking at it from a different angle, if somebody were indeed self-realised, am I eligible to judge that fact? No. So, usually the moment self-realization talk beings, I switch off. The truly realised usually never bother about declaring that fact, and don't go about making people self-realized by placing their hands on their heads, by offering 21-day courses in enlightenment, or by
 having followers trumpet the enlightened status of the guru. As a courtesy, we use the title BrahmaSrI for learned persons, and when they pass away BrAhmIbhUta, but otherwise we do not really dwell on the fact or not of such a person realizing Brahman. To cut my digression, you are saying that some people are / might be enlightened without ever hearing of Sruti; and none of the above contradicts that. Fair enough. My point is: only those among the allegedly enlightened persons who have an experience not contradicting Sruti are truly enlightened; I have not offered any opinion on whether enlightenment is possible only through Sruti.

shruti, IMHO, gets its shrutitva from the fact that is
a "compendium" (for lack of a better word) of
anubhavas of various brahma-jnAninaH. 

* It is very nice to think along those lines. To continue with the example quoted above about measuring 'g', it might be argued that great people like Newton discovered / proposed something; others like Leibnitz verified and confirmed what he was saying and so the corpus of knowledge grew. Vedas, Sangam literature, Philosophy all so nicely fit into this model. Precisely to disabuse of such notions, the apaurusheyatva of Veda is explicitly stated. Vedas are beyond that.

So "anubhava", I feel, is the "kingpin" of the
pramANas. shruti also strives to get its votaries to
go towards anubhava to validate itself. 

* Indeed, the knowledge imparted by Sruti has to be validated by anubhava; but anubhava of anything contradicted by Sruti is not valid. If Sruti says That is thou, and aj~nAnis like me cannot experience that, it is I who needs to improve; my anubhava of 'That is parama and thou is not so' does not triumph Sruti and make my anubhava valid. This makes Sruti the higher pramANa, not anubhava.

shruti is akin to a map. But knowledge of a place on
the map is not the map itself, though you absolutely
need the map. Isn't having been to that place and
experiencing it better than seeing it on a map?

* Absolutely. Say, somebody is trying to climb Mount Fremont, and due to whatever error, reaches a neighbouring peak about 50 metres lower and thinks he has mounted the peak in 2 hour 45 minutes or whatever. Is the climber's anubhava right or the map?

I am sorry if I sound repetitive and crude. Let me
know what you feel.
* Sir, as I said earlier, prAsAda-guNa-bhAsitah bhavatah prabandhah. Repetition to clarify and expand is very much a desirable quality; repetition in the hope that 'a thousand repetitions make a lie true' is not. Your exposition firmly belongs in the former category; I am afraid my repetitions do not pass the test as easily.

* I bow to you and thank you for pushing my thoughts further.


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