[Advaita-l] Pramanas - Sruti vs. Anubhava & Paper on SSS -comments section

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com
Fri May 4 11:48:44 CDT 2007

I agree, perhaps the words I chose to explains things might have
confused people a bit.

The point Shankara is trying to make is this:

dharma-jij~naasaa - how to perform rituals - known purely through
shruti, li"nga, vaakya, etc. Rituals are not subjective in the sense
that the ritual-acts themselves have an ontological reality. There is
nothing subjective about *how* to do them, so nothing other than
shruti, which is a valid means, can inform a person how to do them.

Regarding brahma-jij~naasa the situation is somewhat different.
Brahman is an existent entity, and is not completely unknown, however
the *true* nature of it is unknown. This is quite a contrast to ritual
praxis, where you either know the procedures or you don't. There are
no "partial knowns". Note that this partial known is completely
different from "incorrectly known" in the ritualistic context.

The actual knowledge of brahman can come ONLY from shruti itself, just
like rituals, rfom sentences like yamevaiSha vR^iNute, tena labhyaH,
as Sureshvara aptly remarks (see paper for full quote). Sureshvara is
crystal clear that anubhava and its analysis, serve ONLY a negative
role. But anubhava can help a LOT - but yathaasambhavam. Actually, the
true nature of reality should be evident from just shruti, but to most
of us it is not. The reason is that we are addicted to reasoning,
cause and effect, etc. So shruti offers as a crutch, takes anubhava
and examines it, and also says how to examine them, which is called
shrutyanugR^ihiita tarka or aagama-anusaarita tarka. This is what I
mean by saying anubhava offers a way of exegesis of shruti. What I
should probably say is that examination of anubhava helps in exegesis
of shruti with regard to brahma-jij~naasaa or something like that. I
have to think a little bit more about this.

In any case, this is what I mean by not confusing the logical priority
of causal reason with derived reasons. I.e., examination of anubhava
requires shruti to inform us HOW to examine it (since there are so
many ways of examining anubhava), so shruti is not examined to conform
to anubhava, rather anubahva is examined to conform to shruti. The
traditional aachaaryas such as Padmapaada and VidyaaraNya make this
more clear in their writings. Hope that point is clear enough in my
paper already. I think the comparison with shrutyaadayaH could be
written better.

I'll see how to rephrase all of this. Vidyasankar sent a bunch of
suggestions. I fixed the typos, but need to incorporate some other
changes suggested by him, and also Prems suggestion on the eternality
of the vedas. I am still thinking about how to incorporate material on
the latter without drastically increasing the page count. In any case,
a reasonably big revision is required. I'll see if I can get these
done over the week-end or the next week, and send a mail.

Thanks for the stimulating discussions!


On 5/3/07, Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:
> >   in my understanding, tarka is just the way we come to terms with
> >   avasta-traya experiences in the light of sruti. reasoning does not,
> >and cannot, explain, clarify, or amplify sruti. (counter to the dictionary
> >   definition of 'exegesis', to me exegesis is the 'critical analysis of
> >   avasta-traya in the light of sruti').   what do you think?
> I would like to sound a note of caution in using the word exegesis in this
> context. Technically, as you point out from the dictionary meaning, exegesis
> means textual interpretation. Now, Sankara bhagavatpAda does not say that
> anubhava is a technique to interpret scriptural texts, nor does he say that
> Sruti is an interpretation of the anubhava of avasthA traya. Rather, he
> simply intends that the investigation into reality (brahmajijnAsA) is served
> by both Sruti and anubhava of the three states (among other things).
> In the analysis of the waking, dreaming and sleeping states, he emphasizes
> that one should reason according to the Sruti (Sruty-anugRhIta tarka). That
> is the important point, but using the word exegesis for this investigation
> into the three states is apt to be misleading.

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list