[Advaita-l] Pramanas - Sruti vs. Anubhava

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Sun May 6 02:47:56 CDT 2007

Dear Sir

Thanks for taking the time to clarify, expand, and otherwise illuminate.

Warm regards

----- Original Message ----
From: Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com>
To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Sent: Sunday, May 6, 2007 5:04:58 AM
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Pramanas - Sruti vs. Anubhava

>* You are absolutely right till here, Sir. Whatever Sruti teaches about 
>Brahman, is indeed possible to be realised in the realm of anubhava, but 
>please note that the absence of such a realisation does not negate Sruti. 
>When SSS holds that the bhagavatpAda interprets Sruti in a way consistent 
>with anuvhava, the implied meaning is that whenver Sruti means something 
>not consistent with anubhava, such a reading is not favoured by the 
>bhagavatpAda or is ignored. Such an understanding is held to be incorrect. 
>Sri Sankara interprets Sruti correctly, period. anubhava is always 
>consistent with Sruti, but at no point is there a requirement to re-examine 
>Sruti because somehow anuvhava differs.

I would like to highlight a different nuance to the above discussion. Sruti 
sometimes speaks in hidden ways, which are not necessarily in conformity 
with regular human experience. In such instances, one looks for a 
metaphorical/allegorical interpretation, instead of the literal one. In 
other instances, the text in question gets characterized as "arthavAda", for 
the sake of praising a particular ritual action or the man who carries it 
out. To that extent, there is a "re-examination" of Sruti, but this is part 
of the effort to understand what the text intends, in that particular 
context. As far as brahmavidyA is concerned, the point that Sankara 
bhagavatpAda makes is that the texts teaching non-difference (abheda) are 
not to be interpreted in a merely metaphorical sense nor are they to be 
understood as arthavAda. Thus, "ayam AtmA brahma" is not merely a ritual 
identification of AtmA and brahma, nor is it a statement of metaphorical 
similarity, nor is it mere praise of the AtmA.

>* So, strictly based on the above, are you willing to say Sruti is useless 
>for brahmajij~nAsA? The correct meaning of yato vaco... is that words 
>cannot described, not that Sruti does not reveal Brahman. Sruti indeed 
>reveals Brahman, and it indeed is the way of knowing Brahman. As the 
>introductory slokas of VivekachUDAmaNi put, the knowledge revealed by Sruti 
>can be firmly established after anubhava reinforces that knowledge.

Again, one needs to be very careful here, to avoid logical inconsistencies. 
anubhava, in the end, also only reveals that one's own experience that one 
is brahman is in line with the knowledge revealed by Sruti. Where this 
anubhava helps is in strengthening the individual person's establishment in 
brahman knowledge; it does not add anything to take away from the knowledge 
revealed by Sruti. There is a crucially nuanced distinction involved here.

>* As Sri Ramakrishnan showed in his Paper, the correct interpretation of 
>the above quoation of the bhAshya is that SrutyAdayah and anubhavAdayah are 
>techniques of interpreting the vedas. Whereas only the former set is useful 
>for dharma jij~nAsA, the latter set is * also * useful in brahmajij~nAsA; 
>for the simple reason that whatever Sruti teaches is also reinforced by 

The take-home message from Sankara here is that Sruty-Adi and anubhava-Adi 
are routes for brahma-jijnAsA, i.e. investigating, understanding and knowing 
brahman. Otherwise, in the above formulation, we have a circularity with the 
Sruti part, inasmuch as Sruti (=veda) is being characterized as a technique 
for interpreting the veda (=Sruti). Also, in the final sentence, traditional 
advaita vedAnta would be more comfortable with a statement that what 
anubhava reveals is consonant with, or correlates with, or is in line with 
what Sruti teaches. Any statement about one reinforcing the other 
immediately gets mis-understood otherwise.

We need to be clear about the distinction between and also the overlap 
between an investigation into brahman and an exercise in interpreting Sruti. 
That is why advaita vedAnta does not enter into a conflict with pUrva 
mImAMsA as far as dharma-jijnAsA is concerned. Where pUrva mImAMsA is 
rejected is only in the field of brahma jijnAsA, which involves interpreting 
the jnAnakANDa.

Best regards,

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