[Advaita-l] anubhava

Anand Hudli anandhudli at hotmail.com
Sun May 20 23:04:14 CDT 2007

HH Shri Bharati Tirtha Svaminah spoke on Saundarya laharI yesterday to a 
mammoth gathering of people in the Palace Grounds. One of the words he said 
was "anubhava-siddha". This word kept ringing in my ears for a long time 
even after the AshIrvachana. Whenever I hear any great saint, some words 
always keep ringing like this in my ears almost as if some unseen force is 
trying to get me to think about those words.

The context was this. Each shloka of the saundaryalaharI has a prayoga 
associated with it to secure some benefit. This information is contained in 
the shAstras, presumably here the tantra shAstra. HH went on to say that 
this information is also *anubhava-siddha*, meaning there have been real 
life examples where people did the prayoga for a shloka and got the stated 

If the shAstra says "If you do X, then you will get Y", we can take the 
shAstra as a pramANa in the sense, the shAstra has provided us new (right) 
knowledge that we did not find out through perception, inference, or the 
other pramAnas. This information, if it is anubhavasiddha, means it is 
established by experience. Subsequently, if we do X, and we do indeed get Y, 
then what can be said at that point? Have we verified the shAstra statement? 
Or, have we seen an *exemplification" of the shAstra statement? Think about 
the answer very carefully.

Suppose we say that the shAstra statement has been verified by experience. 
This means any shAstra statement will have to be verified by experience. In 
essence, we will have to "certify" a shAstra statement as being verified by 
experience or not. If some shAstra statement is not verified or not 
verifiable at all, then we have no way of knowing if the statement provides 
us right knowledge or erroneous knowledge.

Now, consider the status of the Veda. Here, the shAstra (Veda) is 
infallible. This means the Veda is without any defect whatsoever. Its 
statements can never be wrong. In this special case, it is meaningless to 
talk about verifying a Vedic statement through experience. The Vedic 
statement does not need a "certificate" from experience, whether it is 
sArvatrika or otherwise, to say it is correct. It *is always* correct, 
unconditionally, whether we have seen examples that agree with the statement 
or not. In this case, it is meaningful to talk about *exemplification* 
through experience rather than verification through experience. Therefore, 
anubhava-siddha, here, only means exemplified through experience. If there 
are experiences that run counter to what the Veda says, we must look for 
defects in following the Veda that caused the example to be in disagreement 
with the Veda or perhaps look for defects in the way the Vedic statement was 
interpreted in the first place. So if someone experiences what a Vedic 
statement says it is only an example or an instance of validity of the Vedic 
statement, never a verification or proof of validity.


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