[Advaita-l] Fw: How shruti is antya pramANa in advaita vEdAnta??

Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra, Water) vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com
Thu May 31 09:55:43 CDT 2007

>If you care to answer, my question was, and I repeat here -
>What is the role of "manana/nidhidhyAsana on the sruti vAkyas"
>if it doesn't help internalizing them? 

I think Sri Siva Senani has already done a painstaking analysis of how
exactly we are talking in circles, for which I thank him. I only want to
highlight a few points to ponder here. 

Re: manana/nididhyAsana - inasmuch as these activities are based on the
Sruti vAkya-s, they grant primacy to Sruti. We are not talking about
anubhava of avasthA-traya here, are we? I don't see how manana and
nididhyAsana impinge directly upon the discussion we have had so far on
this thread.

All of us started out with positions regarding Sruti vis-a-vis anubhava
(note, I don't want to say Sruti versus anubhava, for I don't think in
those terms at all). The context was that of describing anubhava as
kingpin among pramANas. Let us go back to the quote from our
bhagavatpAda, when he talks of SrutyAdayaH, anubhavAdayaH, adding the
conjunction ca (= and). Bhaskar is right in saying that anubhava is
specially mentioned here, in addition to scripture, which contrasts with
the emphasis on scripture for dharma mImAMsA, effected with the use of
the adjective eva (= only).

We have to remind ourselves that we are not talking only of Sruti and
anubhava here. We are talking of Sruty-Adi (vedas etc) and anubhava-Adi
(experience etc). We don't have to search for long, before we understand
the first et cetera (Adi). In addition to Sruti, we have the standard
categories of smRti, itihAsa-purANa, dharmaSAstra, etc. to round out the
term Sruty-Adi. With respect to anubhava-Adi however, we have been
neglecting the et cetera and highlighting only anubhava, particularly
the anubhava of avasthA-traya, namely jAgrat (waking), svapna (dreaming)
and sushupti (deep sleeping) states. We have not bothered to ask
ourselves what bhagavatpAda means here by adding an et cetera (Adi)
after anubhava in this quotation. Let that be, for now.  

With special reference to avasthA-traya analysis, I have contended that
when even this anubhava is analyzed outside the context of
Sruty-anugRhIta tarka, we will not necessarily infer or deduce an
advaitic pure consciousness. As an aside, if one says that manana and
nididhyAsana will help us make the right inferential understanding, I
contend that they are nothing without SravaNa and that therefore, Sruti
makes a grand entrance again.

In particular, after experiencing the waking, dreaming and deep sleeping
states, if one infers that the inner core of one's being is, in its
essence, nothing other than consciousness, one will still not have
succeeded in inferring that this consciousness is the only reality. A
little bit of further thought will allow one to state that this
consciousness does not see duality, but there are no grounds to state
that it transcends duality. After all, the deep sleeper is still in a
living body and is simply unaware of anything, including the material,
physical body. The deep sleeper has by no means intuited or inferred a
non-dual reality behind both the matter and the consciousness that are
experienced in the waking state.

I have deliberately used completely non-Sanskritic terms in the above
paragraph. Through a process of this inference, we can at most arrive at
a notion common to most world religions, namely that this inner core of
one's being is the individual soul as pure spirit. In particular, in
terms familiar to Indian philosophy, we may arrive at the sAmkhyan/yogic
notion that one's inner core being is the purusha, who is pure cit,
distinct from matter. The inference is, at this stage, nowhere near even
making any conclusions about whether this inner core of one's being
undergoes birth and death, or re-birth and re-death, or whether it is
bound or free. Obviously, we cannot even glimpse the stage of "tatra
vedA avedAH" from this inference. Outside of the Sruti, we have no means
to infer anything more about it, let alone arrive at advaita vedAntic
conclusions about paramArtha and vyavahAra.

By reiterating the centrality of Sruti here, I am by no means belittling
anubhava. Nor has anybody from any of the well-known prakriyAs cast
aside anubhava. One of the most well-known champions of the vivaraNa
school, svAmI vidyAraNya himself emphasizes, "discuss according to your
own experience (svAnubhUti), do not argue fallaciously (mA
kutarkyatAm)." It is not as if the importance of anubhava in advaita
vedAnta has been forgotten after Sankara bhagavatpAda and only
rediscovered in the recent past.

However, just as you contend that using the word kingpin to describe
anubhava does not take away from the importance of Sruti, I hold that my
emphasizing the high importance of Sruti does not take away from that of
anubhava. I give great importance to bhagavatpAda's usage of the
conjunction "ca" when he talks of Sruti etc and anubhava etc. I have
nowhere and at no time argued for one against the other, nor have I ever
used words that seem to privilege one over the other. At any rate, we
still haven't gone into what constitutes the second et cetera that
follows anubhava, but I hope all of the above is sufficiently
intellectual enough to show how much I actually value the role of the
intellect when it comes to advaita vedAnta!

Best regards,

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