[Advaita-l] apaurusheyatva of veda-s

Raghav Kumar raghavkumar00 at gmail.com
Sat Aug 20 05:26:00 CDT 2011

Namaste Sri Siva Senani ji
Thank you for the link to the earlier discussion on veda-prAmANyam. but the
discussion there in the older links was more to do with vedanta alone, which
is ofcourse appropriate in keeping with this forum. i shall see them and
other past posts too again.

But if it is ok, i would like to make some observations about the vedic
karma kAnda and the mantra-dRShTAraH. Let us focus only on the mantra,
brAhmaNa and upAsana portions, for the purposes of this discussion. I am
focussing on how the Veda is a pramANa in these areas.

 Let me make it clear at the outset that that I do not believe that science
and the Veda are equivalent or will 'converge' at some time in the future
etc. The anadhigatatvam of the different pramANas (the different pramANAs
have their own respective domains which do not overlap.) is undeniable.

I am making some assmptions (based on the evidence from science) which I
will state explicitly - only if these are acceptable there can be further
analysis. please bear with me if I am laboring the point somewhat.

1. There was a point in time about 10 billion years ago when the surface
temperatures on Earth did not permit any life to exist.
2. there was a time a few billion years ago when plant life alone and no
higher mammals were there on Earth.
3. Vedic culture arose in india not later than 1000 b.c. (it is likely to
be much older)

if 1,2,3 are acceptable, then it follows that the Vedic mantras and the
rishi tradition of karNa-paramparA was not present atleast on planet earth
at one point in time (even when other plant life was there) and then at some
point in ancient history, the Rishis etc., were born, lived and left this
( i do not want to get in to the evolution debate, that is not relevant

 Now if we are asked how the Vedic mantrAs and vidyAs started being
taught on this planet, (they might have existed elsewhere in some other form
earlier but as far as this planet is concerned)  we have to say that the
Rishis were mantra-dRSTAraH, these mantrAs were revealed in the pure minds
of these rishis at some point in history. My understanding is that the
concept of a Rishi being a mantra-dRShTa for planet earth in this particular
cycle of creation (kalpa) in no way detracts from the idea that vedas are
apaurusheya and nitya (eternal). Then again, the Rishi not only was revealed
the mantrAs but also had the ability to commune with the sAkAravAn (endowed
with form) devatAs who were conscious intelligent beings, regarding whom
these mantras were about. (in brahma sutra bhashya, bhAshyakAra disagrees
with the pUrva-mimAmsaka who says, in effect that the mantras themselves
were the devatAs and there were no devatAs with actual forms and the like.
BhAShyakara says that the Rishis of yore could directly commune with these
devatAs who indeed had forms etc.)
In the light of this, we can say that the hidden laws governing (even
laukika) pApa-puNya, and vaidika-karma and the results of  vaidika karma etc
are the underlying adhidaivik order of this Cosmos. This adhidaivik
order does have definite empiricial reality; it has vyAvahArika-sattA and
lasts as long as the kalpa lasts which is a pretty long time, until pralaya
takes place. In that sense, the Vedic truths dealing with this perpetual
adhidaivik sRShTi are also perpetual. In each kalpa, a different set of
jIvas attain to devatvam, but the underlying adhidaivik structure remains
the same. (somewhat like a government changing but the democratic republic
being permanent). Rishis were specially endowed by Ishvara to manifest and
teach those 'eternal' truths  - the Vedic truths dealing with the adhidaivik
sRShTi on this planet for this kalpa in the form of mantras, rituals and

Knowledge of adhidaivam was harnessed by the Rishis and their later
followers for human welfare in achieving the dharmArtha-kAma goals of Man
(through these rituals etc which are alaukika means to attain laukika ends)
and slowly guide him further to Atma-vichAra.

When it comes to Science, there is only study and analysis of the physical
order - Adhibhautika sRShti which is also Ishvara-sRShti alone. In that
sense if someone says that modern science is apaurusheya, it can refer to
the fact that Adhibhautika-sRShTi too is not man-made or paurusheya and will
exist until the end of the kalpAnta pralaya.

As for the idea that science employs reason and speculation and is
changeable, i pointed out that this changeability in scientific knowledge is
still progressive (it gets better and more generalized with time) and not
back and forth in a meaningless fashion. The older theories are never
totally falsified or rejected; they are merely special cases of the newer

Even among the Vedic rishis, we see that some Rishis had deeper and wider
knowledge of the Vedic truths than others, these others with more
limited/qualified knowledge of karma/upAsana were still very much Vedic
Rishis. ( let us restrict this entire discussion to only the karma and
upAsanA parts of the veda and the rishis who figure in these kAndas. ) For
example in the prashnopaniShad, many Vedic Rishis approach  PippalAda
Maharshi and all these Vedic rishis who were all possessed of some definite
vedic mantra and upAsanA knowledge of apara brahman (qualified brahman) And
yet there was also a heirarchy possible amongst the Rishis, some more deep
and vast in vedic knowledge and others less so. Also the questions they
discussed were not merely about vAkya mimAmsa or grammatical and textual
analysis of any pre-existing vedic mantras, rather they clearly are
discussing realities and facts about the adhiStAna devatas and the
associated karma and upAsana, like "kuto va imAH prajAH prajAyante" (from
where have all these beings been born ?) This question was answered by the
venerable PippalAda Maharshi.

If we "freeze the frame" at this point in the prashnopaniShad , we can see
that the student Rishi got some new more expansive knowledge of karma and
upAsana by asking this question of PippalAda Maharshi.
Yet this new/deeper/clearer knowledge of apara brahman on the part of the
student Rishi does not invalidate his earlier Vedic knowledge. It does not
mean that his earlier upAsanA and mantra knowledge was non-eternal or

When a Vedic rishi broadens and expands his knowledge (of karma and upAsana
) in such a vidvat-sadas or by respectfully approaching other "senior"
Rishis, does he invalidate his earlier Vedic knowledge as non-eternal or
faulty or changeable ? Not really.

Therefore the constant improvement and progression in science cannot be a
ground for declaring it unsteady or without a steady underlying foundation.

My submission is that modern science is much different from traditional
tarka/nyAya. Let me relate an anecdote i heard. Raghunatha Pandita, one of
the greatest logicians, says in one of his woks on logic, in a rather
exaggerated manner, that "i can use my nyAya logic to prove anything i wish
and i can also use it to disprove anything said by anyone." No scientist
would make such claims or talk in that manner.

The problem with traditional tarka (with some honorable exceptions)  was
that it can go on oscillating back and forth without anyone being any the
wiser. Not so with modern science.

In tarka,
X proves something as true.
Y, a greater logician proves the opposite
Z, a still greater logician proves Y is wrong and X is right.
This goes on ad infinitium. So the sUtra "tarkasya apratiShThAnAdva" etc

There is no progression in human knowledge, there is only a scoring of
points against other opponents. The case with MOST of modern science is
different. (Exceptions: These scientists have been saying for several
decades that coffee is carcinogenic; now they seem to say otherwise! - but
this is not the norm everywhere in science.)
Which is why, if someone argues that science is not without pratiShTha
(unlike certain extreme types of nyAya/tarka as illustrated above) and is
closer to the idea of "smriti", i.e., paurusheya but not inherently opposed
to the spirit of the Veda, there is some validity to it.

On a different note.......
Also Sri Siva Senani ji, it sounds surprising but its true that,
for most modern sadhakas, the idea that the vedic truths are apaurusheya
reminds them of the somewhat fundamentalist islamic and christian insistence
on the mysterious revelation of their prophets and messengers and actually
may lessen the shraddha in the Veda, since it starts to resemble one more
theological dogma-based system. On the other hand, looking up to the Veda as
a knowledge-tradition of the subtler realm (be it even paurusheya) where the
truth of karma-siddhanta, the laws governing the production of adRShta etc
operate actually engenders more love and shraddha in the Veda.

Thank you for your inputs

On Fri, Aug 19, 2011 at 8:31 PM, Siva Senani Nori <sivasenani at yahoo.com>wrote:

> Therefore the scientific laws and theories are on par with (as apaurusheya
> as) the ideas and knowledge revealed by the vedic karma kAndam. Both are
> useful, provisional and are subsequently seen to be not absolutely true.
> How would that go !! .
> ---------------------------
> - The short answer is: against what SankarabhagavatpAda taught.
> - Many subscribe to this notion that a) Vedas are actually composed and
> compiled by the families of Visvamitra, Vasistha etc.; b) that to impress
> the seeker it is said to be apaurusheya; c) that one, while being
> sympathetic to this particular aspect of pedagogy, is smart enough to see
> through this deception; and d) that one would still accept all the good that
> the Vedas have to teach, without bothering about the paurusheyatva of Vedas.
> - This, however, is a trap. Brahman is not something that can be solely
> deduced; all that reasoning can come up with is only a hypothesis. It is
> possible to know that there is Brahman only due to the testimony of the
> Vedas; if they are paurusheya, they cannot be testimony. Smritis are valid
> means of knowledge because they are based on the Vedas.
> - This has been discussed many times on this list, say in May 2007. Here is
> a link to messages in May 2007:
> http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/2007-May/subject.html
> - Also, this is something that won't get settled over emails. One needs to
> study the scriptures and Sastras to appreciate this and thus develop the
> deep respect for Vedas that is a pre-requisite (Sraddhaa - faith - is a
> part of the Samaadi shaTkam) to study Vedanta.
> Here is wishing you good luck in studying more deeply, more of the relevant
> works. Meanwhile, if you carry the notion that Sruti might indeed be
> apaurusheya, it might be useful.
> Regards
> N. Siva SenaniFrom: Raghav Kumar <raghavkumar00 at gmail.com>
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