[Advaita-l] apaurusheyatva of veda-s

Raghav Kumar raghavkumar00 at gmail.com
Mon Aug 22 05:36:32 CDT 2011

Conclusion and and over all Summary of the thread (from my side with some
rephrasing done to posts without any real change in the idea presented.
please see Sri Vidyasankarji's emails separately since they are relevant in
Before coming to the summary about apaurusheyatvam -

Sri kuntimaddi Sadananda ji, you had indicated that "From my understanding,
requesting beforehand pardon for saying so, the questions that you are
posing are irrelevant because 1. None can give you an answer that will
satisfy you 2. No answer can be given that will satisfy you. "
Raghav: Well, as far as I am concerned, Sri Krishna Bhagavan, whose Janma
thithi falls today has given an answer in the shraddhA-traya-vibhAga-yoga of
gItA that satisfies me, by pointing out that not all shraddhA-s are to be
equally regarded and respected. There is sAttvik shraddhA and also tAmasika
shraddhA and he has also given thumbrules to assess for oneself whether a
given shraddhA is sAttvika or not. So, I am happy quite with that answer.

Regarding a somewhat elaborate summary - please excuse me in advance for its
Bhaskarji: In the case of Vedic mantras, are the the tattvas (meaning, the
entities being referred to be the mantras)  apaurusheya or are the words
constituting the mantras conveying and explaining these tattvas also
apaurusheya ? Sri Vidyasankarji had earlier explained  "both these aspects
are apaurusheya, otherwise, we would have referred to Rishis as
tattva-dRShTAraH instead of as mantra-dRShTAraH and that moreover the
mImAMsaka will question you as to what you mean by a tattva that is over and
above the original verbal
expression in the veda. The mImAMsaka discards the notion that there is any
author of the veda - not human, not semi-divine, not rishi-s, not even
The veda just is, that is all, and it talks to us. Just as the universe just
is, and
presents itself to our perception."

Bhaskar: I like to make a conclusion in favour of apaurusheyatva of veda-s.

Raghav :Yes and We have to conclude in a way which is non-sectarian and
should avoid giving faith-based reasons and still manage to converge on the
apaurusheyatva of Veda. For example, currently, science enjoys enormous
prestige and claims to draw its validity from grounds other than faith, it
being based on realities of the physical world. Exploring along such lines,
How would it go if we were to say that - please do not say that the Veda is
just one more culturally-conditioned belief-system on this blessed planet -
rather it bears similarities to the scientific tradition. For example, just
as science progresses linearly and convergently even while relegating older
theories to a lesser status (even through paradigm shifts), the Veda too has
a knowledge hierarchy ( not just a set of non-verifiable beliefs) where (to
take one instance) the karma-kAnda is initially posited as the highest truth
and subseqently the jnAna kAndam is known as true. Based on such
similarities Vedic

knowledge enjoys atleast the same (arguably a much higher but at the very
least an equal)status as science; at the very least the Veda cannot be put
on par with the more problematic belief systems of the World. (I have
re-worded this mail considerably to better capture what I had in mind).

Siva Senani Nori ji: The short answer is: this 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. If they are paurusheya, they cannot be
testimony. (We need) Sraddhaa - faith - which is a part of the Samaadi
shaTkam to study Vedanta.

Gopal.Gopinath ji :Most of the scientific laws and rules came about
either by induction or by (lower) intuition i.e., apara-jnAna, or, mostly, a
combination of these two means. Vedic knowledge etc. are in the realms of
higher intuitive revelations.   Since there is a hierarchy in these vedic
truths, they are backward compatible but
the vice versa need not always be true. It is intellectually stimulating but
....unfortunately, objective investigations do not work like that.   Any
kind of inductive analysis starts with a hypothesis of some sort and goes on
to prove or disprove it.  But while comparing facts/realities of two
entirely different levels (Vedic and scientific), it is dangerous to assume
right away that one has the final inference or knowledge about everything
that is being compared.If lucky, one whole life and if not many lives, need
to be spend to prove or disprove the hypothesis.  But to take the hypothesis
itself, as above, as the definitive conclusion is like choosing to be blind.
Instead, "if you carry the notion that Sruti might indeed be apaurusheya, it
might be useful" as Sri Siva Senani Nori suggested is  a brilliant
alternative for spiritual sanity.  This is from my own life experiences.

Sri Vidyasankar ji:  It is a misguided effort to think of either the
phenomenon or the verbal expression of a physical law (such as gravitation)
as apaurusheya. Rather, through proper application of pratyakshAdi
pramANa-s, we realize that gravitation is a property of physical objects,
though not directly perciptible to the senses. We would be better off using
another pair of words to talk about it, viz. purusha-tantra vs.vastu-tantra.
Whatever is vastu-tantra and not purusha-tantra is not necessarily
apaurusheya. If we were to start extending the applicability of
apaurusheyatva to anything and everything that is outside the realm of
purusha-tantra reality, then we would have to say that the oceans are
apaurusheya, the mountains are apaurusheya, the entire universe is
apaurusheya. If we do that, we have to remember that we have stepped out of
the original terms of reference for the
word apaurusheya. If we were to ask -

Q: Does the New Testament have author(s)?
A: Yes, Mark, Luke, etc.
Q: Do the veda-s have author(s)?
A: No. They are apaurusheya.
Q: What then was the role of the Rshi-s like gRtsamada, madhucchandas,
vasishTha etc?
A: They only mediated the revelation of the veda-s, they did not create
Q: Does the classical physical law of gravitation have an author?
A: No, the law of gravitation is not a text. If you mean discoverer, yes,
Isaac Newton.
Q: Does the physical phenomenon of gravitation have an author?
A: The question is meaningless. Gravity in itself is not purusha-tantra.

To sum up, apaurusheyatva properly applies to TEXTS and their authorship. To
use the term
apaurusheya outside of this context is to stretch its meaning and
applicability. One has to be careful what one means by it and one has to
make one's usage very clear.

Omkar Deshpande ji: How does a text being apauruSheya serve as a better
testimony than a text that is pauruSheya? If it's said that pauruSheya texts
may have flaws because of the bias of the author, how are apauruSheya texts
guaranteed to be valid merely because of not having an author? It's not
merely the absence of bias that makes an authored text valid, but the
presence of knowledge in the author as well. In an unauthored text, not only
bias, but the merits of the author (knowledge, etc) would also be missing.
How then is validity guaranteed?
V Subrahmanian ji: The Upanishad itself is specifying that the Ultimate
Truth,  Brahman,
is to be known from the Upanishad alone.  It qualifies the 'PuruSha'
intended here for moksha as "aupaniShadam.h".  It is not the biological, the
psychological or any such puruSha but a unique entity whose knowledge can be
obtained only
from the Veda. No 'person' (author) can have the knowledge of this Purusha
from a source other than the Veda.

Sri Sadanandaji : While Vidyaji has explained this in clear terms, I am even
surprised why there is confusion to start with. The whole creation which we
call is Iswara sRiShTi is obviously not purusha tantra in the sense of
manushya tantra. (Besides) The truth is, we are indeed blessed to be born in
a culture and tradition to inherit this teaching from the lineage of
teachers with all the appropriate commentaries to understand the truth that
is being pointed out. Obviously any pramANa becomes a valid pramANa only for
those pramANas    (pramAtR-s?) who can make use of it. Vedanta is no
exception.Everyone is eligible to know this absolute truth, but only those
who are qualified will gain that knowledge as Krishna emphasizes in the
sloka- manushyaanaam sahasreshu...

Raghav: Omkarji, apaurusheyatvam is considered important. The idea is that
there is a certain general AkShepa that "science is a human activity which
employs only reason and speculation and is changeable,improvable etc, ergo
it is fallible. And that if we permit ourselves to look at the Veda too as
another kind of "science" albeit of the subtler realm, with the Rishis being
the equivalent of scientists, who conveyed the knowledge of the adhidaivik
order of adhiShthAna devatAs who regulate/preside over the Cosmos, then
there is a danger of the problems of human fallibility and indefiniteness
afflicting the Vedic testimony too, which is unacceptable. Therefore the
apaurusheyatvam of the Veda not only implies the text has no composer
(unlike the Bible etc) but also leads to a much stronger and desirable
conclusion that there is a finality, definiteness and infallibility to the
knowledge being revealed by the Veda."
I, however, would only point out that this changeability in scientific
knowledge is still progressive (it gets better and more generalized with
time) and not back and forth like in certain types of tarka/nyAya schools.
The older theories are never totally falsified or rejected; they are merely
special cases of the newer discoveries. 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. 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. 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. 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.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. 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.

Shyam ji: Is logic both sufficient or even necessary to legitamize shraddhA,
when the latter relates to a realm that is beyond the range of ordinary
human experience and investigation??
Is there something inherently incorrect or incongruent, about the shraddhA
itself of a devout Sufi's "Islamic" Shraddha" - that we need to
differentiate "Vedic" ShraddhA from?

Senani ji: Raghav, Your ideal of science has its place; similarly, the
Judaic religions. However, our views on the Vedas need not be informed or
influenced by either of these - for the simple reason that the same attitude
has been obtaining from much before either of these two forces of humanity
started taking shape. Not that your line of thinking is not correct - only,
it is neither sanatana dharma nor vedanta. Any new thinking can be inspired
by these; it will be better for clarity if they take a new lable. For
instance: neo-vedanta. In terms of end-positions, I don't think we differ
much. I have a great respect for science and a great liking for its
history.(but) We need not give Science the high seat that is reserved for
Veda - we can respect it and admire it otherwise as well;
(Regarding the Prashnopanishad context quoted by you) - freezing Vedic
frames, or thinking one has understood the complete meaning of an utterance,
I want to be careful. There have been numerous instances where a simple
phrase keeps suggesting deeper levels of meaning every time I revisit it. If
only we are really knowledgeable, it seems to me that a single sentence of a
krAntadarSi can be analysed and shown to have captured everything said
before and to have anticipated / contained the analysis that occured for
centuries later. For instance, NageSabhaTTa commenting on the
VyaakaraNamahaabhaashya and the Pradeepa commentary on that, specifically on
the Rik "catvaari padajaataani..." in the paspaSAhnikam. yaavat j~naanam
taavat arthabodha; or indeed, Sankaraachaarya at numerous places in his
three bhaashyas.

Raghav: On the issue of whether situations like the vidvat-sadas of
Janaka,etc were actual historical events or not, i can understand that there
can be divergence in views. A "staunchly Vedic" friend of mine once told me
that we cannot look at the situations presented in the Vedas as having
occurred in history at any point because somehow that brings in the prospect
of human mediation in the Veda, ergo, they get tinged with paurusheyatvam.
Instead he said that all the mantras and even the Upanishad mantras (which
mention a meeting held by Janaka at Mithila etc), in toto, should be looked
at as having been in existence since eternity, even before this earth became
a hospitable planet. Not all Vedic-adherents have taken such a delightfully
fundamentalist stance though. (please note that i am not using this word in
a negative sense here).
As regards shraddhA, the life and conduct of the gentler Sufis is certainly
beyond reproach.

At this point the discussion digressed somewhat to the idea of shraddhA,
please see the actual mails for the details.

Om tat Sat

On Mon, Aug 22, 2011 at 2:03 AM, kuntimaddi sadananda <
kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Shree Ragav Kumar – PraNAms.
> With due respects, I would like to mention that no one is disqualified to
> gain the absolute freedom that one is. Pouranic examples are many.
> Vedanta as a science is sacred since it is the absolute knowledge, knowing
> which there is nothing else worth knowing; or knowing which one knows
> everything thing - eka vijnaanena sarva vijnaanam bhavati.
> To gain that knowledge the primary requirements are the four-fold
> qualifications as elucidated by Bhagavat paada, Shankara based on the
> scriptures.
> The essence of the Vedanta is packed in the mahaavaakyaas, with the rest of
> the vaakyaas being aid to understand these.
> What is required for moksha is clear understanding of the identify
> statements as elucidated by these mahaavaakyaas in Vedanta.
> It is not the study of the Vedanta texts, not chanting or teaching etc for
> which certain qualifications may be required. But for understanding and
> implementing these statements, one need not have to study but need a teacher
> who can help in understanding. Recent example is Nisargadatta Maharaj who
> was a pan-beedy waala had enough faith in the teaching of his guru when he
> taught – tat tvam asi – he could contemplate and realize the absolute truth-
> as is evident from his answers to questions posed in – I am that- book. From
> this it is very clear that what is needed is chitta suddhi not from what
> gotram, or kulam or vranam or gender one belongs to.
> Jaati niiti kula gotra duuragam
> naama ruuma guNa dosha vargitam
> desha kaala vishaayaati vartiyat
> brahma tatvam asi bhaava yaatmani|| - says Shankara.
> From this, it is very clear that every one who is dhaarmic is entitled to
> gain that understanding by listening to the teaching with full faith in the
> teacher and the teaching.
> Any other questions related to the qualification of the one who can study
> by himself the scriptures has no bearing on the realization of the truth.
> One can become a scholar in shastras too but if he does not have the
> four-fold qualifications, then the study of those scriptures is useless.
> avijnaate pare tatva shaastraadiishu nishpalaa|
> vijnaatepi pare tatva shaatraadiishu nishpalaa| - says Shankara
> The study of shaastraas is useless if one has not gained the supreme and
> the study of shaastraas is useless if one has gained the supreme- says
> Shankara.
> From my understanding, requesting beforehand pardon for saying so, the
> questions that you are posing are irrelevant because 1. None can give you an
> answer that will satisfy you 2. No answer can be given that will satisfy
> you. The best pursuit is only what qualifications are required to gain that
> knowledge and that aspect has been exhaustively discussed in relation to the
> B. Sutra I, by bhagavat paada Shankara.
> Hope this helps.
> Hari Om!
> Sadananda
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