[Advaita-l] Apaurusheyatva of Veda

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Thu Sep 8 02:17:27 CDT 2011

On Sun, 4 Sep 2011, kuntimaddi sadananda wrote:

> Shree Rajaram - PraNAms   First, the logic that you have used is not 
> fool-proof to establish the apourusheyatva of the Vedas.

If you think so please explain why.

> Second, 
> ultimately it comes down to ones belief that they are - in terms of the 
> exact words and meters or mantras etc apourusheyam, in spite of any 
> supporting logic you may have.

But you can say that about anything.

  Third, once it is accepted that 
> ultimately it is a question of belief or faith, and then all the logic 
> that is being used is not necessary - since in the final analysis it is 
> the faith that matters.

And yet the Rshis did try to explain it in logical terms.  Why if only 
faith is necessary?

>   If one wants logically to be established, I 
> would like to content with the idea that it is the knowledge that is 
> aourusheyatvam, rather than exact expression in words; since the 
> absolute truth discussed is aloukikam and hence Vedas have to be taken 
> as pramANa and no other pramANa is valid in that realm.

Note that both the Mimamsakas and the Vedantins agree that it is not just 
the ideas but the actual words of Shruti and their meanings which are 
apaurusheya and eternal.  (See brahmasutra 1.3.29 and the bhashya thereon.)

> In that sense I 
> do concur that all knowledge is apourusheyam. An appropriate pramANa 
> only helps in removing the cover (to discover) for the knowledge getting 
> revealed to the qualified pramAta. This way, it is logically sound and 
> in principle the words and the meters help to communicate the knowledge 
> precisely just as F=ma; but it is not necessary to communicate only in 
> that way. Hence we accept any scriptures or segments of scriptures that 
> agree with Vedanta, only reject those segments that do not.

And by agree with Vedanta we mean agree with the jnanakanda of Shruti.  So 
even these secondary shastras depend vicariously on the apaurusheyatva of 

> Even in Vedanta; there are several matams that using the same words but 
> extract different meanings for those words. Hence the knowledge embedded 
> in the Vedantic words itself getting distorted in terms of implied 
> meaning of those words. The essential problem is words do not describe 
> the truth (na vaak gachhati, no manaH) and hence the emphasis on the 
> sampradaaya and teaching methods of the words contained in the Vedas for 
> properly dis-covering the knowledge contained in them which is 
> apourusheyam.

The mimamsakas anticipated this line of thinking.  The rejoinder is just 
because at any given point of time there might be confusion about the 
meaning of a particular word does not imply that there is no fixed eternal 
meaning.  The various sampradayas do disagree on some details it is true 
but what is remarkable is how much they _do_ agree on.  If the meaning of 
words were only transient conventions then there ought to be much more 
diversity of opinion than there actually is.  But note this is not an 
argument about apaurusheyatva at all which only means that shruti is 
"authorless" nothing more.

Also na vAka gachhati etc. do not mean words cannot reveal the truth but 
only the truth is not exhausted by words alone.  Even the famous neti neti 
is followed by a positive statement atha nAmadheyam satyasya satyamiti

> For that reason Vedas themselves prescribe to approach a 
> teacher rather to study them.

The desire for liberation depends on shravana manana and nidhidhyAsana of 
the shastras.  When that desire has been kindled, one should approach a 
guru who is _shrotrIya_ and brahmaniShTha.  In other words the choice is 
not shastra or Guru it is shastra _then_ guru.

  That knowledge is eternal is not faith but 
> fact, and therefore beyond logic or beliefs too. That is truly 
> apourusheyam.  The rest is faith and no logic is needed to support it.  

That knowledge is eternal is as much dependant on faith as apauresheyatva 
and eternality I'm afraid.  That's why logic is applied to support both.

One other thing...

On Sun, 4 Sep 2011, kuntimaddi sadananda wrote:

> Logic as a means of knowledge applies to loukikam only. apourusheyam
> aspect of the Vedas is aloukikam.
> Vedanta is not illogical but logic
> takes a secondary role and also follows only shaastriiya anumaana not
> loukika anumaana. You are using loukika dRiShTanta to establish aloukika
> saadhyam. Anumaana pramANa is only valid within its limits of
> applicability.

No.  Here is a counter-example.  Shruti says the shrauta yajna called 
ishTi should be performed on the darSha (new moon) and pUrNimA (full moon) 
days.  However to know the phase of the moon one looks at the sky at night 
time not in a book or in other words uses pratyakSha pramana.  mImAMsa and 
vedAnta are the application of pratyakSha and anumAna pramanas to alaukika 
topics.  (See brahma sUtra 4.4.20 for example.)

apaurusheyatva is a logical attempt to explain why Shruti is "authorless" 
that's all.  Throughout this thread people have been making more out of 
this than is actually there.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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