[Advaita-l] Apaurusheyatva of Vedas.

Omkar Deshpande omkar_deshpande at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 9 18:09:04 CDT 2011

Dear Sri Ramakrishna, 

> Even if we call the third option I mentioned (where shabda and anumAna derive their validity from pratyakSha) by the name of parataH-prAmANya, I don't know why svataH-prAmANya is preferable to it, especially given that there is no infinite regress now. How would you argue that?

<<<I seems that above argument would make the pratyaxa as "supreme",
possibly making vedic-pramaaNa subservient to it, This would mean that
entities likes svarga/apavarga which the vedic testimony talks about,
and which cannot be accepted by pratyaxa supported by anumaana alone
would contradict parts of vedic testimony!>>>

If the svataH-prAmANya based epistemology does not cause a contradiction between existence of svarga-naraka and pratyakSha, neither would this. All that this would imply is that entities that are not within the purview of pratyakSha have an uncertainty associated with them. This does not mean that they don't exist. It just means that things that are within the purview of pratyakSha would lead to full conviction in them while things that are not will have a relatively uncertain status. This is not unreasonable because we do make a distinction between parokSha and aparokSha j~nAna. Even on ordinary matters, the conviction that comes via direct experience is much more than the weaker convictions formed from verbal testimony.  

Also, it leaves scope for faith in somebody else's pratyakSha. It's not necessary that the pratyakSha here refers only to one's own pratyakSha. To give an example, in the dvaita tradition, which has relatively elaborate arguments on apauruSheyatva and which uses apauruSheyatva as the basis for the authority of the Vedas, the Mahabharata is considered to be superior to the Vedas because it has truths that are not found even in the Vedas (vedAt api param chakre pa~nchamam vedam uttamam -- Gita Bhashya of Sri Madhvacharya), and the authority of those truths that are found in the Mahabharata but are not in the Vedas is Ishvara's pratyakSha:

na etAvatA vedAdi-samam bhAratam, kintu tad-anukta arthasya api pratipAdanena tataH adhikam.... tarhi nirmUlatvena aprAmANyam prasajyeta ityata uktam - Ishvara-j~nAna-viShayIkR^itaH... (Sri Jayatirtha's Prameya Dipika)

(Rough translation - The Mahabharata is not merely equal to the Vedas in status, but because it propounds teachings that are not mentioned in the Vedas, is superior to the Vedas. If it is asked 'But wouldn't those extra teachings (not found in the apauruSheya Veda) have no authority to ground them and thus be potentially flawed', it is said 'the truth of those teachings is perceived by Ishvara...)

The yoga tradition considers all scriptures (including the Vedas) to be grounded in pratyakSha, if not the pratyakSha of ordinary people like us, then at least in the pratyakSha of Ishvara. (I could give references to this, but I don't have the book at hand. This is explained in Edwin Bryant's translation and explanation of Yoga Sutras which are based on traditional commentaries)

<<<Hence cannot be accepted.>>>

Also, I think there is a philosophical problem with pragmatic arguments in general. The pragmatic need for an epistemology to establish the Vedas as authority does not prove that the epistemology which does so is the right one. I have always struggled with the question of how to decide which of the various epistemologies is the 'right' one. I still don't have an answer to this dilemma. 



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