[Advaita-l] Apaurusheyatva of Veda

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Mon Sep 12 11:13:22 CDT 2011

> Namaskara,
> <<<In fact, this approach creates the 
> problem that I have ended up subordinating the authority of my scripture to the
> strength of the logic that I have used to prove the existence of a creator God.
> When human beings change their thinking to reject the logic used in a previous
> era, that threatens the authority of scripture in a very basic and fundamental
> way.>>>
> How does apauruSheyatva avoid this problem? Because one still has to subordinate the authority of the scripture to the strength of the logic used to prove that my scripture is apauruSheya, and when human beings change their thinking to rely more on the logic used in modern historical analysis, that also threatens the authority of my scripture in a basic way. So what advantage does apauruSheyatva offer over a system that first argues for a creator God or some special power in a human being?

I was going to cover this in my next post with an overview of the pUrva mImAMsA view,
but let me cut to the chase on this count.
The mImAMsaka does not set out to prove the apaurusheyatva of the veda, at least not
in the sense of what you and I have come to expect as proof. For pUrva mImAMsa, the
apaurusheyatva of the veda is a given, which is why Sri Sadananda describes it as an
article of faith. All the mImAMsaka does is to reject the opposite contention, namely that
the vedas must have had an author. Here is roughly how it goes.
Buddhist: The veda texts reflect and are subject to the faults of the human beings who
wrote them. On the other hand, the buddha was a sarvajna, therefore the Buddhist texts
are free of all faults and should be followed.
Nyaya: We do not accept that the Buddha was sarvajna. He was a human being and no
human being is capable of omniscience. He was not free of human faults and his words
are not going to be free of human failings either. Therefore, the Buddhist texts should not
be followed. The veda, on the other hand, was not written by any human being. It is given
by the faultless ISvara, the creator of the world, and is therefore faultless and should be
Buddhist: It is not proved that there exists one ISvara, the creator of the world. Besides,
all your gods have their faults and none of them can be said to have been faultless. 
Nyaya: ISvara, the creator of the universe, is not like the lesser gods who have their faults.
We can infer the existence of ISvara as the cause of the world. Anything that is an effect
has to have an intelligent cause (like the pot created by a potter), and therefore the world
should have had an intelligent creator, who is ISvara.
pUrva mImAMsA: You both misunderstand the situation with respect to the veda. Any
authored text will reflect the human failings of its author. The nyAya inference of an ISvara
suffers from the problem that its starting point, the world, has its own faults. It has not been
shown that the faults of the world are inspite of the faultlessness of its creator. As such, the
faults of the world are attributable to its creator and therefore ISvara, inferred by nyAya as
the creator of the world, cannot be said to be free of faults. The veda is not the composition
of the human Rshis, nor even the composition of ISvara. It is apaurusheya. It is not subject
to any faults, human or divine.
Really, there ends the matter. In the pUrva mImAMsA system, the apaurusheyatva of the
veda and its validity as a pramANa that is independent of pratyaksha, anumAna etc are quite
axiomatic. You either accept the axiom if you want to get further into the system or you reject
it, that is all.

And if somehow a "proved" statement sounds better than an "unproved" one, to our minds,
especially attuned to our own ways of thinking, let me remind readers that no system of thought
(including the modern sciences) can escape at least an axiom or two. You absolutely need to
have some "givens" before you can go about proving anything else. The veda and its validity
(based on its faultlessness) are a given for mImAMsA and vedAnta, as they have to be, for these
are systems of thought that set out to elucidate the vaidika ritual and the wisdom traditions.

You either accept the truth value of Euclid's fifth postulate and stay within Euclidean geometry
or you give up the fifth postulate and move on to non-Euclidean geometries. What is not kosher
is to attempt a proof for the fifth postulate based on the first four postulates. History is full of
false proofs for the fifth postulate. These proofs are false because the fifth postulate is the
same as an axiomatic statement regarding parallel lines. The situation of pUrva mImAMsA and
vedAnta with respect to the veda is similar. The apaurusheyatva of the veda cannot be proved,
based on perception, inference etc and the pUrva mImAMsaka does not set out to do so. The
buddhist and the naiyyAyika (and anybody else from any other system of thought, for that matter)
cannot disprove the statement "the veda is apaurusheya" either, based on perception, inference
etc. They can reject it and offer their own scriptures as faultless, but in the end analysis, this
rejection of the veda would also be as much an article of faith on their part as its acceptance is
for the mImAMsaka. 
In reality, the pUrva mImAMsaka's view of veda as apaurusheya has successfuly liberated him
from being wedded to the literal meaning of every single word in the known veda. He is able
to build a very sophisticated philosophy of action, taking the vaidika statements enjoining action
as primary to the intent of the veda. As for vedAnta too, at least in the advaita tradition, there 
is again no need to be wedded to conventionally understood literal meanings of every single
word. advaita vedAnta is a sophisticated philosophy of knowledge/wisdom, concentrating on the
vaidika statements on liberation. 

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