[Advaita-l] Apaurusheyatva of Vedas.

Omkar Deshpande omkar_deshpande at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 12 15:02:46 CDT 2011

<<<No more than the claim "The Republic of India became independant in 1947" requires faith.  I wasn't there.  It could all be a big lie but trustworthy people say they were there and confirm it.>>>

I would argue that it's a very different claim, because
a) Indian independence is a very recent event, so the time gap from the occurrence of that event is very small. Historical uncertainties increase with time gap. 
b) There is no school of thought arguing against that date (and even the countries hostile to India don't question it).
c) Historical documents from that time (written and audio-visual) still exist.

>> not that different from the claims of the Buddha or Mahavira having some special vision?

>Neither one actually denies the rshis saw the mantras.  They just deny its significance.

There are two different claims here that need to be separated:
a) The mantras were seen by a Rishi. 
b) Different Rishis independently saw the same mantras. 

Do Buddhists accept b) ? Any references on that would be great. 

The Canki Sutta from the Pali canon refers to the Rishis (examples are also given of Vishvamitra, Angirasa, Vamadeva, etc) as both the seers and composers of the Vedic hymns:
So even if the Buddhists accept that the mantras are based on extrasensory vision of some kind, the sentences that come from the Rishi are considered by them as authored by the Rishi. 

<<<Historically we can see the Vedic tradition has been unbroken and the texts are preserved in a remarkably pristine state.  So barring specific instances where a breach is suspected, we can trust the parampara.>>>

But the same argument would apply for Buddhists also -- the Pali canon is well-preserved, and the tradition is unbroken, so can we trust the Buddhist parampara that the events in the Pali canon are factual? If it's said that they can be doubted because the events described are extraordinary (like the Buddha having a vision etc), the Rishi independently seeing a mantra (and many of them independently seeing the same mantra) is also an extraordinary event. How does one differentiate between the two kinds of claims? 

Also, what about Vedic traditions like Nyaya and Vaisheshika who considered the Vedas as authored? Given the absence of unanimity on whether or not the Vedas are authored among the Vaidikas themselves, what exactly would the word parampara encompass when we say the parampara considers the Vedas to be unauthored? 



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