[Advaita-l] Apaurusheyatva of Veda

Ramesh Krishnamurthy rkmurthy at gmail.com
Tue Sep 13 01:18:12 CDT 2011

On 13 September 2011 04:16, Omkar Deshpande
<omkar_deshpande at yahoo.com>wrote:<<when the choice is between the two
options I mentioned above,
acceptance of parampara claims requires a lot more faith than acceptance of
modern science's claims, so it's not an equal degree of faith on both

I think Vidyasankar has been explaining the issue with great clarity and so
I would refrain from butting into that discussion. From experience, I can
say that it is always best to sit back and appreciate whatever he writes :-)

However, I would like to point out a few things that you seem to be
implicitly assuming, even though Srilalitaalaalitah has been repeatedly
explaining svataH prAmANyavAda

Strictly speaking, the acceptance of *any* pramANa requires shraddhA (I am
refraining from using the word 'faith' as it carries its own baggage). It is
not that shabda pramANa alone requires shraddhA. The difference between
shabda pramANa and pratyakSha, anumAna, etc is that in the latter case this
shraddhA is naisargika even as avidyA itself is naisargika.

Right from birth we employ pratyakSha, anumAna etc and see their benefits
and so the shraddhA is constantly strengthened. Indeed, if we did not have
shraddhA in these pramANa-s, it would be practically impossible to go about
one's life as one would never be able to trust what one sees. what one
hears, what one infers, etc. In fact, we tend to have a high degree of
shraddhA in shabda also, for we rarely doubt the statements of our parents,
teachers, friends, etc. So in a sense, shraddhA in pramANa-s is a pragmatic
outcome of the need to go about one's life. In fact, an advaitin would say
that it is an outcome of avidyA, as it is avidyA which makes one assume the
role of a pramAtA.

When it comes to shruti pramANa (within the broader ambit of shabda
pramANa), this shraddhA is not as naisargika because the benefits are not so
apparent. However, it is really a matter of whether one values the content
of the shruti in terms of dharma and mokSha. For one who values dharma and
mokSha this shraddhA can progressively become as natural as the shraddhA in
one's eyes, ears, etc.

There is also another issue here which may be useful to understand. As per
the mImAMsaka-s as well as the advaitin-s, the shruti is a pramANa on
alaukika matters pertaining to dharma and mokSha. Now there are two topics
being addressed here. When it comes to puNya-pApa, the phala of various
yAga-s etc, the knowledge gained is indirect. However, when it comes to
Atmaj~nAna, the knowledge is aparokSha as the Atman is never unknown.

In fact, Atmaj~nAna involves cancelling out one's status as a pramAtA. From
an advaita-vedAnta perspective, it is only here that the role of the shruti
(specifically the mahAvAkya) is critical as the cancelling out of
pramAtrRtvam is not possible through pratyakSha etc, as these are based on
the implicit assumption of one's pramAtRtvam. In this sense, what the
mahAvAkya provides is not "new" knowledge but the cancellation of a deeply
ingrained assumption (of one's pramAtRtvam).

When it is understood this way, it is not very difficult to see that the
content of the mahAvAkya necessarily has to be "transcendental knowledge" in
the sense that it cannot be a first time discovery by somebody. It is only
in this sense that advaita-vedAnta accepts the concept of veda
apauruSheyatva. In fact, what is strictly required is only the acceptance of
the mahAvAkya as an independent pramANa (that does not require validation by
any other pramANa).

Regarding the supposed "conflict" with science, I personally don't see any
conflict at all. All one has to appreciate is the jurisdiction of pramANa-s.
After all, as sha~NkarAchArya himself says, a hundred shruti statements
cannot make fire cold. The shruti is not a pramANa on laukika matters
including those that are amenable to scientific investigation. It is a
pramANa only on matters of dharma and mokSha, which are not accessible to
other pramANa-s. Ultimately, it boils down to proper interpretation of
shruti by keeping in mind the jurisdiction of pramANa-s, for which we have a
sophisticated tradition that is quite capable of accounting for any changes
in human knowledge that accrue from the application of the other pramANa-s.

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