[Advaita-l] Apaurusheyatva of Vedas

Raghav Kumar raghavkumar00 at gmail.com
Fri Sep 16 07:45:58 CDT 2011

Namaskara  Sri Omkar ji

My earlier post was pursuing a line of reasoning which would be relevant to
SrI Bhaskar Prabhuji's frame of reference (or so i presumed.) i.e.,
apaurusheyatvaM is inevitable if we accept that j~nAnam cannot arise
spontaneously in samAdhi even for the Rishis.
 For the record, the tradition indicates that both the knowledge
encapsulated in the words of the Veda and the words themselves were
simultaneously revealed in the minds of the Rishis (just as with
parameShvara). In certain other cases yogaja-pratyaxa (clair-audience) was
the means to receive the teaching from the devata-s or IShvara. In other
words, yoga gives the Rishis access to other divinities and there the
shravaNaM took place. It may be noted that this does not mean that yoga
practices directly generated the knowledge. It merely helped the Rishis do
shravaNam without a physically present outer teacher but by accessing the
devata-s. When a Guru teaches Vedanta through sound-syllables, we do not say
that the pratyaxa-ear is the cause of pramA. Similarly with yogaja-pratyaxa.

You wrote:
2. How can we guarantee that an apauruSheya text generated by supernatural
mantra-darSana gives valid knowledge? It may be free of the demerits of the
non-authors but something which is unauthored, like a sentence generated by
an ant crawling in dust cannot be said to convey meaningful knowledge.

 - You are correct regarding my mistake in not-mentioning anything like an
intelligent principle involved in this mantra-darSana. Neither the ant or
wind count as valid revealers of knowledge-bearing words. Mere spontaneous
hearing of words as in psychosis, cannot be the idea, either. I must correct
a sentence I used namely that  "the words spontaneously arose in the minds
of the Rishis." The correct way to put it, as I understand it, would be that
there was a transmission of the words from another intelligent being
(IShvara) directly to the minds of the Rishis.  (Informally "the first-born
brahmA ji taught the Rishis.")

 The mimAmsakas were saved the trouble of answering this question since for
them mantra-darSana did not take place in a supernatural way; the
guru-shishya tradition had always been around and there was always a
face-to-face intelligent inter-subjective communication in a conventional
manner in a gurukulam environment.  (as you had pointed out.)

 But Vedantins do accept mantra-darSana itself as intelligent
inter-subjective communication. In other words they are not a random
sequence of words; they are knowledge-bearing words revealed/taught by
Ishvara at some historical time.  So, while they thus avoid falling foul of
evidence from geology etc, they have to answer some more questions regarding
supernatural descent of mantra-s. The chief question is - "vedanta accepts
supernatural revelation/darSana of veda mantra-s; so how is it better than
other revelation in other theologies?" (Sri Vidya ji indicated that ) by
bringing in the idea of apauruSheyatvaM, the defects in the lifestyles of
the non-authors does not afflict the texts and a lot of scope for
interpretation is created. There is no Vedic Hadith and there is so much
more Ijtihaad (~ latitude generated by interpretation), since, *by
definition* (axiomatically), the Vedas cannot contradict that which is
conclusively established by pratyaxa and anumAna. In this manner the
svataH-pramANyaM of the Veda never creates problems  or conflicts with other
pramANa-s. Whenever there is some conflct, if we look carefully enough, we
can either reinterpret the Vedas or perhaps show the other pramANa to have
been fallacious.

(In this context the life of men is given in thousands of years at several
places in the purANa-s, but the Vedas say it is 100 or 116 years and that
alone stands as the general rule. Similarly, the word yuga is taken as 600
years by some like SrI Yukteshwara Giri  and 4000 years by some and 432000
by others. In all such cases pratyaxa and anumAna may well be true. There is
definitely no if-and-only-if link between the PurAnic anecdotes being
literally true and the veda-prAmANyaM, as I see it.)

Thus the idea of non-authorship does not mean that an intelligent
communication did not take place in the mantra-s revealed in the minds of
the Rishis. The texts revealed do constitute intelligent communication and
yet are delinked from the lifestyles and idiosyncrasies of those to whom the
mantra-s were revealed. But does not the defect then get transferred to the
originator, Ishvara who revealed the mantra-s to the Rishis?  Were they
pratyaxa for him ?No. That is whrere we bring in the "other side of the
coin", as SrI Anand ji said, viz., the nityatvaM or eternality of the Vedas.
(please see Footnote 1) The idea is that neither are the Vedas authored by
Ishvara nor are they independent of him. In fact the big difference between
the naiyAyikas postulating this Cosmic Intelligent Principle as the "author"
and the Vedantic position on this is that - the Vedantins don't say that
Ishvara created or authored the Vedas; rather they regard the Vedas as
representing *Ishvara Himself* in his role/aspect as the nimitta-kAraNam
(efficient cause/inteligent cause) of the Jagat (Please see footnote 3 and
4)  In other words, Ishvara and the Vedas are related like the Sun and
sunlight. The Sun cannot be said to "create" sunlight.; they are
inseparable. To say that Ishvara authored the Vedas would be like saying
that "Ishvara 'created' his maya shakti or his own intelligence/efficiency
vis-a-vis Jagat." We do not say that the Vedas have infallibility as an
"attribute" since Ishvara created/authored them, rather. infallibility and
the Veda are regarded as synonymous; i.e., infallibility is the Veda. Thus
the apauruSheyatvaM and eternality of the Vedas go together. The key idea is
what has been termed "shabdAnupUrvI-sRShTi" (creation through the means of
the Word - footnote 5.) Thus the Vedas are not merely a cultural artefact
left behind by an ancient agrarian society with some epistemological
significance as one of six pramANas ; rather they have an important
ontological dimension as well which is inextricably connected to the idea of
unauthoredness. This is how the tradition has looked at the Veda, as I


1. "..nityo vedo jagadutpattihetutvAt, Isvara-vat.." (bhAmati 1.3.29) (The
vedas are eternal being the cause of the universe, just as Isvara is
2."...nityAkRter-devAder-jagato veda-shabda-prabhavatvAd-veda-shabde
nityatvamapi pratyetavyaM" BSB 1.3.29 - The templates/forms of all the
different celestial beings being permanently fixed (across all cycles of
creation), the Veda which is the agency which creates them has also to be
accepted as eternal.
3."yadyapi na upAdAna-kAraNam ...tathApi nimitta-kAraNaM uktena-krameNa"
(bhAmati 1.3.28) Although Brahman is the material cause of the Universe, the
Vedic Word is the intelligent cause/ efficient cause in the aforesaid manner
,  (i.e, the Vedas contain the forms/shapes-information of all beings and
the worlds.)
4. "sthithe shabde nityArtha-sambandhini
shabda-vyavahAra-yogya-vyakti-niShpattiH" - the connection between the Word
and the form/meaning being eternal, the forms of the creatures/objects are
accordingly manifested by Ishvara when the Vedic-Words are recollected by
him at the beginning of creation. (BSB 1.3.28).
5."sarveShAM tu sa nAmAni karmANi ca pRthak-pRthak, veda-shabdebhya evAdau
pRthak-samsthAsca nirmame" (In the beginning, the Lord created the entire
universe of different names and forms through the Veda-Words alone.)

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