[Advaita-l] Apaurusheyatva of Vedas.

Raghav Kumar raghavkumar00 at gmail.com
Fri Sep 16 08:06:45 CDT 2011

Dear Sri Omkar ji

<lalitaalaalitah at gmail.com> said:<<<yoga-sUtra, etc. talk of dependency of
anumAna, shabda, etc. on pratyaxa;and not of dependencies of prAmANya-s they
have in them. So, this view is baseless.I think you can understand
difference of words used.>>><<<Second, even if I accept your view anyway, as
anumAna, etc. depend on pratyaxa, so pratyaxa depends on eyes, etc. Is this
any offence to need things essential for your birth ? - .>>>

1.    You said : Sorry, I couldn't follow the above paragraph. Were there
typos in it?
I believe lalitaalaalitaH ji is saying - "The mere fact that we need a
functioning "ear" to hear the words of shAstra does not imply that the
svataH-prAmAnyaM of shAstra is thereby affected or becomes subordinate to
the pratyaxa pramANa called the "ear". We may need many essential auxiliary
causes and factors but that does subordinate the main effect to those
sahakAri causes. Like even, the midwife delivers the baby but the mother
alone is the cause for one's birth.  It is only in this sense that the
yoga-sUtra-s talk of the fact that the operation of the other pramANa-s like
anumAna and sabda are contingent on a working pratyaxa (eyes, ears etc.).
This does not automatically imply that yoga-sUtras posit that shabda
"depends" on pratyaxa etc to generate the primary auditory data. Thus,
svataH-prAmAnyavAda is not incompatible with the Yoga-sUtra-epistemology."

2.     lalitaalaalitaH ji said <<<Third, One can not say 'because this
knowledge is pratyaxa, so it isessentially pramANa', because
pratyaxa-bhramas are seen. So, pratyaxa also
needs other pramANas to verify it's validity. I don't see any cause for
rewarding only pratyaxa with intrinsic validity, as that will make
perception of snake in rope valid.>>>
Omkar ji wrote: Sure, I agree with you. But that doesn't imply that shabda
should be considered svataH-pramANa. It actually leads to what you have said
next: (i.e, mutual dependence of the svataH-pramaNa-s)
(Raghav's comment: Omkar ji, I understand you to be saying that: since each
svataH-pramAna depends on non-conflict with every other pramANas for its
validity, so even in svataH-pramANya-vAda, there is mutual dependency
between pramANa-s and a thus a sort of infinite regress; an accusation
usually levelled at paratastva-prAmANya-vAda. On the other hand, you suggest
that if we arbitrarily fix pratyaxa as the final court of appeal, then we
can arrive at closure on the issue of validity of a given knowledge derived
from the pramANa-s.)
Here lalitaalaalitaH ji is responding by saying that - "This is said
according to your line of thinking, i.e., without discriminating words"
i.e., He is saying that - the words pramANa ("pramA-karaNam pramANam" i.e.,
instruments of knowledge ,viz., the eyes etc) and prAmANyam (data gathered
through eyes etc) need to be distinguished. Eyes, shabda etc are all to be
regarded as "svataH-pramANa-s" (generators of data; data which is by default
assumed valid) even while the prAmANya-s (data) upon later
ascertainment/comparison can be negated as invalid knowledge. If we do not
validate the initial data from each pramANa (including shabda) to start
with, and wait for pratyaxa to deliver its final verdict, there is no end to
such waiting. All conflict resolution is between the prAmANya-s not between
the prAmANa-s themselves which have to be given equally valid *status* as
producers of prAmA (valid knowledge).
3.  Therefore there is no infinite regress or mutual dependence between the
pramANa-s in svatastva-pramANya-vAda; but to be sure, there is a certain
non-finality to any knowledge. All knowledge derived from the
svataH-pramANa-s (including pratyaxa) is provisional since *future*
conflicts cannot be ruled out. (except in the case of the antyam-pramANaM
vedanta which sublates pramatRtvaM itself.) Therefore the
uncertainty/provisionality you spoke of regarding shabda-pramANa is the bane
afflicting all the pramANa-s. (barring Vedanta-shabda.) If anything the
order of decreasing certainty in the long run would be
1. Vedanta-shabda (generates aparokSha-j~nAnam which is not merely a logical
2. Vedic karma-kANda ( non-falsifable knowledge which can be shown to have
anapekSha, independence of anything but the eternal connection between the
word and its meaning.)
3. anumAna (processed pratyaxa)
4. Raw pratyaxa

4.   You raised the valid question : Why should we privilege it over
paratastva-prAmANya-vAda which is also capable of pragmatically generating
the neurological feeling of certainty in spite of epistemic uncertainty?
My understanding is that:  If we do not give *equally valid* status to the
pramANa-s of shabda and instead choose to give the high seat to only
pratyaxa (and pratyaxa-backed anumAna,i.e., falsifiable anumAna), then we
are *forgoing* valuable knowledge from other sources like shabda and even
non-falsifiable anumAna-s which can very well fruitfully inform our behavior
and actions even without ever having any demonstrable cross-checking from
pratyaxa (for example take the case of the law of karma - moral cause and
effect). If we say that such non-verifiabale,
shabda-pramANa-generated-knowledge (of the law of karma, say), is to be
treated as uncertain (being merely non-falsiable), it will surely *not*
inform our actions and behavior.  My understanding is that
parataH-prAmANya-vAda (with pratyaxa alone being svataH-pramANa) necessarily
implies giving a lesser degree of validity to the law of karma and the like,
since they are unlike objects like the pot etc. This seems to be avoidable.
As for the validity of sabda-pramANam derived from its unauthredness and
eternal non-separateness from Intelligent IShvara, I tried to present what I
understood in the earlier post. (IShvara is neither the author of the Veda,
nor does he see/get the Vedas from some other pratyaxa source other than
Himself. The Veda is itself his efficient power vis-a-vis the Universe. -
the ontological dimension)

5. lalitaalaalitaH ji said > We don't test every >knowledge, whether it is
born of eyes or shabda. We just have >faith=determination that 'this
knowledge is valid'. So,
>prAmANya-paratastva-vAda is opposed to experience.>>>He is suggesting that
svataH-prAmANyam is actually, if anything, the default epistemology we are
all born with. The Psychologist too btw, also speaks of something like
"basic trust" which alone helps the helpless infant survive in a hostile,
unknown world.

6.   Regarding the yuga-cycles and common descent problems, I do agree that
there is a lot of *homework due* on the part of the vaidikIs to resolve such
conflicts especially with the recent advances in science etc., otherwise we
seriously risk undermining the shAstra-prAmANyam if we are unable to advance
convincing reasons (atleast for our ourselves) of the fallacies and
contradictions in ideas like, "the universe has an inert first cause",
"consciousness is an emergent neurological phenomenon" etc etc ; IMHO, the
old refutations of such lokAyAta ideas are a good starting point but seem
somewhat superficial in the wake of recent advances in science and renewed
attacks on the existence of any depth/intelligence to the Jagat.

7.   What you wrote about logic being an after-thought, after a human being
has an a priori feeing of validity in favor of some claim, is unfortunately
largely true.(Emotional attachment to an idea/ideology precedes the logic
advanced to defend it.) If we observe how theologians of any religion hold
on to beliefs like "The Earth was created in 4004 BC" or our own dvaitins
who posit "Vishnu is suerior to Shiva" etc, are anything to go by, you are
quite correct. However, the neuroscientists, I believe, also agree that
there is something called limbic system re-programming, ie.., the
neuro-circuitry down to the instinctual level can be slowly altered by
conscious processes. (For example in the chemistry of love, sublimation is
possible even according to them, and this alters the deepest limbic
programming.) That alone is the aim of Vedanta too
"dehAtma-j~nAnavat-j~nAnam dehAtma-j~nAna-bAdhakam, atmanyeva bhavedyasya
necchannapi mucyate" (Only when the knowlege that "I am Brahman" is as deep
and strong as the instinctual identification born of unconscious processes
that "I am the body-mind", that alone is the liberating knowledge.) In other
words, the Vedanta words have to be assimilated to the point the limbic
system and the unconscious thinking process itself is altered/corrected in
keeping with the newly-gained conscious Vedanta knowledge which can be said
to have merely altered the neo-cortex to start with. Then alone is mUlAvidyA
truly destroyed. Such is my understanding.)


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