[Advaita-l] Accepting Possibility of Error in Sastras

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Sun Dec 30 09:57:12 CST 2012

> If every statement of the veda is only an anuvada, then how can it be
> apauresheya? Or is it that apauresheyam is also an anuvada?
> On unseen matters such as the result of yajna that yields svarga, we dont
> have any means of knowledge other than the shastras. But in the case of
> seen matters (e.g. structure of solar system), we have pratyaksha and
> anumana as an alternate source of knowledge. In such cases, which view
> should be accepted - a) one that is supported by observed facts and
> reasoned inference (science) or b) one based on shastras?

There are well reasoned out rules of interpretation that take care of all this. When one says SAstra,
one needs to distingyuish between Sruti and all else. It is absolutely necessary to keep in mind that
apaurusheyatva is a characteristic of Sruti alone, not of smRti, itihAsa, purANa, yogaSAstra, dharma-
SAstra texts etc.
Descriptions of the physical universe in these texts do not need to be taken as literally true. There will
be many details in these other texts that go contrary to contemporary knowledge about the earth, the
solar system etc. There is no need to put too literal a meaning on what these texts say. There are many
other layers of meaning in them beyond the literal. 
Even if you find some Sruti reference that is seemingly contradicted by today's scientific knowledge,
there are other ways to understand the Sruti vAkya, which will bypass the apparent contradiction. To
be more specific, the adhidaiva and adhyAtmika levels of meaning in Sruti can never be contradicted by
science. Maybe the adhibhautika meaning may come into conflict here and there, but I'm not particularly
aware of any such feature in Sruti. Non-Sruti texts that are broadly accepted as SAstra are a different
cup of tea. But as I pointed out, we don't claim these other texts as apaurusheya.

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