[Advaita-l] Apoureshyatva - Faith or Logic?

Omkar Deshpande omkar.vallabh at gmail.com
Thu Jun 28 20:30:54 CDT 2012

Dear Sri Vidyasankar,

<<<There is a reason that all arguments made about apaurusheyatva, from
the heyday of the pUrva mImAMsakas to that of the dvaita vedAntins, have
been structured in the opposite direction, so as to disprove
paurusheyatva.... I fail to see why the prAmANya of Sruti needs to be
further validated by
appealing to a logical proof that establishes its apaurusheyatva, especially
given the svataH-prAmANya-vAda.>>>

If pauruSheyatva is "decisively" disproved, then apauruSheyatva stands
automatically proven. The question is whether pauruSheyatva is
actually disproved decisively (by the arguments given by the
traditionalists), or whether the arguments against pauruSheyatva are
merely raising some uncertainties about the pauruSheyatva claim.

As far as I understand, the disagreement between modern historians and
traditional Dvaitins (possibly other Vedantins as well) boils down to
whether akartR^itva-prasiddhi of the Vedas is sufficient to decisively
remove the doubt that the Vedas could be authored. For historians, no
matter how widespread the belief today that the Vedas have no author,
it is not a sufficient proof that the Vedas actually have no author.
Beliefs held by humans can change or evolve over time, and even if
there is unanimity about the lack of authors at time t, it does not
follow that there was unanimity about it at time (t - 5000) years, or
further back. Ideas that are in a minority at one point can become a
consensus at a later point. Thus, historians will not extrapolate the
claims carried by a tradition indefinitely into the past. They will
require evidence from the indefinite past that those claims have
existed at those points in the distant past. Since we do not find
texts without an author in our experience of the world, and since the
texts being claimed as apauruSheya seem just like other authored texts
(upon reading the contents), historians/scientists will consider it
more economical to believe that the Vedas are originally authored, and
that they have been attributed unauthoredness at a later point in
time. A historian will also point to the composition of "Upanishads"
all the way up to the last few centuries, and those recent Upanishads
are considered spurious by many of the Vedanta traditions themselves.
No one knows who exactly authored the Chaitanya Upanishad for
instance. But that does not prevent even the dvaitin from assuming
that it is an authored text that has acquired the status of an
Upanishad, the historian will say. Why assume that this phenomenon (of
composed texts being given the status of being unauthored) is only
recent in time, the historian will ask. It could very well have
happened with every single text that is claimed as unauthored today.

On the other hand, traditional dvaitins at least, consider the
attribution of an author to the Vedas as an instance of
kalpanA-gaurava and will consider it more economical to believe that
the Vedas have never had an author. After all, historians cannot point
to any particular person or group of persons in history, and provide
evidence that those people were authors of the Vedas. And traditional
dvaitins are confident that they do have an anAdi-paramparA going back
indefinitely in time, which has always maintained that the Vedas have
had no author, and that the burden of proof lies on the historian to
disprove this claim.

So there is a difference of opinion about who bears the burden of
proof -- does the historian bear the burden of proving that the Vedas
are originally authored, or does the tradition bear the burden of
proving that the Vedas have always been considered as apauruSheya (and
were not originally authored). This difference of opinion exists even
though the historians will agree with the tradition that the Vedas
have been considered apauruSheya for a long time (although not by all
Vedic schools - the Nyaya and Vaisheshika schools did not do so). But
the historian will say that it is the tradition that bears the burden
of proof, because apauruSheyatva is an "extraordinary" claim, which
requires extraordinary evidence, to be able to convince a historian or
a scientist.



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