[Advaita-l] On rationality; was "Vedas are not apauresheya according to the Vedas ?"

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 23 21:08:09 CST 2013

Sri Ramesh Krishnamurthyi, Namaste.
I believe that there is a play of reference-system in the discussion. Just to elaborate, when we sit in a moving train, sometimes it looks like we are stationary and the trees are moving in the opposite direction. To the person in train, that is indeed true; to the person standing outside, like at a railway crossing, such a notion is laughable as he thinks that the tree, railway gate and he himself are stationary while the train is 'moving'. To a person watching from space, the view of the man at the railway station that 'he' and the trees are stationary is laughable because due to earth's rotation they are moving at nearly 1650 km per hour, and this man completely oblivious of his own motion (along with the earth, trees, railway tracks and the atmosphere) thinks the train moving at about 100 kmph is the only thing moving. So what is the Truth? All three, within their reference-systems. That is why it is true that the Sun rises, and also true that
 it is not the Sun which does not rise. If we try to establish the absolute Truth (in our present state of knowledge) that the only true statements are "the train is moving about 100 kmph faster than me", or "the earth's rotation would cause us to view the Sun again at 6:24 am in a point of time we arbitrarily refer to as tomorrow morning", lokavyavahaara cannot happen.
When we discuss Brahman / Atman from the pAramArthika point of view, we should not use language because language is founded on the difference of kartA from karma (as Bhartrihari says there are only two kArakas - kartRkAraka and karmakAraka - all other kArakas operate by associating with one or the other), that is the difference of subject from object. That is why Sruti says "yato vAco nivartante aprApya manasA saha" and that is why bhUmA is the answer to the question of "what is the Ultimate".
When you say Atma is svataHsiddha and beyond the pramAtR-prameya-pramANa complex, you are presenting the pAramArthika reality while operating within the vyAvahArika frame (otherwise language cannot be used). However what is true in the pAramArthika plane,  or rather, what is not true in that plane, cannot be established by us while being within the vyAvahArika plane, except with the help of Sruti. If anubhava reveals Self, it also reveals avidyA [1] - and avidyA ** seems ** equally svataHsiddha as do all the projections of avidyA - it might be that these two cognitions happen at different times - the question then is: "how to decide which of the two cognitions is true?". Whatever that is, it would qualify as a pramANa. And, if one of the two cognitions is proved, that becomes the thesis. Obviously, both pramANa and thesis are concepts valid only in the vyAvahArika plane; for in the pAramArthika plane, nothing but Brahman is. A thesis can exist only
 when there are two objects and options between them - such as a) mountain is fiery, b) there is no fire on the mountain - how can there be a thesis when mountain, smoke and fire are all One? 
However as explained above when we make only statements valid from pAramArthika point of view, lokAvyavahAra breaks down - so we assume that we operate in the vyAvahArika frame only. That is why it is said that Sruti is required to tell us which of the seemingly svataHsiddha entities - Atman or avidyA - is ultimately Real.
The presentation that pramANas owe their pramANatva to some other entity, in this case, Atman - has not been made earlier. In one of the first Pratyabhijña granthas, SivadrishTi - drishTi means darSanam - (search for 'Sivadristi' in DLI), Siva is said to be beyond pramANas like Pratyaksha (and hence Sruti as well), because they derive their pramANatva from Siva.
vyApakatvAcchivatattvasya sarvajñatvAdbhavedatha |
tasmAdetacca saMjñeyaM sarvaH svAtmAnamAtmanA || 5 - 77 ||
jAnannavasthito dUre svargAdau niraye' thavA |
pratyakshAdiprakriyAstayA SivakritasthiteH || 5 - 78 ||
Prof. Korada Subrahmanyam in his forthcoming book (Pramanas in Indian Philosophy) after citing the above Slokas from SivadrishTi quotes Abhinavagupta (quoted in footnote of SivasUtravimarSini on the vritti on 1-1) -
pramANAnyapi vastUnAM jIvitaM yAni tanvate | teshAmapi paro jIvaH sa eva parameSvaraH ||
I believe the problem in such a presentation is that the belief in Siva / Brahman / Atman becomes axiomatic rather than the belief in Veda being axiomatic. Taking VedaprAmANyatA is personally preferable (therefore I had never said that what you say is incorrect) as it makes a graded approach (follow dharma till you are ready etc.) possible and because it was followed by my forefathers. However beyond personal preferences, in your presentation the svatassiddhaTa of Atman has to be treated as axiomatic (and vedaprAmANyatA as another axiom in case it is deemed desirable to accept Vedas as True), which is another way of saying that there is nothing to discuss. It seems to me that Veda as the bridge between vyAvahArika and pAramArthika is easier to understand and use, rather than this abstract approach.
N. Siva Senani
[1] - The concept of svataHsiddha depends on a knowledge of pAramArthika Reality. Imagine a Westerner or African not at all exposed to Indian systems of thought - when we tell him that the notion of his Self is svataHsiddha, he immediately understands; he will equally understand that his son being 'his' son is equally svataHsiddha to him. Thus, at the vyAvahArika level; at the pAramArthika level, when we say Atman is svataHsiddha, it does not require any other liÑga, hetu, gamaka or sAdhaka to be achieved (in this construct, what we call 'pramANa' is one such hetu)  - because Atman is the base. The question  "how do we know that Atman is the base" has no answer if Sruti is disregarded. Thus, when we speak of true svataHsiddhatva it has to be without pramANas - such a thing is called as 'pratyaksha' or 'anubhava' in the language we use. Then, avidyA is as obvious as Atman. 

From: Ramesh Krishnamurthy <rkmurthy at gmail.com>
>To: Siva Senani Nori <sivasenani at yahoo.com>; A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> 
>Sent: Tuesday, 22 January 2013 10:51 PM
>Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] On rationality; was "Vedas are not apauresheya according to the Vedas ?"
>Namaste Sri Siva Senani,
>On 21 January 2013 23:03, Siva Senani Nori <sivasenani at yahoo.com> wrote:
><< The obliqueness of the post was intentional because most times
>direct engagement seems to quickly descend into a heated and lengthy
>exchange generating a lot of heat but very little light.>>
>Don't worry, it won't degenerate:-) I don't know if it will generate
>any light, but no heat for sure:-)
>Anyway, it appears that we are talking past each other. You seem to be
>missing the essential point of my posts. Maybe the reverse is true as
><< If "most others" are non-Indian philosophoers, there might be some
>truth in it; if "most others" are Indian philosophers, I think the
>above statement is not true. Every one of the 16 darSanas described in
>SarvadarSanasangraha emphasises Pramanas>>
>I was not talking about pramANa-s per se, but about the fact that
>pramANa-s have to be accepted axiomatically to avoid infinite regress.
>This insight is there in the broader tradition alright (for example,
>in the concept of intrinsic validity of pramANa-s articulated by the
>pUrvamImAMsaka-s) but only the advaitin-s carry it to the final stage
>of dismissing the entire pramAtR-prameya-pramANa complex as mithyA.
>This is what I was referring to when I said that it is easy for
>advaitin-s to appreciate this but not so easy for most others. Some
>bauddha-s also seem to reach similar conclusions from different
><< So, while I have no issues with arriving at Brahman in the above
>way, I would submit that there are other "vidyAs" which teach Brahman
>(Each vidyaa, effectively, is one way of teaching and reaching
>I was not presenting any particular way. I accept that at the manana
>stage people may use different mental constructs. But whichever way
>one proceeds, deconditioning has to happen if advaita-mukti is the
><<As a way, fine; but as the way, not so - as explained above.>>
>One may choose any way, but in the final analysis, there can be no
>advaita-mukti if one thinks of brahman as an objective reality. This
>is what I have been pointing at.
><<With reference to the highlighted statement of yours above, I say
>Brahman is indeed pramANasiddham - the pramANam being the Veda, and
>this SAstrayonitvam, far from being a bAdhA is the only fact which
>establishes Brahman.>>
>Strictly speaking, only an objective reality such as a tree or a book
>is pramANasiddham. The shAstra talks about brahman not as an objective
>reality but as the svataHsiddha Atman.
>Another way to look at it is that if brahman were strictly
>pramANasiddham then the pramANa that reveals brahman would have to be
>as real as brahman. This is indeed the case in other vedAnta
>traditions such as vishiShTAdvaita where the shAstra (and the jagat in
>general) are not treated as mithyA. But in advaita-vedAnta, even the
>shAstra is mithyA. This is possible because, unlike other vedAnta
>traditions, advaita-vedAnta considers brahman not as an objective
>reality but as the svataHsiddha Atman.
>The svataHsiddha Atman cannot be dismissed even when all pramANa-s
>(incuding shruti) are dismissed.
><<This point has been made by BhagavatpAda in his bhAshyam under
>"tattu samanvayAt" (1.1.4), wherein the very first point of discussion
>ends with the assertion "tasmAtsiddham brahmaNaH
>Yes, but not as an objective reality. That's the key point as far as
>advaita-vedAnta is concerned.
><< Why? That is exactly what a thesis or pratij~nA is: what one proves
>based on certain facts using a certain method.>>
>advaita-vedAnta is not a thesis in the sense that it does not concern
>itself with making any objective statements about Atman/reality.
>Instead, it actually negates the very need to make (and the
>possibility of making) any objective statements about Atman/reality.

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