[Advaita-l] On rationality; was "Vedas are not apauresheya according to the Vedas ?"
rkmurthy at gmail.com
Tue Jan 29 21:43:29 CST 2013
Namaste Sri Siva Senani,
There are many interesting points in your response, which can lead in
various directions. For now, I will try to stick to the point.
<< 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.>>
My familiarity with abhinavagupta's tradition is limited, so let me
not get into that. However, there is no question of any axiomatic
acceptance of Atman. Rather, even the attempt to accept/reject any
axiom presumes the Atman.
<< 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.>>
I submit that you seem to have misunderstood the meaning of the term
svataHsiddha. First of all, that "I am" is not and cannot be a notion
precisely because it is svataHsiddha. Secondly the understanding that
his son is 'his' son is not svataHsiddha, because the very j~nAna of
there being another person (son or anyone else) is pramANasiddha.
You have also suggested at various points in your post that avidyA is
also svataHsiddha. I don't think it would be appropriate to use the
term svataHsiddha for avidyA. It is sAkShIvedya rather than
But more importantly, Atman is also abAdhya (uncontradictable or
un-negatable). But avidyA is negated whenever j~nAna arises. This is
true even in an everyday laukika sense. For example, my avidyA
regarding any specific object is negated when the knowledge of that
particular object arises in my mind. If avidyA were non-negatable, no
knowledge of any type would be possible.
Lastly, it was not my intention to dismiss the role of the
shruti/shAstra. The specific role of the shruti/shAstra in
advaita-vedAnta is a subtle topic that is worth an elaborate
discussion in its own right. My purpose in starting this thread was to
respond one of your earlier messages in which you argued that the
vedAnta traditions are not strictly "rational" as they rely on shruti
plus reasoning and not reasoning alone. I responded by arguing that
a) Any pramANa needs to be taken as a given (i.e. axiomatically) and
not as an outcome of reasoning. The role of reasoning comes
subsequently, in terms of helping us understand what pramANa-s reveal.
This is similar to any logical system needing at least one axiom to
start with. The systems that use shruti as a pramANa are no less
rational than any other system. They are logically consistent with one
of their axioms, viz., the prAmANyam of the shruti.
b) Specific to advaita-vedAnta (as distinct from other shruti-based
systems) there is the additional peculiarity that it ends up
dismissing the entire pramAtR-prameya-pramANa vyavahAra as mithyA. The
process involved here is one of deconditioning - one gradually gets
out of the tendency to objectify the Atman. In the final analysis,
what remains is the svataHsiddha and abAdhya Atman, with all objective
"realities", including all objective statements about the Atman as
well as the shruti itself, standing negated. In that sense,
advaita-vedAnta is not a thesis but a negation of all theses.
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