Antiquity of Advaita Vedanta (was Re: An Open Letter to All)

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Mon May 22 13:35:00 CDT 2000

On Fri, 19 May 2000, Rajiv Malhotra wrote:

> If Buddhists reject that the Vedas are based on first person direct
> experience, then I emphatically disagree with their statement. I would like
> to know which Buddhist sect say this, because it is probably not universal.

Well, the Buddhists did not single out the Vedas for rejection (though
some polemical works do portray them that way.)  But if you read the
descriptions that Nanda is posting, they are rejecting the the idea of
experience as a pramana entirely.

> original experience,
> in the true spirit of a rishi, which is what makes our
> tradition great as compared to those with one single exclusive prophet's
> revelation.

What is the "true spirit of a Rshi"?  A Rshi is a mantradrashta, a
"see-er" of Mantras.  That and the fact that Vedas are Shruti or "heard"
suggests there was kind of direct experience but the Mimamsakas take pains
to point out that we cannot assume anything about the process of
revalation.  Many Rshis were male, some were female, some were non-human.
Some were solitary hermits, some were wealthy householders, some practiced
yoga, some yajna, some seem to have done nothing but curse people.  In
fact, the Mimamsaka says, we needn't even assume they existed at all.
All we know is there are various names attached to various mantras.
Those traditions of ours which are exclusive trace themselves to those
Rshis just as much as the cosmopolitan ones do.

> Direct experience gets appropriated by the linguistic framework, and hence
> turned into textual. But before textual is the primary experience.

This is not the view of Iyers but  A.J. Ayer :-)  You would have a tough
time reconciling this with the Vedic tradition.  We have always considered
language to be the pinnacle of Human achievement and the royal road to
understanding.  This is why so much effort was put into Grammar,
linguistics and the like.  In fact for Bhartrahari, Kaunda Bhatta
etc.  language _is_ the means of liberation. This is why there is such a
profound gap between Astikas and Bauddhas.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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