[Advaita-l] Advaita Manjari -3

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 5 07:46:06 CST 2003

                        Advaita Manjari-3

PramaaNa: Just a few comments on PramaaNa, but more elaborate discussion
will be presented when we examine the Knowledge and Knower and Knowing
process. Since one considers oneself ignorant of both the world and to
some extent about oneself too (the two essential things that one deals
with while living), the pursuit for knowledge is inborn to beings. 
Knowledge becomes the basis of all transactions. Therefore, the means of
knowledge, pramaaNa, becomes a basis to separate valid vs. invalid
knowledge or mistaken knowledge.  In the pursuit of knowledge, ‘one’ is
always a given – that is the knower himself - since without him present,
the discussion of knowledge has no meaning.  Implication of the above
statement is that the knower has to be an existent one and also a
conscious one, for any knowledge to take place.  That is one is sat and
chit – and these form a fundamental basis for any knowledge, as given
facts - and no means of knowledge (pramaaNa) is needed to prove to
himself that he is existent and he is an awareful being. It is not that
I have sat or I have chit – they are not qualities that I possess; they
are my very essential nature.  If I have to posses something other than
myself – that possessing self has to be existent self to start with to
have a quality ‘existence’ for me to possess.  If one pursues that kind
of logic, it will lead to ad-infinitum. If I have consciousness, then
that consciousness has to be existent one since we cannot talk about
non-existent consciousness.  Furthermore, if that
consciousness-existence (chit-sat) is the quality that I have, and then
I should be conscious of that to make use of it – essentially such
arguments will lead to infinite regress.  To over come such problems,
one has to postulate some other criterion – postulation of inherence or
some other relation less-relationship with visheshaNa and visheshya. 
Implication is any other counter hypothesis is not free from some other
assumptions or additional implications. The fact of the matter is I know
I exist and I am conscious – and therefore I am self-existent and
self-conscious entity requiring no means of knowledge to know myself.
And that is my essential nature.  

Therefore I do not need – perception (pratyaksha), logic (anumaana) and
including shabda (scriptures) to prove that I exist or I am conscious. 
Because I exist only all means of knowledge or pramaaNa are validated
and no means is required to validate my own existence.  Hence I am
beyond any pramaaNa-s.  Furthermore, I am the knower and without me, the
known and the means of knowledge have no validity.  Unlike I, the world
(assemblage of objects) is not self-conscious entity to know itself. 
Conscious entity has to be preexistent for the world to be known.
Scripture is not a conscious entity and therefore it cannot prove either
its own existence or the existence of the world. I have to be present to
validate even the scriptures.  One can believe that scriptures are
eternal – why the scripture says so.  There is no problem in having
beliefs if that helps in the understanding the nature of the self and
the world.  But I have to be there even to validate the eternity of the
scriptures.  We will address this problem more when we discuss the
concept of time-space complex and the play of the mind. 

Of the three PramaaNa-s, discussed above – pratyaksha, anumaana and
shabda (according to Advaita there are three additional ones),
pratyaksha is based on sense-input and anumaana or logic also indirectly
rests on pratyaksha, sense perceptions for proof.  To know things that
are beyond the sense perceptions one has to go to shabda pramaaNa.  For
Hindu’s shruti-s form the fundamental basis of the knowledge which is
beyond sense perceptions. 

Vedas: For a Hindu, Vedas are considered as apaurusheyam, that is, not
authored by a human being.   Shaastra is pramaaNa or means of knowledge
for that which cannot be known by any other means.  These include dharma
and adharma (beyond the realm of ethics), swarga and moksha, as well as
means of attaining them.   Any objective science is based on objective
analysis of the objective world (anaatma), and therefore it is not
applicable to subjective arena, ‘I’, i.e. aatma.  Since Veda-s are
considered as apourusheya, they are considered as free from any defects
(such as inconsistency) that gets introduced when authored by a limited
human intellect.  It follows, therefore, that if one sees
inconsistencies in Veda-s, it only implies a lack of correct
understanding of the import of the Veda-s, since the language is
necessarily mystical.  Mystical language follows since the subject of
the discussion in Veda-s is the very core of ‘The Subject’, which cannot
be objectified.  Hence Veda-s become the essential means of knowledge,
pramaaNa, for knowing ones own self, which cannot be known as ‘object’,
since subject cannot be objectified.  Here one should be careful - We
already mentioned that one-self cannot be known by any pramaaNa, since
'I' is aprameyam - yet here we are say that Veda-s are pramaaNa for
knowing one-self. Hence it is only a removal of ignorance of what I
think I am versus what really I am.  I know I am existent and
consciousness but what I am seeking through all my pursuits in life is
only one thing - that is happiness. Veda-s essentially point-out 'what I
am seeking for I am - tat tvam asi - you are that what you seeking.
Veda-s 'aid' in the removing my misunderstanding about myself. Happiness
is limitlessness since any limitation causes unhappiness. Limitless ness
is infiniteness and that is  Brahman - and Veda-s point out that you are
that - and ayam aatma Brahman - the self your are is limitless or
infiniteness or happiness that you are seeking. Hence it is not new
knowledge I gain but old misunderstanding is removed. The contradiction
is not in the analysis but in the very pursuit of happiness itself, when
I take myself as not myself. Even though I am know that happiness is not
an object or in any object, I still go after objects in pursuit of
happiness and there exist  the very fundamental contradiction of life. 
Veda-s tries to remove contradiction by stating you are what you are
seeking for - and that should lead to self-realization. It is
re-cognizing what oneself is. One cannot recognize by perception or by
anumaana since they deal with anaatma or non-self.  Hence shabda becomes
the only source of information. The vision of scriptures is different
from my own notion of myself.  The scripture works only if I can do the
introspective about myself. For that only I need a proper frame of mind
since I cannot objectify myself as 'this'. Scripture has to come to my
rescue with the teaching of 'na iti' not this - not this.  By process of
elimination of my misunderstanding that involves 'I am this' I can 'see'
the vision of the scriptures  - dhyaanena aatmani pasyanti kaschit
aatmaanam atmaanaa- By contemplation of oneself by oneself one can 'see'
oneself.  For that my mind should be able to discard all the notions
which involves taking all that not-self as self.

A proper teacher is therefore needed to import the true meaning of Vedic
statements to a seeker, and to point out the samanvaya in the apparently
inconsistent statements due to its mystical language.  Hence in the
above quoted Mundaka sloka (see part 1), the seeker is advised to
approach a teacher who has the knowledge of the shaastra-s and who
himself has ‘understood’ the nature of the reality that the Veda-s

‘apourusheyatva’ (authorship by an non-human) of the Veda-s cannot be
easily appreciated by a rational intellect.  But one can easily
rationalize this concept.  Veda actually means knowledge and knowledge
is not purusha tantra, that is, it is not created by a human being.  In
addition, knowledge has to be preexisting and cannot be willed by a
human being.   When a human intellect intensely contemplates or
meditates on a subject of investigation, intuition develops, and
knowledge dawns on him.  Intuition in Vedanta is called j~naana kshakshu
or ‘wisdom eye’.  Spiritual masters call the knowledge gained as
‘revelation’, since it is revealed to them. On the other hand, an
objective scientist may call it as ‘break-through’.  Hence Veda-s can be
considered as recordings of the revelations to the sages of the yore in
their seat of meditation.  Since they are not the authors of the
knowledge (veda), Veda-s are considered apourusheya.  In principle, all
knowledge comes under this category.  As stated above, scriptural
knowledge has additional aspect associated with it, in the sense that it
deals not with ‘anaatma’ or objects but with oneself or the very subject
‘I’ or ‘aatma’. 

Two aspects are revealing about the Veda-s.  Veda-s themselves declare
that the nature of the reality is beyond human comprehension since (a)
what a human mind can comprehend is finite and only objectifiable
entities (yat vaachaa anabhyditam..., yan manasaa na manute...., yatho
vaacho nivartante apryaapya manasaa sah, etc. ) and (b) it is beyond
logic (naishaa tarkena matiraapaneya).  This is not to say that Veda-s
are illogical.  The second aspect is that Veda-s classify themselves as
part of the lower knowledge, since it is pramaaNa or a means of
knowledge to know that which cannot be known (aprameyam).  Hence it uses
a mystical language to indicate (indicate may not be proper word either
since ‘indicate’ has a connotation of pointing that which, in fact,
cannot be pointed – perhaps ‘imply’ may be better) the essential truth,
provided the seeker’s mind is tuned to the teaching.  Just as for higher
mathematics, the language of communication is reduced to some symbolic
elements involving alphabets and therefore ones mind has to be
appropriately trained in order to receive that knowledge.  Similarly to
appreciate the import of Vedanta, one’s mind has to be adequately
prepared to receive that knowledge.  Hence qualifications of the student
become an important consideration before teacher can import or the
student to grasp the correct understanding of the mystical language. 
Unlike the objective sciences like mathematics, the Vedantic teacher
faces more difficult task, since the subject of the teaching is about
ones own self.  Student comes to the teacher with so many preconceived
notions about oneself, about God and about the world and those notions
themselves become great obstacles for the knowledge.  Hence the student
should have unconditional faith in the teacher and the teaching of the
scriptures for the teaching to be effective or productive.  It is said
in VivekachuuDaamani that only due to grace of god one attains the human
birth, desire for liberation and an appropriate teacher.  In Avadhuuta
Geeta, Shree Dattatreya says that it is only due to the grace of God
that one acquires Advaita vaasana-s.  

What you have is His gift to you and what you do with what you have is your gift to Him - Swami Chinmayananda.

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