[Advaita-l] Re: Women and Vedas

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Sat Apr 8 01:35:21 CDT 2006

>In mathematics, A Pramana could be equated to a Theory(or a corollary) and 
>it defenitely needs proof, comprehensible by the human mind-intellect.

The Sanskrit word pramANa is not to be translated as theory or corollary. 
There are other terms for these concepts, e.g. paksha (theory/position), 
siddhAnta (conclusion, that which has been proved), rAddhAnta (same as 
siddhAnta, related to the word Rddhi, just as siddhAnta is related to 
siddhi), upagamana/abhyupagamana (in most contexts, this word refers to that 
which is assumed as true at the start of a reductio ad absurdum argument), 
abhyupagantavya (corollary, as it follows from a previously established 
siddhAnta) etc.

In vedAnta, a pramANa is pure and simple, a means of knowledge. Perhaps the 
best English word to capture the spirit of the word pramANa in this context 
is "axiom," not theory nor corollary. By definition, an axiom is not in need 
of proof, because otherwise, you will land in an infinite chain of unproved 
statements. If you say that a statement A is a pramANa, and also that that A 
needs proof by something else, then that something else, B, will need proof 
from a third statement, C, and so on, ad infinitum. At the root, you need to 
accept some axiom as not requiring proof. That is your pramANa. An axiom 
need not even be comprehensible by evey human mind, e.g. some axioms in 
certain non-Euclidean geometries that cannot grasped by our minds, which are 
conditioned by the Euclidean world that we perceive, or some axioms of 
quantum physics, which are incomprehensible to most of us, conditioned as we 
are by the classical world that we perceive. Yet, there is no doubt in most 
educated people's minds that quantum physics accurately describes some 
aspects of the universe that we live in. The point is, what we perceive may 
have to be set aside, if we are to gain a superior understanding. Asking for 
"classical" proof of an axiom in a system that goes beyond the "classical" 
world is to miss a vital opportunity for better learning.


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