pramANa (was Re: [Advaita-l] Re: Women and Vedas)

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at
Sat Apr 15 16:45:16 CDT 2006

Regarding the subject line:

When I began a short study under a traditional teacher of mImAmsA,
his very first question was - "Have you understood the theory of
pramANas?" To a Vedic scholar, the most fundamental philosophical
subject in the tradition was concerning pramANas, so it cannot be
trivialized. I would go so far as to say that without understanding
this subject, one cannot fully understand Sankaran advaita VedAnta.
I'll make it clear that by no means am I claiming to have understood
it (not by a long shot), but I'm aware that it is a very deep subject
that has been emphasized by virtually every teacher in the Sankaran

Sankara's view is very specific about the role of shruti: that the
shruti pramANa removes avidyA. It is actually counter-intuitive to
understand this, for to remove the ignorance of the Self which
consists of incorrect cognitions like "I am this body", one is
*adding* shruti cognition, and claiming that shruti cognition is
absent in the final goal. A legitimate objection in this context is,
"One can reject a cognition only by another cognition with greater
evidence. By removing one cognition ("I am this body") by adding
another (shruti: "I am Brahman"), the second cognition will remain.
Therefore, the shruti cognition "I am Brahman" remains in the final
goal of GYAna."

But the above objection is incorrect, for shruti is absent in the
final goal of GYAna. The resolution to this is that shruti pramANa
removes ignorance, while at the same time itself getting dissolved in
the process. The best example here is that of purification of muddy
water by adding the kataka nut. The nut removes the impurities and
itself settles down at the bottom, leaving behind pure water.
Likewise, the shruti cognition removes the incorrect cognition of
identification of the Self with the body, and shruti cognition itself
gets removed, leaving only GYAna.


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