[Advaita-l] Apaurusheyatva

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Tue Apr 25 10:39:31 CDT 2006

On Tue, 25 Apr 2006, Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy wrote:

> -- Is the story of Yajnavalkya and the Tittiri birds considered "authentic"?
> Could you tell me the
> source of this story?

It is told in many Puranas.  The account I gave was based on Vishnu 
Purana, III 4-6

I am assuming this story is authentic, for now.
> -- Krishnanji said "So the Vedas are not evolving or a working documenst."
> We see from the above
> story that Vyasa had already organized the Vedas, and taught it to his
> disciples. Vaisampayana thus learnt the Yajus from Vyasa. And the revelation
> of the Sukla Yajur Veda to Yajnavalkya happens later. This shows us that
> Vedas were "extensible" in some way, i.e., Yajnavalkya's verses were
> accepted as Veda after the classification has already been done, isn't it?
> Hence, my question, if a realized person, say Ramana Maharshi, were to come
> up with more verses, why would they not be treated as Veda? The argument
> would probably be Ramana Maharshi could have been biased. But assuming
> Ramana Maharshi got some verses under inspiration, those verses stand on par
> with Yajnavalkya's verses, right?

Some points.

1.  the contents of the Shuklayajurveda are not substantially different 
from the Krshnayajurveda.  Only the arrangement is different.

2.  In that same Vishnupurana account it says that Krshna Dvaipayana is 
only the Veda Vyasa of the present age.  In fact in every cycle of 
creation there is a Veda Vyasa who organizes the Vedas in the same way. 
So presumably  Surya Bhagavan knew those mantras from before and taught 

3. There are no more Rshis ecause of the deterioration of the human mind 
since the "golden age" (krta yuga)

> -- Krishnanji said "As was the system at that time he (Yagnavalkya) taught
> the knowledge he "saw" or "realized" to his disciples until, at a later time
> (that of Veda Vyasa) it was put into writing."
>> From the above story, it seems like Yajnavalkya comes later to Vyasa.
> -- Jaldharji said "In fact that's a good analogy because the mantras are
> seen as being
> part of the fabric of the universe itself just like scientific laws."
> There's a problem here.
> The status of Einstein's theory is -- it has not been proven wrong. In the
> future, if a more
> comprehensive theory were to come up, people would not mind relegating the
> theory to a secondary status (like Newton's theory). In other words, it
> probably is not part of the fabric of the universe. Thus, does it not become
> imperative for the Vedantic schools to assert that the Vedas do not have any
> human source whatsoever (inspired or otherwise)?

Ok perhaps I wasn't clear.  What I meant that relativity is called 
Einsteins theory not because relativity depends on him in some way but as 
a courtesy because he was the first to discover it.  In the same way, some 
names of people are associated with certain Vedic texts because they were 
the first to discover them.  Presumably in the next yuga cycle, there will 
be a different set of names associated with them, but the mantras 
themselves will be the same.

> -- I have a related question: Sankaracharya is supposed to have argued with
> the Buddhists, and "defeated" them.

On this point I would like to note that many scholars of both the orthodox 
and historical-critical variety think that Buddhism was already on the 
decline by Shankaracharya time and the credit for that should go to Purva 
Mimamsa, Nyaya-vaisheshika philosphers, along with bhakti movements like 
the alvars etc.  This doesn't affect your question though.

> He could obviously not have used the
> Vedas as pramana in his arguments. And so also did Gaudapada counter the
> Madhyamika assumptions without relying too much on the Vedas (Mandukya
> Karika). So, does the Advaita school really depend on the Apaurusheyatva of
> the Vedas to assert its doctrines?

Apaurusheyatva only addresses certain types of opponents.  Obviously 
nastikas are not going to be swayed by that so a different approach has to 
be taken.

> -- On the whole, the statement "Vedas are a part of the fabric of the
> universe" seems more like an
> assumption. Instead of a convoluted "Veda is Apaurusheya, and HENCE
> flawless", I guess we could take a more straight-forward "Veda is Pramana.
> Hence flawless. Period. You either accept it or not." Please feel free to
> give your comments.

While I think we take rationality further than most religions, in the end 
ours is also based on faith and as you said you either accept it or not. 
But some forms of faith are more helpful than others.  apaurusheyatva 
prevents end runs around rationality via "enlightened masters" rearranging 
everything on a whim.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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