[Advaita-l] apauruSheya ?

Ram Garib garib_ram at yahoo.co.in
Wed Jan 18 08:52:36 CST 2006

--- "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at braincells.com> wrote:

>  Dr. Yadu Moharir wrote:
> >  Why were veda were classified as being
> "apauruSheya"?
> No.  apauruSheya means without authorship (human or
> divine.)  The Rshis 
> were literally See-ers of the mantras (mantradrashta
> is the dictionary definition of rshi.) not the

A related issue to examine in this regard is to
ascertain what is meant by “truth” of any statement.
Specifically, what is meant when we say “Vedas are
apaurusheya” is “true”?

In logic, truth of a statement is decided by two
criteria – a) Correspondence b) Coherence. It will not
be out of place to examine them further:

a) Correspondence- simply means that a statement is
“true” when it corresponds to some external reality.
For example- “Sun gives us light” is a statement that
corresponds to external reality of sun giving us
light. Hence it is a true statement. However this
definition is not without difficulties. How do we know
that there is an external reality of sun giving us
light? All we know is our sense data that give
impression of sun giving us light. Let us for the time
being overlook these difficulties.
b) Coherence- means that a statement is “true” when it
is coherent with other “true” statements or simply put
gives a coherent worldview. This definition is also
not without difficulties since how do we know other
statements to be “true”? Moreover we can construct a
perfectly coherent worldview without adding anything
to our knowledge. For example “Everything happens as
per will of God” is a statement that gives a perfectly
coherent worldview yet it is not more than saying
“Everything happens because it happens”. However, let
us for the time being overlook these objections as

It is relatively easy to establish the “truth” of a
statement when both the criteria converge. For
example-“Sun gives us light” is a statement which
corresponds to an external reality and is coherent
with other true statements as well. Let us take
another example, “Sky is blue”. From the
correspondence criteria the validity of this statement
is difficult to refute. Since all we know is our sense
data and our sense data reveal it to be blue, hence
sky is blue. However this statement fails on coherence
criteria since we the statement of blue sky
contradicts other “true” statements.

With this background let us examine the statement,
“Vedas are apaurusheya”.

Mimamsakas would argue that it is a statement that is
true on both the counts viz. Vedas apaurusheyatva
corresponds to some external reality and also provides
a coherent world view. However, if we critically
examine their arguments there are none to establish
correspondence of Vedas apaurusheyatva with external
reality. All they do is provide a coherent worldview. 
Shankara has adopted Mimamsakas concept of
apaurusheyatva on faith with minor technical
differences. However once adopted he goes on to
construct a worldview that is self consistent and
hence “true” on coherence criteria. Ramanuja has also
adopted a somewhat similar posture on apaurusheyatva.

Acharya Madhwa has however taken a different line on
apaurusheyatva and tried to derive it entirely on
logical grounds from the mimamsaka epistemology of
swatah pramanyam. Simply put his logic runs like this:
“Vedas are considered apaurusheya. Swatah pramanyam
means that this is true unless there are reasons to
believe that it is not. Therefore if you argue that
Vedas are not apaurusheya, then  the onus is on you to
prove its authoredness by someone else.” It is not
difficult to show the logical fallacy in this
position.  Firstly. if something is derivable entirely
through logic and self evident facts then it should be
possible to show the logical absurdity of the opposite
argument at any time. As a purvapaxin to madhwa, I can
admit that I cannot prove the authoredness of Vedas by
anyone else, still there is no logical absurdity in
the position that someone else might be able to do it
in future. Madhwa’s position that
‘uncontradicted-ness” is proof of truth is incorrect.
It is “uncontradictability” that should be the proof
of truth not the “uncontradicteness”. Secondly, his
argument for apaurusheyatva of vedas rests on the
absence of proof against apaurusheyatva, which cannot
be taken as the proof of apaurusheyatva ipso facto.

Nonetheless, madhwa’s is the only valiant attempt to
establish the apaurusheyatva of veda on logical
grounds. In contrast shankara does not make any
pretensions that it can be done on the logical grounds
and accepts it as an article of faith.

Let us now examine the concept of revelation in
Semitic religions as pointed out by another poster.
First of all, concept of apaurusheyatva is singularly
absent in any other religion but vedic one. However,
for the time being let us assume “apaurusheyatva” as
being “authored by God” as suggested by another
member. However, if we accept them authored by God, we
run into a cyclical argument. Existence of God cannot
be established by any logical means but the
revelation. However, validity of the revelation rests
upon being revealed by God. Therefore, instead of one,
we have to make two assumptions that is 1) There
exists a God. 2) God authored the revelation. Clearly
it is much weaker foundation than a single assumption
of apaurusheyatva.

Personally I feel that looking for logical perfection
in a spiritual tradition is futile. A spiritual
tradition can only aim at being “reasonably” logical.
After that, all that matters is whether it is able to
fulfill the spiritual needs of its aspirants. After
all if any spiritual tradition were entirely
deductible through logic alone starting from self
evident facts, then there would hardly be any
justification for its independent existence.

With regards
Ram Garib

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