[Advaita-l] Re: Questions on Isavasya

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Sun Jul 30 09:29:56 CDT 2006

>But this is true even of karma kAnDa, let alone the GYAna kAnDa.
>"agnihOtram juhuyAt.h svargakAmaH" tells that one attains svarga
>through agnihOtra, which could not have been known through pratyakSha.
>Then, why should the GYAna kAnDa be placed on a higher pedestal than
>the karma kAnDa? Isn't that because it's an assumption of vEdAnta (any
>school) that the GYAna kAnDa is more important in terms of mOkSha (as
>opposed to, say, the mImAmsakas who place emphasis on the karma

If one views the karma kANDa and jnAna kANDa in terms of which puruShArtha 
is being focused on, this problem gets solved. Whether within vedAnta or 
within mImAMsA, the old view of the Vedic corpus was never to view the texts 
as a monolithic entity.

If the topic of discussion falls within the puruShArtha of dharma, then the 
karma kANDa is the scriptural authority that gives you the knowledge not 
known through perception and normal human forms of logic. If the topic of 
discussion is moksha, then the scripture to look at falls within the jnAna 
kANDa. In this case, the karma kANDa gets a secondary position because the 
veda itself says, "na karmaNA na prajayA dhanena," etc. Observance of karma 
is acknowledged as necessary to prepare the sAdhaka, but at some point, the 
karma has to be left behind.

>If we now take it as given that the GYAna kAnDa has to be given
>pre-eminence over the karma kAnDa, what justifies some parts of the
>GYAna kAnDa being given preference over the others (esp. when

It is not like that at all. However, the jnAna kANDa has to be understood in 
a logical and consistent manner (samanvaya). So, when it comes to the issue 
of the ultimate reality or otherwise of bheda, the advaita school says, "the 
jnAna kANDa tells us directly that there is no difference at all (e.g. neha 
nAnAsti kiMcana, yadA hyevaisha etasminn udaram antaraM kurute atha tasya 
bhayam bhavati), so the Sruti pramANa negates the perception of difference." 
We only say that the various texts constituting the jnAna kANDa have all to 
be understood in a manner consistent with the above. We do not say that some 
parts of the jnAna kANDa have a greater validity than other parts. The 
dvaita school thinks difference is an ultimate reality in moksha too and 
therefore accuses advaita of differentially privileging some parts of the 
veda over others. Needless to say, we think they just haven't understood 
things at all.

>statements about whether Isvara exists, whether brahma is saguNa or
>nirguNa are all beyond the scope of pratyakSha)?

In regular perception, we see that every object has guNa-s. Sruti tells us 
brahman is nirguNa, yet in other places talks of brahman as if it possesses 
guNa-s. Sruti also tells us that brahman is not an object at all (vijnAtAram 
are kena vijAnIyAt?). It is easy for us to extrapolate from experience and 
think that brahman is always sa-guNa, but we know from Sruti that all our 
brands of logic breaks down when it comes to brahman. It is not for nothing 
that we are told "aprApya manasA saha."

Please also remember that it is not just meta-pratyaksha things that Sruti 
reveals. Sruti pramANa stands unique where all other ways of knowing fail, 
e.g. anumAna (inference), upamAna (comparison), etc. There have been 
countless logicians in the world who infer the existence of a creator and 
ruler of the world (the Indian nyAya experts, classical Greek philosophers, 
Aquinas, Augustine, ...).

Rather than pick and choose Sruti statements that fit its own siddhAnta, and 
rather than copping out by saying "all Sruti statements are to be taken 
literally" while clinging to binary logic, advaita vedAntins dare to 
sacrifice binary logic when it comes to the ultimate brahman and also to 
interpret the Sruti in an internally consistent way, by focusing on the 
puruShArtha being discussed and then interpreting Sruti statements 
metaphorically rather than literally where necessary.


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