[Advaita-l] Scholarly Article on Why Vedas are Valid

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 10 14:20:11 CDT 2011

----- Original Message -----
> From: Kalyan K <kalyankc.81 at gmail.com>

> Can some experienced member(s) please answer the interesting questions
> raised by Sri Rajaram below?

Dear Sri Kalyan

I will attempt answers based on what I remember of what I heard.

>   1. The origin of the Universe as we know through scientific investigation
>   is significantly different from the the different descriptions in the
>   puranas.
>   2. The origin and evolution of life forms on earth are different from the
>   creationist view
>   3. The structure of the solar system and the cosmos are different from
>   modern astronomy

- Vedas do not propose to teach science. From the vedanta point of view, the main aim of Vedas is to teach about Brahman. (From the purva mimasaka point of view, the main purport is 'to sacrifice', putting it simplistically). Now, scientific matter is dealt with only to the extent that is required to teach about Brahman. So when Veda says that from Brahman came aakaaSa, thence vaayuh, thence agnih, thence waters, thence prithivee, thence plants, thence food; the idea is to teach that the source is Brahman and not to teach how the various things in the world that we see came about. Why do the Vedas not talk about it? Because it is not their subject matter.

>    4. Historical and linguistic analysis show that Vedic literatures were
>    created at different points in time and grew through accretion

- These analysis happened with a framework that said Christianity was the true religion and that creation happened some 4,000 years ago; that said that since 'we rule and the Vedas are the religion of those being ruled by us", they must be at best childish expressions of joy of the primitive man worshipping nature and such. The so-called 'linguistic analysis' does not stand up to standards of proof demanded by the same set in other matters, such as Question 5 below. Pl see http://www.kamakoti.org/hindudharma/part5/chap8.htm and http://www.kamakoti.org/hindudharma/part5/chap9.htm for a traditional discussion of this analysis.

- "Fine", a modern-day Kautsa might say, "the method might be weak, the results might be incorrect; the date of Rig Veda might be 15,000 BC - if that gives you any great satisfaction - and not 1,500 BC; but the method does show that there are layers." To which, a modern-day Yaska might reply: "Such impression arises because only a small sample of Vedas are available with us. ananta vai Vedaah."

- Then, somebody else might say "All these are attempts to derail any meaningful discussion, you do not want a scientific investigation; through out history the priestly class used the technique of obfuscation, fie on you, * % & % ^ # @ $ ...". The traditional might say "Why can't you accept that we do not know for sure at this point of time and leave it at that? What is the compulsion to put a date?"

>    5. The existence of practical results of Vedic yajnas have not been and
>    are not considered to be subject to verification

- Certain results like 'rain' are subject to verification; others like 'attainment of svarga' are not. In sacrifices that are supposed to produce rain or sons, the dispute tends to be like this: Half the results are dismissed by rationalists on the basis of probability; the other half is dismissed by traditionalists as arising due to error in performing the sacrifice. Let us say, as before, it has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt - as is the fatherhood of most men with children. These are matters of faith.

>    6. There are different interpretations and points of view within the Vedic lore

- So?

Scepticism about Vedas is quite old. If you want to get the traditional view on this, the book on Hindu Dharma by Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Maha Swamiji is a very good starting point; then, there is the discussion of Kautsa in the first chapter, fifteenth section of Nirukta; the entire first adhyaya of Purva Mimamsa sutras of Jaimini addresses the same question; as does Sayana in his Bhumika to the commentary on the Rigveda. 

Of course, that has not stopped sceptics from teaching their views and flourishing. The last major successful sceptic was Guru Nanak who said: "santa ki mahimaa Veda na jaaNe; chaaron Veda kahaani" (The greatness of a Saint is not known to Veda; all the four of them are merely (books of) stories).

So, we add two more sticks in the fire that has been raging for at least 2,500 years. So be it.

N. Siva Senani

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