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

Raghav Kumar raghavkumar00 at gmail.com
Tue Oct 11 02:28:25 CDT 2011

namaste all
SrI Rajaram ji,
Each of the reasons you gave for justifying the reason for a scholarly
article on the validity of the Vedas, would seem to merit a separate thread
for those who are interested, i.e.,...

>1. The origin of the Universe as we know through scientific investigation
>  is significantly different from the the different descriptions in the
>  puranas.
In the above sentence the word *know through scientific investigation* the
"origin" of the universe, would be an exaggeration of the current state of
knowledge. The fact of the matter (as you are aware) is that Science has
utterly failed to find any answers to the 'origin' of the universe, but has
been significantly successful in explaining the "how" and "what" of a few
phenomena of the *later* evolution of the universe.
To elaborate:
Science asks us to make 2 assumptions (axioms), call them "Q" and "R". And
they (scientists) also tell us that both "Q" and "R' are true. And Q
contradicts R in a very fundamental way. That shows there is something
fundamentally wrong with either or both Q and R. Here the assumption "Q" is
that "Quantum mechanics along the lines of Schroedinger's differential
equations etc is valid at the microscopic level; this comes into play when
the universe is small like at the time of origin of the universe." And
assumption "R" is that "Relativistic mechanics is valid in explaining
gravity; this also HAS to come into play at the time of origin of the
universe to explain expansion of space etc."  But science tells us that Q
and R contradict each other at time t=0 when the supposed origin of the
universe happened. So, let science first make up its mind about a single
unified theory to explain the origin of the universe from an inert first
cause  for the universe and then we can try to show that there are fallacies
in such inert-first-cause based theories of all that exists. Till then, we
have to say "science has no consistent theory to explain the origin of the
universe." So question 1. of Rajaramji cannot be asked by Science at the
present moment in time.

But the other questions are still left - we can still argue - "let us leave
aside the question of origin of the universe; no doubt science has so far
failed on that front. But what about the facts discovered about the solar
sytem and about several other things about the later universe. these facts
are on a very solid ground and cannot be dismissed. For example, If there is
a purANic statement that the earth is borne upon eight huge elephants (the
aShTa diggaja-s) which rest upon a tortoise. Then this conflicts with
Science"  On all such issues, the word of pratyakSha, i.e., sense perception
and science will have greater weight than the literal words of the purANa-s
which use esoteric symbolism and indirect examples to convey some other
knowledge which is therefore unfolded by the tradition - the sAmpradAya. And
by thus "giving in" to science on such peripheral issues, the Vedas and even
the purANa-s are not in the least compromised; their intended purport, their
apUrvatA,  (in the case of such strange stories) is something else.

I wanted to ask you - instead of trying to justify every single letter of
the purANa/veda and show avirodha (non-conflict) with modern science, would
it not be more helpful to frame some important non-negotiable ideas of the
Vedic worldview and see whether there is anything in those ideas of the
Vedas which is contradicted by Science?
Here, someone may argue that there is no overlap between modern science
which investigates the observed objective world and the vedas/vedanta which
deal with the non-objectifiable subject and with other realities beyond
sensory perception. But there is a problem with this way of thinking...
modern science is over-stepping the limits which we Astika-s are innocently
trying to restrict it to. This is like the story of the arab and the camel.
The Arab innocently thinks that the camel has it own space outside the tent
and the Arab (the Astika) is at rest inside the tent. But the camel
unfortunately has other ideas. And it butts into the tent and gradually
expels the Arab from within the tent.

For example, when a scientist insists that this world DOES NOT have an
intelligent cause (Stephen Hawking, Stephen Jay Gould etc etc) ;
consciousness is nothing but an emergent neuronal (brain) phenomenon
(Dawkins, Hofstadter etc); there is no possibility for anything like the
moral law of cause and effect (the law of karma); there is no truth in
survival (punarjanma). All such statements are directly in conflict with
shruti and should be shown to be fallacious atleast for Astika-s who are
interested in seeing their fallacies, by examining the logic given by these
scientists. Please note that we can never convince a scientist whose job
depends on his not being convinced. (as Al gore would have put it).  But for
Astika-s, such refutation of  neo-materialism is quite relevant.Today we do
not have such refutations since we need people who are well-versed with both
science and shAstra. Maybe someone like Shyam ji can inform us of the
internal contradictions and problems in evolution etc. Rather like how
Sankara-bhagavatpAda knew both the opposing darSana-s as well as
his own.  In the case of refuting the over-reach of science, this may take a
few generations of effort working around maybe Godel, Roger Penrose etc. Our
individual spiritual pursuit need not await such refutation of course; just
as, we need not compulsorily study the buddhist questions in order to arrive
at a clear undertanding and then assimilation of advaita. But at a
collective level, the inability of the Vedic/Vedantic tradition to stop (by
rational refutation), the over-reach of science in making vehemently argued
statements about Ishvara, Chaitanyam, karma etc., is a matter for concern.

The "red lines" - the ideas in the Vedas which are non-negotiable (to take a
few examples) may be along the following lines. If any scientist etc
contradicts any of the ideas below, their reasons ( i suggest) can be shown
to be fallacious. In other words, we can show that any statement which
contradicts the fundamental ideas of the  Vedas can be shown to be false on
logical grounds without invoking faith etc. (that is the general approach of
shAstra towards nAstika pUrva-pakShI-s, right?) So the fundamental ideas of
the Vedas remain irrefutable, though not necessarily logically proved in a
mathematical/logical sense.

A. This universe has an intelligent first cause which is also at the same
time the material cause of the entire universe. (jagataH

B. This universe has depth and is not a homogenous gross matter-based
creation alone. In other words, there are entities like prANa (life-force),
manas, etc which cannot be explained away or reduced to just the play of
particles and fields. (anyo'antara AtmA  prANamayaH etc.)

C. Randomness and the laws of probability *alone* cannot explain the origin
of life especially the initial arising of the 4 nucloetides - (A,T,G,C)  and
20 amino acids. (The debate is on and the jury is out on this one but the
rough idea is that their shape and structure is so "irreducibly complex"
that their arising in history must have followed a pre-existing plan. In
others words we don't need to show something like prANa under a microscope
but we can show that "the existence of prANa cannot be refuted. If someone
equates in some sense the laws of science themselves to prANa, there is some
truth in it but that needs further elaboration.") The later diversification
of different life forms from a common ancestor is not inherently opposed to
the Vedas/Vedanta. But even there, the process of this diversification, (the
Veda would say) cannot be explained in purely material terms without
bringing in the cosmic prANa etc.
Hari Om

P.S. One last point - Although Vedanta does not seek to prove "creation"
(sRShTi), nevertheless, Vedanta has definite strategic friends and alliances
with different ways of analyzing jagat. It does not leave the field open
saying  - "we vedantins are only bothered about the subject and not the
object." For example, the whole idea of satkAryavaAda of sankhya is a way of
analyzing the objective jagat and it is strategically supported by Vedanta
against the others like naiyAyika-s. Vedaa/Vedanta does not say - "we don;t
care which of you is right - since both of you are dealing the observed
universe while we are only interested in the self."
Similarly, pUrva-mImAmsa is the closest "friend" of Vedanta and it needs to
be vigorously defended when it is attacked by other nAstika darSana-s like
science. We cannot say that, since the whole of karma is mithya, the
question of whether the vedic karma like kArIrI will cause rainfall or not,
is irrelevant. Please note that sAnkhya darSana has considerable overlap
with Science; and if we do not show avirodha (non-conflict) between sAnkhya
and modern science, then there is no way of teaching advaita vedanta through
the adhyAropa-apavAda pedagogy. We will get stuck at the second brahma-sUtra
itself - janmAdyasya yataH (Brahman is that intelligent-material cause from
which all this jagat has come to be.)

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