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

Rajaram Venkataramani rajaramvenk at gmail.com
Tue Oct 11 03:04:30 CDT 2011

I am looking at Jaimini's Mimamsa Sutras and Shabhara's commentary to
start with to understand how they established Veda as pramana in their
time-frame. And how the opposition from avaidhika schools was dealt
with. I'm also planning to meet Sri Mani Dravid Sastrigal to get his

The sutras don't invoke faith though arguments may have to be
rephrased for modern context.

I don't think the ancient rulers would have emptied their treasury if
they didn't see results in yajnas.

On 11/10/2011, Raghav Kumar <raghavkumar00 at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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
> abhinna-nimittopAdana-kAraNatvaM.)
> 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
> Raghav
> 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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