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

Sudhakar Kabra sudhakarkabra at yahoo.com
Tue Oct 11 10:01:40 CDT 2011

--- On Tue, 10/11/11, Raghav Kumar <raghavkumar00 at gmail.com> wrote:

From: Raghav Kumar <raghavkumar00 at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Scholarly Article on Why Vedas are Valid
To: "A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Date: Tuesday, October 11, 2011, 6:41 PM

Namaste Ramesh ji
I did not say that causality of Brahman is absolute. But science's outright
denial of any sUkShma material realities like manas, prANa etc is not
acceptable. So when sAnkhya says that there are sUkShma materials like
prANa, manas etc., and science denies any reality to anything other than
the gross; Vedanta emphatically sides with sAnkhya and tries to refute the
scientific denial of sUkShma realities.  This latter process is still an
ongoing process.
If you have to select between two postulates, the one which is closer to your theory is selected. Sankhya being closer is selected inspite of having difference with vedanta and science is neglected because it does not fit. For eg: sAnkhya talks about trigunamitka prakriti but there is no such thing in science.

I think it is important to realize that I made a simple point in my post
script. The point was that Vedanta does not adopt a neutral stance on
several postulates and issues that deal with the observed  jagat, such as
the fact that this "physical" universe has an intelligent first cause. this
is definitely a "red line" for Vedanta because, any scientist or buddhist
etc who argues to the  contrary will definitely be refuted by an advaitin.
The final stance of advaita is that there never was a creation. The entire creation is illusory with a lower level of reality. Though difficult to digest, how does this gel with the scientific theories.
Only *after they (science etc) are  all refuted* on such issues, there is
any meaningfulness in doing apavAda and saying that even the causality of
Brahman is but a superimposition. But I am sure you do realize that the
refutation of the idea "this world has an intelligent first cause which is
at the same time the material cause as well." by a scientist is entirely
different from its *sublation* by a Vedantin himself during the apavAda
stage of teaching. Also please note that such sublation by Vedanta does not
amount to negating the relative true-ness of the above statement in
vyavahAra.  The question before us is actually not Brahman vis-a-vis modern
science; (brahman cannot be touched by any concept) rather it is -
"postulates indispensable to the Vedanta teaching method" vis-a-vis
"postulates of modern science" - thats where the conflcts need resolution in
favor of the shruti-sammata concepts or atleast we have to show avirodha.
Today science is putting spokes in this teaching method of advaita at every
stage. The postulates employed by Vedanta during its teaching process are
not merely imaginary concepts, but they (prANa, cidAbhAsaH, devata-s,
adhidavik order of creation etc) have empirical reality ; they are as real
as a chair or table  or any object in jagat. They are not a mere verbal or
pedagogic trick employed by Vedanta to help us jump to Advaita-j~nAna.
Yes, advaita vedanta concepts are not imaginary. It requires lot of sadhana and tapas to understand and digest. Results are not seen as quick as in science (comparatively) and seeps in slowly with wisdom- a difficult practice in present day scenario where everyone is looking for instant results.

Please also note that there is a fallacy which I noticed is thankfully
absent from this forum; and that is to suppose that we can arrive at
brahmaj~nAna purely by arriving at the pure witness who is the unchanging
principle in all the avasthA-s of waking, dream etc. This is a fallacy since
it is possible to arrive at the pure witness even without any real help from
I think it is not possible to arrive at realization of the self without the help of shAstras. All the philosophical writings are for this only otherwise it is useless and there shall be no takers for this.
But to know that all that is witnessed as "jagat" is
actually brahman which is not different from the Witness - that
aikya-j~nAnam needs a lot of unfoldment of the mahavAkya which is not
possible without employing extensive ideas from sAnkhya and pUrva-mImAmsa.
Though extensive ideas may be taken from sAnkhya but advaita vedanta differs from it as well. A previous idea may be taken for building up but there are similarities to the extent acceptable and dissimilarites to the extent not acceptable. That is why both are not same.

And until the day scientific concepts are "tamed" to become amenable to our
adhyAropa-apavAda prakriyA, we have to necessarily side with
sAnkhya/pUrva-mImAmsa and say that modern science is wrong in its saying
that "there is not such thing as intelligence or an intelligent first cause
and the idea of cidAbhAsa violates Occam's razor" etc etc.

Therefore, the more relevant question is "when Science is overstepping its
limits and attacking the core ideas and postulates of pUrva-mImAmsa and even
more importantly the panchakosha and panchabhUta model of shruti-sammata
Science never accepts panchakosha and panchabhUta. If purely scientific it has to come up with a different model of analysis and giving a proof or rather its own model as to what is acceptable to them. So far scientific ideas have changed more frequently but panchakosha and pancha mahabhUtas still stands, even though has a philosophical base.

does a Vedantin act indifferently since anyway, sankhya's
causality is to be negated and pUrva-mImAmsa's karma is to be negated as
nAsti-akRtaH-kRtena?" Clearly not. - such indifference is not the idea
behind adhyAropa-apavAda. Else, why does Sankara-bhagavatpAda go to great
lengths to defend sAnkhya against the asatkAryavAda of the naiyaAyika-s.
When there is a chaos of so many philosophies, all claiming their own rights, to show the correct path Sankara-bhagwatpAda had to defend against all such attackers be it sAnkhya or naiyAyika. This incidentally strengthens the proclaimation of vedanta. 

As an aside......I am reminded of one interesting anecdote related by a
respected acArya. In one "inter-faith" meeting, someone argued with him that
"idol-worship" such as ganesha-pujA is wrong and anyway, the worshippers
themselves immerse the idol after the worship. So he says - what is wrong if
someone like the non-vaidikas like the Ghoris and Ghaznavi-s do away with
the the idols and temples and spare us the trouble of immersion. This acarya
argued (rightly) to the contrary - surely there is a big diference between
the two cases.
Anything which is started must have to have an end. I don't know whether specifically immersion is prescribed anywhere in karma kanda. What to talk of pujas done by people, even when a person dies in case of a sanyasi water immersion (Jal samadhi) is prescribed. This could have been extrapolated.

But you are quite right in that ultimately,  there is apavAda done even of
these concepts of causality etc - others are not allowed to cross the red
lines ; but the Vedantin himself does so in a very careful, specific way
called apavAda - a concept which is beyond the grasp of a
materialist-scientist.  But that is a different matter.

Regarding the notion of manas, antaH-karaNam, there are no equivalent
concepts corresponding to them in modern neuro-science or physics. Some
scientists may informally use these terms in paperbacks. but not in
formal papers.
Science works on a different realm of proofs and experimentation. Some co-relations may exist but it still has to go a long way, until then it is all hypothesis.

As regards understanding advaita through the use of the via negativa method
to arrive at Advaita - what you wrote is quite correct but it is possible
only after adhyaropa has been completely and successfully taught. Negation
cannot be done a priori without first showing the irrefutability of ideas
such as "brahman as the cause of the universe" - and that needs the help of
sAnkhya concepts which are thereby rendered indispensable for
Vedanta-teaching. Please note that we do not seek to "prove" vedic and
shruti-oriented sAnkhya postulates;  but we can and ought to refute their
opposites when stated by science etc.
Again to remind, sAnkhya and vedanta though may have similarities are two different philosophies strictly speaking. Vedanta in fact corrects sAnkhya philosophy to make its proclaimation stand. If one wants to write a sentence and alphabets are available then no point starting with the alphabets rather use them for further progress.

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