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

Rajaram Venkataramani rajaramvenk at gmail.com
Sat Oct 22 14:17:00 CDT 2011

It is a very clear write-up. As dharma and moksha are of immediate
value, not only futuristic they should be of value to everyone
according to his r her readiness. Now, does shruti have to be anadi
and apaureshya to be accepted as a pramana? I would think not so. Can
you give examples from the tradition for rejecting (any given
interpretation of) shruti based on pratyaksha or anumana?

On 22/10/2011, Ramesh Krishnamurthy <rkmurthy at gmail.com> wrote:
> Namaste Sri Rajaram,
> On 18 October 2011 14:37, Rajaram Venkataramani
> <rajaramvenk at gmail.com>wrote:
>> Dear Shri Ramesh, I have responded to Shri Vidyasankar's queries. We
>> need an defendable position on why Vedas are valid as a source of
>> knowledge like pratyaksha and anumana. We cannot invoke faith - the
>> only constraint.
> I have read your response to Vidyasankar as well as your subsequent posts.
> Now, all of us (Vidyasankar, Sri Lalitaalaalitah and myself) are not saying
> anything fundamentally different. The point is simply that ANY pramANa has
> to be taken as a given. When a pramANa is accepted and employed, knowledge
> occurs.This is true for pratyakSha and anumAna also. One cannot establish
> that pratyakSha itself is valid through other pramANa-s. Likewise, one
> cannot establish the validity of the Sruti through other pramANa-s. However,
> a given piece of knowledge (obtained through any pramANa) is available for
> subsequent correction. Hence the concept of svataH pramANam and parataH
> apramANam that was explained in the other thread.
> Traditionally, something is rejected as a pramANa if any one of the
> following conditions is satisfied
> a) it reveals something already revealed by other pramANa-s
> b) it reveals something that is contradicted by other pramANa-s
> c) it reveals something uncertain or ambiguous
> d) It reveals nothing
> As the Sruti satisfies none of the above conditions, it is accepted as an
> independent pramANa on atIndriya vishaya-s. It can be a secondary pramANa on
> laukika vishaya-s also, but on these it can be accepted only when in
> consonance with pratyakSha/anumAna. This is the basis for sha~NkarAchArya
> saying that even a 100 Sruti statements cannot make fire cold. So if there
> is a Sruti statement of this type (which contradicts pratyakSha) it has to
> be interpreted in such a way that the conflict is removed. Hence there is no
> literalism.
> Now, if you argue that other religionists may also ascribe axiomatic
> validity to their texts, then yes, to that extent a vaidika may not be
> better off. There are however some important differences:
> a) There is a clear jurisdiction of pramANa-s. The Sruti has ndependent
> validity only on atIndriya vishaya-s. So there is no conflict with other
> pramANa-s, as already explained above.
> b) svataH pramANam automatically implies parataH apramANam. So, conceptually
> speaking, there is always an openness to "correction", if one may call it
> so. This can be used in two ways. Firstly, on a laukika vishaya a Sruti
> statement may be superseded by other pramANa-s (implying a need for a
> non-conflicting interpretation as already mentioned earlier). Secondly,
> within its domain, one statement might supersede another (as in adhyAropa
> apavAda).
> c) And specifically from the perspective of advaita-vedAnta there is the
> mahAvAkya which negates pramAtRtvam itself, and thereby ALL pramANa-s.
> Clearly, such knowledge cannot be further sublated because neither
> pramAtRtvam nor pramANa-s remain. Also, this leads to jIvanmukti,
> enlightenment/liberation while living, which is very different paradigm from
> most other traditions/religions, which talk about going somewhere (heaven
> etc) after death.
> This last point (c) is not easy to explain without delving deep into vedAnta
> philosophy, so it may be avoided if the purpose is only to write a short
> paper on Sruti pramANam in general, although the jIvanmukti idea can make a
> powerful impact on many people.
> A short note on why ANY pramANa is accepted. At one level, one could argue
> that it is because of avidyA. But without getting into vedAnta specifics,
> one can just observe that a pramANa is accepted because the knowledge so
> generated is useful or even necessary. For example, accepting sensory data
> as a given makes it possible to go about one's daily life without getting
> insane. And this acceptance is strengthened by the fact that it leads to
> internally consistent results, which is one the things that makes it a
> pramANa.
> Therefore, one could argue that acceptance of a pramANa is dependent on what
> value one attaches to the knowledge so generated. If one values the
> knowledge that the Sruti generates, one will also be able to accept it as a
> pramANa. In that sense, the acceptance of any pramANa is "pragmatic". It
> also shows why everyone may not accept the Sruti as a pramANa, for it is
> usually possible to go about one's daily life on the basis of other
> pramANa-s alone. Only one who values dharma and mokSha will accept it as a
> pramANa, and that too for those issues alone.
> All in all, the quest for establishing one independent pramANa from another
> is self-defeating. All that can be shown is that it is "not unreasonable" to
> accept a given pramANa; because it yields useful knowledge to one who values
> such knowledge.
> So I would argue that such an approach is unnecessarily defensive.
> Regarding historical or academic issues, I can only offer you a personal
> perspective, so please make of it what you will. While I am not a
> professional historian or academic philosopher, I do have an amateur
> interest in these subjects, and I see no issues in wearing these hats at
> certain times and a mumukShu's hat at others. Of course the perspective is
> vastly different from that of a typical academic Indologist. In my
> experience, many traditionalist mumukShu-s and AchArya-s are willing to put
> on such perspectives occasionally, so I don't even find it something unique.
> At least a modern Hindu who needs to interact with the rest of society needs
> to be comfortable with such perspectives.
> Hope you found that of some use.
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