[Advaita-l] Apoureshyatva - Faith or Logic?

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 2 01:02:38 CDT 2012

There was also the belief that Vedas are meaningless, what to speak of apaurusheyatva. See, for instance the first chapter of Nirukta, where Kautsa argues that mantras are meaningless and therefore Nirukta which helps in knowing the meaning of mantras need not be studied. 
Now, if we want the historical date of Nirukta, traditionalists say KaSyapa prajaapati compiled the nighaNTu, which is a series of word-lists, arranged like a thesaurus, so that the meaning becomes clear. Prajapati was required to do this as the meaning of certain words in Vedas were not clear. About 1,700 words are complied in this manner. Nirukta is a commentary on this list, explaining the words etymologically. Yaskaachaarya is more interested in showing the method of etymology - especially freeing it from the artificial constraints imposed by the less-than-perfect grammar - than in explaining all the words. Thus, about only 500 words are etymologically explained. Modern scholars put Yaska about 150 years before Panini, thus arriving at about 7th to 5th century BC. 
The seven arguments forwarded by Kautsa are:
1. Words are in a fixed order in the Vedic mantras, whereas we know that the meaning would not change if the word order is changed.
2. The Brahmana texts have quite redundant instructions like: उरु प्रथस्व (spread it wide; chanting this the yajamaana spreads it wide), or प्रोहाणि (let me pour; and ghee is poured out).
3. The meaning of the mantras cannot fit the context. For instance, the mantra "ओषधे त्रायस्वैनम्।" beseeches the inanimate tree to protect and the mantra "स्वधिते मा हिंसीः" (O Axe!, do not harm this praaNin) is repeated while striking with an axe.
4. Within the text, meaning contradictory mantras are found. The sentence "एक एव रुद्रोsवतस्थे न द्वितीयः" says there is only one Rudra, but the sentence "असङ्ख्याता सहस्राणि ये रुद्रा ते अधि भूम्याम्" mentions innumerable thousands of Rudras. Or, the mantra "अशत्रुरिन्द्र जज्ञिषे" says Indra has no enemies and the mantra "शतं सेना अजयत साकमिन्द्रः" praises Indra as vanishing a hundred armies together.
5. They teach what is known, as the text "अग्नये समिधमानायानुब्रूहि" (Address the hymn to Agni who is being kindled).
6. Then there are quite impossible sentences like "अदितिः सर्वम्" (Aditi is everything) "अदितिर्द्यौरदितिरन्तरिक्षम्" (Aditi is Heaven, Aditi is Space between Heaven and Earth).
7. Words like अम्यक्, यादृश्मिन्, जारयायि and काणुका are used, whose meaning is quite obscure.
N. Siva Senani

> From: V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>
>To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> 
>Sent: Monday, July 2, 2012 6:57 AM
>Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Apoureshyatva - Faith or Logic?
>Even though Gautama Buddha is a historical entity, the
>'vAda' attributed to him or propounded by him has existed for ever.
>So, that leaves us with the thinking:  The opposition to the Veda
>apauruSheyatva has been existing for ever and that Veda apauruSheyatva
>has been held/upheld by the Vedantin for ever.  

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