[Advaita-l] Apoureshyatva - Faith or Logic?

Rajaram Venkataramani rajaramvenk at gmail.com
Mon Jul 9 15:35:54 CDT 2012

Dear Sri Vidyasankar,

My response inset. I dont think your position is the traditional
position. Please recheck with Sringeri Acharya or traditional scholars as
your words will mislead the list members. If I say something wrong, though
I am Rajaram Venkataramani and not Roger Manny, will not mislead others
because I dont claim to be a traditional scholar.

I dont see further point in continuing this thread unless one posts from
traditional commentaries or at least present scientific arguments.

Best Regards
Rajaram Venkataramani

On Mon, Jul 9, 2012 at 6:34 PM, Vidyasankar Sundaresan <
svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Dear Rajaram,
> I deliberately waited a while before posting what is going to be my last
> contribution to this round of
> discussion on apaurusheyatva.  Let me begin by thanking you for giving me
> many opportunities, at
> least once a week, to practice equanimity towards stuti and nindA
> Vide,
> > I have a lot of respect for Sri Vidyasankar myself and it is unfortunate
> that it is he is making these points. It is the force of the theory of
> biological and linguistic evolution.
> ...
> > BTW, your theory of evolution of dharma leads to many
> > inconsistencies. Before Gayatri mantra is revealed, people didn't chant
> > that during sandhyavandanam?

> RV: There is no ninda here. It is only a criticism of your position on
> this issue - not you. Just like the faults on a moon does not make it any
> less beautiful, the defect in the position of a scholar on an issue does
> not make him any less scholarly. In Tamil, there is a saying Aanaikkum Adi
> Sarukkum (Even an elephant can skid).

That said,

> >IMO, these theories are like a deaf man describing a movie without the
> sabda because I know astrology is eerily accurate, acharyas have displayed
> unnatural powers >beyond science etc.
> Yet, I am not the one who wanted to "re-establish" apaurusheyatva of the
> veda and then gave up
> by citing its incompatibility with evolution of biological species
> followed by linguistic evolution! My
> stance, that veda apaurusheyatva is neither a necessary nor a sufficient
> condition for accepting
> veda prAmANya, has been a consistent one throughout.
> I confess I don't understand what your basic goal is. Is it to prove
> apaurusheyatva of the veda by
> taking into  account a contemporary scientific worldview? Is it to discard
> all scientific endeavor as
> inherently a-dhArmika? Is it to condemn those who say that they have no
> problem with accepting
> the pramANa of science in one intellectual domain and that of the veda in
> another?

RV: I think Veda Apaureshyatva is significant because it distinguishes Veda
Dharma from the opinion of (even omniscient) Scholars, Prophets, Sons or
Daughters of God or even gods, goddesses and God.  There are astikas such
as Vaiseshikas who accept Veda Pramana but not apaureshyatva. They end up
placing Vedas at best at a level of the opinion of God. But then, how do
you know
God if not through apaureshyatva Veda pramana? A logical inference that
there must be a creator does not stand if creation is inferred as
non-existent or non-divine causes are shown. We need an apaureshya pramana
to know that there is an Ishwara or that karma produces unseen results in
future or that the cycle of karma can be broken forever. Logically, it is
easy to establish Veda Apaureshyatva thanks to works of mimasakas. Even
historically,we can show that belief in apaureshyatva is older than any
extant literature that argues against it. The most ancient extant
literature is only about 2500 years old but the opinion of apaureshyatva
pre-dates that. Even if we concede that there were oral traditions that did
not agree with apaureshyatva, we can at best say that both the concepts
co-existed for a long time. No one can logically or sensibly argue with
evidence (this is important) that apaureshyatva is an invention of a modern
mind. The only challenge comes when we place scientific theories such as
the theory of evolution of life and linguistics arrived at based on
pratyaksha and probabilistic rather than deterministic inference at par
with sabda pramana. Then we have to say that at some point in time there
were no humans, no rishis, no vedas, no language etc., which evolved
gradually. But these scientific theories are arrived at not based on
deterministic inference but probabilistic inference. Even if we concede
that the inference is right, we have to accept that it does not use sabda
prama. If a deaf person describes an movie to other deaf people, they will
all agree that it is correct but one who is not deaf will scream that they
are missing the sabda and it will fall on deaf ears. I am not opposed to
science and set up my first lab and caused electric accident when still in
primary school. But while serves a great purpose in bringing objectivity to
knowledge acquisition, in the process blocks a vast body of subjective
knowledge. In describing origins, it pushes god and dharma out of social
meme. To that extent, it is adharmic.

One way or the other, people for whom a daily chanting of sAvitrI mantra
was a requirement were not born before the time of viSvAmitra. viSvAmitra
became a Rshi and revealed the mantra at a certain juncture of time,
because japa of this mantra by many people became something that was
necessary for the preservation of dharma only AFTER his time. Such is the
nature of what you call "prophecy" in the veda-s.

RV: You have to say that there were no dwijas who had to chant gayatri
mantra before Visvamitra. Then, you will have to explain which varna he was
born in to. Or you have to say that gayatri mantra was introduced in to
sandhyavandana after his time without any literary evidence to support it.
And we have to live in hope that in future more mantras wont be added to
the already difficult to do nitya karma!

According to your position, even before a viSvAmitra appeared in this
cycle, people would have
been committing sin by not doing japa of the sAvitrI (gAyatrI) mantra. That
is indeed not my
position, as I have pointed out above. It is up to you to figure out from
your position how the
priests of viSvAmitra's father and grandfather, who were certainly
brAhmaNa-s, could have daily
chanted a mantra that was to be revealed many years later by viSvAmitra, as
per the "prophecy"
of the veda. If it was already available to everybody from the previous
cycle, where was the
necessity for another viSvAmitra to appear in this one, torture himself and
others through his
tapas, unfairly curse rambhA for his own failings, abandon the new-born
SakuntalA, intensify
his tapas, gain a cherished acceptance as a brahmaRshi from vasishTha and
reveal the sAvitrI
mantra somewhere along the line? And where is the necessity for a future
viSvAmitra to appear
in the next cycle and go through this process all over again? If the
viSvAmitra who revealed the
mantra is to be claimed to be different from the one described above, what
proof is there for
that stance? If it is the same and you have some other magical explanation
for the structure of
time that makes all this possible, I would be fascinated to find out what
that is, whether it be
from a traditional paurANika/dArSanika standpoint or a contemporary
scientific/sci-fi perspective.

RV: It is not as complicated as you make it sound. The proof for my
position is that sabda is eternal as established by Mimamsakas and Vedas
were revealed in their entirety to Brahma at the time of creation. This is
stated clearly by none other than the Sringeri Acharya. The physical
appearance or not of Visvamitra is immaterial because his life and the
mantras he revealed are known through sruti and smrti.  May I ask, what
proof do you have for the historicity of Visvamitra based on which you
reject that Vedas were known to man kind from the time of creation?

As Bhaskar pointed out, you are indeed setting up a strawman argument and
knocking it down,
when you say something like,

> > If it is not through incorrect inference, how do we
> > know rishis lived at a point in time and the Vedas were non-existent
> > before
> > he first rishi appeared? Brahma, by your logic, must have been quite
> > ignorant to start with.
> I have never given any room for anyone, including  you, to use the term
> "non-existent" in this
> context. On the contrary, I have taken great pains to point out the
> difference between prior
> non-existence and a general non-availability prior to the time of a Rshi
> who revealed some
> part of the veda to the ancestors of those who are its custodians today.
> And I absolutely don't
> see how you jump to brahmA even from this flawed argument of yours. As for
> how the veda
> gets known to brahmA, see SvetASvatara upanishan mantra - yo brahmANaM
> vidadhAti
> pUrvaM yo vai vedAMSca prahiNoti tasmai. There was a primordial time when
> brahmA came
> into being and the veda was then given to him, before being revealed to
> the Rshi-s whose
> names are associated with the mantras.

RV: If the rules were not known to mankind, their presence in the source,
whoever or whatever that is, cannot be the ground to judge if a person's
act is dharma or not.

> One doesn't need any inference, correct or incorrect, to say that Rshi-s
> lived at different times.
> Mere common sense is enough, And it is nothing more than what the
> itihAsa-purAna itself tells
> us about the Rshi-s. I don't have to recount the entire story of vasishTha
> and viSvAmitra to you,
> I'm sure. Is there anything in the legend for anyone to think that the
> many years of viSvAmitra's
> tapas as per that story happened in one instant, at the beginning of time?
> If it all happened in
> a previous cycle, what about the direction of the arrow of time within
> THAT cycle? The logic or
> otherwise of the life of a Rshi and his role in revealing some part of the
> veda does not go away.

RV: The entire set of anedotes in the Vedas can be revealed at one instance
to Brahman. Later someone may or may not enact that script. Before you go
by common sense, you should ask if there is evidence for historicity of
Visvamitra. Or it is even important.

> > How do we know that someone will not give a new vidhi in
> > the future?
> Something like this is also accounted for in the itihAsa-purANa, to the
> extent that one can find
> a linear temporal logic in them. Please recall the story of Svetaketu and
> how he made a new
> vidhi with respect to strIdharma. What was not adharma for women, prior to
> his time, became
> so as a consequence of the rule that he laid down upon all women.
> Therefore, no one can say
> that the same vidhi-s are operative at all times and in an invariant
> manner. Such rigidity of
> rules is certainly not what the tradition itself says about what is
> dhArmika behavior and what
> is not. And even at any given point of time, what is dharma for one person
> is not necessarily
> dharma for another.

RV: How do we conclude what is Dharma (with respect to a time, place or
person)? It has to be an instruction not an inference. This is the very
first conclusion by Mimamsakas. An instruction cannot be based on a
person's, however great he is, inference. It has to be passed on from
another person who should learn from another person and so on ad infinitum.
Keeping this in view, the story illustrates that new stridharma that
Svetaketu gives is what is applicable from the start of creation in this
cycle and any cycle.

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