[Advaita-l] Apoureshyatva - Faith or Logic?

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Fri Jun 22 13:10:54 CDT 2012

For whatever it is worth, here are my thoughts on this. 
My stance on the axiomatic nature versus logical proof for the pramANatva
and apaurusheyatva of the veda has been articulated on this list before, so
I won't reiterate that. Still, it seems to me that the reasons you cite are the
wrong reasons for thinking that apaurusheyatva is not something to be 
proved logically.

For example: 
>Though there was a clear
> appreciation of the fact that the individual members of the jati do not
> exist before creation and after parlaya, the jati continues to exist
> eternally because the individual members existed in a previous cycle and
> will do in the next. But modern science shows that living and non-living
> entities evolved gradually rather than get created in one shot. 
Why is the traditional notion of the eternal existence of a jAti before creation
and after pralaya opposed to the concept of gradual evolution of species? I
don't see that this is necessarily the case and I think this is a false pitting of
science against the mImAMsaka traditions.

The eternal existence of a jAti is always distinguished from the particular
and short-lived existences of individual manifestations of that jAti. Nothing
 in the traditional thinking about this says that every jAti is manifested in at
least one individual in one shot, at the very beginning of the next cycle of
creation. The traditional mImAMsaka/vedAntin can easily say that when an
individual cow makes its appearance through biological evolution, all that is
really happening is that the eternal jAti of "cow" is getting manifested within
this particular cycle, in the course of time, as and when the conditions are
met in order for the particular manifestation of the universal "cow" to take
the form of the particular cow.
Even within the perspective of science, there are numerous ways to think in
a philosophical way about the prior existence or non-existence of living beings
and about the origins of life itself. I don't think biology or any other science
needs to be inextricably wedded to the notion that there is no existence of the
general except in that of its many particulars.
> analysis shows that (sanskrit) language also evolved from
> proto-indo-european languages. 

The same argument as above would apply here as well. This is also not a
major problem for the traditional thinking about how the veda gets revealed.
In every creation cycle, the general jAti of "Indo-European languages" could
be considered as lying in wait for Homo sapiens to evolve, develop the capacity
to speak, to learn to discern meaning in speech, then go through the social
evolution whereby the speech gets refined (sam-s-kRta). The general jAti of
"Sanskrit" can therefore be said to be waiting for "Indo-European languages"
to manifest fully as particular members of a linguistic family. Then, the jAti of
"Rshi" needs to get manifested in the form of particular human beings who 
speak this refined speech and endowed with the right characteristics. The jAti
of "veda" is waiting for these right kinds of human minds to manifest, before
getting revealed to them.
After all, nobody in the tradition is claiming that the Rshis who saw the veda
in our current cycle were all born at time t = 0 when the universe came into
being. If the tradition can say that the veda was seen by a large number of
Rshis who necessarily lived over large periods of time, it can accommodate
quite easily the ideas of biological evolution and linguistic evolution, by viewing
these two processes as being the mechanisms by which the individuals of each
eternal jAti manifest.

The real problem, therefore, lies not in directly pitting traditional thinking
vs. modern scientific and humanistic theories, but in the details of what is
really meant by eternal existence of the universal in comparison to the
manifestations of the individual particulars.

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