[Advaita-l] Vedas are not apauresheya according to the Vedas ?

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Wed Jan 16 10:22:26 CST 2013

Dear Rajaram,
A note on your search for re-establishing apaurusheyatva of the veda in today's context:
Among the various darSana-s that worry about the veda, its apaurusheyatva is a concept unique to pUrva mImAMsA. As far as nyAya, vaiSeshika, sAMkhya, yoga and to some extent, vedAnta, are concerned, apaurusheyatva is not an invariable attribute of Sruti. Viewed in that light, apaurusheyatva of scripture is indeed a minority view within the larger religious context.
One could argue that except for vedAnta, all the other darSana-s are more or less irrelevant for today's religious context. That is the reason I qualify vedAnta with the phrase "to some extent".
pUrva mImAMsA really has no room for an ISvara who creates, sustains and destroys the world, so it has no room for an ISvara as an author of scripture as well. It has often been criticized by other schools, especially nyAya, for being nirISvara. On the other hand, vedAnta, of whichever variety you take, firmly accepts an ISvara (janmAdy asya yataH) right at the beginning. If one says that it is brahman who creates all there is, it follows that scripture is one of the things that are, and so, brahman has to be accepted as the creator of the scripture as well. It is in that spirit that bRhadAraNyakopanishat talks about the "breathing out" of all the texts, from the vedas downwards. What makes the different vedAnta schools different from one another is the exact sense in which they understand this "creation" from brahman. 
As you may be aware, dvaita vedAnta has its own take on Sruty apaurusheyatva, but accepting this school's view of it requires an acceptance of all the dvaita views about the reality of the world, the reality of creation, the multiplicity of jIva-s distinct from brahman, etc. One can argue whether dvaitins correctly interpret the Sruti or not, but nevertheless, its entire world view is one logically self-consistent whole and you cannot take it in bits and pieces with respect to apaurusheyatva of Sruti. 
I'm not aware that the viSishTAdvaita school of rAmAnuja has any special arguments about apaurusheyatva at all. Perhaps others can elaborate on it, but it seems to me that as far as that school is concerned, they would also then be forced to state what is the exact status of the Tamil texts that they consider to be equivalent to the veda. That is a difficulty on which there cannot be much common ground if any, with any other school, even within the umbrella of vedAnta, not to talk of other darSana-s.
In advaita vedAnta, there is no need for a hard stance about apaurusheyatva. I have said this before and will reiterate - in advaita vedAnta, apaurusheyatva of the veda is not a prerequisite for accepting it as a pramANa. Indeed, the ultimate stance of advaita vedAnta about the SAstra is that in the paramArtha perspective, even the scripture is transcended. ISvara is transcended as well here. Therefore, whether one says that ISvara is the author of Sruti or that Sruti has no author, not even ISvara, the point is moot for an advaita vedAntin. Either perspective may have its uses in vyavahAra, and if you carefully read the SAnkara bhAshya on the sUtra, SAstra-yonitvAt, both can be easily accommodated. When all of creation is an "as if" and ISvara is also an "as if" appearance of brahman, then the scripture is also an "as if" appearance along with the rest of creation. In reality, this view bypasses and transcends the nyAya vs. mImAMsA debate about Sruti having ISvara as an author vs. Sruti having no author whatsoever. However, to see how this can be so, one has to first grant that assuming the vyavahAra of pramANa-pramAtR-prameya distinctions, Sruti is a pramANa, no matter what one's view about its authorship may be. If you are going to use a sentence from the veda as a foundation to say that the veda is not apaurusheya, then you have to first accept that veda as a pramANa. This is not just a matter of SraddhA or blind faith, but a philosophical necessity, if one cares for rigor in one's thinking. Else, you will have to fall back on the pUrva mImAMsA or dvaita vedAnta positions about apaurusheyatva and pramANatva of Sruti.
Now, what does all the above have to do with providing a logical foundation for apaurusheyatva? At the least, you cannot afford to neglect the differing perspectives from which the issue has been historically addressed in these various schools. It is a pipedream to think that one can devise a rigorous logical proof of apaurusheyatva that would be acceptable to all varieties of traditional thinkers. If the goal is to address people of a non-traditional background, then the narrative could be different, but it is not clear to me that this is the case. Investigation of this topic does not have to be an unending exercise. I don't think our list members are necessarily uncomfortable with it, but it just doesn't hold extended interest for most readers. Your blog may be a better forum for you to move forward on your goal, so do feel free to address my above comments on the blog. 

ps. This is an aside with respect to Sri Kuntimaddi Sadananda's perspective on the subject. Let me submit the following on the view that all knowledge is actually apaurusheya. In my opinion, it would be more rigorous to say that knowledge is not purusha-tantra, but vastu-tantra. This is quite different from what the mImAMsaka-s say about apaurusheyatva of Sruti. The purusha-tantra vs. vastu-tantra nature of knowledge is a general ontological view about all knowledge, whereas to say "Sruti is apaurusheya" is a particular stance about one particular source of knowledge. Unless the distinction is properly understood, one risks misunderstanding what has been really meant by these terms in the mImAMsA and vedAnta darSana-s.

> Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2013 22:18:46 +0000
> From: rajaramvenk at gmail.com
> To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
> Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Vedas are not apauresheya according to the Vedas ?
> Dear Sri Subrahmanian,
> I am cutting and pasting below the response to your arguments on my blog
> http://apaureshyatva.blogspot.co.uk/
> If it is not comfortable for the forum members to investigate the topic, we
> can move the discussion outside.
> Best Regards
> Below is the response on my blog to the arguments :
> Rajaram,
> I will address some of the points mentioned in response to me in the
> advaita-L list -
> "It is good to know that such a 'creation' is only symbolic."
> The question is not whether it is symbolic. The talk of creation of vedas
> itself shows that vedas do not consider themselves eternal.

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