[Advaita-l] On rationality; was "Vedas are not apauresheya according to the Vedas ?"

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Fri Jan 18 21:55:45 CST 2013

Dear Sri Ramesh Krishnamurthy, namaste.
I have no major disagreement - except with the part that the advaitin has no thesis - with anything that you said in the trailing email. The language one uses can yield multiple meanings. The differenes outlined below are largely based on what meaning we assign to a few words.
One could say that the Sun rises in the East. Surely, that is accepted as true. Another might take up issue with that and say - the Sun does not 'rise', and there is no "East". The second person is also right.
Regarding the Advaitin's thesis - the three main points are well known. a) Brahman is Absolutely Real, b) The World is neither absolutely Real, nor absolutely Unreal (in other words, mithya) and c) Atman and Brahman are the same. It this requires an apriori axiom according to some system, it is upto that systemist to explain what is observed (i.e. that Advaita has a thesis and therefore as per his system, must have an axiom), but one cannot reject the thesis that is so well-known due to this this construct that "thesis is real, only if there is an axiom; since I cannot find an axiom, there is no thesis".
The burden of my post was that unlike a Stephen Hawking speculating about the origin of Universe, or a Udayana inferring God, or a Saankhyaanuyaayin inferring PradhAna, Sankaracharya does not attempt to prove the theses (listed above) of Advaita independently of Sruti. The thesis is established by interpreting Sruti - that is, Brahman is Absolutely Real because Sruti says so, and so on.
Now, if this is Rational or based on Reasoning with VedapramaaNyataa as an axiom, I have no issue with such a position.
N. Siva Senani

> From: Ramesh Krishnamurthy <rkmurthy at gmail.com>
>To: Siva Senani Nori <sivasenani at yahoo.com>; A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> 
>Sent: Friday, 18 January 2013 10:46 PM
>Subject: On rationality; was "Vedas are not apauresheya according to the Vedas ?"
>Namaste Sri Siva Senani,
>An interesting post from you. I would like to take up a few points
>mentioned in your post.
><< A third related point is that many do not realise that Advaita (and
>other interpretations of Vedanta) is not rational, in the sense that
>siddhaanta is not established on the basis of reasoning - rather, we
>know there is Brahman because Veda says so and because the same can be
>experienced after the dawn of knowledge, but not due to reasoning.>>
>The above seems somewhat misleading. The point to appreciate regarding
>reasoning is that any logical system has to start with at least one
>axiom, which has to be taken as a given. A self-consistent system is
>one that does not contradict its own axiom(s). The various systems
>that use the veda as a pramANa are all eminently rational, in the
>sense that they are self-consistent with the axiom of veda pramANatva.
>That some people may have an issue with axiomatically accepting veda
>pramANatva is a different matter, but then one who is exposed to
>advaita-vedAnta will realize that the acceptance of ANY pramANa, even
>pratyakSha, is effectively axiomatic. There is no way of proving that
>pratyakSha is valid. We just take it for granted, without even
>realizing it.
><< In other words, the siddhAntin is a better mImAmsaka than the
>pUrvamImAmsaka. After all, Vedanta is called UttaramImAmsa.>>
>This is true, but then the purpose of vedAnta is not mImAMsA (of the
>veda) alone. The primary purpose is "permanent" duHkha nivRtti, aka
><<The larger point is that we use rational methods to understand the
>meaning of VedavAkyas correctly, and not to independently establish
>what is said in the VedavAkyas, or even to establish the prAmANyata of
>The real point is that there is no way of establishing the pramANatva
>of ANY pramANa. The other real point is that rational methods are
>**always** used "exegetically", i.e. to understand what is revealed by
>ANY pramANa. In daily life, we constantly use rational methods to
>understand what is revealed by pratyakSha, for example. Rational
>methods per se never reveal anything. Therefore, there is nothing
>special about using rational methods to understand the meaning of the
>vedavAkya-s. The very purpose of reasoning is to help us understand
>what is revealed by various pramANa-s.
><< The problem is that somebody without a thesis can refute every
>thesis (example, Nagarjuna; to some extent Sri Harsha in
>KhaNDanakhaNDakhAdya, and recently, Jacques Derrida) - and this is
>what is called Sushkatarka.>>
>Strictly speaking, it is the advaita-vedAntin who genuinely offers no
>thesis. To offer a thesis, one has to accept at least one axiom and
>then use rational methods to construct a system. At the bare minimum,
>one or more pramANa-s have to be accepted as a given. But anything
>that is pramANa-siddha is bAdhya since pramANa-s have to be taken as a
>given. The Atman alone is svataHsiddha and hence abAdhya and satya.
>But any objective statement about the Atman (such as "I am the body")
>is pramANasiddha and hence bAdhya.
>The one who truly transcends the need to accept axioms and offer
>theses is the mukta, for he alone has given up the need to objectify
>himself (i.e. the Atman). The essential rejection, in the sense  of
>mithyAtvanishchaya, of pramANa-s (and the tripuTi in general) goes
>hand in hand with the fundamental realization of the
>unobjectifiability of the Atman that is svataHsiddha. The
>unobjectifiability of the Atman is not a thesis, but a deeply
>insightful rejection (as mithyA) of all theses, the possibility of any
>thesis, and even the very need to have any thesis, about the Atman.
>Rather it is the Atman, under the axiom of pramAtRtvam, that goes
>about accepting more axioms and constructing theses!!
>All axioms and theses and all forms of objective knowledge are valid
>only in vyavahAra. They depend on the "master axiom" of avidyA.

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