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

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Mon Jan 21 11:33:41 CST 2013

Sri Ramesh Krishnamurthy,
Namaste. My responses are given in-line starting with an asterisk.

> 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: Monday, 21 January 2013 2:22 PM
>Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] On rationality; was "Vedas are not apauresheya according to the Vedas ?"
>Namaste Sri Siva Senani Nori,
>Your response appears somewhat tangential to my initial post. 
>* The obliqueness of the post was intentional because most times direct engagement seems to quickly descend into a heated and lengthy exchange generating a lot of heat but very little light. To tell you the truth, this looks like the beginning of one; however, let me see if I can make my point without hurting you, provoking you, making any personal comments or otherwise being sarcastic or caustic.
>let me clarify the post a little.
>The point about any logical system needing at least one axiom was a
>general statement about the nature of logic and reasoning. It was not
>specific to advaita-vedAnta.
>* A general statement has to apply to a particular situation. If it has to be applied to Advaita, since the proposition (that an axiom is needed) was made by you, it is reasonable that you have to show how it applies to Advaita. I thought you would accept the theses of advaita and then show the axiom (I had also suggested that SraddhA in Veda be that axiom), but you seem to have taken the stance that either since a) you do not see an axiom / there is no axiom, there is no thesis; or b) since Advaita has only anti-thesis, there is no question of showing that an axiom is required. The central crux would, then, be to see whether Advaita has theses or not. 
>More generally, any specific knowledge or any specific
>assertion/thesis (even something as basic as "there is a table in
>front of me") requires apriori axioms in the form of the validity of
>one or more pramANa-s.
>* Sure, that's what I had said: accept VedaprAmANyatA axiomatically, if that is what the above statement needs.
> This point of course can be easily appreciated
>by advaitins but is not so easy to appreciate for most others.
>* If "most others" are non-Indian philosophoers, there might be some truth in it; if "most others" are Indian philosophers, I think the above statement is not true. Every one of the 16 darSanas described in SarvadarSanasangraha emphasises Pramanas; Visishtadvaita has a primer dealing with Pramanas called Yateendramatadeepikaa; Bauddhas (DignAga) have written a book called PramaaNasamuccaya (with Dharmakirti writing a celebrated commentary on it, and within that different sections like apoha having their own sub-commentaries. According to Rahul Sankrityayan, Bauddhas wrote 1.4 lakh Slokas on this topic alone)
>As far as advaita-vedAnta is concerned, its ultimate purport lies in
>mokSha through what may be termed a "deconditioning therapy" whereby
>one transcends the need to objectify oneself (as in notions such as "I
>am the body" or "I am a human" etc). The crux here is that Atman alone
>is svataHsiddha and abAdhya (uncontradictable) whereas any objective
>reality is not svataHsiddha and therefore bAdhya and mithyA. Even the
>notion "I am a pramAtA" is bAdhya.
>* During the manana stage each one of us works out different ways to getting at the Truth. For instance, when one hears the statement "asau AdityaH brahma" a person might figure out that this is the same truth as represented by the law of conservation of mass-energy. During that stage, the reasoning looks very real. It is important, in my view, to be cautious about one aspect at this stage. It is perfectly alright to say what I say sounds reasonable; it might be incorrect to say no other way of representing Reality is correct (unless one has "seen" an apUrva Truth). So, while I have no issues with arriving at Brahman in the above way, I would submit that there are other "vidyAs" which teach Brahman (Each vidyaa, effectively, is one way of teaching and reaching Brahman).
>That brahman is known through the shruti is a general stand taken by
>all varieties of vedAnta. However, the precise meaning of this varies
>across the different schools of vedAnta. In advaita-vedAnta, a seeker
>may start off with a search for the cause of the universe (janmAdyasya
>yataH) where there is an implicit assumption of an objective reality.
>But as the deconditioning therapy proceeds, one realizes that the
>brahman one seeks is not an objective reality but the svataHsiddha
>* As a way, fine; but as the way, not so - as explained above.
>Sri Siva Senani Nori wrote:
><<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.>>
>To clarify, I am not at all denying the above "three main points".
>What I am denying is that these points constitute a thesis.
>* If we were only using the word "thesis" in different ways, I could live with that. The "three main points" as you put it are important, not whether they get the lable "thesis", "anti-thesis" or "chunky".
>These "three main points" are not distinct standalone points but only
>an elaboration of the basic point of the svataHsiddha Atman alone
>being abAdhya (and hence satya since satya is defined as that which is
>brahman is absolutely real (satya) precisely because it is none other
>than the svataHsiddha and abAdhya Atman. If brahman were
>pramANasiddha, it would be bAdhya and not absolutely real. In other
>words, if brahman were an objective reality, it would be bAdhya.
>* With reference to the highlighted statement of yours above, I say Brahman is indeed pramANasiddham - the pramANam being the Veda, and this SAstrayonitvam, far from being a bAdhA is the only fact which establishes Brahman. Anubhava can reinforce that, but it is the Veda alone which establishes Brahman. This point has been made by BhagavatpAda in his bhAshyam under "tattu samanvayAt" (1.1.4), wherein the very first point of discussion ends with the assertion "tasmAtsiddham brahmaNaH SAstrapramANakatvam" (Swami Gambhirananda's translation: Therefore, it is proved that Brahman is known from the scriptures alone).
>Likewise, the world is mithyA (i.e. bAdhya) simply because it is not
>svataHsiddha. This statement cannot be called a thesis. 
>* Why? That is exactly what a thesis or pratij~nA is: what one proves based on certain facts using a certain method. anumAnam is a much discussed pramANa in Indian philosophy and its anga (subsidiary element) the thesis or pratij~nA (such as "parvato vahnimAn", "the mountain is fiery") is very famous. May be you mean a self-valid Truth by the word "thesis". Anyhow, I do understand that words keep taking new meanings based on the vaktA (that is why I had quoted a statement and its refutal as both being true in my earlier email) and am willing to look beyond lables.
>Rather it is
>an "anti-thesis" because it negates all theses as bAdhya (and hence
>mithyA). All theses are bAdhya because they depend on axioms that are
>not svataHsiddha. If your "three main points" were simply yet another
>thesis, they would be bAdhya and pretty useless for mokSha.
>* You seem to be saying that any thing which gets a lable "thesis" needs an "axiom", but if it gets the lable "main points", it does not! That is not tenable. Whether they are "thesis" or "main points", there is no bAdhA to them (the main points) as shown by Sankaracharya in the prasthAnatrayee. If your point is that you agree with the content of the main points (as you have indeed done above) but you perceive a bAdha to them in the form of a depenence on an axiom, I submit that 'VedaprAmANyatA' be taken to be that axiom; I will also agree with you that without this crticial axiom, this system would not be valid. I say so because there is indeed a system like Advaita, which does not depend on 'VedaprAmANyatA' - it is called Bauddham. And, as Kumarila, Udayana and BhagavatpAda have shown, that system is flawed.
>In the final analysis, the mukta requires no theses because he accepts
>nothing but the svataHsiddha Atman. Even his prAmAtRtvam his
>transcended, so other axioms and theses which pre-suppose pramAtRtvam
>are not even in the picture.
>Sri Siva Senani Nori wrote:
><<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.>>
>As explained above, the "three main points" do not constitute a thesis
>in the first place. The role of the shruti is only to serve as a
>deconditioning therapy, to remind us that even our pramAtRtvam is
>* Completely agree with you that Sruti exists only to remove our avidyA; if the word "only" in the above sentence means that the purport of Veda is to teach Brahman by removing avidyA, it is fine; otherwise it misses the point that there is nothing else except Veda to perform this job. The medium - like a Guru - might be different, but ultimately this knowledge - or the deconditioning therapy - comes from Sruti alone and not anywhere else.
>* In other words, the Atman cannot know itself to be the Truth, and as one with Brahman, without the help of Sruti. That is, Advaita is an exercise in exegesis, and is not a "logical system" removed from Sruti.
>N. Siva Senani   

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