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

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Mon Jan 21 22:06:17 CST 2013

> Fortunately Vedanta does not have to depend on such vagaries. If I start
> with concepts of brahma or maya or mithya, I may need to rely on some
> axiom. However, when I start from my simple experience as it is happening
> right now, I do not need any axiom. I exist and I know that I exist. Now
> based on someone's philosophical background they may have objections about
> the existence of "I". For them we can reword it that right now something
> -as against to nothing- is being experienced. What is being experienced
> right now may be an illusion or dream or mithya or brahma does not matter.
> Something is being experienced - it is indisputable. Then Shruti comes and
> tells that this awareness is limitless and I immediately and indisputably
> recognize that indeed there is no limit in this experiencing awareness.
> Then Shruti comes further and tells that this awareness is impersonal and I
> recognize it to be so. I need not believe anything that Shruti says unless
> I directly see its truth. I only have to entertain it as a tentative
> hypothesis and verify whether my experience tallies with it or not.

I realize you may not have been particularly addressing apaurusheyatva per se in the above
response, but only the need for axiomatic acceptance of some pramANa. However, what you
say above has some implications for apaurusheyatva as well. 
Firstly, the above approach may work for some individuals, but not for others. Be that as it
may, one question will still remain - whose tentative hypothesis is this Sruti?
ISvara's? Atman's? Rshi-s'? Impersonal brahman's? You see, the problem of apaurusheyatva
or authoredness of Sruti will not go away even if the Sabda pramANa were to be seen as a
kind of arthApatti, no matter how tentatively. There would be no reason to take this as any 
more valid of a hypthesis than some moral taught in the Aesop's fables, which also speak to
and in the light of human experience. What is it that would privilege Sruti as the tentative
hypothesis worth considering, by which you evaluate your experience? The entire history of
human thought teaches us that our indisputable experience, e.g. of the sun rising in the east,
is more often than not, extremely misleading. The more subtle an issue is, the more apt it
is to be so. On what criterion then, does one decide? 
It might be said that moksha still needs only one's own experience of onself as limitless and
impersonal consciousness and that it does not really need Sruti. That may be the case for
the very rare, exceptional case. It is precisely because one habitually experiences and defines
onself in terms of the not-self that the vast majority of people need something called Sruti.

Furthermore, the veda accomplishes other things also, not just vedAnta. If one keeps the
structure of the purushArtha-s in mind, one can easily see that the veda is meant to address
not only moksha, but also dharma. And in the vast field of dharma, the authority of the veda 
needs to be emphasized even more than than in that of moksha. At least in the latter case,
one can point to one's own experience (although disagreeing with a need to "verify" what
is said in the veda) or one can point to the instances of jIvanmukta-s. In the case of dharma,
it is not so. All the more reason for worrying about whether an ISvara authored the veda, as
the naiyyAyika-s held, or whether the veda is apaurusheya, as the pUrva mImAMsaka-s held.

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