[Advaita-l] Shruti prAmANya and jnAna

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Thu Oct 6 11:43:41 CDT 2016

Some more thoughts.

In relation to svatah prAmANyam, KumArila BhaTTa in the codanAdhikaraNA of
slokavArtika says the following:

svatah sarvapramANAnAm prAmANyam iti gamyatAm |
na hi svato 'sati shaktih kartum anyena shakyate ||

The validity of all cognitions is to be understood as intrinsic, since a
potency not existing intrinsically cannot be brought about by something

AtmalAbhe ca bhAvAnAm kAruNApekshatA bhavet |
labdhAtmanAm svakAryeShu pravRttih svayam eva tu ||

Things depend on causes in arising, but once they exist they exercise their
functions by themselves.

KumArila BhaTTa is saying that the prAmANya or validity of a cognition must
come from the cognition itself. Umbeka, a commentator of KumArila
translates the word svatah not literally as "of the cognition itself" but
rather from the "normal causes of the cognition". Thus, what he believes
KumArila is saying is that the validity of cognitions comes from the causes
of the cognitions. That is, if the causes of cognition (such as: that the
object is within the perceptual field of the sense organ, the sense organ
is unimpaired by disease, environmental factors, the mind is alert, etc)
are normal.

The implication for the validity of Veda, based on this interpretation of
svatah prAmANya is that, one need not prove that the Veda was created from
a group of causal factors that were specially conducive to the Veda's
validity (the omniscience of the person who created it). Rather, one only
needs to be sure that it has not originated from a defective source - we
know that the Veda did not arise from a defective source, because it has no
source at all - hence we can be confident that the Veda is true.

However, the problem with this interpretation is that while the validity of
the cognition arises intrinsically (i.e. from its causes), its validity is
established by ascertaining that the causes that gave rise to it were
normal. This is problematic in several ways. Firstly, if we are unable to
identify a cause for cognition, then we are unable to say if a cognition is
valid or not. Moreover, this seems to contradict the second verse quoted
above where KumArila says that the function of an existent thing (in this
case, the power of the cognisance to reveal an object and by implication
its power to do so correctly) is not dependent on anything else.

Parthasarathi Mishra interprets svatah prAmANya differently from Umbeka.
According to him, by svatah prAmANya what is meant is that whenever a
cognition occurs, it presents itself as true. The validity of a cognition
is known from the cognition itself - that is, it appears to be valid unless
proven otherwise. Therefore, all cognitions, not just true cognitions, have
intrinsic validity. The difference between true and false cognition is that
false cognitions are subsequently falsified by other cognition, whereas
true cognitions are never falsified. So "svakAryeShu pravrittih" in the
above vArtika essentially means that the power of cognition to ascertain
its own truth OR power of cognition to make a determination of its object,
derives from the cognition itself. If the validity of a cognition was
dependent on something else, for example another cognition, (which in turn
would require another cognition to determine its validity, and so on) this
would lead to anavasthA.

For example, a pot requires a potter and clay for its existence, but once
it comes into existence, it does not require anything else to serve as a
means to carry water.  The function of cognition is making a determination
of the object of knowledge, which requires an awareness of the validity of
knowledge. Therefore, what KumAriLa BhaTTA is saying is that the
determining / judging function of cognition is based on the cognition
itself and not some external factor - cognition is essentially accompanied
by an awareness of its own truth.

Further, kumAriLa BhaTTa says:

yadA svatah pramANatvam tadAnyan naiva mRgyate |
nivartate hi mithyAtvam doShAjnAnAd ayatnatah ||

tasmAd bodhAtmakatvena prApta buddheh pramANatA |
arthAnyathAtvahetUtthadoShajnAnAd apodyate ||

When there is intrinsic validity, nothing else is required. The belief that
a cognition is invalid is resolved effortlessly as there is no knowledge of
a defect. In the case of false cognition, the belief in its validity is
removed by the knowledge of a defect in its cause or by the knowledge that
the object of knowledge is really otherwise.

Therefore, a cognition whose intrinsic validity is not sublated by the
awareness of a defect in its cause or contradictory cognition is valid.
Since vedic knowledge is not sublated by any other cognition as its subject
matter is alaukika, vedic knowledge is valid.


On Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 4:38 AM, V Subrahmanian via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> On Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 5:46 PM, Srinath Vedagarbha via Advaita-l <
> advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
> > Namaste Praveen-ji,
> >
> >  But my question was how do you substantiate lack of
> > apAmANya when it was said vedAs are also kalpita (by a single chaitanya)
> > along with entire jagat advaita system? Isn't it kalpita equivalent to
> > authored?
> >
> We must first know what is meant when we say a text is 'authored,
> pauruṣeya'.  When a person composes a work there is this process: artham
> buddhvā śabda rachanā. He knows the meaning of the words he intends to
> write and then arranges the words.  For example the works composed by
> Kālidāsa, etc. Then alone it can be called pauruṣeya, authored. The Veda is
> not admitted to be such a composition by Advaitins when they hold the Veda
> to be part of the kalpita prapancha. They hold the Veda to be product of
> mantra draṣṭā-s and collectively brought forth at the beginning of every
> creation. Nor should it be understood that the mantra draṣṭā-s composed the
> lines.
> vs
> >
> >
> >
> >
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