[Advaita-l] How can the reality of brahman be proven?
kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Fri Apr 6 07:14:10 EDT 2018
On Thursday, April 5, 2018, 10:25:09 PM EDT, Kalyan via Advaita-l <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
I want to ask - how can the reality of brahman be proven?
Is it just a matter of faith in Sruti/smriti? (If yes, then the reality of brahman is also a matter of faith. It is not proven. If no, please explain how the reality of brahman is proven.)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------Kalyanji - PraNAms.
There is a fundamental problem with the very question itself.
Brahman means infinite. One cannot prove that infinite exits. It is like asking a question - if one says 'How can you prove that two parallel lines meet at infinity?' The very proof you are asking itself is in 'finite' or logic and it rests on pratyaksha pramaana for validation. Hence it becomes a circular logic. Hence the scripture itself says ' naishaa tarkena matiraapaneya'.
The existence of anything is proven by 'knowledge of its existence' - That 'pot exists there' is proven by my knowledge its existence through a pramaana. Otherwise, its existence itself is 'indeterminate' of anirvachaneeyam. Hence a conscious entity has to be there to prove that there is the existence of the pot or the existence of the world as the pot or the world does not declare that I exist.
Scripture says 'prajnaanam brahma' - consciousness is infinite - but yet we see the whole world and whatever we see is inert as established above the pot and the world require my existent-consciousness to prove their existence. The world includes everything and everybody (every- body), since from my point even your existence is proven only when I perceive through my senses.
As for as I am concerned, I am the only the subject in the whole world to prove that the pot exists or the world exists. From your point, you have to exist before you can prove my existence as well as the rest of the world.
Now the problem reduces to two aspects. 1. How do I prove that I exist and I am conscious and 2. How do I prove that existence-consciousness that I am is infinite or Brahman.
The first one requires no proof since it is self-proven - hence scriptures say that 'I am' is aprameyam, not an object for any pramaana. The only problem is 'I take myself as what I am not and then suffer as consequence of my inappropriateness of myself as 'I am = this', where this is an object while 'I am' is the subject. Hence to remove this confusion only scriptures say - you are not that - neti, neti.. But that is only one part of the equation dealing with who am I? This part does not require any proof since as discussed above I am aprameyam.
The second of the question involves establishing that I am infinite. Since infinite cannot be proved and 'I am' requires no proof, we are at a corner that we cannot independently establish that I am Brahman. For that alone Scripture becomes a pramaana or means of knowledge.
How do you prove that scripture is right since all my experiences indicate that I am a finite being and not infinite? For this alone scripture becomes only pramaana until one recognizes or realizes the fact by shravana, manana and nidhidhyaasana - Hence the scriptures state that one has to do these - shrotavyaH - that tavyaH is added to indicate that one has to do it by himself for himself. There are no other proofs or short cuts here. Hence Vedanta alone is pramaana that indicate that I am infinite. However, even Vedanta has been interpreted by other aachaaryas to establish that I am not infinite (a tat tvam asi) or I am only part of infinite (vishishtaadvaita). Hence they argue that since 'I experience that I am finite and the world is different from me - therefore any experience is true. While Shankara says ' Since you experienced, it is not true, but it is not untrue also' - 'dRisyatvaat'
Hence you question is invalid two aspects. 1. I am existence-consciousness is self-proven and therefore requires no other proof. 2. I am Brahman or inifinite cannot be proven since infinity itself cannot be proven. For the second one, Vedanta alone is pramaana, provided one understands Vedanta correctly - Iswaraanugrahaat eva pumsaam advaita vaasanaa' - only by the grace of god one is led to proper teacher and understanding of this fact which cannot be proven' -say Avadhuta Geeta. Hence Shankara says - shraddhaa is essential for self-realization. 'Shraddhaavan labhate jnaanam' says Krishna.
Because of lack of this Shraddha only we all say, that we have understood Vedanta but we have not yet realized that 'I am Brahman'. As long as I am looking for happiness outside, I do not have sufficient shraddha to claim 'aham brahmaasmi' -this is the litmus test for all of us. Hence Krishna's declaration ' aatmani eva aatmaana tuShTaH' for the realized person.
Hope this helps
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