[Advaita-l] Is the eternity and apaurusheyatva of Vedas a mere belief

KAMESWARARAO MULA kamesh_ccmb at yahoo.co.in
Wed Jul 3 03:14:05 EDT 2019

Dear Sir,
             According to Jaimini, it is the assertions of the Veda which are absolutely authoritative, eternal and self-sufficient. Hence, in order to establish the Veda as the exclusive source of Dharma, the eternality, the self-sufficiency and the absolute authority of the Veda should be first established.

The Veda is an instance of Sabda Pramana i.e., words as a source of valid knowledge. A word is nothing but a sound used to denote an object of apprehension. The eternality of the Veda thus implies the eternality of words. Mimamsa, as it claims the eternality of the Veda, argues for the eternality of sound in general and of words in particular. Mimamsa holds that sound is a quality of akasa or Ether. Sound exists eternally though its apprehension stands in need of some manifesting agency. In the case of word sounds, the manifesting agency is the human utterance. Utterance manifests a word in the consciousness of the listeners. Words have no production or destruction but eternally existing and all pervading. Sound as a quality of akasa, subsists in it. As Ether is eternal and all-pervading, sound, as its quality, is also eternal and all-pervading. 

The nature of sound can be explained by the debate between Mimamsa and Nyaya. It is interesting to see that the Naiyayikas, despite their overt veneration for the scriptures, are the ardent opponents of eternality of the Veda. Though they explicitly argue for the authority of the Veda, they do so on quite different grounds.  Vedic authority is higher than its existence and it never depends on people’s  lip-services to please the orthodoxy. Vedas are the exclusive instance of Sabda Pramdna.  Sabara defines verbal authority as that knowledge of imperceptible things which is derived from words. The words are of two types: human (pauruseya) and super-human (apauruseya). He distingushes between ordinary human utterances and the eternal super-human scriptures. The scriptures ( Vedas) are devoid of human intervention.
However, in the case human utterances, there is a possibility of invalidity due to the character of the speaker. In the case of the Veda, there is no possibility of doubt because there is no author for the Vedas. So their self-sufficient authority is proved by their intrinsic validity and cognitions. Manu defines the accepted philosophies / astikas  which accept the indispensable authority of the Veda. Vatsayana concludes that the eternality of the Veda means nothing more than the continuity of tradition, practice and use, these are valid thoughts through all ages past and future.

Sri Guru Padaravindarpana Mastu


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