What Veda reveals – Epistemology of Indian Darshanas #3

veda bhagavan

Sri Gurubhyo Namaha

These are quick notes for Brahma Sutra Bhaashya (authored by Sri Shankaracharya) classes that were taught by Swami Paramasukhananda, which I was a student of during 2011-2013. What I feel like recording I record. They are not a substitute for live classes, but done as my cogitation.

For other such short notes, check – https://vairaagya.wordpress.com/tag/brahmasutranotes/

  • Prasad.


“What Veda reveals”.

In the previous two posts we have discussed what it means to say that something is a pramaana, a means of valid knowledgeIn this post, we look at the traditional status allocated to the Veda.

Traditionally the Veda is looked upon as the shabda pramaana for all things which are not accessible to the other pramaanas, namely pratyaksha (sense-organs) and the various anumaana pramaanas (anumaana, upamaana, etc.). In other words, Veda reveals that which is not available for perception by sense-organs or to the logic applied on such perceptions. Note that these two (pratyaksha, anumaana-based pramaanas) constitute whole of physical sciences and thus there is supposed to be no contradiction between what the Veda reveals (through the Veda shabda, the Vedic words) and what is understood through science.

It is therefore said in a verse –

प्रत्क्षेणानुमित्या वा यस्तूपायो न बुध्यते। एनं विदन्ति वेदेन तस्माद् वेदस्य वेदता।।

“The Veda gives the knowledge of that which cannot be gained through the sense-organs and the logic applied on them”.

The word “Veda(वेदाः)” means “knowledge”. What does the Veda give knowledge of? It is said in a verse –

विदन्ति चतुर्विधपुरुषार्थान् तत्प्राप्ति उपायाञ्च

The Veda teaches the four-fold classification of the attainments desired by human beings, and the means to get them.

This four-fold classification of the objects desired by man (called purushaarthaas) are (a) things for one’s security (artha), like wealth etc.(b) things for one’s pleasure (kaama) , like comforts etc. (c) things required for gaining artha and kaama and retaining them for long time (dharma), which includes ethical and moral conduct, as well as religious activities for the gain of punya  (d)  happiness unblemished by time-space, as indicated by the feeling, “I want to be happy, not sorrowful”, always, at all locations  (Moksha) .

Of these, Moksha is called the paramapurushaartha, the highest and the central of those that are desired by humans. It is so because of the fact that man will give up everything, artha, kaama and dharma, for the sake of moksha. Moksha is also that purushaarthaa by gaining which  there is freedom from the birth-death cycle, because the birth-death cycle is dependent on the desire for artha-kaama-dharma, and after gaining moksha there is no such desire left.

The Veda is divided into two portions, the first being called Karma-kaanda which gives the means to attain the first three purushaarthas, artha-kaama-dharma. The second portion is called the Jnaana Kaanda, which constitutes of the Upanishads, which show the way for achieving the paramapurushaartha, or Moksha. This Jnaana Kaanda is also called Upanishads.

Why do we trust the Veda? Why is it looked at as Pramaana for all these things ? Why is it allocated a special status compared to other religious literature? To know all this we must understand the special status given to Veda more deeply. We shall see this in a future post.


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