Why trust Veda? Because eyes cannot hear, ears cannot see – Epistemology of Indian Darshanas #5

SriRamakrishna

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.

_____________

“Why trust Veda? Because eyes cannot hear, ears cannot see”

As mentioned in a previous post, any pramaana (means of knowledge) has to satisfy three properties.

  1. Novelty : The knowledge revealed should be unique.
  2. Non-negatability: The knowledge revealed should not be negatable via other means of knowledge.
  3. Utility : The knowledge revealed must be useful .

These are called anadhigatam, abaadhitam, phalavad respectively.  Of these, utility is secondary, while the other two are primary.

Since Veda is a pramaana, it should satisfy these characteristics with respect to any of its revelations.

For instance, consider the knowledge gained from Veda about punarjanma, or rebirth. This knowledge is gained from the Veda. It is novel, it is not revealed through other pramaanas (either pratyaksha (sensory inputs) or pratyaksha based logic (anumaana)), and it is also not proved or disproved via other pramaanas, thus it is also non-negatable.

Why do we trust this piece of knowledge? If one wants to verify any piece of knowledge gained via a pramaana, one has to consult that same pramaana alone for the verification also. For instance, suppose one sees a red flower. Another person comes and says that “this is not red, but rather a green flower. Something is wrong with your eyes”. Then this person has to once again get his eyes checked, make sure he is seeing the object properly. He has to use his organ of sight again. His other organs are not useful in that regard. Thus knowledge gained through eyes are verifiable through the eyes only, not via other means. Similarly, any sound heard can be verified once again through the hearing organ only. This is the characteristic of non-negatability. There is no way to check or verify a pramaa(knowledge) without using the corresponding pramaana (means).

Another important characteristic of verifiability is repeatability. This refers to the fact of any number of people who use the same means of knowledge in the same proper way get the same exact knowledge. This is known as vastutantram , the characteristic of a knowledge to be “non-subjective”, i.e., repeatable, devoid of dependency on the individual idiosyncracies.

This characteristic too is the nature of the Veda. Anyone who interprets the Veda according to Mimaamsa cannot miss the fact that there is punarjanma for the jiva.

All these properties, novelty, non-negatability, utility, and non-subjectivity (or repeatability), are common to Vedanta portion of the Veda also (Upanishads).

The revelation of the Vedanta is Atma jnaanam, i.e., that “The individual and the universal are one”, “I am all”, “What I desire is not different from me”, “Ishwara, I and the world are one and the same”.

This is

  1. Novel : There is no other pramaana except Vedanta which reveals this information.
  2. Non-negatability : This information is not falsified by any other pramaana including logic (how and why this is true are the purpose of study of Vedanta).
  3. Useful : It is useful because it puts an end to all emotional sufferings in the person who understands it, as well as ending the cycle of birth and death.
  4. Non-subjective : Across time, everyone who understands this properly comes to the same conclusion – “I and the world and the Lord are not different, but one only”.

Therefore the Veda and hence the Vedanta function as Pramaana for Atma jnaanam.

 

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