I have made another attempt to explain the truth in simple English in Plain Truths blog. Some of the readers suggested me to provide some scriptural statements supporting these posts. So, I have written Yoga Vedanta blog that gives references to the words of Lord.

I am currently studying Yoga VaasishTa and make few posts to the blog on wordpress.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Pramana - Valid Source of Knowledge

OM Sri Gurubhyo Namaha
Sri Sarvadhari Nama samvatsara Vaisakha Sukla Panchami - Sri Sankara Jayanti.
This is an attempt to summarize the View of Jagadguru on the "Pramana" - Valid Source of Knowledge.

Introduction:
The three "Pramanas" termed in Sanskrit are Pratyaksha (sense perception), Anumana (Inference or Reasoning) and Sabda (Scriptural Statement)

First two are based on daily experience, widely accepted sources of knowledge and the basis of all sciences, also the science is limited by the consciousness.
The third "Sabda" pramana relates to the internal experience of man beyond the mind and ordinary consciousness.

anubhava avasanatvat, bhuta vastu vishayatvat ca jnanasya (In Brahma Sutra Bhashya I.1.2) - Jnana ends in direct experience and relates to an already existing reality.

Mimamsa is the science of interpreting the Scriptures (Veda) the purva mimamsa deals with the Karma Kanda (ritual portion) whereas the uttara mimamsa (or vedanta) deals with the Jnana Kanda (the Upanishad Portion) of the Veda.

Pramana's In general:
In Brihadaranyakopanishad Bhashya (II.1.20)
a. na ca anumAnaM pratksha virodhe pramanyam labhate
An inference has no authority as againest perception
b. sva vishaya suraNi hi pramaNani srotra-adi-vat
The means of knowledge are powerful in their own respective spheres like the ear etc.,
c. na ca pramaNaM pramaNAntareNa virudhyate
and one means of knowledge does not contradict another
d. pramaNantara vishayameva pramaNataraM jnapayati
The scope of one source of knowledge is not within the scope of other sources of knowledge.
(1V.3.22) sruti virodhe nyayabhasatvopagamAt - any reasoning that contradicts the sruti is a fallacy.
In Taittariyopanishad Bhashya (II.6) Srutis (vedas) are the means to furnish us with the knowledge of spheres of existence beyond our senses.

So, each source of knowledge has its own sphere of knowledge and they can't contradict each other.

Jnana Kanda:
How to identify a "Pramana Vakya" in the Sruti - The test for the pramana vakya
Brihadaranyakopanishad Bhashya (I.4.7):
The test of the authority or otherwise of a passage is not whether it states an fact or an action, but its capacity to generate indubitable and fruitful knowledge. A passage that has this is authoritative and one that lacks it is not.
AND in (I.4.10):
jnapakaM hi sastram na tu karakam iti sthiti
Scripture is revelatory (provide information) and not mandatory (issuing commands)
AND in Taittariyopanishad Bhashya (I.11):
purushardhopadesatvat srutInam
Srutis reveal means to attain the various ends of man.

Limitations of Sabda Pramana:
Brihadaranyakopanishad Bhashya (II.1.20)
na tu sastram bhrutyAniva balAt nivartayati niyojayati vA
but the scripture neither hinder nor direct a person by force.

na ca vacanaM vasunaha samardhya janakam. (I.4.10)
nor scriptural statement impart any power to a thing.

(II.1.20) also states:- Sruti is marely informative, the scriptures seek not to alter the nature of things, but to supply information about things unknown, as they are

So, Vedas are not commands of GOD but they provide means to achieve all the purushardhas namely, Dharma, Ardha, Kama and MOKSHA. - Moksha is the highest purushardha.

Impersonal and Eternal:
In Brahma Sutra Bhashya (I.1.2):
Perception of true nature of reality is not a product of man's intellect. It depends on the nature of the object (in search)
also (I.3.28):
words indicate not units or individuals but the genius. The genius is eternal. i.e., the Vedas state general propositions and not particular events or things.

Importance of Understanding Meaning of Vedas:
In Brihadaranyakopanishad Bhashya (I.3.1)
As in common life (in Scriptural matters also) it is but proper that not an incorrect understanding leads to welfare.
AND in (I.3.8)
Correct comprehension (of the Vedas) leads to well-being, and erroneous notions, as we find, lead to evil.

and finally

THERE CANNOT BE ALTERNATIVES IN TRUTH AS IN RITUALS OR ACTIONS

My conclusion:
gaining the "right knowledge" using the "Sabda Pramana" is the only way to attain the ultimate goal of human form of life and there is no other way out!!!

OM TAT SAT

Note: All the above references picked from the Book "Sri Sankara's Teachings in his own words" by Swami Atamananda.

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