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Re: Traditional dates vs scientific dates

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani)
Date: Thu Dec 14 1995 - 15:41:14 PST

On Dec 14,  3:18am, wrote:
> All this goes back to the example of mistaking a rope for a snake
> episodes quoted (I believe from the Chandogya Upanishad) in reference
> to evidence of conclusion based on the external senses.  It is
> accepted unanimously by all schools of Vedanta philosophy (this
> includes Advaita, Visisthadvaita and Dwaita) that evidence based on
> inference of what can be perceived by the bodily senses are prone to
> inaccuracies.

I don't think this is a correct reflection of the Visistadvaita
viewpoint.  As I understand it, there are three pramaaNas, or
sources of knowledge: direct perception, inference through logic,
and the Veda.  Each is completely reliable in its own sphere.
In fact, Visistadvaitins beginning with Ramanuja have emphatically
argued that unless one has an inherent defect in the sense organ,
everything that one perceives is absolutely reliable *within
that frame of reference*.  In other words, we cannot rely on
our eyes to determine things that are suprasensual, such as the
nature of the self, God, or their interrelationship.  At the
same time, sense perception is absolutely valid in determining
the nature of any physical entity.  The scientific method has
very definite validity.

Similarly, we are allowed to use logic and inference to
determine the age of manuscripts, the cause of smoke,
and all sorts of varies and sundry things. However, logic
cannot conclusively tell us anything about the origin of
the universe, because once again, it is operating outside
its frame of reference.

Coming to the dating of the Azhvaars: it is generally accepted
even by devout Sri Vaishnavas that the Azhvaars lived in the
first millenium A.D.  Puttur S. Krishnaswamy Iyengar,
Dr. K.K.A. Venkatachari and others have looked at the data
and have accepted them after careful review.  It goes without
saying that both of these scholars are devout Sri Vaishnavas.
In fact, the introduction to the reprint of the "Holy Lives
of the Azhvars" book by A. Govindacharya clearly states that
the idea of the traditional dates have been abandoned long ago.

The dating of Kali Yuga, etc., are all relatively recent
concoctions.  They have no basis in Sruti and are arbitrary
extrapolations of postulations by ancient seers who wondered
about the age of the world and the progressive lawlessness
they perceived.  Would you similarly literally accept the
stories of Adam and Eve, the dating of the origin of the
world to 4004 B.C., etc., as in the Christian timeline?
I think not.