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Anumana

vsundar_at_technologist.com
Date: Wed Dec 16 1998 - 07:54:39 PST

Sri Sudarshan has tangentially raised two topics, which I feel are very worthy of a longer discussion in this forum.


First, on the relation between the four Vedas and Vedanta :

"The Vedic, more specifically Vedantic, tradition recognizes the following "alternate ways" which one can resort to in one's pursuit or apprehension of "para-brahmi-c" Truth :
...
(4) "yag~nyam"   ---- the Truth attained through the Vedic deed of
sacrifice

Way No. (4) above i.e the path of "yagn~yam" is not generally regarded as a "pramANam" in the strict Vedantic sense."

The 'why' of this fact has been something I have given some thought to. Given the fact that the practice of yagnya is central to the Vedas ( eg. yagnena yagnam ayajanta devaa:/taani dharmaani prathamaanyaasan ), and the Vedas are structured around the cosmic (both micro- and macro-) act of yagnyam, it seems curious that Vedanta takes a diametrically opposite approach, denying the act of sacrifice.

The external act of yagnya is internalized as self knowledge. Karma is almost abandoned in favor of gnyaana. This a fundamental change that indicates that the Vedanta system is literally, the end of the Vedas, the Vedic system and thought pattern.

I would like to learn from all your comments and thoughts on this, from a philosphical viewpoint. The most compelling social/historic argument I have seen in support of this shift would probably be the economics-based argument of D. D. Kosambi in his history.


Second : In regard to empiricism - which is may be a close translation of anumaana : Sri Sudarshan says :

" "Inference" or "anumAna" is, in other words, the vehicle which carries us from "known truths" to "unknown Truth" .... from "mere appearance" to "essential Truth". "

This empiricism, or inference, is however repeatedly indicated as an untrustowrthy method by Vedanta. However, whether it be Sri Shankara's example of mistaking a rope for a snake on a dark night, or Sri Mukkur Swami's example that was related here, the classic example given for the overthrow of empiricism hinges on the possibility of fallacy - or of inference based on incomplete observation. viz : "We cannot always rely on our senses to reveal material truth. How much more unreliable they would be then, to perceive eternal truth ?"

I agree that the more we look at science, the more we seem to see that a "complete observation" is a myth, especially in quantum levels. However, even non-Heisenbergian incomplete observation can take us quite a distance is day-to-day practical science and technology, as we practice it.

My question is : Is it possible to justly accuse this Vedantic denial of empiricism for the decay of technology and scientific progress in historical medieval and pre-medieval India? That this caused a holdover of feudal social patterns well into this century?

Again, I would like to learn from all your comments and thoughts on this, but this time from a different viewpoint.

With my respects,

Sundar

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