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Musings on "sitA's agni-pravEsam" #20

From: sudarshan (
Date: Fri Jan 01 1999 - 06:09:50 PST

Dear members and friends who are following this thread,

In the last post, through narration of the dramatic scenes leading to the
"agni-pravEsam", we came to appreciate how even the instrumentality of the
"veda-sabda-pramANa" fails us in the revelation of Truth ....just as the
"vAkya-vAriNa" of HanumAn as conveyed to Lord Rama in the "sundara-kAnda" even that hallowed Vedic "pramANa" failed to reveal the stainless
Truth of Sita to the "lesser mortals" gathered there in Kishkinda.

It must not be forgotten that the same majority of "lesser mortals" in the
"vAnarA-s", "rAkshasA-s" and ordinary humans untutored and inept in Vedic
practice or wisdom... it was much the same motley crowd too which in
substantial numbers filled the assembly that witnessed the famous encounter
between Rama and Sita in the "yuddha-kAnda".

It was the same undiscerning assembly for whom "pratyaksham", "anumAnam"
and "sabda-pramANam" had all failed to reveal the Truth.... it was for the
edificatory benefit of the same assembly that the whole drama of the
"agni-pravEsam" was enacted by Lord Rama and Sita.....

We shall come to that particular matter in later posts.... but in this
present one (and perhaps the next one too) let's first briefly turn out
attention to a rather philosophical matter viz. the nature and uses of
"sabda-pramANa". I would actually skip altogether this brief diversion into
"heavy stuff" if I was not otherwise convinced that it is wholly necessary
for obtaining a proper appreciation of the underlying Vedic import of the
"agni-pravEsam" episode.

**********            ************          ****************

If you reflect deeply about the matter you will have no trouble in
accepting that all our knowledge of what we "truly know" has actually been
secured for us, as we have already explained, principally through 

(a) the instruments of our senses -- "pratyaksha-pramANam"
(b) the instrument of our mind/intellect complex -- "anumAnam"

In the special branch of Vedic inquiry known as "meemAmsa" there are also
other instruments of "pramANa" known variously as 

(c)"upamAna" --- knowledge of things or truths hitherto unknown gained
through a "process of comparison" with things known 

(d) "arthApatti" -- inference of an hitherto unknown truth gained through
knowledge of its "exact opposite or contradiction" 

(e) "anupalaBDhi"-- knowledge gained of things in their state of "absence
or non-existence"

It is really not relevant for the purpose of our present discussions to
examine the above in any more frightening detail than to know that all of
them are really only finely-honed instruments of logical/intellectual
inquiry that help us travel the arduous route from the "Darkness of
Unknowing" ("agnyAnam")... which is our spiritual nativity ... to "the
Light of the Real" ("mOksham") which is our ultimate destiny. They are the
journey's "pathways" and through which indeed we can and  do understand the
World around us in its state of physical as well as ideological existence.

When we know we have reached such intuitive "understanding" within our
being, it is then we exclaim to ourselves,"Ah, I have seen the truth!" or
"I know this to be the truth!" or "This is really the truth about this or

Now in addition to the 5 'pramANa-s" above there is a sixth one called 

(f) "sabda-pramANa" --- the "word" and "sound" of the Vedas

Now what is the use of this instrument ? What does it achieve for us that
the other 5 cannot?

Now, if you recall we saw how the Rg veda hymn, the "purusha-suktam", cried
aloud: "vEdahamEtam purusham mahAntam, aaditya-varnam tamasas

What the above hymn tells us essentially is that beyond the 'truths' of the
"known world" there is a yet Higher Order of Truth called the "purushA"....
the eternal Principle of All things!

This "purushA" is an Order of Truth that cannot be apprehended in "physical
or ideological" terms. It is Truth which cannot be known by employing the
instruments of "pratyaksha", "anumAna", "upamAna", "arthApatti" or
"anupalaBDhi". It is an Order of Truth existing beyond the frontiers upto
which our senses, our intellects or our minds can travel..... The hymn
makes a wry, metaphorical comment in this regard when it says "athyaThishTa
dashAngulam...." i.e. "this Truth, this "purushA" lies at least 10 feet
beyond wherever, whatever limits of knowledge that the other 5 brave
"pramANa-s" or intrumental bases of knowledge can take you!". 

To know this Order of Truth, this "purushA", there is only one "pramANa",
it is thus said, which we can profitably employ and that is : the Vedas
themselves.... their "sabda" (sound) and their "vAkya" (the character of

We will continue this little "philosophical diversion" in the next post
after which we will move to the culminatory portions of our discussion on
Sita's "agni-pravEsam".

adiyEn dAsAnu-dAsan