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RE: apaurusheya

From: Rajagapalan, Murli, NCSIO (murli_at_att.com)
Date: Wed May 13 1998 - 16:35:55 PDT

Swami Dileepan and all other esteemed BhAgawatAs,

|| Srimate VedAnta RAmAnuja mahAdesikAya namah ||

Please accept my praNamams.  Several interesting questions have been posted
as follow-ups to an article I wrote in the "Religious experiences of others"
thread.  Several excellent answers have already been posted to those
questions.  This is my humble attempt at answering the questions.  I have to
admit, though, that there are within this group far more knowledgeable
members who would be able to address the questions at hand in far more
eloquent ways and with far greater sAstraic precision than I possibly can.
Kindly view this attempt as that from a person who is learning rather than
teaching.

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	Q. 1.  Are the Vedas Apaureshaya?  From what is presented here it
seems that the claim to non-authorship of Vedas is based on the fact that
the Vedas do not say that they are authored.  All they say is that the Vedas
were taught by the Lord to Brahma at the beginning of creation.   But, do
they say they were not authored?  If not, what we have, at best, is unknown
authorship, not no-authorship.  In this situation, since our Lord was there
without a second, and He taught the Vedas to Brahmma, it seems reasonable to
assume the Lord to be author and unreasonable to assume no-authorship.

Answer:
Yes, Vedas are apaurusheya.  Consider the following two prAmANic statements,
one within the body of the Vedas and one outside it.

  a.  The SvestAsvatara Upanishad says:
      || yo brahmANam vidadhAti poorvam yovai vedAnsca prahiNoti tasmai ||
      which roughly means:  "He, who created Brahma in the past, and who
gifted him with the Vedas ..."
      This clearly implies that the ParamAtma gifted to Chaturmukha Brahma
the Vedas which already existed.  Hence a positive proof of the
non-authorship of the Vedas.

  b.  Sri Krishna says in 15.15 of the Bhagawad Geeta:
      vedaisca sarvaih aham eva vedyo |
      vedAntakrt vedavit eva ca aham ||

      which roughly translates to:
      "All the Vedas speak about me and I am the ONLY (eva) one who knows
all the Vedas."  (Note: In the above statement, vedAntakrt does NOT mean
creator of vedAnta, rather it means the giver of the fruits of the Vedas
i.e. moksha.  (Veda + antakrt).)  In this context, not only does Krishna
quote the Veda as an independent testimony to His supremacy and glory, but
also says that He alone knows all the Vedas.  It can be easily implied that
at best he could have been its author.  But then again, Krishna could easily
have mentioned that he created the Vedas, since he has anyway taken the
pains to tell Arjuna (and the whole world) that he knows all of the Vedas.
So, an implied proof of the non-authorship of the Vedas.

Now, consider the ChAndogya Upanishad statement
     sadeva soma idam-agra aaseet ekameva adviteeyam ||  ...
     which confirms that only "sat" existed in the beginning, alone and
without a second.  From this it might possibly be inferred that not even the
sruthis existed in the beginning.  This in turn might imply sruthi's
personal origin.  We should not just stop at this;  rather, go the whole
nine yards and ask:  What about Nitya Vibhuti (Paramapadam) and Nitya SUris?
The prefixes "Nitya" (or eternal) would have no meaning then.  The same
scriptures talk about an eternal halcyon heaven, and eternal angels who
serve that Supreme.  SwAmi Desikan resolves this matter by pointing out that
the "idam" (=this) refers to the prakrti and prakrti-related creation.  This
is confirmed in other upanishadic passages as well.  Since only prakrti is
under consideration, the Nityas, Paramapada and the Sruthis do not fall into
this realm.

In conclusion, there is proof (both internal and external) that Veda is an
independent pramANa of the Brahman, and that it is apaurusheya, and seeming
contradictions to this theory can be easily resolved.  It is not that its
authorship is undeterminable, but that its authorship is non-existent.

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	Q. 2. Why is apaurusheyam important? It is said that Apaurusheya
gives us an independent affirmation of our Lord's supremacy.  But why do we
need independent affirmation?  Can we not believe our Lord?  After all, we
have only His word for what the Vedas say.  That is, we do not have any
independent confirmation for what the Vedas are supposed to say. If we are
to doubt His own words about His supremacy, we can also doubt His version of
the Vedas.

Answer.
I am not sure of the original source of the following conversation, but this
is apparently Sage BhattArya's symbolic depiction of God's unquenchable love
towards the jeevAtma (I found this in the Holy Life of the AzhwArs and the
DrAvida Saints by AlkoNdavalli GovindAcharya).  Seems very topical.  (Note
in the dialogue God first quoting the Vedas as a pramANa for his claims.
Only later does He refer to his own words (Geeta).)

	God:  tvam mE ||
                     -- Thou art mine.
            Soul:  aham mE ||
                     -- Nay, I am mine.
            God:  kutah tat ||
                     -- How is that?
            Soul:  tat api kutah ||
                     -- But, how is that (what Thou says)?
            God:  idam vedamoolapramANAt ||
                     -- This is proved in the Veda.
            Soul: etat ca anAdi siddhAdanubhavavibhAti ||
                     -- That I am mine is proved by my own timeless
enjoyment of myself.
            God:  tarhi saakrosha eva ||
                     -- There is an objection to that.
            Soul: kvaakrosha kasya ||
                     -- Who objected and where is it?
            God:  geetAdishu mama viditah ||
                     -- I have said it in the Geeta.
            Soul:  kOtra saakshi ||
                     -- Any witnesses?
            God:  sudheessyAt, hanta ||
                     -- Most certainly!!! the wise men.
            Soul:  tvat pakshapAtee sa ||
                     -- But they are on Thine side.
            God:  iti nrkalahe mrgyamadhyasthavattvam ||
                     -- O suspecting soul ! Let me swear: Thou art mine.

Fabricated as this conversation may seem, it essentially is true in
character of what the Parabrahman might speak if a soul did engage in this
kind of one-on-one debate with Him.  I would view myself as someone as much
doubting in these divine claims as the "Soul" in the above conversation, if
not more.  So, for me, who is determined not to take anybody's word for what
it means, neither the apaurusheyatvam stamp nor God's own words can make any
impression.  Now, there are better evolved species than myself, who might
actually want a "second opinion," and are likely to believe an independent
testimony of God's existence and Lordship.  There, independent testimony has
served its purpose.  For a person more advanced in his relationship with
God, all these matters mean precious little, for he knows fully well the
very truth of God's existence and his relationship with Him.  For such a
person, j~nana has turned into bhakti.  All he yearns for is communion with
the Infinite.

There is a lot of truth to what SwAmi Dileepan has said, and all that can be
resolved from all this is that faith plays a very important role in our
journey towards God realization.  But the apaurusheyatva card is a very
important one, since the Infinite cannot be perceived by our senses nor can
He be inferred.  So, where do we start our search for the Infinite?  The
only way is through the sAstras (sAstra yonitvAt as the Vedanta Sutras say).
And, since we have accepted that the Brahman is beyond sensual perception
and reason, how can we trust anybody's word, whose senses or reason (we
might suspect) is the means for their testimony?  The only option left is a
pramANa that is not the work of a creator.

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	Q. 3. Is Apaurusheyam necessary for freedom from defects? It is also
said that Apaureshayam guarantees freedom from defects.  But if our Lord
made the Vedas that also can guarantee freedom from defects, is it not.
Then, it seems Apauresheyam is not necessary for a text to be free of
defects.  Thus Apauresheyam by itself cannot give superior status for our
Vedas in comaprison to other texts.

Answer:
No, apaurusheyatvam is not necessary for a pramANa to be defect-free.  Here
is the equation:

                 apaurusheya  ==>(implies) defect-free testimony.

This does NOT reduce to:
                 not apaurusheya (= paurusheya) ==>(implies) defective
testimony.

Rather, it only means that
                 defective testimony ==> (implies) paurusheya origin.

So we conclude that a paurusheya text is not necessarily defective.  Infact,
the true import of the cryptic and at times allegorical statements of the
upanishads is understood far more easily through the smritis, purANas and
the itihAsas.  Only through the blessed instructions of a spiritual
preceptor (AchArya) will we be able to comprehend these vedic imports.  And,
this AchArya should be one among an unadulterated and unbroken lineage of
preceptors, the first of which is Sriman NArAyaNa himself, because only then
can we be assured of the unadulterated content of the knowledge.

The sruthi is not superior because of its apaurusheya status, rather it is
unique in its assurance of its defect-free character.  It gives us a
baseline for measuring somebody's testimony.  And once the validity of that
testimony is established, it has attained the same status of authority as
the sruthi itself.

Hope, this clarifies.  I would request our extremely knowledgeable
readership to view the above writing critically, but forgive me for errors.

|| Sarvam Sri KrishNarpaNamastu ||
|| SarvAparAdhAn kshamasva ||

-- Adiyen Murali KadAmbi