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From: Venkat Nagarajan (nagarajv_at_pathcom.com)
Date: Sun May 30 1999 - 20:37:02 PDT
Dear Bhagavatas, This posting is motivated by a recent introductory post, in which the author was seeking to equate mutually exclusive items. Some important points to understand in order to avoid asking illogical questions and making irrational statements. I mean no disrespect to anyone; I am merely being candid, so the message is communicated clearly. There is nothing in this world (all that exists within the realm of mind and the senses) that is not based on belief; without belief we would have a purely nihilistic society (i.e., a society that believes that nothing can be communicated via knowledge.) For example, take Mathematics, the ultimate science in the mundane realm, it is based on axioms which are statements of facts taken as truths without proof. (THERE IS SUCH THING AS PURE LOGIC even logic is based on belief; one cannot establish the validity of an argument as valid without accepting the rules of logic as truths.) The preceeding point is pointed out beautifully by the lion of logic and poetry, Sri. Vedanta Desika in his Tattva-muktA-kalApa! Given this fundamental axiom, that is accepted by all, we need to discuss the distinction between terms such as mere faith and conviction, axiom and dogma, and theistic philosophy and pure theology. These are essential to appreciate the beauty of Vis’istAdvaita. 1. Mere faith versus Conviction: A faith in a set of doctrines implies a general acceptance. (General meaning an individual can lack confidence in certain aspects or segments of different doctrines.) A conviction on the other hand implies an unshakable faith, given which an individual accepts the doctrines in their entirety with perfect confidence. That is, there may be questions, which result due to the limitations associated with the individual, but no doubts (which imply a lack of confidence.) 1a) Conviction can be further subdivided as follows: Axiomatic conviction - An individual is denoted as having an axiomatic conviction in a particular set of doctrines if he or she has unshakable faith in the fundamental axioms on which the doctrines are based. The key thing to note is that axioms must have a rational basis. Dogmatic conviction- An individual is denoted as having a dogmatic conviction about a particular set of doctrines if he or she has unshakable faith in the statements or opinions of an individual or group. The key thing to note is that there need not be any rational basis for these opinions upon which the doctrines are based. 2. Theistic Philosophy of Vedanta versus Pure Theology: Theistic Philosophy of Vedanta- A detailed exposition on the nature of reality using the three valid means of acquiring knowledge (PramAnas), in which God plays a key role as sustainer. The exposition is based on a set of axioms (remember these have a rational basis.) Further the theistic philosophy of vedanta is unbounded; one of its fundamental axioms is that Individual souls and matter and the process of creation,dissolution, and Karma are also beginingless and endless. The rationale for the fundamental axiom is as follows: 1. To say that something can be created from nothing contridicts common experience 2. Creation without purpose contradicts the definition of God (i.e., God must be an Omniscient being) 3. Further creation without a purpose also makes god the source of evil. The exposition consists of the following: 1. a detailed listing and explanation of the nature and relationship between all that exists (sentient and non sentient); 2. statement and detailed description of the ultimate goal 3. Statement of means to achieving the goal Pure Theology- An exposition on the nature of reality that is based on dogma of a particular individual or group of people, focussing almost exclusively on God. Pure theology is bounded; one of its fundamental axioms is that individual souls and matter are created by God out of nothing and the process of creation and dissolution is a one time phenomenon (i.e., not eternal.) Note: Theistic Philosophy of Vedanta and pure Theology of western religions are mutually exclusive (i.e., they are not the same.) Adiyen, krishNArpaNam Note: Adiyen is very grateful to Sri. S.M.S. for acting as a catalyst in manifesting this subset of knowledge.