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Re: posts on Vis'istAdvaita: Aside 1: Things to note, to avoid illogical questions and statements

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.