You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : October 1999

Vedic tradition of Revelation---by Dr.NSA

From: padmini ranganathan (
Date: Wed Oct 27 1999 - 11:55:32 PDT

Dear Bhaktas,

This is one of the articles written by Dr.NSA long


The Vedas are declared to expound non-temporal means
leading to the attainment of the supreme Good! "ishta
prApyAnishtaparihArayah aloukikam upAyam yo granthaha
vedayati savedah".

Knowledge that we gain in this world is riddled with
contradictions and the scriptures are free from
self-contradiction and contradiction from the rest of
assured knowledge. The nature of observation and
reason 'pratyaksha' and 'anumAna' is such that they
cannot furnish satisfactory and conclusive answers to
certain fundamental questions. The scriptures play
their role here as they reveal what is not revealed by
perception and inference. This is explained as "the
scripture does not merely reiterate other modes of
thought. If it did so it would be superfluous". If it
were in conflict with the deliverance of perception
and inference, when the later are valid it would be
false. The scriptures are neither reiterative nor in
opposition to the other sources of knowledge.

This is the characteristic feature of the scripture.
If there is a conflict between scripture and reason or
scripture and perception then the scripture is not
always to be preferred "shrutopapattaye-pianupapannam
viruddham na kalpaneeyam".

Its role as the revelation of the supreme:

The Vedas are impersonal and eternal. The ancient
seers intuited them, no doubt. But the seers intuited
pre-existent truths. The knowledge that they acquired
was there eternally and the seers rediscovered this
ancient treasure. 
The definition of a 'rishi' is "The rishi is a seer.
They are rishis because they had immediate perception
of the truth". This eternity is attributed not only to
the knowledge but also to the 'actual words' and the
'order of words' consisting Vedic composition.

The grammarians are of the opinion that the knowledge
is eternal whereas the order of words is not eternal.

Omniscience is there at the heart of existence and so
the knowledge of reality is there from all eternity.
The linguistic vehicle is also taken, as this
ever-existent knowledge must have an ideal mode of
expression under the guidance of that supreme. In case
of ordinary people like us there will be fluctuation
in self-expression. This does not happen in the case
of the scriptures. Vedas therefore constitute eternal
knowledge as embodied in an eternal form. Thus the
form and the thought of the Vedas are co-terminus with
the supreme reality that they reveal.

There is an unbroken continuity of Vedic tradition and
there is no memory of or reference to its author or
authors. The speech of the scripture is primeval and
original whereas ordinary discourse is derivative and

The scriptures have this non-temporal character in
both its form and substance. The school of vedAntha
does not take the scripture as springing from God
whereas the school of nyAya takes the scripture as
originating from God. This is possible for the nyAya
school as they claim to 'establish the existence of
God on speculative grounds'. On the other hand schools
of vedAntha base their idea of the supreme on the
Vedas. VedAnthins cannot admit that Vedas are
revelations from God because there would be a logical

'God exists because that is the verdict of the
scriptures. Scriptures are to be admitted because they
form revelations from God'.

So it is important to insist that the validity of the
Vedas rest on it's impersonality or eternity from the
theory of 'swatah pramANAya' (not requiring any
proofs). This assures their freedom from the defects
from human composition. When we consider the
inadequacy of empirical thought and when we consider
that it is unreasonable to reject knowledge that
transcends empirical knowledge and is free from
contradiction, their validity is supported.

To the mImAmsaka who is a realist but an atheist the
Veda has an impersonal and non-originated existence.
But this supreme knowledge expressed in the supreme
form can be spoken of as ever existing properly in a
theistic school. To the mImAmsaka the Veda teaches
what is 'kArya' or something to be done or
accomplished. This is not action. It is duty or
obligation commanding performance. To mImAmsakas the
upanishads are of little significance. For these
thinkers Veda is a source of knowledge about 'what
ought to be done' and not about 'what is', so they do
not take the Veda as a source of positive knowledge
about reality. This viewpoint is critically examined
by the vedAnthins and the decision that the Veda can
reveal or inform about reality is arrived at.

The Veda conveys knowledge transcending empirical
knowledge and is free from inconsistencies of all
kinds. The earlier part reaches modes of worship
whereas the latter part embodies knowledge about the

Sruthi or Revelation is strictly applicable to the
Vedic lore and it is said that it is ever in such pure
form. The lore that substantiates and adumbrates this
is called Smriti and forms the personal expressions of
those who realized these truths.

In effect all spiritual apprehension is a revelation
or communication. Divine knowledge reveals itself to
the chosen one. The idea of 'antharvANi' (inner voice)
or 'bhagavadvANi' signifies this:
'yO antah pravishya mama vAchAmimAm prasuptAm

As Yaska says: The truth that is realized by one
becomes revelation in a secondary sense to posterity.

"The import of the Vedas is to be understood in this
proper way. There is a wealth of symbols here and a
secret wisdom is enshrined behind these symbols and
that is to be searched and known. The one non-second
cosmic principle is posited through all the wealth of

It is wholly devoted to the intuiting of the supreme
and it becomes a sealed book if we search for grammar,
history, and description of nature or poetry in it.
The 'AdhyAtmArtha' is the supreme and it is to be
known by a constant and devoted effort. The Veda
itself says, "what is the use of Rks? If one has not
known their meaning".  



Do You Yahoo!?
Bid and sell for free at