Revision of ‘Review of article on Shankara’ – Part 5

A tarka (reasoning, argumentation) is required for the analysis of anubhava, as both SSS and RB (the author) agree – consistent with Shankara’s position. That is, language and thought, needless to say, have a role to play, chiefly for exposition and analysis.

However, after two long, dense paragraphs RB contends: “If the tarka required to examine anubhava is itself completely dependent on ´sruti, then by no means is anubhava the ‘kingpin’ of pram¯”

Prior to this, SSS was quoted as maintaining that “for this unique tarka all universal anubhavas or experiences (intuitive experiences) themselves are the support.” The author states that this affirmation involves circular argumentation, and that to say that Shankara interprets the Vedas as being consistent with anubhava is wrong, the truth being the other way around, anubhava is consistent with the Vedas: “it should be clear that according to Sure´svar¯ac¯arya, the direct realization is directly from just ´sruti itself, thus satisfying the criteria for it to be a pram¯an.a…. The direct realization of the self is from ´sruti alone.”

‘Sruti alone’…  Unaided? What about a/the particular mind that may (or may not) be ripe so as to capture the full meaning of the sruti? A mind, that is, and the experience of anubhava which, may be said, brings about the transformation of that mind:

“Brahman… is realized only through the scriptures and in Samadhi” – ‘Brahma Sutras’ (Bashya), 2.1.14 (transl. Swami  Vireswarananda; Advaita Ashrama, 1993). The Swami could have written: ‘anubhava’ instead of ‘samadhi’, unless he meant sahaja samadhi. In connexion with this, the author’s saying that interpretation of the Vedas as being consistent with anubhava is wrong, the truth being the opposite, anubhava being consistent with the Vedas, amounts to asking ‘what is the key, the food itself, or the eating of the food’? (food may be there, but one might be prevented from eating it, e.g., by his hands and feet being tied up). The inanity of this kind of argumentation should be evident. As to circularity, it would only be saying, ‘Food is for alimentation; and what is alimentation? The eating of food’.

The Vedas are literature (‘language and thought’), even if enlightened literature. They are mithya. A prepared mind – potentially or actually enlightened or awakened – is required to extract, to see what the import of any part of the sruti is. The other way around, which is what RB maintains as per the quotation made above, could be considered as ‘putting the cart before the horse’, an allegation he himself made against SSS and referred to previously. The argument we are putting forward as a defence of SSS’s stance is a repetition of what was said towards the end of the 4th part of this Review: “It is not a question of challenging the Vedas, or of ‘independent thinking’ but, rather, of taking them as a basis for reflection and inspiration”. In essence mind is intellection (buddhi)-consciousness-atman. Thus consciousness, through buddhi-mind is prior to the Vedas (revelation) – we said, ‘a prepared mind’. In other words, the Vedas may be enlivened by a prepared mind, without which they are just printed paper, or sounds.

At the risk of being tedious, to carp on the same issue, we may ask the following question: Which is the king-pin, the text itself, or the grasping of the text? This last is akhandakara-vritti, which destroys every other vritti and results in direct perception of reality (saksatkara). As to sastra-yonitvat, which is the third aphorism of the Brahmasutras “(Brahman is not known from any other source since) the scriptures alone are the means of Brahman knowledge”, it can be interpreted as ‘Brahman being omniscient because of Its being the source of the scriptures’, as Swami Vireswarananda has indicated in his translation of the sutra (referred to above). Thus, reality, Consciousness is first, whence Its manifestations in all realms.

What was SSS guilty of, one may ask, since, as he wrote in ‘Intuition of Reality’ (p.104), “The highest Truth can be known only by means of suggestion of the S’ruti or an Acharya by making use of one’s own purified mind alone?” Supposedly, RB is not satisfied with such a ‘weak’ acknowledgment of the role of sruti on the part of SSS. On the other hand, he cannot really object to the mention of a ‘purified mind’ (antahkarana suddhi) as a prerequisite – which is not the same thing as ‘the will of the person’, as RB attributes to SSS in this context.