View Full Version : Sabda-Pramana

09 July 2009, 07:12 AM

For acquiring transcendental knowledge, the Vedas (sabda-pramana) is the only effective means. The Vedas inform us about the soul's existence beyond the body, about the planets of the spiritual world, and about the Supreme Lord, His pastimes, and other matters. All these subjects are beyond the reach of our sensory and mental faculties. Without the method of sabda, such philosophers as the Buddhists who do not accept the Vedas cannot justifiably say anything positive about transcendence, let alone the way to attain it. Sabda-pramana is so important that although Vaishnavas count Lord Buddha among the incarnations of the Lord on the strength of Vedic testimony, they reject His philosophy because it was not based on sabda-pramana.

All orthodox schools of philosophy in India, whether monistic or dualistic, consider the Vedas apaurusheya, not written by any mortal being. Many modern scholars, however, dispute the divine origin of the Vedas. . They suggest various dates for the composition of the Vedas, and while most of them agree that the Vedas were composed before 1500 B.C., they disagree about the exact time of their composition. They have yet to arrive at a definitive conclusion.

Here Srila Jiva Gosvami says that the Vedas are beginningless and are the source of various kinds of knowledge coming down through many schools of thought since time immemorial. The phrase sarva-purusha, ``all persons" indicates that the knowledge was passed on not only by human beings but also by superhuman beings, such as the demigods and divine sages. These traditions of thought all originate with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is infallible in all respects and thus completely untainted by the four human defects. Moreover, Srila Jiva Gosvami has already shown (in Text 9) how unreliable are the alternatives to the Vedic authority. If, as he has established, only apaurusheya-sabda can give access to transcendental reality, how could the Vedas then have been written or compiled by human beings? If Jiva Gosvami allowed that human authors composed the Vedas, he would be contradicting his own previous dismissal of human knowledge as imperfect .

Those who contest the apaurusheya origin of the Vedas, claiming that they are human compilations have no proof of their invalidity. They refuse to consider the Veda's own statements about its origin and purpose. They merely assume the Veda's are not authoritative and speculate about its true origin. Their motive is clear, for accepting the Vedic version would put an end to the speculative philosophical tradition; it would oblige them to accept the Vedic description of ultimate reality. On account of being too attached to the speculative or ascending method of knowledge, however, such scholars and philosophers rather insist that the Vedas are of human origin, regardless of their inability to produce any proof of their claim. Indeed the theory of the Vedas having a human composer is a recent development advocated by persons who did not come in disciplic succession. They were mostly outsiders who refused to believe that India had much of importance to offer the world in the realm of philosophy and who had their own motive for minimizing the Vedic traditions-namely, their eagerness to convert India to Christianity. They certainly were not impartial judges of the Vedas' origin.

For lack of any definitive proof of the invalidity or the divine origin of the Vedas, and in light of the many reasonable arguments for the Vedas' divine origin, we should reject the possibility of human authorship.The senses of humans cannot approach an inconceivable object, and thus it is not even theoretically possible that the Vedas could have been composed by human beings.