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Thread: Scripture is final authority,We cannot act as we please.

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    Scripture is final authority,We cannot act as we please.

    Namaste,

    In discussions we encounter different opinions on issues,how to do we decide what is right and what is not?I came across this short discourse today,Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Bharati Tirtha MahaSwami of Sringeri Peetam explains that we should adhere to what is told in the scriptures.

    I feel that it is always better to rely on the wisdom of the Rishis as told in our scriptures.I hope this Anugraha Bhashanam of Jagadacharya MahaSwamiji will guide those who have complete faith in Dharma and deep respect for the scriptures.


    Translation of the talk given at Chennai during the recent Vijaya Yatra:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO-D8rRFfYY

    In His Anugraha Bhashanam, the Jagadguru said that Shastras talk about “Vidhi” and “Nishedha”. “Vidhi” refers to that which needs to be done. “Nishedham” refers to that which something that should not be done. What needs to be done and what should not be done is decided only by the Shastras. We cannot act as we please. The Lord says the same point in the Bhagavad Gita – तस्माच्छास्त्रं प्रमाणं ते कार्याकार्यव्यवस्थितौ The Shastras are the authority for determining, what needs to be done and what has to avoided. When we mention the term “Shastras”, we only refer to the Vedas. The word “Shastram” is derived from the verse – “शास्ति इति शास्त्रम्”. Only the Vedas can assertively say what needs to be done. It is very difficult to question what is mentioned in the Vedas. The Dharma Shastras mention that Vedas are the supreme authority on Dharma in the verse – वेदोऽखिलो धर्ममूलम्. Dharma refers to something that brings us good and Vedas list down the things that bring us good and the things that we are not expected to do. We should adhere to what is mentioned in the Shastras.

    The philosophers of yore have all stated – यच्छब्द आह, तदस्माकं प्रमाणम् – “Shabda” here refers to the Vedas. What the Vedas state is the authority for us. The Vedas give two instructions that apply to everyone: सत्यं वद, धर्मं चर Speak The Truth, Practice Dharma. Although these two rules look very simple, if we follow these rules religiously, welfare results not only in this birth but also in all future births. These two rules are something that all of us in the world should follow.
    He dances in the golden hall of Chidambaram, Let us worship His rosy anklet girt Feet.

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    Re: Scripture is final authority,We cannot act as we please.

    Vannakkam Ramji:

    I agree with this in general, but I feel there are a couple of notable exceptions.

    1) When the scriptures give conflicting advice ... in this case I think we have to go further ... either to a teacher in our own lineage, or to our own intuition, and then decide which scriptural of the ones in conflict we want to adhere to.

    2) When scripture says nothing at all about the problem we are having ... We live in a modern era, and just as an example, our scriptures say nothing at all about computers, use of the internet, how much TV to watch ... again, I feel we have to go to elders, to Gurus, or deep within our own intuition to find answers.

    I also feel that if a soul has lived dharmically for a long time, and has discovered that their own intuitive sense (conscience) generally agrees with scripture, then it's most likely okay to rely directly on conscience. This method is only a slippery slope if the person already has a pattern of adharmic behaviour by finding excuses etc.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: Scripture is final authority,We cannot act as we please.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eastern Mind View Post
    Vannakkam Ramji:

    I agree with this in general, but I feel there are a couple of notable exceptions.

    1) When the scriptures give conflicting advice ... in this case I think we have to go further ...
    Namaste EM Ji,

    This issue was raised some millennia ago,what do if there are contradicting statements?The Sages answered that if there are two statements that appear as contradicting with each other in the Vedas then both are acceptable.Why does it appear that there is a contradiction?I remember reading about this in Sri Adi Shankaracharya's works.He said,"For example,if the Veda said "Fire is cool",this statement appears strange to a common man,so he says,"Fire is hot and saying that its cool is a false statement".But Srimad Acharya said that the wise know that the Veda is not trying to contradict the heat producing nature of ordinary fire but instead it is expressing some other hidden/different concept.

    You will encounter similar exceptional verses in the Tirumantiram and they become clear when we know the underlying mystical meaning and thus the supposed contradiction is resolved.

    or to our own intuition, and then decide which scriptural of the ones in conflict we want to adhere to.
    We are not atheists,we have accepted the scriptures as source of wisdom,therefore we should not rely on our own intuition but we should benefit by taking guidance from the scriptures.

    either to a teacher in our own lineage

    The Guru simply follows the the lineage,the lineage is nothing but set of traditions that are being practiced since ancient times.So any Guru has to observe what is being observed by the lineage from the starting.No scope for deviation.And when there are two statements,obviously we follow that one which is being followed by the lineage.


    2) When scripture says nothing at all about the problem we are having ... We live in a modern era, and just as an example, our scriptures say nothing at all about computers, use of the internet, how much TV to watch ... again, I feel we have to go to elders, to Gurus, or deep within our own intuition to find answers.
    The scriptures give broad guidelines and deeper guidelines,for example a Grihasta,a Sanyasi and a Kshatriya are given different advices in the scriptures.The regulations for a Sanyasin are quite different from that meant for householders,similarly,the rules imposed on a Brahmana are different than duties of a Vaishya.When one knows in which position he/she is,these questions are answered.A Sanyasin may use a TV for seeing Dharma lectures but not for other things.His life is more regulated as he is expected to spend time in pursuit of Moksha whereas a farmer is not expected to spend the whole day on religious activities.

    There are certain things which must be done daily,for example, a Brahmana has to attend daily to the sacrificial fires and do certain types of everyday Sadhanas at specific times and once he has successfully completed the daily stipulated religious activities,he/she may invest time in other pursuits.The scriptures encourage simple lifestyle,I don't think they want us to surround ourselves with counterproductive objects/activities.

    I think this might have been discussed somewhere in the scriptures about how much time to spend on miscellaneous stuff.Alternatively,as you said we can take advice of learned Guru,elders or make wise choices without going against the scriptures.


    I also feel that if a soul has lived dharmically for a long time, and has discovered that their own intuitive sense (conscience) generally agrees with scripture, then it's most likely okay to rely directly on conscience. This method is only a slippery slope if the person already has a pattern of adharmic behaviour by finding excuses etc.
    Extremely rare scenarios may demand that a person should rely directly on conscience.Yet,it is always better to rely on scriptures.Even then one must not do anything thing that the learned ones would point out as wrong action.

    The Sringeri Shankaracharya narrated some incidents in his discourses.He said that some people approached him and said that in modern period it is not easy to practice Dharma and requested him to write a new Dharma Samhita for 21st century.The Acharya said that Sri Adi Shankara did not install Chaturaamnaaya Peetas(four institutions in four directions) to create new Dharmas for every century but to guide & encourage people to follow the scriptures as they were.He said that not only now but even in the past people came to previous Shankaracharyas and asked them to change things but the Acharyas refused and they told people to follow as much Dharma as they can without making mistakes.

    He said to those who asked for new Dharmic codes that,"If you give excuses saying that we are not able to practise this existing Dharma then how can you say that you will follow a new Dharma Samhita which you expect me to write?One can fool others but one cannot cheat oneself,those who are sincere and have faith in the wisdom of the ancient Rishis will never stray away from the Vedic path" .

    Sri Jagadguru MahaSwami also repeated that Dharma is already well defined,it doesn't vary with time.

    Thanks.

    P.S.The Sringeri Sri Shankaracharya gives discourses in Sanskrit,Kannada,Tamil,Telugu and Hindi.There are many excellent Anugraha Bhashanams of the Jagadguru online in English & videos in youtube in the above 5 languages.
    Last edited by Ram11; 19 July 2015 at 12:52 PM.
    He dances in the golden hall of Chidambaram, Let us worship His rosy anklet girt Feet.

  4. #4

    Re: Scripture is final authority,We cannot act as we please.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eastern Mind View Post
    I also feel that if a soul has lived dharmically for a long time, and has discovered that their own intuitive sense (conscience) generally agrees with scripture, then it's most likely okay to rely directly on conscience. This method is only a slippery slope if the person already has a pattern of adharmic behaviour by finding excuses etc.
    Namaste EM ji,


    I second your observation. For the first 2 or so decades after getting initiated in a particular lineage, a person should stick to following elders, teachers, and scriptures. By then, the person usually has had enough knowledge and experience to start relying on his/her conscience. However, the transition from scriptures to conscience should be slow and steady.


    Pranaam.
    What is the one thing that no beings can do, except humans? Answer: Arts!

  5. #5

    Re: Scripture is final authority,We cannot act as we please.

    Namaste,

    Personally I think we need as much Shastric and Scriptural knowledge and help as possible, but to get the full benefit one needs to accept that these are in fact revealed truths from self realized people who are guiding the conditioned soul out of the cycle of samsara and bringing one back to our original constitutional position. If that is lacking then there maybe some conflict and doubt arising from said scriptures and teachings.

    Shastra and revealed scriptures offer us the immense benefit of telling us what needs to be known when we are in unrealized states, in some sense it does a lot of the work for us and leads us to inspiration and giving something deeper and not yet known to contemplate and consider, Shastra always widens our paradigm and scope to further limits until one day we reach that unlimited infinite stage of atma tattva.

    In this modern age we need Shastra and guidance of whats included inside more than ever and there are many reasons for this, the most basic one is that in this modern age we are stuck in positions of deeper ignorance, the fertile land of spiritual development is being destroyed by modern materialism, so true introspect, spiritual intuition is generally on the decline, now people seem to feel some release from stress, a moment of awakening and consider there are already there. This in itself is a complete lack of understanding what the real meaning of Shastra is pointing, which is nothing other than complete freedom of conditions that arise in the individual.

    Now is Shastra pointing to more academic and intellectual study, no, and if one thinks that and see's shastra like that then they do not know what Shastra is actually representing. Gita 10.11 is my reference for this point.

    There are also guidelines within Shastra that lead one to not just book knowledge and memory, like we need to accept according to Shastra 3 fundamental areas of verification, Guru, Sadhu and Shastra, so Shastra itself both gives pointers to scriptural knowledge imparted by Guru and Sadhu and they should all be in alignment, if we are not in alignment then further understanding needs to be made, and this understanding comes via Sadhana and the purification of the mind, intellect and senses which is a Shastric injunction and again more Shastic scriptural study and contemplation is needed.



    Many eons ago when Veda ( pure knowledge ) was imparted between Guru and Shiksha it was oral, people had that capacity to absorb the teachings directly into the heart at that very moment, but due to the ongoing nature of time that ability of has declined, so now we need constant reminders on a daily basis. Its so easy to get stuck in a rut thinking we are already there and fail to push the limits to the unlimited due to complacency, spiritual pride , self delusion and laziness. So the Sadhus, Acharayas and Self realized saints have put pen to paper and organized the teachings in written form, if we have that faith that Shastra is non different from the transcendental mind of these sages then we should understand the importance of why they did this and reap the benefits of the transcendental mind that is ever inviting the fallen souls to reestablish its constitution position.

    Once one has accepted with faith and some realization that Shastra is infallible and sabda brahma that springs directly from the transcendental platform not influenced or polluted by the gunas then we start to see the fundamental importance of what Shastra represents, and only devotees and Sadhakas can fully appreciate this.

    Myself I have always been a traditionalist when it comes to what I read not matter what tradition I may wish to study I will always try to find out who is the main authority in that tradition and a respected teacher and said Acharya , saint or self realized soul, and I am yet to find a teaching from this standard that lacks anything profound, and it has had immense benefit in one way or another. I mean the wealth of the written word which is available to us today is just astonishing and all the hard work done by the sages of the past is for a very important reason and should never be discarded but embraced more deeply and the rewards will speak for itself. If anyone thinks this is just theory obviously doesn't understand what Shastra is about, it has a direct and convincing impact through realization and experience.
    Last edited by markandeya 108 dasa; 20 July 2015 at 04:21 AM.

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    Re: Scripture is final authority,We cannot act as we please.

    Namaste Markandeya Dasaji,

    You have explained the importance of Shastra very nicely.Materialism can become an impediment to progress.Faith in scriptures is like foundation for a building.
    Thanks a lot this inspiring post.
    He dances in the golden hall of Chidambaram, Let us worship His rosy anklet girt Feet.

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    Re: Scripture is final authority,We cannot act as we please.

    Namaste,

    Shastras should be followed to the fullest extent. They provide the framework for our moral and spiritual code.

    In many, many traditions, the devotees refer to their guru as THE 'Jagadguru'. And every 'Jagadguru' has his own interpretation of certain aspects of the scriptures. So, we get the translations or edicts based on the slant that various gurus put on the scriptural text. It is all and well for the devotee of a certain guru, but that may not be palatable to the devotee of another guru. So, please leave some room for others to follow what their guru teaches them instead of beating the drum of 'your guru' all the time.

    Second thing, the scriptures define the moral and spiritual code. They don't tell you which brand of toilet paper to use. So, back off on what others may want to use their common sense on. This holier than thou attitude goes only so far before it becomes annoying and people start to tune you out.

    Thirdly, an average householder has to balance spiritual activity with the needs of the family and finding the means to fulfill those needs. We all have different aptitudes that navigate us through life for making a living. If a person is gifted with a sense of aerodynamics and can design better planes; let him spend more time on that activity than making him feel guilty about neglecting spiritual advancement. He may have his own calling in life as decided by the Divine. A certain guru used to say that if material things that you work on are used in seva of God, only then it is okay to work on that material development. Would someone be designing new planes ONLY for the travel of this guru, so that he can spread his word? Would general aviation come to a standstill because it is used for commercial purposes? Some common sense has to be used on many issues.

    Many people have passed through this forum before, who preached the concept of 'scriptures only'. It is nothing new. We all know that. So no need to hammer it in one more time. Whereas I fully agree with this concept for moral and spiritual activity, common sense should not be shut down for mundane things. Our thinking abilities are a gift from the Divine to make judgments on simple things. Now, if you would excuse me, I have to go and buy my favorite brand of toilet paper.

    Pranam.
    Last edited by Believer; 20 July 2015 at 02:25 PM.

  8. #8

    Re: Scripture is final authority,We cannot act as we please.

    Namaste,

    This is the thread for scriptures right

    I want to emphasis a point that original shastra's what ever tradition one follows have not come via any cheap method and have usually been put through rigorous testing again and again until a classic is known as a classic, the Rishis themselves devoted and sacrificed and went through extreme hardships to discover this profound knowledge which is now at our disposal.

    I know nobody here has any ill feeling or negativity about Shastra, usually its traditions that can sometimes divide, but most the classic traditions are well defined within their own models, and each one according to tradition has to have an authorized commentary on Vedanta Sutra. So nothing at any point within the history of eastern religions has ever been taken cheaply, not at the most crucial and highest level anyway.

    Now in modern days everything is taken so cheaply, Fred Jones goes to Rishikesha, stands on his head for 10 minutes a day for 2 weeks, chants OM in a group and goes back home writes books about how he was enlightened opens a website, does a few youtube videos and sets up some seminars and charges $200 for retreats.

    Sadly this is the way that things are going, not just in the west but globally and India is not exempt.

    So to summarize my point, what ever tradition one is in and follows, it has to be done by following the Authority of the Shastra and that has to be final word and that has to be kept and held as sacred to uphold the traditions so they don't all get watered down and finally fade into the conclusion that these are just ancient obsolete teachings by primitives and some how out of date.

    I went to my local bookstore a few months ago and checked out the Hindu section, not one India Author.......This is the biggest book store in the UK.

    I hope I don't sound fundamental but I think its imperative that the classics are still studied, the previous Acharyas works are kept with devotion and veneration to keep the purity and all the hard work which has been done and have been passed on for our benefit. And what ever situation we are at in life we do our best to uphold and preserve these amazing teachings and classics and keep them as sacred treasures, because the flip side of the coin is nothing but dribble.
    Last edited by Eastern Mind; 20 July 2015 at 04:58 PM.

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    Re: Scripture is final authority,We cannot act as we please.

    Dear All,

    This question props in every follower's mind in the spritual journey. Members have shared their valuable advises. I wish to emphasis on one simple yet important point.
    We live in a ever challenging ever changing concrete jungle. We are blessed with this body to attain Moksha(liberation from this birth cycle). There exist a difference between original rules and the rules that can be followed. I won't question the authority of the original rules but what if it is too difficult to put in practise.
    How many of us haven't lied at all?
    How many of us has not seen their respective opposite sex with lust even for one second?
    Are we going to be harsh on ourselves because we couldnt OR we use this body for the purpose ie to unite us with our creator. Our journey has unknown number of steps. Each has its own set of challenges.
    For the sake of argument we will say scriptures are final, but to accommodate deviations as well as shot comings and to continue the journey is the wisemen's way.

    In simple terms I Wish to say without questioning the scriptures accept the reality and evolve every moment.
    Anirudh...

  10. #10

    Re: Scripture is final authority,We cannot act as we please.

    Namaste,

    We are but humans, the problem is that humans think they have the right for censorship and editing to fit in the shastras what they feel can fit into their justification and interpretation of what should be said, when Vedas and associated literature are discovery's apaurusheyatva.
    Last edited by Eastern Mind; 22 July 2015 at 06:36 AM.

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