From Encyclopedia of Pushtimarga
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Means of knowing the Ultimate Truth (Brahman) as per Vallabha system

Vedas - The Supreme Authority or Pramana in knowing the Brahman

Vallabha and his followers had an ardent faith in the absolute supremacy of the Vedas and their unsublated validity in knowing "Brahman". Of all the pramanas, they alone are capable of revealing the nature and truth of transcendental existents and transcendental principles lying beyond the grasp and approach of such mundane and experiential means of cognition as perception and inference whose deliveries in these matters are usually sublatable. The main argument that demonstrates the validity par-excellence of the Vedas, according to Vallabha, is the eternality of their relation with objects of their revelation and the truth that their instructions are never subject to contradiction at any point of time and space. The reason why Vedas are invested with such characteristics and are self-valid is the fact that they are creations and revelations of the Personal Omniscient God. Vallabha's system of Vedanta does not deny the Impersonal character or are both apauruseya (Impersonal) and pauruseya (Personal) of the Vedas but it is equally pauruseya. Those who imagine that 'personality' is an obstruction and negation of the eternality and the unimpeded validity of the Vedas are under a serious misunderstanding of the real intention and the import of these two words (i.e. pauruseya and apauruseya). By the term 'apauruseya' is simply meant that the Vedas are not created by any human agency; it does not imply within its connotation the denial of Divine Agency as well. Similarly, the concept of "pauruseyatva' does not entail that the creations of a Personal Being are necessarily destructible and non-eternal so as to interfere ultimately with the eternal validity of the Vedas. As mentioned in Sruti - the Vedas are the very breath of the Ultimate Truth or Brahman; Vedas are thus caused and created, in the sense of manifestation (avirbhava) by Brahman, the Personal Brahman, who is free from every possibility of defect and error and is the supreme authority(apta). Thus, the Vedas are thus in Vallabhite philosophy, neither pauruseya (not created by any being) nor apauruseya (as Veda is the form of Brahman which is eternal). Vedas are the guna-rupa of Brahman and thus just like Brahman, Vedas are also eternal. Vedas are self-illuminating and can only partially manifest in the minds of sattvika beings (i.e. Rishis) in the state of samadhi.

Linguistic philosophy of Vedic Word

The above discussion about the nature of Vedas and their infallible validity leads us to the next important problem, the problem of the linguistic communication involving right understanding of the meaning of words and sentences as communicated by them. All the three aspects of 'speech' viz the letters (varna), the word (pada) and the sentence (vakya) are equally eternal and therefore meaningful in every respect. However, it is the sentence, which is an assemblage of words, that is expressive of a fuller and complete meaning though it would be illogical to conceive of it in isolation of the words. In reality, the sentence is always inseperable from its words that form the essential terms of its meaning. Therefore, the letters, the words and the sentences, each of which is eternal for being the manifestation of Brahman is pregnant with and expressive of meaning. The very idea of allocating more or less significance to any one of them is irrelevant and meaningless. In Vallabh's system, both the impartial (akhanda) and the partial (consisting of parts) aspects of Sabda are recognized on the basis of the doctrine of Viruddhadharmasrayatva. Every sentence spoken by us is, in reality, an utterance of God who is his divine sport speaks them through us. Therefore, all sentences, be they vaidika or laukika are the sentences of the God. But such a theory would mean a complete annulment of the distinction between 'valid' and 'invalid' and might just prove that errorneous judgements, being sentences spoken by God, are also absolutely valid. The answer to this problem is that though the whole of language is a manifestation and vikriti of 'Om', the ultimate sabda, the inherent validity of a sentence if vitiated by the association of such human defects as delusion (bhrama), mental laziness (pramada) infactuation (vipralipsa) and inefficiency of senses. It is due to the association of the defects, that the inherently valid sentence is converted into an invalid and errorneous judgement. In his divine sport, the Lord contracts or conceals the other meaning of a 'word' and manifests only that which is used in ordinary mundane parlance thus creating a distinction between the meanings of different 'words', 'letters' and 'sentences' for mundane usage. All words or sentences are, in reality, propelled by God's volition and they ultimately refer to Him indirectly through the innumerable names and forms by which He phenomenalizes Himself. The Vedas and the Sabda through their inherent potency ultimately describe Brahman and His Sport in various ways.

All sentences of the Vedas have equal validity

An important question that crops up is whether all Vedic words and sentences are equally valid or not. According to Vallabha, all Vedic words, sentences, arthavadas, in both Karma-kanda and Gyana-kanda portions of Vedas, are equally valid and there is no justification in considering the one as primary and the other as secondary. The Vedas as a whole including the Samhitas, Aranyakas, and the Upanishads i.e. both Karma-kanda and Jnana-kanda should be thoroughly studied for obtaining a proper insight into the ultimate nature of Truth. According to Vallabha, Karma-mimamsa is not antagonistic to Jnana-mimamsa as supposed by Samkara; in truth, the two Mimamsas are complementary and mutually helpful.

The Validity of Knowledge in Vallabha school of Vedanta

What is the guarantee that knowledge as affected by the operation of these pramanas (means of knowledge) is valid at all? In other words, how can one be sure the knowledge, in reality, is illuminative of the real characters, specifications and form of its object? Does this certainty lie in the very nature of the produced knowledge itself or is it to be vouchsafed by future corroboration with other sources and conditions? This problem of the validity of knowledge, as cornerstone of Indian epistemological analysis, has been solved in the different philosophical systems by resorting to one of the four alternative solutions.

A chart representing validity of knowledge in different school of thoughts.
  1. Stand taken by Samkhyas: The Samkhyas believe that both the validity and invalidity of the knowledge is self-proved (svatah)
  2. Stand taken by Naiyayikas: The Naiyayikas believe that both validity and invalidity of the knowledge has to be verified externally and through other sources (paratah).
  3. Stand taken by Bauddhas: The Bauddhas think that 'invalidity' is self-evident whereas 'validity' is proved externally (paratah).
  4. Stand taken by Mimamsakas (both purva and uttara): The teachers of Veda, that is Mimamsakas maintain that validity is self-proved but invalidity requires external proof.
  5. Stand taken by Vallabha: The Vallabhite theory on the question of the validity of knowledge is like a women who is half young and half old; the real correct answer to this problem is to acknowledge that though knowledge is inherently self-valid yet where it is caused and is under the influence of memory its validity should be decided only after corroborating its revelations with other extraneous (Ab-extra) evidences, conditions and facts of knowledge because dependence on memory and the past-samskaras very often leads not only to ineffective activity but to delusion too. Thus, the validity of knowledge about any experienceable object (mundane) should be validated by other extraneous evidences. However, since Brahman is only experienceable by sattvika senses, the only way to validate the knowledge about Him is through Vedas by considering it as self-valid.