Addressing Discriminatory,Controversial and Illogical Verses in HINDU TEXTS and Scriptures Hindu texts

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Hindu Texts and Scriptures


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  • suyash95 11 days ago | +0 points
    • In Hinduism there is no Governing body that oversees training and appointments nor regulates and monitors KPI’s.There is no one in charge, no organizing body no supervisors, no moderators, no authority figures, no controllers - everything just happens, functions like an organic unit and then overnight dismantles and decamps. It has no founder and no management structure, or Central Command and Control syndicate. Gurus are all independent and their authority derives from those devotees who trust in them and support them financially.Their views are their personal views and cannot be referred to sole Authority on HINDUISM.It must always be remembered that there were hundreds of Vedic Acharyas and Vedic schools - they did not all agree on every point. For every 3 Indians you meet they will have at least 5 different opinions! It has always been thus on the sub-continent.The argumentative Indian is axiomatic! Hinduism accepts differences of opinion, belief, practice and is accommodating of diversity and inclusivity. So there may be some Hindu gurus who consider some Texts to be authoritiative n some do not. But Some Orthodox Hindu guru views have been percolated into Society as Hinduism sole view to denigrate Hinduism . It was first done by Britishers n after independence by Communists.

    • The Hindu scriptures constitute a whole vast library and in that library there are many diverse opinions, narratives, laws, and paths. There is contradiction, agreement, abrogation, innovation and reform.

    • Because of this morass of confusion the ancient school of Mimāmsa came up with rules of interpretation. The first principle is that there is an hierarchy of authority in Shastra.

      • 1.The highest authority is the Veda, then

        2.Smritis -

        3.Itihasas 4.Puranas

        5.All the rest.

        The SMRITIS aka DHARMASHASTRAS are written by numerous people ,There are also SMRITIS written by Women most common is MADALASA Smriti

        So if there is a conflict between puranas and Itihasas - the itihasas are the authority, if there is a conflict between Itihasas and Smritis then Smritis are the authority and if there is a conflict between Smritis and Vedas then Vedas re the final authority -like the High Court after all other avenue of appeals have failed.This is the favourite technique of Social Justice Warriors.The activist delves deep into ancient texts in remote corners of libraries to dig out controversial verses, or verses which are particularly nasty or offensive in order to discredit or tarnish modern Hinduism

        They will find obscure verses which are derogatory of women in order to prove that Hinduism is anti-feminist while ignoring the many verses which praise and elevate women. Others dig up verses out of context to prove their ideological supremacy over Hinduism.

        RESPONSE - All the Vedas, Smritis and Puranas were written by many different authors and contain hundreds of controversial and contradictory verses which reflect the personal opinion of the author himself — unlike the Sacred texts of the monotheists which are held to be the commands of God himself and thus unchangeable and binding on believers.The Vedas are several thousand years old and the Smriti of choice for SJW is Manu which is dated around 2nd Century BCE (over 2000 years old). There were several redactions of the manuscripts found which all contain hundreds of contradictions and inconsistencies indicating many different authors and uncountable interpolations. The attitudes and beliefs of agriculturalists of 2000 years ago have long since been abandoned.

        Hinduism has undergone and is still undergoing change and reformation continually. Old beliefs and traditions have long ago been thrown out and new interpretations have been given according to time and place.Since Hinduism is not a “revealed” religion it allows changing or modify traditions and customs according to time and place.The Hindu Texts clearly advise us to abandon any social custom or tradition or practice which the people find to be offensive. So rather than mine the ancient texts for atrocious or offensive verses which are 2000 years old we should rather mine them for positive and empowering verses which serve to raise personal awareness and promote inter-community harmony and the cause of social justice. There is a maxim in Vedānta called makṣikā-nyāyaḥ — the maxim of the fly - used to denote the fault-finding tendency of some deplorables, which is like the behaviour of flies which are attracted to ulcers or pustules no matter how beautiful the body may be.

        Hinduism is not a religion based on one Prophet n Book ,which is said by God. The scriptures are a result of inquiries of individuals in different periods of history. If someone in today's time comes up with a scripture relevant to today's time and someone quotes it after 100 years(1) Saying that, "see this scripture is so outdated and regressive" and keeping it as a Base questions the whole Hinduism then that is wrong. Hinduism is a open system Architecture,Unlike the Sacred texts of the ISlam n Christianity which are held to be the commands of God and thus unchangeable and binding on believers.

        Hinduism is not a “revealed” religion and it allows changing or modifying traditions and customs according to time and place.The Hindu Texts clearly say to abandon any social custom or tradition or practice which the people find to be offensive

        Hindu haters label Caste discrimination on Hinduism,It is completely wrong for many places-In the vast library of Hinduism one can find texts supporting every spectrum of socio-political ideology. People tend to adopt those ideas which support their own prejudices, so there are hundreds of verses which support caste and gender based discrimination and there are just as many verses condemning any form of discrimination. There is not a single well-known, reputable religious leader in India today who condones the VJ system. All of the great spiritual giants of the past from Upanishadic sages to Ramanuja acharya, the Goswamis, Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Paramhansa Yogananda,Swami Sivananda, Dayananda Saraswati,,Chinmayananda, et al have all rigorously condemned the iniquities of the VJ system - yet still prejudice and discrimination persists among the ignorant masses who misinterpret and manipulate archaic teachings for their own self-serving interests .So where do we no lay the blame? With Sanatana Dharma or with the knowledge and insight deficient masses

    • In Hinduism there are NO DIVINE LAWS - God did not give us any - he gave us the intelligence to make our own laws suitable to time, place and circumstance - the latter in perpetual flux and therefore the laws require constant upgrading - the function of a democratically elected parliament.All legislation in every country (except some in particular) is developing and evolving according to the ever changing circumstances and can never regress.

      Hinduphobes brings quotes from Dharmashastra,Puranas,Manu which r somehow derogatory towards Shudra Class.These r the opinions of people, not some divine commands.The Hindu scriptures constitute a whole vast library and in that library there are many diverse opinions, narratives, laws, and paths. There is contradiction, agreement,abrogation, innovation and reform.


      6 lines? Well you got 4 Vedas, 108 Upanishads, 2 epics, innumerable puranas, sashtras, smritis, plays, sutras, poems etc etc etc.Well well well. You went with a fine comb through a million Slokas in a few thousand texts and found less than half a dozen to be offensive?

    • It is important to remember that in Hinduism there is no thought crime. Freedom of thought and expression are paramount and are vigorously encouraged. It is not adherence to dogma or subscription to a particular theory or membership of an elect group which is the cause of Liberation but rather one’s personal practice and conduct. eg- Some Hindus have even written KAMASUtra which many Hindus consider it to be highly derogatory but that doesnrt mean Kamasutra represents Entire Hinduism. In the vast library of Hinduism one can find texts supporting every spectrum of socio-political ideology. People tend to adopt those ideas which support their own prejudices, so there are hundreds of verses which support caste and gender based discrimination and there are just as many verses condemning any form of discrimination.

      The Hindu scriptures constitute a whole LIBRARY with thousands of human authors — even a text written by a single author is likely to carry contradictions what to say of a huge number of different authors addressing different topics. Hindu scriptures — apart from the Vedas — have been heavily interpolated by different scribes and transcribers. So hence a single text has many contradictions which are not necessarily by the original author.

      The only Authoritative Holy Book is the Veda (veda vai pramānam).Thereby ,the Vedas are the sole source of Authority and the Smritis and Puranas are interpretations and commentaries - i.e. exegesis of the Vedas.If any smriti or Purana or Dharmashastra ,contradicts Vedas,or contains something which is not found in Vedas, reject it.The Smriti literature as the basis of law is completely redundant as the vast majority of us live under secular democratic legislation.

      The target audience of the texts determines the content of the text addressed to them — the aims and objectives differ and therefore may appear contradictory. For example the teaching to householders will contradict the teaching given to renunciates. Instructions given to children will contradict that given to adults. Students will be given contradictory instructions and guidance and rules to those given to graduates.The value of all the literature and art-works and compositions is in their practical content not in the social — credit of the author.The ultimate test of any work is its practicality. The objective of all Scripture is to instruct us how to live the good life (dharma). they r not divine commands like Quran , bible,.Now there are definitely some negative opinions to be found in the vast library of Hindu texts, and discriminatory verses can certainly be found to justify whatever one wants. But according to one’s innate character one will seek confirmation bias. The ideal is to follow the conduct of the bee and always seek the nectar and not act like a fly seeking shit.

      In HINDUISM,The teachings (maxims) are open to dispute, and either accepted as being useful and applicable or rejected as being anachronistic, out of date or simply wrong. Just like the works of all the ancient Indian law-givers like Manu, Gautama, Apastamba, Parāśara, Kātyāyana et al. Take what is good, wholesome and universally beneficial and discard all the rest.

      There is the timeless principle in Hindu exegesis of using common sense and critical thinking in filtering the teachings of the ancients since they were all humans with human biases, errors, misconceptions and limited understanding. None of the jurists or law-givers were perfect or infallible.The greatest error of modern critics is “presentism”. In literary and historical analysis, presentism is the anachronistic introduction of present-day ideas,values and perspectives into depictions or interpretations of ancient works - they need to be analysed within their context and not through a modern lens So critical thinking is essential and belief is not required.

      Every religious text, like all legal texts, have atrocious statements and teachings and extremely inhumane and barbarous laws, both the Bible and the Quran have some extremely disagreeable statements and Laws of Moses are some of the most unjust and cruel that humanity has invented - like stoning for example.

      So the way to denigrate a religion and to sow confusion and dissent is to do what is termed as “atrocity-archeology” - we dig up all the worst possible verses and examples from 2000 years ago and wave them around and promote them as being indicative of the religion as is practiced NOW. This presentation is called “Presentism” we apply modern humanistic values in judgement upon ancient defunct texts.Nowadays much of critical commentary stems from “Presentism” - projecting todays’ values onto ancient texts - which is a deeply flawed methodology. One needs to understand the texts in context and in comparison to similar texts. Nowadays much of critical commentary stems from “Presentism” - projecting todays’ values onto ancient texts - which is a deeply flawed methodology. One needs to understand the texts in context and in comparison to similar texts.



    The Hindu scriptures are so vast and confusing, written by hundreds of different authors with so many different points of views and contradictions, how does one make sense of them?

    There is a Vedic Discipline of Hermeneutic or how to understand the scriptures. It is called Mīmāṁsa and the chief exponent of this system was Jaimini. The study of Mīmāṁsa is a pre-requisite for the study of Vedānta according to Rāmānujācārya, but not so according to Śaṅkarācārya.

    So as a very brief survey of Mīmāṁsa. First there is an established hierarchy of authoritativeness of Scripture:–

    1. Sruti –Veda
    2. Smṛti – codes of conduct somewhat based on the Veda
    3. Itihāsas – Ramayana and Mahabharata
    4. Purāṇas

    So the most authoritative texts are the Vedas and the least are the Purāṇas. If there is a conflict between the Purāṇas and Itihasas – the Itihāsas are the authority. If there is a conflict between them and the Smrtis then the Smrtis are the authority and if there is a conflict between them and the Vedas then the Vedas i.e. Upaṇiṣads (the final portion of the Vedas) are considered to be the ultimate authority.

    Hence the Gītā, which is part of the Mahābhārata is one of the three most important Scriptures along with the Upaṇiṣads themselves and Brahma-sūtras which is a analysis and synthesis of the Upaṇiṣads. These three are known as the prasthāna trayam and are the final Scriptural Authority for Vedāntins.

    So when we read Shastra what are we looking for?

    According to Jaimini the most important factor is the “injunction to act” known as the vidhi. For example – “Speak the truth! Practice compassion! Honour your parents! Give hospitality and refuge to strangers! Offer oblations to the devas!” Etc. etc. This constitutes the essence of the DHARMA which in the Gītā is actively applied as KARMA YOGA.

    In the context of spirituality, the vidhi refers to knowledge of Spiritual matters and the action connected to that — “know your Self!” “Meditate upon the Ultimate Reality!” “See the Divine in all beings!”

    The second factor to consider is the mantra. Mantras are simply sentences which have no authority in themselves and accompany the injunctions to act.

    The third factor is arthavāda — these are statements which encourage good works and discourage harmful acts. They are incentives only and have no authority at all. So for example – “someone who eats sweets alone will go to hell!” The injunction is – always to share sweets with others, the arthavāda is going to hell. This is where most people get confused – that is, they take the arthavāda on face value as a serious authoritative statement in itself and not simply as having a useful purpose in assisting the injunction or prohibition.

    Arthavādas are NOT authoritative – all the heavenly rewards and hellish punishments and all the hyperbolic and exaggerated statements of benefits from pious activities etc. etc. mentioned in the Shastras are arthavādas only!

    And finally there is nāmadheya — which is simply categorising and listing gods, antigods, people and stuff – these lists are informative only and have no authority.


    Why does Hinduism have so many contradictions in its scriptures?

    ALL Scriptures contain contradictions - but the problem for those texts is they are allegedly the product of one omniscient author — God. Any contradictions would cast doubt on their validity and demolish their status as Divine Revelation. The adherents of those texts are thus compelled to deny that contradictions exist or to deploy interpretive gymnastics to explain them away.

    The Hindu scriptures constitute a whole LIBRARY with thousands of human authors — even a text written by a single author is likely to carry contradictions what to say of a huge number of different authors addressing different topics.

    Hindu scriptures - apart from the Vedas – have been heavily interpolated by different scribes and transcribers. So hence a single text has many contradictions which are not necessarily by the original author.

    The target audience of the texts determines the content of the text addressed to them - the aims and objectives differ and therefore may appear contradictory. For example the teaching to householders will contradict the teaching given to renunciates. Instructions given to children will contradict that given to adults. Students will be given contradictory instructions and guidance and rules to those given to graduates.

    When reading Hindu scriptures one has to taken into account the Filters of Comprehension.

    1. Svabhāva — the personality and character of the person reading and the type of person to whom the text is addressed.
    2. Bhūmika — the level of development of the reader and the target audience of the text.
    3. Adhikāra — the capacity of the reader to understand and apply the teaching as will as the capability of the person being addressed in the text.

    And then one must consider:–

    1. deśa — place where the teaching is being delivered
    2. kāla — time in which the teaching was given - times change and so does the teaching. What was valid 2000 years ago is not necessarily valid in 2019.
    3. paristhiti — conditions in which the teaching is being delivered.

    Because of the multiple contradictions found in the Scriptures the ancients have developed a comprehensive set of rules and regulations for interpreting them — these rules are found in the corpus of the Mīmāṁsa.

    According to Mīmāṁsa when you encounter a contradiction you have three options.

    1. bādhaka - they both cancelled each other out.
    2. vikalpa – choose one option and go with that.
    3. samucchaya – merge them together in a compromise.

    So for example. In the Veda there are three kinds of philosophical statements - dvaita - texts declaring duality and those affirming advaita – non-duality. Madhvacharya and Shankaracharya went with the second option - vikalpa - and chose only those texts which supported their philosophy and rejected the others.

    Rāmānujacharya on the other hand went with option three - samucchaya and chose those texts (ghaṭaka śruti) which reconciled the two extremes and propagated the philosophical system known as qualified non-dualism.


    Logic is the foundation of Mīmāṃsā. Where is the proof of reincarnation in Sanatana Dharma?

    There are three sources of evidential proof in Sanatana Dharma:–

    1. pratyaksa — direct evidence of the senses, tangible and verifiable.
    2. anumāna — reasoned and logical thought
    3. āpta-vākya — testimony of a realiable authority/witness

    and some add a fourth

    • yogi-pratyakṣa — the insight and wisdom achieved through deep yogic meditation.

    From a direct evidence point of view there is no proof. No one has ever been seen transitioning from one body to another. But some children have claimed to have had pre-birth experiences - but this falls under the 3rd category āpta-vākya.

    From a logical point of view a valid argument can be made, and is made at great length in the Mīmāmsa and Nyāya sūtras.

    From a Scriptural testimony point of view we have the clear statements of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Gītā and other Vedic texts that reincarnation is a reality.

    Many great Yogis after decades of profound meditation have also confirmed the process of rebirth and have actually recounted their previous incarnations.

    Thus far the proof from Sanātana Dharma as requested.

    Nowadays a lot of research has been conducted in the subject and there are tons of testimonies on line - whether they are from “reliable” witnesses we cannot tell for definite.


    Do we have any historical proof of the Hindu scripture writers?

    Hindus have never cared about who the actual author of a particular text was. It is like all the other great art-works and magnificent structures in India - no one knows who built them, who the architects or engineers were and who the master craftsmen were and neither did they care to inscribe their names on their works - an act which would be considered hubristic and egoistic in the extreme!!.

    The value of all the literature and art-works and compositions is in their practical content not in the social - credit of the author.

    For example we accept the teachings of the Gītā not because it was taught by Krishna but because the advice, guidance and teachings are empirical and practical and can be experienced by any one who implements them.

    The ultimate test of any work is its practicality. The objective of all Scripture is to instruct us how to live the good life (dharma). Therefore the most important element in any spiritual text is the instruction to act (vidhi). Everything else is rejected - like all the stories of the Purāṇas that people get so fixated upon!!

    Many authors also out of humility ascribed their work to their teachers rather than take credit for their own work.

    So as the Sacred Texts themselves say:-

    “Heartily accept the good advice of even a child and reject all else like worthless straw even though spoken by the Creator himself!”

    yukti yuktam upādeyam vacanam bālakād api | anyat tṛṇam eva tyājyam apyuktam padmajanmanā ||

    Which means that “even if a child should tell you something rational and useful you should accept it and everything else should be rejected like straw, even though spoken by God Brahma (puranik creator deity ) himself!”


    What aspects of Hinduism are wrong?


    Hinduism like every major religion has objectionable stuff. The difference being that Hinduism doesn’t have any commands from an omniscient God. Most of the customs and usage are social conventions and not endorsed by the religion per se. So we don’t need to negotiate change with self-appointed religious lawyers acting on God’s behalf.

    So one has to differentiate between what is Authoritative (Vedic) and what is regional/caste custom and usage.So all our bad stuff can be thrown out without much ado from a religious point of view - no discussion even needed. But the problem is getting people to change social attitudes and customs - like child-marriage, caste prejudice, attitudes towards women, superstition, animal sacrifice, treatment of widows to name the major issues - none of which are widespread and common to all Hindus.

    Most of the really bad stuff has already been relegated to history.

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    • suyash95 11 days ago | +0 points

      There are definitely some negative opinions to be found in the vast library of Hindu texts,n some very orthodox Brahmins who will only reveal n teach Brahmins and discriminatory verses n such people can certainly be found to justify whatever one wants. But according to one’s innate character one will seek confirmation bias. The ideal is to follow the conduct of the bee and always seek the nectar and not act like a fly seeking shit.this means not all Brahmins r bad n good. one who wants to learn will find that who will give him knowledge n discarding those who r biased n partial

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      • suyash95 7 days ago | +0 points

        Are all the Hindu scriptures preserved? If not then how can we believe in Hindu scriptures?

        You should not believe in any “Scriptures” - preserved or not - you should use reason and empirical evidence upon which to construct a belief system and a world view (darśana).

        All Scripture (śāstra) is authored by humans using the mental tools and general knowledge available to them at the time of writing. Some people pretend that their Scripture comes from “God” but evidence of this is impossible to produce and is irrational.

        In Hindu philosophy, reason (anumāna) and evidence (pratyakṣa) are the primary sources of all knowledge concerning the material world. If any Scriptural statement (śabda) contradicts facts and reason, then it is the scripture which must be either rejected or reinterpreted to conform to reason and evidence.

        In matters concerning spirituality and metaphysics, again Hindu philosophy relies primarily on reason and evidence but resorts to Scripture only for information about that which is unknowable through empirical and rational means - but even then that transcendental knowledge must conform to logic, and be deduced, supported and defended through rational argument (tarka) and rigorous logic (nyāya).

        So in summary the only use for Scripture (śāstra) is when you can’t figure it out for yourself.

        Here are some directives regarding Scripture (śāstra).

        • Scripture is a map - once you have figured out the best route to your destination, put your Scripture back into the glove-compartment and begin your journey - only use it when you’re hopelessly lost.
        • Scripture is a ferry - use it to cross over the river but leave it behind once you are safely on the other side.
        • Scripture is a prop - like crutches - use them only until you can walk properly and then throw them away.
        • Scripture is like the first generation IT - most of it has passed its use-by-date and is no longer relevant or useful, but there are some general principles that will always be relevant - learn to distinguish between the useful and the outdated and keep upgrading to avoid obsolescence and irrelevance.

        In Hinduism the ultimate goal of Scripture is to guide you to Self-realization (ātma-bodha.

        This what the Amrita Bindu Upaṇiṣad says;–

        grantham abhyasya medāvī, jñāna vijñāna tatparaḥ |

        palālam iva dhānyarthī, tyajet grantham aśeṣataḥ || 18 ||

        Having studied the Scriptures, the wise one should pursue knowledge & realisation [through meditation]. Then one should discard all bookish learning, as one who seeks grain discards the chaff.

        So this Scriptural texts is telling us to only take what is nutritious and wholesome from the scripture and then throw all the rest away like chaff.

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  • suyash95 6 days ago | +0 points

    What shloka states that if there are discrepancies in Hindu texts, the Vedas is authoritative over other texts?

    There are several but one will suffice.

    Śruti smṛti purāṇanāṁ virodho yatra dṛśyate |

    Tatra śrautam pramāṇantu tayor dvaidhe smṛti varā ||

    In matters of a discrepancy between the Srutis, Smritis and Puranas, the Vedas should be held as decisive, whereas the Smritis have preference in all topics where there is a difference of opinion between them and the Puranas. (Vyāsa Smriti 1:4)

    So Vyāsa is saying if there is a discrepancy between Puranas and Smritis - the Smritis are the authority. And if there is a discrepancy between Smritis and Vedas - then Vedas are the authority.

    But the highest authority for a Hindu is the teaching and counsel of the GURU. The vast majority of Hindus over the millennia have never referred to books which were not commonly available or accessible. And even when they were they were cryptic and required a detailed knowledge of Sanskrit and a comprehensive commentary, so Hindus have always taken refuge with the ACHARYAS (ācārya-abhimāna) and followed their guidance.

    As the popular directive goes:–

    dhyāna-mūlam gurur mūrtim — the basis of meditation is the form of the guru.

    pūjā-mūlam gurur pādam – the feet of the guru are the basis for worship.

    mantra-mūlam gurur vākyam – the words of the guru are the basis for mantra

    mokṣa-mūlam guru kripā - the grace of the guru is the basis of Liberation.

    So all sects under the umbrella of “Hinduism” are known as SAMPRADĀYA - lineages of spiritual teachers stretching back in time to the ancient sages.

    Hinduism is thus not “Scripture-Based” as the monotheisms are - we are “Guru-grounded”. Guru is superior to God.

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  • suyash95 6 days ago | +0 points

    SMARTISM advocates birth-based Varna system

    Eg -Puri Shankaracharya had said that varna is based on birth.Does that mean Smartas follow birth-based caste system?

    Smarta are orthodox Brahmins and as such support birth based Varna. Neo-Vedanta totally rejects all caste discrimination.

    Smartism describes those who follow the rules and regulations of personal conduct based on the texts known as the Smritis. They are predominantly from the Brahmin community.

    Advaita Vedanta - is the dominant school of Hindu philosophy based on the non-dual teachings of Shankaracharya. Basically Advaita posits that the individual Self is one with the Supreme Self and the world of appearances is a transient unsubstantial phenomena associated with cognitive error (avidya).

    Because Shankaracharya was the leading Brahmin reformer of modern Hinduism who established the 10 monastic orders and the four principal pontifical seats (maṭhas) his followers were the smārtas. So classical Advaita Vedānta was and is still linked to Smārtism.

    With Vivekananda there was a break with smārtism and the Neo-Vedānta movement was born which rejects the Smṛtis and focuses entirely on the Upaṇiṣads and Bhagavad Gītā - which is the Smṛti par excellence for modern times.

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    • suyash95 6 days ago | +0 points

      What is Hindu Epistemology?

      Epistemology is the theory and study of knowledge. How we know and what can we know. It defines the means of acquiring knowledge as well as its scope and limits.

      Firstly, Hindu philosophy differentiates between Valid and Invalid Knowledge. Valid knowledge (pramā) is defined as

      yathāvasthita vyavahāra anuguṇa jñānam pramā

      That knowledge which reveals a correlation between an object and its cognition and has practical value in daily life.

      This means that valid knowledge must be provable, demonstrable and must be practicable. All other knowledge is “invalid” from an individual point of view. So for example, Quantum Physics is real knowledge and is applicable i.e. for the scientific community that can put it to use, but for me as a humble priest it is useless, so from my point of view, Quantum physics is “invalid” but for those that can use it is valid.

      The several schools of Hindu philosophy have some variations but the three agreed upon means of knowing are:–

      1. Pratyakṣa — direct perception
      2. Anumāna — inference
      3. Śabda — trustworthy testimony from a reliable source (āpta-vākya).

      Direct perception includes the five sense and using the example of a crime scene – the detectives first cordon off the area and begin searching for material evidence.

      Once all the data has been collected they return to the station house and begin assessing the data and brain-storming scenarios and plots and look for motive. Each one raises a theory and the others challenge it using logic and reason. The theories which stand scrutiny are then mapped out on a board.

      The third phase is interviewing witnesses – they are tested and graded according to their trustworthiness, personal interest in the case, powers of observation etc. The witness statements are then compared to the evidence and the rational theories and probabilities.

      Thus far for matters concerning worldly affairs. How do we acquire knowledge about those things which are imperceptible by the senses and are not the natural product of rational thought? i.e. knowledge of the Self (ātman), the Ultimate Reality (Brahman), the purpose of Human Life (purusārtha), the common good (śreyas) and Dharma the appropriate course of right action.

      The answer for all scriptural religions would be the Sacred Texts i.e. Bible, Koran, Tipitika, Vedas etc.

      But here’s the huge difference. In Hindu epistemology in order for any testimony (śabda) to be accepted it has to fulfill 3 conditions:–

      It must come from Sruti – The Veda alone. Puranas, Smritis, Kavyas and allied literature cannot be accepted as primary or substantive evidence! Shankaracharya and Ramanujacharya have only ever quoted Puranas when and where they unconditionally support the Vedic statements.

      Yukti — it must be rational and not conflict with perception and reason.

      Anubhava – it must be able to be experienced – to bring about personal transformation for the better.

      If the testimony is irrational and not immediately experiential then it is rejected. Believing something which is irrational, unprovable and inapplicable in the scientific age leads to cognitive dissonance.

      So in Vedanta all theories sourced from the Veda on the ātman, Brahman, Karma, Samsāra and Dharma etc. are rigorously challenged and subjected to rational argument.

      This is also the reason why Hindus have absolutely no problem with science and theories of cosmology, cosmogenesis, evolution etc.

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