Even if it’s Flawless, We’re Not.

QUESTION: Even if we accept the Vedas as a flawess source of transcendent knowledge, there still is the flaw of misinterpreting this source, because we have to use our own flawed intellect and experience to comprehend it. So there seems to be no way to really get flawless knowledge.

This is a very good point, and really needs careful explaining.

If we consider the importance of grammar and linguistics in mimāṁsa (understanding the Veda); the importance of objectivity and mental-calm in yoga; and the importance of painstaking intellect and logic in nyāya; ti is very very clear that we have to apply our own intelelct to the Veda with very careful scientific procedure. Indeed, Brahma-sūtra tells us this right from the beginning, “Brahman can be known from śāstra, but only when that śāstra is understood syncretically.” (Sūtras 3 and 4). Syncretic means very carefully, thoroughly, and broadly – taking everything into account wholistically.

Yet the Vedas – especially the Upaniṣads – also abundantly explain that actual experience of their subject can only come by a direct experience unmitigated by external, flawed tools and conceptions.

So what is the role of intellect? And what’s the role of this revelationary direct experience?

Intellect makes us capable of receiving the direct experience. Specifically, we have to use very careful intellect to understand the Vedas so that we can trust them (really trust, not talk ourselves into something, or “believe”). When we really, deeply “get it” and comprehend that the Veda truly are supremely reasonable, sublime, deep, all-inclusive, and supernatural, then we can open our hearts fully to their guidance. Then we can have unmitigated, direct experience of the reality the Veda have introduced us to and pointed us towards.

So, the “flawless” part of the Veda only comes to us at the very end, when we realize it through direct experience. Meanwhile, we work diligently on getting rid of our own flaws in comprehending what it is trying to say. That effort is done by our limited intellect. But when it accomplishes its task as best as it can, it makes the citta (heart and mind) capable to directly experience transcendence. It is that direct experience which is flawless.

Vraja Kishor

www.vrajakishor.com

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2 Comments

  1. What about Brahma ji, the first being who gets the revelation. How does he use his intellect to come to the point of being qualified for the revelation from Vishnu ji?
    So would the subsequent teachers who guide the intellect of their students to come to the point of being qualified for revelation, would have to be in the footsteps of Brahma ji?
    Is that what is Parampara? But then why do we say the Guru to be a representative of Vyasa and not Brahma ji?

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    1. Brahma performs tapa to qualify his intellect for the Vedic revelation. You can learn about it in Bhagavat Purāṇa. Vyāsa teaches the Veda. A Veda guru is like Vyāsa or brahma.

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