As I discuss in this question, by far the most popular school of Hindu philosophy is the Vedanta school, which bases its tenets on the doctrines laid out in the Brahma Sutras, a work by the sage Vyasa that summarizes and systematizes the philosophical teachings of the Upanishads. You can read the Brahma Sutras here. In any case, in the beginning of Adhyaya 2 Pada 1 of the Brahma Sutras, Vyasa refutes Kapila's Samkhya school:
- If it be argued (that from the acceptance of Brahman as the cause of the universe) arises the defect of the (Samkhya) Smritis being left without any scope, then not so, for otherwise will arise the defect of other Smritis losing their scope.
- And (Pradhana is not the cause) since the others are not met with (in the Vedas and common experience).
This translation is written from the viewpoint of the Advaita philosopher Adi Shankaracharya, who believed that in Sutra 2 Vyasa is rejecting Mahat and the other evolutes of Prakriti acknowledged by the Samkhya school; here's what he says in this section of his Brahma Sutra Bhashya:
The principles different from the pradhâna, but to be viewed as its modifications which the (Sânkhya) Smriti assumes, as, for instance, the great principle [Mahat], are perceived neither in the Veda nor in ordinary experience. Now things of the nature of the elements and the sense organs, which are well known from the Veda, as well as from experience, may be referred to in Smriti; but with regard to things which, like Kapila's great principle [Mahat], are known neither from the Veda nor from experience--no more than, for instance, the objects of a sixth sense--Smriti is altogether impossible.
I'm interested in the part in bold. In Hindu philosophy, there are three main Pramanas or valid means of knowledge: Pratyaksha or sensory perception, Anumana or inference, and Shabda or scriptural testimony. And there is a hierarchy of these Pramanas: Anumana is only applicable to those that which cannot be known through Pratyaksha, and Shabda is only applicable to that which cannot be known through either Pratyaksha or Anumana. Now the Purva Mimamsa school believed that scripture was only authoritative on the subject of Dharma, since Dharma cannot be known through perception or inference, and that it has no authority on Siddharthas or objects which already exist in the Universe. The Vedanta school, on the other hand, believes that scripture is also authoritative over already-existing objects like Brahman whose existence cannot be known through perception or inference.
But what Adi Shankaracharya is saying is that not all scriptures can establish the existence of objects; he's saying that if the existence of an object is not known perception or through Shruti (i.e. the Vedas), then its existence cannot be established through Smriti. Now it's a well-established principle, going back to Adhyaya 1 Pada 3 of the Purva Mimamsa Sutras, that if Smriti prescribes an action which Shruti is silent on, like the payment of Guru Dakshina, then Smriti is authoritative. (But if Smiriti prescribes an action prohibited by Shruti, then Shruti prevails.) But Adi Shankaracharya apparently believed that that principle does not extend to the existence of the objects.
My question is, do any other Vedantic philosophers agree with Adi Shankaracharya that Smriti has no authority over the existence of objects? Presumably Adi Shankaracharya's followers agree with him, but I'm interested in what non-Advaitins have to say. The Sri Vaishnava Acharya Ramanujacharya doesn't address this issue in the corresponding section of his Sri Bhashya, because he accepts the existence of Mahat and the evolutes of Prakriti, and he argues that their existence is actually supported by the Vedas. But does he address this issue elsewhere?