How does Vedanta(Uttara Mimamsa) school of Indian philosophy prove their Astikya (Theism) using Shabda(or Agama) pramana, and also how is Shabda pramana established as a valid pramana.

It would be great if this question received answer from all Tri-mathasthas's (Advaita, Vishishtadvaita, Dvaita schools of Vedanta) point of view. You can answer either from any one of the three schools or you can answer from multiple schools.

This question is follow up question of this question, where the arguments of Vedanta school was summarized.

It would be in the best of interest of all if the answer is elaborate enough to make the point as to how Vedas are established as Authoritative pramana and other concerning topics.

All three schools accept the Gita, the Upanishads, and the Brahma Sutras as the three scriptures of all schools. Brahman cannot be 'proved' through reasoning or the sensual world. Brahma Sutras 1.1.2 - 1.1.4 addresses this very question. Brahma Sutras 1.1.2 - 1.1.4 read (Brahma Sutras, Swami Vireswarananda translator, available here -

  1. (Brahman is that omniscient, omnipotent cause) from which proceed the origin etc., (i.e. sustenance and dissolution) of this (world).

  2. The scriptures (alone) being the means of right knowledge (with regard to Brahman, the proposition laid in Sutra 2 becomes collaborated).

  3. But that (Brahman is to be known only from the scriptures and not independently by any other means is established) because It is the main purport (of all Vedanta texts).

The proof of God is sruti (vedas). If you do not accept the assertion of sruti, you are not a Vedantist, no matter what your school.

  • 1
    You have missed the point of the question. On what basis is Sabda pramana valid? Why should one accept the Vedas as an authoritative infallible text? – Jaikrishnan Nov 7 at 10:40
  • 1
    @SwamiVishwananda, Jaikrishnan is exactly correct. I never claimed I am a Vedantin. More over you have completely skipped the question, please do edit or delete your answer – Chakrapani N Rao Nov 7 at 10:48
  • @Jaikrishnan Visit What is the validity of Authoritativeness of vedas? – Pandya Nov 7 at 11:18
  • @Pandya in the link you have given there is no proper convincing answer establishing Vedas as pramanas. – Chakrapani N Rao Nov 7 at 12:25
  • @ChakrapaniNRao Then you can wait until you find satisfactory answer. You can comment asking for clarification underneath any answer or can discuss in chat room. You may also think of starting bounty on that question with providing optional message what you're looking for. Anyway, repeating the same question would not be a good idea. – Pandya Nov 7 at 12:52

Excellent question! I can give you some thought as per Vaishnava systems of Vedanta such as that of Gaudiyas (my favorite).

Let's first focus on this question:
"elaborate enough to make the point as to how Vedas are established as Authoritative pramana"

When we buy a product, a device such as a machine or a Tv or a computer to browse the internet, etc, what we also get with this product is a document called The User Manual or User Guide. User Manual prepared by the manufacturer provides important information on how to use a product. With proper use of a device, what we learn from The User Manual, there is much less risk of bringing the device out-of-order or to use a device in some improper way which manufacturer did not give a device purpose to be used for. That's why we should always read and learn The User Manual before we start using the device. Of course we should use the device according to what we learned from the User Manual.

Now, Vedanta teaches that everything what we get in this world, namely our body, place to live or this world where we are born, etc, is like a device or a product made by a manufacturer, Lord Vishnu, given to us to use it in our lives to fulfill the purpose of human life. And Vedic scriptures are like The User Manual which Lord Vishnu gave to people as a revelation, it's a word of God, so that we can learn from it how to properly use our body and everything else, how to live, what to believe in, what to do in life, and everything we have to know to fulfill the purpose of human life.

Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita 15.15:

By all the Vedas, I am to be known. Indeed, I am the compiler of Vedānta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.

Here he says that he is the compiler of Vedanta and knower of the Vedas. So he gave us Vedic knowledge and he knows how to properly explain his "product" because he says "I am the knower of the Vedas", and that's why we should learn from him. It's like learning from the User Manual for Human Life.

"How does Vedanta (Uttara Mimamsa) school prove their Astikya (Existence of God) using Shabda pramana?"

It can be proved with Lord Krishna's statements from the Bhagavad-gita which is Shabda pramana or "the word of God":

O conquerer of wealth [Arjuna], there is no Truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread. (7.7)

By all the Vedas, I am to be known. (15.15)

I am the goal, the sustainer, the master, the witness, the abode, the refuge and the most dear friend. I am the creation and the annihilation, the basis of everything, the resting place and the eternal seed. (9.18)

From those verses we learn that Lord Krishna is base of everything, the goal to be attain to and known through the Vedas, the master or Lord, ie God, -- which are all the description of the Supreme God or Lord.

  • Pranams, Thank you for the answer. This answer would be valid if one considers Krishna and Bhagavath Gita as pramana first and then from that infer that Vedas are reliable. But if the former assumption is not made, this answer is not valid. My question how can we establish Vedas as a valid pramana from pure reason and empirical knowledge. – Chakrapani N Rao Nov 7 at 18:09
  • @Chakrapani 1. Sorry but I thought you want an answer from the standpoint of the schools of Vedanta, and I gave you quotes from the Bg because it is one of the primary scriptures of Vedanta. 2. There is no way how to establish Vedas as a valid pramana from pure reason and empirical knowledge! It requires you to believe in Vedas. That's the only way. – brahma jijnasa Nov 7 at 19:54
  • @Chakrapani Just like it requires you to believe in The User Manual when you buy some product and you get the manual with that product. – brahma jijnasa Nov 7 at 20:03
  • "There is no way how to establish Vedas as a valid pramana from pure reason and empirical knowledge! It requires you to believe in Vedas" are you sure that is the traditional opinion? Because I have heard the contrary – Chakrapani N Rao Nov 7 at 20:17
  • there is two more assumptions, the validity of the comparison is questionable. As I don't remember buying anything, this world as I was forced into existence. It's like somebody coming and putting a TV in your home without permission. And there is no one manual inside it, there are many manuals. How do you choose?? – Chakrapani N Rao Nov 7 at 20:22

One argument I have heard in a discourse is the following: A vast number of people have believed the authority of the Vedas for a long time. If it were not the case that Vedas were followed from time immemorial then it would have been very difficult to convince so many people it is authoritative because a number of rules and restrictions (for instance, the caste system) that the Vedas proclaim would have been resisted by the vast majority. Thus unless the Vedas have been considered an authoritative source from the very beginning of Man, it would been impossible for such vast number of people to accept the Vedas. A text could have existed from the beginning of Man only if it is apoursheya. Any work that is apoursheya is automatically authoritative.

The person giving the discourse phrased it in a far better way. I don't find this argument remotely convincing.

  • It's a good common sense argument. The problem with this answer is any old thing such as Bible, Quran can be proved by the same reasoning. And it also holds the long held status quo as the right one. Imagine you being the first person to say Earth was round, a similar argument could be made against you. And I also suspect that this is not the traditional approach, I was looking for the traditionalist approach.. – Chakrapani N Rao Nov 7 at 10:53
  • 1
    @Chakrapani N Rao. I agree with your objections. The person giving the argument was a Sanskrit Professor in my college and he is an ardent follower of the Madhva school. He attributed the argument to Madhva. However, I have been searching for over a decade to find a source for this argument and so far have been unable to find any. – Jaikrishnan Nov 7 at 10:58
  • Yes, I may be wrong, this may be one of the traditional approach – Chakrapani N Rao Nov 7 at 11:07

God could be way better explained using Samkhya, because Vedanta doesnot divide Turiya into two parts but Samkhya does it.

Even Krishna says Kapila, progenitor of Samkhya is the most perfected being

asvatthah sarva-vrksanam devarsinam ca naradah gandharvanam citrarathah siddhanam kapilo munih

Of all trees I am the holy fig tree, and amongst sages and demigods I am Narada. Of the singers of the gods [Gandharvas] I am Citraratha, and among perfected beings I am the sage Kapila.

Normally it cant be explained because Ishwara Prakṛti is the first cause of the manifest material universe—of everything except the puruṣa. Prakṛti accounts for whatever is physical, both mind and matter-cum-energy or force. Since it is the first principle (tattva) of the universe, it is called the pradhāna, but, as it is the unconscious and unintelligent principle, it is also called the jaDa.

enter image description here

Samkhya is strongly dualist. Sāmkhya philosophy regards the universe as consisting of two realities, puruṣa (consciousness) and prakṛti (matter). Jiva (a living being) is that state in which puruṣa is bonded to prakṛti in some form. This fusion, state the Samkhya scholars, led to the emergence of buddhi ("intellect") and ahaṅkāra (ego consciousness). The universe is described by this school as one created by purusa-prakṛti entities infused with various permutations and combinations of variously enumerated elements, senses, feelings, activity and mind.[13] During the state of imbalance, one of more constituents overwhelm the others, creating a form of bondage, particularly of the mind. The end of this imbalance, bondage is called liberation, or kaivalya, by the Samkhya school

Kaivalya Moksha is explained here and is permanent unlike other Salokya, Sameepya etc., What is Kaivalya Moksha?

This difference in explained clearly in Upanishads here:-

Higher than the senses, stand the objects of senses. Higher than objects of senses, stands mind. Higher than mind, stands intellect. Higher than intellect, stands the great self. Higher than the great self, stands Avyaktam. Higher than Avyaktam, stands Purusha. Higher than this, there is nothing. He is the final goal and the highest point. In all beings, dwells this Purusha, as Atman (soul), invisible, concealed. He is only seen by the keenest thought, by the sublest of those thinkers who see into the subtle. —Katha Upanishad 3.10-13

1) Avyaktam - Prakriti/Sagun Brahman Sagun Brahman is explained here as Avyaktam or Prakriti, Avyaktam means inexpressible

2) Purusha- Nirgun Brahman/Aham (not to be confused with Ahamkaar)

When one identifies himself with Purusha, from there comes:

स्वतः पूर्णः परात्माऽत्र ब्रह्मशब्देन वर्णितः | अस्मीत्यैक्य-परामर्शः तेन ब्रह्म भवाम्यहम् || "Infinite by nature, the Supreme Self is described here by the word Brahman (lit. ever expanding; the ultimate reality); the word asmi denotes the identity of aham and Brahman. Therefore, (the meaning of the expression is) "Aham Brahmasmi/I am Brahman." This realization is gained through true enquiry.[3]

Samkhya is known for its theory of guṇas (qualities, innate tendencies).[21] Guṇa, it states, are of three types: sattva being goodness, compassion, illumination, and positivity; rajas being activity, chaos, passion, and impulsivity, potentially good or bad; and tamas being the quality of darkness, ignorance, destruction, lethargy, negativity. All matter (prakṛti), states Samkhya, has these three guṇas, but in different proportions. The interplay of these guṇas defines the character of someone or something, of nature and determines the progress of life

But one can never identify himself with Prakriti/Avayktam both as per Vedanta and Samkhya as Prakriti is unconscious and Jada

Prakriti is basically Shakti or sarvabhuteshu(prapanch etc.,) while Purush is Shiva or bhutnaath

This is explained in Bhagwat Geeta as Kshetra(Prakriti) and Kshetragya(Purush)

Self is Purush or Kshetragya or Nirguna Brahmana while Saguna Ishwara is Prakriti or Kshetra

Later in the evening, another person came and asked, "Does God exist?". Buddha did not answer and kept silence. Then he closed his eyes. On seeing this, the man also became silent and closed his eyes.

God is inexpressible(Avyaktam) and hence Buddha remained silent and is manifestation of Prakriti.

But the real self Nirguna Brahman is even higher than Prakriti and is called Sat Chida Ananda

Aatmastakam - Chidananda Roopah Shivoham Shivoham

Mano Budhyahankaar Chitani Naaham, Na Cha Shrotra Jihve Na Cha Ghraana netre Na Cha Vyoma Bhumir Na Tejo Na Vayuh, Chidananda Rupah Shivoham Shivoham

Na Cha Praana Sanjno Na Vai Pancha Vaayuhu, Na Vaa Sapta Dhaatur Na Va Pancha Koshah Na Vaak Paani Paadau Na Chopasthapaayuh, Chidaananda Rupah Shivoham Shivoham


I am not mind, nor intellect, nor ego, nor the reflections of inner self (chitta). [more] I am not the five senses.I am beyond that. I am not the ether, nor the earth, nor the fire, nor the wind.I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva, love and pure consciousness.

What is the source of Sat Chit Ananda mantra?

In course of time other laws had to be made. These in turn will have to go, and other Smritis will come. This is one fact we have to learn that the Vedas being eternal will be one and the same throughout all ages, but the Smritis/Puranas will have an end.

Smritis will have end in future and so does idol worship and superstitions

Ekam evadvitiyam" "He is One only without a second. Non-dual" [Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1]1

"Na casya kascij janita na cadhipah." "Of Him there are neither parents nor lord. That is He is self-born" [Svetasvatara Upanishad 6:9]2

"Na tasya pratima asti" "There is no image of Him." [Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:19]3

  • 2
    Thanks for all the great information, its really wonderful. But you have completely missed rigorous technical nature of the question and you have went about explaining the model of Sankhya which has almost nothing to do with my question which is How do Vedantis claim to establish Vedic-Theism based on Shabda pramana. So please edit or delete this answer – Chakrapani N Rao Nov 7 at 16:31
  • Vedas are Shrutis and themselves are Pramana and eternal truth unlike Puranas – user16727 Nov 7 at 16:33
  • 1
    That is what the question is, how can you consider Vedas to be pramana? Consider me temporarily not taking Vedas as pramana, how will you convince me? – Chakrapani N Rao Nov 7 at 16:35
  • Go and enquire with 4 Shankarcharya Matthas that know way more Hindu Dharma than you and me and ask them "why Vedas-Shrutis are superior and eternal ". Matthas were established by Adi Shankaracharya himself who protected Hinduism from Buddhism in past and reestablished Sanatan Dharma. Every Hindu is supposed to do 4char dham yatra close to 4 matthas once in their lifetime if one call himself a real Hindu. – user16727 Nov 8 at 18:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .