Thursday, May 13, 2010

Is dharma inferable?

In his Seśvaramīmāṃsā ad 1.1.4, Vedānta Deśika refutes the possibility of dharma being inferred as follows:

In this way, since it is impossible for people like us to directly observe (adhyakṣ-) dharma in the form of an instrument to realise [one's] benefit, it is established that even inference, which requires [the observation] of mutual concomitance and exclusion [and, hence, depends on direct perception], is not an instrument of knowledge in regard to dharma.

As for [the argument] “Even in case of an equal study and service [to God], one [inferentially] postulates a difference in the extra-sensory conditions because one sees a difference in result” –that also does not [hold], because it does not require a further condition, since it is possible that a subtle difference in study, service [to God], etc., is indeed visible. And, once a difference in condition has been postulated in general, would it be established through direct perception, etc. or through [Vedic] injunction and other [Sacred Texts]? Since the correct distinction (viveka) is not established, [the argument] is not useful for the [correct] practice. (Since through inference one only postulates a difference in study, service, etc., but cannot ascertain its nature, there is no way to know what one should do in order to achieve it. Hence, either one relies on the Veda, or one is stuck to impotence.)

Therefore, only the Sacred Texts (śruti) are a [proper] shelter for the performance of dharma, together with [its] procedure.

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