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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Validity of Sacred Texts other than one's own

How can one accept the validity of Sacred Texts other than one's own without ending up in relativism?
Jayanta starts the section of his Nyāyamañjarī dedicated to this topic with the following question:
Is this validity established only in regard to the Vedas |

or is this a hint (dik) for the validity of all other Sacred Texts (āgama)? || (edited by Kataoka 2004)


Even more interesting is the way he spells out the consequences of the second view:

They (Sacred Texts) would all end up being false, since they contradict each other ||

This is exactly the point. How can one accept the simultaneous validity of conflicting statements? One way out is the Advaita Vedānta one, namely to say that all statements are relatively valid, whereas only one's position is ultimately so. But I wonder whether, e.g., a follower of Dvaita, of Sāṅkhya or a Pāśupāta would be content with being just relatively true.

2 comments:

ombhurbhuva said...

The advaitins claim that of course but when put to it this very universality only proves their unique superiority. Then there is their apoureesha doctrine which is an unassimilable element and means that they are by definition first in the field. Historical criticism as practiced in the 19th.century in Europe does not play a large role in the in the pandits world as far as I can see but you would know infinitely more about that than I..

elisa freschi said...

Hi Michael,
I do not see how apauruṣeyatva "means that they are by definition first in the field", could you explain further your point?
As for the rest of the comment, you are right, I implicitly mixed two issues; in the post I was not describing what happened in Classical Indian philosophy (where relativism is not very much an option), but rather trying to think about a current problem along the terms of Classical Indian philosophy. The risk, I said, is to end up with relativism —a solution which only satisfies a few New Age followers and some atheists.

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