If you are unfamiliar with Vedanta, please consider reading the Dvaita FAQ to get some background. The appendix should help if you need to look up the meanings of specific words.
Introduction -- what the prameya-shloka is
Error terms and their definitions
The word prameya may be defined, in accordance with the meaning given to it by Sri Jayatîrtha, as "the subject of exact knowledge." All knowledge involves three entities: the subject, the knower, and the knowledge itself. If the knowledge is exact, then these are called the prameya, the pramâtâ (or pramât.r), and the pramâ, respectively.
Knowledge itself can be of three kinds: yathârtha-j~nâna, or exact knowledge; samshaya-j~nâna, or doubtful knowledge; and viparyaya-j~nâna, or incorrect knowledge. Thus, exact knowledge is that which precludes the presence of doubt or incorrect understanding. However, it is not necessary for knowledge to be complete in all respects, for it to be considered exact. Knowledge may be considered exact to whatever extent it is present, even if the subject of the knowledge is not known to its fullest extent.
The shloka by Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha lays out nine important tenets, all seemingly simple on the surface but having a world of depth, as the prameya-s of Tattvavâda. These prameya-s are consistent among themselves, and are complete in defining Tattvavâda; thus, they give a coherent and unique definition of the whole doctrine. It is very characteristic of Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha to have digested the whole of the corpus of a large number of commentaries, original texts, glosses, etc., and presented a very pithy and yet easy-to-understand statement of the doctrine as presented in all of them.
In reading and analyzing the shloka
that explains the prameya-s,
one finds a faithful echo of many of Srimad Ananda Tîrtha's
own statements; Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha compromises neither the nature
nor the intensity of his master's unequivocal assertions. His
prameya-shloka is thus a faithful
recap of the subjects expounded upon by the previous scholars
in the tradition, and it may be asserted that a correct understanding
of the shloka is equivalent
to a grasp of the fundamental tenets of Tattvavâda.
The shloka that lays out the nine prameya-s is
shrIman-madhva-mate hariH parataraH satyaM jagat.h tattvato | bhedo jIvagaNAH hareranucharAH nIchochcha bhAvaN^gatAH | muktirnaijasukhAnubhUtiramalAbhaktishcha tatsAdhanam.h | hyaxAditritayaM pramANamakhilAmnAyaikavedyo hariH ||This may be split as:
shrIman.h madhva-mate In Sriman Madhva's doctrine 1> hariH parataraH Hari (Vishnu) is Supreme 2> satyaM jagat.h The world is true (real) 3> tattvataH bhedaH The differences are real 4> jIvagaNAH hareH anucharAH The classes of souls are cohorts of Hari 5> nIchochcha bhAvaN^gatAH And reach different ultimate states 6> muktiH naija-sukha-anubhUtiH mukti (liberation) is the experience of the joy of one's own nature 7> amalA-bhaktiH-cha tat.h sAdhanaM That is achieved by flawless devotion and [correct understanding] 8> axAditritayaM hi pramANaM pratyaksha (observation), etc., are indeed the sources of knowledge 9> akhila-AmnAya-eka-vedyo hariH Hari alone is praised in all the Vedas.
hariH parataraH Hari (Vishnu) is Supreme
But there really is a lot more complexity than just the simple statement that Vishnu is Supreme. Notice, in particular, that the statement is "hariH parataraH," rather than "hariH paraH" or "hariH paramaH."
`parataraH' can be interpreted in several ways -- for instance:
How so? As Srimad Ananda Tîrtha says:
nArAyaNAya paripUrNa guNArNavAya vishvodaya sthitilayonniyati pradAya | j~nAnapradAya vibudhAsurasaukhya duHkha satkAraNAya vitatAya namonamaste |
NârâyaNa, who is an ocean of complete virtues; Who causes the rise, sustenance, and fall of the universe; Who gives knowledge, and joy and suffering respectively to the good and the evil; Who is a Benevolent Cause, and is completely beyond comprehension: Him, I salute over and over.
Thus, in all these respects, Vishnu (NârâyaNa) is completely beyond oneself and others.
Authorities in support of these are many. For instance, the Bhagavad Gita, chapter fifteen, says:
dvAvimau purushhau loke xarashchAxara eva cha | xaraH sarvANi bhUtAni kUtastho.axara uchyate ||
There are two types of sentients in the universe: the destructible and the indestructible. All creatures are destructible, while the anvil-like is called indestructible.
uttamaH purushhastvanyaH paramAtmetyudAh.rtaH | yo lokatrayamAvishya bibhartyavyaya IshvaraH ||
The Supreme Being is different (from both the previous), and is thus called the `paramAtmA' (parama=Supreme; AtmA=Soul, sentient); He, who "invades" all three worlds and sustains them, though Himself unchanging, is Ishvara.
yasmAt.h xaramatIto.ahaM axarAdapi chottamaH | ato.asmi loke vede cha prathitaH purushhottamaH ||
Because I (Krishna) am beyond the destructible, and am also Superior to the indestructible, thus am I called in the world, and in the Vedas, as the Purushottama (Supreme Being).
In his commentary upon the Bhagavad Gita (and in other places as well), Srimad Ananda Tîrtha says that the `kUTastha' refers to Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, who is the "abhimAni" (controller) of all nature; thus, she is like a changeless anvil which supports change in others, in being herself changeless, but supporting all of nature that is ever-changing.
Thus, Krishna is saying that there are two kinds of entities in
the universe; one, the destructible, which includes all creatures,
and the second the anvil-like, Lakshmi, who sustains all nature
without suffering change. He, the Lord Vishnu, is different from
both, and is thus called Paramâtmâ. He, who inhabits all three
worlds and sustains them, without suffering the changes and other
travails of the universe, is called Ishvara (Lord).
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satyaM jagat.h The universe is true (real)
That the universe is real, needs no separate proof at all; it is known from the evidence of one's everyday experience. How is such experience to be invalidated? Possibly by scripture. But what value to scripture when it negates the very source of knowledge that tells of the scripture's existence and worth in the first place? As Srimad Ananda Tîrtha puts it:
na chAnubhava virodhe Agamasya prAmANyam.h |
Scripture has no validity if opposed to experience.
Thus, one finds that the universe cannot be considered an illusion, because, as Ananda Tîrtha says, again:
tatra pramANAbhAvAt.h |
-- there is no evidence for the same.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says:
asatyamapratishhThaM te jagadAhuranIshvaram.h | aparaspara saMbhUtaM kimanyatkAmahaitukam.h ||
They (the evil) say that the universe is untrue (illusory), without basis [in reason/scripture], and without an Ishvara; that it has no mutual coherence, and is for nothing except lust-satisfaction.
Thus, the idea that the universe is illusory, or that it has no
personal Creator, is strongly rejected in the Bhagavad Gita, among
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tattvataH bhedaH The differences are real
What is the nature of difference? Is the difference from something else inherent in an entity, or is it something apart from it? If it is something else, then we have an infinite regress.
For if the difference is apart from the entity itself, then there must be a difference between the difference and the entity. Applying the same reasoning over and over, therefore, one has to postulate an infinite number of differences, showing the need for an infinity of description to capture difference. However, all this is avoided when one considers that the property of being different from every other entity, is part of the entity itself; as Ananda Tîrtha puts it:
padArthasvarUpatvAt.h bhedasya |
Because difference is the self-same nature of the entity (infinite regress does not occur).
Thus, because differences are the self-same properties of the entities of the universe themselves, and since the entities are real, the differences are also real.
What are the types of difference? There are five, given by:
jIveshvarabhidA chaiva jaDeshvara bhidA tathA | jIvabhedo mithashchaiva jaDajIva bhidA tathA | mithashcha jaDabhedo.ayaM prapaJNcho bhedapaJNchakaH || -- paramashrutiH
The difference between soul and the Creator, and the difference between the insentient and the Creator; the difference between any two souls, and the difference between insentient and soul; and the difference between any two insentients, these five differences constitute the universe.
But what about statements in the Vedas that apparently show the
identity of jîva (soul) and
Ishvara (Creator)? Srimad Ananda
na hi kashchidapi abhedAgamaH | santi cha bhede sarvAgamAH |There is never, ever, a statement of non-difference; all scripture shows difference, only.
This aspect is clarified in quotes like the following:
sarve vedA harerbhedaM sarvasmAt.h GYApayanti hi | bhedaH svAtantryasArvaGYyasarvaishvaryAdikashcha saH | svarUpameva bhedo.ayaM vyAvR^ittishcha svarUpatA | sarvavyAvR^ittaye yasmAt.h svashabdo.ayaM prayujyate | sarvavyAvR^ittatAmeva neti netyAdikA shrutiH | vishhNorato vedAdanyA api sarvA na saMshayaH | -- nArAyaNashrutiH
All the Vedas speak of the difference of Hari from all else. That difference lies in His independence, omniscience, and overlordship over all, etc. His essential nature itself constitutes His difference from all. Essential nature is what distinguishes an entity from others. The word 'sva' (self) in `svarUpa' (self-nature) meaning essential nature is used in order to distinguish an entity from all others. The Shruti (*) starting from "not thus, not thus," points to the difference of Vishnu from all else (from the sentients and the insentients, or from the destructible and the indestructible). All other Shruti texts also present the same truth. There is no doubt upon this point.
(*) -- BrhadâraNyaka Upanishad.
This point is also made in the Bhagavad Gita XV-15, where Krishna says:
vedaishcha sarvaiH ahameva vedyo |
All the Vedas and other scriptures tell of Me (Krishna) only.
Thus, they do no speak of an impersonal God, or of identity between
jîva and Ishvara;
they speak only of Him who is absolutely beyond -- and therefore
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jIvagaNAH hareH anucharAH The classes of jîva-s are cohorts of Hari
Notice the use of `jIva-gaNAH' rather than `jIvAH'. The latter would simply mean "jîva-s," but by using the former, it is indicated that the jîva-s (souls) are not uniform, but are graded in quality.
The Taittirîya Upanishad says:
te ye shataM mAnushhA AnandAH | sa eko manushhyagandharvANAmAnandaH |...
te ye shataM devAnAmAnandAH | sa eka indrasyA.a.anandaH |etc.
A hundred times the enjoyment of a human; that is the enjoyment of a human-gandharva.
A hundred times the enjoyment of the deva-s; that is the enjoyment of Indra.
The Padma PurâNa also expounds upon that portion of the Taittirîya Upanishad, and other such Shruti quotes, as follows:
nR^ipAdyAH shatadhR^ityantA muktigA uttarottam.h | guNaiH sarvaiH shataguNaiH modante iti hi shrutiH |From the foremost-among-humans, to Brahma, the jîva-s attain mukti, with each step up qualifying for a hundred times the enjoyment of the previous -- thus indeed says the Shruti.
Thus, it is clearly indicated that all jîva-s do not have identical degrees of enjoyment. This can also be derived from inference, as a matter of fact:
Consider that all do not have identical positions of joy/suffering; why? If all jîva-s are inherently identical, what causes them to be different in their positions in reality?
1> If because of the Creator, Lord Vishnu, then He may be accused of favoritism, malice, etc., and that is unacceptable.
2> If because of past karma, then why is the past karma different for jîva-s that are identical? What caused those to be different?
3> If because the jîva-s themselves have different desires and thus choose different paths, how can they be called identical at all?
Thus, it follows from logic as well, that all jîva-s are not identical.
But even granting that all jîva-s are not identical, why would any jîva do Vishnu's bidding? No one wants to be a servant; all want to be free. Yet, as Ananda Tîrtha puts it:
svatantramasvatantraM cha dvividhaM tattvamishhyate | svatantro bhagavAn.h vishhNuH bhAvAbhAvau dvidhetarat.h ||
All entities are divided into two kinds -- the independent and the dependent. Lord Vishnu is independent, as He alone is different from both the positive and the negative.
The use of `bhAvAbhAvau dvidhetarat.h' is to indicate that Vishnu is not simply different from the things existing; for instance, if one simply says that Vishnu is not like anything in the universe, there might be a suspicion as to whether He is similar to some inexistent entity that might be imagined.
Therefore, as only Vishnu is truly Independent in every respect, it follows that all else must follow His dictates, one way or another.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says:
IshvaraH sarva-bhUtAnAM hR^iddeshe.arjuna tishhThati | bhrAmayan.h sarva-bhUtAni yantrArUDhAni mAyayA ||The Creator resides in the hearts of all creatures; He makes them act, as though they were parts mounted on a machine.
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If the jîva-s are not inherently identical, one might wonder, do they yet reach the same ultimate state? If they do, then again one might accuse Vishnu of arbitrarily assigning all jîva-s to some fixed state, not recognizing the higher worth of some of them. But, as a matter of fact, it cannot be accepted that Vishnu is shown as flawed; as Srimad Ananda Tîrtha puts it:
nIchochcha bhAvaN^gatAH (The jîva-s are) headed for higher and lower states.
dhyeyo nArAyaNaM nityaM sR^ishhTisthitya.ntakArakaH | bhaktAnAM muktido nityamadhamaj~nAninAM tamaH ||Worthy of contemplation is that NârâyaNa (Vishnu) who is Eternally the Cause of Creation, Sustenance, and Destruction; who is the Giver of mukti (liberation) to [His] devotees, and of eternal damnation to the evil.
But what is the scriptural basis for this assertion? After all, isn't it true that nearly every other doctrine denies the existence of eternal damnation?
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says:
UrdhvaM gachchhanti sattvasthA madhye tishhThanti rAjasAH | jaghanya guNa-vR^ittisthA adho gachchhanti tAmasAH ||Upwards (to liberation) go those situated in sattva; the rAjasa-s stay in the middle; those situated in abominable qualities and deeds, the tâmasa-s, go to the lowest state.
But can it not be argued that the `sattvasthA' refers to qualities born out of attachment to other entities, rather than to innate qualities, thus showing that eternality of the states described is not indicated? Not so. In a previous chapter of the 'Gita itself, it is said:
traiguNya vishhayA vedA nistraiguNyo bhavArjuna | nirdvandvo nityasattvastho niryogaxema AtmavAn.h ||The Veda-s deal with the three qualities -- [knowing them], be without the three qualities, O Arjuna; be free of the pairs-of-opposites (love/hate, friendship/enmity, etc.), continuously situated in sattva, without concern for accrual or maintenance [of material entities], and given to contemplation of the Lord.
Now, the three guNa-s, or qualities, are sattva, loosely translated as "goodness," rajas, translated similarly as "indifference," and tamas, also so translated as "evil." Now, Krishna is telling Arjuna to stay apart from the three guNa-s, and yet be always situated in sattva; does this make any sense?
It does, if one considers that guNa-s can be either acquired, or of one's own innate nature. Krishna is telling Arjuna to slough off all his acquired guNa-s, and be situated in the sattva that is his own nature (it cannot be the other way!).
But why can it not be argued that there are no qualities of one's own nature, at all, but all qualities are merely acquired by association?
For several reasons; some of them are:
Also, observe that the exact word `sattvasthA' used in "traiguNya vishhayA vedA" to denote the quality of one's own nature, is also used in "UrdhvaM gachchanti sattvasthA," thus showing that it is the inherent, rather than the overlaid, quality that is being referred to. In any event, it is also seen that Krishna uses `rAjasAH' ("the indifferent") and `tAmasAH' ("the evil") as if they were inherent to the jîva-s described; there is no indication in His words that the qualities indicated are acquired ones.
Further support for the position is found in the sixteenth chapter:
tAnahaM dvishhataH krUrAn.h saMsAreshhu narAdhamAn.h | xipAmi ajasraM ashubhAn.h AsurIshhveva yonishhu || 19 || AsurIM yonimApannA mUDhA janmani-janmani | mAmaprApyaiva kaunteya tato yAntyadhamAM gatim.h || 20 ||Those who are hateful towards me, are cruel and the worst humans in the world; them I forever hurl only into demonaic species.
Having reached evil species in birth after birth, the fools; completely failing to reach me, only, they then go to the lowest state.
Notice the use of `eva' (meaning, "only," or "certainly") in the second line of the 20th verse; it is clearly stated that there are some who never reach mukti.
The IshAvAsya Upanishad says:
a.ndhantamaH pravishanti ye.avidyAmupAsate |Unto a blinding darkness (eternal hell) enter those who worship falsely.
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muktiH naija-sukha anubhUtiH Liberation is the complete experience of the joys of one's own nature.Consider what liberation might be. If it is to mean ceaseless bliss, then one has to wonder what the source of such ceaseless bliss might be. If the source is something in the material world, then the bliss cannot possibly be eternal, and must cease. If the source of bliss is the Lord, then it could be eternal, but He could be accused of partisan behavior, because He evidently gives such bliss to some but not to others. Therefore, the joy experienced by the soul in its state of liberation can only properly be that of its own nature.
In the Bhâgavata PurâNa, it is said:
muktirhitvAnyathArUpaM svarUpeNa vyavasthitiH |
Mukti is when other-attributes (those not of one's self-same nature) are given up, and [one is] situated in one's own nature.
Similarly, Srimad Ananda Tîrtha quotes from the Rg Veda:
paraJNjyotirupasampadya svena rUpeNAbhinishhpadyate |
[In mukti], having earned the form of the highest brilliance, [one experiences] one's own form to an excellent degree.
But what is the significance of the prameya-shloka saying `anu-bhUtiH' (excellent experiencing, or complete experiencing) rather than just `bhUtiH' (for experiencing)? Is there any state where one may experience only part of the joy of one's own nature?
In his salutation before commencing the commentary upon the Vishnu-tattva-vinirNaya, Sri Jayatîrtha has said:
svApaM prApayati shramApahR^itaye kalpAvasAne cha yaH | taM devaM pitaraM patiM gurutamaM vande ramAvallabham.h ||He, who gives sleep, to remove the stress of work, at the end of the kalpa as well; that Deity, Father, Lord, the highest among guru-s, the Lord of Ramâ (Lakshmi), I salute.
In the state of deep sleep, a person has no contact with the senses, and thus, sense-based satisfaction does not exist. However, it is a matter of common experience that sleep is very satisfying, and that upon awakening, one always recalls it to have been a very pleasing experience. So where is the joy of sleep coming from? Since it cannot be from association with external entities, it has to be from the jîva-s own nature.
The other state where a jîva may experience partial joy of its own nature, is in the interregnum between kalpa-s, when Creation does not exist. At that time, too, there is no contact with material nature, and the jîva experiences a state similar to deep sleep.
Thus, Sri Jayatîrtha worships Lord Vishnu as the remover of stress,
during sleep, as well as at the end of the Kalpa.
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But why is moksha (liberation) even desirable? Why should one not focus on achieving other ends? There are said to be four ends that one can strive for: dharma, or religious/spiritual merit; artha, or wealth; kAma, or sensory satisfaction; and moksha (mukti), or liberation from the world. Of these, why is moksha the highest?
amalA bhaktiH cha tat.h sAdhanaM That (moksha) is achieved by flawless devotion and [correct understanding]
anityatvAtsaduHkhatvAnna dharmAdyAH paraM sukham.h | moxa eva parAna.ndaH saMsare parivartatAm.h || -- mahAbhArataBecause dharma, etc., are non-everlasting, and are always mixed with pain, dharma, etc., are not the supreme benefit; moksha alone is the supreme joy, and is beyond the ken of the world.
That gives the reason why it is that moksha should be the primary objective of one's striving, in preference to the other types of possible benefits.
Srimad Ananda Tîrtha states:
mokshashcha vishhNu-prasAdena-vinA na labhyate |Moksha and [the other ends] are not obtained without Vishnu's grace.
That mukti is achieved by the grace of Vishnu, and not achieved otherwise, is known clearly from several sources, for instance:
aj~nAnAM j~nAnado vishhNoH j~nAninAM moxadashcha saH | Ana.ndadashcha muktAnAM sa evaiko janArdanaH || -- skAnda-purANaTo the un-knowing, Vishnu gives knowledge; to the knowing, He gives moksha; To the liberated, He gives joy, and He alone is fit for all to worship.
ye tu sarvANi karmANi mayi sanyasya matparaH | ananyenaiva yogena mAM dhyAyanta upAsate || teshhAmahaM samuddhartA mR^ityusaMsArasAgarAt.h | bhavAMi na chirAtpArtha mayyAveshitachetasAm.h || -- bhagavadgItAThose who, having surrendered all actions unto me, without fail, perform (bhakti)-yoga, meditate upon and worship me;
For them, who have imbued Me into their consciousness completely, I am the Swift Deliverer from the ocean of death and material existence.
yasya prasAdAtparamArtirUpAdasmAtsaMsArAnmuchyate nApareNa | nArAyaNo.asau paramo vichi.ntyo mumuxubhiH karmapAshAdamushhmAt.h || -- nArAyaNashrutiHBy whose grace alone, the greatly suffering are rid of the world, and not otherwise; He is NârâyaNa, the Supreme, and the one fit to be contemplated upon by those who seek to be liberated from the binds of karma.
What is devotion? In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna has said:
yo mAM evaM asammUDho jAnAti purushhottamaM | sa sarvavit.h bhajati mAM sarvabhAvena bhArata ||He who knows Me, without a doubt, as being the Supreme Person; he is considered to know all [the scriptures], and worships Me in all possible ways, O Bhârata (Arjuna).
Thus, it is necessary to know the Lord's qualities as they are, for otherwise, a proper devotion to Him is not attained. In the previous verses to this one (which were cited in connection with the first prameya), Krishna has defined the exact meaning of `purushhottama' as being One who is different from, and vastly Superior to, the destructible and the indestructible.
How and why may devotion to the Lord be possibly flawed? If one
considers oneself to (also) be the Lord, or to be the same as
He, or to be even superior, or if one considers another than the
Lord to be Supreme, or such, then one's devotion is flawed, and
will not result in liberation. As Ananda Tîrtha puts it:
jIvAbhedA nirguNatvaM apUrNaguNatA tathA | sAmyAdhikyaM tadanyeshhAM bhedastadgata eva cha | prAdurbhAva viparyAsaH tadbhaktadveshha eva cha | tatpramANani.ndAM cha doshhA ete.akhilA matAH | etairvihIna yA bhaktiH sA bhaktiriti uchyate || -- mahAbhArata-tAtparya-nirNayaThe significant parts are:
Considering the Lord non-different from soul(s), and considering Him to be of incomplete qualities; considering someone other than He to be equal to, or superior than, Him, and considering He Himself to have inherent difference within Himself (as in considering different forms of Him to be different from each other, etc.); to say that He suffers the sorrows of birth, etc., in His incarnations; to hate His devotee(s); to criticize or hate the authorities regarding the Lord; these are all the flaws possible (in devotion)
-- devotion that is devoid of these, is called bhakti.
Srimad Achârya says that just as a king puts down those subjects of his who are disloyal to him, the Lord puts down those jîva-s who refuse to be loyal to Him. Disloyalty to the throne can take several forms -- refusing to acknowledge the king, considering oneself or another to (also) be the king or as powerful as the king, condemning the servants of the king, speaking ill of the dictates of the king, etc. So also, disloyalty to the Lord can be as atheism, a mistaken belief in identity with the Lord, the worship of other deities as the Lord, attempting to hurt or harm devotees of the Lord, condemning the scriptures, etc. And while a human king is limited in his power, and is also bounded in his influence by space and time, the Lord faces no such limitation. Thus, whilst there exists the possibility of escaping punishment in spite of defying a king, there is none such when defying the Lord.
It is seen that all of these flaws may be considered instances where one does not understand the Lord as the Purushottama, and these are all the possible instances where proper understanding of Him as being so may lapse. Thus, when such lapses are not found, bhakti exists.
To quote Srimad Ananda Tîrtha again:
j~nAnapUrvaM parassnehaH nityo bhakti itIryate |
Continuous/ceaseless affection for the Lord, which is accompanied by the proper knowledge, is called devotion.
Sri Jayatîrtha offers the following equivalent but more explicit definition:
anantakalyANaguNatvaj~nAnapUrvakaH antrAyasahasreNApi apratibaddhaH prema pravAhaH bhaktiH |Knowing the Lord as full of completely auspicious infinite attributes, and maintaining a stream of unperturbed love towards Him even if there be a thousand obstacles or problems, is bhakti.
That is to say, one is not to have "devotion" when things
are going well for oneself, but criticize Him when they are not,
etc., as one is apt to do.
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The word `pramANa' is defined by Ananda Tîrtha using the statement:
axAditritayaM hi pramANaM The triad of pratyaksha, etc., are indeed the sources of valid knowledge
yathArthaM pramANam.h |That which is as-is, is a pramANa.
This is a definition of the word pramANa. But what is a definition of something? What does it mean to define something? If there is an entity to be defined, which we refer to as a lakshya, then a property, called a lakshaNa, must be given for it; this statement of a property is a definition. But what kind of property is suitable for use in a definition?
Sri Jayatîrtha says:
lakshyamAtravyApako dharmo lakshaNam.h |A property that extends only to the entity to be described, is a lakshaNa.
Consider the case of a cow. If one has to specify what one means by `cow', then how does one do so? One cannot say that cows have four feet, because many animals do, and this specification has the flaw of "ati-vyApti" -- excess over legitimate domain. One cannot say that cows are white with brown spots on their skin, because not all cows are like that, and this specification carries the flaw of "a-vyApti," or not extending to all cases of the defined. A proper lakshaNa is given by:
sAsnAdimAn.h gauH |A cow is that which has a flap of loose skin hanging at its throat, etc. (Other properties like four-leggedness, etc., to be added in support of this one.)
Thus, just as the property of having a loose flap of skin at the throat is unique to the cow and is thus a lakshaNa for a cow, the property of being "yathArtha" -- as-is, is unique to the pramANa, and is a lakshaNa for a pramANa. Therefore, the pramANa-lakshaNa is given by "yathArthaM pramANam.h" rather than in any other way.
Srimad Ananda Tîrtha further states:
tat.h dvividham.h | kevalaM anupramANaM cha |That (pramANa) is of two kinds -- kevala-, and anu-pramANa.
yathArthaj~nAnaM kevalam.h |Knowledge which is as-is, is called kevala.
tatsAdhanaM anupramANam.h |The source of that (the previous) is anu-pramANa.
And after some further discussion about kevala-pramANa, he says:
anupramANaM trividham.h | pratyaxamanumAnamAgamaM iti |
anu-pramANa is of three types: pratyaksha, anumAna, and Agama -- thus.
Generally speaking, the word `pramANa' is often applied to refer to this kind -- in the prameya-shloka, Sri Vyâsa Tîrtha applies it so. So in fact, the three kinds of anu-pramANa are what are mentioned as "the triad of pratyaksha, etc.," in the verse.
nirdoshhArthendriya sannikarshaH pratyaksham.h |Flawless interaction between a sense-organ and an entity in its domain, is called pratyaksha.
In another context, Sri Madhva has also quoted the Brahma-Tarka statement:
vishhayAn.h pratisthitaM hi akshaM pratyakshaM iti kIrtitam.h |
A sense-organ that is flawlessly situated upon a subject of its observation, is known as pratyaksha.
Similarly, he gives a quote from there saying:
tarko adushhTaH tathA anumA |Inference that is without flaw constitutes logic.
What are the flaws of inference?
AtmAnyonyAshraya chakrakAnavasthAkalpanAgaurava shrutadR^ishhTahAnAdayodUshhaNAnumA |AtmAshraya, anyonyAshraya, chakrakAshraya, anavasthA, kalpanAgaurava, shruta-hAna, dR^ishhTa-hAna, etc., are flaws of inference.
(Please look in the glossary of logical errors for the meanings of these terms.)
Similarly, Agama is defined as:
nirdoshhaH shabdaH AgamaH |Flawless textual evidence is Agama.
Thus, in every case, it is not necessary for something to have a certain positive qualification in order to qualify as a pramANa -- the mere lack of a flaw is considered sufficient. That is to say, the quality of being a pramANa -- which is called prAmANya -- is inherent in a source of knowledge, unless such property is vitiated by a flaw. Any source of knowledge is assumed to convey as-is (exact) information unless there is reason to believe otherwise.
But how? Certain schools of thought hold that all sources of knowledge are flawed by themselves, and that thus, it is not possible to qualify a source of knowledge as a pramANa except upon support from another source. Srimad Ananda Tîrtha says:
prAmANyaM cha svata eva | anyathA.anavasthAnAt.h |
The quality of being a pramANa is of the self-same nature (of the source) only; otherwise, an infinite regress results.
Just consider -- if any one pramANa has to be qualified by another in order to be effective, then there has to be a third to qualify the second, and so on, with no end. There cannot ever be any valid knowledge at all, in that case. To avoid that situation, one must accept that the property of validity is inherent in a source of knowledge, unless such is vitiated by flaw.
But how does one know that there is a flaw somewhere? What is the source of such knowledge of flaw? Srimad Achârya states:
bahupramANavirodhe chaikasyAprAmANyaM dR^ishhTaM shuktirajatAdau |When many pramANa-s (or a stronger pramANa) oppose(s) a single source, then the latter's a-prAmANya, or non-validity, is seen, as in the case of the shell appearing as silver.
A famous example given in Vedanta is that of a sea-shell being seen in poor light, and of its glint in that light appearing to be that of silver, thus leading to the mistaking of the shell for a silver object. If one picks up the shell and observes it not to be made of silver, then the stronger evidence of one's closer and careful observation is used to dismiss the earlier one as unsatisfactory.
But it may be argued that a-prAmANya is known when a flaw is seen; so what's this about opposing a stronger or many pramANa-s, etc.?
na cha doshhajanyatvAdeva durbalatvamiti virodhaH | bahupramANaviruddhAnAM doshhajanyatvaniyamAt.h |
It is not to be said that the previous is incorrect because a-prAmANya is always born of flaw; for there exists a rule that opposition to many (or stronger) pramANa(s) is born of flaw.
doshhajanyatvaM cha balavatpramANavirodhAdeva j~nAyate |The fact of the source being vitiated by flaw, is known only by its opposition to stronger evidence.
Coming back to the prameya-shloka quote "akshAditrayaM hi pramANaM," there are two parts to the issue:
For the latter point, one has to consider that there are certain other types of pramANa given by some other schools of thought: for instance the following --
1> arthApatti -- this is defined by
arthataH prAptirevArthApattirityAbhidhIyate |Something obtained (derived) by exclusion is called arthApatti.
An example for this is given by the famous "pIno devadattaH; divA na bhuN^kte -- tasmAt.h, rAtro bhuN^kte" -- Devadatta is very stout; he does not eat during the day time -- therefore, he eats at night.
By excluding all except a certain case, and knowing that one of the cases must hold, one considers whichever case is not excluded, to be true, and this type of pramANa is called arthApatti.
2> upamAna -- this is defined by
dR^ishhTvA sadR^ishamevAnyaM pUrvadR^ishhTe tu vastuni | etatsadR^ishatAj~nAnamupamAnaM prakIrtitam.h |Upon perceiving a similarity with some entity that has been seen before; that knowledge of similarity is known as upamAna. For instance, knowing a forest-fire to be of a similar nature to a kitchen-fire, and coming to know that it must be very hot.
3> abhAva -- this literally means "absence," so that perception of some entity's absence is held to be an independent pramANa. For instance, entering into an empty room, and observing the absence of a person one is looking for.
With regard to these, Srimad Achârya states:
arthApattyupame anumA visheshhaH |arthApatti and upamAna are special cases of anumAna.
How so? Because it is possible to state an inference rule so that given the conditions of the arthApatti (or upamAna), one can arrive at its conclusion; in fact, it turns out that such an inference is unconsciously applied in such a case.
Sri Jayatîrtha, says, in his commentary upon the Vishnu-tatva-vinirNaya:
kurupANdavavat.h sAmAnyavisheshhabhAvaM Ashritya arthApattyAdivyAvR^ittyarthaM etaduktam.h |Just like the Kuru-Pândava relationship, which is used to indicate difference between the ordinary and the special, it should be understood that arthApatti, etc., are included [as part of anumâna].
Sri Srinivasa Tîrtha, the author of sub-commentaries upon many of Sri Madhva's works, says in his Vâkyârtha-dîpika, as commentary upon the statement by Sri Jayatîrtha:
yathA pANDavAnAM kauravavisheshhAtpR^ithaggrahaNaM evamarthApattyAdInAM anumAnavisheshhatvAt.h pR^ithaktvyAvR^ittyarthaM na kenachidityuktamityarthaH |Just as the Pândava-s were special cases of the Kaurava-s, and were thus referred to as though separate, so also, arthApatti, etc., are special cases of anumAna (and are thus separately referred to), and it is thus not at all appropriate to exclude them from the purview [of anumâna] -- thus is the meaning.
Sri Madhva has further said:
abhAvo anumA pratyakshaM cha |abhAva [is subsumed under] anumAna, pratyaksha, and [Agama].
This can be of three kinds, because an anu-pramANa can not only give knowledge of presence, it can also give knowledge of absence. A sense-organ can also perceive absence of whatever entity it is capable of perceiving. The ear can detect sound as well as silence; the eye, light as well as darkness, etc.
Similarly, absence may also be inferred, or known from textual
evidence. Thus, any specific case of absence can always be reduced
to one of the three given pramANa-s.
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akhila-AmnAya-eka-vedyo hariH All the Vedas speak solely of HariThe meaning of `AmnAya' is given by the following verse (conjuncts split):
vedAste nityavinnatvAt.h shrutayashcha akhilaiH shruteH | AmnAyo ananyathA pAThAt.h IshabuddhiH sthitAH sadA || -- mahAvArAha upanishhad.hThe Vedas are called `veda' for being eternally-present; because they are always "heard" (rather than composed), they are called `shruti'; they are called `AmnAya' for being recited without difference (i.e., for being unchanged over all time) -- they have all these qualities because they are present in the mind of Ishvara (Vishnu) at all times.
Therefore, the word `AmnAya' in the quote refers to the Vedas, with special reference to the quality of their unchanging nature over all time. And the prameya is that the entire corpus of the unchanging Vedas speaks primarily of Hari (Vishnu) only.
As Srimad Ananda Tîrtha puts it:
vishhNusarvottamatvaM eva mahA-tAtparyaM sarvAgamAnAm.h |The primary meaning of all Agama-s is the Supremacy of Vishnu, only.
And he also says:
mukhyataH sarvashabdaishcha vAchya eko janArdanaH | avyaktaH karmavAchyaishcha vAchya eko amitAtmakaH ||All words (in the scriptures) primarily refer to the one Janârdana; even the unexpressed karma-referring portions (the karma-kANDa of the Vedas) refer to Him, whose nature is Boundless.
Scriptural evidence in support of this position is not scant. As seen with an earlier prameya, we have Krishna's statement in the 'Gita:
vedaishcha sarvaiH ahameva vedyo |The Vedas and [their adjunct texts like the Itihâsa-s and PurâNa-s] all speak of Me only.
We also have
mukhyaM cha sarvavedAnAM tAtparyaM shrIpateH param.h | -- mahAvArAha upanishhad.h
The chief import of all the Vedas is the Supremacy of the Lord-of-Shri (Vishnu).
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yo vipralambhaviparItamatiprabhUtAn.h vAdAnnirastakR^itavAn.h bhuvi tattvavAdam.h | sarveshvaro haririti pratipAdayantaM Ana.ndatIrthamunivaryamahaM namAmi ||That doctrine which quells all positions arising out of ignorance and deceit, is Tattvavâda;
|| bhAratIramaNamukhyaprANA.ntargata shrIkR^ishhNArpaNamastu || || shrI gurubhyo namaH hariH OM ||
anu-pramaaNa ["tat-saadhanaM anu-pramaaNam.h"] -- the source of the previous, is called an anu-pramaaNa, which can be of three types:
anumaana ["tarkaH adushhTaH"] -- inference without flaw constitutes logic. Flaws of inference are described below.
aagama ["adushhTa vaakya"] -- sentences, or bodies of sentences (texts) without flaw, are called aagama.
prameya ["pramaavishayaH prameyaH"] -- the subject of pramaa is the prameya.
pramaa ["yathaarthaGYaanaM pramaa"] -- knowledge of something as-is is called pramaa.
saadhya -- consequence, likewise.
upa-jiivya -- anu-pramaaNa by which hetu is known.
upa-jiivaka -- anu-pramaaNa fed by, or created by, saadhya.
asangati ["aakaaN^kshaaviraho asangatiH"] -- This can be translated as 'irrelevance,' and the definition reads: "Lack of fulfillment of expectation is irrelevance." In a discussion, if a reply given, a point raised, or a statement made, is not in accordance with the expectation that it be pertinent to the matter under discussion, then it is irrelevant.
nyuunataa ["vivakshitaa.asaMpuurtirnyuunataa"] -- This can read as 'nullity,' with the definition reading loosely as: "Non-satisfaction of the claim constitutes nullity." In a discussion, if someone makes a claim, and later gives evidence that does not support the claim in full, then such evidence suffers from nullity, with respect to the claim. Another type is where a definition given does not cover all cases of the objects or entities to be defined.
aadhikyam : ["saN^gataavadhikatvamaadhikyam.h"] -- This can be translated as 'superfluity,' and the definition as: "An excess over what is relevant, constitutes superfluity." In a discussion, if someone takes the meaning or definition of something to cover more than what it should, then such is superfluous. Another type is where a definition given covers more than the object, entity, or set to be defined.
anyonyaashraya : Loosely, "mutual reliance." If a statement is proved by another, and the latter by the former, then this error exists.
chakrakaashraya : "circular reliance," a.k.a. circular reasoning. A more general case of the above; if instead of two, we have 'n' number of disputed statements, that are tied in a circle so that each one proves the next, then circular reasoning is shown.
anavasthaa : Infinite regress. If the proof of a statement requires an assumption, and proof of that assumption requires another, and proof of that still another, and so on, then infinite regress is said to occur.
pramaa-haana : "neglect of evidence," as in, when a statement neglects to take into account the fact that it is in opposition to accepted evidence. This itself has various forms: shruta-haana (neglect of Shruti), dR^ishhTa-haana (neglect of pratyaksha), etc.
kalpanaa-gaurava : "Respect for imagination." If a statement must be assumed without proof, so that an inference based upon it may be accepted, then the inference is subject to the respect that has been accorded to one's imagination, and is unacceptable. Economy in assumptions is a virtue.
upajiivya-virodha : "Opposition to upajiivya." If an inference is made where the consequence runs counter to the source of knowledge by which the antecedent is known, then the inference is considered incorrect, for opposing the source of its own antecedent, and the error made is known as upajiivya virodha; as has already been noted, 'upajiivya' is the name given to the anu-pramaaNa from which the antecedent is known.
apa-siddhaanta : "Invalid thesis." If a doctrine or a claim made is of such nature that its acceptance would render the doctrine itself false or without basis, then apa-siddhaanta-doshha -- the error of an invalid thesis -- is said to occur.
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This section is due to Shrisha Rao.
Created May 6, 1996, last modified on August 26, 2005