The Relation of Reasoning and Scriptures According to the Advaita Vedant Philosophy!
Regarding the nature of Upamana, Arthapatti, Sahda, etc., Advaita Vadanta agrees with the other Indian philosophical systems.
The relation of Tarka and Sruti, i.e., reasoning and scripture, is an important question in the context of y. Samkara sometimes favours one while at other times he seems to calling himself a mere commentator. On the other hand, sometimes lie considers reasoning as much better than scripture. At one place he says that reasoning is based upon the help of scriptures.
At another place he says that reasoning alone is sufficient for the knowledge of Brahman. It is for the first time, in the commentary on Kathopanisad, that reasoning has been criticised. It has been said that the knowledge of reality cannot be attained through reasoning. But it should be noticed that by reasoning, Samkara only means dialectical reasoning or Suska Tarka. He gives several arguments against (Invalidity of dialectical reasoning. Of those some important ones are the following:
(1) If reasoning is left to its own course, it may prove anything. Hence reasoning should be based upon Scriptures.
(2) Due to the difference in the intelligence of person’s, a man’s reasoning may be refuted by another’s more cogent reasoning.
(3) Reasoning cannot take us anywhere. We cannot hold an assembly of the logicians of the past, present and future lo decide about the truths which have been reasoned out by them in different ways.
Against the above arguments refuting the validity of reasoning, Samkara anticipated the following six objections:
(1) Reasoning is required even to criticise the validity of reasoning.
(2) Reasoning is necessary to decide what is true from among the mutually contradictory statements of the scriptures.
(3) If a man’s reasoning can be refuted by another’s more cogent reasoning, it is because self criticism is a characteristics of reasoning.
(4) The result of not admitting reasoning shall be either agnosticism or scepticism which cannot be escaped, without reasoning.
(5) Even the scriptures have admitted the validity of reasoning. Yaksha, the author of Nirukta, has said that reasoning itself is the seer.
(6) If reasoning does not take us to any definite conclusion, this only means that it is not the real reasoning. As a matter of fact, reasoning also can be of two types—Suska Tarka and Suddha Tarka. Of these, the first is not infallible, while the second gives us real knowledge.
After anticipating these arguments in favour of reasoning, Samkara admits that reasoning has validity at least in some cases though he does not admit that reasoning is valid in the case of Brahman. But very soon Samkara is found to be vehemently supporting the case of reasoning. In the Tarkapada of his commentary on Brahma Sutra, Samkara has tried to prove Brahman only on the basis of reasoning. In the commentary on Gaudapada Karika, Samkara has said that Brahman can be known even by reasoning.
Thus sometimes Samkara favours scripture while at other times he supports reasoning. According to Prof. R.D. Ranade, Prakashanand and Govindanand, Samkara has given a higher place to scripture than to reasoning. According to Prof. A.C. Mukherjee, Samkara has maintained reasoning to be higher than scripture.
But he further points out that both reasoning and scriptures are based upon reasoning and reasoning alone decides about their validity. By accepting this view, the apparently contradictory quotations from Samkara regarding relation of scripture and reasoning may be synthesized. In the knowledge through identity, the contradictories become complementaries.