Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 07 Nov 2019

     

Maha Satsanga on Tarka Shastra

Following is a mahā satsaṅga (grand spiritual discussion) between Swami and Shri J.S.R. Prasad, Professor of Sanskrit, who specializes in tarka śāstra (logic), at the Hyderabad Central University, Hyderabad.

Logic and Science

Shri J.S.R. Prasad: What is the relationship between logic (tarka śāstra) and science?

Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! Both are one and the same. In both, the items of creation are discussed thoroughly (Tarkyante padārthāḥ asmin iti tarkaḥ). Logic was well-developed in ancient India by the intellectual exercises of various ancient Sanskrit scholars. Today, science is doing the same analysis of the items of creation. The merit of science over logic is that science practically verifies every concept through experimentation with the help of scientific equipment in a laboratory. Due to this advantage of science, certain concepts in ancient Indian logic were proved to be incorrect by modern science. Although such concepts are very few, they are important. For example, as per ancient logic, sound was said to be the property of space, whereas science has proved it wrong since sound cannot travel in absolute vacuum (space). Sound is basically mechanical vibrational energy. It is the molecules of air that transmit the sound energy in the form of vibrations. So, sound can only travel in a medium like air. In outer space, several massive explosions keep taking place, now and then. Yet, none of the horrible sounds from them are heard on Earth due to the absence of air in space. Air exists above the earth, only upto a certain distance. Of course, space is required for the vibration of the particles of air. But because of it, we cannot say that space is the cause of the propagation of sound energy. Space exists not only in air, but in each of the five elements. Besides, space, by itself, cannot transmit sound. So, sound cannot be said to be the property of space. The actual property of space is volume (parimāṇam). There is no point in quoting the scripture to support the wrong concept that sound is the property of space (Śabdaḥ khe—Gita), because the scripture might have been polluted with insertions.

On this point of the property of space, ancient logic stands defeated by modern science. But science also stands defeated in the matter of explaining the unimaginable God. Both ancient logic and modern science belong to the domain of the imaginable creation. Within the limits of the imaginable creation, science is more authentic as compared to ancient logic since experimental proof is part of the scientific method. Science may defeat logic like Bhīma defeating Duryodhana. But science, in turn, is defeated by spiritual knowledge, in the matter of explaining about the unimaginable God. It is like Bhīma being defeated by Āñjaneya (Hanumān). Nevertheless, science still has a role in spiritual knowledge. If an item of creation has been misunderstood to be the unimaginable God, it can be analysed by science. Science will correctly identify whether the item is imaginable or unimaginable. If science concludes that the item is imaginable, we can clearly understand that the imaginable item is not the unimaginable God.

For example, the Advaita philosophers believed that awareness is the ultimate unimaginable God. But science proves that awareness is only a specific work-form of inert energy. When the inert energy functions in a specific ‘device’ called the nervous system, it gets converted into a specific form of work, called ‘awareness’. Awareness is nothing but the transfer of information from the senses to the brain through electrical impulses in the nerves (neurons). This awareness, which is imaginable nervous energy transformed into a specific work-form, cannot be the unimaginable God, who is the ultimate cause of the universe. Of course, this concept has already been captured in scripture since it is said that awareness is produced from food (Annāt puruṣaḥ—Veda, Annād bhavanti bhūtāni—Gita). The ultimate God cannot be created from anything like awareness since He is the ultimate Creator of this whole universe. So, there cannot be any cause above Him.

Music as a Path to Salvation

Shri J.S.R. Prasad: Some people say that music is a path to salvation. What is Your opinion?

Swami replied: Certainly, music is a path to the development of devotion. Devotion is the emotional feeling of love towards God (Parama prema rūpā—Nārada Bhakti Sūtram). Music can be a path to devotion only if the music produces this feeling in the person. The music which is part of a song, produces that feeling of love for God. Here, the mere sound energy of the music or the mere words of the song cannot generate any feeling by itself. Certain tunes may generate certain feelings in a person’s mind, provided the person has already associated that specific tune with that feeling in his or her mind. Similarly, the words of a song must also generate the feeling of love for God in order to develop devotion. That happens through the meaning of the words. A tape recorder playing a devotional song does not get salvation because it has no feelings at all! The tape recorder is inert and God sees only the feelings of a non-inert devotee (Bhāvagrāhī Janārdanaḥ). Neither can a tape recorder playing Vedic hymns cause a miracle. It is God alone who performs miracles and He performs them based on the feeling of devotion in the devotee’s heart. Since the tape-recorder has no feelings, why should God perform any miracle? Only human beings can develop the feeling of devotion by reciting Vedic hymns or by singing devotional songs. Only if God is pleased with the devotee’s feeling, does He perform the miracle. The feeling can only be the result of the devotee understanding the meaning of the words of the song. The meaning of the words means concepts of knowledge. Hence, knowledge alone produces the feeling of love for God in the heart of the devotee. The love or devotion to God, in turn, is the cause for salvation since God grants salvation to the devotee, when He is pleased by the devotee’s devotion.

The sound produced by a person is said to be of two types. (1) Āhata Nāda, which means the sound produced by the movements of the tongue, teeth and the palate. (2) Anāhata Nāda, which is the feelings in the heart, created by the sound produced as above. The heart is said to be place of the anāhata cakra. Of course, this distinction is not of much significance, because the two are closely related. The feeling coming from the heart produces the first type of sound and conversely, the first type of sound produces feeling in the heart. But if the meaning of the words uttered is not understood by the person, the first type of sound cannot produce any feeling in the heart. When a person recites prayers or sings songs without understanding, such sound does not produce any feeling in the heart and God does not respond to that sound at all. Such sound is useless and causes nothing but sound pollution! This analysis precisely applies to the priests who blindly recite Vedic hymns, without understanding the meaning of the words. The clear conclusion from this is that any ritual-worship involving such recitation, without understanding the meaning, neither benefits the priest nor the performer (host) in any way.

The actual spiritual path has three steps. Knowledge (jñāna yoga) is the first step, which is intellectual. It involves the understanding of the divine personality of God. Knowledge gives rise to devotion or love for God (bhakti yoga), which is the second step. This second step is emotional. In the third step, which is the practical step, the devotion must be practically proved to be genuine. The proof of devotion is the willingness of the devotee to perform service and sacrifice (karma yoga) for the sake of God.

Hearing the detailed information of Mumbai city is the first step of knowledge. Developing an attraction (feeling) for seeing Mumbai is the second step. Both these steps are theoretical (mental). The third step alone is practical. It involves the effort of the person in traveling to the railway station (service) and purchasing the ticket to Mumbai by paying money (sacrifice), in order to reach it. The three divine preachers, Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja and Madhva, each emphasized knowledge, devotion and service, in their respective philosophies, which are indeed these three steps in the spiritual path. The three preachers also came in the same sequence in time, as Śaṅkara was followed by Rāmānuja and Madhva. Śaṅkara condemned the philosophy of Pūrva Mīmāṃsā, which claims that sound itself is divine (Śabdamātra devatā) and that it is capable of performing miracles.

Direct Perception of God

Shri J.S.R. Prasad: Atheists deny God due to the absence of the authority of perception. What do You have to say in this matter?

Swami replied: The authority of perception pervades all the authorities for getting knowledge as mentioned in the ancient system of logic. It forms the basis or background of all the other authorities. The authorities for getting valid knowledge are as follows: (1) Pratyakṣam or perception: It is direct knowledge, in which one sees an item and derives its knowledge directly through the senses. (2) Anumānam or inference: It is indirect knowledge of the unseen, derived using logic. An example is inferring the unseen fire on the hill upon seeing smoke rising from the hill. This inference is based on knowing the link between fire and smoke, which has already been seen in the kitchen. (3) Upamānam or analogy: It is knowing an unseen or unknown item by comparing it with a seen or known item. The unknown animal called ‘gavaya’ can be known upon being told that it is similar to the known animal, gau (cow). Here, one person has seen both animals. When he explains to us that the gavaya looks like a cow, we can imagine how the gavaya might look like. We get knowledge about the gavaya since we have already seen a cow. (4) Śabda or verbal testimony: It is knowing something from the word of a reliable person. It is also based on direct perception since the person giving us the information about something that we have not seen, must have seen it himself. (5) Arthāpatti or implication: It is the unstated, but implied knowledge derived by us from available facts. E.g. We see that a stout person is not eating food during daytime. It implies that he must be eating at night. This is because, we have already seen (known) that a person who neither eats during the day nor during the night, gets emaciated and eventually dies. (6) Anupalabdhi or non-recognition: It is perceiving the absence of a particular item that is too subtle to be seen with our eyes. Its existence is known by other means such as, by using some instruments, but it cannot be seen with our eyes. An example is X-rays, which are so subtle that they cannot be seen with our eyes, even though they are present. In that case, we only perceive the absence of the X-rays. Of course, the existence of X-rays around us has been perceived by the scientist using sophisticated instruments.

Finally, we conclude that perception is the inevitable basis of all the six authorities of obtaining knowledge. Therefore, people who depend on logic and science, require the existence of the unimaginable God to be proved by the authority of perception.

The Veda declares that God is indeed recognized through perception (Yat sākṣāt aparokṣāt Brahma). We say that God is unimaginable and hence, can only be expressed through silence. But we see genuine miracles that are clearly demonstrated by spiritual people. Miracles are unimaginable actions, the source of which must be the unimaginable God alone. Their source cannot be any imaginable item within creation. The Advaita philosophers have misunderstood and misled all of us by saying that awareness being an imaginable, perceived item, must be God. If you say that perception is the characteristic of God, any item in this world which is perceived, must be God. Thus, their definition of God applies to items that are not actually God, which is the defect of ativyāpti or over-extension. The final essence is that the unimaginable God is known by the authority of perception. God is known through miracles, which are perceived by us. The source of the miracles cannot be understood by us since miracles are unimaginable events. But the Unimaginable Entity, which is the Source of the miracles, can certainly be inferred from the perceived miracles. This Unimaginable Source of the miracles is the unimaginable God Himself. God has already been declared to be unimaginable by the Veda (Yato vāco…, Yo buddheḥ parataḥ..., Naiśā tarkeṇa..., Atarkyaḥ…, Na medhayā... etc.). Here, the word ‘unimaginable’ means that the nature of God is not imaginable. If God’s nature is not imaginable, it obviously means that it is not perceivable either. But the existence of that unimaginable nature and the unimaginable God who possesses that unimaginable nature, can be inferred from the perceived unimaginable events, called miracles. The Veda says that the existence of the unimaginable God can be easily understood by us, using the authority of the perception of miracles or using the other authorities that are based on the perception of the miracles (Astītyevopalabdhavyaḥ).

When the unimaginable God is mediated by a human being like Krishna, the son of Vasudeva, that human being becomes the unimaginable God due to the perfect merging of God with that human medium. The perception of such a Divine Person performing unimaginable events is the direct perception of unimaginable God Himself. In every generation, the Incarnations of God Datta are performing several miracles, so that the existence of the unimaginable God, called Parabrahman can be known on the basis of the authority of perception. By such perception, the devotee experiences the unimaginable God (Anubhavaikavedyaṃ Brahma). Hence, scientists and atheists need not blame theists that God is not perceived. If people argue that the Veda also says that God cannot be seen (Na cakṣuṣā paśyati, Na tatra cakṣuḥ...), you should realize that those statements apply to the non-mediated unimaginable God. They refer to the imperceptibility of His unimaginable nature. But even in the case of the non-mediated unimaginable God, the knowledge of His existence can be attained through inference, which, in turn, is based on the direct perception of the miracles. The miracles are the inherent characteristics of the unimaginable God. Therefore, not only do we have proof of the existence of the non-mediated unimaginable God, but we also have the proof of the direct perception of the unimaginable God in the form of His Incarnation. The Incarnation is the mediated unimaginable God, in whom there is no duality, but instead, there is perfect monism between the unimaginable God and the medium. Therefore, we call Krishna, the Incarnation of the unimaginable Parabrahman as the Parabrahman Himself (Śrī Kṛṣṇa Parabrahmaṇe namaḥ). The Veda also says that one rare, blessed devotee has seen the unimaginable God (Kaścit dhīraḥ pratyagātmānamaikṣat, Tasyaiṣa ātmā vivṛṇute tanūṃ svām). The ‘seeing’ of the unimaginable God in these statements means recognizing His Incarnation. The Gita also says that one rare devotee comes to know (identify) the existence of unimaginable God and also perceives Him in person (Kaścit māṃ vetti tattvataḥ). When one sees God Krishna, both the perception of the existence of unimaginable God and the recognition of Krishna as the mediated unimaginable God are achieved by the devotee. The existence of the unimaginable God is known through inference, after seeing the miracles performed by Krishna, such as, lifting the mountain. The recognition of Krishna as the mediated unimaginable God is achieved by knowing that the unimaginable God has perfectly merged with the human body of Krishna, leading to monism.

Dattaswami tarkyante padaarthaah asmin iti tarkah shabdah khe annaat purushah annaat bhavanti bhutani paramapremaruupaa Anaahata Naada Aahata Naada Sabdamaatra Devataa Shankara Ramanuja Madhva Mimamsaa paramapremaruupaa Narada Anumaanam Pratyaksham Upamaanam Arthaapatti Anupalabdhi yat saakshaat aparokshaat Brahma yatsaakshaat ativyaapti yato vaacho yo buddheh paratah naishaa tarkena atarkyah na medhayaa astiityevopalabdhavyah anubhavaikavedyam na chakshusaa pashyati na tatra chakshuh Sri Krishna Parabrahmane Namah kashchit dhiirah pratyagaatmaanamaikshat tasyaisha atmaa vivrunute tanuum svaam kashchit maam vetti tattvatah Vasudeva