In shabda pramana we receive knowledge from our senses (ears), so how is it superior to pratyaksha pramana?

by Chaitanya Charan dasAugust 6, 2014

Answer Podcast

Transcribed by:- Geetanjali Nath

Question:  From Panduranga charan Prabhu, in sabda praman also we hear from our senses our ears. so prataksha praman is when we get our knowledge from our senses, s how is shabda praman different from pratyaksha praman, when in both cases we are receiving knowledge through our senses.

Answer:  The essential difference is not on how we get the knowledge but on where the knowledge comes from. In shabda pramana the source of knowledge is Krishna and the exalted devotees who come in parampara from Him,. so the purity and the potency of the source is the reliability of the knowledge , it is not the imperfection of our senses that is the source of the knowledge. So ultimately when we live at the material level of consciousness which is where we live when we are at the sadhaka stage in the body, or when we are in the seekers right in the beginning , so we have no alternative except to take in inputs through our senses. So to understand the difference between pratyaksha and shabda, let us consider the example of the manual. when we want to operate a machine , now whether I am going to operate the machine according to my own mental concoction, or I am going to operate the machine according to the manuals direction. Either way  I’ll be using my hand to press this button , to pull this , or to prod this , whatever, so I’ll be using my hands, so in both cases I am using my senses, but the difference is that in the first case, its my own speculation which I am figuring out what to press and what to pull and how to do, but in the second case I am taking from authoritative source my knowledge, the source is the  manual. So same way in the pratyaksha and shabda, we will use our senses, but the difference is, that in the shabda we are guiding our senses according to the direction of the authorized manual, the shabda. So the word “shruti” refers to vedic scriptures in general , but shruti can also, its not that all shruti will necessarily will lead to transcendance and that’s why even in shruti there has to be descrimination. The Bhagavad Gita says , in 2:52  yadā te moha-kalilaṁ, buddhir vyatitariṣyati, tadā gantāsi nirvedaṁ, śrotavyasya śrutasya ca.  So once one’s intelligence is gone through the dence forest of dillusion, at that time what ever one has heard, or what will one hear in the future , neither will of them have a serious consquence. We will not get distracted, Oh this pleasure I am missing, that pleasure I am missing, nothing doing, none of these pleasures are going to make me happy, that understanding that none of these things will make me happy, that is the sign of a person who has become transcendence in Krishna’s service, that is here Krishna is saying is that “shruti”, if one is getting effected by what one is hearing, then one is not yet transcendent, and if one is no longer is effected by what one is hearing, then one is transcended. so what kind of hearing is being referred here, it refers to the hearing about material things, so if refers to karma kanda section, in the vedic scriptures, which talk about higher material enjoyment. Prahalad Maharaj in his prayers talks about shruti sukka , mrigtrishna rupa, that sukh which we hear about in the scriptures, when we see it , its appear to be there, but when we go there , there is no pleasure there, its like a mirage. mrigtrishnarupaa. So essentially , the point is that yes even our ears can mislead us, so the shabda praman, it is not just reliable because we are hearing, but it is because we are hearing knowledge that is coming from an authorized source that is Krishna himself through the prampara and that way we are safe. So yes the scripture do contain many example of how, through hearing people get contaminated. We have the example of manthra contaminating Kaikai, and we also have the example of say, of course Dhatrashtra himself was week , but many times he becomes wicked also , and that happens by the association of Duryodhana, Shakuni, and now so , by hearing we can go down if we hear from the bad sources. and by hearing we can rise up, Arjuna was despondent, but by hearing from Krishna he became elevated. So the authority of hearing , the shabda praman, is not dependent on the means through which we hear, that is, the ears, but it is the authority based on the source from which we hear.Thank you

Hare Krishna.

About The Author
Chaitanya Charan das
1 Comments
  • November 19, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Shabda pramana refers to knowledge received through a bonafide source. There is still the danger of knowledge getting lost in course of time, as Krishna Himself admits that He gave this knowledge to Vivasvan many years ago and it got lost. However, the bonafide master through parampara system, can instill in us the right knowledge.

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