the so-called "double-truth"

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat Dec 23 00:53:56 EST 2000


>Clear evidence from the Brahmanas, Nirukta, and a lot of other
>exegetical texts (including the Vedic Sutras) can be raised
>against your last point, Vidyasankar. Exegetical concerns like

What I mean is this = A few upanishad texts stratify parA
vidyA and aparA vidyA, clubbing everything from Rgveda to
kalpa as a lower kind of learning, partly subsumed by and
partly rendered secondary by the higher brahmavidyA.

True, they are embedded within the brAhmaNa portions that
have exegetical concerns, but for the teaching offered in
the upanishad itself, the primary motive is not exegetical.
The two-truths scheme embedded in parA vs. aparA arises
from the karma vs. jnAna approach to religious value, which
in turn is correlated with pravRtti vs. nivRtti dharmas as
ways of life. Rather than reconciling pre-existing points
of contradiction, the upanishads present a *source* of the
contradiction with regard to earlier strata of Vedic texts.
Nevertheless, these texts already present what they have
to say in terms of a two-truth approach. It then becomes
the job of the later vedAntic exegetes to reconcile this
contradiction. The brahmasUtras weave together the diverse
upanishad texts, reconciling various views, taking chAndogya,
and to a slightly lesser extent, the bRhadAraNyaka, as the
primary guiding texts.

It seems to me that some kind of two-truths theories serve
a very different function from reconciliation of diverse
viewpoints. Rather, some of these theories seem to be the
source of the perceived contradictions, or a strategy to
co-opt and/or marginalize others, e.g. New Testament vs.
Old, and the idea of a new covenant that invalidates the
old. One also has to ask how much accumulation of diverse
material is necessary to reach a "critical mass", before
an exegesis that seeks reconciliation becomes necessary.
The tolerance for high degrees of diversity within the
same broader tradition seems to have been much higher in
India than elsewhere.

Vidyasankar

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