In using our senses to acquire knowledge, we have no doubt about each one'svalid field of operation. Eyes only see, ears only hear. We would never accept it if someone said, ?I see with my ears that the last word is such and such.? Science tells us: every idea needs to be substantiated by data collected through an appropriate sense in order to be considered true. But what about ideas concerning areas not available to sense-verification ? rebirth, heaven, the origin of the universe? For all these and more, our only valid source of knowledge is the Veda. The Veda'sjob begins where the faculty of science ends.
Close your eyes again. If you don'thear the paper in front of you, it doesn'texist.
Our ancestors used the same common sense that we use with our senses to investigate the status of the Veda as a pramana (ma = to know, prama = valid knowledge, pramana = means of valid knowledge, the suffix ana being in the sense of instrument). A pramana must give knowledge that is useful, not obtained and not negated by any other source. If a source of knowledge either tells you something you already know, or it contradicts another valid source of knowledge, it is not a pramana in that particular subject matter. Just as the ears are a pramana only with respect to the world of sound, science is a pramana only with respect to the world of sense objects. As the ears themselves cannot conclude that the paper in front of you does not exist, but only that it makes no sound, similarly science cannot conclude that heaven does not exist, but only that it is not available to sense perception. When I open my eyes, I see the paper; and when I read the Veda, I come to know that a heaven does exist beyond what my senses tell me.
Ask a blind man the colour of the sky.
Looking to science to prove or disprove the existence of rebirth, or to say anything at all about it, is as illogical as asking a blind man the colour of the sky. Science can never be a measuring-stick for the accuracy of the Veda because the subject matter of the Veda is beyond the scope of science. Similarly, the Veda need not discuss facts already established through science, because it is a pramana only where science is not. Any scientific facts stated in the Veda are considered anuvada ? restatement of what is already known ? and their accuracy is not a factor in the Veda being a pramana for facts not knowable through science.
See the sound and hear the shape.
Today there is a pressure among Hindus to prove that the Veda is scientific just to get the stamp of approval of the West, dangerously putting the legitimacy of the Veda in the hands of science. But, just as if our ears could see, there would be no need for our eyes, in the same way, if the Veda was scientific, it would become redundant: just another book telling us what we already know. So the Veda is not, need not, and should not be scientific. Science and the Veda are mutually exclusive: both are useful sources of distinct areas of knowledge, and neither one can negate what the other is saying within its field of operation.
See the paper in front of you, but don'tbelieve that it'sthere.
When you use the correct pramana to acquire information, there is no question of belief or disbelief. If you want to know whether there is a paper in front of you, you open your eyes and accept what you see as true. Similarly, if you want to know about the origin of the universe, your only pramana is the Veda. Either you take what it says as valid knowledge, or you decide that you?re not interested in knowing. But you cannot go looking for another opinion, because there is no other pramana. Realisation of this fact is what is known as shraddha: that a pramana is indisputable in its valid field of operation. The recognition of the Veda as a sixth sense, a pramana for what the other five senses cannot access, is shraddha in the Veda. Such a logical thinking process is baselessly accused of being ?blind faith? and ?mysticism?.
With as much authority as science tells us that mixing two particular chemicals will cause a certain reaction, the Veda tells us that doing a particular action will give you a certain result after death of the body. A person with shraddha in science being a pramana for chemical reactions will mix the chemicals if he desires a reaction, or keep them apart if he wants to prevent the reaction. In the same way, a person with shraddha in the Veda being a pramana for results of actions that manifest after death of the body will do the action if he desires the result, or abstain from the action if he does not. Neither does science tell a person to mix chemicals, nor does the Veda really tell a person to do an action: both simply inform of the consequences of doing so. The injunctions in the Veda are not coercion but advice in the best interest of the person. This is why the Veda is called a well-wisher equal to a hundred mothers!
Seeing the rapid and uncontained development of science over the past two centuries, and its ability to quickly give us result of our actions, we have mistaken it as the ultimate source of knowledge. Our ancestors never denied the authority of science, as is evident from our glorious scientific tradition; but they were aware of the fact that there is a lot more to know about our universe than science can tell us. If today out of impatience we decide that science ? which is still denying the existence of the mind ? is enough for us, we are only closing the doors to the limitless resource that is the Veda.
Now here is something to think about: when the Veda stands on its own as the authority on such a vast range of knowledge, including finally the purpose of human life, then Sanatana Dharma, which has its foundations in the teachings of the Veda, must not be an ordinary culture. There must be more meaning behind its customs and principles than just the random evolution of a people. Adhering to the cultural norms of such a tradition is no different than living by the fact that two and two are four. Unable to understand this simple fact, people in both the material and spiritual realms have begun to question our culture in the name of liberalism. It is no less irrational than a child asking his teacher why two and two must equal four ? why can'tthey equal five?
Today those who insist that two and two equal four and not anything else are labelled ?fundamentalists?. If fundamentalism means looking to the right source for desired knowledge, and then accepting unconditionally what it says as true, then its opposite is idiocy, and we should be proud that Sanatana Dharma is fundamentalist. Anyways, the liberalists are sitting around waiting to be able to see through their ears.
(Note: This analysis is not the invention of the author, but is found to some extent in all six of the Astika Darshana philosophies of India, and is fully discussed in the Brahma Sutra of Veda Vyasa.)