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There has been a rich history of debate between Vedantists and Buddhists.

One main method the Vedantist uses disprove every other sect which doesn't hold Vedas as true, is to first prove that Vedas are authorless, then say that authorless Vedas have to be 100% true because the defects of lies and incomplete knowledge cannot be there in authorless, and therefore that whatever in Vedas must be 100% true and any sect which goes against the Vedas must be false. These are the two steps

  1. Apourusheyatva (Authorlessness)
  2. Swayam Pramanya (Default Validity)

I have heard that various Buddhist scholars like Dharmakirti etc have tried to refute the claim of authorlessness of Vedas and its validity. Supposedly one such argument is there in first chapter of Pramanavarttika, which I couldn't find.

The first chapter discusses the structure and types of formal inference and the apoha (exclusion) theory of meaning. Dan Arnold writes that apoha is: "the idea that concepts are more precise or determinate (more contentful) just to the extent that they exclude more from their purview; the scope of cat is narrower than that of mammal just insofar as the former additionally excludes from its range all mammals in the world that are not cats."[4] In the latter half of this chapter, Dharmakīrti also mounts an attack on Brahmanism, the authority of the Vedas, Brahmins and their use of mantras, and the system of caste (see Eltschinger 2000).[5] He also discusses the role of scripture, which he sees as fallible and yet important for their discussion of “radically inaccessible things” (atyantaparokṣa) such as karma.[6] Dharmakirti critiques the Brahmins thus:

"The unquestioned authority of the Vedas;
the belief in a world-creator;
the quest for purification through ritual bathing;
the arrogant division into castes;
the practice of mortification to atone for sin—
these five are the marks of the crass stupidity of witless men."

So -- what were Buddhist arguments against Vedic validity because of its authorlessness?

I'm interested in logical syllogism of Dharmakirti and the like -- in response to the authorlessness of Vedas.


Edit -- My question is specific: Vedantists have given a syllogistic argument to prove that the Vedas are authorless, and many eminent scholars of Buddhism like Dharmakirti etc have tried to refute those syllogistic arguments by logic ... what are those arguments? Please don't answer this question in a general or a philosophical way.

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  • I don’t see how authorlessness can lead to 0% defects and 100% accuracy... are you saying that vedas are a compendium of human knowledge which was modified as new knowledge came in ? If so why haven’t they incorporated Anatta? Anatta is real. Any text which fails to incorporate it is either false or incomplete. Mar 28 at 14:54
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    @Sacrificial I'm only stating what the Vedantists believe. Moreover that was not the point of question. Mar 28 at 18:35
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    I added the reference-request tag -- answers without a reference are off-topic, not an answer.
    – ChrisW
    Mar 30 at 0:10
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    Maybe modern philosopher Wittgenstein 's Private Language Argument (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_language_argument) can help explain why a book written in human-sharable public language must have author(s) in the same category of human. Imagine we human are much more advanced than birds, we can know anything birds know, but not vice versa, but we cannot write anything in language or symbols to communicate with birds. As the old saying goes "ghosts in hell see the same water as perished dirts to avoid", so ghosts in hell cannot understand our word "water" as same or similar as ours... Apr 5 at 2:45
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This excerpt from DN 13 may answer your question sufficiently.

“Well, of the brahmins who are proficient in the three Vedas, Vāseṭṭha, is there even a single one who has seen Brahmā with their own eyes?”

“No, Master Gotama.”

“Well, has even a single one of their teachers seen Brahmā with their own eyes?”

“No, Master Gotama.”

“Well, has even a single one of their teachers’ teachers seen Brahmā with their own eyes?”

“No, Master Gotama.”

“Well, has anyone back to the seventh generation of teachers seen Brahmā with their own eyes?”

“No, Master Gotama.”

“Well, what of the ancient hermits of the brahmins, namely Aṭṭhaka, Vāmaka, Vāmadeva, Vessāmitta, Yamadaggi, Aṅgīrasa, Bhāradvāja, Vāseṭṭha, Kassapa, and Bhagu? They were the authors and propagators of the hymns. Their hymnal was sung and propagated and compiled in ancient times; and these days, brahmins continue to sing and chant it, chanting what was chanted and teaching what was taught. Did they say: ‘We know and see where Brahmā is or what way he lies’?”

“No, Master Gotama.”

“So it seems that none of the brahmins have seen Brahmā with their own eyes, and not even the ancient hermits claimed to know where he is. Yet the brahmins proficient in the three Vedas say: ‘We teach the path to the company of that which we neither know nor see. This is the only straight path, the direct route that leads someone who practices it to the company of Brahmā.’

What do you think, Vāseṭṭha? This being so, doesn’t their statement turn out to have no demonstrable basis?”

“Clearly that’s the case, Master Gotama.”

“Good, Vāseṭṭha. For it is impossible that they should teach the path to that which they neither know nor see.

Suppose there was a queue of blind men, each holding the one in front: the first one does not see, the middle one does not see, and the last one does not see. In the same way, it seems to me that the brahmins’ statement turns out to be comparable to a queue of blind men: the first one does not see, the middle one does not see, and the last one does not see. Their statement turns out to be a joke—mere words, void and hollow.

What do you think, Vāseṭṭha? Do the brahmins proficient in the three Vedas see the sun and moon just as other folk do? And do they pray to them and beseech them, following their course from where they rise to where they set with joined palms held in worship?”

“Yes, Master Gotama.”

“What do you think, Vāseṭṭha? Though this is so, are the brahmins proficient in the three Vedas able to teach the path to the company of the sun and moon, saying: ‘This is the only straight path, the direct route that leads someone who practices it to the company of the sun and moon’?”

“No, Master Gotama.”

“So it seems that even though the brahmins proficient in the three Vedas see the sun and moon, they are not able to teach the path to the company of the sun and moon.

But it seems that even though they have not seen Brahmā with their own eyes, they still claim to teach the path to the company of that which they neither know nor see.

What do you think, Vāseṭṭha? This being so, doesn’t their statement turn out to have no demonstrable basis?”

“Clearly that’s the case, Master Gotama.”

“Good, Vāseṭṭha. For it is impossible that they should teach the path to that which they neither know nor see.

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  • This doesn't answer the question. I'm more interested in logical syllogism of Dharmakirti and the like, in response to the authorlessness of Vedas. Mar 28 at 18:38
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    Moreover the Vedantists would not say no to the question that Buddha asked. Vedantists hold that the ancient rishis all saw God and were given Vedas. So the answer would be yes, the ancient Seers have seen and experienced God or Brahman Mar 28 at 18:41
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    The answer to my question is supposed to be there in first chapter of Pramanavarttika by Dharmakirti. I could not find it. Mar 28 at 18:43
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A large section of the Tattvasangraha is devoted to arguments for and arguments against the reliability of the Vedas. The Tattvasangraha by the 8th century Buddhist Shantarakshita is an eight-century works detailling on the various philosophical systems from around that time (including both Buddhist and non-Buddhist).

From Wikipedia: “Śāntarakṣita defended a synthetic philosophy which combined Madhyamaka, Yogācāra and the logico-epistemology of Dharmakirti into a novel Madhyamaka philosophical system”.

The first couple of verses of the arguments against goes as follows:

All this is the product of the false pride of the twice-born people. There is no truth in this, even by the slightest change.—(2352)

Even though there is no author, the Veda cannot be regarded as saying what is true;—because it is devoid of those excellences in its source which would make it truthful;—just as in the absence of defects, the word is not regarded as false,—(2353)

It is only in the case of the works of persons that the question arises as to whether the excellences are there or not. hence there is no need for such an enquiry in the case in question; and we have not the slightest idea of there being any excellence at all.—(2354)

Thus, inasmuch as the causes of truthfulness and falsity,—in the share (a) of wisdom and mercy and (b) of absence of mercy, etc.,—are not there, the said two qualities cannot belong to the Veda.—(2355)

Thus the Veda is reduced to futility,—like such sentences as ‘six cakes’.—If it be argued that “meanings are actually comprehended (from Vedic sentences), in respect of actions and active agents”,—[the answer is that] there may be such comprehension in cases where there are explanations supplied by men,—as in the case of the doings of Urvaśī,—even though the words (of the Veda) by themselves do not really convey any such meaning at all,—as held by you.—(2356-2357)

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