Śrīman Mahāprabhura Śikṣā

Chapter Two
Āmnāya-vākyaī Mūla Pramāṇa

(The Statements of the Vedas are the Foundational Evidence)

What is meant by āmnāya vākya? The following kārikā (explanatory verse) answers this question:

āmnāya śrutaya sāksād brahma-vidyeti viśruta
guru-paramparā prāptāḥ viśva kartu hi brahmaa

 “Āmnāya is brahmavidyā (knowledge of the Absolute) that is found in the śruti and received through the guruparamparā beginning with the universal creator, Brahmā.”

Similarly, we also find in the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad:

brahmā devānām prathama sambabhūva viśvasya kartā bhuvanasya goptā
sa brahma-vidyāṁ sarva-vidyā-pratiṣṭhām atharvāya jyeṣṭha-putrāya prāha
yenākara purua veda satya provāca tāṁ tattvato brahma-vidyām

“Brahmā, the first Deva, the universal creator and maintainer of the world, taught brahma-vidyā (knowledge of the Absolute) to Atharva, his eldest son. He taught that brahma-vidyā through which the true form of that eternal Personality can be known truly realised.” (Muṇḍaka Upaniad 1.1.1, 1.2.13)

asya mahato bhūtasya niḥśvasitam etad g-vedo yajur-veda sāma-vedātharvāṅgirasa
itih
āsa purāṇa vidyā upaniada ślokāḥ sūtrāṇy anuvyākhyānāni sarvāṇi niḥśvasitāni

“From the breath of that Supreme Controlling Personality appeared the four Vedas, the itihāsas, the Purāṇas, the Upaniads, the ślokas, the Sūtras and all the anuvyākhyās. All these came forth from His breath.” (Bhad-Ārayaka Upaniad 2.4.10)

The word itihāsa refers to the Rāmāyaa and Mahābhārata etc. The word Purāṇas refers to the eighteen major Purāṇas, of which Śrīmad Bhāgavata is topmost, and the eighteen Upa-Purāṇas. Upaniads relates to the eleven Upaniads such as Īśa, Kena, Kaha, Praśna etc. The word śloka refers to those works written by the ṛṣis. in metres such as anuṣṭup etc. The word sūtra means abbreviated statements that explain the meaning of the Vedas, composed by ācāryas who are realised in the truth (tattvācāryas). Anuvyākhyā refers to commentaries on the sūtras written by ācāryas. All these are known as āmnāya. The primary meaning of the word āmnāya is Veda. Thus, in the Ādilīlā of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmta, 7th Chapter, we find:

svata-pramāṇa veda-pramāṇa-śiromai
lak
aṇā haite svata pramāṇatā hāni

(“The self-evident Vedas are the topmost pramāṇa. If they are interpreted, their self-evident nature is lost.” – Caitanya-caritāmta, Ādi-līlā 7. 139)

pramāṇera madhye śruti pramāṇa pradhāna
śruti ye mukhyārtha kahe sei se pramāṇa

 (“Amongst the various proofs, the evidence of the śruti (Vedas) is foremost. Whatever is the direct meaning of the śruti is considered as evidence. – Caitanya-caritāmta, Madhya-līlā 6. 135)

 svata pramāṇa veda yei satya kahe
lakaṇā karile svata pramāṇya hāni haye

(“Whatever the self-evident Vedas declare is true. By creating interpretations, their self-evident nature becomes lost.” – Caitanya-caritāmta, Madhya-līlā 6.137)

The books of the Gosvāmīs such as the Ṣa-Sandarbhas and Śrī Caitanya-caritāmta are counted amongst the anuvyākhyās. Thus, the Vedas, Purāṇas, Itihāsas, Upaniads, Vedānta-sūtras and commentaries of the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas are all considered to be āpta-vākya (authorised words).  All these types of āpta-vākya are specifically glorified in the Eleventh Canto of the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam thus:

kālena naṣṭa pralaye vānīya veda sajñitā
mayādau brahmae proktā yasyāṁ dharmo mad ātmāka
tena proktā svaputrāya manave…

yābhir bhūtani bhidyante bhūtānāṁ patayas tathā
eva prakti-vaicitryād  bidyante matayo nṛṇām
pārasparyea keṣāṁcit  pāṣaṇḍa-matayo’pare
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.14.3,7,82)

(“Śrī Kṛṣṇa told Uddhava –I first spoke the message of the Vedas to Brahmā. I explained to him about pure devotion that establishes one’s eternal position which is the dharma for the jīvas. That message of the Vedas is eternal. At the time of cosmic annihilation, it is lost and at the time of creation I clearly explain it to Brahmā. Brahmā spoke this to his own son, Manu and others. Eventually, the demigods, ṛṣis and humans all received this message of the Vedas. Due to their various natures, all the living entities and their leaders appear with various natures and desires according to the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. According to these various natures, diverse philosophies manifest due to different interpretations. O Uddhava, those who have received the message of the Vedas through the explanations of the guru-paramparā from Brahmā, attain the pure philosophy. All others philosophies become the servants of various atheistic teachings.”)

Here it is evident that the sampradāya known as the Brahma sampradāya has continued since the time of creation. The transcendentally pure teachings of the Vedas are found within the guru-paramparā of this sampradāya and they have protected bhagavata-dharma. These teachings are known as āmnāya. Those who refuse to accept the Brahma sampradāya, which is revealed by authoritative statements such as, paravyomeśvarasyāsīcchiyo brahma jagat-pati (Brahmā, the lord of the universe, is the disciple of the Master of Vaikuṇṭha), are promoters of atheistic philosophy according to the Lord. Those who accept the sampradāya of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, but secretly do not accept the perfect process (siddhapraṇālī) of this guru-paramparā, are actually agents of Kali. Can there be any doubt about this? Those who are most fortunate consider the āpta-vākya handed down through the guru-paramparā to be the best amongst all types of pramāṇa. This is Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s first teaching.

In the Tattva Sandarbha (9th and 10th verses), Śrī Jīva has said:

athaiva śūcitānāṁ śrī-kṛṣṇa-vācya-vācakatā-lakaa-sambandha-tad-bhajana-lakana-vidheya-tat-prema-lakaa-prayojanākhyānām arthānāṁ nirayāya pramāṇam tāvad vinirṇīyate. tatra puruasya bhramādi-doa-catuṣṭayatvāt sutarām acintyālaukika-vastu-sparśāyogyatvāc ca tat-pratyakṣādinyāpi sadoṣāni. tatas tāni na pramāṇānīty anādi-siddha-sarva-purua-paramparāsu sarva-laukikālaukika-jñāna-nidānatvād aprākta-vacana-lakano veda evāsmāka sarvātīta-sarvāśraya-sarvācintyaścarya-svabhāva vastu vividiatām pramāṇam.

“Now we will describe the relationship (sambandha) between Śrī Kṛṣṇa as the vācya (object being described) and the words that describe Him (vācakatā), the direct process of worshipping Him (abhidheya) and the goal of divine love (prayojana). In order to discuss the meaning of these three terms, I will first define pramāṇa. Humans are inherently subject to four faults such as bhrama etc. therefore, they are unqualified to experience those things that are by nature inconceivable and extraordinary. Methods of pramāṇa such as direct sensual perception (pratyāka) etc. are full of faults. Thus, direct perception, inference (anumāna) etc. cannot be accepted as flawless evidence. The only pramāṇa for those who desire knowledge of the supreme object are the statements found in the Vedas, because they are beyond everything, they are the shelter of all things, they are the most inconceivable and they are of the most extraordinary nature. They have been transmitted since time immemorial through a paramparā of perfected beings who are the disseminators of both mundane and spiritual knowledge.”

Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī establishes the pramāṇatva (the authority) of āpta-vākya, then shows how the Purāṇa-śāstra is of the same nature, and then establishes the Śrīmad Bhāgavata as the highest of all pramāṇas. The characteristics that establishes the Bhāgavata as superior are the characteristics in the words of Brahmā, Nārada, Vyāsa, Śukadeva, as well as Vijayadhvaja, Brahma Tīrtha and Vyāsa Tīrtha etc. and in the meany writings of the tattva-guru, Śrī Madhvācārya. By all these statements, it is clearly understood that the Brahma sampradāya is the line of gurus (gurupraṇālī) of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya and His servants. Śrī Kavi Karṇapūra Gosvāmī has confirmed this in his work, Gaura-gaoddeśa-dīpikā where he has written the guru-praṇālī. Śrī Vidyābhūṣaṇa, the Vedānta-sūtra commentator, also confirms this line. Can there be any doubt that those who do not accept this paramparā are the principle enemies of the followers of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya?

 In regards to āpta-vākya, one important point should be noted. All āpta-vākya is self-evident and perfect. There is no necessity of any interpretation. Just by hearing the words, their direct meaning is understood. Ayaṁ śacī-nandanaḥ sākṣāt nanda-nandana eva (“The son of Śacī is directly the son of Nanda”) – simply be hearing these words, a person can understand that Śrī Gauracandra is none other than Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra. However, the phrase, gagāya ghoa – ‘the cowherd village in the Gaṅgā’ does not give a clear meaning when one accepts the direct meaning of the words. By indirect interpretation one can understand that the phrase means, “The cowherd village on the banks of the Gaṅgā.” One should refrain from interpreting the statements of the Vedas when it is unnecessary. The Chāndogya Upaniad (8.13.1) says:

śyāmāc chavala prapadye
śavalāc chyāma prapadye

(Śavala is a name for Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s svarūpa-śakti. “By taking shelter of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, one attains the shelter of the hlādinī-svarūpa-śakti, and by taking shelter of hlādinī one attains the shelter of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.”)

When this Vedic statement is understood by accepting the direct meaning of the words, then why would we infer that the word śyāma means, hārdda-brahmatva (‘Brahman within the heart’) as Śrī Śaṅkarācārya does? Those persons who are liberated naturally perform yugalaupāsana of Śrī Śyāmasundara. This is the true meaning of this Vedic statement. Therefore, it is seen that the Caritāmta says, lakaṇā haite svata pramāṇatā hāni (If the Vedas are interpreted, their self-evident nature is lost). There are many types of interpretation. Jagadīśa says in the Śabda-śakti-prakāśika:

 jahat-svārthājahat-svārtha nirūḍhādhunikadikāḥ
lakaṇā vividhas tābhir lakaka syād anekadhā

 (“There are many methods of interpretation, such as jahat-svartha, ajāhat-svartha, nirūḍha and adhunika etc.”)

 None of these can be used to define something that is spiritual by nature (aprākta-vastu), rather, when they are used, they give rise to confusion. Śrī Śaṅkarācārya says that the direct interpretation of words cannot be used to explain inexplicable truths, therefore, an indirect interpretation must be applied to understand the meaning of Vedic expressions. Śrī Gauḍa-pūrṇānanda Madhvācārya has objected to this:

 nāṅgiktābhidhā yasya lakaṇā tasya no bhavet
nāsti grāma kuta sīmā na putro janaka vinā

(“If the direct meaning of a word is not accepted, then there is no necessity for interpretation. When a village does not exist, can one argue about its boundaries? When there is no father, can there be a son?” – Tattva-muktāvalī 22)

The reason is this – when something that is inexpressible cannot be understood by the direct meaning of words, then what is the use of interpretations that simply depend upon the direct meaning? Thus, an intelligent person will reject interpretation and accept the direct power of āpta-vākya when researching aprākta-vastu.

In conclusion, the following kārikā is give:

ya ādi-kavaye tene hdā brahma-sanātana
sa caitanya kalau sāksād amārjīt ta mata śubham
vipralipsā pramādaś ca karaṇāpāṭava bhrama
manuṣānāṁ vicareu syād dhi doa catuṣṭayam
tad-adhokaja-tattveu durnivārya budhair api
apaurueya-vākhyāni pramāṇa tatra kevala
pratyakam anumāna ca tad adhīnatayā kvacit

“Caitanya, who expanded the eternal words of the Vedas into the heart of Ādi-kavi Brahmā, the original created being, has descended during the age of Kali in Śrī Navadvīpa. He has revealed the auspicious teachings of the Vedas, liberating them from the defects of Kali and made them pure again. The four faults inherent within humans, namely the cheating propensity (vipralipsā), falling into illusion (pramāda), imperfect senses (karaṇāpāṭava) and mistakes (bhrama) certainly enter their conclusions. In trying to ascertain those topics that are beyond the realm of the mundane senses, even the greatest scholars cannot free themselves from these four faults. Therefore, in regards to transcendental topics, the only pramāṇa are the words of the Vedas, because they have no human author. When all other pramāṇas such as direct sense-perception (pratyaka), inference (anumāna), comparison (upamāna) and tradition (aitiya) are in accord with śabda-pramāṇa (the words of the Vedas), they can be employed, yet they remain subordinate.