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The Vedic Way of Knowing God

Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya

The Vedic Way of Knowing God The new book called"The Vedic Way of Knowing God" takes a unique approach to answering the question: How do I know God?. Revealing the profound philosophical insights of the world's most ancient spiritual philosophy, this book not only boldly answers the question "How do I know God?" from the distinctly Vedic perspective, but also explores the further issues of what it even means to be able to know God. It reveals the precise mystical mechanisms necessary to know the Divine; the psychological conditions necessary for such a spiritual endeavor; the inner transformative experiences that occur within the spiritual practitioner upon achieving God-realization; the integral relationship between transcendent Word, spiritually revealed literature, and the association of living teachers; and the vast implications of the Vedic world-view on contemporary world philosophy and religion.

The Hindu Dharma book "The Vedic Way of Knowing God" by Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya is an in-depth exploration of Dharma spirituality and philosophy of Yoga which is knowledge that is designed to reveal how to know God. Spiritual metaphysics and spiritual truth are explored from the perspective of the Vedic scriptures of Sanatana Dharma, and specifically from the teachings of Jiva Goswami from the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. This philosophy of religion book about God compares Vedic philosophy to the dhamma teachings of the Buddha and Nagarjuna, ancient Greek philosophers like Plato, such Christian theologians as Augustine and Anselm, modern European philosophy, atheism, world spiritual literature, and many important spiritual teachers found throughout the history of world thought. If you have ever asked the question of spiritual enlightenment "How do I know God?" this is the book for you!

Author: Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya
Foreword: Dr. David Frawley
Preface: Professor Klaus K. Klostermaier
Publisher: Dharma Sun Media
Published: November 7, 2010
Language: English
Pages: 408
Price: US$23.99
Binding: Perfect-bound Paperback

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By Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya

The foundation of every individual religion and philosophical system on earth is the claim that only that one religion or philosophy possesses the truth...that it alone has the authority to proclaim what is true and what is not. The question of what constitutes the proper derivation of religious authority is one of the most important – and one of the most contentious - issues in the realm of religious and philosophical debate. To greater or lesser extents (though mostly greater), every religious sect, spiritual tradition, denomination, school of philosophy, and spiritual leader makes the claim of having access to the truth. Indeed, for most religious and philosophical systems, both religious and secular, it is claimed, either overtly or else by obvious implication, that theirs is the only direct and sure means for knowing truth. Whether we speak of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Marxism, Science, Atheism, or any system of thought on earth, every philosophical system claims that they, and only they, are in a position of bestowing truth. “Only we have access to the real Truth”, every religious teacher claims. As a direct result of such truth-claims, coupled with the natural variance of such claims that results from multiple individuals claiming to know truth, we have witnessed several millennia of religious and philosophical contention.

While every philosophy can attempt to claim that theirs is the only path to truth, however, before we can even approach what religions claim and begin the process of philosophical assessment of these claims, first we need to answer the fundamental question of how any religion can even claim to know the truth at all. For those religions that claim to be revealing the nature of the Absolute, how is it even possible for the Absolute, which is infinite, to be understood by finite humans? Before we can claim to know God, first we need to grapple with the problem of the very possibility of knowing God. The question of “how can we claim to know at all” is the domain of the field of epistemology, or the science of human knowledge and perception.

The scope of the present work is not to attempt to put an end to all religious contention, nor to necessarily insist on a conclusive proof that one system of religious/philosophical thought is in some way superior to all others. Rather it is my desire that this book will greatly add to a larger general understanding of the basic issues of derivation of religious authority as these issues pertain specifically to the realm of epistemology, or the systematic study of the nature of knowing. The focus of this work is centered upon the little studied, and even less understood, school of Vedic epistemology. Though it is undoubtedly one of the most ancient systems in the world dedicated to the study of knowledge derivation, Vedic epistemology is a development in the history of philosophy that has been routinely neglected as a field of serious study by the majority of both academic observers of the history and philosophy of religion, as well as by most spiritual seekers and lay-persons. It is my hope that this work will mark the beginning of a greater interest in this fascinating subject.

My book focuses directly on issues of epistemology, as well as determining the philosophical bounds of spiritual knowledge. Specifically, I undertake a comparative analysis of the perceptual processes utilized to derive knowledge of ontologically transmaterial realities (God, soul, etc.) in the philosophical systems of Hinduism, Buddhism, and the whole of the Western philosophical tradition (with special emphasis on Plato, Augustine and Anselm). While the ultimate goal of my book is conducting an examination of Vedic epistemology per se, I am purposefully centering the focus of this book on the theories of the 16th Century philosopher, Jiva Gosvamin. Jiva Gosvamin’s epistemological theories represent an interesting approach in the long history of South Asian religion relative to the question of what, precisely, constitutes authoritative knowledge. In many ways, Jiva both personifies radical orthodoxy, while simultaneously being a very original thinker.

I decided to focus on the epistemological ideas of this specific philosopher because his epistemological teachings serves as a highly representative axial milieu around which to understand both the full scope of Hindu epistemology, as well as many of the specific issues and implications that arise from this subject.

Unlike the majority of Hindu philosophers, Jiva Gosvamin (c. 1511 - c. 1596) feels that the smrti literature is more authoritative than shruti, and thus rests the basis of his epistemology, not on the Vedas, but on the Purana literature. Additionally, he takes the rather unusual approach of accepting ten distinct ways of knowing (pramanas) as all being epistemically authoritative. Despite the fact that Jiva Gosvamin’s philosophical theories represent a somewhat unique approach to the field of Hindu epistemology, very sparse research has thus far been attempted in the Western world on this Indian thinker.

I have several aims in this present work. First, since Jiva Gosvamin represents a school of thought relatively unknown in the Western world, I will present an outline of his epistemological theories and place them within the greater context of Indian philosophy. This will be accomplished by surveying his theories as contained in his two most important works: Tattva-sandarbha and his autocommentary on the same, the Sarva-sanvadini. Second, I will analyze and critique his arguments from a philosophical perspective using propositional, comparative, and veridical analyses. Third, I will explore the significance of Jiva Gosvamin’s ideas for Vedanta. Lastly, I will speak about the implications of these epistemological theories for the future of epistemology and philosophy of religion.

Again, employing Jiva Gosvamin’s ideas as a philosophical anchor and as a backdrop for the cultural milieu that represented the historical height of inter-philosophical epistemological debate, the ultimate goal of this work is actually to present the profound insights and practical efficacy of the Vedic way of knowing God. Though this may seem at first glance to be a rigidly academic work, it is my hope that academic scholars will, in actuality, serve as only a secondary audience for this work. My primary audience are those sincere spiritual practitioners, yogis/yoginis, dedicated Hindus, and followers of Dharma globally who wish to have a more thorough understanding of precisely what it means to know God in the Vedic tradition, and to thus deepen their own experience of the presence of God in their everyday lives.

As I hope this work will make abundantly clear, God is not merely an interesting idea designed to serve as the theoretical kindling of fueled academic debate. Rather, God is the grounding ontological principle that makes all conceptual and perceptual activities on the part of all human being even possible. It is, indeed, in knowing the Absolute that we have access to knowing absolute knowledge.

Dharma Pravartaka Acharya
(Dr. Frank Morales, Ph.D.)
International Sanatana Dharma Society
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A.
January, 2010

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