Sachchidananda 'The Life Divine' Book I,Ch.9, 10, 11, 12 - Track 204

If I enter into a dark room and before I enter, if I am told that look into this room if you turn into the left there is one square table and then I enter into the room, when I know that on the left hand side there is a square table. Even though I have not seen it before, the very fact that I enter into it with this idea, I have already an orientation and I will move in a particular way. When I will come to the left, I will not move very fast, rapidly, I will move in such a way that I would expect that I will bump into the table and then gradually I may bump or I may not bump, it’s another matter. I may not reach that point, but if I bump into it, I know that now I have bumped into it and it is verification of what I was told. This kind of help that you get is tremendous, therefore it is said that faith is a very important thing in human life. Human life requires without even intellectual proof, which may take several years or disprove it may again take several years. If you know that God exists, you are greatly helped and why should you not help people, therefore in the Indian thought it has been mentioned that shruti is extremely important and shruti is also supposed to be one of the means of knowledge.

There is a theory in India, the theory of Nyaya. Nyaya philosophy which says that there are three means of knowledge, sense perception, inference, pratyakshya and anumana. Pratyaksha is sense experience, I see with my eyes pratyaksha that which is before my eyes is pratyaksha. Then anumana is the inference based upon sense perception, you can infer that which is not before your eyes. So by inference also you can know wherever there is smoke there is fire. You may not see the fire on the hill, you are only seeing the smoke, you can imagine, you can infer that there must be fire therefore, the smoke exists. You are only seeing the smoke but you can infer the existence of fire. ‘yatra yatra dhooma tatra tatra vehni’, wherever there is smoke there is the fire. You see only the smoke therefore, you conclude by inference that there is fire. This is the way of anumana but there is third method that is shruti.

The third method of knowledge is shruti, you hear from a trust worthy person is called aptavakya. aptavakya means the vakya of apta that which is trustworthy and the greatest aptavakya is shruti. Veda is suppose to be aptavakya, therefore the importance of Veda in the Indian thought. It is believed that Veda consists of such a true knowledge that even though you cannot know that knowledge by pratayaksha or by anumana, merely by aptavakya since it is there, you can be sure it is true and if you believe in it your life will be made. Therefore it is said that you just accept what is said in the Veda and it will give you the orientation to the life. That is the third way in Indian philosophy pratyaksha, anumana and aptavakya.

In the west also this same kind of process is to be found, there also it is said that you can have an experience by senses to know something or to say it exists or does not exist. You can decide by seeing, by pratyaksha experience, by direct experience of senses or you can do by inference. That is how you find in the west a great development of two aspects of logic – deductive logic and inductive logic; both are the sciences of inference. You can either infer by deduction or by induction, you can infer by these two processes. You can infer and you come to the conclusion but there is also the third way and that is simply by belief. They speak of revelation, what is called in India shruti is called in Europe − revelation. A revelation has been made there are words of a prophet or of Christ. These words are revelation and people have been asked that these revelations are matters in which you believe and if you believe in them your life is safe-guarded and you will move on the right direction.

But there was one difference between the attitude that arose in regard to these three modes of knowledge in India and the West. In India there developed a philosophy or an idea that what is in shruti can also be intellectually proved and can also be verified in further spiritual experience. There are two ways of finding out whether shruti is right or not. Even if you start with belief in it, a time may come when you try to verify whether what is said in shruti is right or wrong. And you can do two things. You can intellectually raise a question about its truth, its veracity and it has been argued in India that even intellectually you can prove what is given in shruti to be true or false and ultimately you find that it is true. Then you can also experience in your real state of realization and therefore you can verify that what is said in shruti is right. These are the two important developments in Indian thought.

In the West a stage came when it was found that what is to be held in belief can never be intellectually proved, this is one different line. In India there was a line of thinking, which says shruti can also be intellectually proved and can also be verified in spiritual experience. In the west it was argued after lot of experiment that what is known in shruti or known in revelation can never be intellectually proved. There arose also a theory that reason and revelation are in constant conflict that rationally you should not even try to prove or disprove what is in revelation. You just believe in revelation. Just belief in revelation gave rise to the idea of a dogma. Dogma is the statement of revelation which can never be proved intellectually and which cannot even be questioned. Therefore, there arose a development that revelation is something which is simply to be believed in. You just believe in it, have faith in it that’s why religions in the West came even to be called faith. What is religion, it is simply faith. A statement, a revelation which is made and you simply have to believe in it and reason can never prove it. It’s impossible to prove it. Also if you ask a question, can you therefore verify in spiritual experience and the answer that you get very largely, not absolutely but very largely that these revelations were the result of experiences only of the son of God and you cannot have the experiences. You can approach these revelations in the spirit of faith, in the spirit of piety, in the spirit of sacredness, spirit of holiness, but experiencing that is impossible, so verification in spiritual experience of the contents of revelation was denied.