Why Sheldon Pollock is wrong in rejecting Paramarthika?
Although i haven’t read Rajiv Malhotra’s recent book The Battle For Sanskrit (but only the relevant topic for this blog) which i have received only yesterday. but i have specifically followed all his videos on his recent 20+ book launch tour and his discussion group on this topic generally for last one and half year
One of the important topic that Rajiv Malhotra has raised in his critique of Sanskrit “Scholar” Sheldon Pollock and his school of thought is about rejecting the paramarthika (the higher or transcendental realm)
The book The Battle For Sanskrit explains vyavaharika as ordinary reality around us that is also very valid means to access and Paramarthika as that which is transcendental or beyond the general comprehension.The various vyavaharika paths such as Bhakti, Tantra,Kavya/Natya Shastra, Darshanas allows a practitioner to bridge the gap and move towards paramarthika progressively
Even though the book explains the relationship between vyavaharika-paramarthika very well, I would like to explain in this article that such vyavaharika-paramarthika relation exist and experienced in our day to day life as well and it would be highly foolish of someone to reject such paramarthika and would be called non-scientific in the society. Moreover i would also try to explain how the paramarthika-vyavaharika relation exist inherently in how Sanskrit language itself describes the word.The language that Sheldon Pollock claims to have expertise in.
For the sake of this blog i am using vyavaharika as common/simple usage and paramarthika as literal,specialized and higher meaning
Below are the some of the examples from different discipline other than spirituality
Double Slit Experiment: This animated youtube video beautifully explains what happens when marbles and electron were subjected to pass through the single and double slit respectively.As expected marbles and electron behaved as particle when passed through single slit and marbles continued to exhibit particle nature when made to pass through double slit as well. But in case of electron it exhibited dark-light marks (as crest and trough of wave) when shot through double slit experiment.
The scientist amazed to see the unexpected behavior and tried to put camera ie the presence of human mind to observe what happens to electron as they pass through (double) slits. To the surprise electron switched back to particle nature.Repeated many times and electron swapped between particle and wave nature depending of presence or absence of human mind respectively
This electron behavior of wave-particle nature have been found to be true for even compounds and molecule. The particle nature of electron which is expected and observed in ordinary reality is nothing but the vyavaharika while it waves nature ie beyond vyavaharika understanding and required “specific tool” to understand is nothing but it paramarthika nature
b) Sanskrit Language: I have been learning Sanskrit since last year and thanks to Sanskrit-Non Translatable chapter in another of Rajiv Malhotra’s book Being Different I am very keen to understand the exact meaning of Sanskrit word.Moreover i read an article about features of sanskrit that makes it an extraordinary language
And one of the feature it says was that in Sanskrit the there is no 1 to 1 mapping between word and its object.(most)Sanskrit words actually describes the property of an object rather than the object. The property of object is actually how we experienced the object and if more than one object has same property then that sanskrit word can be used for other object as well
i)माता :मान्यते पूज्यते या सा
(mAtA : any (feminine form) who is worthy of worshiping
In vyavaharika meaning in most indian language माता /mAtA would mean mother while at paramarthika or higher level it means any feminine form who is worthy of worship. It can also be be used for any woman elder or younger
ii)स्वस्थ: :स्वस्मिन् तिष्ठति इति
(svasthA: who is stands/stays in himself or herself)
Again in vyavaharika or general sense this would mean a healthy person while going to its deep meaning or paramarthika this would mean some who has realized the self or yogi .
Similarly in OOP concept of computer programming Class defines the property and all instantiation of that class are objects that have different and specialized behavior ie vyavaharika (method definition).
c)Medicine Urine at vyavaharika level is obviously a waste but at paramarthika level (in urotherapy or urinotherapy) has found it use in many medicines due it properties
As we see that not just adhyatmik (or spiritual) world but vyavaharika-paramarthika relation exist in many discipline and it would be a foolish idea to completely ignore this relation just because unlike paramarthika is not commonly accessible to untrained mind or require special sadhana or tool to access and understand it.
As a professor of Sanskrit (and hence indian sanskrit) it can not be argued that Prof Sheldon Pollock did not have any access to those tools or sadhana practices to understand and access paramarthika realm. Hence it can be confidently said that his ideological leaning has not allowed him to understand the other side in either in his personal capacity or open debate
An honest student of Indian Sanskriti or Civilization one would have definitely tried to access paramarthika realm not for his own good but for the good of society. By competely rejecting it Prof Pollock is not only doing great disservice to society but also to his fellow students who have been blinded by the same ideological leaning which is wrong to reject paramarthika in the first place
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