Notes on pedagogy of śāstra(something written by a friend)

To add, as śāstra unfolds, things become quite simple and clear. The only issue is getting the pedagogy of śāstra. For instance, pratyakṣa and anumāna are listed ahead of śabda pramāṇa, and deducing from the visible natural phenomena is the primary learning underlying SAstra, with only subtler phenomena and lessons explicated by śāstra. As mentioned here, nature is the mother, teacher and trustee and what Rshis learn about organizing human societies is entirely from nature. The lessons from clans, prides, coalitions of animal world results in an optimal design of human family at micro level. Just the way legs obey the commands of brain and the way a weak body in turn compels brain into commands that suit the body’s condition, just the way the mano-vāk-kāya “hierarchy” works, the social being’s mano-vāk-kāya is understood. This is rather pratyakṣa than śabda as a pramANa (though we can find upon searching pramāṇa like “vAngme manasi pratishThita” or purusha sUkta could be found). śāstra comes into picture only to make a proper correlation to human society, such as Raja being divine representative who commands and sets the society in the right path – references about prajāpati in atharva are useful, but none better than mahābhārata and manusmṛti. The higher aspects of dharma that are not sāmānya are to be found in śruti, which form the substratum for the manifest layer of dharma (such as moral facts). It helps to recall Viswanatha’s taunt in this context – “you call it sāmānya because these things are commonly known through observation, why do you need to teach them formally and call it a subject”. But the sāmānya is not missed at any stage, it is visible in the implicit expectation of its awareness as a requirement. The head and central being two types of powers that hold the family, and a further distribution of these into the natures of power in society (will, knowledge and action in hierarchy, then into knowledge-power-wealth-action in distribution) is quite visible not just in organization but in śruti itself. The head-center nature of Indra-Agni, which later become visible as Siva-Sakti, as the ruling forces of the world-family are the prototypes for this. Similarly the cyclic day-night, month (aligned with moon), year (aligned with sun), astronomical cycles and human life cycle are pratyaksha pramāṇa for cyclic nature of time. śāstra pramāṇa only gives the conceptualizing of how the alignment of social cycle is to be done with the known cycles. One of the reasons upamāna is extensively visible all through in SAstra and kAvya is that it is not just an alaṃkāra but an integral part of the pedagogic nature of our texts. Second aspect is which śāstra throws light on which aspect of life. While the śruti-smṛti-śiṣṭācāra hierarchy is well known for prāmāṇya, śruti is not a reference for understanding the social aspects that evolve from time to time. śruti is a reference for sanātana or immutable yet non-obvious knowledge of the world from which the ever morphing aspects are to be derived and defined, which are liable to change, in the derivative texts. The layers of smṛti texts, be it MBH or dharma śāstra-s, ensure that they reproduce and record the unchanging principles from śruti, then specify the changing ones (the yuga and deśa-kāla layers) so that for a subsequent version of smṛti that evolves, the seeds of permanent principles are taken and continued. Third aspect is the untold – what a text covers is based on the scope of authority it assumes in the knowledge system. What is not covered, if covered elsewhere, indicates the relative authority and if is not, indicates the nature of untold to be self-explanatory or naturally known or not as a necessary factor. For instance the sampradāya-s that are substantially important in the society and are honored even by kings, find next to zero mention in the smṛti texts as influential or authorized or holding stake in social dynamic or organization notwithstanding their real influence, dharma nirṇaya is made the accountability of king no matter who he consults (and there is a different and a specific subject taught to king who he should consult and who he should not).


PS: It is an axiomatic change and a change in worldview for the west to look at things this way (their organizations are driven by ideals more than by nature of things), but they ARE actively working to plagiarize these concepts at various levels in sciences, and at a slower pace in social sciences. The papers on Artificial Intelligence I linked in a previous post indicate how they are getting natural biological phenomena into AI by consciously learning from nature, trying to make repeatable processes that are only cognitively decipherable.

(This was from a note by @SkandaVeera which I preserved)

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