Faith

The great logician

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In Kamba Ramayanam, Prahlada says to Hiranyakasipu, “Vishnu is there in your words too.” Hiranyakasipu denies the existence of the Lord. How can the Lord be in His words then? To understand this, we have to read a verse by Nammazhvar, said M.A. Venkatakrishnan in a discourse. Nammazhvar says that if you say God exists, He does. If you say He does not exist, that means He exists. Commentators, explaining Nammazhvar’s verse, have based their explanation on Kooratazhvan’s interpretations. Kooratazhvan was a great logician. What Nammazhvar’s words mean is that you can only prove something positively. You cannot offer negative proof. If you say there is no pot, then all it means is that there is no pot here. It does not mean that there is no such thing as a pot. If you say there is no God, then all it means is that you cannot see God. It does not mean there is no God. Suppose, just for argument’s sake, you ask a man to talk of something that does not exist. Suppose he says there is no Kamadhenu. Then you ask him how he knows about Kamadhenu. Suppose he says he read about it in sacred texts, then his statement is illogical. How can he quote from texts which speak of Kamadhenu’s existence, and then say he does not believe Kamadhenu exists? You then tell him to talk of something else that does not exist. He says, “Lotuses in the sky or rabbits with horns.” Obviously, there are no lotuses in the sky, or rabbits with horns. But in each case, he has taken the names of things that do exist. Lotuses, the sky, rabbits and horns all of them are real. So, in order to try to talk of something that does not exist, he had to rely on things that do exist. Thus, there can only be positive proof, no negative proof. So, when Hiranyakasipu is denying God, God is in his words.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 5:34:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/the-great-logician/article29502040.ece

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