In Hinduism, we have a great tradition of Rishis, Muni, Guru, Acharya ect. But how are their Authority and their “Apta”, attribute to be known by a student or by lay persons, how and according to what criteria are our sages and munis judged to be reliable?
What makes a Apta rishi an Apta, Apta meaning something akin to aptitude, or confirmation/proof of a persons knowledge about certain things, what in our tradition is given as a guide/standard/minimum requirements to discriminate the learned from the un-learned?
What does your specific Samprada/Darshan have as a standard almost of a Rishi/Guru/Acharya ect?
I personally think that there are many instances where some sort of criteria or character standard is provided to at least give us a basic idea of whom one can consider reliable, or whos Shbda can be considered as a valid means of attaining knowledge.
This question is a typical Arjun question, this is what Arjun asked Yog Raj Shri Krishna in the Gita, which is what im asking as well.
54. What, O Krishna, is the description of him who has steady wisdom and is merged in the Superconscious State? How does one of steady wisdom speak? How does he sit? How does he walk?
The answer given was;
55. When a man completely casts off, O Arjuna, all the desires of the mind and is satisfied in the Self by the Self, then is he said to be one of steady wisdom!
56. He whose mind is not shaken by adversity, who does not hanker after pleasures, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady wisdom.
57. He who is everywhere without attachment, on meeting with anything good or bad, who neither rejoices nor hates, his wisdom is fixed.
Now obviously there is more slokas to this, but what do other texts say, or at least is there a consistent view among the ancient/modern writers. here are some more examples, and i would appreciate more from others.
Nirukta.says in 1-91.
The original seers were men of realisation who saw or perfectly understood’ the Dharma. They taught it to those who themselves had not realized it or were not inspired persons.
In Nirukta 2-11 Yaskacharya says –
The Rishis are seers of the Mantras. The word Rishi means Drashta. Opaomanyava Acharya is of opinion that those who by austerities, realised the Vedic-hymns were called Rishis.”
Bhartihari in Niti Sataka.
A desire for the society of the good : love for the virtues of others : reverence for priests and teachers : diligence in acquiring wisdom : love for their wives, fear of the world’s reproaches : reverence for Siva : self-control and no acquaintance with evil men—wherever we find men with virtues like these, they are invariably held in high esteem.
62,. Firmness in adversity; self-control in prosperity : eloquence in debate : valour in war : desire for glory : knowledge of the sacred writings : such are the characteristics of the virtuous.
64. Private generosity; ungrudged hospitality to strangers : abstinence from speaking in public about one’s good deeds : openly proclaiming the benefits received from others : humility in prosperity, and respect for one’s fellows—this is a sacred doctrine taught by the good, though adherence to it may be as difficult as the attempt to stand on the edge of a sword.
65. There are sufficient inward adornments adequate for the man of noble mind without the necessity for a more evident display—liberality for his hand; reverence towards the priesthood for his head; true speech for his mouth : power for his arms happiness for his heart ; and the holy Vedas, properly understood, for his ears.
Yaksha Prashna Mahabharatta.
The Yaksha asked, ‘By what doth one become learned? By what doth he attain what is very great? How can one have a second? And, O king, how can one acquire intelligence?’
Yudhishthira answered, ‘It is by the (study of the) Srutis that a person becometh learned; it is by ascetic austerities that one acquireth what is very great: it is by intelligence that a person acquireth a second and it is by serving the old that one becometh wise.
Vidura Niti Mahabharatta
These again are the marks of a wise man, viz., adherence to acts, worthy of praise and rejection of what is blamable, faith, and reverence. He whom neither anger nor joy, nor pride, nor false modesty, nor stupefaction, nor vanity, can draw away from the high ends of life, is considered as wise.
The Tirukkural On knowledge
True knowledge is an inner fortification that enemies cannot destroy, and is the ultimate impregnable defence.
True knowledge controls thought and conduct and keeps both away from evil, and helps one to keep in the right path.
True knowledge enables one to understand the true import of things from whomsoever one learns them and not to be misled by the circumstances in which they appear.
It finds easy and convincing expression for one’s own thoughts, and enables one to grasp the essence of what is said by others, be it however complicated.
Knowledge befriends the world. It fosters a spirit of equanimity saving one from both excitement and depression.
The man of True Knowledge understands how the world moves, and moves accordingly.
Even in the Karma Sutra, Vatsyana advises all to study and gain different kinds of Knowledge, the Sad Darshan all have their own Parmanas, even Budhism and Jainism have means of attaining knowledge.
What more examples are available, and how important is Knowledge/Wisdom to Hinduism in general. If you disagree with the above please reply with your comment.
The Aptitude of a Rishi is not Just based on the Abrahamic religious concept of a Prophet where a God sends a message to a Human being without the necessity of seeking on part of the person receiving the message.
As per the above examples, we can see that in Hinduism or Sanatana Dharmah the title of “Rishi”, or the recognition of a person on being “wise”, is based largely on the actual demonstrated wisdom and knowledge.