[Advaita-l] Apaurusheyatva

Krishnan Sundaresan krish.sundaresan at gmail.com
Fri Apr 7 10:47:19 CDT 2006

> -- All we know is that Yajnavalkya turns up one day, and claims to have
> discovered more of the Vedas. How do people judge it to be really Veda? Is
> it by the merit of the shlokas that they were given the status of Shruti?
> If
> a realized person today were to come up with some more such shlokas, would
> they be considered Veda? Is there some internal reference in the Vedas
> themselves that there shall be no more Veda?

First, it is commonly believed that Veda Vyasa is credited with collecting
the vedas into (more or less?) the form that we know today. So the Vedas are
not evolving or a working documenst. It contains all there is regarding
knowledge of the Brahman. Understanding the vedas and the exact nature of
knowledge that the vedas intended to record for posterity, is where we have
issues now. (Mis-)interpretations and many socio-poilitico-religious factors
have contributed to this.

Yagnavalkya is credited as one of the (first) first-hand "seers" of the
knowledge (mantras) that formed the  shukla yajurveda and it may be a
stretch to attribute "authorship" or "discovery" of the Shukla Yajurveda
only to him. As was the system at that time he (Yagnavalkya) taught the
knowledge he "saw" or "realized" to his disciples until, at a later time
(that of Veda Vyasa) it was put into writing. Similarly mantras in the
Rigveda are attributed to several  Rshis (Manchhandas, Viswamitra, Vashista,
Agastya, etc) and passed on through their respective disciple-lineages until
the time of VedaVyasa.

> -- Also, with regard to the discovery of the Veda itself, here are a few
> possibilities. Firstly, there
> might indeed be a Surya Deva who taught Yajnavalkya. Personally, I do not
> believe in such kind of
> extra-terrestrial entities (at any rate, not of the kind where people
> could
> have conversed with them
> thousands of years ago). Is that what people mostly believe, just curious?
> Another possibility which
> appeals to me is that Yajnavalkya might have obtained these verses under
> inspiration. In which case, people knew Yajnavalkya was the author of the
> Sukla Yajur Veda. How then is it Apaurusheyatva? For example, you could
> say
> Einstein obtained relativity under inspiration. We recognize him to be the
> author, and credit him as such (though probably, the theory of relativity
> is
> always all around us waiting to be discovered by everyone). So, here's my
> question, how exactly do we characterize Apaurusheyatva?

The knowledge or purport contained in the Vedas is Apaurusheya since it has
always existed in a different domain--that of brahmajnanis or realized
persons---and sages like Yagnavalkya were able to "see" the knowledge after
intense medidation or tapas. The story of Yagnavalkya vomiting out portions
that he learnt from his guru VaisampAyana (that form the Krishna Yajurveda)
and learning new stuff from Surya has to be taken metaphorically. Surya
could have been the ishta devata of Yagnavalkya on whom he mediated and then
attained the level to realize the knowledge. Earlier, Yagnavalkya probably
had an argument with his teacher--happens all the time between student and
teacher---and decided he had different opinions and walked out. The teacher
VaisampAyana, having lost his favorite pupil to whom he had imparted all
that he knew, was forced to teach the knowledge to his other pupils. That
knowledge probably had to be imparted to many pupils in parts (many
tititriya birds and hence the name Taittiriya Samhita) since there was none
of the stature of Yagnavalkya.

The arguments for Apaurusheyatva of the vedas and shruti pramana have been
discussed much on this before. I would recommend searching the list
archives. Here's something to get started:


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Krishnan Sundaresan,
Michigan State Univ., E Lansing, MI, USA
URL: http://www.msu.edu/~sundare2
Excuse me for butting in, but I'm interrupt-driven...

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