[Advaita-l] Vedas are not apauresheya according to the Vedas ?

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sun Jan 13 04:54:27 CST 2013

On Sun, Jan 6, 2013 at 12:55 AM, Rajaram Venkataramani <
rajaramvenk at gmail.com> wrote:

> KK and Kalavai have posted very good arguments to show that the Vedas are
> not apauresheya according to the Vedas themselves.
> http://apaureshyatva.blogspot.co.uk/  If their argumeent is correct.
> a fundamental belief of vedanta school on which it is founded is incorrect.
> I have reached out to a few traditional scholars privately. Traditional
> scholars will not know about linguistic evolution, comparative mythology,
> genetics, archaelogy etc. But they should not to struggle to a key tenet
> common to all schools of vedanta and mimamsa from a sastra point of view.
> If  vedas were apaurusheya and eternal, then we would expect them to
> constitute a single and unified whole. But internal evidence from the vedas
> and upanishads suggests that Sruti is stratified and not a single unified
> whole. Here are a few examples -
>    1. In purusha sUkta (Rig veda 10.90), the Rig veda, Yajur veda and Sama
>    veda are spoken of as being created from the sacrifice. Note that the
>    Atharva veda is missing because it is a later addition to the group of
>    vedas. Further note that this talk of creation of vedas also shows that
>    vedas do not consider themselves eternal.

It is good to know that such a 'creation' is only symbolic.  Atharva Veda
is not a later addition; it is only that it is not specifically mentioned.
Just as there is a difference across Upanishads/Vedas about the description
of creation, the case with the veda is the same. It is also better to
realize that the sampradaya of knowing the matter through the Acharya
rather than trying to read the Veda-s and arrive at wrong conclusions.

>    2. In Chhandogya Upanishad (6.1.2), it is said that Svetaketu has
>    studied all the vedas (sarvAn vedAn adhItya) and yet Svetaketu does not
>    know anything about brahma-vidya. His father Uddalaka then goes on to
> give
>    him the teaching on brahman. This shows that there was a point of time
> when
>    Chhandogya upanishad was not considered as part of vedas (later it was
>    added to Sama veda).

What is meant by 'adhItya' here is only that one has completed a course.
That he has become proficient in all the subjects taught is not inferable.
The Kathopanishat 1.2.23 teaches:

नायमात्मा प्रवचनेन लभ्यो न मेधया *न बहुनाश्रुतेन* । यमेवैष वृणुते तेन
लभ्यस्तस्यैष आत्मा विवृणुते तनुं स्वाम्॥

//23     This Atman cannot be attained by the study of the Vedas, or by
intelligence, or by much hearing of sacred books. It is attained by him
alone whom It chooses. To such a one Atman reveals Its own form. //

Pl. also read the Shankara bhAShya for this.  The very first Brahma sutra,
athAto brahmajijnAsA, delves on this topic and concludes that mere
vedAdhyayana is not sufficient for taking up the inquiry into the true
nature of the Self, Brahman, but the mandatory sAdhana chatuShTaya (viveka,
vairagyam, etc.) is what makes this possible.


>    3. In Mundaka upanishad, (1.1.5), the Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva vedas
>    are considered as apara-vidya (lower knowledge) while the knowledge of
>    brahman (that is given by the upanishads) is considered as para vidya.
> This
>    shows that there was a point of time when the upanishads (or the Mundaka
>    upanishad at least) was not a part of the vedas. Sankara notes this as
> an
>    objection but tries to explain it away by saying that vidya implies
>    realization and not the assemblage of words in the upanishads. His
>    explanation looks forced and artificial.

Pl. read the bhashya agian, especially the last paragraph:  Even if one has
mastered the literature (the vedAdhyayana) unless there is vairAgya,
approaching an Acharya, etc. are in place there will be no Brahman
realization possible.  For this reason alone the Rg.veda, etc. were
'excluded' from parA vidyA.  Even the term/usage 'parA vidyA' is also for
this purpose alone.  Actually parA vidyA is not outside, physically, from
the Veda.  It is the Veda alone that forms the basis for the teaching of
parA vidyA.

   4. In Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (2.4.10) it is said that the Rig veda,
>    Yajur veda, Sama veda, Atharvangirasa, itihasa, purANam, vidya,
> Upanishads,
>    Slokas, Sutras and elucidations and explanations are the breath of
> Brahman.
>    This shows two things. First, since the Upanishads are mentioned
> separately
>    from the vedas, it shows that there was a point of time, when the
>    Upanishads were not considered to be part of the Vedas. Second, it also
>    shows that the Vedas, Upanishads, itihasa, puranam and Sutras were
> treated
>    similarly. So if Vedas are apaurusheya, then itihasa, and puranam should
>    also be apaurusheya. But no traditionalist thinks the itihasa and
> puranam
>    to be apaurusheya. Therefore, this shows that the Vedas also are not
>    apaurusheya. Note that puranam is in singular. So it also most likely
>    implies that there was only one puranam at some point of time.

The above thinking is due to not looking at the bhashyam.

Sri Shankaracharya, while commenting on this mantra, writes for the word
इतिहासः itihAsa of the Upanishad: ‘such as the dialogue, etc. between
UrvashI and PurUravas -   उर्वशी हाप्सरा.’ (Shatapatha brAhmaNa

The bhashya gives instances for each of the items stated in the mantra:

१. इतिहासः - उर्वशीपुरूरवसोः संवादादिः उर्वशी हाप्सरा.’ इत्यादिब्राह्मणमेव

२.पुराणम् - असद्वा इदमग्र आसीत् इत्यादि

३.विद्या - देवजनविद्या वेदः सोऽयमित्याद्याः

४.उपनिषदः - ’प्रियमित्येतदुपासीत’ इत्याद्याः

५.श्लोकाः - ब्राह्मणप्रभवा मन्त्राः ’तदेते श्लोका’ इत्यादयः ।

६.सूत्राणि - वस्तुसंग्रहवाक्यानि वेदे यथा ’आत्मेत्येवोपासीत’ इत्यादीनि

७.अनुव्याख्यानानि - मन्त्रविवरणानि

८.व्याख्यानानि - अर्थवादाः । अथवा वस्तुसंग्रहवाक्यविवरणानि अनुव्याख्यानानि
। यथा चतुर्थाध्याय आत्मेत्येवोपासीत इत्यस्य यथा वा ’अन्योऽसावन्योऽहमस्मीति
न स वेद यथा पशुरेवम्’ इत्यस्यायमेवाध्यायशेषः । मन्त्रविवरणानि व्याख्यानानि
। *एवमष्टविधं ब्राह्मणम् । *

[The English translation of Sw.Madhavananda  for this is available on p.251
which may please be studied]

The bhashya says the above enumerated ones are eight divisions of the

The Editor of this edition of the Bhashyam, Sri S.Subrahmanya Shastri, in
the foot notes writes:

इतिहासः पुराणम् इत्यादौ भाष्ये वेदगत-अर्थवादरूपाणि पुरावृत्तानि

ग्राह्याणीत्युक्तम् । भारतादीनामनादिवेदप्रतिपाद्यत्वासंभवात् ।

//By the terms ‘itihAsa and purANam’ of the mantra, the BhAshya intends to
say: those statements contained in the Veda-s, as having ‘occurred’ in the
ancient times are to be taken.  However, the texts of the MahAbhArata, etc.
cannot be regarded to be included by these Vedic terms as it would be
unreasonable to hold that they have their source in the Vedas.//

>    5. In chhAndogya upanishad (beginning shlokas of chapter 7), nArada
>    approaches sanatkumAra for instruction. Here nArada says that he knows
> all
>    the four vedas and itihAsa and purANam (which he calls as the fifth
> veda)
>    etc. and yet he does not know the Self. This is another instance to show
>    that the chhAndogya upanishad was not considered as part of the Sama
> veda
>    at one point of time. For if the chhAndogya upanishad were always a
> part of
>    the Sama veda, then nArada would have already known what sanatkumAra
> would have said and thereby, approaching sanatkumAra would have been
> redundant.

This is very interesting indeed.  The person/aspiramt 'nArada' is different
from the 'charater' nArada in the Upanishat.  As a student  of the Veda,
nArada, has studied the chAndogya upanishat where the nArada and
sanatkumara are characters.  It is like a boy Kumar reading a story in his
English class text where a boy Kumar is a student.  All the events the
character Kumar experiences need not happen to the Kumar that reads the

Even if the student nArada has known what the dialogue between nArada and
sanatkumara is about, yet, as an aspirant he is required to cultivate
viveka, vairagya, etc. and then approach the Acharya for formal sadhana.
In this very Chandogya upanishad 7.1.3 narada approaches sanatkumara with
this plea:

सोऽहं भगवो मन्त्रविदेवास्मि नात्मविच्छ्रुतँ ह्येव मे भगवद्दृशेभ्यस्तरति
शोकमात्मविदिति सोऽहं भगवः शोचामि,,   here nArada says: 'I have heard from
Great Ones like You that 'The Knower of the Self crosses over sorrow' and
have come to You for that teaching'.  So, the study of the Veda/Upanishad,
satsangha, attending vidwat sadas, etc. will give one a cursory knowledge
regarding Atma vidya.  This will be a prop for his taking up sAdhana


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