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Old January 2nd, 2018, 09:22 PM   #1

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On Eternity of Vedas


"According to this view the Veda cannot be called eternal in the same sense as the Mīmāmsakas have done, and, therefore, the texts which assert the eternity of the Vedas, are said to refer merely to "the unbroken continuity of the stream of homogeneous succession," (Veda-nityatā-vākyāni cha sajātīyā-nupūrvī-pravāhānuchcheda-parāni). Patanjali, the great grammarian, in his gloss on Pānini IV, 3, 101, solves the question by making a distinction between the language (the succession of words or letters, varnānupūrvī, as we find it in the present texts) of the Vedas and their contents (artha), and observing that the question of the eternity of the Vedas refers to their sense which is eternal or permanent (arthonityah), and not to the order of their letters, which has not always remained the same (varnānupūrvī anityā), and that it is through this difference in the latter respect that we have the different versions of Kathas, Kalāpas, Mudakas, Pippalādas and so on.

This view is opposed to that of the Mīmāmsakas who hold both sense and order of words to be eternal. But Patanjali is led to reject the doctrine of the eternity of the order of words, because in that case we cannot account for the different versions or Shākhās of the same Veda, all of which are considered to be equally authoritative though their verbal readings are sometimes different. Patanjali, as explained by his commentators Kaiyyata and Nāgoji Bhatta, ascribes this difference in the different versions of the Veda to the loss of the Vedic text in the pralayas or deluges* which occasionally overtake the world and their reproduction or re-promulgation, at the beginning of each new age, by the sages, who survived, according to their remembrance.

Each age has thus a Veda of its own which differs only in expression and not in sense from the ante-diluvian Veda, and that different recessions of co-ordinate authority of the same Veda are due to the difference in the remembrance of the Rishis whose names are associated with the different Shākhās, and who re-promulgate, at the beginning of the new age, the knowledge inherited by them, as a sacred trust, from their forefathers in the preceding Kalpa. This view substantially accords with that of Vyāsa as recorded in the verse from the Mahābhārata quoted above. The later expositors of the different schools of philosophy have further developed these views of the Sutra-writers and criticized or defended the doctrine of the self-demonstrated authority of the scriptural texts (shabda-pramāna) in various ways."
"Arctic Home in Vedas", B. G. Tilak (Page 419-20)
Chapter XIII (The Bearing of Our Results on the History of Primitive Aryan Culture and Religion)

* catastrophic changes, whether environmental or conflicts and migrations.
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Old January 6th, 2018, 05:21 AM   #2

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Dear Aupmanyav,


The above is a statement, not a question. What exactly is the question which you want us to discuss: Are the Vedas eternal or not? Are they historical createtions or not?

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Old January 6th, 2018, 05:58 AM   #3

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Yes, what should we understand by the statement that "Vedas are eternal"?
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Old January 6th, 2018, 07:11 PM   #4

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The word "Vedas" is used in different senses so we need to define it here. There are four Vedas (Rig, Sam, Yajur, Atharva). Each of these four Vedas has four parts, viz Samhita (composed in Verse), Brahman, Aranyak, Upanishads. I assume that we are using the term "Veda" referring to all these 16 parts together.

The above mentioned sixteen (4*4) are together called "Shruti" in later Hindu tradition. In today's language Shruti translates as "that which has been heard".

Last edited by Rajeev; January 6th, 2018 at 07:25 PM.
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Old January 6th, 2018, 07:55 PM   #5

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Aahhh, so that is what shruti means then.

Shruti Hasaan. I hv heard of that one. She's nice.
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Old January 6th, 2018, 08:46 PM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajeev View Post
The word "Vedas" is used in different senses so we need to define it here. There are four Vedas (Rig, Sam, Yajur, Atharva). Each of these four Vedas has four parts, viz Samhita (composed in Verse), Brahman, Aranyak, Upanishads. I assume that we are using the term "Veda" referring to all these 16 parts together.

The above mentioned sixteen (4*4) are together called "Shruti" in later Hindu tradition. In today's language Shruti translates as "that which has been heard".
No, the topic refers only to the 'Samhita' part.

Last edited by Aupmanyav; January 6th, 2018 at 08:49 PM.
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Old January 28th, 2018, 11:04 AM   #7

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Dear Aupmanyav,

I have read translations of hundreds of hymns in Rig Ved Samhita - which are the linguistically the "oldest" part of the Vedas.

To me it is clear that the hymns are human compositions. Here are few reasons for the same:

[i] The Indices to Rig Ved Samhita give names of Vedic sages who composed each of the hymns.

[ii] Few of the hymns themselves contain the name of the sage who is the composer / singer.

[iii] In Rig Veda Samhita, there are about 20 hymns which are 'dana-stutis.' The name 'dana stuti' is given by modern scholars to hymns in praise of God is sung by the sage while the sage acknowledges in the hymn itself receiving of gift from a contemporary king who gives them to the sage after winning a battle.

[iv] Lastly, I personally believe that when a text can be understood literally / prima facie, then there is no need to assign it / attribute to it an esoteric meaning or a supernormal or a metaphoric meaning.

Later Hindu tradition says that sages named in / for hymns in Rig Vedic Samhita did not "compose" the hymns but "saw" them - one would assume thru their divine or mystic power. Now mystic experiences are true but hymns of Rig Veda Samhita are rather simple poems to various Indo-Aryan (Indo-European to be more precise) Gods, and there is no essential need to postulate a divine or mystic context for composition of such hymns.

This answer may disappoint you but this is how I see matter.

Regards

Rajeev
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Old January 28th, 2018, 01:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajeev View Post
Dear Aupmanyav,

I have read translations of hundreds of hymns in Rig Ved Samhita - which are the linguistically the "oldest" part of the Vedas.

To me it is clear that the hymns are human compositions. Here are few reasons for the same:

[i] The Indices to Rig Ved Samhita give names of Vedic sages who composed each of the hymns.

[ii] Few of the hymns themselves contain the name of the sage who is the composer / singer.

[iii] In Rig Veda Samhita, there are about 20 hymns which are 'dana-stutis.' The name 'dana stuti' is given by modern scholars to hymns in praise of God is sung by the sage while the sage acknowledges in the hymn itself receiving of gift from a contemporary king who gives them to the sage after winning a battle.

[iv] Lastly, I personally believe that when a text can be understood literally / prima facie, then there is no need to assign it / attribute to it an esoteric meaning or a supernormal or a metaphoric meaning.

Later Hindu tradition says that sages named in / for hymns in Rig Vedic Samhita did not "compose" the hymns but "saw" them - one would assume thru their divine or mystic power. Now mystic experiences are true but hymns of Rig Veda Samhita are rather simple poems to various Indo-Aryan (Indo-European to be more precise) Gods, and there is no essential need to postulate a divine or mystic context for composition of such hymns.

This answer may disappoint you but this is how I see matter.

Regards

Rajeev
I would agree with your assessment on the Vedas here. I would also add that it is the creation of rather primitive tribal peoples, and it is the thinking and culture of such peoples that are reflected in it. There are no high moral principles in its texts, that one would want to emulate, to obtain peace and happiness in one's life or to create a just society.

At the same time, certain factions of Hindu society tend to attach so much hype to the Vedas without any substance or merit, other than the hype itself. I think it is just a marketing gimmick to dupe the gullibles. It had worked in the past and so it is assumed to work forever.

Last edited by kandal; January 28th, 2018 at 01:18 PM.
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Old January 28th, 2018, 04:20 PM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajeev View Post
This answer may disappoint you but this is how I see matter.
Why would it disappoint me? If you read my opening post, Tilak is saying exactly the same thing. He says that the meaning (what Aryans wished, aspirations of the people) was handed down from one generation to the next, though the words may have changed.
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There are no high moral principles in its texts, that one would want to emulate, to obtain peace and happiness in one's life or to create a just society.
I would not agree to that, but I do not consider Vedas to be divine, actually, I do not even believe in existence of God/Gods/Goddeses. I am a strong atheist.

Last edited by Aupmanyav; January 28th, 2018 at 04:23 PM.
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Old January 29th, 2018, 03:42 AM   #10

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Originally Posted by kandal View Post
I would agree with your assessment on the Vedas here. I would also add that it is the creation of rather primitive tribal peoples, and it is the thinking and culture of such peoples that are reflected in it. There are no high moral principles in its texts, that one would want to emulate, to obtain peace and happiness in one's life or to create a just society.

At the same time, certain factions of Hindu society tend to attach so much hype to the Vedas without any substance or merit, other than the hype itself. I think it is just a marketing gimmick to dupe the gullibles. It had worked in the past and so it is assumed to work forever.
Dear Kandal,

Vedic Samhitas are mostly simple prayer hymns which were composed from Proto-Indo-Iranian times & onwards. They do not teach 'high moral principles' simply pray to God asking for some benefit or the other. Most religions have these types of prayers.

Many things arose in later developments. 'High moral principles' were understood and were conveyed to a large illiterate society thru stories in epics - the Ramayan and Mahabharat - and their enactment as dance-dramas. Philosophical ideas, which have engrossed many a intellectuals, were put in Upanishads. The theological ideas of Upanishads are pretty interesting and go beyond simple ideas of hell and heaven to punish/reward for deeds in present life.

Vedic Samhitas are creation of a people who had advanced culture, not "the creation of rather primitive tribal peoples." There are composed in defined poetic meters (more complex than Iliad & Odyssey), there is a music to which they are set. Moreover methods had been devised for oral transmission so that compositions do not get corrupted in transmission.

All later Hindu traditions trace their origin to some verse the Rig Vedic Samhitas.

Regards

Rajeev
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