references of the origin of veda

Shrisha Rao shrao at IA.NET
Fri Mar 5 18:40:48 UTC 1999

On Wed, 1 Mar 1999, Jon Skarpeid wrote:

> According to K.Subharhmanyam, in his trans and commentary to BrahmakANDa of
> BhartRharis VAkyapadIyam,
> the Veda is described as anAdi, without beginning.
> Are anybody able to give me some references to texts. I am particulary
> interested if this notion is found in the writings of Abhinavagupta, but
> any referance would do.

I'm not sure about Abhinavagupta, but the notion is as old as the Vedas

Madhva takes up the issue in his vishhNu-tattva-vinirNaya, where a proof
is given.  A coarse summary is as follows: the main point he and his
commentators make is that the only reason to *reject* the unauthoredness
of the Vedas is by their sententiality; i.e., on the basis of the
inference "anything that is made of sentences is authored, just as worldly
(non-Vedic) sentences."  This inference needs an `upAdhi' or additional
qualification in the form of a "lack of fame of authoredness," according
to Madhva, which makes it inapplicable to the Vedas, which do not have
that upAdhi: "anything made of sentences and not having the fame of
unauthoredness, is authored, just as worldly (non-Vedic) sentences, which
are made of sentences, and do not have the fame for unauthoredness," does
nothing to prove the case with the Vedas.  Therefore, given the
`vAkyatvahetoH sopAdhikatvaM', positing authors for Vedas amounts to proof
by imagination, and thus has no validity; the lack of validity in the
counter itself proves the case, which is the unauthoredness of the Vedas.
Various objections, such as references to mortals in the Vedas, references
to birth/creation of Vedas, why a secretly composed statement would not
"have the fame of unauthoredness," etc., are also dealt with.  See the
VTVN-TIkA for details.

Madhva also quotes the RV, such as `vAchA virUpa nityayA' (VIII.64-6), as
Vedic statements of their own eternality; this is explained by his
commentator -- `tasmai nUnamabhidyave vAchA virUpa nityayA  |  vR^ishhNe
chodasva sushhTutim.h' iti mantrasya ayamarthaH  |  "abhitau dyau prakAsho
yasyAvabhidyustasmai abhidyave vR^ishhNe varshhitre nUnaM nishchitaM he
virUpa nityayA vAchA vedalaxaNayA sushhTutiM shobhanAM stutiM chodasva
preraya kuru" iti virUpaR^ishhiM pratyuchate  |

The reference to `vedalaxaNa' in the commentary is meant to show that even
words such as `veda', `shruti', and `AmnAya' themselves indicate the
special qualities of their referent:

  vedAste nityavinnatvAt.h shrutayaschAkhilaiH  |
  AmnAyo ananyathA pAThAdIshabuddhisthitA sadA  ||

A similar one is:

  nendriyANi nAnumAnaM veda hyevainaM vedayanti tasmAdAhuH vedAH  |

-- which is explained as: enaM paramAtmAnam.h  |  tasmAt.h
vedanakaraNatve samAne.api `asAdhAraNyena vyapadeshA bhavanti' iti
nyAyAt.h vishishhTavastuvedanakaraNatvAdeva hi etAn.h "vedA" ityAhuH  |

Some other statements of the RV which are relevant are (a) `sahasradhA
mahimAnaH yAvad.h brahma vishhThitaM tAvatI vAk.h' (ref. not known to me,
but probably in maNDala X), which states that the Veda itself is coeval
with Brahman (elsewhere stated to be eternal); and (b) `kashchhandasAM
yogamAveda dhIraH ko dhishhNyAM prati vAchaM papAda' (X.114-9), which asks
how one can accept that the Veda is authored, when it is not even properly
and completely understood by anyone; one cannot create what is beyond
one's capacity to comprehend -- chhandasAM vedAnAM yogamarthaiH saH
vAchyavAchakabhAvasambandha ko dhIro dhImAn.h Aveda samyag.h veda? na
ko.api  |  dhishhNyAM buddhipUrvAM vAchaM vedavAchaM kaH pratipapAda
parAn.h prati prativAditavAn.h? na ko.api  |  vedArthasya j~nAtA j~nAtvA
vyAkhyAto.api durlabhaH, kimuta tatkartA? -- iti  |

References to Vedic eternality are also seen in the Advaita tradition.
In his commentary on the sUtra `ata eva cha nityatvam.h' Shankara quotes
RV X.71-3 in support of the claim that the Vedic seers stated the
already-existing Vedic statements -- tathA cha mantravarNaH `yaj~nena
vAchaH padavIyamAyantAmanvavindannR^ishhishhu pravishhTam.h' iti
sthitAmeva vAchamanuvinnAM darshayati | His commentator makes clear that
this is meant to cover some perceived shortcoming in the mImAmsaka "proof"
of Vedic unauthoredness -- nanu prAchyAmeva mImAMsAyAM nityatvaM siddhaM
tat.h kiM punaH sAdhyata? ityata Aha ... (bhAmatI).  The latter's
commentator says that some work called `bhAratIvilAsa' is being refuted
here: `bhAratIvilAso.anavakAshaH'.  I have not heard of a relevant extant
text called bhAratIvilAsa; perhaps this was some nyAya text which was
current or recent at the time of Shankara or Vachaspati.  Other references
are seen in the `bR^ihadvArtikA' of Sureshvara, and in the
`shAstraprakAshikA' commentary on the same by Anandagiri.  A detailed
discussion of unauthoredness may also be found in a preface Sayana gives
to his commentary on the Atharva-Veda.


Shrisha Rao

> Jon.

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