Chapter 4,The Eternity of the Vedas

The Vedas having been produced by God and all powers of God being eternal, their eternity is self-evident.

Here someone might say that the Vedas could not be eternal, because they consisted of words, and words, like a jar, were effects i.e., things made or fashioned. The words being non-eternal, the Vedas should necessarily be admitted to be so. No, they cannot be admitted to be non-eternal, because words are eternal as well as effects, (i.e., not-eternal).

The relations of words and meanings which exist in the knowledge of God must be eternal, but, those, which exist in ours, are effects (i.e., non-eternal). All powers of Him must be eternal whose knowledge and acts are eternal, without a beginning and innate and inherent in Him. The Vedas being the knowledge of such a being can never be called non-eternal.

Q. – But, there were no books in existence and consequently no acts of learning and teaching the Vedas were possible at the time when all this universe lay dissolved and disintegrated

in its causal state and when all gross effects were non-existent. How, then, do you admit the Vedas to be eternal?

A. ~ This objection can be raised in respect of books, ink, paper, etc., and acts of man, but not in respect of the acts and powers of God. We believe the Vedas to be eternal because they are co-eval with and a part of God’s knowledge.

It follows, therefore, that the Vedas cannot be non-eternal simply because the acts of teaching and learning and the books are non-eternal. The knowledge of God is eternal and infallible and, therefore, the relations between the letters, words and meanings in the Vedas subsist for all times. They are the same in the present kalpa as they were in the past and shall remain the same in the future also.

Hence it is said in the Rigveda 8:8, 48. ‘The great Creator, made the sun and the moon just as He had made them before! The ‘words the sun and the moon’ in the verse are class names and their meaning is that the plan of the names and their meaning is that the plan of the creation of the sun and the moon in the present

kalpa is the same as that which existed in God’s knowledge in the previous kalpa, because His knowledge is not liable to increase or decrease or variation. The same is true of the Vedas, for, they too, are the products of His knowledge.

We shall now give some quotations from the works on the science of grammar, etc., which go to prove the eternalness of the Vedas. Sage Patanjali, the author of the Mahabhashya, says, ‘The words are eternal. Eternal words must needs consist of unchangeable and immoveable letters which are not subject to elision, augmentation or substitution.

This remark occurs in many places in the Mahabhashya from the 1st anhika onwards. There is also the following observation which occurs in the commentary on the aphorism ANEUN, ‘ A word is that which is perceived with ear, understood by the intellect, rendered perceptible by being pronounced and which inheres in space.
The meaning is that all words are eternal whether they be Vedic (peculiar to the Vedas) or Loukika (used by the generality of mankind), because they are composed of letters which are imperishable and immoveable and are not subject to elisions, augmentation and substitution. Words are eternal because in them there is neither apaya = elisions, disappearance, nor, upajana = augmentation, nor vikaraa = substitution.

The author of the Mahabhashya anticipates the objection that words cannot be eternal because there are rules for their elision, etc., in the Ganapatha, Ashtadhyayi and the Mahabhashya.

In the commentary on the aphorism ‘DAADHAADHVADAADOU’, he observes as follows:- ‘In the opinion of Panini, the son of Dakshi, complete words are substituted for complete words, because if the change had taken place in one portion only the eternalness (of words) would not be established. It means that whole groups are substituted for other whole group of letters, i.e., specified groups are
substituted for other specified groups, e.g., the place of the word-group VEDAPAAR + GAM = U + SU + BHOO + SHAP + TIP. They are mistaken who thing that in this group AM of GAM, U of U, U of SU OO of BHOO, SHA, PA of TIP are elided because it has been said that the change does not occur in a portion only.

In the opinion of Acharya Panini, the son of Dakshi, the eternalness of a word would not be established if elision, augmentation and substitution were to be confined to a portion of a world only. When it is said that AT is added or BHOO is changed into BHAA the meaning is as explained above.

A word is as defined as that which is perceived with the organ of hearing, is understood by means of intellect, becomes manifest on being pronounced and inheres in space. This definition of word also shows that it is eternal. The effort used in pronouncing (a letter) and the act of hearing it ceases to exist after a moment. The author of the Mahabhashya says that ‘speech resides in one letter at a time. The action of speech terminates with the pronunciation of each
letter. We should, therefore, conclude that it is the act of speech and not the word itself that is non-eternal.

Q – But the word also like the action of speech comes into existence when it is pronounced. How can it, then, be eternal?

A. ~ A word, like space (Akasha), remains unmanifested in the absence of means, although it is pre-existent. It becomes manifest through the action of breath (prana) and speech. For example, in pronouncing the word GOU: so long as speech is engaged with the letter G it has nothing to do with the letter OU and when it is engaged with the letter OU it has no concern with the visargah.

It is therefore, the act of speech and pronunciation which is subject to elision and augmentation and not the word itself which is indivisible, uniform and available everywhere. Where there are no acts of speech and air, words can neither be pronounced nor heard. We, therefore, conclude that words are eternal like space. According to the grammatical science all words are eternal, what to say of the Vedic words.
The sage Jaimini also has established the eternalness of words. Says he, in his Purvamimansa I.1;18. “It (the word) is surely eternal because it is manifested for the sake of others. The meaning of the aphorism is this.

[The word ‘surely’ is used with a view to remove doubts about the non-eternalness of words.]

A word being imperishable is eternal. Since the purpose of pronouncing a word is the conveying of information to another it cannot be non-eternal. If it were so, the information that such and such was the connotation of the word “cow’ would be incapable of being conveyed by means of a non-eternal word.

This can be possible only when the words are eternal, for, in that case alone can there be a constant relation between the signifier and the thing signified. This is also the reason why many speakers are able to pronounce simultaneously the same word ‘cow’ at different places and also to pronounce it at different times. Jaimini has adduced several arguments in support of the eternalness of words.
Again, sage Kanada, the author of the Vaisheshika aphorisms also says : ‘The Vedas are authoritative because they are His word and because they contain an exposition of Dharma.

Vaisheshika I.1:8 . The meaning of the aphorism is that all men should acknowledge the eternal authority of the four Vedas, because they enjoin the performance of Dharma as a duty and are the word of God.

Similarly, the sage Goutama also says in his Nyaya Shastra; ‘The authoritativeness of verbal proof is like that of the Veda and the medical science (Ayurveda) and it has been declared by the Aptas (trustworthy persons)’.

Nyaya II, 1:67. Its purport is that all men should acknowledge the authoritativeness of the Vedas which are eternal and are the word of God, because all the great Yogis, Brahma, etc., who were righteous, free from deceit, treachery and other similar defects, merciful, preachers of

truth, and masters of learning have admitted the authoritativeness of the Vedas to be of the same nature as that of the Mantra and the Ayurveda. Just as one considers a mantra, which reveals a scientific principle to be true and authoritative when its truth is experimentally established, and, just as one, on observing that the use of medicines prescribed in one portion of the Ayurveda cures disease, comes to have faith in the medicines prescribed as the other portions of the same, so, on being satisfied, by direct cognition of the truth of a proposition mentioned in one portion of the Vedas, one ought to believe in the truth of the contents of their remaining portions which deal with subjects that are incapable of direct proof.

Sage Vatsyayana also deliver himself to the same effect in his commentary on this aphorism. Says he, ‘Thus inference is drawn from the fact that the seers and the expositors were one and the same. The same trustworthy persons who were the expositors of the Vedas were also the expositors of the medical science. From this fact we infer that the Vedas are as much authoritative as the medical science. Hence the argument, that the words of the
Vedas are of eternal authority, because they have been acknowledged to be such by trustworthy persons. Its purport is that as the word of a trustworthy person is authoritative so the Vedas also should be admitted to possess authority because they also are the word of the perfectly trustworthy God and their authoritativeness has been acknowledged by all trustworthy persons. Consequently the Vedas, being God’s knowledge, their eternalness follows as a matter of course.

Sage Patanjali also observes as follows on this subject:-
‘He is the teacher of the ancients also, because He is not limited by time,’ Yoga I.1:26.

God is the teacher of all – of the ancients such as Agni, Vayu, Aditya, Angiras, Brahma, etc. who were born in the beginning of creation, of the moderns such as ourselves
and of those also, who are to be born in future. God is called the teacher because He imparts knowledge of true substances by means of the Vedas. He is eternal because He is not affected by the action of time.

The afflictions born of ignorance, etc. sinful acts or their impressions touch Him not. In Him there is highest knowledge and wisdom, innate and eternal. The Vedas are His word. They are, therefore, necessarily eternal and full of truth.

The remarks of Acharya Kapila also, on this subject, which occurs in the 5th Chapter of his Sankhya Shastra, are the same effect. Says he; ‘ (The Vedas), having been produced by His own power, carry their authority within themselves, Sankhya V. 51.

The meaning of this is that as the Vedas have been brought to light by the chief inherent power of God, one need to acknowledge their self-authoritative and eternal character.

Sage Krishandwaipayana Vyasa also makes the following observations on this subject in his Vedanta – Shastra:- ‘He is the source of the
Shastra Veda).’ Vedanta I.1:34.
It means that Brahma is the source and cause of the Rig and the other Vedas which are the seat and repository of numerous sciences illumine all subjects like a lamp and deal with all knowable things.

It is impossible that the author of such Shastras as the Rigveda and others which are encyclopaedias of universal knowledge should be any but an omniscient being. It is evident that he who expounds a subject knows more than what he writes as Panini did in the domain of the science of grammar.

Shankarcharya, in his commentary on this aphorism says that a person, who writes upon it, is so well known in the world that it is not necessary to labor the point further.

This goes to show that the Shastra of the Omniscient God must needs be eternal and must contain knowledge of all things. In the same chapter of the Vedanta Shastra occurs another aphorism, viz, And ‘for
purport of which is as follows:- God, is Omnipresent, etc., and pervades all things on all sides. There is not a single atom (paramanu) in which He is not present. He is the maker of the whole universe. He is mighty and possessed of the threefold body, the gross, the subtle and the causal. Even an atom (paramanu) cannot penetrate Him. Being impenetrable, He is incapable of receiving a wound.

He is not bound by the bonds of arteries, etc., and hence nothing can bind or throw a veil over him. He always remains away and aloof from such defects as ignorance, etc. He is never touched by sin, nor does He ever commit a sinful act. He is Omniscient; He bears witness to and is the knower of the minds of all. He is without the three causes, the efficient, the material and the general.

He is the universal father, but of Him the generator there is none. He always exists by His own might, God, the supreme Self, is all existence, all consciousness and all bliss. He imparted the true knowledge of things to his eternal subjects in the beginning of creation by revealing the Vedas. Whenever he creates the world He vouchsafes the Vedas, the repositories
of all knowledge, to His creatures for their benefit.

Everyone should, therefore, believe that the Vedas are eternal. They are God’s knowledge always remains uniform and unchanged.

The Vedas can, with as great certainty be shown to be eternal on reason as on authority. One should acknowledge the eternalness of the Vedas according to the maxim that something cannot come out of nothing and nothing cannot produce something. That alone will exist in future which exists at present.

It is impossible that a thing which has no root should have branches. To hold the contrary opinion would be like seeing the marriage of the son of a sterile woman. If she has a son she cannot be sterile and if she has no son no one can see his marriage. Those very considerations apply to the case in hand. If God be devoid of infinite knowledge, He would not be able to impart it to others, no one would be able to acquire knowledge and experience; for, nothing can grow which
has no root. Nothing is seen in the world which has been produced without a cause. We shall now state what is the actual experience of all men. We retain the impressions of that only which has been the subject of our direct cognition and we remember and know that only of which we retain the impressions.

This knowledge alone supplies us with the motives of action and inaction. (attraction and repulsion). It cannot be otherwise. Whosoever reads Sanskrit gets the impressions of that language only and of no other.

In this way if God had not instructed and taught men in the beginning of creation no one would have been able to come by experience that is requisite for acquisition of knowledge.

Without such experience there would have been no impressions and without impressions there would have been no remembrance and without remembrance there would have been no knowledge, not even the semblance of it.

Q. – But why? Men have a natural bent to act and in their activities they experience
pleasure and pain. So, gradually and in course to time they must increase their stock of knowledge. Why should it then be believed that the Vedas were produced by God?

A. ~ We refuted this objection while treating of the origin of the Vedas. We proved there that even now no one acquires knowledge and is able to increase it without receiving instruction from others; so, man could not have made progress in learning and knowledge without having received instruction from God in the beginning through the Vedas.

There we illustrated our meaning by the case of children kept in a wilderness without instruction and also by the cause of the dwellers of forests. We sat that such children and dwellers of forest so could neither acquire knowledge, nor, learn the use of human speech, without instruction – let alone the question of the origin of knowledge (through experience).

Therefore, the knowledge contained in the Vedas, which has proceeded from God, must needs to be eternal like all of His attributes. The name, the attributes and the actions of an eternal substance must themselves be eternal, because their substratum itself is eternal.
existence of producer and if the producer itself happens to be the result of combination it will have its own producer and so on ad infinitum. That which itself is the product of combination cannot have the power of combining prakriti or the atoms (paramanus); for, the latter will be subtler than itself. The subtler is the Atma (pervader) of the grosser; for, the former is capable of penetrating into the latter as fire penetrates into iron.

As fire, on account of its subtle composition can enter into the hard and gross iron and separate its particles from one another, so, water, being subtler than earth, can enter into its particles and combine them into a ball or separate them from one another.

God is above conjunction and disjunction and is all-pervading. He is, consequently, able to bring about conjunction and disjunction according to law. It cannot be otherwise.

We being ourselves within the sphere of combination and disjunction are unable to combine or separate prakriti or paramanus. If God also were within that sphere He would be, like us, incapable of bringing about combination and disjunction proceed, being
the first cause of the things coming into existence by means of combination and disjunction, is not under their sway. Without the first cause there would be no beginning of combination and disjunction. The Vedas having been revealed by, and having always existed in, the knowledge of God who is the first cause of combination and separation, who remains ever unchanged in His essence, who is without a beginning, eternal, unborn, and whose might endures for ever, their eternalness and the truthfulness of the knowledge contained in them are established.

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