Chapter 6, The Name Of The Vedas

The name Veda is applicable to the Samhita or the mantra portion only. It cannot be admitted to apply to the Brahmanas even though kayayana says that Veda is the name of both the mantra and the Brahmana portions. The Brahmanas do not deserve to be called by the name Veda because they have been given names of Purana and Itihasa.

They are Vedic glosses and are not the words of God but merely the works of rishis and the products of human intellect also, because other rishis than Katyayana have refuse to call them by name Veda.

The Brahmanas contain narratives of the events of human history and mention men (who took part in them) by their names. The mantra portion contains no such narratives. Someone might here object that the names of rishis are seen occurring in the Yajurveda (III. 62) etc., and, so far as the narration of historical events goes,
the Vedas are at a par with the Brahmanas and there seems no reason why the name Veda should not applies to them also. Such an objection is erroneous, for, the words Jamadagni and Kashyapa in the above mantra are not the names of men in flesh and blood. The Shatapatha VIII. 1. says: ‘Verily the rishi Jamadagni is the eye, for, with it the world sees and perceives; therefore, the rishi Jamadagni is the eye. Again, in VII.5, the Shatapatha says that Kashyapa is Kurma and Kurma is Prana. Kashyapa and Kurma are, therefore, the names of Prana (vital breath). It is called Kurma (tortoise) because its seat in the navel of the body is of tortoise-like shape.

The above mantra, contains only the following prayer to God: “O Lord of the universe! May our eyes called Jamadagni and out Prana called Kurman last for three terms of life i.e., for three hundred years. May our life be full
of the powers and influences of learning like the life of the learned and may its term be prolonged three times.[the eye is her used as a generic term for the senses and the prana for the mind, etc. The word deva means a learned man according to Shatapatha III. 7 “The learned are doubtless the devas”]

May we retain the vigor of our senses and minds unimpaired and remain happy throughout our trebled lives so that we may be able to enjoy them. The mantra inculcates another lesson also and it is that by obeying the good rules of Brahmacharya, etc. men can prolong their lives three times. It is, therefore, evident that in the Vedas the words Jamadagni, etc., are mere connotative terms.

There is not the slightest trace of history in the mantra portion. Consequently, Sayanacharya is in error whenever he interprets a mantra as referring to historical events in his commentary, the Vedaprakasha.

Now we proceed to show that Itihasa, Purana, etc., are the names of the Brahmanas
only and not of such books as the Shrimad Bhagvata and the Brahmavaivarta, etc. It is true that in the Brahmanas, and the books composed in Sutras (aphorisms) we come across such words as Brahmanas, Itihasas, Puranas, Gathas, Kalpas, Narashansis, in connection with the procedure prescribed for the Brahmayajna and although these words occur in the AtharvaVeda XV 30.1.4, they cannot be taken as the names which might be applied to other books than the Brahmanas, such as the Bhagvata, etc. For example, “There was a war between the Devas and the Asuras”.

Those portions of the Brahmanas which describe the state existing prior to the creation of the world are called Purana, e.g, “In the beginning, my dear, there was that only which is, one only, without a second.” Chhandogyopanishad VI.2.1
The Gathas are the dialogues such as those between Yajnavalkya and Janaka or the dialogues in the form of questions and answers such as those between Gargi and Maitreyi in Shatapatha Brahmana.

According to the Achary Yaska a Narashansi is that story which contains a eulogy on or by men. Nirukta VII.6. The word Narashansi should be applies to such stories only as are contained in the Brahmanas, the Nirukta, etc., and to no other. In the above quotation, the Brahmanas are the things named and the words itihasa, etc., are only their names, eg. It is said: “Know the Brahmanas only as Itihasas, Puranas, Kalpas, Gathas and Narashanis”. The gloss on the Nyaya Darshana II. 2. 60. is also our authority.
Vatsyayana in his comment on this aphorism says: “Oral testimony also is of probative value, because in ordinary parlance and in the Brahmanas three divisions of propositions are recognized.” The meaning of this is that the words used in the Brahmanas are not Vedic, but only Loukika (secular). Their three divisions are described as follows. They are used either as mandatory rules, or as explanatory remarks or as supplementary repetitions.II.2.61.

The gloss explains this to mean that the propositions of the Brahmanas either lay down mandatory rules or contain explanatory remarks or supplementary repetitions. A mandatory rule commands the doing of a thing II.2.62.

The gloss says that a mandatory rule is that which commands or impels, e.g., the following proposition (of the Brahamanas) is a command or an injunction. “A man who desires Svarga (happiness) ought to perform the Agnihotra.” And explanatory remark
(Atharvada) is either commendatory (stuti) or dissuasive (ninda) or lays down two different ways of doing a thing (parakriti) or shows the way of doing it by referring to historical examples (purakalpa) II.2.63.

The gloss on this says that a commendatory remark (stuti) points out the good results that flow from obeying a mandatory rule. Its object is the

creation of faith in the doer so that he may have faith in that which is commended and by hearing its results the listener be moved to act in accordance with it, e.g., the proposition that “the learned by performing the Yajna conquered all and obtained every thing; consequently, he who performs the Yajna, conquers all and obtains every thing.”

A dissuasive remark (ninda) sets forth the bad results of violating a command. Its object is to serve as a deterrent so that men may not do that which is censured Its example is the following prosposition. “The Jyotishtoma is the first of the Yajnas. He, who performs another Yajna without performing it first, falls into a pit or his Yajna becomes useless.” Prakriti
describes the different ways of carrying out a command, e.g., it is laid down that one should perform the stoma of ghee drops (Prishadajya) which are the vital breath of fire. Now, some perform it by dipping the ladle in water, but the Charakadhvaruas let the ghee drops fall into the water from the ladle. Purakalpa i.e., historical illustration is to illustrate a mandatory rule by means of a historical example, e.g., “The Brahmanas praised the Samastoma Yajna; consequently, we also should extend it.”

The Prakriti and purakalpa come under the category of Arthavada (explanatory remark) because they also describe the good and bad results of an action and also because they are sometimes helpful in explaining the meaning of a mandatory rule.

“Annuvada, i.e., explanatory repetition is the repetition of a mandatory rule.” Nyaya II. 2. 64. According to Vatsyamana it is of two kinds, viz., (i) repetition of the words and (2) repetition of the sense. “The proofs (pramanas) are not four only because historical tradition,
necessary implication, possibility, and non-existence also are proofs”. Nyaya II. 2.1. Vatsyayana’s gloss on this aphorism says: “These four are not the only proofs, for; historical tradition, necessary implication; possibility and non-existence also are proofs. Historical tradition is that whose author is unknown, but which has come down to us in the same form from former times.

These quotations also are an authority for the view that by the word Itihasa, etc., we should understand the Brahmanas alone and no other books.

Again, the Brahmanas are only the commentaries on the Vedas and not the Vedas themselves. This shown by the fact that Brahmanas first quote the Vedic verses Ishetvorje, etc., and then proceed to explain them, vide Shatapatha I.7.

There is again the following passage in the Mahbhashya: “Of what words? Of the
Vedic words and of the words used in common speech. The examples of the words used in common speech are, cow, horse, man elephant, parrot, deer, and Brahmanas, etc. The examples of Vedic words are Shanano devirabhishtaye (Atharvaveda); Ishetvorje tva, etc. (Yajur Veda) Agnim ide Purohitam, etc., (Rigveda); and Agna ayahi vitaye (Samaveda)”*.

If the author had intended to include Brahmanas among the Vedas he would have surely given examples from them also. As the author of the Mahabhashya believed that the Mantra portion only was the Veda, he quoted portions of the first verses of the four Vedas by way of examples of the Vedic words. On the other hand, the examples which he has given of the


*In quoting the opening verses of the four Vedas by way of examples of the Vedic words Patanjali quotes SHANNODEVEE RABHISHTAYE as the first verse of the Atharvaveda. That Veda now begins with the verse YE NNISHATPAAH PARIYANTA etc. This show that the arrangement of the verses has undergone some change since the time of the author of the Mahabhashya, SHANNODEVEE, etc., now appears as the first verse of the 6th Sukta of the first Kanda.
words used in common speech are applicable to the Brahmanas because such words are found to a have been used in them.

In the following aphorisms the Acharya Panini has treated the Vedas and the Brahmanas as different from one another. “The object of the verb ‘div’ having the sense of dealing or gambling takes the second case affix in Brahmana literature.” Ashtadhyayi II.3. 60.

In the Chhandas sixth case is used diversely with the force of the fourth case affix. “Ibid II. 3.62. The affix ‘nini’ comes in the sense of ‘enounce by him’ after a word in the third case in construction, when it denotes a Brahmana or Kalpa work enounced by ancient sages.” Ibid IV. 3. 105.

The last aphorism quoted above shows that the Brahmanas and Kalpas which are the works of the ancient sages Brahma, etc., are Vedic glosses only. And for this reason they
have been given the names Purana and Itihasa. If in these aphorisms the intention had been to call the Chhandas and the Brahmanas by the name Veda the use of the word chhandas in the above mentioned aphorism would be meaningless, because the term Brahmana (which in that case would include the term chhandas) had been already used in the first aphorism quoted above. It is therefore, evident that Veda is not the name of the Brahmanas.

Again, the term Brahma is synonymous with Brahmana; vide Shat patha XIII. 1 where Brahma is used as a synonym of Brahmana. See also the Grammatical commentary, the Mahabhashya V.1.1, where it is said that the words Brahman and Brahmana have the same meaning.

The Brahmanas are the Vedic glosses composed by the Brahmana seers who were learned in the four Vedas.
It is not correct to say that katyayana gives the name of Veda to the Brahmanas on account fo their having a constant connection with the Vedas. For, Katyayana has not said so himself and the other seers do not treat the Brahmanas as Vedas. In this way also, the Brahmanas cannot be called Vedas. We have thus proved by quoting numerous authorities that Veda is the name of the mantra (portion) only.

As to the question whether the Brahmanas are or are not of equal authority to the Vedas, we say that they are not entitled to have the same authority as the Vedas, for, not being the word of God, they are of authority only in so far as they are consistent with the Vedas. They, however, possess a secondary or derivative authority.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *