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I want know who wrote the Vedas and why.
How did the Vedas exist since their inception?
Where can we find the Vedas to read?

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2 Answers 2

The Vedas are Shruti, which means "that which is heard" (what Christians would call "revelation"). Hindus believe that from time immemorial, sages known as Dhrishtas (literally "seers") have, during a state of Tapasya (deep meditation), heard sacred verses directly from the gods. In the Dwapara Yuga (the age before the one we're currently living in), these verses were compiled by a sage named Krishna Dwaipayana Veda Vyasa (or Vyasa for short) into a set of four books we call the Vedas. (Technically Vyasa only compiled the first three books - Rig, Yajur, and Sama - while the Atharvana Veda is attributed to the sages Angiras and Atharvan.) As the words of the Vedas are believed to be divine in origin, they are held to be the foremost authority of the Hindu religion. As Rama says in the Ayodhya Kanda of the Ramayana, the Vedas "have the foundation in Truth [and] one should thoroughly surrender to truth."

I should add that each of the four Vedas is divided into four portions: Samhitas, the core part of the Vedas which consist of hymns to various gods; Brahmanas, which provide instructions on the proper conducting of important rituals; Aranyakas, which provide a guide to rituals meant for forest-dwellers and hermits; and Upanishads, which consist of conversations between teachers and students which clarify the philosophical message of the Vedas. In any case, when someone says "I read the Rig Veda" without qualification, they usually mean the Samhita of the Rig Veda, because the Samhita is the core part of the Veda which came directly from the gods.

(Note: the above is excerpted from my answer here.)

As for where you can read the Vedas, sacred-texts.com is a good site. Here's the Rig Veda Samhita, the Krishna Version of the Yajur Veda Samhita, the Shukla version of the Yajur Veda Samhita, the Sama Veda Samhita, the Atharvana Veda Samhita, the Shatapatha Brahmana of the Yajur Veda, some major Upanishads from various Vedas, and some minor Upanishads.

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The traditional answer to the question as to how Vedas came into existence is that the Vedas are eternal! The traditional answer to the question as to who wrote the Vedas is that there are no writers! Vedas are anadi or beginningless. Some Hindus (those who follow Purva Mimangsa Darsana) and probably others still hold to these views literally. Is there any way to understand the claims of Vedas being beginningless and eternal in a non-literal sense? I am posting below Swami Vivekananda's views on the Vedas:

There was a time when the Vedas themselves were considered eternal in the sense in which the divine truths contained therein were changeless and permanent and were only revealed to man. At a subsequent time, it appears that the utterances of the Vedic hymns with the knowledge of its meaning was important; and it was held that the hymns themselves must have had a divine origin. At a still later period, the meaning of the hymns showed that many of them could not be of divine origin, because they inculcated upon mankind performance of various unholy acts, such as torturing animals; and we can find many ridiculous stories in the Vedas. The correct meaning of the statement "The Vedas are beginning less and eternal" is that the law or truth revealed by them to man is permanent and changeless. Logic, geometry, chemistry, etc., reveal also a law or truth which is permanent and changeless and in that sense they are also beginning less and eternal. But no truth or law is absent from the Vedas, and I ask any one of you to point out to me any truth which is not treated of in them. (Vivekananda Complete Works (CW), Vol.5: With the Swami Vivekananda at Madura, pp.205-206)

The Hindus have received their religion through revelation, the Vedas. They hold that the Vedas are without beginning and without end. It may sound ludicrous to this audience [in the West] how a book can be without beginning or end. But by the Vedas no books are meant. They mean the accumulated treasury of spiritual laws discovered by different persons in different times. Just as the law of gravitation existed before its discovery and would exist if all humanity forgot it, so is it with the laws that govern the spiritual world. The moral, ethical, and spiritual relations between soul and soul and between individual spirits and the Father of all spirits were there before their discovery, and would remain even if we forget them. (CW, Vol.1: Paper on Hinduism, pp.6-7.)

The Vedas are anadi, eternal. The meaning of the statement is not, as is erroneously supposed by some, that the words of the Vedas are anadi, but that the spiritual laws inculcated by the Vedas are such. These laws, which are immutable and eternal, have been discovered at various times by great men or rishis, though some of them have been forgotten now, while others are preserved. (CW, Vol.6: Notes Taken Down in Madras, 1892-93, p.103)

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What are you talking about? I never presented the view that the Vedas were composed by Rishis. I explicitly said that the words of the Vedas were heard by Rishis directly from the gods, and thus the words are of divine origin, not human origin. –  Keshav Srinivasan Jul 5 at 16:45
I was confused by your statement that Vyasa compiled the Vedas. I have never read such a claim anywhere else. I have now removed your name from my post. –  Pradip Gangopadhyay Jul 5 at 17:12
From the Vishnu Purana: "Twenty-eight times have the Vedas been arranged by the great Rishis in the Vaivaswata Manwantara in the Dwápara age, and consequently eight and twenty Vyásas have passed away; by whom, in their respective periods, the Veda has been divided into four... the Vyása of the twenty-eighth ... was Krishńa Dwaipáyana." sacred-texts.com/hin//vp/vp077.htm. Note it says arranged and divided, not authored, because in each Vyasa just compiles the Vedas, the actual words are still words of the gods. –  Keshav Srinivasan Jul 5 at 17:21
Thanks for the info! –  Pradip Gangopadhyay Jul 5 at 17:22
By the way, it's wrong to say that only some Hindus today view the words of the Vedas as eternal. That is the predominant view of Hinduism, not just the view of those who subscribe to Purva Mimamsa. –  Keshav Srinivasan Jul 5 at 17:29

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