It is believed that the Vedas are the revelations from the Almighty to the seers in exalted states of consciousness.

Further, it is also believed that the Vedas are authorless.

Keeping these definitions in mind, what actually constitutes the Vedas?

Is it the Samhita portion of the Vedas where each mantra has it own seer to whom it was revealed and the particular deity of that mantra?

Apart from these, Brahmanas, Aranyakas, and Upanishads are also considered to be the parts of the Vedas. However, these do not have a specific seer to whom it was revealed nor they have any deity to which it is dedicated.

In that case, the above three sections do not fulfill the basic definition of being a direct revelation and authorless. Then how can they be called as Vedas?

It is also known that there are Upanishads and other sections where Vedic mantras are present partly or fully.

For example, in Isha Upanishad of Shukla Yajurveda, the verses are nothing but some of the mantras of Samhita itself. There is no confusion about such sections as it is fully taken from the Samhita.

However, there are other Upanishads, brahmanas, and aranyaka where some of the Vedic mantras are partly mixed with other verses to constitute the scripture. There are also many of these which do not have any Vedic mantra at all.

So the question arises here,

Suppose an Upanishad is having 100 verses out of which 80 are Vedic mantras and 20 are other verses. Then how can it be called as a part of Veda where some of the portions is not a revelation nor have any specific deity?

On what basis do Vedantins declare Upanishads are the Vedas or concluding parts of the Vedas? Are they Vedas in actual sense?

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    Upanishads are Upanishads. Vedas are the Samhitas. They are the revelations. Other texts are just supplementary.
    – Rickross
    Jun 17, 2017 at 16:29
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    This may not be an answer to ur question so I am writing this in comment section. The Sanskrit word VEDA means collective knowledge( the root word is Vidya, which means knowledge). The collective knowledge of many great sages through many centuries. Jun 18, 2017 at 6:01
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    Revelation is not just akasavani spouting metrical verse. Premise of the Q is wrong.
    – user1195
    Jun 19, 2017 at 0:19
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    @moonstar2001 i never said that they are akashvaani. " revelations from the Almighty to the seers in exalted states of consciousness" this is what i said . Jun 19, 2017 at 6:42
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    Upanishadas usually have some rishis teaching something. Are these upanishadic rishis usually same as rishis who saw samhita mantras?
    – Aks
    Jun 20, 2017 at 9:29

2 Answers 2


The Manu Smriti defines Sruti (that has been heard) and Smriti (that has been remembered) as follows:

Srutis tu Vedo Vijneyo DharmashAstram tu vai Smritihi...


By Sruti is meant the Veda, and by Smriti is meant the Dharma ShAstra..

Manu Smriti 2.10.

And, the Parashara Smriti, describes in the following verse, how at the beginning of each Kalpa, the Vedas are revealed and the Smritis are remembered.

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. " The author of the Veda there is none ; (he) the fourfaced (God), at each succeeding revolution of a Kalpa, recalls to mind the Veda ; and so does Manu remember the law (at each succeeding revolution of a Kalpa).

So, for the Smritis to be available to us they must be remembered and there must be some persons who will do this job of recalling.

And, these are the Sages, Deities (like Manu, Yajnavalkya, Brihaspati, ParAshara etc), who recall the laws, whom we know by the name of the Smriti-KartA or the Dharma ShAstra-KartA.

The names of 18 such SmritikartAs is mentioned in a Yajnavalkya Smriti verse.

Similarly, for the Srutis to be available to mankind, there has to be some persons, who hear them from God.

And, they are the Vedic Rishis like ViswAmitra, MadhucchandAh, Kanva Ghaura, Gotama etc etc.

So, for Barahmana, Upanishads etc to be also declared as Sruti they need to be also heard by some Rishis or the other.

But, do we have such Rishis? NO.

So, its fair to call only the Samhitas as Sruti or the Vedas and which is what most people will find reasonable to accept too.

From Paramacharya Sri Chandrashekarendra Saraswati's book The Hindu Dharma:

So far, in speaking of the Vedas, I have dealt mainly with the Samhita part of each sakha or recension. We have already seen that the Samhitas are the main text of the Vedas. Apart from them, each sakha has a Brahmana and an Aranyaka.

The Brahmana lays down the various rites - karma - to be performed and explains the procedure for the same. It interprets the words of the mantras occuring in the Samhita, how they are to be understood in the conduct of sacrifices. The Brahmanas constitute a guide for the conduct of yajnas.

The word "Aranyaka" is derived from "aranya". You must have heard of places like "Dandakaranya" and "Vedaranya". "Aranya"means a "forest". Neither in the Samhita nor in the Brahmana is one urged to go and live in a forest. Vedic rites like sacrifices are to be performed by the householder (grhastha) living in a village. But after his mind is rendered pure through such rites, he goes to a forest as a recluse to engage himself in meditation. It is to qualify for this stage of vanaprastha, to become inwardly pure and mellow, that Vedic practices like sacrifices are to be followed.

The Aranyakas prepare one for one's stage in life as an anchorite. They expound the concepts inherent in the mantras of the Samhitas and the rites detailed in the Brahmanas. In other words, they explain the hidden meaning of the Vedas, their metaphorical passages. Indeed, they throw light on the esoteric message of our scripture.


According to present-day scholars, the Aranyakas incorporate the metaphorical passages representing the metaphysical inquires conducted by the inmates of forest hermitages

So, from the above passage , it's quite clear why the Brahamanas etc are added to each Veda. They simply serve as supplementary texts (just like appendices or commentaries do) to understand the Vedas which without them would have been impossible to understand.

However, saints like Rishi Aurobindo does not even subscribe to this line thought.

As per him, Vedas themselves are self-sufficient as far as understanding them is concerned. We don't even need those supplementary texts.


Here is the BridaranyAkopanishad's verse that mentions the four Vedas and Upanishads separately:

The King Janaka asks YajnavAlkya "KA prajnata yAjnavalkya|" OR "What is PrajnA, YajnavAlkya?"

To that YajnavAlkya replies:

VAgeva samrariti hovAchA |
VAchA vai samrAr vandhuh prajnAyata rigvedo yajurvedha sAmavedah atharvangirasa
itihAsah purAnam vidyA upanishad shlokAh sutrAnya anuvyAkhyAnAni ... vAgvai samrAt param brahmam ||

BrihadAranyakopanishat 4.1.2

The meaning is:

O king, the vAk is the prajnA. By VAk a firend can be known. By VAk the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, the SAma Veda and the Atharva Veda, the ItihAsas, the PurAnas, the VidyAs, the Upanishads, the Shlokas, Sutras, the explanations of them and the supplementary explanations (anu vyAkhyAni) .. etc can be understood. That VAk is the Param Brahman.

From the Upanishad's 4th adhyAya's 1st BrAhmana (called the ShadAchArya).

  • 4
    This should be accepted. Mar 6, 2018 at 14:19
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    Excellent Answer @Rickross Ji! Nov 10, 2022 at 3:52
  • Thanks ... @Rāmachandra
    – Rickross
    Nov 10, 2022 at 5:18

As I've mentioned in my this answer, Though Brahmana, Aranyaka & Upanishads are not hymns heard (or seen) by ancient Rishis in Tapasya, they are considered to be forming the part of Vedas. Actually Samhitas & Brahmanas are said to be KarmaKanda part and Aranyanaka & Upanishads said to be JnanaKanda part of Vedas.

Let me quote closely relevant text from Brahman Sahitya article on Bharatdiscovery (Translated into English by me):

###Shruti Similitude/Feature:

Along with Mantra part, Acharya Apastamba has also considered Brahmana part as Veda. मन्त्रब्राह्मणयोर्वेदनामधेयम् (Yajna-Defination). Following this, Shabarswami Pitrubhooti, Shakaracharya, Bhatta Kumarila, Bhavaswami, Devaswami, Vishwarupa, Meghatithi, Karka, Dhurtaswami, Devatrat, Vachaspati Mishra, Rajshekhar, Ramanuja, Uvat, Maskari, Sayanacharya and numerious Acharyas and Bhasyakara has emphasized on Brahmanas' similitude as Veda along with Samhita. Panini and Patanjali has also this view/concept.[13] Another primary purpose of this faith is that Aranyaka and majority of Upanishads are ending part of Brahmana and the huge extract of Darshan (philosophy) is formed on Upanishads' base/foundation. Brahman Sutra, Gita and other philosophical treatise are dependent upon the authenticity of this on every foot. In this standing, presenting the citation of Tandya Brahmana as 'ताण्डिनां श्रुति:' by Shankaracharya is natural. Today also huge class of scholars reveals upon this reverence/faith.[14]

[13] Some statements regarding this are:
(क) मन्त्रब्राह्मणयोर्वेद इति नामधेयं षडंगमेके। 'तन्त्रवार्तिक' 1.3.10
(ख) वेदों मन्त्रब्राह्मणाख्यो मन्त्रराशि:।
(ग) तत्र ब्राह्नणात्मको वेद:। 'तैत्तिरीय संहिता, सायण-भाष्योपक्रमणिका।

[14] Acharya Pundit Baladeva Upadhyaya has though in detail in Vedic literature and culture on Shruti similitude of Brahmana Grantha. In that he has done tactic inductance of Vedic similitude of Brahmanas with doiung vivid theology on views of Manusmriti, philosophical sutras, Panini's Ashtadhyayi, Vyakarana Mahabhashya and other Acharyas.

Quoting scriptural statements:

  • According to Apastamba Srauta Sutra, Prashna 24,

मन्त्रब्राह्मणयोर्वेदनामधेयम् ३१

Mantra and Brahmana (aggregate) impart the Veda

इदानीं सूत्रं विब्रीयते-तत्र वेदो मन्त्रब्राह्मणाख्यो ग्रन्थराशिः । विद ज्ञाने, ज्ञायतेऽनेन धर्मादिस्वरूपमिति वेदः । यद्यपि स्मृत्यादेरेतत्तुल्यत्वम् । तथापि परिव्राजकादिवद्रूढत्वाददोषः । तथा च स्मृत्यन्तरं-श्रुतिश्तु वेदो विज्ञेयो धर्मशास्त्रं तु वै स्मृतिः ॥ इति ॥

यद्यपि मंत्र ब्राह्मणात्मको वेद तथापि ब्राह्मणस्य मंत्र व्याख्यान स्वरुपत्वाद् मन्त्रा एवादौ समाम्नताः।

Though Mantra and Brahmana both are named Veda but because of having expatiation form of Brahmanas, Veda-Mantra is only eternal/original.

तत्र धर्मब्रह्मप्रतिपादकमपौरुषेयं प्रमाणवाक्यं वेदः । स च मन्त्रब्राह्मणात्मकः ।

The Vedas are the authoritative texts, not of human composition, which enlighten about Brahman and dharma. They are composed of mantras and brahmanas.

Interesting discussion from Epistles of Swami Vivekananda:

The objections you show about the Vedas would be valid if the word Vedas meant Samhitâs. The word Vedas includes the three parts, the Samhitas, the Brâhmanas, and the Upanishads, according to the universally received opinion in India. Of these, the first two portions, as being the ceremonial parts, have been nearly put out of sight; the Upanishads have alone been taken up by all our philosophers and founders of sects.

The idea that the Samhitas are the only Vedas is very recent and has been started by the late Swâmi Dayânanda. This opinion has not got any hold on the orthodox population.

The reason of this opinion was that Swami Dayananda thought he could find a consistent theory of the whole, based on a new interpretation of the Samhitas, but the difficulties remained the same, only they fell back on the Brahmanas. And in spite of the theories of interpretation and interpolation a good deal still remains.

Now if it is possible to build a consistent religion on the Samhitas, it is a thousand times more sure that a very consistent and harmonious faith can be based upon the Upanishads, and moreover, here one has not to go against the already received national opinion. Here all the Âchâryas (Teachers) of the past would side with you, and you have a vast scope for new progress.

Conclusion: Acharyas have declared Vedas consisting of (two divisions) Mantra/Samhita and Brahmana and numerous scholars have this standing. This is also appropriate and proper according to Vyakarana. You'll also find Acahryas like Adi Shankaracharya says Shruti while discussing verses of Upanishads. Thus, Brahmanas with Aranyaka & Upanishads should be considered part of Vedas.

I'll also include works of Acharyas and arguments/explanation regarding this after finding.

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    @RakeshJoshi Usually Upanishads are ending parts of Aranyanaka and Aranyaka are ending parts of Brahmana.
    – Pandya
    Jun 18, 2017 at 15:16
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    "there is no point of quoting acharyas who are "Vedantins" obviously their opinion will be biased towards upanishad and other portion." And there is no point in trying to reason with someone who has taken it upon themselves to discredit a particular ideology. They will do so with whatever means available to them including logical fallacies.
    – user1195
    Jun 19, 2017 at 0:21
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    @moonstar2001 no hindu belongs or accepts every existing ideology. it is not something susprising. There are several commentaries of vedanta sutra and each has drastic differences. In vedanta sect itself people do not accept each other. Jun 19, 2017 at 6:44
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    @RakeshJoshi, who gave the definition that every revelation must have a rishi & devata ? was that definition also in the portion of Vedas that you call as "truly Shruti". and even if it was, isn't it possible that we currently do not know the rishi & devata, since we've lost a lot of knowledge over time
    – ram
    Jun 25, 2017 at 5:05
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    @RakeshJoshi, Dayananda himself could not support his claims, because to interpret the Samhitas, he HAD to rely on the brahmanas. If he said that only Samhitas are Shruti, people would ask 'what do they mean' ? What is the use of some random sounds without meaning (or purpose behind chanting). The samhitas are sounds, brahmanas give its meaning. If he was truly a rishi, he should have rejected the brahmanas and come up with his own interpretation of the samhitas. The fact remains - "nobody has said that upanishads are not shruti and also supported that claim successfully"
    – ram
    Jun 25, 2017 at 5:32

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