Are there any refutations to this argument put forth by the Buddhist philosophers? Particularly, the one against the authorlessness of Vedas because no one remembers who their authors are?

Criticism of the Veda :— The Mīmāṁsāka maintains that the Veda is eternal. Words, meanings and their relationship are all eternal. The injunctions and the prohibitions of the Veda are all that we need. The Veda has neither a before nor an after; therefore it is authorless and eternal. Dharmakīrti, Shāntarakṣita and Kamalashīla bitterly criticize this view: The Mīmāṁsāka says that ignorance, jealousy, hatred, etc., which are the causes of the unreliability of words are found in persons; words of persons, therefore, are unreliable. The Buddhist retorts that knowledge, non-jealousy non-hatred etc. which are the causes of the reliability of words are found in persons; words of persons, therefore, are reliable. It is only a person who can speak or write or understand words. The Veda itself cannot reveal its meaning. It is indeed a wonder that there are people who can uphold such a clearly absurd view that because we do not remember the authors of the Veda, therefore the Veda is not the creation of persons! Fie on the pitched darkness of ignorance which pervades this world! This view can be valid only for the blind followers who are ignorant of logic. By this logic many other works also whose authors are not known will have to be regarded as authorless. And absolute reliability shall have to be attached to those words of heterodox outsiders, the origin of which cannot be traced, and to those horrible customs of the Mlechchhas or the Parasikas, like marrying one's own mother or daughter, the origin of which is not remembered. Again, if the Mīmāṁsāka thinks it his right to give peculiar meanings to such ordinary words like 'Svarga,' 'Urvashi,' etc. which occur in the Veda, then who can reasonably check us if we proclaim that this sentence of the Veda—'One who desires heaven should perform sacrifice', means that 'One should eat the flesh of a dog' or that 'Buddha is omniscient'? The argument that because some sentences of the Veda are true, therefore the entire Veda is true is clearly wrong because some sentences, even of a trustworthy person, may be wrong while some sentences, even of an untrustworthy person, may be right. It is only the true words of trustworthy persons which do not contradict our experience that should be recognized as the Agama. If the Mīmāṁsāka is really eager to establish the authority of the Veda, he should try to prove that the Veda is the work of some faultless author of supra-normal vision who has risen above all ignorance. Indeed, right words embodying truth and goodness, and emanating from persons highly intelligent and merciful do claim validity.

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    There are many Hindu scriptures which state that Vedas are authorless. Vedas themselves have mantras that indicate the same. So it is not that Vedas are considered authorless because nobody knows who the authors were.
    – Rickross
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 5:41
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    @Rickross To refute this you have put yourself in the Buddhist shoes. So statements made from authority like 'many Hindu scriptures which state that Vedas are authorless' and 'Vedas themselves have mantras that indicate the same' have no value when arguing with a Buddhist. Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 20:10
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    I could not get it . If Hindus are arguing they will do it using Hindu beliefs and scriptures only. What kind of arguments will satisfy the Buddhists? And what is our loss if they remain unsatisfied? :P
    – Rickross
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 7:09
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    'What kind of arguments will satisfy the Buddhists?' - that which rely purely on logic but not on any particular scripture. @Rickross Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 15:23
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    The reason/plan of Vishnu's Buddha avatara was to break the belief in Vedas of asura-natured atheistic people, so that they would stop deriving power from its mantras. Looking at this question, I would say his plan is working out exactly as intended.
    – ram
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 3:54

2 Answers 2


Are there any refutations to this argument put forth by the Buddhist philosophers? Particularly, the one against the authorlessness of Vedas because no one remembers who their authors are?

No need to refute that argument, because it's a strawman argument.

The argument is not merely, "We don't remember the author, therefore there is no author." The actual argument is that there was no author of the Vedas because one is not remembered when one would be remembered if one was there.

This type of argument is an anupalabdhi, or proof of non-existence by non-perception. Anupalabdhi falls under the category of Anumana (inference) and not Pratyaksha (perception), because you're not perceiving the non-existence of the object, but rather, you're inferring the non-existence by not perceiving it.

Here is an example of anupalabdhi: "There is no elephant in my room because I don't see one, and this is because if there was one then I would see it."

This is completely reasonable and people use this argument all the time. If someone asks you, "Is Donald Trump in your room?" You'll say, "No, I'm looking in my room and I don't see him. Therefore, he's not here."

Likewise, memory is a type of perception, and so you can apply anupalabdhi using it. Here is how you can use anupalabdhi with memory: "I know I haven't been to Antarctica before because if I had, I would remember it." Again this is also reasonable and people use it all the time. For example, they will ask you in job interviews, "Have you ever done this before?", "Do you have experience with this or that?" And people will answer yes or no based on their memory. One can recollect or not recollect an event. So, this type of reasoning is also valid for memory.

However, the caveat is that the event may not be significant enough for you to remember it, in which case, the non-remembrance of such an event does not constitute proof of it not happening before. For example, if someone asks me, "Did you eat pizza on July 22nd, 2007?" I will say, "I don't remember", or "How am I supposed to remember that?" and that is because this fact is so insignificant that I don't remember it.

However, if they ask me if I ate pizza yesterday, I can say yes or no, because I have clear memory of what I ate yesterday.

In the same way, one can establish that the Vedas do not have an author. The Vedas are so important (to the expounders of the Vedas) that if there was an author, the expounders of the Vedas would have recollection of authorship. In fact, the expounders of the Vedas have a recollection of an eternal and unbroken lineage extending all the way back to the time of revelation of the Vedas and do not have a recollection of an author.

In other words, the Vedic lineages remember that the Vedas were revealed at the beginning of creation by Brahma, who has also said that the Vedas were revealed in a previous creation, and a creation before that, and so on.

Hence, the Vedas are eternal.

Here is what Shabara says in his Bhashya, which is the oldest available commentary on Jaimini's Purva Mimamsa Sutras:

Opponent: "As the creator existed a long time back, it is only natural that he should be beyond the sense perception of men of the present day"

Siddhantin: Even if he had existed a long time back, it would not be impossible to remember him. In the case of such important things as the Himalaya mountain and the like, it would be impossible to forget the creator, in the manner in which the builder of a wall, a garden and such things becomes forgotten. In the case of these latter there are such causes for the builder being forgotten as the disappearance of all idea of the builder, due either to the disruption of his country or to the extinction of his family. In the case of words and their meanings on the other hand, there is no total disappearance of persons making use of them.

Yamunacharya in the Agama Pramanya also says that if there was an author of the Vedas, expounders of the Vedas would profusely cite the trustworthiness and characteristics of the author of the Vedas as proof for the authoritativeness of the Vedas, just like how Hindu scholars cite the trustworthiness of Vyasa to establish the authoritativeness of the Mahabharata, and just like how Christians, Jews, and Muslims claim that the Old Testament is authoritative because it is authored by God.

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    so.. your entire argument hinges on the supposed fact that 'Vedas are important' ? well, guess what.. here is a very easy way to dispute that argument - "Vedas are not that important. If they were, everyone would learn them, instead of just 10,000 brahmanas in India out of 7 billion people on earth"
    – ram
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 3:55
  • I'll say it again and again - For the believers, no need of proof. For the non-believers, no use of proof.
    – ram
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 3:56
  • @ram They are so important to the expounders of the Vedas that if there was an author, he would be remembered.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 12:41

अपौरुषेय, apauruṣeya, means "not of a man".

I think there is a basic misconception about the word used. The Veda was called अपौरुषेय, apauruṣeya- not because no one remembers who their authors are, but because the author was, is and will be the Almighty God.

Here, the usage of the word "author" requires clarification.

The ancient seers, unlike later day commentators, knew their limitations and the power of Almighty.

The seers heard the revelations/mantras during their deep meditations and they transmitted their knowledge to the mankind.

Though those mantras were known to subsequent generations under the name of the seer, who transmitted that knowledge, and had been ascribed to that seer the authorship, yet we have to remember that the inspiration/source behind those revelations/matras is the Almighty God only.

They stated the Veda as apauruṣeya, because the contents in the Veda are divine and eternal. Out of humbleness, knowing fully well the divinity of eternal laws -sanAtana dharma, they called those laws as apauruṣeya.

Rig Veda III.3.1.

वैश्वानराय पर्थुपाजसे विपो रत्ना विधन्त धरुणेषु गातवे | अग्निर्हि देवानम्र्तो दुवस्यत्यथा धर्माणि सनता न दूदुषत ||

To him who shines afar, Vaiśvānara, shall bards give precious things that he may go on certain paths: For Agni the Immortal serves the Deities, and therefore never breaks their everlasting laws.

Any Natural law is divine, whether it was/is/will be observed by a human of Eastern or Western hemisphere of our Earth.

Let us consider the law of Gravitation.

This law was in existence even before Newton, is in existence now, and will be there after us, because it is a Natural Law, thus it is Divine.

Newton, though a great person, yet a human, claimed name for his discovery of that Law, but did not ascribe to the Almighty god.

Ancient seers, who discovered or heard the Divine laws and transmitted them as Veda, did not claim the authorship because they were elevated souls.

That is the difference.

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    Sorry, but this doesn't answer the question. The Vedas calling themselves 'authorless' or 'everlasting' is not proof that they are authorless/eternal. Your answer is an appeal to authority so it's a fallacy. For comparison, take a look at this meme. Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 20:34
  • 'Let us consider the law of Gravitation' - can you give an example of an 'eternal law' from the Vedas? What if there are some laws that are not 'eternal?' Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 20:41
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    @sv. Appeal to authority is only a fallacy when the person making the claim is not qualified to do so.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 21:03
  • @Ikshvaku Who is the qualified person here, what is their subject of expertise, and what is their claim? In pure logic/philosophy, the subject matter is logic itself, there is no qualified person. Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 21:26
  • You have right to not to accept my answer. My answer contains TRUTH, as far as I know. TRUTH doesn't need further assistance, to explain further, except an open mind to see it. @sv. Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 22:18

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