We sometimes hear these arguments :
'Vedas ALONE are truth',
'Whenever there is conflict between Sruti and Smriti, Smriti must be discarded'.

Do the propoents of this argument:

  1. know what all the Vedas are ? (out of 1000+ shakas we have < 100 remaining)

  2. know all the mantras in Vedas ? (learning even 1 out of the 4 vedas takes a lifetime)

  3. understand the meaning of Veda mantras ? (4 vedangas must also be learned - shiksha, vyakaranam, chandas, niruktam)

So, my question is this :
Since you only accept Vedas as truth, could you show me which Veda verse mentions that opinion (i.e. 'only accept Vedas as truth')

If no Veda says so, then it is a contradiction to believe something not existing in Vedas.

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    When we talk about Ithihasas, i.e,, Ramayana and Mahabharata, again there is the problem of interpretation and interpolations. According to some, including me, they contain interpolated stories, and thus cannot be relied upon in toto. However, they are ritualistic based. Ramayana give stress on Yajurveda. Ritual according to Rig Veda is mind related, whereas as per Yajurveda , it is mind as well as physical, but stress more on Physical . However, the Ithihasas are very much required, as they were composed giving stress on Dharma. rAmo vigrahavAn dharmaha @ram – Srimannarayana K V Oct 27 '19 at 2:15
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    Coming to Puranas, again they are susceptible to perception. The opinion is divided on Puranas. Many say, including me, they were composed eulogising respective deities and thus not that dependable , whereas many others say they are dependable. According to me, they are required, but at elementary level of maturity of individual concerned. The Ithihasas take the middle level, guiding humans towards Dharma, whereas Rig Veda, containing spiritual aspects, will guide individuals at a stage, when we cross Ithihasas. However, the final stage will be known only when individual practices @ram – Srimannarayana K V Oct 27 '19 at 2:20
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    @srimannarayanakv, all that is fine.. my question is still unanswered - who/what gives people the authority to say Itihasa/Purana is less important than Vedas ? If these people hold Vedas in such high regard, ask them to point out where exactly in Vedas it says so.. – ram Oct 27 '19 at 3:01
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    We are living in a democratic society and every one will have right to air their views. Can not help in this issue.@ram – Srimannarayana K V Oct 27 '19 at 3:16
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    @srimannarayanakv, democracy is just another system of rule. it can be replaced with dictatorship if necessary. – ram Oct 27 '19 at 4:14

The answer is no. There are five Vedas as follows:-

1: Rigveda
2: Atharvaveda
3: Samveda
4: Yajurveda
5: Itihaas and puranas

The Vedas supports this claim.

Atharvaveda 11:7:24 says that god created puranas and itihasa.

Verses, and Songs, and magic hymns, Purāna, sacrificial text. All the celestial Gods whose home is heaven sprang from the Residue

Proofs for fifth Veda:

"Nârada said: 'I know the Rig-veda, Sir, the Yagur-veda, the Sâma-veda, as the fourth the Âtharvana, as the fifth the Itihâsa-purâna (the Bhârata); the Veda of the Vedas (grammar); the Pitrya (the rules for the sacrifices for the ancestors); the Râsi (the science of numbers); the Daiva (the science of portents); the Nidhi (the science of time); the Vâkovâkya (logic); the Ekâyana (ethics); the Deva-vidyâ (etymology); the Brahma-vidyâ (pronunciation, sikshâ, ceremonial, kalpa, prosody, khandas); the Bhûta-vidyâ (the science of demons); the Kshatra-vidyâ - Chandoyoga Upanishad 7:1:2.

"A name is the Rig-veda, Yagur-veda, Sâma-veda, and as the fourth the Âtharvana, as the fifth the Itihâsa-purâna, the Veda of the Vedas, the Pitrya, the Râsi, the Daiva, the Nidhi, the Vâkovâkya, the Ekâyana, the Deva-vidyâ, the Brahma-vidyâ, the Bhûta-vidyâ, the Kshatra-vidyâ, the Nakshatra-vidyâ, the Sarpa and Devagana-vidyâ. All these are a name only. Meditate on the name. - "Chandoyoga Upanishad 7: 1:4.

"As clouds of smoke proceed by themselves out of a lighted fire kindled with damp fuel, thus, verily, O Maitreyî, has been breathed forth from this great Being what we have as Rig-veda, Yagur-veda, Sama-veda, Atharvâṅgirasas, Itihâsa (legends), Purâna (cosmogonies), Vidyâ (knowledge), the Upanishads, Slokas (verses), Sûtras (prose rules), Anuvyâkhyânas (glosses), Vyâkhyânas (commentaries). From him alone all these were breathed forth. - "Brihadarankya Upanishad 2:4:10.

"In this way all the Vedas are manifested along with the kalpas,rahasyas, Brahmanas, Upanishads, Itihas, anvakhyatas and the puranas." - Gopatha Brahman purva 2:10.

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The Brihadaranyaka upanishad says that the puranas and itihasas are (like) the breath of brahman.


Verse 2.4.10:

स यथार्द्रएधाग्नेरभ्याहितात्पृथग्धूमा विनिश्चरन्ति, एवं वा अरेऽस्य महतो भूतस्य निह्̣स्वसितमेतद्यदृग्वेदो यजुर्वेदह्̣ सामवेदोऽथर्वाङ्गिरस इतिहासह्̣ पुराणम् विद्या उपनिस्̣अदह्̣ श्लोकाह्̣ सूत्रान्यनुव्याख्यानानि व्याख्यानानि; अस्यैवैतानि निःश्वसितानि ॥ १० ॥

sa yathārdraedhāgnerabhyāhitātpṛthagdhūmā viniścaranti, evaṃ vā are'sya mahato bhūtasya niḥsvasitametadyadṛgvedo yajurvedaḥ sāmavedo'tharvāṅgirasa itihāsaḥ purāṇam vidyā upaniṣadaḥ ślokāḥ sūtrānyanuvyākhyānāni vyākhyānāni; asyaivaitāni niḥśvasitāni || 10 ||

  1. As from a fire kindled with wet faggot diverse kinds of smoke issue, even so, my dear, the Ṛg-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sāma-Veda, Atharvāṅgirasa, history, mythology, arts, Upaniṣads, verses, aphorisms, elucidations and explanations are (like) the breath of this infinite Reality. They are like the breath of this (Supreme Self).

However, some commentators (like Shankara) have not interpreted the words "purana" and "itihasa" in the usual sense here.

In chhandogya upanishad, itihasa and purana are almost treated as the 5th veda.


Verse 7.1.2

ऋग्वेदं भगवोऽध्येमि यजुर्वेदं सामवेदमाथर्वणं चतुर्थमितिहासपुराणं पञ्चमं वेदानां वेदं पित्र्यं राशिं दैवं निधिं वाकोवाक्यमेकायनं देवविद्यां ब्रह्मविद्यां भूतविद्यां क्षत्रविद्यां नक्षत्रविद्यां सर्पदेवजनविद्यामेतद्भगवोऽध्येमि ॥ ७.१.२ ॥

ṛgvedaṃ bhagavo'dhyemi yajurvedaṃ sāmavedamātharvaṇaṃ caturthamitihāsapurāṇaṃ pañcamaṃ vedānāṃ vedaṃ pitryaṃ rāśiṃ daivaṃ nidhiṃ vākovākyamekāyanaṃ devavidyāṃ brahmavidyāṃ bhūtavidyāṃ kṣatravidyāṃ nakṣatravidyāṃ sarpadevajanavidyāmetadbhagavo'dhyemi || 7.1.2 ||

  1. Sir, I have read the Ṛg Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sāma Veda, and the fourth—the Atharva Veda; then the fifth—history and the Purāṇas; also, grammar, funeral rites, mathematics, the science of omens, the science of underground resources, logic, moral science, astrology, Vedic knowledge, the science of the elements, archery, astronomy, the science relating to snakes, plus music, dance, and other fine arts. Sir, this is what I know.
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    OP is asking for reference from Veda. Please check @Lazy Lubber – Srimannarayana K V Oct 27 '19 at 4:58
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    @srimannarayana Upanishads are considered as the ending portion of vedas. Together with vedas, they are considered Sruti. – user16581 Oct 27 '19 at 5:00
  • I've been taught that sruti takes priority over smrti. and that the jnana kanda takes priority over karma kanda(samhitas, aranyakas) but I only understand that to be a logical, evidentiary rule. If there is an actual vedic source I'd be very surprised. – Kauvasara Oct 27 '19 at 9:50
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    @Kauva Regarding karma kanda vs jnana kanda, there is a reference in the Mundaka upanishad, 1.1.4 and 1.1.5, distinguishing lower and higher knowledge. – user16581 Oct 27 '19 at 13:11
  • I did not remember that. thanks!! – Kauvasara Oct 27 '19 at 14:36

The Vedas are supported by Vedangas and thus the proof for the same must come to Vedas or Vedangas. Here are explicit statements for your reference as to what constitutes Vedas. 1. Āpastambhaśrautrasūtra 24.1.31 मन्त्रब्राह्मणयोर्वेदनामधेयम् (mantra brahmanayoh Veda namadheyam) 2. Bodhyānagṛhayasūtra 2.6.2 मन्त्रब्राह्मणं वेद इत्याचक्षते (mantra brahmanayoh Veda ityacakṣte)

Thus only Mantras and Brahmanas are the Vedas.

The Isa and Brihadaranyaka Upanishads are chapter 40 and chapter 14 of the Yajur Samhita and Satapatha Brahmana. Therefore, they are part of the Vedas.

Thus, remaining Upanishads and Puranas are not part of the Vedas as they are not to be found in any portion of the Vedas.

Now, of course, this angers certain people and they label true followers of the Vedas as neo-Vedantist! They will certainly try to bog me down by giving negative marks to this answer. But I challenge them to come up with a scriptural verse (as I have done) then they will not provide the same.

The verse of Brihadaranyaka does not translate itself to Brahman or some Supreme being. Sayana has not provided any such translation. It is the philosophy of the Vedantists to map everything on some Brahman or Supreme being. Neither such definitions come from Yaska. Further, the commentaries of some "Superacharya" cannot be taken on face value for interpreting the Vedas as they have not dared to comment on the Vedas in a comprehensive manner. Hence, one cannot accept their interpretation of one of the other portions of the Samhitas or Brahmanas to define a way for interpreting the Samhitas or Brahmanas.

My request to anyone who would like to comment on my answer is please provide an unequivocal scriptural verse to support your statement. I have provided the same above. Provide primary proof and not just commentaries of the sects.

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    The question is Do the Vedas mention that the Itihasa/Puranas should be discarded as untrue ?, but your answer is what constitutes Vedas. Please check. Your answer should be revised. OP wants to know whether there was any reference in Veda, which say that Ithihasas/Puranas should not be relied upon?@user965167 – Srimannarayana K V Oct 27 '19 at 15:36
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    To be precise, the OP wants to know whether there was any reference in Sruti portion, which say that Ithihasas/Puranas should not be relied upon?@user965167 – Srimannarayana K V Oct 27 '19 at 16:21
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Pandya Oct 29 '19 at 2:47

Sruti, the vedas, and more specifically, the Upanishads, define Sruti. One of the three Prasthanas accepted by all Hindus as the authoritative texts, The Brahma Sutras, section 2.1. says (Swami Vireswarananda translator, https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/brahma-sutras/d/doc63014.html)

Adhikarana summary: Refutation of Smritis that are not based on the Srutis

Sutra 2,1.1

स्मृत्यनवकाशदोषप्रसङ्ग इति चेत्, न, अन्यस्मृत्यनवकाशदोषप्रसङ्गात् ॥ १ ॥

smṛtyanavakāśadoṣaprasaṅga iti cet, na, anyasmṛtyanavakāśadoṣaprasaṅgāt || 1 ||

smṛti-anavakāśa-doṣaprasaṅgaḥ—There would result the defect of leaving no scope for certain Smritis; if it be said no; because there would result the defect of leaving no scope to some other Smritis.

  1. If it be said that (from the doctrine of Brahman being the cause of the world) there would result the defect of leaving no scope for certain Smirits, (we say) no; because (by the rejection of that doctrine) there would result the defect of leaving no scope for some other Smritis.

In the last chapter it has been shown that the Sankhyan view is not based on scriptural authority. Now its authority even as a Smriti is denied and refuted.

If the doctrine of the Pradhana is rejected, then the Sankhya Smriti, propounded by a great seer like Kapila and acknowledged by other great thinkers, would cease to be authoritative : hence it is but reasonable that the Vedanta texts be so interpreted as to preserve the authorilativeness of this Smriti and not contradict it in toto , So says the opponent. The Sutra answers this by saying that if the doctrine of Brahman being the cause of the world be rejected to accommodate the Sankhya Smriti, which goes counter to the Srutis, then by that rejection many other Smritis like the Manu Smriti, which are based on the Srutis and therefore more authoritative, and, which also propound the doctrine of Brahman, an intelligent principle, being the cause of the world, would find no scope. So between the two it is desirable that the Smritis which go counter to the Vedas be rejected.

Brahma-Sutra 2.1.2: Sanskrit text and English translation.

इतरेषां चानुपलब्धेः ॥ २ ॥

itareṣāṃ cānupalabdheḥ || 2 ||

itareṣāṃ—Of the others; ca—and; anupalabdheḥ—there being no mention.

  1. And there being no mention (in the scriptures) of the other entities, (i.e. the categories beside the Pradhana), (the Sankhya system cannot be authoritative).

Even accepting the Pradhana of the Sankhyas for argument’s sake—for the Vedantins also recognize Maya as the cause of the world, the difference between the two being that the Pradhana according to the Sankhyas is an independent entity, whereas Maya is a dependent entity, being a power of Brahman— yet there is no mention of the other categories of the Sankhyas anywhere in the Vedas. Hence the Sankhya philosophy cannot be authoritative.

and the next topic says:

Adhikarana summary: Refutation of the Yoga philosophy

Brahma-Sutra 2.1.3: Sanskrit text and English translation.

एतेन योगः प्रत्युक्तः ॥ ३ ॥

etena yogaḥ pratyuktaḥ || 3 ||

etena—By this; yogaḥ—the Yoga philosophy; pratyuktaḥ—is (also) refuted.

  1. By this the Yoga philosophy is (also) refuted.

After the refutation of the Sankhyas, who recognize an independent entity called the Pradhana as the cause of the world, this Sutra refutes the Yoga Smriti, which also recognizes a separate entity called the Pradhana as the First Cause, though unlike the Sankhyas they recognize an Iswara who directs this inert Pradhana in its creative evolution. The Yoga system is spoken of in Upanishads like the Svetasvatara. It helps concentration of the mind, which is necessary for the full comprehension of Brahman, and as such it is a means to Knowledge. So this Smriti, being based on the Siutis is authoritative. But it also recognizes the Pradhana, which therefore is the First Cause—so says the opponent. This Sutra says that the arguments given in the last Sutra refute also the Yoga Smriti, for it also speaks of a Pradhana and its products which are not to be found in the Srutis. Though the Smriti is partly authoritative, yet it cannot be so with respect to that part which contradicts the Srutis. There is room only for those portions of the Smriti as do not contradict the Srutis.

and in Brahma Sutras 1.2.25:

Brahma-Sutra 1.2.25: Sanskrit text and English translation.

स्मर्यमाणमनुमानं स्यादिति ॥ २५ ॥

smaryamāṇamanumānaṃ syāditi || 25 ||

smaryamāṇaṃ—Described in the Smriti; anumānaṃ—indicatory mark; syāt—must be; iti—because.

  1. Because that (cosmic form of the Supreme Lord) which is described in the Smriti must be an indicatory mark (from which we arrive at the meaning of this Sruti text under discussion).

The Smritis are interpretations of Sruti texts. So where a doubt arises as to the meaning of a Sruti the former may be consulted to throw light on the subject. The Smriti describes the cosmic form of the Supreme Lord as,

“He whose mouth is fire, whose head is heaven, . . . whose ears are the regions—salutation to Him, whose body is the universe”,

which agrees with the description in the text under discussion. Hence we have to conclude that the Highest Lord is referred to in the text.

Smriti can be accepted as authoritative so long as it does not contradict Sruti. Smriti which contradicts Sruti is to be rejected.

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    how hard would it be to discard Brahma Sutras, because clearly it is not Vedas, but only an interpretation of it, just like any other Smriti ? Folks like @RakeshJoshi disregard Vedanta school entirely. So, I can't accept something outside of core Vedas as an authority on Vedas. That's what the whole debate hinges on. Tomorrow, if I quote Mundaka Upanishad as evidence of 'yugas', some person will say that upanishad is not part of core Vedas, and claim that Yugas are not mentioned in Vedas, so they must be discarded as Puranic invention (even though Vedas do not CONTRADICT it) – ram Oct 27 '19 at 13:50
  • @ram As mentioned in prior postings and answers, all modern day hindus are followers of the system of vyasa, and all follow the upanishads, brahma sutras, and gita as the three prasthanas. a person who denies the brahma sutras is not a hindu by definition. – Swami Vishwananda Oct 28 '19 at 5:16
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    so.. let's clarify something before further debates. As far as you are concerned, - Vedas + Vedangas (includes Upanishads) + additional 2 - Brahma Sutras + Gita = canonical acceptance. Based on what exactly ? I'm not sure. Presumably because of your faith in acharyas who have deemed those 3 as canonical scriptures ? But if the same acharyas (going all the way back to Vyasa himself) ask people to include, say Mahabharata (Bharata Panchamo Vedah) in the canonical scriptures, somehow it is rejected..albeit partially ? (By Mahabharata I mean everything in it, including mention of Yugas, and Gita) – ram Oct 28 '19 at 14:10

I am reproducing the following part of question portion, which is crucial, for answering it.

We recently hear a lot of neo-vedantists claiming that 'Vedas ALONE are truth', while simultaneously:

  • not knowing what all the Vedas are

  • not knowing all the mantras in Vedas

  • not understanding what Veda mantras mean

  • not even knowing Sanskrit

Do the Vedas mention that the Itihasa/Puranas should be discarded as untrue ?

Before answering the question, I would like to pose counter-questions:

  • Why this clamour for usage of the word neo-vedantists?

  • Does the OP knew about Vedas and all the mantras and their meaning thereto?

  • Does the OP knew Vedic Sanskrit, in which the Vedic Mantras were composed by the seers?

Coming to the question part - Do the Vedas mention that the Itihasa/Puranas should be discarded as untrue? - I would like to ask, whether the seers/sages, who started Vaishnavism, knew that there will many sects in subsequent ages, like Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Ramanuja Vaishnavism, etc, which will follow different traditions, and carry different views, etc?

If so, where was it mentioned in the Vaishnava texts?

No one can show such evidences, as the proponents of Vaishnavism did not know the subsequent developments.

Similarly, the composers of mantras of Rig Veda did not know about subsequent compositions like brAhmanAs, Upanishads, aranyakAs, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas, etc.

Purusha Sukta (X.90.9) says ONLY 4 Vedas emanated from Purusha/BRAHMAN.

From that great general sacrifice Ṛcas and Sāma-hymns were born: Therefrom were spells and charms produced; the Yajus had its birth from it.

Where were brAhmanas, Upanishads, Ithihasas, Puranas, etc, mentioned here?

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    -1 for using meta commentary. Whether OP know Sanskrit, Tamil or English is irrelevant. Counter questions are useless and asking questions about the OP's background is unnecessary. Just answering the part is enough. OP asked presence in Vedas and not Vaishnava texts or Vaishnavism. Can you read the question properly and write your answer relevant to the question? – Sarvabhouma Nov 2 '19 at 10:37
  • @Sarvabhouma: I didn't take Vaishnavism just because OP belongs to that. I mentioned it as an example. It applies to other sects also. Why don't you read my answer properly? – Srimannarayana K V Nov 2 '19 at 11:26
  • @Sarvabhouma:Did I mention in my answer that OP belongs to Vaishnavism? – Srimannarayana K V Nov 2 '19 at 11:28
  • @Sarvabhouma: can you explain your words "-1 for using meta commentary."? – Srimannarayana K V Nov 2 '19 at 11:42
  • I read your answer properly. Half of it contains counter questions to OP and asking his knowledge. It is primary on this site that one should not consider the background of the OP and counter question the knowledge like you added questions like whether he had read the Vedas and meanings or knows Sanskrit. This is unnecessary. Unnecessary information in a question and answer which are not really helpful is called meta commentary. It's not called Ramanuja Vaishnavism. It would have been better if you used proper examples and names. – Sarvabhouma Nov 2 '19 at 16:18

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