8
  • Manusmriti 12:95

    “All those traditions (smriti) and those despicable systems of philosophy, which are not based on the Veda, produce no reward after death; for they are declared to be founded on Darkness.”

This verse of Manusmriti depicts that Vedas are superior scriptures. But in Mahabharat and puranas it is written that Vedas are inferior than Itihasa and puranas.

Adiparva 1

"In former days, having placed the four Vedas on one side and the Bharata on the other, these were weighed in the balance by the celestials assembled for that purpose. And as the latter weighed heavier than the four Vedas with their mysteries, from that period it hath been called in the world Mahabharata (the great Bharata).

Mahabharat is superior than Veda as per this shloka. Padma Puran Chapter 2

  1. There is no doubt that he,who, with his senses subdued, would study with proper understanding (even) a part of this, has studied the entire Purāṇa.

  2. He, who knows the four Vedas, along with the Aṅgas (i.e. certain classes of works regarded as auxiliary to the Vedas) and the Upaniṣads and knows the Purāṇa also, is wiser than the one (described above).

  3. One should nourish Veda with Itihāsa and Purāṇas. Veda, thinking ‘he would deceive me’, is afraid of a (person) of little learning.

Here it is written that one who know only puranas (Padma Purana) an no Veda or Upanishads is superior than one who know all the vedas and Upanishad. So which scripture is superior? Should we trust on Mahabharat and puranas(That they are superior) aor Manusmriti (That Vedas are superior)?

6
  • I get the quotes from Mahabharata and Padma Purana. But I dont see how the verse from Manusmriti follows in here. One can't infer that Mahabharata and Puranas are "not based in vedas". Perhaps your question can do without Manusmriti quote Mar 9 '20 at 6:25
  • I don't understand when the Mughals burnt the whole vedic literature how do people manage to read books like manusmriti and other Upanishads other than Bhagvatam, gita, ramayana and Mahabharata.🤷🏻‍♂️ Mar 23 '20 at 17:47
  • 1
    Such conflicts within Hinduism are very common and cannot be reconciled.
    – Wikash_
    Mar 27 '20 at 9:41
  • 1
    @Wikash_, Every conflict in Hindu shastras can be, and has been, reconciled. There is 'virodhi pariharam' (conflict resolution) done by every acharya, if anyone is interested in reading. Brahma Sutras of Veda Vyasa is probably the best popular example
    – mar
    Sep 22 '20 at 6:53
  • "This verse of Manusmriti depicts that Vedas are superior scriptures." - Does it though? It just says discard any smritiwhich is not based on vedas. It does not that say that *all smritis are not based on vedas hence discard all of them. I think you've misunderstood the english grammar semantics.
    – mar
    Sep 22 '20 at 6:54
3

For this we have to do comparison of scripture as per the scriptures

  • Devi Bhagwatam 11:1

Where you will find differences between S’ruti, Smriti and Purânas, accept the words of the S’rutis as final proofs. Wherever Smriti disagrees with the Purânas, know the Smritis more authoritative. And where differences will crop up in the S’rutis themselves, know that Dharma, too, is of two kinds. And where the differences will crop up in the Smritis themselves, consider, then, that different things are aimed at.

So as per Puran, smritis are superior. And the verse of Smriti quoted by you says that Vedas are superior so it is clear that Vedas are superior.

1
  • 1
    This is not a fair comparison.
    – Wikash_
    Mar 27 '20 at 9:40
3

The Brihadaranyaka upanishad says

Verse 2.4.10

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, itihAsa, purANa, arts, Upaniṣads, verses, aphorisms, elucidations and explanations are (like) the breath of this infinite Reality. They are like the breath of this (Supreme Self).

Assuming the words itihAsa and purANa here refer to the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas, they have all emanated from Brahman, just like the vedas and upanishads. Therefore, there is no reason why itihAsa and purANa should be inferior or superior to the vedas. The upanishad does not support such a hierarchy.

1

The purposes of composing the Veda, the Ithihasa like Ramayana and Puranas are different. And, their sayings are not applicable to all.

So they cannot be compared.


*1. The Veda *

Though there were references to historical kingly personalities like Bharata, Puru and Sages like Vasistha, Viswamitra, etc, and of rivers like Sindhu, Saraswati,etc, the Veda is primarily about pure SPIRITUAL aspects.


2. Ithihasa like Ramayana

Majority of the people are not inclined towards pure spiritual aspects, but concerned with performing day to day activities in a righteous manner, so that the functioning of Society as a whole will move on smoothly.

Though some interpolations crept in in Ithihasas Ramayana and Mahabharata, they primarily lay stress on Dharma. The Central characters in Ramayana and Mahabharata, ie., Sri Rama and Yudhisthira respectively, advocated the importance of Dharma only.

Be it pointing out the mistakes of Vali by Sri Rama or stressing the importance of Dharma that is eternal - धर्मम् सनातनम् - by Ocean God or by Yudhisthira in selecting Nakula over Bhima or Arjuna, when he was choice to get revival of one person, it is Dharma that takes precedence over everything else.

तत् एतत् कारणम् पश्य यत् अर्थम् त्वम् मया हतः | भ्रातुर् वर्तसि भार्यायाम् त्यक्त्वा धर्मम् सनातनम् || ४-१८-१८

"Realise this reason by which I have eliminated you... you misbehaved with your brother's wife, forsaking the perpetual tradition.

कृते च प्रतिकर्तव्यमेष धर्मः सनातनः | सोऽयं तत्प्रतिकारार्थी त्वत्तः संमानमर्हति || ५-१-११४

"When a service is done, a return service needs to be rendered. This is an ancient tradition. Such this ocean who wants to do a return service to the Raghu dynasty, is suitable for respect by you."


  1. By the time Puranas were composed, people lost the capacity to understand the subtle spiritual concepts as enunciated in the Veda, and deifying of metaphors like Indra, Vishnu, etc, took place.

Though Puranas do contain some spiritual concepts in a subtle way and historical issues also, they were primarily composed to eulogised the deities like Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti, etc, deifying of which already started earlier.


To repeat, The purposes of composing the Veda, the Ithihasa like Ramayana and Puranas are different. So they cannot be compared.


The following issue was quoted by the OP.

"In former days, having placed the four Vedas on one side and the Bharata on the other, these were weighed in the balance by the celestials assembled for that purpose. And as the latter weighed heavier than the four Vedas with their mysteries, from that period it hath been called in the world Mahabharata (the great Bharata).

As indicated above, the purpose of composing the Ithihasa is to lay stress on the importance of Dharma.

Sage Vyasa composed originally Jaya Samhita with 8,800 slokas only. It was expanded by his disciples at a later date to the present version of Mahabharata.

Hence, in my opinion this quote must be an interpolated one.

1
  • This is from the Adi Parva. This is also a part of the critical edition. The critical edition has kept Anushanparva and Shanti in the Mahabharata in spite of probable interpolation. However, the editors of CE doesn't consider this section as interpolation. All the manuscript of Mahabharata have preserved this section. Yamunacharya and Ramanucharya already used this section in their work Jul 15 '20 at 21:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .