How can the Vedas be authorless when it has authored speech? For example in the Chandogya Upanishad:

The Devas (gods) and Asuras (demons) both heard these words, and said: 'Well, let us search for that Self by which, if one has searched it out, all worlds and all desires are obtained.' Thus saying Indra went from the Devas, Virokana from the Asuras, and both, without having communicated with each other, approached Pragâpati, holding fuel in their hands, as is the custom for pupils approaching their master. They dwelt there as pupils for thirty-two years. Then Pragâpati asked them: 'For what purpose have you both dwelt here?'

The Upanishads are full of conversations like this. So how can it be said that the Vedas are eternal when it consists of authored speech?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Pandya Jan 20 at 16:31

These conversations in the vedas are not real. These conversations are just a story to teach the nature of the Self and Self-knowledge.

The below commentary on this part of Chhandogya Upanishad, is based on Shankara bhashya.


Again and again the Upaniṣads glorify Self-knowledge, but what is the nature of the Self, and how do we attain that knowledge? Here the Upaniṣad begins a story to answer this. Once Prajāpati, the creator, decided to teach people about the Self. He described the Self as apahata-pāpmā, free from sins, or blemishes (pāpa)—that is to say, it is pure. Vijara—it never ages, or decays. Vimṛtyu—it is free from death.

All similar conversations are either stories or allegories that are intended to teach about either brahman or details of yagna etc. These are not to be considered as real conversations.

  • Yeah but the Vedanta school considers them real. The Purva Mimamsa school considers them to be fake stories though. So if we consider them real, how can the eternity of the Veda be maintained? – Ikshvaku Dec 28 '20 at 18:26
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    @Ikshvaku The advaita-vedAnta school does not consider these as real stories. Shankara says this is a eulogy of Knowledge. – user22597 Dec 28 '20 at 18:28
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    @Ikshvaku Conversation between yagnavalkya and maitreyi in brihadaranyaka upanishad is also considered a story by Shankara. Accounts of creation are also considered as stories by Shankara. – user22597 Dec 28 '20 at 18:38
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    see Adi shankara denies the existence of the world for him everything inclding sum total of veda is unreal because if you accept reallity of veda than need to accept the reality of the world because those entities described in the vedas become real.. that is point of view shankara.. In the sum total existence of God is also denied because veda is unreal means God meantioned in Vedas are unreal too.. its ends up in pure buddhist nillist view of the world this what sriman madhvacharya told,that Advaita is another name buddhist philiosophy by name prachana buddha – Prasanna R Dec 29 '20 at 6:15
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    @PrasannaR With all due respect, dvaita AchAryas have misinterpreted both Shruti as well as advaita-vedAnta. Upanishads themselves say that in the state of deep sleep, vedas are no vedas, what to mention of the state of liberation? Advaita vedAnta never said brahman is unreal. Brahman is the only reality in advaita. To suggest otherwise is incorrect. Not only advaita, even purva mimamsa held that many things in vedas are arthavAda. – user22597 Dec 29 '20 at 7:35

(I don't have scriptural reference, so I'll repeat what we discussed in comments earlier based on purely logical stance)

--The hidden premise in your question --
How can Vedas be Apaurusheya IF they contain authored conversations ?
--seems to be that--
Vedas can be Apaurusheya IF THEY DO NOT contain authored conversations.

Vedas : "Prajapati said 'Search for Brahman/Atman'"
Vedas : "Brahma created worlds as it was before (Yatha Purvam Akalpayat)"

You consider the 1st statement to be 'authored speech' i.e. dependent on a person/time/place - hence, man-made, hence against the doctrine of having no creator (Apaurusheya).

You consider the 2nd statement as possibly independent, because Brahma is a post inhabited by different Jivas in each kalpa, hence the same cycle of creation repeats, hence not against the doctrine of Apaurusheya.

My stance is to establish an equivalence between these two.

The rishis/devas/asuras/indra/prajapati - could be posts too. The exact same conversations could happen in every kalpa, just as the exact same creation happens in every kalpa.

Or - Brahma could be as mortal as the authors of those conversations. There is no need to grant special status to the Jiva Brahma, if you are not granting it to the speakers.

Any statement in Vedas refers to some being or thing or action in the universe.
If Vedas refer to a tree (a Jiva), or Brahma (a Jiva), or Prajapati (a Jiva), or a tree listening to Vedas (an action by a Jiva), or Brahma creating the world (an action by a Jiva), or Prajapati giving some advice (an action by a Jiva) - I do not see any difference.

How can Vedas be Apaurusheya IF they contain anything that exists in this universe ?

  • "The exact same conversations could happen in every kalpa, just as the exact same creation happens in every kalpa." - This just means the vedas are created every kalpa.... – Ikshvaku Jan 28 at 0:37
  • @Ikshvaku - Of course creation happens every kalpa. A tree is created every kalpa. It doesn't mean it was created from nothing. Suksha form always exists. Same for Vedas. – mar Jan 28 at 0:38
  • So then vedas are dependent on human speech every kalpa. That goes against what is traditionally said that the mantras are just passed down from person to person in an eternal cycle. – Ikshvaku Jan 28 at 0:39
  • No Vedas are not dependent on human speech. Human speech is dependent on Vedas – mar Jan 28 at 0:41
  • I just cited several verses from vedas where people said things from their own experiences, etc. So they did not say those things based on the vedas. What they said forms the basis of the vedas. – Ikshvaku Jan 28 at 0:43

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