5

There are revelation (such as hymns, stotras, etc.) even in the scriptures other than Vedas yet they ain't part of Vedas. It makes me wonder

  1. What is its etymology or definition of Veda?
  2. What is a criteria by which a particular revelation can be considered a part of Veda?
  3. What is the eligibility criteria(s) by which one could become a Vedic seer?

It's quite well-known fact that the word Veda connotes Knowledge, but of what? All subject fields are knowledge only. What field isn't related to knowledge? Veda being just "to know" or "knowledge" is too vogue. I'm looking for specific & unambiguous explanation of its etymology with its scope knowing which it could be well ascertained whether a particular revelation can be considered a part of Veda? Once it's known, I would also like to know who all can have an authority to put forth Vedic hymns. i.e, who all have eligibility to bring about Vedic hymns?

5
  • "but of what?" - I already explained in my answer, spiritual knowledge. The Vedas cause us to know spiritual knowledge. What more do you want? Etymology isn't rocket science, words have basic meanings.
    – Ikshvaku
    Feb 11 at 13:54
  • 1
    "I already explained in my answer, spiritual knowledge." - Many scriptures are all about spiritual knowledge. In any case, I voted your answer because it's having some superficial points. Feb 11 at 16:44
  • Ok, thanks. I just wanted to see if there was anything else I could add.
    – Ikshvaku
    Feb 11 at 16:48
  • the root word Veda has no etymology in Sanskrit - same as agni,udaka,the numerals etc. their root is from protoindoeuropean. It may have undergone semantic shift/spread within Sanskrit - but that is not etymology proper.
    – S K
    Mar 30 at 15:19
  • 1
    @SK since this is not a site to discuss linguistic research of Sanskrit and other languages, we would consider Shiksha and Nirukta text to refer.
    – Pandya
    Apr 1 at 16:10
4

What is its etymology or definition of Veda?

The word "veda" just means knowledge. It comes from the root word "vid" (in Sanskrit), which means "to know"/"knowledge"/"know", etc. It is also a stem of the verb "vedayati" which means "cause to know". In other words, the Vedas cause people to know spiritual facts by conveying them through words.

What is a criteria by which a particular revelation can be considered a part of Veda?

This is a good question. There are spiritual revelations in the Bhagavad Gita, Itihasas, Puranas, Agamas etc. However, they aren't part of the Vedic texts. So what is the difference?

The Mimamsa definition is that the Vedic verses are eternal and unauthored, and verses found in Smriti are authored. In other words, verses that are eternal and unauthored are called shruti/vedas whereas authored verses are called agama/smriti.

However this definition is refuted by the Vedas themselves where the Rishis say they created the mantras:

RV 1.61.4: asmā idu stomaṃ saṃ hinomi rathaṃ na taṣṭeva — “For him, I design this hymn, just as a carpenter designs a chariot”

Also, one of the oldest Vedic scholars, Yaska, says in his Nirukta:

Nirukta 1.20 - The Rishis were those who had a direction perception of Dharma. They gave mantras through instruction for those inferior people who do not have a direct perception of Dharma....[they are] the Vedas and Vedangas.

So, it appears that:

  1. The Vedas are composed by Rishis based on a direct perception of "Dharma" (which is Brahman). So, the Rishis directly observe God, and then compose the Vedas for the sake of people who do not have that vision.

  2. The Vedas are older than the Smritis. The Vedic language is older than the language of the Smritis. The Vedic language had a pitch accent which was gone by the time of Panini who simplified the language and hence non-existent in the Smritis.

  3. The Vedas have their own meter (Chandas) and classification into rik, yajus, saman, and mantra (samhita), brahmana, aranyaka, and upanishad. This classification is not found in the Smritis.

  4. Smritis always reference the authority of the Vedas. Vedas are more authoritative than Smritis. Since the Smritis come after the Vedas, the authors of the Smritis always reference the authority of the Vedas. In the Mahabharata, the speakers reference the authority and knowledge in the Vedas. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that what he says matches the knowledge in the Vedas. The Pancharatra Agamas, which were composed by Vishnu, are a simplification of the meaning of the lost Ekayana shakha of the Shukla Yajur Veda. References to the Smritis in the Vedas are very limited, and mainly occur in the Upanishads.

  5. The Vedas also have varna restrictions. Only Dvijas who have done Upanayanam are eligible to recite Vedas. Agamas, etc. do not have varna restrictions.

So, the Vedas are the name given to a large body of peculiar literature composed a very long time ago.

It's quite well-known fact that the word Veda connotes Knowledge, but of what? All subject fields are knowledge only. What field isn't related to knowledge?

This is why the the Mahabharata, Itihasas, Puranas, etc. are termed the "5th Veda", because the knowledge they contain is equivalent to what is found in the Vedas even though they are not Vedas proper since they don't meet the criteria I listed above.

17
  • 1
    I wouldn't term Vedas as Paurusheya until it is clarified from a traditional Vedic scholar who knows Sanskrit, cos I would not base my knowledge of truth on English translations. It is well known at Vedas hide the meaning of things. In fact, Tamil Vedas are called 'Marai' (meaning hidden). So the chariot verse does not alter my stance because I don't know how acharyas interpret it.
    – mar
    Feb 10 at 0:37
  • @ram Good thing I know Sanskrit. And let me say that it does say that.
    – Ikshvaku
    Feb 10 at 0:40
  • 1
    @PrasannaR I do believe they are composed by Rishis. But what I mean is they are composed by Rishis in a state of union with Brahman. So in that sense they are apaurusheya. Do you agree?
    – Ikshvaku
    Feb 10 at 2:44
  • 1
    Nice answer. @PrasannaR if he edits it you can retract the downvote and instead upvote.
    – Adiyarkku
    Feb 10 at 3:43
  • 2
    Thanks upvoted now
    – Prasanna R
    Feb 10 at 4:10

You must log in to answer this question.

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