Patanjali's Mahabhashyam mentions that there existed 1131 Shakhas originally, each of whom taught a particular Brahmana and Aranyaka. In the present day, only around 12 of them exist, from this we can infer that most of the Brahmanas and Aranyakas which explain the Samhitas are lost/destroyed.

In Mahabharat, its mentioned that there are over 1 lakh verses in the Vedas whereas in the present day, there are 20,379 verses in total in the 4 Vedas. From this I thought that the Vedic Samhitas are lost/destroyed over time as well, just like the Brahmanas.

But then we know that knowledge of Vedas were passed down purely orally since ages. And for that various techniques (like Prakriti pathas and Vikriti pathas) were developed to facilitate the memorization of the Vedas. Hence it is almost impossible for anyone to corrupt the original verses of the Samhitas. Plus they were written down in Vedic Sanskrit which was known only among the intellectual circles. This implies that the Samhitas, atleast, should be complete.

So what is the truth ? Are the Samhitas complete ? If yes, then is Mahabharat wrong about the verse count ?

  • Possibly a duplicate of this question - hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/17531/4732
    – Rickross
    Nov 16, 2021 at 17:47
  • This assumes the missing portions were ever given to humanity in the first place Nov 16, 2021 at 22:36
  • Also, why are you limiting to Samhitas? The Vedas have other portions too. Nov 16, 2021 at 22:36
  • @AupakaranaAbhibhaa Sir, Patanjali's Mahabhashyam was composed around 200 BCE.....which is much after the Vedic phase. And in that he describes the Shakhas which were existent during that time. So its pretty clear that over time a lot of these Brahmanas and Aranyakas have perished. And I am focusing mainly on the Samhitas because they are the main body of the Vedas. The Brahmanas and Aranyakas are post-Vedic literature which were written just to explain the Samhitas. By the way, I don't think the Samhitas could ever be lost/destroyed because the primary method of teaching them is orally. Nov 17, 2021 at 4:33
  • Are you sure the Mahabhashyam is talking about the Shakhas existing at his time rather than in general? Nov 17, 2021 at 10:35


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