The 4 Vedas stand as the 4 pillars of the Sanathana Dharmam as these 4 Vedas have every knowledge( both Para and Apara Vidya), then why were other Puranas and Upanishads composed?

I am reading Garuda Puranam, The preface says

The Garuda Puranam, like the Agni, Shiva, Padma, and the like Puranas were the exponents of the victorious Brahmanism, which, being inevitably divided into schisms , tried to invest the tutelary deity of each sect with the attributes of supreme divinity or Brahma, and to equip it members with a complete code of rituals , law and other necessary information regarding the incidents of every day life subservient to, and in conformity with , the Vedas and the Vedic literature . Thus each schism or faction , or more correctly, each Puranam, the scripture of each sect of special ,tutelary divinities , became a new school of law , medicine and metaphysics re - instating the old errors of the Vedic literature

How could there be errors in the Vedic literature? Was it because of the influence of Buddhistic sciences?

Link to the Garuda Puran I am reading - https://www.forgottenbooks.com/en/download/TheGarudaPuranam_10521218.pdf

  • because Vedas are hard to understand, and not everyone is eligible to read them. Puranas help translate the hidden meanings of Vedas into likeable stories
    – ram
    Aug 8, 2022 at 14:58
  • But different puranas express different opinions But Vedas are only one...I don't think there would be opinions in Vedas, It must have the Truth
    – Shashaank
    Aug 8, 2022 at 15:06
  • yes - that's like saying there are different brands of headache medicine, but common ingredient (aspirin) is same. it doesn't mean we should have only one brand.
    – ram
    Aug 8, 2022 at 15:54
  • Hmm But what does errors in vedic texts mean?
    – Shashaank
    Aug 8, 2022 at 16:01
  • there are no errors in vedas. maybe post link to the garuda puran u're reading
    – ram
    Aug 8, 2022 at 16:02

1 Answer 1


You have asked 3 questions.

What is the need for the Puranas?

Veda-Vyasa wrote the Puranas after Rishi Narada scolded him and advised him to write texts glorifying the Lord.

Narada said in reply: You have not adequately described the unsullied glory of the Supreme Lord. I consider as imperfect all those philosophies which fail to please the Lord because of their lack of devotional exuberance, which can alone give full satisfaction to Him. You have not expounded the greatness of Vasudeva with that exhaustiveness with which you have treated the Vedic rites and the four-fold end of human life, consisting of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha (Virtue, Wealth, Desire and Liberation). Works of pure literary artistry, that nowhere describe the sanctifying glory of the Lord are eschewed by the Paramhamsas who are ever accustomed to sport in the Manasa lake of Satchidananda alone. They discard such compositions, considering them only as dirty mud puddles fit for the bath of the crows of sensual worldlings. Literary compositions, which are characterised by the presence of words indicating divine attributes and glory, destroy the sins and evil tendencies of people even if there are mistakes in every one of their lines. Holy men hear the exposition of such texts and themselves expound and sing them.

Srimad Bhagavata Purana I.5.8-11

What is the need for the Upanishads?

The current arrangement of the Vedas grouped into Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads is due to Vyasa. Originally there was only one Veda.

He re-edited the Veda, which was a single unit originally, by dividing it into four, so that the sanctifying institution of the Vedic Yajna, performed by four officiating priests, may not disappear from the human society. He then revived the Veda by editing it into four books, the Rik, Sama, Yajus and Atharva, and he also brought into existence the Itihasa and Puranas - the sacred traditional histories and the ancient sacred lore known as the fifth Veda. Had it not been for this work of the Great Rishi, man with his deteriorating intellectual capacity, would have forgotten all this massive sacred heritage.

Srimad Bhagavata Purana I.4.19-20

How could there be errors in the Vedic literature?

There are errors in the Vedic literature. This is acknowledged in the Puranas. Rishi Narada in fact scolded Vyasa for saving the karma kanda of the Vedas which is bad for humanity.

It has indeed been a great transgression on your part to have declared the desire-motivated ritualistic rites of the Vedas as Dharma to the materially- minded and sense-bound man. For, established on the strength of your declaration, in the faith that Vedic ritualism is Dharma, they will not heed to their deprecation in other Sastras or even in your own works.

Srimad Bhagavata Purana I.5.15

Swami Vivekananda also considered the Vedas as full of errors. He also tells us how to view the Vedas.

There was a time when the Vedas themselves were considered eternal in the sense in which the divine truths contained therein were changeless and permanent and were only revealed to man. At a subsequent time, it appears that the utterances of the Vedic hymns with the knowledge of its meaning was important; and it was held that the hymns themselves must have had a divine origin. At a still later period, the meaning of the hymns showed that many of them could not be of divine origin, because they inculcated upon mankind performance of various unholy acts, such as torturing animals; and we can find many ridiculous stories in the Vedas. The correct meaning of the statement "The Vedas are beginningless and eternal" is that the law or truth revealed by them to man is permanent and changeless. Logic, geometry, chemistry, etc., reveal also a law or truth which is permanent and changeless and in that sense they are also beginningless and eternal. But no truth or law is absent from the Vedas, and I ask any one of you to point out to me any truth which is not treated of in them.

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol.5: With the Swami Vivekananda at Madura, pp.205-206

Adi Sankaracharya has an interesting thing to say about the true meaning of the claim that Vedas are infallible.

The appeal to the infallibility of the Vedic injunction is misconceived. The infallibility in question refers only to the unseen forces or apurva, and is admissible only in regards to matters not confined to the sphere of direct perceptions, etc ... Even a hundred statements of sruti to the effect that fire is cold and non-luminous won't prove valid. If it does make such a statement, its import will have to be interpreted differently. Otherwise, validity won't attach to it. Nothing in conflict with the means of valid cognition or with its own statements may be imputed to sruti.

REF: Srimad Bhagavad Gita Bhasya of Sri Sankaracarya translation by Dr. A. G. Krishna Warrier, p. 629.

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