What does the Vedas say about its own origin?

Origin of the Vedas



  • How the Vedas survived till the date or passed from one generation to another till the current age, i.e. Kaliyuga?

  • When the Vedas first written down?


There are many, many different dates for the existence of the Vedas by the materialistic scholars or researchers, but what do the Vedic texts say about their own origin?

Atharva Veda 11.7.24:

rcah samani chandamsi puranam yajusa saha
ucchistaj-jajnire sarve divi deva divi-sritah

“The Rg, Sama, Yajur and Atharva became manifest from the Lord, along with the Puranas and all the Devas residing in the heavens.”

Atharva Veda 15.6.10–12:

sa brhatim disam anu vyacalat tam itihasas ca puranam ca gathas ca itihasasya ca sa vai puranasya ca gathanam ca narasamsinam ca priyam dhama bhavati ya evam veda

“He approached the brhati meter, and thus the Itihasas, Puranas, Gathas and Narasamsis became favorable to him. One who knows this verily becomes the beloved abode of the Itihasas, Puranas, Gathas and Narasamsis.”

Madhyandina-sruti, Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad 2.4.10:

asya mahato bhutasya nihsvasitam etad yad rg-vedo yajur-vedah sama
vedo’tharvangirasa itihasah puranam ityadina

“O Maitreya, the Rg, Yajur, Sama and Atharva Vedas as well as the Itihasas and the Puranas all manifest from the breathing of the Lord.”

Gopatha Brahmana, purva 2.10:

evam ime sarva veda nirmitah sa-kalpah sa-rahasyah sa-brahmanah sopanisatkah setihasah sanvakhyatah sa-puranan

“In this way, all the Vedas were manifested along with the Kalpas, Rahasyas, Brahmanas, Upanisads, Itihasas, Anvakhyatas and the Puranas.”

Kauthumiya Chandogya Upanisad 7.1.4

nama va rg-vedo yajur-vedah sama-veda atharvanas caturtha itihasa-puranah pancamo vedanam vedah

“Indeed, Rg, Yajur, Sama and Atharva are the names of the four Vedas.The Itihasas and Puranas are the fifth Veda.”

In the Purusa-sukta [Rig Veda, mandala 10, sukta 90, mantra 9] it is stated,
tasmād yajñāt sarva-huta ṛcaḥ sāmāni jajñjire chandāṁsi jajñjire tasmāt

“From Him, Yajnya, came all sacrificial offerings, hymns of invocation and songs of praise. All the mantras of the Vedas come from the Lord.”

It is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam [6.1.40]:

veda-praṇihito dharmo
hy adharmas tad-viparyayaḥ
vedo nārāyaṇaḥ sākṣāt
svayambhūr iti śuśruma

That which is prescribed in the Vedas constitutes dharma, the religious principles, and the opposite of that is irreligion. The Vedas are directly the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, and are self-born. This we have heard from Yamarāja.

Similarly, in Srimad-Bhagavatam [6.16.51] the Lord says,

ahaṁ vai sarva-bhūtāni
bhūtātmā bhūta-bhāvanaḥ
śabda-brahma paraṁ brahma
obhe śāśvatī tanū

All living entities, moving and nonmoving, are My expansions and are separate from Me. I am the Supersoul of all living beings, who exist because I manifest them. I am the form of the transcendental vibrations like oṁkāra and Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Rāma, and I am the Supreme Absolute Truth. These two forms of Mine — namely, the transcendental sound and the eternally blissful spiritual form of the Deity, are My eternal forms; they are not material.

How the Vedas survived till the date or passed from one generation to another till the current age, i.e. Kaliyuga?

Through the various Vedic disciplic chains or Vedic schools.

The Vedic texts were passed from one generation to the other in the oral form through the disciples of the various disciplic chain. The Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam (SB) talks about such disciplic chains as follows:

SB 12.6.45 — Brahmā taught these Vedas to his sons, who were great sages among the brāhmaṇas and experts in the art of Vedic recitation. They in turn took the role of ācāryas and imparted the Vedas to their own sons.

SB 12.6.46 — In this way, throughout the cycles of four ages, generation after generation of disciples — all firmly fixed in their spiritual vows — have received these Vedas by disciplic succession.

Morever the same chapter describes how the primary Vedas were passed from Vyasadeva to his disciples to the disciples of disciples…

SB 12.6.48-49 — O brāhmaṇa, in the present age of Vaivasvata Manu, the leaders of the universe, led by Brahmā and Śiva, requested the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the protector of all the worlds, to save the principles of religion. O most fortunate Śaunaka, the almighty Lord, exhibiting a divine spark of a portion of His plenary portion, then appeared in the womb of Satyavatī as the son of Parāśara. In this form, named Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vyāsa, he divided the one Veda into four.

SB 12.6.50 — Śrīla Vyāsadeva separated the mantras of the Ṛg, Atharva, Yajur and Sāma Vedas into four divisions, just as one sorts out a mixed collection of jewels into piles. Thus he composed four distinct Vedic literatures.

SB 12.6.51 — The most powerful and intelligent Vyāsadeva called four of his disciples, O brāhmaṇa, and entrusted to each of them one of these four saṁhitās.

SB 12.6.52-53 — Śrīla Vyāsadeva taught the first saṁhitā, the Ṛg Veda, to Paila and gave this collection the name Bahvṛca. To the sage Vaiśampāyana he spoke the collection of Yajur mantras named Nigada. He taught the Sāma Veda mantras, designated as the Chandoga-saṁhitā, to Jaimini, and he spoke the Atharva Veda to his dear disciple Sumantu.

SB 12.6.54-56 — After dividing his saṁhitā into two parts, the wise Paila spoke it to Indrapramiti and Bāṣkala. Bāṣkala further divided his collection into four parts, O Bhārgava, and instructed them to his disciples Bodhya, Yājñavalkya, Parāśara and Agnimitra. Indrapramiti, the self-controlled sage, taught his saṁhitā to the learned mystic Māṇḍūkeya, whose disciple Devamitra later passed down the divisions of the Ṛg Veda to Saubhari and others.

SB 12.6.57 — The son of Māṇḍūkeya, named Śākalya, divided his own collection into five, entrusting one subdivision each to Vātsya, Mudgala, Śālīya, Gokhalya and Śiśira.

SB 12.6.58 — The sage Jātūkarṇya was also a disciple of Śākalya, and after dividing the saṁhitā he received from Śākalya into three parts, he added a fourth section, a Vedic glossary. He taught one of these parts to each of four disciples — Balāka, the second Paila, Jābāla and Viraja.

SB 12.6.59 — Bāṣkali assembled the Vālakhilya-saṁhitā, a collection from all the branches of the Ṛg Veda. This collection was received by Vālāyani, Bhajya and Kāśāra.

SB 12.6.60 — Thus these various saṁhitās of the Ṛg Veda were maintained through disciplic succession by these saintly brāhmaṇas. Simply by hearing of this distribution of the Vedic hymns, one will be freed from all sins.

SB 12.6.61 — The disciples of Vaiśampāyana became authorities in the Atharva Veda. They were known as the Carakas because they executed strict vows to free their guru from his sin of killing a brāhmaṇa.

SB 12.6.62 — Once Yājñavalkya, one of the disciples of Vaiśampāyana, said: O master, how much benefit will be derived from the feeble endeavors of these weak disciples of yours? I will personally perform some outstanding penance.

SB 12.6.63 — Addressed thus, the spiritual master Vaiśampāyana became angry and said: Go away from here! Enough of you, O disciple who insults brāhmaṇas! Furthermore, you must immediately give back everything I have taught you.

SB 12.6.64-65 — Yājñavalkya, the son of Devarāta, then vomited the mantras of the Yajur Veda and went away from there. The assembled disciples, looking greedily upon these yajur hymns, assumed the form of partridges and picked them all up. These divisions of the Yajur Veda therefore became known as the most beautiful Taittirīya-saṁhitā, the hymns collected by partridges [tittirāḥ].

In this way the chapter 6 of Canto 12 describes how the 4 Vedic samhitas passed from Vyasadeva to his disciples..To read the complete chapter, click here.

The 7th chapter of the same canto describes how the Puranas were transferred through the disciple chain started from Lord Vyasadeva himself:

The Purāṇic Literatures

Lord Krishna, in the Bhagavad-gita explains how the Bhagavad-gita passed down from one gerenation to other from Sun deity to his son Vaivaswata Manu to xxx:

Bg 4.1 — The Personality of Godhead, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvān, and Vivasvān instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikṣvāku.

Bg 4.2 — This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.

Bg 4.3 — That very ancient science of the relationship with the Supreme is today told by Me to you because you are My devotee as well as My friend and can therefore understand the transcendental mystery of this science.

There exists, such disciplic chains today?

Yes. They are: Brahma Sampradaya (aka Disciplic chain), Rudra Sampradaya, Kumara Sampradaya (said to be most oldest), Sri Sampradaya.

When the Vedas first written down?

Just before the ascending of Lord Krishna, Srila Vyasadeva wrote the Vedas. He “wrote” the vedas does not mean that it didn’t existed before. The vedas and other scriptures are eternal since their origin is Krishna himself. Just before the start of the KaliyugaSrila Vyasadeva, being another incarnation of Lord Krsna and therefore being able to look into the future, saw that men in this age have a little lifespan, a degraded memory and no interest in spirituality. So, for our betterment, and the betterment of the entire universe, He wrote down the Primary Vedas, PuranasUpanishads etc. He did this so that we don’t have to learn everything and which was not possible for us either. Before this, everything was passed down from generation to generation by remembering and speaking it to the students!

Another important thing we have to know is the Difference between the Sanskrit language of Primary Vedas and the Fifth Veda, which has been misunderstood by many modern researchers and hence they have speculated that the Sanskrit has changed over time or the fifth Veda (Puranas and Itihasa) are not more ancient like that of the Primary Vedas:

The Vedic Version states that all creation evolves from sound. First there is sound and sound produces space or ether. It even says in the Bible (which contains some teachings similar to Sanatana Dharma)  – first there was the word. So all the elements of matter proceed from sound. It goes from subtle to gross – ahankara or false ego, intelligence, mind, air, fire, water and earth. These 8 elements and their qualities or senses constitute matter. The sense of space is sound. The sense of air is feeling. The sense of fire is form. The sense of water is taste. The sense of earth is smell. Also, the quality of an element is present in the one that comes after it.

That’s how the yogis and sages of former times had what we today would call supernatural powers. But it’s not supernatural. It’s completely natural. You just have to know the science behind it. When you know the right sounds, you can create or dissolve matter. This is known to some degree in modern science after it was observed that certain sound frequencies can splinter glass.

So, the Shruti portion of the Vedas contain mantras, knowing which, one can manipulate matter. Obviously, this only works when the mantra or the sound is pronounced exactly right. That’s why one need to learn this from a living teacher. Shruti means that which is heard. You have to hear the mantra and learn how to pronounce it, in order for the sound of the mantra to have the desired effect. For instance, the Bhagavat Purana documents an event, where the Brahmanas or the sages killed king Vena by uttering sounds.

Now, the Smriti portion of the Vedas contain the philosophy and theology, the moral and ethics and the histories of ancient India. Smriti means that which is remembered. You can learn about philosophy and dharma by hearing it from someone who has remembered it. Your understanding of what is being taught is not dependent on the the correct pronunciation of the Sanskrit. You simply have to remember it, and it will work even though you don’t utter the language or the words in a certain way.

That’s why the Sanskrit of the Vedas is different in the Shruti and the Smriti.

Some scholars have suggested that it shows the Sanskrit has changed over time, but that is pure speculation without any support in the Vedic tradition. According to the Vedic tradition, what is seen is simply two types of Sanskrit in Shruti and Smriti.

The shruti mantras are to be pronounced exactly precise, in order for them to work. The smriti mantras just have to be remembered. Philosophy, theology, religion and history you remember. Mantras to kill people or to create strong winds and rain, or fire, or whatever, have to be pronounced exactly correct. It is mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam taht Kardama Muni created an entire mansion in the sky by sound vibrations. That happened in Satya-yuga, several million years ago when the science of uttering mantras were known to the Vedic sages.

Srila Prabhupada said in the purport of Srimad Bhagavatam 10/7/17:

Brāhmaṇas fully equipped with the brahminical qualifications are always yogīs fully powerful in mystic yoga. Their words never fail. In every transaction with other members of society, brāhmaṇas are certainly dependable. In this age, however, one must take into account that the brāhmaṇas are uncertain in their qualifications. Because there are no yajñic brāhmaṇas, all yajñas are forbidden. The only yajña recommended in this age is saṅkīrtana-yajña. Yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair yajanti hi sumedhasaḥ (Bhāg. 11.5.32). Yajña is meant to satisfy Viṣṇu (yajñārthāt karmaṇo ’nyatra loko ’yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ). Because in this age there are no qualified brāhmaṇas, people should perform yajña by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra (yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair yajanti hi sumedhasaḥ). Life is meant for yajña, and yajña is performed by the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.

Thus, the origin of the 5 Vedas as per the 5 Vedas itself, is Supreme Person and hence, the Vedas are eternal like that of the Supreme Person Sri Krishna.

Ref: Vedabase.com, Gosai.com

Thanks to Jahnu Das (from Mayapur).

♥ Hare Krishna ♥


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