[Advaita-l] Anantaa vai vedaah

Raghav Kumar raghavkumar00 at gmail.com
Thu Aug 25 21:08:38 CDT 2011

Namaste Siva Senani garu, Shri Lalitaalaalita ji and all other friends

Thank you for your very meticulous effort in giving us these valuable
quotations from the mUlaM and the two bhAShyam-s.

The question was - is "anantA vai vedAH" (taittiriya brAhmaNam 3rd aShTakaM)
only a gunArthavAda or can it be taken literally. I know full well the
limitation of intellect in arriving at a final conclusion. But in favor of
"Vedas are infinite", the following points come up

1. The non-mention of "arthavAda"  to refer to anantA vai vedAH ,
explicitly,  in both sAyaNa bhAShya and bhattabhAskarAcArya-kRta bhAShya is

2. And the phrases "tasmAt sarvavedAdhyayanam ashakyameva",
"kRtsna-vedAdhyayanasya ashakyatA" in the 2 bhAShyA-s  would not have used
had there been even hypothetically a possibility (by bharadhvAja) of
mastering the entire Veda, large though the corpus may be.

3. In BS bhAShya on the shAstra-yonitvAt sUtra, we have (quoted already)
 yadyat-vistarArtham shAstram yasmAt puruShAt sambhavati, yatha vyAkaraNadi
pANiNyAdeH jneyaikadeshArthamapi, sa tato'pi adhikataravijnAnaH
kimuvaktavyam aneka-shAkhAbhinnasya RgvedAdeH ...
"whatever shAstra is composed by a given person, even in the case of a
particular branch of knowledge such as grammar by pANiNi, we see that (on
the analogy of pANiNi) he would be endowed with much more knwoledge than
what was set forth/manifested." (so what to speak of sarvajna-Ishvara, this
kaimUtika-nyAya is presented and in the next line in bhAShya, the word
'aprayatnena' precludes the extension of the analogy to mean 'created' or
The word adhikatara-vijnAna (one endowed with **more** knowledge) is
noteworthy, indicating that Ishvara has not exhausted all the knowledge
which inseparably exists/rests in Him, in manifesting (not amounting to
freshly creating) the Vedas as we know them. (The word 'aprayatnena'
precludes the extension of the analogy to mean 'created' or 'composed'.) To
say that exactly the same finite set of mantras are manifested in every
kalpa while some other mantras are never "breathed" out and are permanently
resident in Ishvara, seems a little far-fetched.

4. It was suggested by Sri Shyamji that LYV seems to lend some credence to
this proposition that the names of Rishis like yAjnavalkya and King Janaka
are class appellations (like 'cow-ness' etc., it may be acceptable to look
at the different Janakas manifested in different kalpas to together
constitute a class possessing 'janakatvam') and different jIvas enact a
similar (not necessarily identical) script in each kalpa. That is why the
names of Rishis are sometimes different. (Here the example of shrI VyAsa an
AdhikArIka and apAntaratamas was quoted - although they belong to different
yuga-s in the same kalpa. But the idea of Rudra in one kalpa being Brahma in
another fits better as an example.) In this manner the non-return of those
who have attained jnAna in one kalpa is accounted for. The vacancy is filled
in another kalpa by another jIva. The possibility of a change in the name of
these adhikArika puruSa-s was also pointed out and this also gels with the
idea that "there is no need to insist on EXACTLY the same Veda mantras (to
the letter) repeating over and over again like a gramaphone record. Some of
the details at least, like the names of the particular jIva enacting the
role in a particular kalpa may be different from the name of the jIva
enacting the role in another kalpa." All such changes in the manifested
portion of the Veda does not affect the fact the sum total of the infinite
Veda which rests inseparable from Ishvara and that totality of the Veda is
unchanging and nitya.

The above ideas seem quite plausible, if only because there is no other way
to explain the first descent of the Veda mantras on to the Earth through the
pure minds of the mantra-dRShTAraH. It is my subjective opinion that their
total lack of ahamkAra and utter selflessness not to speak of mastery of
Yoga renders it useless to argue that "if the mantras were revealed in the
minds of some human being at some in time in history after the earth came
into being, the Vedas become paurusheya." Not necessarily.
If we insist that the Guru-Shishya karNa-paramparA did not 'start' at some
distant historical time, it is in obvious conflict with the evidence from
pratyakSha and anumAna that the Earth came in to being at some definite
point in time.

The overall interest in this question is not at all to do any historical
research.  Rather, its because we ought not to rigidly hold on to any idea
which clashes with other pramANa-s in view of the need to maintain the
mutual non-contradiction between them - pramANAntara abAdhitatvam. To say
that the mantradRShTR mentioned in the Veda themselves were not those who
actually were the first to mediate the descent of these mantras on Earth
(since these mantras preceded history), but that there were others whose
names are unknown is also far-fetched but not disprovable.

Thank you everyone for your clarifications. I would be the first one to
admit that it may not be possible to arrive a definite conclusion which
satisfies everyone. But through such mantras like 'anantA vai VedAH', we
can, I believe arrive at some answer to satisfy ourselves at a subjective


P.S. Sri Shyam ji also quoted this translation presumably from
LYV,indicative of a gradual manifestation of the planet earth, life etc.,
The Yogi replied: "There was a time when for eleven thousand years, this
earth was one (nebulous) mass of dust filled with stones but without
mountains, trees or grass even appearing in it for a long time. In one
Chatur-Yuga (four yugas), this earth was one vast forest...."

In favor of the opposite idea that the Vedas are a fixed and finite set of
mantras which undergo no change from kalpa to kalpa, one could argue that
the intent in showing the muShTika and comparing them to the three hills,
itself amounts to arthavAda being intended merely to disincentivize
bhAradhvAja maharshi from pursuing further study. So 'anantAh' can be taken
by some as arthavAda. Also the example itself if taken literally, still
technically implies, only an enormous but finite relation between the
muShTika and the 3 hills, Besides the finite limit on the number of
recensions too is to be taken into account. Also what you wrote in the
previous mail that nAgeSabhatta's tIka on patanjali-mahAbhAshya in the
paspaSAhnikaM remarkably has several layers of meanings encapsulating all
the past interpretations and much of the future interpretations, conveyed
through just a few words, can if stretched somewhat, imply that even a
finite set of mantras can possibly encapsulate 'non-finite' knowledge, given
the special character of the vedic mantras. In modern information theory,
this would be captured by the word "infinitesmally small entropy.")

2011/8/25 श्रीमल्ललितालालितः <lalitaalaalitah at gmail.com>

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