[Advaita-l] Apaurusheyatva of Veda

Anand Hudli anandhudli at hotmail.com
Tue Sep 13 22:42:02 CDT 2011

In his bhAShya on 1.3.29, Shankara BhagavatpAda says, "svantantrasya
karturasmaraNAdibhiH sthite vedasya nityatve...", the eternality of Vedas is
established because they are not known to have an author or authors. Note
that this is not the same as saying the author or authors of the Vedas are
not known, as for example in the case of an anonymous work. If we consider
the Rg Veda, every mantra can be traced to a Rishi, but this Rishi is not
the author of that mantra. He is said to be the draShTA or the seer. He
"saw" the mantra that already existed. For many generations, the Vedas were
orally handed down from one generation to the next. There was never any time
when someone said, "The Vedas were composed by this author or these

In fact, one can argue that eternality of the Vedas (nityatva) and their
unauthored-ness (apaurusheyatva) are two sides of the same coin. One follows
from the other. If eternality is accepted, there can be two possibilities.
Either they are authored like other works or not. If they are authored, the
author(s) would have to be created afresh every time after a Pralaya so that
the Vedas would come into existence again. And the author(s) would have to
compose exactly the same way they did before the Pralaya. This is,
obviously, a heavier assumption to make than accepting that the Vedas are
without an author. In logic (Nyaya) this principle of accepting a conclusion
that needs lighter explanation as opposed to a heavier one is called
lAghavatva or the principle or parsimony or Occam's razor.


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