24 September 2014

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Riddles in Hinduism Vedas are they lower than Shastras

Riddles in Hinduism Vedas are they lower than Shastras
Riddles in Hinduism –Riddle No. 7

The turn of the tide or how did the Brahmins Declare the Vedas to be lower than the lowest of their Shastras

The religious literature of the Hindus includes
(1)  The Vedas
(2)  The Brahmanas
(3)  The Aranyakas
(4) Upanishads,
(5) Sutras,
(6) Itihas,
(7) Smritis
(8) Puranas

As has been pointed out there was a time when they occupied the same status.
There was no distinction of superior or inferior, sacred or profane, fallible or infallible.

Later on as we have shown the Vedic Brahmins felt that they must make a distinction between the Vedas and other classes of their religious literature.
They made the Vedas not only superior to other classes of literature but they made them sacred and infallible.
In evolving their dogma of the infallibility of the Vedas they made a distinction and divided their sacred writings in two classes
(1) Shruti
(2) Non-Shruti

In the first division they placed only two of the eight classes of literature
spoken of above namely-
(1)  Samhitas
(2)  The Brahmanas.
The rest they declared as Non-Shruti.

When  this  distinction  was  first  made  it  is  not  possible  to  say.
The more important question, however, is on what basis was this division made? Why were Itihas and Puranas excluded?

Why were Aranyakas and Upanishads excluded?
Why were the Sutras excluded?

One can well understand why Itihas and Puranas were excluded from Shruti.

At the time when the  division  took  place  they  were  too  elementary  and  too  undeveloped  and  in  all  probability included  in  the  Brahmanas.  Similarly  one  can  well  understand  why  the  Aranyakas  are  not  The  question  regarding  the  Upanishads  is  the  subject  matter  of  another  chapter.

Here it is proposed to deal with the question of the Sutras.
Because the reasons for the exclusion of the Sutras it is not possible to comprehend.
If there were good reasons for including the Brahmanas in
The category of Shruti the same reasons could not fail to justify the inclusion of the Sutras.
As Prof. Ma x Muller observes:
"We can understand how a nation might be led to ascribe a superhuman origin to their ancient national  poetry,  particularly  if  that  poetry  consisted  chiefly  of  prayers  and  hymns  addressed to
Their gods.

But it is different with the prose compositions of the Brahmans.
The reasons why the Brahmanas  which  are  evidently  so  much  more  modern  than  the  Mantras,  were  allowed  to participate  in  the  name  of  Sruti,  could only  have  been  because  it was  from  these  theological
compositions,  and  not  from  the  simple  old  poetry  of  the  hymns,  that  a  supposed  divine authority  could  be  derived  for  the  greater  number  of  the  ambitious  claims  of  the Brahmanas.

But,  although  we  need  not  ascribe  any  weight  to  the  arguments  by  which  the Brahmanas endeavoured to establish the contemporaneous origin of the Mantras and Brahmanas there seems to be no reason why we should reject as equally worthless the general opinion with
specifically mentioned as a part of the Shruti.

They  are  a  part  of  the  Brahmanas  and  for  that reason it was probably unnecessary to say expressly that they are part of the Shruti.
The question of the Upanishads and the Sutras remains a puzzle.
 Why were they excluded from the Shruti?

Regard to the more ancient date of both the Brahmanas and Mantras,
If contrasted with the Sutras and the profane literature of India.
It may easily happen, where there is a canon of sacred books,
That later compositions become incorporated together with more ancient works, as was the case with the Brahmanas.
But we can hardly imagine that old and genuine parts should ever have been excluded from a body of sacred writings, and a more modern date ascribed to them, unless it be in the  interest  of  a  party  to  deny  the  authority  of  certain  doctrines  contained  in  these  rejected
There  is  nothing in  the  later literature  of  the  Sutras  to warrant  a supposition of  this kind.
We  can  find no  reason  why  the  Sutras should  not  have  been  ranked as  Sruti,  except  the lateness of their date, if compared with the Brahmanas, and still more with the Mantras. Whether the Brahmanas themselves were aware that ages must have elapsed between the period during which most  of  the  poems  of  their  Rishis  were  composed,  and  the  times which  gave  rise  to  the Brahamanas,  is  a question  which we  need hardly  hesitate  to  answer in  the affirmative.
But  the recklessness  with  which  Indian  theologians  claim  for  these  Brahmanas  the  same  title  and  the same  age  as  for  the  Mantras,  shows  that  the  reason must  have  been  peculiarly  strong  which
Deterred them from claiming the same divine authority for the Sutras."

The exclusion of the Sutras from the category of Shruti is a riddle that calls for explanation.
There are other riddles which strike the student who cares to investigate into the subject.
They relate to the changes in the content of the literature comprised in the term Shruti and their relative authority.

One such riddle relates to the class of literature called the Brahmanas.
At one time the Brahmanas were included in the term Shruti.
But later on they seem to have lost this position.
For Manu

Some may dispute this on the ground that the word Veda includes “Brahmana “also. This of course is a fact. But it seems to me that Manu uses the term Shruti in a restricted sense so as to exclude the
This  is  supported  by  the  fact  that  there  is  in  the  Manu  Smriti  no  reference  to  the Brahamanas  except  in  one  place  (iv.  100)  where  he  says  that  only  the  Mantra  portion  need  be studied] seems to exclude the " Brahamanas " from the category of Shruti as may be seen from the
Following extract from his Smriti:
    "By Shruti is meant the Veda, and by Smriti the institutes of law; the contents of these are not to  be  questioned  by  reason,  since  from  them  (a  knowledge  of)  duty  has  shown  forth.  The Brahman  who,  relying  on  rationalistic  treatises,  shall  condemn  these  two  primary  sources  of knowledge must be excommunicated by the virtuous as a sceptic and reviler of the Vedas....  To those who are seeking a knowledge of duty, the Sruti is the supreme authority."
Why were the Brahmanas excluded from Shruti?

We may now turn to the class of literature called the Smritis, the most important of which are the
Manu Smriti and the Yajnavalkya Smriti. The number of Srnritis was ever on the increase and the
composing  of  Smritis  went  on  up  to  the  advent  of  the  British.  Mitramistra refers to 57 Smritis,
Nilakanta to 97 and Kamalakar to 131.  The Smriti literature is bigger than any other class of
Religious literature regarded as sacred by the Hindus.

There are several points regarding the relation of the Smritis to the Vedas.

The first is that the Smriti was not recognized as part of the Dharma Shastra literature represented by the Dharma Sutras such as that of
Baudhayana, Gautama or Apastambha. A Smruti originally dealt with social customs and conventions that were approved of and recommended by the learned leaders of society.
As Prof. Altekar observes:
"In the beginning, Smritis were identical in nature and contents with Sadacara and were based upon it.
When Smritis came into existence the scope of Sadacara became naturally reduced, as much of it was codified by Smritis.
It began to denote those old practices which happened not to
be  codified  in  Smritis,  or  those  new  ones,  which  had  acquired  social  approval  at  a  period subsequent to the codification of the early Dharmasastras or Smritis."
The second point to note is that the Smritis were treated as quite different from the Vedas or the Srutis.
So  far  as  their  sanction  and  their  authority  were  concerned  they  stood  on  absolutely different footing.
The sanction behind the Sruti was divine.
The sanction behind the Smriti was social.

In the matter of their authority the Purva Mimarnsa lays down two rules.
The first rule is that if there is a conflict between two texts of Sruti then both are authoritative and the presumption will be that the Vedas have given an option to follow one or the other.
The second rule is that the text of a Smriti should be summarily rejected if it was opposed to the text of the Sruti.
These  rules  were  rigorously  applied  with  the  result  that  the  Smritis  could  not acquire either the status or the authority of the Vedas.

Surprising  as  it  may  appear  a  time  came  when  Brahmins  took  a summersault  and  gave  the Smritis a status superior to that of the Vedas. As Prof. Altekar points out:
"The  Smritis  have  actually  overruled  some  of  the  specific  dicta  of  Srutis  that  were  not  in consonance with the spirit of the age, or were coming into direct conflict with it.
The Vedic practice was to perform daiva karma in the morning and the pitr karma in the afternoon.
In later times the modern  pitr  tarpana  came into  vogue  and  it  began  lo  be offered in  the morning,  as  the morning bath became the order of  the day.
Now this procedure is in direct conflict with the Vedic practice
Prescribed in the above-mentioned rule. Devamabhatta. the author ol the Smrticandrika, however says  that  there  is nothing wrong  in  this:  the  Sruti  rule must  be  presumed  to  be  referring  to pitr karman other than tarpana.
The Sruti literature shows that Visvamitra adopted Sunassepa, though
He had a hundred sons living: this would thus permit a person to adopt a son even when he had a number ol his own sons living.
But Mitramisra says that such a deduction would he wrong:  we
shall have  to  assume  that  the  Smriti  practice  is also based  upon a  Sruti  text.  Which is not now available but the existence of which will have to be assumed." "The Vedic passage, na seso 'gne' nyajatamasti  certainly  disapproves  of  the  practice  of  the  adoption  of  a  son,  which  is  clearly recommended in later times by the Smriti literature. This is a clear example of a Sruti being thrown overboard by a Srnriti. But Mitramisra says that there is nothing wrong about the procedure. The Sruti passage is a mere arthavada; it does not lay down any injunction. The Smritis on the other hand prescribe adoption so that homas etc. should be properly performed. Arthavada Sruti is thus
Being fittingly overruled by a Srnriti text, which has a vidhi for its purport."

"The custom of the Sati of the later age is in direct conflict with the vedic injunction prohibiting suicide.  Apararka, however, argues that the conflict with Sruti should not invalidate the custom.
For  the  Sruti  passage  lays  down  a  general  principle  disapproving suicide,  while  the  Smritis lay down a special exception in the case of a widow."

Whether the customs of a Sati and adoption are good or not is a different question.
Somehow or other society had come to approve of them. Smritis gave canonical, sanction to them and sought
To defend them even against the authority of the Vedas.

The  question  is  why  did  the  Brahmins  after  having  struggled  so  hard  for  establishing  the supremacy of the Vedas degrade the Vedas and invest the Smritis with authority superior to that of the Vedas?
They did so much to raise the authority of the Vedas above the divine. WH y did they drag them below the Smritis which had nothing but social sanction?

The steps they adopted were so ingenious and artificial that one cannot help feeling that there must have been some definite motive which led the Brahmins to give the Smritis a status superior to that of the Vedas.

To give some idea as to how artificial, ingenious and desparate these arguments were it might be useful to give just a brief outline of them.

As an illustration of an artificial argument, one may refer to the view propounded by Brahaspati.
According to him, Sruti and Srnriti are the two eyes of the Brahmana, if he is void of one of them he becomes a one-eyed person.

As an illustration of an ingenious argument one may refer to the argument of Kumarila Bhatt.
His argument is founded on the theory of lost Sruti.
It was argued on behalf of the Smritis that their
Views cannot be set aside even when they are in direct conflict with the Srutis for they may quite possibly have been based upon a lost text of Sruti, and so the conflict is not a conflict between a text of Sruti and that of a Smriti.  t  is  really  a  conflict between an existing  and  lost  text  of  Sruti.

Smriti therefore came to be represented as lost Sruti.
There is a third means adopted by the Brahmins to make the Smritis equal if not superior to the Vedas. It is to be found in the Atri Smriti.
Atri says that those who do not respect the Smritis will be
Subject to curse.
Atri's argument is that Brahmanyam arises only as a result of a joint study of the Sruti and Smriti and if a person studies the Vedas only but holds the Smriti in contempt he would be immediately condemned to be born as a beast for 21 generations.

Why did the Brahmins adopt such desparate means to place the Smritis on the same footing as the Sruti?
What was their purpose? What was their motive?

Prof.  Altekar's  argument  that  the  Smritis  were given supremacy  over  the  Vedas  because  they gave  legal  justification  to  customary  law  which  was  of  later  growth,  cannot  be  accepted  as adequate.
If the case was that, there was law in the Vedic period and custom had grown later on; and  if  there  was a  conflict  between  the  two,  one  could have  understood  the argument  that  the Smritis  were  given  predominance  because  they  set  right  the  conflict  by  recognizing  the
Progressive doctrines of the custom.
This is not the case. There was no such thing as law in the
Vedas. As Professor Kane points out:
"All law was customary and there was no necessity to give recognition to the customs because they were recognized by the people.
Secondly the Smritis cannot be said to be more progressive
Than the Vedas. Barring the Chaturvarna doctrine which everybody knows the Vedas except in the matter of forms of worship left Society quite free to develop.
What the Smritis have done is, take out the unprogressive element in the Vedas namely the Chaturvarna theory and to propagandize it and hammer it into the heads of the people."

Therefore  there must  be some  other  reason  why  the  Brahmins gave supremacy  to  the  Smritis over the Vedas.

The Brahmins were not content with their first acrobatics. They performed another.

The Smritis were followed in point of time by the Puranas. There are 18 Puranas and 18 Up-Puranas altogether 36.
In  one  sense  the  subject  matter  of  the  Puranas  is  the  same.
They deal with the creation, preservation and destruction of the world.  But  in  the  rest  of  their  contents  they  differ altogether.  Some  propagate  the  cult  of  Brahma,  some  the  cult  of  Shiva,  some  the  cult  of  Vishnu, some  the  cult  of  Vayu,  some  the  cult  of  Agni,  some  the  cult  of  Surya  and  some  the  cult  of   Goddesses and other deities.  As  has  been  noted  there was  a  time  when  the  Puranas were  not
Included in the Shruti.
In  later  times  however a  striking  change  seems  to  have  taken place.
The Puranas which were considered as too profane to be included in the Shruti were given a superiority over the Vedas.

The Vayu Purana says:
"First, of all the Shastras, the Purana was uttered by Brahma. Subsequently the Vedas issued from his mouth."

The Matsya Purana not only claims priority of creation for the Puranas as against the Vedas, but also  the  qualities  of  eternity  and  identity  with  sound,  which  was  once  predicated  of  the  Vedas alone.
It says: [2 Ibid.. p. 28.] " Pitamaha (Brahma), first of all the immortals, took shape; then the Vedas  with  their  Angas  and  Upangas  (appendages  and  minor  appendages),  and  the  various Modes of their textual arrangements, were manifested.

The Purana, eternal, formed of sound, pure,  extending  to  the  length of  a  hundred  crores  of  verses,  was  the  first  of  the  Sastras  which
Brahma uttered; and afterwards the Vedas, issued from his mouth; and also the Mimansa and the Nyaya with its eightfold system of proofs.

The Bhagawat Purana claims equality of authority with the Vedas. It says: [Quoted by Muir. Vol. III.]   "(Bramharatra) declared the Purana called the Bhagavata, which stands on an equality with the Veda."

The  Brahma-Vaivartta  Purana  has  the  audacity  to  claim  superiority  over  the  Vedas.
It says: [Quoted by Muir.  Vol.  III.]   "That about which venerable sage, you have inquired, and which you desire, is all known to me, the essence of the Puranas, the preeminent Brahma-Vaivartta, which refutes the errors of the Puranas and Upa-puranas, and the Vedas."

This is the second acrobatic performed by the Brahmins in assigning priority, precedence, and authority to their sacred books.

This does not complete the story of the suppression of the Vedas.  The worse is yet to come.  The Puranas were followed by another class of literature called the Tantras.  
Their number is also quite formidable. Shankaracharya refers to 64 Tantras. There might be many more.  Traditionally the authorship  of  these  works  is  attributed  to  Dattatreya,  who  was  an  incarnation  of  the  Hindu  trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. They are therefore to be regarded as equally the revelation of the three supreme divinities.  In  form,  however,  they  are  dependent  on  Shiva  alone,  who  in  dialogue with  his wife  Durga,  or  Kali,  reveals  the mystical doctrines  and observances which  are  to  be  received  and practised  by  his  worshippers.
This  authoritative  or  'higher  tradition'  is  further  said  to  have  been
Delivered from his central or fifth mouth. As such it is pre-eminently sacred and secret and may not be revealed to the uninitiated.
They are also called by the name Agamas, and as such are sometimes
Distinguished from Nigama, the text of the Vedas, Dharmashastras, and other sacred books.

The Tantras are regarded specially as the religious text-books of the Saktas and of their various sects.
There  are  different  Tantrik schools,  with  variant  traditions,  the  distinctions  between  which are little understood outside of their immediate circle of adherents.
The ritual of the Tantras of the Daksinacharins,  however,  is  said  to  be  pure  and  in  harmony  with  the  Vedas,  while  that  of  the Vamacharins is intended only for Shudras.

The teaching of the Tantras, as of the Puranas is essentially based on the Bhakti-Marga which is  regarded  by  them  as superior  to  the  Karma-Marga and  Jnana-Marga of  the  Brahmanas  and Upanishads.  Adoration  of  a personal deity  is  inculcated,  especially  of  the  wife  of  Shiva,  who  is worshipped as the source of all regenerative power. In all these writings the female principle is personified and made prominent, to the almost total exclusion of the male.

What is the relation of the Tantras to the Vedas?

Kalluka  Bhatta  the  well  known  commentator of  Manu  Smriti  has  no  hesitation in asserting  that Shruti  is  two-fold-  Vaidik  and  Tantrik—which  means  that  the  Vedas  and  the  Tantras  stand  on equal footing. While the Vaidik Brahmins like Kalluka Bhatta admitted the equality of  the Tantras to  the  Vedas,  the  authors  of  the  Tantras  went much  beyond.  They  claimed  that  the  Vedas,  the Shastras,  and  the  Puranas  are  alike  a  common  woman,  but  the  Tantras  are  like  a  highborn
Woman conveying thereby that the Tantras are superior to the Vedas.

From this survey one thing is clear.
The Brahmins have not been very steadfast in their belief
Regarding the sacred character of what they called their books of religion. They fought to maintain the thesis that the
Vedas were not only sacred but that they were infallible.
Not  only  they maintained  that  the  Vedas  were  infallible  but  they  spent  their  ingenuity  to  invent  strange arguments  to support  the  doctrine  of  infallibility.
Yet they had not the slightest compunction to
overthrow  the  position  of  the  Vedas  and  to  subordinate  them  first  to  the  Smritis,  then  to  the Puranas  and  lastly  to  the  Tantras.
The question of all      questions is what made the Brahmins
degrade  the  Vedas  and  supersede  them by  Smritis,  Puranas and  the  Tantras  if  they  regarded their Vedas as the most sacred?

Reality views by sm –

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tags - Riddles Hinduism Vedas lower Shastras