Triveni Journal

1927 | 11,233,916 words

Triveni is a journal dedicated to ancient Indian culture, history, philosophy, art, spirituality, music and all sorts of literature. Triveni was founded at Madras in 1927 and since that time various authors have donated their creativity in the form of articles, covering many aspects of public life....

Some Thoughts on the Veda and its Study

Prof. K. Satchidananda Murty


In recent years quite a few people, religious as well as secular persons, interested in the preservation and propagation of the Veda have been talking a good deal about promoting and spreading vedic studies. So, it is appropriate to give some attention to the answering of the following questions: What is the Veda? What is its special value and significance? How should it be preserved and disseminated? What is the contemporary relevance of its teachings?

Katyayana and others defined the Veda as consisting of Mantras and Brahmanas* (“Mantrabrahmanayorvedanamadheyam”). The great Vedic commentator Sayana** mentioned at least three definitions of the Veda: Veda is a heap of words (Sabdarasi) made up of Mantras and Brahmanas1. Most of the Mimamsakas, Apastamba, Sankara in the commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad, and others have found this definition acceptable. But on the ground that Yaska (Nirukta, V. 3.4: “Ityapi nigamobhavati, iti brahmanam”) and Panini (IV. 2. 66) distinguish between Nigama (Chandas) and Brahmanas, Dayananda Saraswati accepted the Samhitas containing Mantras only as the Veda. So did Sri Aurobindo and Kapali Sastri. Even Prabhakara, a great teacher of Mimamsa, as Sayana have not given any real definition of Mantras. Sayana, in fact, said that Mantras are those which are called as such by those who are well-informed, while Brahmanas make up that part of the Veda which is not made up of Mantras, Madhusudhana Sarasvati in his Prasthanabheda defined the Veda as consisting of Mantras and Brahmanas. According to him, while Mantras are those which throw light on the things and deities connected with rituals, Brahmanas are of three types: Vidhis (injunctions), Arthavadas (implicatory or explanatory sentences), and those which are neither Vidhis nor Arthavadas. Vedantic sentences are examples of the last type, because while they form a definite portion of the Veda, they are different from Mantras, Vidhis and Arthavadas. In his commentary on the Rigveda, Sayana mentions another definition of the Veda: That by which the means of obtaining the transcendental goal of man is known. A somewhat variant definition is found in his commentary on the Taittiriya Samhita: The Veda is that which makes known the transcendental means of obtaining the desirable and avoiding the undesirable.2 For example it is known empirically that women and sandalwood give pleasure to a man. The Veda is not for giving such knowledge. But through empirical means we do not know that eating Kalanja (a red onion, or meat of an animal killed by a poisoned arrow) is sinful, and that performance of a Jyotistoma sacrifice leads to heaven. That which gives such knowledge is Veda. Sayana also quotes a passage which says “Dharma*** and Brahman are known from the Veda alone.” In the Prasthanabheda, Madbusudana Sarasvati accepts this and formulates the definition of the Veda as the truly authoritative and valid sentences which have no author and which propound Dharma and Brahman. This is a position general acceptable to most Mimamsakas and Vedantins.

If this position is accepted, it follows that the Veda is concerned only with Dharma and Brahman, i.e., with virtue or righteousness and God or the Absolute. Dharma is not a thing, so it cannot be known through empirical means. It can be known only through either human intuition or through a non-human source of knowledge. Intuitions of men differ, so, differing insights apprehend Dharma differently. Thus the intuition of some may inform them that eating beef is sinful, while that of others may inform them that eating pork is sinful. If the good is absolute, ways of achieving it (which may loosely be called virtue or righteousness) cannot be many. There must be only one absolute way of achieving the absolute good, and that cannot be intuition. So, only an eternal non-human source of knowledge regarding the good and the way of achieving it can provide an infallible guide for righteous action. Reason, experience and culture cannot do so. The Mimamsa and Vedanta schools posit that the Veda is an eternal and infallible source of such knowledge regarding Dharma. Similarly, since God or the Absolute is supersensuous, He or It is beyond sense experience. Inferentially also He or It cannot be grasped, for any kind of inferential act depends upon a knowledge of the relationship between that which is to be proved and its invariable characteristic (e.g., between fire and smoke). But we do not have any such knowledge in the case of God or Brahman. So, the Vedantin maintains that the Upanishadic portion of the Veda–which is also eternal and infallible–is the one and unique source regarding Brahman. In support he would cite Upanishadic passages like, Brahman is the Person known through the Upanishads (Aupanishadam purusham). It is of great significance that the Mimamsa and Vedanta schools do not admit that knowledge of empirical facts can be derived from the Veda. This implies that the Veda does not contain history or science. An eternal book cannot deal with temporal evanescent events, nor can a book intended to provide knowledge regarding truths unknowable through sense perception and inference contain empirical facts or scientific generalisations based on them. According to this view, ethics consist of command sentences only, which can neither be proved nor disproved, and knowledge of Brahman is not based upon sense perception or reason. This Mimamsa-Vedantic Position avoids all possible conflict between scripture on the one hand and history and science on the other hand, and it is in accordance with what some schools of contemporary western Philosophy and theology say regarding ethics and knowledge of God: Ethics is non-empirical, non-science; the knowledge of God can only be revelational.

It follows from the above that if there are any passages in the Veda which appear to deal with history or empirical facts, they do not form intrinsic parts of it. Also, if there appear to be passages in it which clearly contradict experience or what can be generalised from experience, they cannot constitute an essential portion of it. As Sankaracharya said, a hundred Vedic texts cannot make a pot a cloth. What is known beyond doubt through historical research and what is demonstrated as truth through scientific investigations cannot be contradicted by the Veda.

If we consider what the Veda says regarding its own origin, we find at least three sorts of statements: (1) It is the eternal word heard by sages qualified by Tapas (askesis.)3 (2) It was born of sacrifices.4 (3) The self-existent God manifested it for the are of all.5 The Veda, etc., are the breath of the Great Being.6 God manifested it through Agni, Vayu and Surya, and Brahma.7

Yaska in the Nirukta explained that the eternal Veda manifested in the minds of persons performing Tapas. So, they became Rishis, i.e., those who were able to intuit the Mantras.8 Subsequently, the Mimamsa accepted the view that the eternal Veda was just handed down from generation to generation in an unbroken and beginningless way, whereas the Nyaya maintained that it was God’s composition revealed to the first born God, Brahma, and the sages. The Vedanta agreed with the Mimamsa that it was eternal and had no author in the sense in which books like Ramayana had an author, and that God was its source (Yoni). On the other hand, Patanjali in his Mahabhashya (IV. 3.101) stated that the sages were responsible for the order of the letters, words and sentences which are not uncreated, implying perhaps that the ideas expressed through them were not created.

Today with our knowledge of the history of language and of the origin and development of the universe and man, we cannot accept any book–whether the Veda or the Quran–either as eternal or as composed by God. It can only be agreed that there are ideas of perennial value and eternal truths, which have been apprehended by the sages and prophets and which are embodied in different scriptures. Some may argue that these have been revealed by God, and others that they have been discovered by men with spiritual capacity. In any case, a scripture is valuable only insofar as it makes known truths unknowable through empirical sources of knowledge (ajnatajnapanam sastram) and which remain uncontradicted by human experience and science.

It follows from the above that no scripture is unique and complete. God could not have revealed the entire truth to anyone or to any race, nor could any man or race have discovered the entire truth. As such no scripture is complete. There are profound truths, for example, in the Bhagavadgita, Srimad Bhagavata, the Tantric and other books which are not found in the Veda. No scripture is also unique because whether it is a revelation or a discovery, human intellect is responsible for its formulation and expression in a language. So it is limited by the finiteness of the human mind as well as by the culture and time in which the latter functions. We have to also accept that scriptures do contain history mixed with myth and legends, and observations as well as generlisations based on them mixed with superstitions and wrong generalisations. But these do not form the core of scriptures. The historical and scientific facts they contain provide useful material for reconstructing political and social history and the history of ideas, and the insights regarding man and nature which may be found in them may serve as valuable hypotheses in scientific investigations. But it is the ethical intuitions, timeless metaphysical truths and spiritual techniques in them which constitute the core, the essence, of scriptures.


There are many people who believe that the learning of a sacred scripture by heart and its repetition in the approved orthodox way even without knowing its meaning, is meritorious. We find such a belief in different cultures, Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic and Christian. The chanting of a single appropriate letter, a word or a group of words in the proper way even without understanding their meanings, combined with a firm faith in the intrinsic efficacy of doing so, may lead to spiritual benefit, or even psychological or mundane benefit. But without knowing its meaning and without a deep, steadfast and firm faith in the intrinsic power of its chanting, if the Veda is learnt by rote and chanted, what purpose does it serve? It may be delightful to hear it, for there is a melody and music in its chanting done according to tradition, Thus it may produce Ahlada and a catharsis and may even rouse the sense of the numinous, just as a Kirtana of Tyagaraja might in hearers who do not know what it means, when sung in the traditional way by a great musician who does not understand its meaning. Even mere Vedic chanting serves to keep alive an immemorial and glorious tradition, By all means let us encourage the learning of the Veda by rote and chanting of it in the proper way by as many people as possible. In addition let us admit that understanding its meaning is at least equally, if not more, important. Now-a-days often the Veda is chanted by those who do not know its meaning and heard by many who do not understand it, and both those who chant and hear lack a firm faith that the words so chanted and heard have an intrinsic power in them. Yet both perhaps feel something; but is that enough? Should not this state or affairs be transformed?

The Veda itself insists that understanding of its meaning is necessary for obtaining the full benefit from it. A Rigvedic passage says: “He who does not know that higher region of truth, what will he do with hymns? Only those who know attain the highest bliss”.9 Another text says: “He who does not know the meaning hears but does not really hear, sees but does not really see, says but does not really understand what he says. But to those who know wisdom reveals itself as does a well-dressed wife to her husband”.10 The Satapatha Brahmana (X. 5. 4.) clearly says that only when one has knowledge one can ascend to Heaven. The Nirukta has gone so far as to say that he who having learnt the Veda does not know its meaning is like a pillar which merely carries a burden, because only he who knows the meaning attains us the auspicious and the holy having got rid off all his sins through wisdom. 11 The Brihaddevata also says: only he who knows (not merely recites) the hymns knows the gods; the deity does not accept the oblation offered without knowledge.12 From this it is clear that sacrifices performed is a mechanical way and hymns repeated in a parrot-like fashion are not completely efficacious.

Most lovers of the Veda today place exclusive emphasis on getting it by heart and repeating it with the proper Svara, without understanding its meaning. This is what many Pathasalas do. While we must admire and salute the Brahmins who have kept alive the chanting of the Veda with Svara from immemorial time up to the present day, and while every possible effort should be made to keep alive this great oral tradition, as I already pleaded, at least equal importance must be given to understanding its meaning. If today the teaching of the Veda is not as widely known as the teachings of the Bible, the Bhagavadgita and some other scriptures are, it is because it has not been disseminated among the general public, though since the time of Swami Dayananda Sarasvati some efforts have been made to spread its message among all people. Consequently, this most ancient and great scripture remains for many an inert book. Neither its Western philological translations nor its Indian translations based on Sayana have succeeded in making a spiritual impact on the modern mind. Significant portions of the Samhitas and Brahmanas have to be separated, translated, reinterpreted and made accessible in a way appealing and intelligible to the modern mind. But the Upanishads, the Bhagavadgita, a few Tantric and Yogic treatises and some other Hindu religious works, through various excellent translations, interpretations and expositions, have become living inspirational scriptures, capable of providing direction to many in the modern world. If the Samhita-Brahmana portion of the Veda is to fulfil a similar role, neither the mere preservation of its chanting with Svara nor just its interpretation a la Sayana or Max Mueller will be enough. A critical study, translation and dissemination of its teaching in a way relevant to the present day must be undertaken to make it a living source of spiritual guidance.


From ancient times the Veda**** has been interpreted in many ways. Three of these are considered important.

1.            The ritualists (Yajnikas) have taken the Veda as mainly a source book which informs how to perform rituals for obtaining this worldly and other worldly good. They have gone to the extent of maintaining that there are no statements of facts (Bhutarthavakyas) in it. From this standpoint the entire Upanishadic portion becomes just an Arthavada to the commands enjoining acts of meditation conducive to the production of mundane and heavenly benefits, and the gods mentioned in it become hypothetical, i.e., entities supposed to exist. It may be said that Sayana’s Bhashya is predominantly a ritualistic interpretation. So is Skandaswami’s.
2.            There have also been Vedic interpreters down the ages who accepted the Vedic gods as realities, and rituals as acts of propitiation and worship. This means for different purposes different gods have to be worshipped in different ways and certain gods propitiated so that they may not cause harm. This is the polytheistic interpretation of the Veda. It may be argued that Venkata Madhava’s Bhashya is on the whole an example of this kind of interpretation. Most Western interpretations are also of this kind.
3.            The Veda has also been interpreted monotheistically. For example, Yaska in the Nirukta says that all the gods mentioned in the Veda are the limbs of the one Great Self (Mahan Atma). Saunaka in Brihaddevata mentions that the Atmavadins interpret the Veda in their own way. There are Itihasic and Puranic texts which assert that the sum and substance of the Veda is the glorification of the One God. According to this view, the various gods who are hymned in it are but functions of the One God. Every hymn in it can be understood as directly referring to the One God, if the words are understood in the etymological (Yaugica) way. Perhaps the commentary of Madhvacarya on the first forty hymns of the Rigveda is the earliest surviving book which gives a monotheistic interpretation of so many hymns. Later Jayatirtha wrote a commentary on this, and based on these Raghavendra composed a monotheistic exposition of these hymns. In modern times Swami Dayananda Sarasvati has revived this tradition through his great commentary on the Rigveda. Later Sri Aurobindo interpreted the Vedic hymns in a symbolic and mystical way. It may be remarked that monotheistic and mystical interpretations are possible only in the case of the Samhitas and of a few Brahmana passages.

What is important is to recognise that from very early times the Veda had been interpreted in many ways. Certain Rigvedic passages point out that its hymns are mystical prayers (ninyani rahasyani stotrani), and mystical statements (ninyavacamsi) uttered sages illumined by noble ideas and prayers.13 The composer of hymns, man, is a mystery (ninyah); and so are the gods. (Ka imam voninyam aciketa?) 14 The Mahabharata indicates that the Vritra legend and sacrificial acts can be understood symbolically.15 Vritra is Tamas, ignorance. Indra’s Vajra is Viveka, discrimination, as Nilakantha explained. This shows there was an awareness of the possibility of understanding Vedic legends and rituals symbolically. So Sri Aurobindo was not unjustified in searching for the inner, symbolic and secret meaning of the Veda. whether what he claimed to have discovered is really implicit in it or not is a matter for discussion.

Only by a tortuous etymological interpretation it can be shown that the entire Veda is through and through monotheistic. The view that the Veda is just polytheistic is as untenable as the view that it only consists of magical incantations and descriptions of ritualistic acts to be performed mechanically. As the Veda itself mentions, it contains higher and lower (Uccavaca) ideas. Profound and eternal metaphysical and psychological truths and ethical intuitions of unsurpassed and perennial value as well as baseless beliefs and untenable ideas are to be found in it; and while it describes spiritual techniques of the highest order, it also elaborately deals with practices and performances fit only to be undertaken by credulous, insensitive and undiscriminating persons. A Puranic text says there are three meanings (ritualistic, polytheistic and monotheistic or spiritual) in all the Vedas (trayorthah sarva vedeshu). Let us concentrate on the Adhyatmika meaning of the Veda–its spiritual essence. Let competent scholars attempt to discover it in their own ways without depending on Madhva, Dayananda, or Sri Aurobindo.

From what has been said, it follows that it is wrong to take Yaska and Sayana or anyone else as sacrosanct and infallible. Yaska was not the first to interpret Vedic words as he did. He referred to a Nighantu with Samamnaya which he cited and explained. He had predecessors like Sakapuni, Audumbarayana, Aupamanyava and others, He referred to alternate ways of understanding Vedic words and passages. While his was the Nairuktika (etymological-definitional) tradition, he was aware of other traditions of Vedic interpretation such as the Aitihasika (historical, e.g., those who take Indra – Vritra battles as real incidents) and the Yajnika (sacrificial). The Brihaddevata pointed out many errors in Yaska. Yaska, for example, interpreted the phrase “pancajanah” as the four Varnas (castes) and the Nishadas. Saunaka’s Brihaddevata (67-77) informs us that it is possible to understand it as: (1) The five fires, (2) the four chief priests and the Yajamana (sacrificer), and (3) the eye, ear, mind, speech and breath. It says the spiritualists accept the third meaning.16 Coming to Sayana, Western and many contemporary Indian scholars accepted his interpretation, as it was complete and accessible. So, for them the Veda appeared to be polytheistic and ritualistic only, or at least mainly, while such is not its purport (Tatparya). They forget that Sayana’s is just one possible way of interpretation, and that he himself was a Vedantin who believed that the Samhita-Brahmana portion was sublated by the Upanishads which taught Advaita (monism). Pace Sayana, Venkata Madhava and others, it is possible to argue that the purport of the Samhita-Brahmana portion is also spiritual, monotheistic and mystical. Let students of Vedabhashyas in Pathasalas be exposed to those of Madhva, Dayananda and Kapali Sastri also. Let it be also remembered that while the Purva and Uttara Mimamsas claim to systematise, harmonise and interpret the Veda, the Itihasas and Puranas claim to amplify and supplement the meaning of the Veda.17 It is for scholars to decide how far these claims are justified.


One of the great obstacles to the preservation and propagation of the Veda has been denial of universal access to it. For centuries only the Traivarnika men (men of the three upper castes) have been generally considered eligible to undertake Vedic study, but in effect it has been the exclusive privilege and prerogative of male Brahmins only. Even today most Brahmins who have learnt the Veda, either with or without meaning, do not teach it to women, Sudras and others. But the Veda itself does not say that it is meant for any particular sex, caste or race. On the contrary, it declares that it is meant for all. We have the following Yajur-vedic text; “Just as I have revealed this auspicious word to all human beings, so must you. I have revealed the Vedic truth to Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Sudras, Aryas, personal servants (Svaya) and to the lowest of Sudras (Aranaya) also”. 18 Then we have the following Atharvavedic text: “O Man, I, being of the nature of truth and being unfathomable, have revealed the true Vedic knowledge; so I am he who gave birth to the Veda. I cannot be partial either to a Dasa (slave) or an Arya; I save all those who behave like myself (i.e., impartially) and follow my truthful commands”. 19 The Veda is a universal scripture.

We find examples of Sudras and sons of slaves propagating Vedic hymns. Two examples may be given: Kavashaailusha propagated Suktas 30 to 34 of the Rigveda, Mandala, X, Anuvaka III. It is known that he was a Sudra from the Itareya and Kaushiitaki Brahmanas, the Rigveda Anukramanika, and Sayana’s Bhashya. Kakshavan propagated Suktas 116 to 126 of the Rigveda, Mandala I, Anuvaka XVII. He was the son of a female slave of the king of Angadesa. This is known from the Rigveda Anukramanika, the Bhashya of Sayana and the Mahabharata. Critical study also shows that Janasruti was a Sudra, and Satyakama Jabali was the son of a woman who lived with many men. According to the Upanishads, both received the highest Vedantic teaching. According to internal evidence, women also were eligible for Vedic study. The 179th Sukta of the Rigveda, Mandala I, Anuvaka XXIII, was propagated by Lopamudra, a woman; while the 91st Sukta of the Rigveda, Mandala VIII, Anuvaka I, was propagated by Apala, another woman. The Rigveda Anukramanika and Sayana’s Bhashya inform us to this effect. It is well-known that ladies Gargi and Maitreyi were great sages who knew the highest Upanishadic truths.

Nowhere in the Samhita-Brahmana or the Upanishadic portions is any caste, sex or race excluded from studying and benefiting from the Veda. The sentence “Women and Sudras should not be taught the Veda” (na stri sudro vedam adhiyatam), frequently cited by those who advocate prohibition of access to the Veda to lower castes and women, is not a Vedic text. However, there are passages in some Smritis which lay down such a prohibition. On the contrary, there are passages in other Smritis which maintain that Sudras can receive Upanayana and study the Veda.20 There is considerable evidence that Sudras of good families, endowed with good qualities, were taught all the Sastras, except the Samhitas, without Upanayana.21 The Vedanta Sutras, I. 3. 34-38, have been interpreted by almost all the medieval Bhashyakaras as prohibiting Sudras from Vedic study. Of them Sankara is the most liberal, for he at least admits that some Sudras may like Vidura and Dharmavyadha attain Brahma-Knowledge due to the result of their actions in past lives, and that all the four castes are free to attain Brahma-Knowledge through Itihasa-puranas. Some Arya Samajist scholars, however, interpreted the relevant Vedanta Sutras as permitting Sudras also access to Vedic study.

While there is no Vedic text which prohibits Sudras from studying the Veda, there is an explicit text which says he is not eligible to perform sacrifices. “Tasmat sudro yajne anavakluptah.”22 According to Patanjali not all Sudras are prohibited from performing sacrifices: some are (Niravasita Sudras) and some are not (Aniravasita).28 Commenting on this, Kaiyata says that Sudras are eligible to perform the five Mahayajnas (great sacrifices).24 These include the Brahmayajna, which means Vedic study (Svadhyaya), Sandhyavandana, Japa, etc. So, as Nagesa explained, this Vedic text prohibits Sudras from performing only sacrifices like Agnihotra and not the five great sacrifices. This makes them eligible for Vedic study. The Mimsusa Sutras, VI. 1. 24 to 38, have been interpreted by their medieval commentators as prohibiting Sudras from Vedic study and sacrifices. The Arya Samajists, however, do not. accept such an interpretation and maintain that according to Jaimini, all are eligible to perform Vedic rituals because their reward is desired by all and whoever has the capacity to undertake and complete them can do so.25 Even the medieval commentators admit that Badari, a great sage, who is cited by Jaimini, maintained that all including Sudras are eligible to perform Vedic sacrifices. Similarly, sages like Aitisayana denied the eligibility of women to Vedic study and perform sacrifices, while Badarayana and Jaimini asserted to the contrary. Some Smritis make scriptural study mandatory to women.26

To summarise, the Veda itself claims to be a universal scripture meant for all human beings. Whoever has the sincere desire (Arthitva) and capacity (Samarthya) is eligible to study it either in the original or in its translations. Some Smritis and sages assert Sudras and women are not entitled to Vedic study, while other Smritis and sages maintain that they too are entitled. Good sense, justice and reason demand that the latter view be accepted. Everyone has the right to the highest wisdom from the best source available. Moreover, as Western scholars (who according to some Smriti writers would be Mlecchas) aswell as those who are not Traivarnikas (e.g, Prince Dara Shikoh, translated, Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo) have studied, edited, translated, expounded, or published the Vedas and Upanishads, it is not only unjust but ridiculous to support any more the tabu on Vedic study. People of all castes including the Harijans and Girijans and of all nationalities–irrespective of their sex–should be encouraged to study the Veda.

Kurvantu Visvam aryan.”

(Let us make the entire world Aryan,
i.e., noble and enlightened.)


1. Introduction to the Bhashya on Rigveda.
2 Ishtaprapti anishta pariharayor alaukika Upayah vedah.
3Vacha virupa nityaya”, Rigveda, VIII, 75-6.
4Yajnat richah Samani jajnire”, Rigveda, X. 90-9.
5 Yasmat richo apatakshan...devah sah,” Atharva Veda, X. 23. 4.20;
Svayambhur yathatathyato arthan vyadadhat..., Yajurveda, 40-8.
6. Asya mahato bhutasya nisvasitam,” Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, II.4.10.
7Yo vai vedamsca prahinoti”, Svetasvetara Upanishad, VI.
Agne Rigvedo...” Sathapatha Brahmana, XI. 4.2.3.
8 Nirukta, I. 20; II. II.
9Yastannaveda kimrica karishyati? Ya ittadvidusta ime samasate.” Rigveda, I. 164. 39.
10Utatvah pasyannadadarsa vaca mutattvah srunvan nasrunotyenam;
Utotvasmaitanvam visasre jayeva patya usati suvasah.” Rigveda. X. 71.4.
11 Sthanurayambharaharah kilabhud adhityavedam na vijanoti yortham, Yorthajna itsakalam bhadramasnute nakameti jnana vidhuta papma.” Nirukta, I. 18.
12 “Ya richo ha yo veda sa veda devan; aviynanapradishtam hi havirneheta daivatam.” Brihaddevata, VIII. 129, 133.
13 Rigveda, VII. 61.5; IV. 3.16,
14 Rigveda, I. 164.37; 1.95.4.
15 Asvamedha Parva, XI, 7.20; Anusasana Parva, 84.47-48,
16 “Caksuh srotram mana vak ca pranasceti atmavadinah.
17 Itihasapuranabhyam vedartham upabrimhayet.
18 Yathemam vacam kalyanimavadanijanebhyah brahmarajanyabhyam sudraya caryaya ca
   Saaya caranaya.” Yajurveda, 26.2.
19Satyamaham gabhiralt kanyena satyam jate nasmijata veda, name daso name aryo mahitvavratam mimaya yadahadharishye.” Atharvaveda, VIII. 2.11.
20 (1) “Sudranam adushta karmanam upanayanam.” Paraskara Gruhya Sutra-2.6. Apastamba prohibited Upanayana for Brahmins with bad qualities. (2) “Sudranam brahmacaryatvam munibhih kaischidisyate.” Yoga Yajnavalkya-Ch. 2. (3) “Atracha sudra vajasaneyinah iti Vasista vakyat.” Samskara Mayukha, pa. 85. (4) “Sudro va caritavratah.” Vriddha Gautama Smriti, Ch, 16.
21 Sudram apt kulaguna sampannam mantravaryam anupanitam adyapayediyete,” Susrita, Sutrasthana.
22 Taittirya Samhita. VII. 1. 1.6.
23 Mahabhashya on Panini, II. 4. 10.
24 “Sudranam Pancamahayajnanushthane adhikaro asti iti bhavah.” Kaiyata.
25 Mimamsa Sutras, VI. 1.4-5.
26Yacca amnayo vidadhyat.” Gobhila Grihya Sutra, I. 2.

* Mantras sacred texts which impart a knowledge of things useful in performance of rituals. Brahmanas are sacred sentences which enjoin something, while Arthavadas are corroborative statements auxiliary to Brahmanas. (Krishna Yajva, Mimamsa Paribhasha). This is the usual Purva Mimamsa view, not accepted by other Vedic interpreters.
** Sayana is the only person whose Bhashya on the entire Veda is now available. But the sheer volume of it and the internal contradictions in it make it doubtful whether a single person wrote all this. A single Vyasa could not have written all the Puranas and Upapuranas, nor a single Sayana the entire Vedabhashya. Sayana was probably the chief of a team of scholars who wrote the Bhashyas on the different Samhitas and Brahmanas.
*** Dharma (righteous action) is that which is taught by the Veda as capable of achieving what is beneficial and desirable; Adharma (unrighteous action) is that which is taught by the Veda as capable of bringing on what is harmful and undesirable. These are the usual Purva Mimamsa definitions. (Krishna Yajva, Mimamsa Paribhasha).
**** In this section the discussion is about the interpretation of the Samhitas and Brahmanas. All are unanimous that the Upanishads are predominantly metaphysical and mystical.

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