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Who wrote the Vedas ?

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lotus_quartz

Active member
I spent last couple of years in study of religions, mostly through Internet based resources. Wikipedia has been quite informative even if many people advise caution over accepting the correctness of matter. Few striking facts reveal themselves. Hinduism along with Judaism has been one of the most ancient religions in the world. They predate Christianity, Islam and other religions by a huge margin.

The Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam etc.) had relied upon the teachings of their Prophet which were well chronicled, documented and proselytized by the clergy. Teachings of Goutama Budhdha were initially spread orally by his disciples but it was only around 300 BC, that the teachings were meticulously documented by his Sri Lankan Followers (Buddhist Monks) in Pali Language, using Brahmi script. The Viharas were quite busy with such theological/academic activities from around 300 BC till about 1200 AD in India and till even today in Sri Lanka, Burma and elsewhere. Thereafter, the consistency was ensured by the subsequent followers.

In case of Vedic Hinduism, we come across an interesting variation. The teachings were orally transmitted from Guru to Shishya, in a language (Sanskrit) neither taught to nor understood by the common folk. The surprising thing is - from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari and from Gujrat to Assam, the Brahmins were able to maintain the purity, accuracy and authenticity of the Hymns and Shlokas with little variation.

I have a few questions which I could not find answer to. Hope someone in this forum would educate us and provide answers:

1. How old is the practice of writing down religious texts like Vedas, Puranas, Samhitas etc. on Palm Leafs ? (Papyrus was used in Europe, Arab Lands, Greece, Rome tc. before the invention of Paper by the Chinese).

2. Are the old Palm Leaf based scriptures still traceable/available ? If so, where are they kept/preserved ?

3. Has anyone tried to do radio-active carbon dating to find out exactly how long back they were written down ?

4. How come that most of Buddhist Literature were written by Brahmins ? Did they not apprehend conflict of interests between the established Vedic Hinduism and the fast spreading new quasi-religious movement of Buddhism ?

5. Though India had contacts with Rome, Greece, Arab Lands for several centuries/thousands years, and often even before many of the Puranas and other Hindu literature were written, how come the Hindu Literature are absolutely silent on the existence of such lands, people and their religious practices ?

6. Idol worship / Temple Worship in Hinduism appeared to be a post Christ phenomenon. The Indus valley people and Mohen Jodaro people did not build temples. The oldest temples of South and North are not older than about 1200-1500 years. The Vedas and Puranas also do not tell about temples but more vividly describe Gods and Yagnas, Havanas etc. If non-Idolatry was the usual form of religious lifestyle in ancient India, then What prompted such sudden change ? Even as on date, South and parts of North India have numerous temples dedicated to various gods but in east India (Bengal, Assam etc.) the Temple based worship is relatively rare. Why ?

I am sure such questions often come in the minds of many ignorant people like me. Please enlighten us.

LQ
 

vikrama

Active member
1. How old is the practice of writing down religious texts like Vedas, Puranas, Samhitas etc. on Palm Leafs ? (Papyrus was used in Europe, Arab Lands, Greece, Rome tc. before the invention of Paper by the Chinese).

When the practice started, I am not aware of. But I have reasons to doubt that before the time of Vyasa,(Whatever it may be)there could be the practice of writing. without writing one can not, I suppose, differentiate between येषां and एषां. Since both these words are used in the vedas, there could be the practice of writing.

Perhaps they had different pronunciation to distinguish these two.

Even otherwise there are reasons to suppose that the practice of writing Vedas was prevalent and subsequently discontinued.

2. Are the old Palm Leaf based scriptures still traceable/available ? If so, where are they kept/preserved ?

Palm leaves can not remain intact for a long time. They decay slowly even if kept safely.They had to be renewed after some time. This required copying the matter from the old leaf to the new leaf. While transcribing, errors are bound to happen. Only to avoid this, Vyasa (or whoever it may be) stipulated that Vedas should not be written down and should be preserved only through oral transmission.

3. Has anyone tried to do radio-active carbon dating to find out exactly how long back they were written down ?

The oldest available palm-leaf could be only 300 years old.

4. How come that most of Buddhist Literature were written by Brahmins ? Did they not apprehend conflict of interests between the established Vedic Hinduism and the fast spreading new quasi-religious movement of Buddhism ?

Many brahmins became the disciples of Buddha. Though the term conversion was not in use, it was really conversion. Unlike the conversions of today, the converted had no animosity to the other religions.

5. Though India had contacts with Rome, Greece, Arab Lands for several centuries/thousands years, and often even before many of the Puranas and other Hindu literature were written, how come the Hindu Literature are absolutely silent on the existence of such lands, people and their religious practices ?

All foreigners were brought under the umbrella term, Yavana.Indians learnt many things from the yavanas, especially astrology.
6. Idol worship / Temple Worship in Hinduism appeared to be a post Christ phenomenon. The Indus valley people and Mohen Jodaro people did not build temples. The oldest temples of South and North are not older than about 1200-1500 years. The Vedas and Puranas also do not tell about temples but more vividly describe Gods and Yagnas, Havanas etc. If non-Idolatry was the usual form of religious lifestyle in ancient India, then What prompted such sudden change ? Even as on date, South and parts of North India have numerous temples dedicated to various gods but in east India (Bengal, Assam etc.) the Temple based worship is relatively rare. Why ?

Idol worship and temple worship started in South India from the worship of memorial stones (nadukal). It evolved over a period of time.

This much I know. I hope better learned people can enlighten you further.
 

S.Ramanathan

New member
As you know that Mahabharatham was written by Lord vignesh by hearing from veda vysa. we can presume the same would have been written on palm leaves. Even now the written palm leaves are preserved in Saraswathi mahal of Tanjur. If you ask for nadi josyam you can see your fate written on palm leaves which you can see when you visit vaitheeswaran temple.
 

guruvayurappan

Well-known member
As you know that Mahabharatham was written by Lord vignesh by hearing from veda vysa. we can presume the same would have been written on palm leaves. Even now the written palm leaves are preserved in Saraswathi mahal of Tanjur. If you ask for nadi josyam you can see your fate written on palm leaves which you can see when you visit vaitheeswaran temple.
dear sir !
as you said the palm leaf inscription are available in sarasvthi mahal of Tanjavur and they are making micro film copying for preservation.the nadi jJothidam palf leaf are locally made and the colours changed to make you belief as if it inherited from many generations
guruvayurappan
 

saidevo

Well-known member
namaste everyone.

One way to trace history is to look up the probable earliest occurrences of the related terms. MWOD is a good resource for this:
MW Advanced Search

To look up the Vedas we might use the Vedic Concordance at:
http://nitaaiveda.com/All_Scriptures_By_Acharyas/Vedas/Vedic_Concordance.htm

For upaniShads and the gItA, we might use Jacob's upaniShad vAkyakoshaH:
http://www.archive.org/download/upa...ndBhagavad/upaniShadVakyaKoshaSktEng_text.pdf

Findings on these lines throw up some interesting information:

• The act of writing/inscription is mentioned in the Atharava Veda, which could be one of the earliest references:

ajaiSham tvA saMlikhitam-ajaiShamut saMrudham |
aviM vRuko yathA mathadevA mathnAmi te kRutam || 7.50.5 ||


7.50.5: O dark, base tendency, I have subdued the evil designs inscribed on the tablet of my heart, like an inscription engraved on a marble slab. I have conquered all the impediments that stand in the way of my moral progress. As a wolf tears and rends a sheep, so do I avert the fruit of thy evil intention.--Tr.Devi Chand

pruthivIM tvA pRuthivyAmA vaishayAmi tanUH samAni vikRutA ta eShA |
yadyad dyuttaM likhitam-arpaNena tena mA sustrorbra tad vapAmi || 12.3.22 ||


12.3.22: O Earth, I make thee of Matter. This visible shape of thine is deformed, but there is the other nascent state of Matter free from deformity. Whatever hath been worn off or scratched in fixing, I remove that through knowledge, destroy not thy nature, O Earth!--Tr.Devi Chand

• The word parilekhana--drawing lines round about, is used in kAtyAyana shrauta-sUtram.

• YAjnavalkya uses the term pANDulekha--outline or sketch made with a style or chalk, and punarlekhana--writing down again.

lekhaka as a writer, scribe, clerk, secretary is used by YAjnavalkya and in the mahAbhAratam. KAlidAsa in his mRuchchakaTikA uses the term to reckon, make a calculation. A clerk at a hall of justice was known as adhikaraNa-lekhaka in kAdambarI.

lekhana--an instrument for writing or painting, a reed-pen, is used in the mahAbhAratam and in the bRuhatsaMhitA of VarAhamihira

• In KAlidAsa's shakuntalA, a love letter is called madanalekha, manmathalekha. In shrImad bhAgavatam, it is called smaralekha.

An interesting article on palm-leaves manuscripts:
Palm Leaf Scriptures
 

saidevo

Well-known member
namaste shrI lotus_quartz and others.

Some interesting info about India's connection with the external world:

• According to the Skandha Purana, Egypt (Africa) was known as Sancha-dvipa continent mentioned in Sir Willliams Jones' dissertation on Egypt.

• The brisk intercourse between India and Greece is attested by the fact that a special rule was inserted in the great grammar of Panini to distinguish three feminine forms of yavana: a Greek woman was yavani, the curtain was yavanika, and the Greek script was yavanani.

You would find more at this website:
Hindu Wisdom - Contents

• I found that the mArkaNDeya purANam talks about temples:
http://www.archive.org/download/markandeyapurana021288mbp/markandeyapurana021288mbp.pdf

Ch.34: A wise man should circumambulate a temple, a fig-tree, a crossing of the four roads, one more learned than himself, a preceptor and a celestial (41).

Ch.68: He also performs sacrifices and gives the sacrificial fees; with devotion he causes assemblages (of the learned to meet) at the temples of the gods (12).

• I could also find the dates of some temples:
Puranas and their dates

Some other interesting references:
01. Art and Cosmology in India by Subash Kak
http://www.ece.lsu.edu/kak/ArtCosmologyDartmouth.pdf

02. 5000 years of the art of India by Mario Bussagli
5000 Years Art of India

03. Dance of Shiva by AK Coomaraswamy
The dance of Siva; fourteen Indian essays : Coomaraswamy, Ananda Kentish, 1877-1947 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive

04. Hindu temple architecture
Hindu temple architecture - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
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