Why do some people consider the Vedas superior to the Puranas?

by Chaitanya CharanFebruary 24, 2012

From: Panca pandava das

What is the difference between Vedas and purana why some people consider Vedas more authentic than purana?

[I am posting below the references explained in the answer for the use of the readers who may want to quote them:

Jiva Goswami quotes the Skanda Purana (Prabhasa-Khanda 2.93): “O Brahmins, one who is fully conversant with the four Vedas, the six Vedangas, and the Upanishads, but who has not also studied the Epics or the Puranas, is not actually learned in Vedic knowledge.”

Narada Purana says, “where Lord Shiva, the demigod of destruction, is quoted as saying, ‘O beautiful Parvati, I consider that the Puranas and the Epics are superior to the Vedas, for whatever truths are present in the Vedas -and quite a bit more-are also explained in these ancient works.’ Of this there is no doubt.” (Anuccheda 16, text 11)]

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Chaitanya Charan
  • krishna dasa
    October 14, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    Hare Krishna Prabhuji

    Indeed there is no doubt that Vedas are eternal and Apauruseya , and it is a fact that all sampradayas, including the school of Sankara, unanimously agree with. They constitute the means of receiving knowledge about the Absolute Truth. However, there are certain factors that make it practically impossible to study the Vedas in this age .

    After Srila Vyasadeva divided the Vedas into four books (Rg, Yajur, Sama and Atharva), his disciples further divided them into 1,130 divisions. This is stated in the Kurma Purana (52.19-20):

    eka-vimsati-bhedena rg-vedam krtavan pura
    sakhanam satenaiva yajur-vedam athakarot

    sama-vedam sahasrena sakhanam prabibheda sah
    atharvanam atho vedam bibedha navakena tu

    ‘Previously the Rg Veda was divided into 21 sections, the Yajur Veda into 100 sections, the Sama Veda into 1,000 sections and the Atharva Veda into 9 divisions.’

    Each division has 4 minor divisions, namely the Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanisads. Thus altogether the 4 Vedas contain 1,130 Samhitas, 1,130 Brahmanas, 1,130 Aranyakas, and 1,130 Upanisads. This makes a total of 4,520 divisions.

    At present, most of these texts have disappeared due to the influence of time. We can only find 11 Samhitas, 18 Brahmanas, 7 Aranyakas and 220 Upanisads which constitutes a mere 6% of the entire Vedic canon.

    Even if the Vedas were complete in there entirety, in order to understand them one must first study the Vedangas which includes Siksa (the science of phonetics), Vyakarana (grammatical rules), Kalpa (ritualistic rules), Nirukta (obscure word meanings), Chanda (Metres for chanting Vedic hymns), and Jyotisa (astrology and astronomy).
    Since the language of the Vedas is enshrouded in mysterious meanings, one must also be willing to sacrifice years of study in order to learn Vaidika (classical) Sanskrit. This entails primarily learning the basic grammar (which generally takes 12 years or so) and then memorising extra vocabulary in order to decipher the mystical language of the Vedas. 1

    Apart from that, it is practically impossible for those born in the age of Kali (who are generally ‘mandah sumanda-matayo’) to memorise even the slightest thing. What to speak of the entire Vedas or even the 6% that still survives today .
    Therefore, we may conclude that although the Vedas are perfect sabda-pramana, it is impractical to become thoroughly conversant with the Vedas in this day and age in order to understand the Supreme.
    Hence the solution lies in the Puranas and the Itihasas. This is explained in the following verse –

    bharata-vyapadesena hyamnayarthah pradarsitah
    vedah pratisthah sarve sarve purane natra samsayah

    “On the pretext of writing the Mahabharata, Vyasa explained the meaning of the Vedas. Certainly all the topics of the Vedas have been established in the Puranas.” (Visnu Purana)

    Thus certainly ,puranas are more important and relevant for us in this current age, than the 4 vedas ,and amongst them ,Srimad Bhagavatam is supreme and spotless purana ,which is still present in its entirety .

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