If the Vedas are three, why do Sanskrit scholars not consider Atharva as the Veda?

BY : Jahnu Das




Atharva Veda is certainly one of the four Vedas.

"The four Vedas -- namely the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, and Atharva Veda -- are all emanations from the breathing of the great Personality of Godhead." (Brihad-aranyaka Upanisad 4.5.11)

I’m not sure if it’s true that some Sanskrit scholars don’t consider the Atharva Veda to belong to the Vedas, but if that is indeed the case, it could be because of the below statement of Krishna in Bhagavad Gita, where He says, He is the Rig, the Sama and the Yajur Vedas. Why would He omit the Atharva Veda?

What I asked that question once, I was told that Atharva Veda deals mainly with material sciences like Ayurveda, Vastu, and Astrology, ie. knowledge that does not deal directly with God.

And therefore Krishna doesn’t list Atharva with the other Vedas, which deal with mostly spiritual subjects - sacrifices and hymns to God and demigods, as well as philosophy (the Upanishads).

Krishna says:

I am the father of this universe, the mother, the support and the grandsire. I am the object of knowledge, the purifier and the syllable om. I am also the Rig, the Sama and the Yajur Vedas. —Bg 9.17

Srila Prabhupada explains:

The entire cosmic manifestations, moving and nonmoving, are manifested by different activities of Krishna's energy. In the material existence we create different relationships with different living entities who are nothing but Krishna's marginal energy; under the creation of prakrti some of them appear as our father, mother, grandfather, creator, etc., but actually they are parts and parcels of Krishna.

As such, these living entities who appear to be our father, mother, etc., are nothing but Krishna. In this verse the word dhata means "creator." Not only are our father and mother parts and parcels of Krishna, but the creator, grandmother and grandfather, etc., are also Krishna. Actually any living entity, being part and parcel of Krishna, is Krishna.

All the Vedas, therefore, aim only toward Krishna. Whatever we want to know through the Vedas is but a progressive step toward understanding Krishna. That subject matter which helps us purify our constitutional position is especially Krishna.

Similarly, the living entity who is inquisitive to understand all Vedic principles is also part and parcel of Krishna and as such is also Krishna. In all the Vedic mantras the word om, called pranava, is a transcendental sound vibration and is also Krishna. And because the pranava, or omkara, is very prominent in all the hymns of the four Vedas -- Sama, Yajur, Rg and Atharva -- they are also understood to be Krishna.

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