Book 1: Chapter 4
Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 1: Chapter 4: Verses 16-33
The sage, who had an unfailing eye and could read the past as well as the future, saw how by flux of time, which passed unnoticed, there ensued in every age an overlapping of duties, as a result of which the potency of material objects had diminished and people had grown irreverent, weak, dull-witted and short-lived. Finding the people so unlucky, the sage began to investigate by means of his divine insight as to wherein lay the welfare of men belonging to all the grades of society and stages of life. Perceiving that Vedic sacrifices, which are performed through the agency of four priests (viz., the Hota, the Adhwaryu, the Udgata and the Brahma ) are the purifiers of men, he divided the one Veda into four for the continuance of sacrifices. He thus separated the four Vedas under the names of Rgveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda. And the ltihasas and the Puranas are called the fifth Veda. Of these Paila received (was taught) Rgveda, the seer Jaimini (was the first who) learnt how to chant the Samaveda, while Vaisampayana was the only one who mastered the Yajurveda. The sage Sumantu, son of Daruna, acquired proficiency in the Atharvaveda; while my (Suta's) father, Romaharsana, gained mastery over the ltihasas and Puranas. These latter sages (Paila and others)divided their respective Vedas into more than one branches. In this way through their pupils, pupils' pupils and the pupils of these latter the four Vedas came to be divided into so many branches. The divine Vyasa, who is compassionate to men of poor wits (evidently) did so in order that even the dull-witted might be able to retain the Vedas (in parts). Seeing that the women, the Sudras and the fallen Brahmanas, Ksatriyas and Vaisyas were debarred even from hearing the Vedas, and did not know how to perform acts that are
conducive to good, the sage (Vedavyasa) was good enough to compose the Mahabharata epic in order that women and others too might attain blessedness through the same. Even though Vyasa ever remained whole-heartedly engaged in doing good to living creatures, his heart was not satisfied with it, O Brahmanas ! Feeling uneasy at heart, the sage, who knew the secret of Dharma (righteousness), sat reflecting in a secluded spot on the holy bank of the Saraswati, and said to himself thus:- "Observing the vow of celibacy I reverently studied the Vedas, served the elders and worshipped the sacrificial fires and honestly followed their precepts. I have also revealed the purport of the Vedas through the Mahabharata, in which even women, the Sudras and others can find their respective duties and other things explained. Though I stand foremost among those who are preeminent in sacred knowledge, and possess uncommon powers too, my soul it seems has not yet realized its true nature (oneness with Brahma). Is it because I have not yet fully expounded the virtues that enable one to attain the Lord? It is these virtues that are loved by God-realized saints and they alone are dear to Lord Visnu Himself" While the sage Krsnadwaipayana (Vyasa) was thus sorrowing with the consciousness that something was wanting in him, the sage Narada called at his hermitage already referred to. When the sage Vedavyasa saw Narada come, he instantly rose to receive him and duly offered worship to the celestial sage, who was adored even by the gods.
Thus ends the fourth discourse, forming part of the story relating to the Naimisa
forest, in Book One of the great and glorious Bhagavata-Purana, otherwise known as the Paramahamsa-Samhita
- The function of a Hota is to invoke the gods by reciting the Rgveda; that of an Adhwaryu is to measure the sacrificial ground, to build the altar, to prepare the vessels, to fetch wood and water, to light the fire while repeating the Yajurveda. and so on; that of an Udgata is to chant the Samaveda and that of a Brahma to supervise the sacrificial performance and set right mistakes.