The Vedas are the most ancient and most important of all Hindu sacred literature. There are four Vedas, although only three are mentioned in the Buddhist scriptures (M.II,133). They are the èg Veda, the Sàma Veda, the Yajur Veda, all composed between about 2500 and 700 century BCE. The fourth Veda, the Atharva Veda, was known during the Buddha's time (Sn.927) but was only included into the sacred canon several centuries after later. The Vedas are believed to be an eternal (sanàtana) revelation (÷ruti) of divine origin (apauruùeya). Those who deny the authority of the Vedas are said to be heretical (nàsitaka). The Buddha said that nothing is eternal, he considered revelation to be an unreliable means of knowledge and he rejected the idea of a supreme god as unconvincing. His criticism of these claims was not based on ignorance. He was well enough acquainted with some aspects of the Vedas that he was able to name many of the Vedic sages, `the creators and composers of those ancient hymns'(M.II,169); their Sanskrit equivalents being Aùñaka, Vàmadeva, Vi÷àmitra, Jamadagni, Aõgiras, Bhàradvàja, Vasiùñha, Ka÷yapa and Bhçgu. Only Vàmaka cannot be indentified with any sage mentioned in the Vedas. The Buddha also cast serious doubts on the claim that the authors of the Vedas had divine knowledge. Once a brahmin asked him what he thought of the claim that the authors of the Vedas had direct experience of the divine. The Buddha replied: `What do you think about this? Is there one brahmin who says ßI know. I see. This alone is true, all else is falseû? '
`Did any of the teachers of the brahmins or even their teachers going back through seven generations ever say that?'
`Then what of ancient brahmin sages who composed the Vedic hymns, who chanted, uttered and compiled them and which the brahmins of today still chant and recite, just repeating what has been repeated and chanting what has been chanted? Did they ever say ßWe know. We see. This alone is true, all else is falseû? '
`No Gotama. They did not.'
`Imagine a string of blind men each touching the other. The first one does not see, the middle one does not see and neither does the last. The claim of the brahmins is like this. The first one does not see, the middle one does not see and neither does the last. So it seems that the faith of the brahmins turns out to be groundless' (M.II,169-70).
The Buddha considered the worship of the sacred fire (aggihotta), the central sacrament of Brahmanism, to be spiritually ineffective (D.I,102). The practice of animal sacrifice, the efficacy of rituals, the caste system, the belief in an eternal soul and indeed nearly all practices legitimized by the Vedas, were similarly rejected by him. The assertion that the Buddha was a Hindu or that Buddhism evolved from Hinduism or was a reformed version of it, is not supported by the evidence. See Knowledges, the Three and Mantras.