The song of the vedas - Sruti-gItA


The vedas are collectively called Sruti in Sanskrit; for they were only heard,  revealed or rediscovered by yogic powers, not remembered as a written work. The piece Sruti-gItA occurs in the 87th chapter of the tenth book of Srimad-BhAgavatam. King Parikshit asks a legitimate question: How at all do the vedas talk of the attributeless brahman while their main concern throughout is the detailed description of the Gods with their attributes, qualities,  deeds and of the sacrifices which link the humans  with the divines? In answer to this, sage Suka narrates a story.

It appears once Narada went to the sage Narayana in badarikASrama, and asked the same question. In answer to it Narayan quoted what he said was Sanandana's answer to the same question in a celestial seminar (referred to as brahma-satram, that is, the yajna performed to understand the brahman)in the world of jano-loka, when Narada was away in another portion of the world, called Sveta-dvIpa. According to Sanandana, the vedas sang the praise of the Lord in his nirguNa(=attributeless) state at the beginning of creation, even before the creator Brahma had been created.  It was actually done by the Sruti to wake up the Lord from His yoga-nidrA (Cosmic Sleep) at the beginning of the kalpa. The 28 verses (Nos.14 to 41 of chapter 87 of Book X) that pour forth in this connection from the Sruti form a gold mine of vedantic hymns, which are, in the content of their meaning as well as in the language of their expression, as profound and authentic as would befit the prestigious stature of the very vedas that  constitute the ultimate source for everything in Hinduism, its philosophy and metaphysics. Incidentally the verses are in a very rare metre, called narkuTaka metre. 

The whole passage shows an all-embracing humility, which recalls to one's mind the reference to Sruti in lalitA-sahasra-nAma through the name:


The word Sruti is feminine in Sanskrit. The Sruti personified as women are said to bow down at the  feet of the divine Mother.  This prostration is what is referred to here. When Sruti falls at the feet of the Mother of the universe, her head naturally touches the divine feet of the Mother. The dust of the divine feet is crimson in colour since the divine feet are always painted that way. The crimson dust sticks to the head of Lady Sruti exactly at the parting of the front hair. Thus arises the name: The Divinity the dust of whose lotus feet has crimson-coloured the parting of the hair on the head of Sruti. More importantly, the dust of the divine feet on the head of Sruti is an indication that even though Sruti may be of vast content and knowledge, Her knowledge of the divine Mother could only be a speck! This does not mean, however, that our reading of the vedas could be of no use in our spiritual path; without the vedas and the grand pronouncements in the vedas we have no way of ever knowing 'That Thou Art'! A quick, though inadequate, summary of some of the 28 verses of the Sruti-gItA with their characteristic use of Upanishadic concepts and expressions,  is attempted below. We shall  be giving the original text in Sanskrit only occasionally. The purport of each verse that we select  

is given first in a rather condensed form and then we follow it up with an explanation, meanings of difficult word-combinations and a  commentary.  We follow, as far as possible, the vyAkhyAna by the commentator, nIlakanTha.

please note that I have selected only 11 out of the 28 verses mostly because that was all what I could manage: but experts have assured me that these eleven are sufficiently representative of the message of the full hymn and they are perhaps the most difficult and most dense in content.

GO TO  BHAGAVATAM X - 87- 14, 15,   17, 18,   19, 20,   24, 26,    31, 33, 36.

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© 2017 by V. Krishnamurthy