Shruti and Smriti

Vaidya N. Sundaram sundaram at ECN.PURDUE.EDU
Mon Jun 1 10:05:10 CDT 1998

On Mon, 1 Jun 1998, Chandran, Nanda (NBC) wrote:
> GMurthy writes :
> >There is certainly, a lot. However, vedas
> >(and upanishhads) are unique in the knowledge that they are, being the
> >sayings of the R^shhis that experienced the infinite bliss of Brahman,
> >and who, for the sake of others, have passed on their oral teachings.
> This is something I'm not really clear about. It's said that the Rishis
> saw the revelations. What does 'see' mean? Considering that the shruti
> has been taught by the ear through the millinea one would think that the
> first rishi was taught the same way by Srimath Narayana. But then,
> shouldn't it be 'heard', rather than seen? But then shruti does mean,
> "what's heard".

 It is important to realise that each and every mantra has a mantra
swaroopam. Even very common and potent mantras like Om namo Bhagavate
VAsudevAya and Om namah ShivAya have mantra swaroopam.

Meditation on each mantra will slowly reveal itself. However, it is very
important to have a good idea of what the swaroopam is before starting
starting the japa. That is why so much importance is placed on actual
initiation for any mantra japa. The gAyatri being the most important mantra,
so much emphasis on upanayam which is basically an initiation ceremony. (This
again is not done properly in present times; not even upanayanam includes
establishing the swaroopam in the mind of the one being initiated. However,
now that we do know that there is this thing to be known, we should make
every possible effort to know it atleast now.)

 Examples to indicate the above:
 Sri Narada comes and initiate Dhruva on the swaroopam of Om namo
Bhagavate VAsudevaya in the forest when Dhruva as a child decides to take
his case to the Lord Himself.
 Sri Vishwamitra shows the mantra swaroopams of all the astras he had to
Sri rama when he is taking Rama and Lakshmana from Dasharata. At that
time, each astra appears in person before Rama and Rama instructs them
that at the time when he needs them, they should reappear before him.
 (It is interesting to note here that all greatness acheived by the likes of
Dhruva and even Sri Rama comes only after they have had a brush with great
 So the point is made clearly that mantras have a specific form and are
infact visible; that is why Rishis are referred to as Mantra Drihtas. In
fact, the criterion to be called a Rishi is that they should have
seen atleast one Rik of the Vedas.

 In fact, there are several very interesting stories on how Brahma, when he
first emanated from Lord nArAyanA's navel, did not know who he was, where he
was or even if he existed!! He is said to have been in a trance for several
of HIS years until such time as he actually heard and SAW the OM-kara and
from then on he slowly saw the BhurAti vyahritis etc ...

> Again if as GMurthy states that these are the teachings of rishis who
> have experienced the infinite bliss of Brahman, then aren't the Gita,
> Yoga Vasishta and Ashtavakra Gita in the same class? Krishna, Vasishta,
> Ashtavakra and Janaka are reowned jnanis, who too have experienced the
> infinite bliss of Brahman. So why are these texts referred to as smritis
> or what's remembered?

 The reason Vedas are different from the works like Bhagavad Gita and Yoga
Vasishta is that they are explanations or expositions of the Truth, NOT their
revelation for the first time. Vedas are said to have emanated from the very
breath of the Supreme being who is of the form of Brahma, Siva and Narayana.
It is thus said that they are eternal, for there is no question that He
is the one who weilds Time itself! On the other hand, even the Bhagavad
Gita is only an explanation of pre existing Truths, a teaching, NOT a Rik
which establishes a Truth for the first time.


                      Vaidya N. Sundaram
 Kandavar Vindilar      : Those who have seen (Brahman) have not spoken
  Vindavar Kandilar     :   those who speak (about It) have not seen (It)
    satyakAma, satyasaMkalpa, Apatsakha, kAkutsa, shrIman nArAyaNa
        puruShottaMa, shrI ranganAtha, mama nAtha, namostute.

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