Canto 10: The Summum BonumChapter 87: The Prayers of the Personified Vedas

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.87.14

śrī-śrutaya ūcuḥ

jaya jaya jahy ajām ajita doṣa-gṛbhīta-guṇāḿ

tvam asi yad ātmanā samavaruddha-samasta-bhagaḥ

aga-jagad-okasām akhila-śakty-avabodhaka te

kvacid ajayātmanā ca carato 'nucaren nigamaḥ


śrī-śrutayaḥ ūcuḥ — the Vedas said; jayajaya — victory to You, victory to You; jahi — please defeat; ajām — the eternal illusory potency of Māyā; ajitaO unconquerable one; doṣato create discrepancies; gṛbhīta — who has assumed; guṇām — the qualities of matter; tvam — You; asiare; yat — because; ātmanāin Your original status; samavaruddha — complete; samastain all; bhagaḥ — opulences; aga — nonmoving; jagat — and moving; okasām — of those who possess material bodies; akhila — of all; śakti — the energies; avabodhakaO You who awaken; te — You; kvacit — sometimes; ajayā — with Your material energy; ātmanā — and with Your internal, spiritual energy; ca — also; carataḥ — engaging; anucaret — can appreciate; nigamaḥ — the Vedas.


The śrutis said: Victory, victory to You, O unconquerable one! By Your very nature You are perfectly full in all opulences; therefore please defeat the eternal power of illusion, who assumes control over the modes of nature to create difficulties for conditioned souls. O You who awaken all the energies of the moving and nonmoving embodied beings, sometimes the Vedas can recognize You as You sport with Your material and spiritual potencies.


According to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, the twenty-eight verses of the prayers of the personified Vedas (Texts 14-41) represent the opinions of each of the twenty-eight major śrutis. These chief Upaniṣads and other śrutis concern themselves with various approaches to the Absolute Truth, and among them those śrutis are supreme which emphasize pure, unalloyed devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Upaniṣads direct our attention to the Personality of Godhead by first negating what is distinct from Him and then defining some of His important characteristics.

Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī interprets the first words of this prayer, jaya jaya, to mean "please reveal Your superexcellence." The word jaya is repeated out of either reverence or joy.

"How should I reveal My excellence?" the Lord might ask.

The śrutis answer by requesting Him to mercifully destroy the ignorance of all living beings and attract them to His lotus feet.

The Lord says, "But Māyā, who imposes ignorance on the jīvas, is full of good qualities [gṛbhīta-guṇām]. Why should I oppose her?"

"Yes," the Vedas answer, "but she has taken on the three modes of nature to bewilder the conditioned souls and make them falsely identify with their material bodies. Her modes of goodness, passion and ignorance, moreover, are tainted [doṣa-gṛbhīta] because You are not manifest in their presence."

The śrutis go on to address the Lord as ajita, implying that "only You cannot be conquered by Māyā, whereas others, like Brahmā, are defeated by their own faults."

The Lord responds, "But what proof do you have that she cannot conquer Me?"

"The proof lies in the fact that in Your original state You have already realized the perfection of all opulences."

At this point the Lord might object that merely destroying the ignorance of the jīvas will not suffice to bring them to His lotus feet, since the jīva soul, even after his ignorance is dispelled, cannot attain the Lord without engaging in devotional service. As the Lord states in His own words, bhaktyāham ekayā grāhyaḥ: "I am attainable only through devotional service." (Bhāg. 11.14.21)

To this objection the śrutis reply, "My Lord, O You who awaken all energies, after creating the intelligence and senses of the living entities, You inspire them to work hard and enjoy the fruits of their labor. In addition, by Your mercy You awaken their ability to pursue the progressive paths of knowledge, mystic yoga and devotional service, allowing them to advance toward You in Your aspects of Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān, respectively. And when jñāna, yoga and bhakti mature, You empower the living beings to directly realize You in each of Your three aspects."

If the Lord were to ask for authoritative evidence to support this statement by the personified Vedas, they humbly reply, "We ourselves are the evidence. On some occasions — such as now, the time of creation — You consort with Your external, Māyā potency, whereas You are always present with Your internal energy. It is at times such as the present, when Your activity is outwardly manifest, that we, the Vedas, can recognize You in Your play."

Thus endowed with authority by their personal association with the Supreme Lord, the śrutis promulgate the processes of karma, jñāna, yoga and bhakti as various means for the conditioned souls to employ their intelligence, senses, mind and vitality in search of the Absolute Truth.

In many places the Vedas glorify the transcendental, personal qualities of the Supreme. The following verse appears in the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (6.11), the Gopāla-tāpanī Upaniṣad (Uttara 97), and the Brahma Upaniṣad (4.1):

eko devaḥ sarva-bhūteṣu gūḍhaḥ

sarva-vyāpī sarva-bhūtāntarātmā

karmādhyakṣaḥ sarva-bhūtādhivāsaḥ

sākṣī cetāḥ kevalo nirguṇaś ca

"The one Supreme Lord lives hidden inside all created things. He pervades all matter and sits within the hearts of all living beings. As the indwelling Supersoul, He supervises their material activities. Thus, while having no material qualities Himself, He is the unique witness and giver of consciousness.

The Supreme's personal qualities are further described in the following quotations from the Upaniṣads: Yaḥ sarva-jñaḥ sa sarva-vid yasya jñāna-mayaḿ tapaḥ. "He who is all-knowing, from whom the potency of all knowledge comes — He is the wisest of all" (Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.1.9); sarvasya vaśī sarvasyeśānaḥ: "He is the Lord and controller of everyone" (Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad 4.4.22); and yaḥ pṛthivyāḿ tiṣṭhan pṛthivyā āntaro yaḿ pṛthivī na veda: "He who resides within the earth and pervades it, whom the earth does not know." (Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad 3.7.3)

The Lord's role in creation is mentioned in many statements of the śruti. The Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad (1.2.4) states, so 'kāmayata bahu syām: "He desired, 'I will become many.' " "The phrase so 'kāmayata ("He desired") here implies that the Lord's personality is eternal, for even prior to the creation the Absolute Truth experienced desire, and desire is an attribute unique to persons. The Aitareya Upaniṣad (3.11) similarly states, sa aikṣata tat-tejo 'sṛjata: "He saw, and His power sent forth the creation." Here the word tat-tejaḥ refers to the Lord's partial expansion Mahā-Viṣṇu, who glances upon Māyā and thus manifests the material creation. Or tat-tejaḥ may refer to the Lord's impersonal Brahman feature, His potency of all-pervasive, eternal existence. As described in Śrī Brahma-saḿhitā (5.40),

yasya prabhā prabhavato jagad-aṇḍa-koṭi-

koṭiṣv aśeṣa-vasudhādi-vibhūti-bhinnam

tad brahma niṣkalam anantam aśeṣa-bhūtaḿ

govindam ādi-puruṣaḿ tam ahaḿ bhajāmi

"I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is endowed with great power. The glowing effulgence of His transcendental form is the impersonal Brahman, which is absolute, complete and unlimited and which displays the varieties of countless planets, with their different opulences, in millions and millions of universes."

In summing up this verse, Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī prays,

jaya jayājita jahy aga-jańgamā-

vṛtim ajām upanīta-mṛṣā-guṇām

na hi bhavantam ṛte prabhavanty amī

nigama-gītā-guṇārṇavatā tava

"All glories, all glories to You, O unconquerable one! Please defeat the influence of Your eternal Māyā, who covers all moving and nonmoving creatures and who rules over the modes of illusion. Without Your influence, all these Vedic mantras would be powerless to sing of You as the ocean of transcendental qualities."

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