In his Brahma Sutra Bhasya 1.3.28, Adi Shankaracharya gives a long commentary while proving about the eternity of Vedas.

He quotes about various scriptures there like:

Thus Scripture declares in different places that the word precedes the creation.--Smrti also delivers itself as follows, 'In the beginning a divine voice, eternal, without beginning or end, formed of the Vedas was uttered by Svayambhû, from which all activities proceeded. 'By the 'uttering' of the voice we have here to understand the starting of the oral tradition (of the Veda), because of a voice without beginning or end 'uttering' in any other sense cannot be predicated.--Again, we read, 'In the beginning Mahesvara shaped from the words of the Veda the names and forms of all beings and the procedure of all actions.' And again, 'The several names, actions, and conditions of all things he shaped in the beginning from the words of the Veda' (Manu I, 21). Moreover, we all know from observation that any one when setting about some thing which he wishes to accomplish first remembers the word denoting the thing, and after that sets to work. We therefore conclude that before the creation the Vedic words became manifest in the mind of Pragâpati the creator, and that after that he created the things corresponding to those words.

From where is the quote in bold taken? The Sanskrit of it is as:

नाम रुपं च भूतानां कर्मणां च प्रवर्तनम् ।
वेदशब्देभ्य एवादौ निर्ममे स महेश्वर ।।

nāma rupaṃ ca bhūtānāṃ karmaṇāṃ ca pravartanam ।
vedaśabdebhya evādau nirmame sa maheśvara ।।

  • This page has a slight variant . :D And it says that sloka is from Vishnupurana 1.5.63.
    – Rickross
    Jun 24 '17 at 8:27
  • @Rickross it's similar in meaning... but it's different in quote...
    – Tezz
    Jun 24 '17 at 8:43
  • 1
    yes. "the Word precedes the creation". John1:1 reads as "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." , Esa/Ishwara/Yeshua was the Word. we all know the sanskrit "vaak yo vai Bramha"-which means the Word is the God. Later the Word became flesh and was born of a virgin. The Word created all these visible and invisible things in The Universe. Jun 24 '17 at 12:15
  • @Isaactheboss there have been many people through whom words have been revealed. You also can be one of the way for revelation. Jun 24 '17 at 13:33

This quote with slight variation is present in Chapter 7, Purvabhaga of Kurma Purana.

अव्ययं च व्ययं चैव द्वयं स्थावरजङ्गमम्।
तेषां ये यानि कर्माणि प्राक् सृष्टेः प्रतिपेदिरे॥ ६४॥
तान्येव ते प्रपद्यन्ते सृज्यमानाः पुनः पुनः।
हिंस्राहिंस्रे मृदुक्रूरे धर्माधर्मावृतानृते।।६५॥
तद्भाविताः प्रपद्यन्ते तस्मात्तत्तस्य रोचते॥
महाभूतेषु नानात्वमिन्द्रियार्थेषु मूर्तिषु।। ६६॥
विनियोगं च भूतानां धातैव व्यदधात्स्वयम्।
नामरूपं च भूतानां प्राकृतानां प्रपञ्चनम्॥ ६७॥

Whatever the deeds had been taken by these craetion in their previous birth, they achieve them created again and again. The violence or non-voilence, softness O harshness, righteousness or unrighteousness, truthness and falsehood, were achieved by them as per their earlier performance and as such they like it. The creator himself has created all the organs of senses besides the matters concerning them and the other related matters.

वेदशब्देभ्य एवादी निर्ममे स महेश्वरः।
आर्षाणि चैव नामानि याश्च वेदेषु सृष्टयः॥ ६८॥
शर्वर्यन्ते प्रसूतानां तान्येवैभ्यो ददात्यजः।

Initially Mahesvara created the names and forms of creatures as per the provisions of the Vedas. That unborn deity gave the names of the sages to those who were born at the close of his night.


There are three variants of this Shloka available: Vishnu Purana 1.5, Linga Purana 1.70, and Kurma Purana 1.7.

The Vishnu Purana quote is:

nāmarūpaṃ ca bhūtānāṃ kṛtyānāṃ ca prapañcanam / (63.1)

vedaśabdebhya evādau devādīnāṃ cakāra saḥ // (63.2)

The Linga Purana quote is:

nāma rūpaṃ ca bhūtānāṃ kṛtānāṃ ca prapañcanam // (258.2)

vedaśabdebhya evādau nirmame sa maheśvaraḥ / (259.1)

The Kurma Purana quote is:

nāmarūpaṃ ca bhūtānāṃ kṛtyānāṃ ca prapañcanam / (64.1)

vedaśabdebhya evādau nirmame sa maheśvaraḥ // (64.2)

So, the most closest reference is from Kurma and Linga Purana with slight difference.

  • 3
    I searched in Linga Purana but couldn't find it. You are very fast..
    – The Destroyer
    Jun 24 '17 at 8:59
  • 4
    Ha ha. The link I have provided in my answer is very helpful in searching. Jun 24 '17 at 9:03
  • 1
    What is the conclusion? He quotes from one of them? All of them? Or something else? Jun 24 '17 at 13:20
  • 1
    @PeterMortensen Last two verses are different variants of that verse but same in meaning. Exact verse has yet to be found.
    – The Destroyer
    Jun 24 '17 at 13:25

Here is a verse that's only found in the Southern recension of the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata that's almost identical to the verse given by Adi Shankaracharya:

nānārūpaṃ ca bhūtānāṃ karmaṇāṃ ca pravartanam
vedaśabdebhya evādau nirmimīte sa īśvaraḥ

nāmadheyāni carṣīṇāṃ yāś ca vedeṣu sṛṣṭayaḥ

This verse, if it's authentic, would occur in this chapter of the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata, which says similar things:

At the outset the Self-born caused those excellent Vedic sounds, that are embodiments of knowledge and that have neither beginning nor end to (spring up and) flow on (from preceptor to disciple). From those sounds have sprung all kinds of actions. The names of the Rishis, all things that have been created, the varieties of form seen in existent things, and the course of actions, have their origin in the Vedas. Indeed, the Supreme Master of all beings, in the beginning, created all things from the words of the Vedas. Truly, the names of the Rishis, and all else that has been created, occur in the Vedas.

In any case, given Adi Shankaracharya came from South India, it wouldn't be surprising if he quoted the Southern recension. But one difference between Adi Shankaracharya's verse and this one is that this one says īśvaraḥ where Adi Shankaracharya's verse says maheśvara.

But Kurma Purana verse 1.7.64 has the word but differs slightly in the first line:

nāmarūpaṃ ca bhūtānāṃ kṛtyānāṃ ca prapañcanam /
vedaśabdebhya evādau nirmame sa maheśvaraḥ // (64.2)

Even Vishnu Purana verse 1.5.63 is similar:

nāmarūpaṃ ca bhūtānāṃ kṛtyānāṃ ca prapañcanam
vedaśabdebhya evādau devādīnāṃ cakāra saḥ

So out of all of them, the verse from the Southern recension of the Mahabharata comes the closest. It's possible that the slight difference is due to textual variation in manuscripts of the Southern recession, or it's possible that Adi Shankaracharya is giving a Smriti quote that's now lost to us.

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