Sri Suktam of RigVeda describes the nama, rupa, swaroopa, greatness etc. of Goddess Sri, who is Vishnu patni (wife of Lord Vishnu).

Now, the question is what is the significance and how should it be recited or performed?

Please don't indulge in speculations nor the meanings of the Sri Suktam verses.

Please provide details from any scripture (Vedas, Ithihasas, Puranas, Agamas etc) which explains the origin, significance and methods of performing or reciting Sri Suktham.

  • What do you mean by "significance", other than the meaning? Do you mean the importance of it? By the way, it should be noted that the Sri Suktam is a Khila Sukta of the Rig Veda meaning that it's part of the Bashkala Shakha but not the Shakala Shakha. – Keshav Srinivasan Sep 4 '15 at 23:06
  • @Keshav - I know that it is Khila of Rigveda. By Significance, i mean importance and i dont want speculations, self styled theories or commentaries of various types. I want to know whether any scripture prescribes it. – user808 Sep 5 '15 at 7:02
  • The scripture proof can be from vedas, ithihasas, puranas, agamas. – user808 Sep 5 '15 at 7:04
  • Well, the Sri Suktam is a hymn of the Rig Veda Samhita, so I assume that its original use was in some Yagna. So the best place to look would be in the Kaushitaki Brahmana and the Shankhayana Aranyaka, which are the Brahmana and Aranyaka of the Bashkala Shakha of the Rig Veda. I have English translations of both of them. I can post links to them later. – Keshav Srinivasan Sep 5 '15 at 9:21
  • @Keshav - You can add them as answer, if it explains its purpose, method of recitation. Also, you can add any precursor i.e. where any deity or rishi explains all these from the scriptures. – user808 Sep 5 '15 at 9:38

First of all, it should be noted that the Sri Sukta is a Khila Sukta of the Rig Veda, meaning that it's a hymn found in the Bashkala Shakha or recession of the Rig Veda Samhita, but it's not found in the Shakala Shakha of the Rig Veda Samhita. (See my answer here for more information on the Vedic Shakhas, and my answer here for information on the different parts of the Vedas.)

In any case, here is what this excerpt from the Brihaddevata, an ancient work by the sage Shaunaka, says about the Sri Sukta:

But the hymn of Fortune (śrīsūkta) is a benediction.

So the Sri Sukta is a hymn that gives you blessings. For more detail we can turn to the Lakshmi Tantra, a Pancharatra text which takes the form of a dialogue between Lakshmi and Indra. (For more information on the Pancharatra texts, see my answer here.).

In this chapter of the Lakshmi Tantra, Lakshmi tells Indra about the glories of the Sri Sukta. Here is the origin of the Sri Sukta:

In order to be merciful towards the worlds and benefit living beings, this pair of us, the ultimate parents of the world dwelling in infinite space with divine majesty (parayā śriyā), once (thought) out of compassion 'how can these creatures be happy and united with us?' While searching for a solution in profound concentration that (pair of us) churned (as it were) the vast, deep ocean of Śabdabrahman. When churned, out of that (Śabdabrahman) containing Rg, Saman and Yajus, emerged the divine twin suktas, in the same way as butter comes out of (churned) thick milk. The pair (of sūktas) is integral (anāhata), unambiguous, clear, undecaying, containing all majesty and attributes and possessed of flawless syllables and words.

So Vishnu and Lakshmi, out of compassion for Jivas, "churned" out of the Vedas two hymns, the Purusha Sukta and the Sri Sukta. In any case, here is the preamble to the Sri Sukta:

I myself am regarded as its seer, its metre is said to be Sri. I, the wife of Visnu and the Goddess containing everything, am its deity. It is used for the worship of Lakshmi and Narayana.

And here are the Dhyana shlokas (which I discuss here) of the Sri Sukta:

(The adept) should visualize me, the noble Goddess Laksmi, as seated on Visnu's lap, perpetually embraced by the Supreme Self with His left arm (encircling) me while (one of) my lotus carry arms rests on His shoulder.

Then a detailed procedure is given for chanting the Sri Suktam. You can read the details in the chapter, but in part it involves the chanting of each name or Lakshmi in a separate mantra, similar to what is done for the Vishnu Sahasranamam. Also, various stories of people worshipping Lakshmi using these mantras and the benefits they received are given, for instance ths story of Shiva I discuss here.

Then the general benefits of chanting the Sri Suktam are described:

O Sakra, the greatest eradicator of all evil and the remover of all bad luck (alakshmi), this my sukta should be recited on the occasion of any religious rite. It strengthens the power of ritual acts, brings prosperity to the listener, destroys all delusion and removes all bad fortune as well as imperfections. When (an adept) worships it employing physical, mental, and verbal functions, it saves him from heinous sins and bestows everlasting prosperity on him.

By the way, on a side note I posted a question here about the "sons" of Lakshmi, who are also considered to be the seers of the Sri Sukta.

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Sri Suktam is a Vedic hymn which is found in Bashkala Shakha of Rig Veda. The significance of this hymn is that this is the hymn which was muttered for the manifestation of Lakshmi during Samudra Manthana:

Then all the hosts of gods and the very powerful demons extracted the Mandara mountain and put it into the Milky Ocean. Then the powerful lord Visnu, the creator of the beings, and of unlimited valour, supported, in the form of a tortoise, the mountain. The eternal, immutable, omniscient one, whose body has no beginning, middle or end, who is of a universal form, who is the lord of the worlds fit to be worshipped, supported the excellent mountain with one arm only. Then all gods and demons churned the Ocean, after encircling the Mandara mountain with the lord of serpents. Then when the Milky Ocean was being churned by the very powerful deities for generating (i.e. taking out) Lakshmi, all the great sages fasted, observed restrictions and also muttered Srisukta. (Padma Purana VI.232)

And hence Goddess Lakshmi becomes very pleased when she is worshipped with the Sri Suktam hymn:

Then they, with their desires fulfilled, put the mountain as it was before, and having together praised the mother, muttered the excellent Sri-sukta (i.e. hymn in honour of Laksmi). Then that goddess, who was pleased, said to all gods: "Well-being to you, O best gods, ask for a boon. I shall grant it."

The gods said:

"O goddess Kamala, O mother of all, O you who are dear to Visnu, be pleased. Without you the world is a void. Protect our lives." (Padma Purana IV.10)

Regarding methods of recitation as it a Vedic hymn it should be recited under the rules and regulations which apply to Vedic Hymns. Padma Purana (VI.253) chapter 'Mode of Vishnu's worship' gives details of worship of Vishnu and Lakshmi. In particular it says:

Having taken himself round (the idol) and having saluted and praised (it) with excellent hymns, he should offer
auspicious materials of worship after making (the idol) lie on the lap of Garuda. Having repeated auspicious names, he should then perform a sacrifice. He should make an offering into the fire-circle with the remaining of eatables offered to Visnu. He should (repeat) every re (of) the Purusa-sukta and the Srisukta invoking auspiciousness. He should offer into the Vedic fire oblation mixed with ghee. He should devoutly offer (it) with the gem of a hymn as (already) mentioned. (Padma Purama VI.253)

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