SrIvishNu sahasranAmam – pUrva pItikA – Part 3

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“vEdhanam or knowledge refers to upAsanam or worship, as discussed in previous part 2. Just like upAsanam (worship), result of bhakthi is also ‘mOksha’ .  As it is said, “His form cannot be beheld with our vision; none can see him with these naked eyes. Those who know him from their heart with full of devotion and knowledge will only attain immortality”.

‘hrudhA’  (हृदा मनीषा मनसाsभिक्लृप्तः) – refers to bhakthi. Not just the vEdhas, but also the smrithis begin by saying “His form cannot be beheld with our limited vision”, and proceed to declare thus: “Only he who has a composed mind with true devotion and equanimity  shall see the Supreme Self, who is the form of knowledge”. bhagavAn also declares in the bhagavadh-geethA thus: “Oh pArtha! That supreme brahman – purusha – is known only by true devotion, and nothing else”, “He can be reached by bhakthi alone, and not by any other means”, and “He knows me by true devotion”.

The angirasa smrithi declares “Only constant uninterrupted devotion leads to salvation”. Similarly, the vaishNava Dharma declares “Pure devotion towards the Supreme Soul gOvindha bestows upon men the Supreme Abode of salvation, let there be no doubt about it”. The rAmayaNa also says “Devotees of You – the Supreme Soul – who are firmly rooted in devotion shall attain all their desires, both in this world as well as the nether”, “Those who are devoted to you shall be invincible”.

The vAmana purANa says thus: “To whom vishNu is ever loveable, and those who are ever loveable to Vishnu, they shall never be born again, and shall attain Him forever”.

The form or object of meditation in both worship as well as devotion (upAsana and bhakthi) should be the Lotus eyed Supreme Brahman alone. That is also a command, as it is said “upAsva (worship)”, “bhajasva (serve)” Both the verbs ‘upAsthi’ and ‘bhajathi’ are two variants, which both mean “service”. For the same reason, the dictionaries refer to ‘service, devotion and worship’ as equivalents (सॆवा-भक्तः-उपास्तिः).

The linga and mArkaNdEya purANas  declare thus: “The root ‘bhaj’ is known to mean servitude. Thus, the learned have inferred the word bhakthi as service to the Lord”.

If a soul develops taste only in being of eternal servitude to the Supreme Soul due to His unlimited divine auspicious qualities and boundless affection towards the souls,as also in His unconditional ownership of the entire world, it is called ‘upAsana’. Another name given to it is ‘bhakthi’.

bhagavAn declares “I am the most loveable to all learned men”, “They serve me with all their love”, “They are ever satisfied with their minds firmly fixed in me”. The vishNu purANa refers to parahlAdha as the best among demons who filled his heart with bliss born out of constant contemplation, and who was exalted by chanting the divine names of the lord .

The vishNu thathva also says thus: “The service done unto the Supreme Soul with the exertion of knowledge is called bhakthi. When such bhakthi is born in the mind, the love towards God automatically develops”.

The bArhaspathya smrithi says “the one who is attached to the Supreme Soul and totally detached from the world shall be freed from all bondage and shall enjoy the eternal bliss enjoyed by the Supreme brahman”.

The thaiththirIya nArAyaNIyam  prays thus “May that Lord engage us in good thoughts”.

anusmaraN – “Repeated remembrance of krishNa is the best” indicate to us the importance of developing taste only in eternal servitude to the Supreme Self alone. The word ‘anu‘  is inferred to mean lowliness by the scholars. The lowliness refers to the natural servitude of the soul to
the Supreme Self. Serving the Supreme Soul with conscious remembrance of the natural servitude is upAsana. That itself is called ‘anusmaraNam’ – remembrance of eternal natural servitude.

Display of simple means such as meditation to those who know no way out :

In response to third question bhIshma shows the simple means  of ‘praising Him and singing His glory’, in response to the third question ‘sthuvantha: kam’. He replied to this question in three SlOkas, starting with ‘thamEva’ and ended with ‘sarvabhUtha-bhavOdhbhavam’. bhIshma proceeded to uniquely demarcate the qualities exclusive to bhagavAn, as against the other lowly demigods. He explained with His characteristic of being eternal, and continued with ten such unique qualities:

अनादिनिधनं विष्णुं सर्वलॊकमहॆश्वरम्
लॊकाध्यक्षं स्तुवन् नित्यं सर्वदुःखातिगॊ भवॆत् ॥ ६ ॥
ब्रह्मण्यं सर्वधर्मज्ञम् लॊकानां कीर्तिवर्धनम्
लॊकनाथं महद्भूतं सर्वभूतभवॊद्भवम् ॥ ७ ॥

‘anAdhinidhanam’ – the One who factors everything without Himself being bound by time .

‘vishNum’ – the One who is not bound by place .

‘sarvalOka-mahESvaram’ – the One who possesses all the wealth required to grant all wishes of all seekers .

‘lOkAdhyaksham’ – the One who is represented by the property of being boundless in any way .

‘brahmaNyam’ – the One who confers wellness upon brahmA by being propounded by the unlimited branches of the vEdhas; for the same reason, the One who is the subject of prayers by everyone .

‘sarvadharmagyam’ – thus, being the knower of all dharmas that glorify Him .

‘lOkAnAm kIrthivardhanam’ – the One who becomes the cause for all the inmates of all worlds who pray sincerely to Him in attaining unsurpassed glory, as spoken in the numerous scriptures and vEdhas, such as in the statement “Having praised whom he shall also attain the glory that should be praised by everyone”.

‘lOkanAtham’ – the master of all worlds, and hence the recipient most eligible for being praised and served by all .

‘mahadhbhUtham’ – the One who is with all the glorious wealth by nature; thus, the One who is very easily worshipped by one and all with just a simple prayer. Great people are only the ones who are most satisfied even with just the signal of people approaching them for their blessings. They do not expect much from the seekers.

‘sarvabhUtha-bhavOdhbavam’ – the One who is indeed the cause of knowledge among the ‘sath’ or knowledgeable entities (individual souls), and who is thus inseparable from those knowledgeable entities, and hence the One who grants them all that they want .

‘sthuvan’ – although lacking in complete devotion, singing the glories of such a Supreme Master.

‘sarvadhu:khAthigO bhavEth’ – one should cross the fires caused by three heats (thApa-thrayam) and attain the Supreme, Blissful, and Pacific hearted bhagavAn. Finally the above two SlOkas explains the simple means of worship, namely prayer .

The loftiness of Remembrance, Praising, Prostration :

bhIshma then proceeds to reply to the fifth question (which – of all dharmas – is the highest?) with the SlOka beginning with ‘Esha mE’

ऎष मॆ सर्वधर्माणां धर्मॊsधिकतमॊ मतः
यद्भक्त्या पुण्डरीकाक्षं स्तवैरर्चॆन्नरस्सदा

‘Esha:’ – The various forms of pleasing the Lord – as detailed before – namely worship, prayers, etc, as per the scriptural prescription with the necessary authorities, and also considering the various ranks of complexities attached to each of them .

‘sarvadharmANAm madhyE adhikathamO matha:’ – is the most superior among all the dharmas.

The word ‘dharmas’ mostly refers to the following four forms: (a) material benefits such as cattle, progeny, wealth,(b) the spiritual benefits such as the attainment of swarga, (c) the salvation characterized by complete knowledge of the Supreme Entity and its enjoyment, with the knowledge being born out of detached worship of the Lord and contentment, (d) worshipping bhagavAn in various forms such as affectionately thinking about Him, singing His praise and prostrating before Him, and thus performing extraordinary service unto Him.Out of these four categories, the fourth category of unconditional servitude to bhagavAn stands as the
supreme dharmA.

‘yadhbhakthyA’ – The unconditional servitude to bhagavAn is the supreme
form of dharmA, because it is filled with the most desirable qualities such as true devotion .

‘bhakthyA’ – bhagavadh-geethA refer ‘bhakthyA’  as ‘the easiest and happiest job to do’ . This is indeed comprehensible, because it is well known that the unrelenting contemplation about a loveable husband is always the  sweetest and most desirable task for a spouse. Thus, bhIshma differentiates the happiness of performing unconditional servitude to bhagavAn from the onus of engaging in similar activities with the servile demigods – which on the contrary is akin to drinking a bitter concoction.

‘puNdarIkAksham’ – The servitude to multi-fold beauty of the Lord with lotus eyes from the servitude to other ugly, horrific and lowly entities.

‘sthavai:’ – intends to differentiate the simplicity of accomplishing the task of pleasing the Lord by words alone, from the complexity of performing the multitude of vows such as viSwajith, chandhrAyana .

bhagavAn vyAsa also says thus: “May the people who are desperate, downcast, flaccid, afraid, and are stuck amidst horrible diseases be freed from all their sorrows and difficulties and lead a happy life, with the chanting of the word’ nArAyaNa’.

The vaishNava dharma says in various instances, thus:

“Irrespective of whether one chants the names of vAsudhEva and sings his glories with or without knowledge, all his sins shall disappear just like the salt put in water.”

“The tools required to reach mOksham are easily acquired by that person who utters the two lettered name ‘hari’ just once”. “All diseases shall be cured with the medicine of chanting the names achyutha, anantha and gOvindha” . “Sing the glories of jagannAtha – the master of the worlds. If not, at least study the Vedas”

The vishNu sUktha says: “Those who sing His glory shall reach His divine abode from where there is no return” (ध्रुवासॊ अस्य कीरयॊ जनासः)

‘asya kIraya:’ – those who sing His glories

‘dhruvAsa:’ – shall reach His divine abode from where they do not return any more .

The word ‘archEth’ indicates the duty of happily worshipping the manifest form of the Supreme Lord. This is also indicated in the bhagavadh-geethA  as ‘understood to be manifest’. Pleasing the Supreme Lord by such worship is not just blandly prescribed by the scriptures like penance and pilgrimage, but it can really be experienced.

(to be continued…)

adiyen srinivasa raja ramanuja dasan

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