SrIvishNu sahasranAmam – pUrva pItikA – Part 5

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In the beginning of kali yugam, the humans condemn the Supreme Lord Hari. By the end of kali yugam, there would be none who chant His divine names. smrithis say that “when one cannot perform a certain ritual, the best alternative is to just do the japam of the respective manthras”. Thus, bhishma considers chanting of bhagavAn’s extraordinarily divine names as the loftiest of all dharmas, a very affable subject to the mind, pleasant to practice, free of cost, free from physical exertion, easily practiced, attractive to the Supreme Master who is not very far away from each of us, by giving joy to Him, capable of removing the greatest fears of samsAra.

The various divine sages also concur in this regard, as can be illustrated as below:
“Of all the dharmas, best are those which are related to the worship of vishNu ”
“bhagavAn vishNu protects His devotees just as a soul protects its body”
“There is no other deed for well-being better than being devoted to gOvindha”.

परमं यॊ महत्तॆजः परमं यॊ महत्तपः ।
परमं यॊ महद्ब्रह्म परमं यः परायणम् ॥ ९ ॥
पवित्राणां पवित्रं यॊ मङ्गलानां च मङ्गलम् ।

bhagavAn gives effulgence even to the other sources of light such as the sun

Thereafter, bhIshma replied to the inquiry about the ultimate destination. Speaking thus, he set the mind of dharmarAja yudhishtra ready for listening to the thousand glorious names of the Lord, with the four slOkas beginning with ‘paramam ya:. Out of those, he replies to the second question “which is the ultimate destination?” in the first one and half slOkas.

‘thEja:’ – being effulgent by nature, and also which lights up the other objects. The boundless effulgence of the Lord is shown in the upanishadhic verses such as “having attained the form of supreme effulgence”, “The sun shines bright by using His effulgence” etc.

The words ‘mahath’ and ‘param’ respectively deny the presence of any other source of effulgence equalling or exceeding bhagavAn. This meaning of the words ‘mahath’ and ‘param’ should be remembered with every subsequent occurrence in the slOkas.

He is called ‘thapa:’ since he rules over everyone (ईष्टॆ सर्वस्य इति तपः). This is as shown in the various scriptural statements such as “The one who rules over the dhEvas”, “the one who is the Supreme to even the rulers”, “He is the Supreme ruler of all” etc.  He is called ‘brahma’ since He possesses ceaseless auspicious nature and qualities, and also since He is magnificent, omnipotent and nurturing everyone.

Removal of impurities upon contact with bhagavAn

Amongst the purities, He is the purest with none to equal or exceed. The word ‘pavithram’ connotes the origin of purity. The word ‘Sudhdhi’ or purification refers to the voidance of impurities. The impurities, here, refer to the transformations in the insentient entities (achEthanam) due to the contact with rajas and thamas. Amongst the sentient entities (chEthanam), impurities refer to the effects of such transformations,such as ignorance, offence unto the Supreme Entity, passion, hatred, etc. Since bhagavAn is totally against such inauspicious effects, He uproots all these impurities from the sentient and insentient entities Himself.

The scriptures declare thus:

“The individual soul is fully purified by the knowledge of the Supreme Soul”
“One should meditate upon the Supreme Lord nArAyaNa at all times such as while taking bath etc. The utterance of the divine names of the Lord are only prescribed by the vEdhas as the remedy for all bad deeds that one might have done in the past”                                                    “The one who knows me as free of births and eternal is freed from all his sins”

Only by contact with bhagavAn shall all entities gain purity

Even the other entities such as the holy rivers and shrines gain their sanctity only by getting in contact with bhagavAn.

“All of those entities (both sentient and insentient bound in this samsara) such as dhEvas and others are impure because they are all bound by karma.”

“All entities right from the highest four-faced brahma up to the lowest inanimate pillar are bound in this samsAra due to their karma.”

It is a well established fact that the purity of such demigods comes from their actions such as worship of the Supreme Lord, praising His divine qualities, partaking of the holy water that washed His lotus feet, and the like.

“gangA gains greatness due to the fact that the water actually originated from the left toe of vishNu”. Also, statements like “vishNu is called ‘apAmpathi’ because water is His abode” show the sanctity of inanimate objects such as water.

The entity called ‘time’ is sanctified by His incarnations and divine deeds such as His slumber (dhakshiNAyaNa), waking up (uththarAyaNa), the twelfth day of the moon (dhvAdhaSa), days when He was born in different incarnations (jayanthi), the divine star of vishNu (SravaNa) etc. All of these periods of time gain sanctity due to His association with them.The qualities of soul such as internal and external restraints and the like gain their sanctity due to their resulting in the knowledge about Him.The various rituals such as oblations, donations, penance, annual ceremonies etc gain their sanctity due to their nature of being limbs of worship of bhagavAn.

The classes of people such as brAhmaNas gain their sanctity due to their eligibility to study the vEdhas which speak about His glories. This is as per the scriptural statement that says “Having known the all pervading VishNu, the learner of vEdhas (vipra) attains the status of a scholar (viprathva) and sees the truth about the Supreme Entity”.

The vEdhas, smrithis and other scriptures supplementing them are all sanctified by their glorifying the Supreme Entity, and also expounding about His auspicious qualities, as illustrated in the statements “All the VEdhas speak about nArAyaNa”, “The vEdhas and smrithis are verily my commandments” etc.

The AraNya kaNda of mahAbhAratha, while talking about the places of pilgrimage, start with the phrase “the holy dhwarakA” and continues thus: “The incomprehensible Supreme Soul hari – the slayer of demon named madhu – resides in that place. That is verily the place of holiness; that is verily the Supreme abode; that is verily the holiest place of pilgrimage; that is verily the abode of highest penance.”

Having spoken about the sanctity of all holy places only due to the association with SrIman nArAyaNa, it is clearly iterated in th mahAbharatha thus: “The holiest of all entities is verily gOvindha Himself. He is the most virtuous among all virtuous entities”.

bhagavAn is more sought after than the lower auspicious entities 

bhagavAn is addressed as “the most auspicious among the auspicious entities” (mangalAnAm cha mangalam). For the same reason, He is also the Supreme Destination to be attained by all the individual souls – who have been released from the clutches of samsAra and thus are engaged in enjoying the eternal bliss of their true nature of self.

The original question reads “which is the Supreme Destination that an individual soul should attain?” (Question no. 2). In reply to this, bhishma says “whoever is the most sought after entity” (ya: parAyaNam). This usage of “whoever” is deliberately made to bring out the high popularity of bhagavAn being the Ultimate Destination for all among the scriptures. Thus, bhIshma says, “whoever is denoted by all the adjectives used till now, He alone is the Supreme Destination for all of us”.

दैवतं दॆवतानांश्च भूतानां यॊsव्ययः पिता ॥ १० ॥
यतः सर्वाणि भूतानि भवन्त्यादियुगागमॆ ।
यस्मिंश्च प्रलयं यान्ति पुनरॆव युगक्षयॆ ॥ ११ ॥

bhagavAn being the instrumental cause of creation, including the four faced brahma

Finally, in response to the first question about the One Supreme Entity prescribed in the scriptures, bhIshma replies from the second half of the previous SlOka, beginning with “dhaivatham”. He is verily the Supreme Godhead entity among demigods such as brahma, Siva,  indhra et al. (‘dhaivatham dhEvathAnAm’). How?

Since He is the caring and affectionate father of all such beings, right from dhEvas up to the most ignorant creatures in this creation (‘bhUthAnAm pithA’).

The prime difference between Him and the fathers that we have in our respective births in this creation is that He is eternal (‘avyaya:’). He never ceases to exist as an ever caring father in all our births. Since He is eternal, and referred by the name ‘sanAthana’ (existing from time immemorial), no one in this world is an orphan. Such fatherhood of the Supreme Entity is shown here, with the SlOkas beginning with ‘yatha: sarvANi’. ‘yatha:’ (by whom) – indicates that He is the instrumental cause of this creation.

‘sarvANi’ (all) – refers to absolutely everything right from the four faced brahma up to the lowest branch of a tree

‘bhUthAni bhavanthi’ – objects are born

‘adhiyugAgamE’ – When the lifetime of one four-faced brahma ends, bhagavAn creates another four faced brahma and continues with the creation process thereon. Also, to indicate that such type of creation – of even the four faced brahma – is not just at the beginning of one creation, but at the beginning of every such creation with several cycles of 71 chathuryugas (a cycle of four yugas namely krutha, thrEthA, dhvApara and kali, recurring 1000 times, makes one day of brahmA and 360 such days make one year of brahmA and 100 such years is the lifetime of brahmA), bhIshma has used the word ‘adhiyugAgamE’, indicating the beginning of every such cycle.

(to be continued…)

adiyen srinivasa raja ramanuja dasan

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