SrIvishNu sahasranAmam – pUrva pItikA – Part 6

SrI:  SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:  SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImath varavaramunayE nama: 

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bhagavAn being the material and auxiliary cause for this creation

The material cause is also said to be the Supreme brahman Himself. Ultimately, at the end of all cycles of creation, all the creatures – sentient and insentient – get reabsorbed into the same brahman. vEdhas declare “From whom these creatures are born, by whose grace these born creatures live, into whom all these living creatures get absorbed at the end of creation, know that entity to be the Supreme brahman”.The brahma sUthra also says “from whom all are born”. Another statement “brahman was the forest, brahman was also the tree” shows the characteristic of brahman being all three types of causes. Quoting thus from all the vEdhas, the composer of brahma sUthras – vyAsa maharishi – has concluded that the Supreme brahman Himself is the cause of all creation.

Thus, it is against the vEdhas to say that bhagavAn is the material cause of this creation and Siva – the demigod – is the instrumental cause. Also, bhagavAn does not undergo any transformations due to His being the material cause of this creation. This is because all of the sentient and insentient entities are verily the body of the brahman. The vEdhas expound this nature of bhagavAn with the illustration of the spider, which creates a web out of its own saliva, and withdraws the web into itself when it feels it is no more needed.

Thus, when one seeks to determine that One Supreme Soul from the upanishadhs with all its characteristics, rank, worshipping modes, the fruits of attainment etc, who is denoted by inclusive tags such as ‘sentient’, ‘insentient’, ‘magnanimous’, ‘eternal’ etc, exclusive tags such as ‘Supreme’ etc, as well as common names such as ‘brahma’, ‘Hari’, ‘Siva’, then he learns about that entity from: (a) the statements such as “ nArAyaNa is the Supreme brahman, and  nArAyaNa is the Supreme Entity”, “That Supreme abode of Lord VishNu”, “Other than whom there is none who is Superior to all”, “There is none superior to the purusha”, “There is none or nothing superior to Me”, “the Supreme purusha is different” etc which talk about the creations in a very generic tone, (b) the other portions of vEdhas such as purusha sUktha, uththara nArAyaNa etc which expound the Supreme Entity in a much stronger way, (c) the declarations of myriad of upanishadhs such as subAla, maithrayanIya, mahOpanishath, chAndhOgya, thaiththirIya, aitharEya, katavalli etc, (d) the sAthvika purAnas that expound the Supreme Soul, (e) the preaching of learned scholars who know in completeness the nature of the Supreme brahman, such as parASara, vyAsa, vAlmeeki and other scholarly sages, and (f) the Agamas supported by the vEdhas themselves, which propound the various abilities of the Supreme Self such as the beauty, weapons, vehicles, special pastimes etc.

From all these sources of knowledge, the absolute supremacy of bhagavAn, and absolute servitude of all others is very easily understood by every intelligent soul. All our fore preceptors have already preached verily this absolute supremacy of bhagavAn with all the sources of knowledge such as dhahara, vaiSvAnara etc, as well as the first chapter of brahma sUthras namely ‘samanvaya adhikaraNa’. Thus, we shall not elaborate on this too much.

SrI kUraththAzhwAn has said thus:

“From all the hundreds of the Supreme vEdhic statements that glorify you, from all the statements in the smrithis and other scriptures that complement the vEdhas, from all the sAthvika purANas and ithihAsas, and from all the nectarine words of the most learned people, we only learn that you are the Supreme Entity” (SrIvaikuNta sthavam –17)

“From the extraordinary beauty and wealth that you possess, from your ownership of the Supreme Abode SrI vaikuNtam, from all the divine pastimes that you showed to your dear devotees during your incarnations,  and from some more particular signs that distinctly identify you – that cannot be refuted by anyone whatsoever, the learned scholars concur in identifying the natural supremacy in you.” (SrIvaikuNta sthavam – 28)

Thus, having well discussed about the most Supreme Entity (Sriman nArAyaNa)  and the various means to attain that supreme entity, and also having propounded the best of those means to attain the supreme entity (nAma sankIrthanam or chanting of His divine names), bhIshma proceeded to engage the listener – yudhishtra – in the discussion about the thousand names of the lord with the next slOka that begins with ‘thasya’.

तस्य लॊकप्रधानस्य जगन्नाथस्य भूपतॆ
विष्णॊर्नामसहस्रं मॆ श्रुणु पापभयापहम् ॥ १२ ॥

‘thasya’ – representing the Supreme Entity discussed till now; of that Supreme Soul
‘lOkapradhAnasya’ – of the master of all (ashESha-shEShi)
‘jagannAthasya’ – of the controller of all
‘vishNO: nAma sahasram pApa bhayApaham’ – of all the sacred means related to worship of the Supreme Lord Vishnu, other than surrendering at His lotus feet, the chanting of the thousand names of the Lord is certainly the only surest way to uproot all forms of sins and the fears caused thereof.
‘mE’ – ‘from me’, or ‘for my sake’
‘SruNu’ – listen; an express invitation to yudhishtra – who actually volunteered to
meet bhIshma to listen to all the dharmas – to listen to the thousand glorious names of the Lord.
‘bhUpathE’ – ‘Oh king’; this form of addressing yudhishtra indicates the appreciation of bhIshma towards him with the happiness of having obtained a suitable audience for the lofty discourse .

bhishma then began to explain the greatness of the thousand names of the Lord that he would sing shortly thereafter.

यानि नामानि गौणानि विख्यातानि महात्मनः
ऋषिभिः परिगीतानि तानि वक्ष्यामि भूतयॆ ॥ १३ ॥

‘vikhyAthAni’ – those names that are popularly used among the vEdhas and many scriptures in other languages as well; the names that are known to be popular due to their extraordinary nature; the names that are popularly known among the learned scholars; although prone to change in meanings as per the context, the names that are popularly known to connote a single entity called bhagavAn.

‘rishibhi:’ – by all the true seers of the endless vEdhas with all its purport, such as sanaka, sanathkumAra, nAradha et al.

‘parigIthAni’ – the names that are lovingly used to represent the various forms, divine attributes and connotations of bhagavAn, as affectionately as a cow feeding its calf.

‘yAni nAmAni’ – whichever names have been collected from various sources by vyAsa, just as bees collect honey from various flowers and gather all of it in one place, and strung into verses, and which have been coming down in the rich tradition until ourselves.

‘thAni vakshyAmi’ – I shall tell them to you. For what reason is this being told?

‘bhUthayE’ – the word ‘bhUthi’ originally means that which exists. It represents life.That means to say, all these thousand names of the Lord are being told in order to revive the soul from the bondage of samsAra in which he is bound from time immemorial and thus lost the sight to reach the right abode.

The vEdhas precisely expound these ‘life and non-life’ aspects (sath-asath-bhAvau) of the souls thus: “Those who think of the Supreme Entity as being lifeless, become lifeless themselves – and thus lose sight to reach the supreme abode. Whereas, those who consider the brahman to exist amongst us shall be considered as true scholars (and they are full of life)”.

Owing to the boundless supremacy and boundless knowledge of bhagavAn, with whatever little names that can be offered unto Him, the  souls attain the extraordinary result of the wellness of self (AthmalAbha). This is indicated by the word ‘mahAthmana:’ (meaning, of that great soul). This is also complemented in the scriptures thus: “I have heard of the various auspicious names of the Lord with their origins. As far as my knowledge goes, I can only say that kESava the Supreme Lord is not reached by words, and is not bound by any of the meanings of His names”.

Thus, as the thousand names of the Lord are purely born due to His various auspicious qualities and deeds, all such people eligible to learn these names should refrain from getting associated with those who try to steal those aspects from bhagavAn.

(to be continued…)

adiyen srinivasa raja ramanuja dasan

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