SrIvishNu sahasranAmam – 13 (Names 121 to 130)

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121) SASvathasthANu: (शाश्वतस्थाणुः)

Just a small portion of such divine power is hailed even to this day as ‘nectar’ born out of the milky ocean. Rather, bhagavAn is more specially hailed as ‘SASvathasthANu:’– the permanent one, in comparison with the lower ‘nectar’.

He is hailed thus because bhagavAn himself is eternal, and he cannot be robbed off from the enjoyer. Also, he is enjoyed eternally by the liberated souls, never to re-enter the cycles of samsAra again. On the other hand, the lower ‘nectar’ is momentary, and can be partaken just once.

Etymology: He who is eternally enjoyable to his devotees, and who is also eternal himself, is called ‘SASvathasthANu:’.

भॊग्यॊ हयपुनरावृत्त्या भॊक्तृभ्यॊ रॊचतॆ यतः |
स्वयं नित्यः सदा यॊsसौ शाश्वतस्थाणुरुच्यतॆ ||

122) varArOha: (वरारॊहः)

Thereafter, he is also called ‘varArOha:’ – the supreme goal that can be attained. ‘varam’ (वरं) means ‘supreme’ and ‘ArOhaNam’ (आरॊहणम्) represents the ‘achievable goal’. Since bhagavAn himself is the supreme achievable goal, he is addressed by this divine name.

It means that all other achievable goals are lower in nature. This is as said in the scriptures thus: “All of these worlds (such as brahmalOkam, swargam, etc) are much lower in comparison to bhagavAn’s divine abode SrIvaikuNtam”.

The bhAgavatham says that bhagavAn manifests himself in three forms namely ‘para’ (पर), vyUha (व्यूह) and vibhava (विभव).

Of these, the ‘para’ form of bhagavAn is characterized by his nature of not having a cause for himself, yet being eternally inseparable from the entities called ‘chith’ (sentient) and ‘achith’ (insentient) for whose creation he is the only cause; it is characterized by bhagavAn’s completeness with the six qualities namely knowledge, support, wealth, gallantry, power and charm, which show themselves up like the huge waves in a vast ocean; it is characterized by bhagavAn’s eternal enjoyable wealth of having the sole lordship over all the worlds with no boundaries ever; it is characterized by the liberated souls who approach bhagavAn for offering their eternal servitude; it is characterized by its naturalism, without the need for any external adjunct; the ‘para’ form of bhagavAn represents such of his disposition.

The ‘vyUha’ form of bhagavAn is represented by his four forms (namely vAsudhEva, sankarshaNa, pradhyumna and anirudhdha); with slightly different forms, qualities and deeds from the ‘para’ form; in order to create, sustain and destroy worlds for the benefit of mumukshus (the souls who are desiring mOksham) and providing them with the various scriptures such as vEdhas, their purport (in the form of supplements such as ithihAsas and purAnas), their fruits, and the ways of contemplation and worship for their benefit of attaining mOksham – all as a mere playful act in this leelA-vibhUthi (the material creation, which is a mere sport for bhagavAn).

The ‘vibhava’ form of bhagavAn represents a class of his divine incarnations as various species such as dhEva (demigod), manushya (human), thiryak (other animals/creatures), etc out of his own free will, very much like the shadow of the vyUha form.

The sAthvatha samhitha says thus: “That supreme form of bhagavAn – replete with six qualities – who shines like the fire is called the ‘para’ form. He is verily the sole refuge of all souls, and is all pervading. That form itself further gave rise to three other forms (namely sankarshaNa, pradhyumna and anirudhdha; note that ‘vAsudhEva’ is not mentioned here, but still that is the original source of all these three vyUha forms) with a division in the six qualities. These forms are collectively called the ‘vyUha’ form of bhagavAn, which bestows the supreme fruit of liberation to the souls. Further to that, the set of various forms that bhagavAn takes up thence, with different deeds in each form, and which are replete with the six qualities, is called the ‘vibhava’ form of bhagavAn. This vibhava form of bhagavAn bestows both material enjoyments as well as liberation to the seeking souls.

Of these various vibhava forms, bhagavAn has himself incarnated in several forms such as mathsya (मत्स्यः), kUrma (कूर्मः, et al. In some cases, he has born as the son of various great seers and sages; for example, in incarnations such as paraSurAma (परशुरामः / भार्गवरामः), vyAsa (व्यासः / कृष्णद्वैपायनः), et al. At times, bhagavAn has incarnated – not in his complete form, but only by placing his powers with another mortal such as ‘puranjaya’ (पुरञ्जयः) (read as ‘puranjaya’). In other cases, he has lent himself in the hands of many of his devotees in the form of ‘archA’ (अर्चावतारः) (which is the deity form of worship seen in various temples, mutts and households). Thus, his ‘vibhava’ form is of four types.

Further, there is an argument that says the various demigods such as brahma, Siva, et al are the incarnations of bhagavAn, since the scriptures say all are one. But this is just a rambling talk of the ignorant, because – then, even we the humans and all creatures such as the animals and insentient objects such as grass et al can also be considered as verily the incarnations of bhagavAn! No doubt, the scriptures do speak of the oneness of all these entities in statements like “after all, all of these is verily bhagavAn”, etc. But the demigods are not considered as the incarnations of bhagavAn since they are also created just like any human or any other creature at the time of creation. Also, the difference of their manifestations from bhagavAn’s incarnations is conveyed by the word ‘prAdhurbhAvAnthara’ (प्रादुर्भावान्तर) (as against the word ‘prAdhurbhAva’ प्रादुर्भाव used in the scriptures for bhagavAn’s incarnations). It shows that the demigods (and all other creatures) are all born out of just a fraction of bhagavAn’s divine weath, and they are all subservient to the various incarnations of bhagavAn by word and deed. This is shown in many scriptures that speak the glory of bhagavAn.

For example, the paushkara samhitha says: “The advisor of knowledge – kapilAksha (कपिलाक्षः) – is verily the form of bhagavAn. The lord of knowledge – the four faced brahma, who is revered by the whole world, and who is characterized by the further creation in this world – is just a part of his.”

In here, the statement clearly says ‘the four faced brahma is just a part of kapila – an incarnation of bhagavAn’. This shows that the four faced brahma is subservient to bhagavAn (even in his incarnations), and is merely a part of him. This is also shown by mentioning that brahma is characterized by further creation in this world. With this statement, the nature of bhagavAn to enhance the requisite knowledge for lower mortals like brahma in order to carry on his creation further is clearly shown. When the scriptures say that the individual souls are merely a part (‘amSa’ अंशः) of bhagavAn, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the individual soul and bhagavAn are one and the same. Rather, it only shows that both the Supreme soul – bhagavAn, and the individual soul – who is just a part of him (amSa) – are located in the same place inseparably (in other words, bhagavAn is the soul of all such individual souls). This is clarified further in SrI vEdha vyAsa’s  brahmasUthras thus: “bhagavAn and his ‘amSa’s – the individual souls – are indeed different, since the scriptures have clearly said thus”.

Similarly, the manifestation of Siva is shown thus: “The one who carries out the job of destruction at the end of every creation cycle – that mahArudhra, who is also called ‘Sankara’ – is indeed the manifestation with bhagavAn as his indweller”. The original text reads “शंकराख्यॊ महारुद्रः प्रादुर्भावान्तरं हि तत्”. The word ‘anthara’ suffixed to ‘prAdhurbhAva’ clearly shows the differentiation of the lower mortal called Siva from bhagavAn. This differentiation is akin to that of ‘sweetness’ from ‘sugarcane’, ‘milk’, and ‘jaggery’.

Thus, the difference between divine incarnations of bhagavAn and the ordinary manifestations of demigods and other lower mortals is clearly shown. When bhagavAn himself descends to the various worlds in order to carry out his task, it is called ‘incarnation’. When lower mortals are born in these worlds as an amSam of bhagavAn in order to carry out his commands, it is merely called ‘manifestation’. Here, when it says ‘in order to carry out his own task’, it shows the uniqueness of such incarnations of bhagavAn. When it says ‘amSam of bhagavAn’, it shows that such souls are completely dependent on bhagavAn for carrying out such tasks.

In other words, when bhagavAn descends to these worlds in various forms without giving up his divine nature (as declared in bhagavath gIthA 4:5 to 4:8), it is called an ‘incarnation’ (prAdhurbhAva). On the other hand, if such a birth is taken by an individual soul who is just an ‘amSam’ of bhagavAn, it is merely a ‘manifestation’ (prAdhurbhAvAnthara).

Similarly, there is also a differentiation in bhagavAn’s main (मुख्य) and complimentary (औपचारिक) incarnations. The seekers of salvation – mumukshus – should always take refuge of incarnations only, and not the lower manifestations. The scriptures have said thus: “Those who are formally initiated into salvation (दीक्षा) and thus granted the right to worship achyutha should always be engaged in worshipping achyutha alone. They should never worship the lower demigods. They can take refuge in any of bhagavAn’s forms – be it vyUha or vibhava or any form. However, they are strictly prohibited from worshipping the lower demigods like skandha, rudhra, indhra et al. Such devotees should not pollute their pure devotion thus, even after knowing the truth.”

The sAthvatha samhitha clearly indicates that the divine consorts of bhagavAn – namely SrIdhEvi, bhUdhEvi and neeLAdhEvi, his divine ornaments, his eternal servants such as the nithyasUris and liberated souls, et al are all his objects of enjoyment; thus, they are all ever present along with bhagavAn within his divine idol forms. Also, the use of yama, four faced brahma, Siva, et al as mere tools in his divine sport of creation-sustenance-destruction is made very clear. Thus, all such demigods – along with their supplements, manthras, and their respective groups – are well merged within the divine form of bhagavAn.

The sAthvatha samhitha further says: “I shall now list the various demigods who become the tools in the hands of bhagavAn in carrying out his divine sport of creation, sustenance and destruction of these worlds. Such demigods and other tools are ever servile to the various ‘vibhava’ forms of bhagavAn. Firstly, ‘kAla’ or the deity of time is ever in control of bhagavAn. Then, the SAsthras or scriptures along with their various supplements (angas अङ्ग) are in his control. Further, the lords of knowledge, and the vast ocean are servile to him. The lord of all demigods – indhra, along with his group – is also in his control. The seven great sages, the lords of different planets, the stars, the lord of clouds, all the nAgas (the snake gods), the apsaras or damsels, all the medicinal herbs, animals, and all the yajnas – along with their limbs, all the sources of knowledge showing bhagavAn as well as the other lower goals, the fire, wind, moon, sun, water and earth are all at his command. All of these twentyfour entities are the main tools that bhagavAn uses in his creations. This material world is nothing but the vastly pervaded ‘pradhAna’ (प्रधानः) or the primordial nature. It is highly insentient in nature. However, with the association of manthras and the lord of manthras – bhagavAn, even such insentient entities gain divinity!”

This is exactly the context in which the demigods are mentioned at the time of creation, sustenance and destruction of all worlds.  Similar disposition can be observed in the paushkara samhitha about the manifestation of demigods and other creatures as a mere property of bhagavAn – to act at his behest.

Thus, the similarity in the trinity of brahmA, vishNu and mahESwara – as declared by some of the so-called knowledgeable souls – is nothing more than a confusing statement. It is never true. This will be proved at the appropriate places, further, while explaining the other divine names.

Etymology: The one whose attainment is hailed as the supreme goal for the seekers is called ‘varArOha:’. This manthra is capable of conferring the highest position (of SrIvaikuNtam) to the seekers.

वर-उत्कृष्ट-आरॊहः यस्य स्वप्राप्तिलक्षणः |
वर्ततॆ स वरारॊहः प्रकृष्टस्थानदॊ मनुः ||

Till this divine name ‘varArOha:’, bhIshma mostly established the absolute supremacy of bhagavAn. The 122 divine names till now have mostly answered the two questions of yudhishtra relating to the achievable goal that said – “Which is the supreme godhead shown by the scriptures? And who is the one whom we should attain?”

The response to these questions mostly ends here. Further, the questions related to the means of attainment of such a goal (“Praising whom, and worshipping whom, will a soul be released from the bondage of birth and material creation?”) shall be answered. The response to those questions begins by indicating the ‘vyUha’ form of bhagavAn. Of the four vyUha forms of bhagavAn (namely vAsudhEva, sankarshana, pradhyumna and anirudhdha), vAsudhEva-vyUha was explained in a very concise manner till now, with the absolute supremacy (परत्त्वम्). Thence, it continues with the detailing of ‘sankarshaNa-vyUha’ (संकर्षणव्यूहः).

123) mahAthapA: (महातपाः)

bhagavAn is called ‘mahAthapA:’ since he possesses abundant divine knowledge. The word ‘mahath’ (महत्) means ‘divine’ or ‘befitting of worship’, and ‘thapas’ (तपस्) refers to knowledge. Starting with this divine name, the six main qualities of bhagavAn are being elucidated.

Of the six qualities, the ‘sankarshaNa’ form of bhagavAn houses the couplet namely ‘knowledge’ and ‘strength’ (ज्ञान-बल).

In this divine name, the quality of ‘knowledge’ is explained as the attribute with which bhagavAn can decide upon destroying all the material worlds – in order to pacify the sorrows of individual souls stuck in the cycle of births and deaths since time immemorial.

Etymology: The word ‘mahath’ refers to the venerable nature, and ‘thapas’ refers to the knowledge. The one who possesses such venerable knowledge is called ‘mahAthapA:’.

महत् पूज्यं तपॊ ज्ञानं यस्यॆति स महातपाः |

सर्वगः सर्वविद्भानुर्विष्वक्सॆनॊ जनार्दनः ।
वॆदॊ वॆदविदव्यङ्गॊ वॆदाङ्गॊ वॆदवित्कविः ॥ १४ ॥

124) sarvaga: (सर्वगः)

bhagavAn bears all the destroyed (separated from material bodies) individual souls just like a soul bearing a body. All such destroyed souls go and attain him. He is called ‘sarvaga:’ for this reason of possessing the capacity to bear all the souls with his divine strength.

For the same reason, he is also called ‘sankarshaNa:’ संकर्षणः (556) – since he pulls all the destroyed souls towards himself.

Etymology: Since he bears all entities like a soul bearing the body, and since he draws all such entities unto himself at the time of destruction, he is called ‘sarvaga:’.

धारयन् संहृतान् सर्वान् गच्छतीति स सर्वगः |

125) sarvavith (सर्ववित्)

Thereafter, since he then wishes to create the various worlds again for the benefit of individual souls, and achieves the same in the form of pradhyumna (प्रद्युम्नः), he is called ‘sarvavith’ – the one who possesses all wealth. In here, the quality of wealth is being depicted, with which he is happy by creating all the worlds again.

Etymology: The one who creates all the worlds again and displays his divine wealth thus in the form of ‘pradhyumna’ is called ‘sarvavith’.

प्रद्युम्नत्वॆ तु कार्याणि लभतॆ यः स सर्ववित् |

126) bhAnu: (भानुः) (also repeated in 285)

Although bhagavAn only creates all worlds and entities, since he glows with utmost effulgence without displaying any kind of transformations, he is called ‘bhAnu:’ – the glowing one.

The root ‘bhA’ (भा) meaning ‘to glow’ is suffixed with ‘nu:’ as per the grammatical rules, resulting in this divine name. This name indicates that he is the effulgent one who has no transformations. The scriptures reinforce this quality by declaring thus: “He glowed with his own effulgence…”

This divine name shows the divine splendor of bhagavAn, with no transformations at all.

Etymology: bhAnu: is the one who shines within everyone – having created them all – without the least bit of transformation in his own nature.

भानुः सर्वस्य भातीति निर्माणॆsप्यविकारतः |

127) vishvaksEna: (विष्वक्सॆनः)

Further, he is called by the divine name ‘vishvaksEna:’ – the protector of worlds – in the form of anirudhdha (अनिरुद्धः) (anirudhdha-vyUha). The word ‘sEna’ refers to the battalion that follows a master. As yAska maharishi puts it, sEna refers to the army of men accompanying a master. Since all creatures in all worlds are protected solely by bhagavAn through this army of souls, he is called ‘vishvaksEna:’ – the one who protects everyone. This divine name represents bhagavAn’s divine quality of power to protect every soul.

Etymology: The word sEna refers to the souls who accompany their master. All souls in all worlds are totally protected by him (resulting in this divine name), and thus he is also called anirudhdha.

इनॆन स्वामिना साकं वर्ततॆ सॆन इत्ययम् |
विष्वग्रक्ष्यॊ जनॊsस्यासौ अनिरुद्धॊ तथॆरितः ||

128) janArdhana: (जनार्दनः)

Since bhagavAn destroys (ardhana) those souls (jana) who raise obstacles in his divine deed of protecting his devotees – and that too, without the least bit of expectation of an external aid, he is called ‘janArdhana:’ – the destroyer of repressing souls. In other words, he is called ‘janArdhana:’ since he protects his devotees from impious men. His gallantry that does not look forward to the aid of anyone else is shown in this divine name.

Each of these four vyUhas namely vAsudhEva, sankarshaNa, pradhyumna and anirudhdha highlight two divine qualities each. This is due to bhagavAn’s manifestations thus. However, bhagavAn is replete with all six qualities to the fullest.

The mUla samhithA says thus: “The divine attributes namely knowledge, wealth, power et al. of bhagavAn are all complete, and devoid of any shortcomings. He is verily the one who manifests in four vyUhas namely vAsudhEva, sankarshaNa, pradhyumna and anirudhdha. In all these forms, he remains omniscient, omnispective, omnipotent, master of all, opulent, free from any type of bondages, free from deficiencies, very friendly, all-controlling even while not being controlled by anyone else, eternal, free from slumber, fear, anger and laziness, free from desires and ignorance, free from diseases and other blemishes, free from undesirable attributes, and completely irreproachable. This is how the pure devotees of bhagavAn know that vAsudhEva. Those who do not comprehend these divine attributes of bhagavAn vAsudhEva do not know the ultimate truth.”

Thus, bhagavAn vAsudhEva is of a boundless infinite form.

Etymology: Since he quickly destroys the oppressors of his devotees, he is called ‘janArdhana:’.

भक्तविद्वॆषिणां तूर्णं मर्दनात् स जनार्दनः |

129) vEdha: (वॆदः)

Furthermore, since sankarshaNa himself is the giver of knowledge in the form of scriptures, he is called ‘vEdha:’ (वॆदः). The individual souls who gain physical bodies at the time of creation approach sankarshaNa for the source of knowledge. This is as per the scriptural statement that says “to him, who confers the sacred knowledge unto the four faced brahmA…”, etc.

Thus, sankarshaNa bhagavAn is characterized as ‘means of attainment’, ‘source of knowledge’, ‘the leader’, ‘the knowledgeable one’, and ‘the preceptor’.

Etymology: Since bhagavAn confers the sacred knowledge in form of scriptures as sankarshaNa, he is called ‘vEdha:’.

संकर्षणत्वॆ शास्त्रार्थप्रदत्वात् वॆद ईरितः |

130) vEdhavith (वॆदवित्) (also repeated in 133)

bhagavAn knows the purport of vEdhas without any confusions or doubts, and hence the divine name ‘vEdhavith’ – the knower of vEdhas.  As bhagavAn himself has declared, “I am only the knower of purport of vEdhas”.

Etymology: The one who knows the purport of vEdhas without doubts or delusions is called ‘vEdhavith’.

असंशयविपर्यासं वॆदार्थं वॆद वॆदवित् |

adiyen srinivasa raja ramanuja dasan

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