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SrIvishNu sahasranAmam – 1 (Names 1 to 10)

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

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We begin to construe the thousand names of the Lord denoting His various forms namely para (as seen in the Supreme abode SrIvaikuNtam), vyUha  (the milky ocean) and vibhava (as seen in the various incarnations) in light of the authoritative texts such as pAncharAthra Agama, with a clear justification of such denotations according to the context, without any repetitions or any other such blemishes, and by detailing the grammar and etymology of such names, and also based on the previous interpretations by various seers in the past.

First of all, the completeness of the all pervading bhagavAn is said with the name ‘viSvam’.

विश्वं विष्णुर्वषट्कारॊ भूतभव्यभवत्प्रभुः ।
भूतकृद्भूतभृद्भावॊ भूतात्मा भूतभावनः॥ १ ॥

1) viSvam (विश्वम्)

The word viSvam is derived from the root ‘viS’ (to enter). This name means that He enters every part of this universe, and pervades it. As per the aphorism ‘अशूप्रुशि-लटि- कणि-खटि-विशिभ्यः-क्वन्’, the suffix ‘kvan’ adjoins the root ‘viS’ and thus results in the name ‘viSvam’. As is it said in the mOksha dharma in mahAbhAratha by sage panchaSikha, “He is called viSvam due to His pervasiveness in every part of all the worlds (the origin being viS – praviSanE), Oh king of kASi! Since He is only visible in every part of this universe, all the worlds are verily called ‘viSvam’ in His name”. The purport of this name is to show the “completeness of bhagavAn with natural, boundless, and extraordinary auspiciousness and grandeur of nature, forms and qualities”, since the word denotes completeness, and also due to bhagavAn’s natural eligibility to be glorified with all His boundless wealth.

Although originally a neuter gender word, the name ‘visvam’ – in this context – should be considered as masculine only, since this represents vishNu. This is as per the pANinIya ashtAdhyAyi aphorism ‘तदाशिष्यं संज्ञाप्रमाणत्वात्’. If the word ‘viSva’ representing the effect is otherwise thought to represent the cause, it wouldn’t be apt; since all the names representing bhagavAn are always conforming to Him and this single word ‘viSvam’ effectively represents all such names in short, the crooked way of decoding the meaning would not hold good.

Some people have been propounding the non-dualism between the Supreme brahman and this creation with this name. This is nothing more than deception, because the word ‘viSvam’ does not have non-dualism in it whatsoever. This word does even not connote non-dualism like the vEdhic statements such as ‘thath-thvam-asi’ (thou art that) by congruence.

Thus, the words ‘viSvam’ and ‘vishNu’ are indistinct and show the same characteristic. The other school of thought propounding non-dualism of this world and the brahman stands refuted at the very beginning, and also in many places further down the chapter. The completeness shown with this name is only explained further with all other names such as ‘vishNu’ etc.

Etymology: viSvam means the all-round completeness in nature, forms, qualities and grandeur.

विश्वम् – सर्वत्र पूर्णत्वात् स्वरूपगुणवैभवै: |

2) vishNu: (विष्णुः)

Since bhagavAn enters this creation as the indwelling self of all, He is called ‘viShNu’. This means that He enters all of the sentient and insentient entities, which are His properties, as the indwelling self. This is as per the scriptural statements:

  • “He entered all the created objects – movable and immovable”,
  • “He only entered as the indwelling self”,
  • “Having pervaded all of these worlds, the Supreme Lord kESava resides everywhere. Thus He is called ‘vishNu’, since the root ‘viS’ means pervasiveness” etc.

The name vishNu is derived out of the root ‘viS’, which means to pervade everything. This root is suffixed with the adjunct ‘knu’, which results in this name. The varAha purAaNa says thus: “The natural supremacy of bhagavAn is put forth with this name vishNu, which has the ‘knu’ adjunct representing all of His characteristic qualities”.

Although the earlier name ‘viSvam’ and this name ‘vishNu’ are both derived out of the same root ‘viS’, there is no fault of repetition since the former represented ‘completeness’ and the latter represents ‘pervasiveness’.

Etymology: He is called vishNu since He pervades all of the sentient and insentient entities.

चराचरॆषु भूतॆषु वॆशनात् विष्णुरुच्यतॆ

3) vashatkAra: (वषट्कारः)

bhagavAn is called ‘vashatkAra’ in order to identify His expansiveness distinctly from the other expansive entities such as the sky or space (AkASa). The meaning of the name is “the One who controls all out of His own free will”. The verb ‘does’ (karOthi), when used in the karmaNi form, is suffixed with the adjunct ‘aN’. Thus the root ‘vaS’ meaning ‘charm’ gets the suffix ‘at’ by the grammatical rule of bAhulaka anuvruththi. The letter ‘sha’ (ष) supplements the smaller ‘Sa’ (श) in the root ‘vas’. All these transformations to the root result in the name ‘vashatkAra’. This is in conformance with the scriptures which declare “He is the controller and ruler of all”, “This world acts at His behest”, etc.

Etymology: The One who controls all out of His own free will is called vashatkAra.

स्वॆच्छया यॊ वशॆ सर्वं वषट्कार्ः करॊति सः |

4) bhUtha-bhavya-bhavath-prabhu: (भूतभव्यभवत्प्रभुः)

The name bhUtha-bhavya-bhavath-prabhu means the sole master (prabhu:) of all the things that appear in the different points of time namely past (bhUtha), present (bhavya) and the future (bhavath). He is the ruler of all such things. He is the controller of all those things. This name is derived as per the pANini ashtAdhyAyi aphorism, which says “विप्रसम्भ्यॊड्वसंज्ञायाम्” (the root ‘bhU’ is suffixed with adjunct ‘dhu’ as per this aphorism). Since this word name collectively and inclusively references all the objects, there is no contradiction in using the said adjunct, per the grammatical rules. The scriptures declare thus, in connection with bhagavAn:

  • “Of the master of all worlds…”
  • “Of the master of even the masters…”
  • “He is the one and only master of all that is created”
  • “This world belongs to that Supreme Soul”
  • “All of these regions are his…”
  • “All the worlds and creatures in it are created by krishNa and for krishNa only”
  • “krishNa, The slayer of the demon named kESi Himself is the master of all creatures appearing in past, present and future times”, et al.

Etymology: The master of all objects appearing in past, present and future is called as bhUtha-bhavya-bhavathprabhu:.

त्रिकालवर्तिनां शॆषी भूतभव्यभवत्प्रभुः |

5) bhUthakruth (भूतकृत्)

The next five names starting with this explain bhagavAn’s ownership (SEshathvam) over all other entities created. Since He creates all these entities independently, He is called ‘bhUtakruth’ (originator of creatures). This is as per the scriptures that say, “All these worlds and the creatures in it are created verily by that Supreme brahman”, “From whom all these creatures are born, by whom all these creatures are sustained, and into whom all these creatures enter at the end of creation, know that Supreme Self to be the brahman” etc.

Etymology: The one who creates all these creatures independently is called bhUthakruth.

भूतानि यॊsसौ सृजति स्वातन्त्र्यॆण स भूतकृत् |

6) bhUthabhruth (भूतभृत्)

Since He bears the creatures, He is called bhUthabhruth (the bearer of creatures). The scriptures declare thus:

  • “He supports all the creation, and is the centre of all the worlds”
  • “Just like how the rim of a chariot wheel is supported by the spokes, and the spokes in turn are supported by the axle, so also all the creatures are supported by consciousness (the knowledge of ‘I’, which is the characteristic of an individual soul), and all such consciousness are supported by the sole Supreme Self, who is verily the life force of all of them”
  • “He is bearing the earth”
  • “The ceaseless master of all bears all of this creation” etc.

Etymology: He is called bhUthabhruth due to his bearing of all the creatures.

भूतभृत् भूतभरणात् |

7) bhAva: (भावः) 

All the creatures born in all the worlds as said earlier are connected with bhagavAn just like the feathers are connected with a peacock in its tail. Thus, He is called ‘bhAva:’, meaning the one who is connected with all creatures. The aphorism “भवतॆश्च इति वक्तव्यम्” directs the usage of ‘Na’ adjunct with the root ‘bhU’. The sole ownership of bhagavAn over all the entities is understood because of all the creatures manifesting themselves as modes to bhagavAn (prakArathvam), and thus having Him as their indweller.

Etymology: He is called ‘bhAva:’ due to His connection with all the creatures.

श्लिष्टत्वात् भाव ईरितः

8) bhUthAthmA (भूतात्मा)

The property and owner relation between the creatures and the Supreme Self as explained before is now described using the body and soul relationship, with the name ‘bhUthAthmA’. He is the soul of all the creatures. Even the individual souls have the soul-body relation with each of their physical bodies in this creation, pervading which they conduct themselves differently. Similarly, the Supreme Entity bhagavAn pervades all of this creation. All these creatures – being the body of bhagavAn – are different than the perceptions of other ownerships such as spouse, residence, and land of an individual soul. Unlike the other ownerships, all the creatures are totally dependent on bhagavAn for their very existence. Also, all the creatures are very close to bhagavAn due to the body-soul relationship. This is as per the following scriptural statements:

  • “He who is in this earth, for whom this earth is the body, but the earth realizes not; He who is in every individual soul, for whom the soul is itself the body, but the soul realizes not…”
  • “He is the indwelling soul of all the creatures – both sentient and insentient”
  • “All these worlds are verily your body…”
  • “All those are His body”
  • “All of them are verily the body of Sri hari” etc.

Etymology: In all the creatures which are physically born in this creation, the one who is called by the name ‘bhUthAthmA’ resides as the indwelling soul.

शरीरभूत भूतानां भूतात्मा आत्मतया स्थितः

9) bhUthabhAvana: (भूतभावनः)

He is called ‘bhUthabhAvana:’ since He nurtures all the born creatures with all the materials required for their sustenance, nourishment and enjoyment. By this, He demonstrates His complete ownership of all the creatures. The aphorisms “नन्द्यादिभ्यॊ ल्युः” and “कृत्यल्युटॊ बहुलम्” cause the adjunct ‘ana’ to be suffixed with the root ‘bhU’ (in the meaning of ‘nurturing’). Thus, the name ‘bhUthabhAvana’ is derived. Similar is the case with the other names ‘bhAvana:’ (32nd name) and ‘prathardhana:’ (60th name), which also get the ‘lut’ adjunct. The nurturing of creatures by bhagavAn is explained in the scriptures thus:

  • “He is the owner of all creatures, and nurtures them”
  • “He looks after all creatures…”, etc

Thus, by expounding the creatorship, sustenance, and nurturing of all creatures born in this creation, the sole mastership of bhagavAn over all other entities is established. He is called as ‘SEshI’ (the Supreme Master) only to expound this nature of creatorship and nurturing of all the creatures. With this, the aphorism in pUrva mImAmsA which says “this creature is His property, since this lives for His sake” (शॆषः परार्थत्वात्) stands justified.

Etymology: He who nurtures the creatures by providing them with all materials for their sustenance, nourishment and enjoyment is called bhUthabhAvana.

धारकादि प्रदानॆन यश्च वर्धयति स्वयम् ।
भूतानि नित्यं झटिति स तु स्यात् भूतभावनः ॥

पूतात्मा परमात्मा च मुक्तानां परमागतिः ।
अव्ययः पुरुषः साक्षी क्षॆत्रज्ञॊsक्षर ऎव च ॥ २ ॥

10) pUthAthmA (पूतात्मा) 

The name ‘pUthAthmA’ is hailed here, in order to negate any blemishes that may be accorded to bhagavAn due to His being the soul of all the creatures in these worlds and thus being associated with their blemishes. He is rather of a pure nature. Even in the event of association of Supreme soul with the individual soul with a soul- body relationship, only the lower individual soul enjoys the fruits of action, and undergoes agonies. The vEdhas say “The other entity – Supreme Soul – shuns the enjoyments of fruits, while the individual soul enjoys such fruits due to its own past deeds”. The giver of such fruits to the individual soul is the Supreme soul Himself. However, He does not partake of such fruits due to His own free will (which the individual self lacks due to its past deeds). The Supreme Self glows with purity. This is much akin to the teacher and student pair, both of whom are associated with a cane. Although both are associated with it, only the student who gets beaten with the cane is affected by it, and not the teacher who wields it. The same opinion is voiced by other scriptures as well, thus: “Enjoying none of such fruits, the One who glows with purity…”

  • “He is the indweller of all creatures, yet untouched by any blemishes due to such association”
  • “The actions (karma) do not stick to me”
  • “Oh nAradha! Behold that greatness of the Supreme Soul, who is never affected by the fruits of any of the deeds – good or bad – at any instant!”, et al.

All such declarations are summarized in an aphorism in the brahma sUthras thus: “If one opines that the joy or agony for a soul come due to sheer association with the physical body, that is wrong. Rather, the joy or agony come from the special qualifiers called ‘past deeds’, and not just the body” (सम्भॊगप्राप्तिरिति चॆन्नवैशॆष्यादिति).

Etymology: Although all creatures are His body, He is not affected by any of their blemishes, and does not enjoy the fruits of any of the actions. Thus, he is called ‘pUthAthmA’.

शरीरत्वात् च जगतः तत्-दॊषैः न कदाचन ।
लिप्यतॆ यः स पूतात्मा न भुङ्क्तॆ च फलानि यः ॥

adiyen srinivasa raja ramanuja dasan

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SrIvishNu sahasranAmam – pUrva pItikA – Part 8

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

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vyAsa – in the guNOpasamhAra section of his brahma sUthras – has at first thought whether the various auspicious qualities attributed to bhagavAn as propounded in the vEdha-vidhyAs such as SANdilya, upakOsala, dhahara, purusha, paryanka etc are just suppositions, and later refuted this school of thought with his aphorism “There are no shortcomings in the vEdhic texts, due to their respect towards Him”. Sage parASara has made this all the more clearer with two of his statements that say “None of the lowly qualities including the sathva born out of this prakruthi are found in bhagavAn” (rebuttal of faults) and “He is the dwelling of all auspicious qualities” (attribution of qualities). Similarly, the various sacred scriptures talk endlessly about His being devoid of all blemishes on the one hand, and His being a dwelling of all auspicious qualities on the other, as shown with a few examples below:

  • “All desires enter into Him only”
  • “… the controller and ruler of all”
  • “… The one whose desires are steadfast and ever fulfilled”
  • “… The one who is omniscient – the all-knowing”
  • “His powers are supreme, and are known in various ways. His knowledge, strength, and actions are all naturally supreme”
  • “Mother, father, brother, dwelling, protector, friend, and the destination – are all verily nArayanA Himself”
  • “He is the doer of all deeds, in Him dwell all the fragrances, and He is the essence of everything”, etc

In the Anandhavalli (thaiththirIya upanishath – 2 chapter), the retreat of speech and mind due to sheer inability is only shown when it tries to discuss the boundless knowledge, strength, youthfulness, and other auspicious qualities of bhagavAn. (yathO vAchO nivarthanthE | aprApya manasA saha)

Even in the SrIvishNu purANam, in the context of explaining the word ‘bhagavath’, it begins by saying “this word is attributed to the one who is ever-pure, and possessed with unlimited wealth”, and further proceeds to attribute all auspiciousness to Him.

In the sabhA parva, bhIshma says thus: “Oh king! Many learned scholars have been worshipped by me. From them, I have heard about all the auspicious qualities of Souri (Krishna) who possesses all of those qualities. In all their opinions, only SrIhari– who is full of auspiciousness – is the best entity eligible for worship by one and all.”

The same bhIshma says in karNa parva, thus: “Even if one is teamed up with people of all worlds, he cannot complete listing out all the auspicious qualities of that great wielder of the conch and discus along with His sacred sword, the invincible and all pervading vAsudhEva, even if he tries for tens of thousands of years!”

The varAha purANa says thus: “Even if a man with a very pure heart is blessed with the lifetime of one four-faced brahma, and is granted with millions of mouths, he cannot glorify even 0.01% (one out of ten thousand) of auspicious qualities of bhagavAn!”

The vaishNava dharma speaks thus: “Even if all the sages get together, it would be impossible for them to sing the glories of bhagavAn, who is possessed with such innumerable auspicious qualities”.

Similarly, there are many more examples from SrI rAmAyaNam and mahAbhAratham as well.

If someone argues that the Supreme brahman Himself is affected by a limiting adjunct (upAdhi), and hence bound in this worldly existence, then the verses in this chapter that talked about the purity and auspiciousness of brahman (pavithram mangalam param) would become meaningless, since verily the brahman Himself is attributed with unlimited blemishes.

one of the verses composed by my revered father SrI kUraththAzhwAn has been explained, which originally says thus: “Oh SrI hari! The vEdhas engaged to quantify your auspicious qualities such as your bliss etc. However, after going a considerable distance and realizing that there was no boundary to limit those qualities, the faculties of speech and mind returned, failing the vEdhas in their pursuit!”

Similarly, another statement that says “Oh Lord, you do not have any limiting adjuncts such as names, births etc” (न यत्र नाथ विद्यन्तॆ नामजात्यादि कल्पनाः) is also explained with this reasoning. If you take this statement to mean “since the limiting adjuncts such as names and births are refuted, only now – perhaps – the true and non-imaginary nature of brahman (of being formless) is revealed”, then you are asphyxiating yourself, beware! If what you thought was true, then why would the verse house the name ‘nAtha’? The fact that the Supreme brahman can be perceived even without words would be refuted with this thought. So, the real purport of this statement would have to be understood thus: This statement only means to refute the limitedness of bhagavAn due to His being denoted by mere limiting words, although bearing divine names befitting His extraordinary forms in reality. This is also confirmed elsewhere by sage parASara thus: “Behold! That vishNu has entered into your womb, whose names, deeds and forms know no bounds, and who is expounded by all the scriptures!” 

It is said that there is no need to dissect a name into its constituent words to understand the meanings of it. Even if one finds a reason for such dissection, it is not prescribed because the names are really not intended for it. This is because, every name of the Lord has its own meaning on the whole, and that name itself becomes a source of knowledge to know about bhagavan. None of the names have any opposition by anyone. Also, as said in the statements “those names derived out of His qualities…”, and “since you all know His greatness, chant His name…” it can be comprehended that the various names of the Lord have the only intention of telling us about His divine qualities.

Even if the names of the Lord just help in remembrance of His divine qualities, just as in manthras, they do not lose their true nature of granting the Lord Himself to the chanter. This is a well established fact. That is why bhIshma expounded the greatness of such names of the Lord – both in the beginning as well as at the end of this chapter, and carefully placed the thousand names in between in order to remember Him. Among these names, each one of them is independent of the other, and each of them is equally capable of conferring all desires of the chanter. This is
established from the fact that each of such individual names is capable of
transforming into a mantra in itself, as can be seen in the famous twelve-syllable, eight-syllable, six-syllable and other such mantras in the bhagavat-shastras. Each of such names can independently be used for fulfilling all kinds of desires by a seeker. This is also shown by the scriptural statement ‘nAmachith vivakthana’ (chant His name) by the usage of singular form for the word ‘name’.

Although the divine names of the Lord are capable of conferring infinite fruits upon the chanter just by mere pronunciation, knowing the real meanings of each of such names will only help the chanter realize His unlimited auspicious qualities, and his mind is soothed and purified instantly. That is why it is said in the chapter that explains the divine names in the SAnthi parva of mahAbharatham thus: “vyAsa glorified madhusUdhana by chanting His various names along with his disciples. Oh holy one! Please explain the meanings of those divine names to me. Hearing with all attention about the Lord of even the four faced brahmA; I shall be purified from all sins and blemishes, just as the autumn moon is free of all blemishes.

We should also see dhritharAshtra’s words in this regard: ‘Oh sanjaya! I ask you again, tell me more about that lotus eyed bhagavAn, knowing whose divine names and deeds, one attains that Supreme Soul Himself”

We can also learn about the various usages of these divine names of the Lord along with their characteristics from the various chapters such as in udhyOga parva, mOksha dharma, vaishNava dharma, nAma-nirvachana adhyAya etc, as also in the various manthra kalpas (prescription of manthras) in the vEdhic scriptures.

Thus ends the introductory chapter (upOdhghAtha prakaraNam) in SrI bhagavadh-guNa-dharpaNa, which is an explanation of Sri vishNu sahasranAmam by the scion of SrI haritha clan, the son of SrIvathsAnga miSra (kUraththAzhwAn) – SrI ranganAtha by name, also called SrI parASara bhatta, who wrote this glorious commentary at the behest of SrI rangarAja (emperumAn himself).

The upOdhghAtha prakaraNam ends here.

adiyen srinivasa raja ramanuja dasan

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SrIvishNu sahasranAmam – pUrva pItikA – Part 7

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

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The discussion on ‘saguNa / nirguNa’ brahman:

If someone opines that the worship of brahman attributed with all auspicious qualities (saguNa brahmam) is only for lowly results such as attainment of heaven et al, and that the worship of Brahman devoid of all qualities (nirguNa brahmam) is only for those who desire for the supreme salvation, then down be with such deaf people who have not listened to the scriptures which declare the greatness of the thousand names of the Lord with all auspicious qualities as ‘releasing all creatures from the clutches of samsAra’ and ‘making the practitioners reach the Supreme brahman’.

When yudhishtira has asked “which is the loftiest of all dharmas in your opinion?”and bhIshma has declared “this is the loftiest of all dharmas in the best of my knowledge” in reply, and thus when bhIshma has clearly intended to propound the greatest of all dharmas – namely the chanting of thousand names of the Lord – selected from the most sacred of all scriptures, if someone opines that this is only  for a lowly result, then it becomes imperative to discuss that entity superior to the said brahman, which would be a better solution to attain a higher result.

adhvaithi say that the worship of the saguNa brahman is the first step in achieving the worship of nirguNa brahman and eventual attainment of salvation; because, it would be wrong to differentiate between saguNa and nirguNa brahmams and thus propound the worship of saguNa brahmam as the means to attain nirguNa brahmam. This is simply not the case.

Also, when the Supreme brahman, bhagavan is in fact attributed with so much of auspicious qualities, what would be the basis to call him ‘nirguNa’ (devoid of qualities)? If such basis is known to be ‘avidhyA’ (ignorance), then the tenets of vEdhas are truly beautiful, which prescribe the brahman attributed with all ignorance, confusions and other faults as the supreme medicine to a dying mortal who has been downed with the poison of samsAra effected with birth, death, passion etc. [Note Bhattar’s sarcasm here]

Also, how would the statements supporting the saguNa brahmam lose importance at all? If your reply to this question is “because the nirguNa vAkyas (statements propounding the nirguNa brahmam) refute them”, then can it not also be said the other way, as “the saguNa vAkyas refute the nirguNa vAkyas, and hence saguNa vAkyas gain more importance”? Then, the credits and oppositions to both of these categories of statements are alike. None gain superiority over the other!

In another sense, if at all it is true that the Supreme brahman is devoid of all qualities, and that the ultimate aim of all mortal souls is to attain that nirguNa brahmam, then why did the vEdhas and other scriptures propound the saguNa brahmam in the first place? If your reply to this is “in order to attribute all qualities to the brahman and later show that the brahman indeed is devoid of all those qualities”, then let there not be such refutations at all. If no qualities are attributed to the brahman unnecessarily in the first place, then there would not arise any need to refute each of such statements. Why this over burden at all? Haven’t we learnt from the mahAbhAratha which says “staying away at a safe distance from marsh is much better than touching it and washing off the soil later”?

 Also, it is not a universally applicable logic that when two consecutive statements are mutually in disagreement in their meanings, then the latter is more powerful over the former statement. If we say that certain object “is present in this place”, and later say that the same object “is not present in another place”, nobody would say that the two statements are contradicting, although the meanings differ per context. For all that we know, if the former statement is weaker, it is never possible to write the latter statement without refuting it. If it is written without refuting the former, then it means the two are not mutually contradicting. Thus, even if the saguNa and nirguNa statements come one after the other, they do not refute each other, since they are not mutually contradicting. If it is understood that it is always a fact the latter statement refutes the former ones (irrespective of whether they contradict or not), and thus declare that the nirguNa vAkyas refute the attributes of brahman, then the vEdhas also declare that “void itself is the truth” towards the end. Will that mean that the presence of Supreme brahman itself is refuted? If it is understood that such statements are born out of the ignorance of the lower mortals bound in this samsAra, and thus do not apply to the Supreme Self; then it can also be considered that the vEdhas themselves are born out of the ignorance of the brahman and thus do not apply to the Supreme Entity.

vEdhas intend to negate all bad qualities of the soul-body relationship of the Supreme brahman with all other entities. In order to achieve this, they speak the nirguNa vAkyas.  However, before negating any such bad qualities, they attribute all auspiciousness to the bhagavAn, refuting all faults. That is how the upanishath proudly declare “He is devoid of sins, and does not undergo aging” etc.

Forgetting this, and applying the truth and falsity to the saguNa and nirguNa statements of the vEdhas is nothing but deception unto the vEdhas. If at all the source of knowledge itself is contaminated with falsities, then it loses all its credibility. It would be like possessing unreal gold or silver, which is not very pleasing. As said earlier, if you argue that refuting nirguNa brahmam by attributing qualities to the Supreme Self is false, then, by the same logic we can say that refuting saguNa brahmam by voiding the brahman of all qualities is also equally false. 

The scholars knowledgeable about the Supreme Entity opine thus: The statements supporting the saguNa brahamam intend to speak about the numerous auspicious qualities of the Supreme brahman, such as knowledge, power etc. Similarly, the statements supporting the nirguNa brahmam intend to speak about the voidance of the innumerable faults such as passion, hatred etc. in the Supreme brahman. The vEdhas attribute many auspicious qualities to the brahman by describing Him as ‘sathyakAma:’ (the one whose desires are unfaltering), ‘sathyasankalpa:’ (the one whose desires are always fulfilled) etc. Thus, when it says ‘nirguNam’ (being devoid of qualities), it only means it is speaking only about those qualities which are opposite to the said auspicious ones. That means it is refuting only the undesirable qualities in the brahman and attributing all desirable auspicious qualities unto Him.

This is just like the logic of using words such as ‘padha-AhavanIya’, ‘brAhmaNa-parivrAjaka’, ‘brAhmaNa-kaundinya’, ‘gO-baleevardha’ etc. (usage of common words and special words together, without mutual rebuttals), and is free to be used here as well.

Thus, for the expounders of nirguNa brahmam, it comes as asphyxiation when the vEdhas refute the blemishes in the Supreme brahman as well as attribute all the auspicious qualities to Him in a single statement that begins by saying “He is devoid of all sins” (apahathapApma) and ends by saying “His desires are unfaltering, and are ever fulfilled” (sathyakAma: sathyasankalpa:).

Similarly, another line begins by saying “He who is invisible” (yath tath adhrEshyam), and ends by saying “The learned see that eternal, all-pervading, omnipresent, atomic, ceaseless entity who is also the originator of all” (nithyam vibhum sarvagatham susUkshmam thadhavyayam yadhbhUthayOnim paripaSyanthi dhIrA:).

Such doctrines do not expect application of heavy logic such as in saying “The pillar is there. The pot is not there” etc. The author of brahmasUthras, SrI vEdhavyAsa has explained this invisibility on the one hand and attribution of the auspicious qualities on the other in one of his aphorisms that says “He is possessed with invisibility and other qualities, since the scriptures declare thus”.

(to be continued…)

adiyen srinivasa raja ramanuja dasan

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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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SrIvishNu sahasranAmam – pUrva pItikA – Part 5

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

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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…)

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SrIvishNu sahasranAmam – pUrva pItikA – Part 4

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

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The authority of all varNas for worship of the Lord :

The word ‘nAra:’ generally indicates the natural authority to worship the Supreme Godhead as they wish to have it. bhagavAn is the One who is worshipped without any fear even by those who possess condemnable qualities, actions and births, merely due to having the greatest quality of developing taste in devotion. Once such people start worshipping bhagavAn thus, they shall be freed from all sins and distastes and shall be transformed into the most righteous ones, just as the sins are washed away by the flooding waters of gangA by taking a holy dip.

In SrI bhagavath-gIthA, bhagavAn – while talking about the qualities – says thus: “I am equal to all the beings, and I have no love or hatred towards anyone”. In connection with actions, He says “even if the one practicing very bad things in life sings my glories with unwavering mind, he should be considered as a pious man”. About the births, bhagavAn also says, “Oh pArtha! All sinful people born of various births such as the females, vaiSyas and Sudhras also take refuge in me and attain the highest abode”.

The people who follow ill deeds are not liked by bhagavAn, The statements from the scriptures such as “the ones without perseverance, peace, and composition of mind, and the ones who practice ill deeds are never dear to the Lord”. Even the brahma sUthras have concluded that people of all ASramas (brahmacharya, grihastha, vanaprastha and sanyAsa) as well as the ones without ASramas (such as widowers, and the like) are equally eligible for the knowledge about the brahman, and also indicate that all such people should have their mind under control with both internal and external restraint.

There is no restriction for anyone in chanting the names of the Lord who is the natural friend and relative of one and all, who is also just like a mother who is most affectionate towards her child, under any circumstances. This freedom of chanting the Lord’s names can be seen among a multitude of prime personalities such as gajEndhra – the elephant, jatAyu – the eagle, vAyasa – the crow, vibhIshaNa – the sibling of the king of demons, the common populace of kOsala (subjects in the kingdom of SrI rAma), gOpikAs – the cowherd womenfolk, mAlAkAra – the florist at mathurA, and others.

The ‘apaSUdhrAdhikaraNa’ chapter of brahma sUthras denies the eligibility for knowledge about the Supreme Self from the vEdhas and upanishadhs to the athraivarNikas (Sudhras – not belonging to the three varNas namely brAhmana, kshathriya and vaiSya) due to non-prescription of their practicing the various purifying acts such as service unto the preceptor, and others, which in turn are the limbs to the knowledge about the various oblations. So the natural eligibility to take refuge of bhagavAn (to gain the same result as that of learning the vEdhas) has been with these people – the athraivarNikas. Thus, they also have the utmost eligibility for attaining the Supreme by the various paths such as listening to His glories, thinking about Him and the like, which are celebrated by the upanishadhs as the highways for gaining the knowledge about Him and finally attaining Him. Such people (the ones ineligible for study of vEdhas) would have desired for various fruits in the past due to the adulteration of their sAthvik qualities by rajas and thamas at some point in time, due to which they would be born in various births such as females, Sudhras, various birds and animals. Examples of such people
are vidhura, dharma vyAdha. Such people would be disgusted about the origin of their births that they have acquired due to their own actions (karma).  This is shown by SrI Saunaka as well, thus: “Even though people like dharma vyAdha are born into lower births due to their past karmas, yet they attain the Supreme abode due to their instincts of worshipping the Lord – just as sabari attained mOksham”.

A quote from the mahAbhAratha may be remembered: “Oh king of kings! dharma always purifies a person who listens about it, sees it, talks about it, practices it and approves of it”.

The bhagavath-dharma (duties performed to attain the Supreme Godhead) has the power to penetrate into the minds of its beneficiary, approver as well as its practitioner.

Some statements from various scriptures quote thus:

  • All sins are washed away when one chants His names aloud, worships Him, sees Him or prostrates before Him. Then who will not serve the Supreme Lord hari?
  • hari is the One who protects those who chant His names, think about Him, meditate on Him, worship Him, and serve Him. He protects them in all respects granting them immense benefits both in this world as well as the neither.
  • He protects all those who listen about Him, read about Him, and see Him etc.
    Apart from these, the ithihAsa and  purANas also permit even the lowliest dog-eaters to sing the glories of the Lord.
  • bhagavAn declares this in His own words in the vishnNu dharmam thus: “nAradha! If my devotee says ‘nama:’ unto me with all sincerity, he shall attain the supreme abode, even if he is a lowly dog-eater”.

Statements such as these, along with the various anecdotes, are verily the proofs that such practitioners of the bhagavath-dharma such as chanting His divine names shall gain all due respects in the society and also attain the supreme abode at the end. Since these are well established facts, there is no contradiction in these facts to what the scriptures have to say either.

Non-restriction in terms of time and place for meditation, worship, etc

The usage of the word ‘sadhA’ indicates non-restriction in terms of time. Similarly, it also tells us about the non-dependency on the place of chanting, physical and mental purity while chanting, etc. Thus, a person need not see the various time units such as ayana (half year), ruthu (season), mAsa (month), paksha (dark/bright fortnight), nakshathra (star of the day), muhUrtha (the time in a day) etc.

To this effect, we should see the various statements made by the sages, as given below:

  • One should always chant the holy names of the wielder of Chakra – the Supreme Lord – at every time and at every place. When this is done, the person would never be impure at anytime, since the Supreme Lord Hari Himself will purify that person.
  • When one wakes up early in the morning chanting the names of the Supreme Lord as dhEva, krishNa, and gOvindha, then he shall not see any bad things coming his way during the rest of the day.
  • Even if chanting the names of bhagavAn is small in nature, the fruits of such actions are humongous. This is illustrated by a quote from the SrI bhagavath-gIthA that says:
    “Even if such a dharma is followed in miniscule, it protects the practitioner from great fears”.
  • The one who chants the names of the Lord is well equipped to progress towards mOksha.
  • If one rests his mind in achyutha – the Supreme Lord, he shall not reach the hell. To such a person, even the thoughts about the lowly heavens are a great obstacle to reach bhagavAn. Even the brahma lOkam (the highest position in this creation) turns miniscule to him. The One who resides in the unadulterated minds of such pure souls shall Himself grant the highest position of salvation unto them. Given these facts, then, what is really surprising in the fact that a person is freed of all his sins if he just sings the glories of the Lord by chanting his various names?” bhagavan gets pleased with the length of detailed worship and yields the fruits, so also He will be equally pleased with a sincere devotee who takes up the lighter form of worship – namely “chanting His names” – with a pure thought.
  • Even if my devotee offers me a leaf, a flower, a fruit or even just water – with true devotion, I shall partake of it with the most pleased state of mind.
  • The vyAsa smrithi says, “If a person offers a flower or just water to bhagavan by chanting the purusha sUktha, then the whole of this world  (with all animate and inanimate objects) has been worshipped by him”.
  • The vishNu dharma says “Even if a person offers the entire Earth stuffed with precious pearls to krishNa, janArdhana is not easily attained by him if he is impure at heart.”
  • Penance is not faulty, studies are not faulty, natural prescriptions of vEdhas aren’t faulty. The action of restraining the mind from sensual pleasures is also not faulty. The real root of fault is at the heart, where the person lacks purity of thoughts.
  • Schools of fish reside in the sacred rivers such as gangA. Flocks of birds reside in many temples. But, since they lack the sacred thoughts, they do not attain the fruits of being in those sacred places. Thus, the real fruits of pilgrimages and visits to holy shrines are only dependant on our purity of thoughts.

Thus that which was attained in krutha yuga by severe penance, that which was attained in thrEtha yuga by extensive oblations and sacrificial rites, that which was attained during the dhvApara yuga by detailed worship, shall be attained by a seeker during this kali yugam just by singing the glorious names of kESava.

(to be continued…)

adiyen srinivasa raja ramanuja dasan

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SrIvishNu sahasranAmam – pUrva pItikA – Part 3

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

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<< pUrva pItikA – Part 2

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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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