SrIvishNu sahasranAmam – pUrva pItikA – Part 2

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Reply to the question regarding support of verbal chanting

bhIShma spoke in response to these six questions (bhIShma uvAcha). In the process, he first replied to the last question, and then on proceeded to answer the other questions in a different order. Since the final goal is to be attained by some means, he first chose to reply to the questions regarding the means. Even among them, although asked at the very end of all questions, he chose to answer to the question regarding the japAlambanam (support of the verbal chanting) at first, which shows his high regard towards it.

bhIShma said thus:

भीष्म उवाच –
जगत्प्रभुं दॆवदॆवम् अनन्तं पुरुषॊत्तमम्
स्तुवन्नामसहस्रॆण पुरुषः सततॊत्थितः ॥ ४ ॥

jagathhprabhum dhEvadhEvam anantham puruShOttthamam |
sthuvannAmasahasrENa puruSha: sathathOtthitha: ||

‘jagatha:’ – of all moving and non-moving entities in the world

‘prabhum’ – the master

‘dhEvadhEvam’ – just as the Gods are superior to Humans in terms of owning wealth, servitude, et al, so also the One who is superior to even Gods in all respects

‘anantham’ – He who cannot be limited or measured (by space, time, and objects)

‘puruShOththamam’ – the One who is extremely generous

‘nAmasahasrENa’ – with the thousand names that can be taken as a verbal support by chanting.

‘sthuvan’ – as per the ashtAdhyAyi sUthra 3-2-126, there is a a shatRu (शतृ) adjunct because of it ‘being a reason’.  This is related (as a reason) to the statement “He shall surpass all the miseries” (sarvadhu:khAthigO bhavEth सर्वदुःखातिगो भवेत्). The word ‘sthavanam’ means that which removes all sorrows. Who is such a One (who transcends miseries upon recitation)? It is the ‘puruSha’.

‘puruSha:’ – the knowledgeable (here, refers to the individual soul – jeevAthmA). Of what nature is He? He is ‘sathathOththitha:’.

‘sathathOththitha:’ – ever awake.

(Such a soul is considered ‘ever awake’ due to his realization that) The constant prayer of such Supreme Entity with words of praise and uninterrupted thoughts will yield the most desirable and favourable fruits, while any interruptions to such actions bring untold misery.

The vEdhas popularly declare: “When this knowledgeable soul takes refuge in the Supreme One who is unseen with the naked eyes, who has no body made out of prakruthi, who is not reached by words, and who is unsupported by any external entity, he is then firmly rooted in assurance against all fears, and reaches a state of fearlessness. But when he loses interest in contemplation of that Supreme Self, and distances himself from it, he begets the biggest fear of samsAra” (yadhAhyEvaiSha Ethasmin… यदाह्येवैष एतस्मिन्… – thaiththireeya upaniShath).

This is explained further:

“Those moments in time when vAsudhEva is not contemplated are lost forever. They are the biggest voids in one’s life. That is the time when ignorance covers the soul and that only leads to the deterioration of the soul.” (yanmuhUrtham kShaNam vApi vAsudhEvO na chinthyatmE | sa hAnisthanmahachchidhram sA bhrAnthi: sA cha vikriyA)

“It is better to be put up in a cage of high flames, rather than to stay in the doomed company of those who refrain themselves from the thoughts of shouri (bhagavAn kriShNa).” ( Saunaka samhithA – varam huthavahajvAlA-panjarAyAm vyavasthithi: | na shouri-chinthA-vimukha-jana-samvAsa vaishasam)

“Even if one moment is lost without the thoughts about the Supreme Soul, it only leads to so much of miseries at once as much as one experiences when the robbers have robbed him of all his wealth.” (EkasminnapyathikrAnthE muhUrthE dhyAnavarjithE | dhasyubhirmuShithEnEva yuktham Akrandhithum bhruSham)

Thus speak the vEdhas and other supporting scriptures in connection with the ‘japa Alambanam’ as the means of attaining a goal.

The discussion on the loftiest entity eligible for worship

Since the scriptures have regarded the worship and prayers of the Supreme Soul as the highest duties, bhIShma deferred the reply to the fifth question (which among the dharmas prescribed by the scriptures is the best in your opinion?) and proceeded to first reply to the fourth and third questions respectively, which inquire about the objects of prayer and worship respectively (having prayed to whom, and worshipped whom, will the humans attain all auspicious results?). Thus, he described about bhagavAn, the Supreme Soul, who is the object of prayers and worship, and explained the means of worshipping Him:

तमॆवचार्चयन् नित्यं भक्त्या पुरुषमव्ययम्
ध्यायन् स्तुवन् नमस्यञ्श्च यजमानस्तमॆव च ॥ ५ ॥

thamEvachArchayan nithyam bhakthhyA puruSham avyayam |
dhyAyan sthuvan namasyamscha yajamAnasthamEva cha ||

He establishes that the same entity which is the object of ‘japa’ as explained before is itself the object for worship as well. This can be understood by the use of “thamEva cha” (him only). As it is said in the mahAbhAratha itself,

“We wish to worship this supreme soul who possesses all wealth, who is the supreme master, the father, the preceptor, and the one who is fit to be worshipped. All of you should agree to this.” (sabhA parva) (tham imam sarvasampannam AchAryam pitharam gurum | archyam archithum ichchAma: sarvE sammanthum arhatha).

“I do not comprehend another entity more fit to be worshipped than janArdhana.” (sabhA parva) (thasmAth pUjyathamam nAnyam aham manyE janArdhanAth)

“The wise men do not worship / serve the lower demi-gods such as the four faced brahmA, the blue necked shiva, and others of the same rank, for – the fruits of such worship are very limited.” (mOkSha parva) (brahmANam shithikantam cha yAshchAnyA dhEvathA: smruthA: | prathibudhdhA na sEvanthE yasmAth parimitham phalam)

“If one worships anybody other than me, the fruits are always limited” (SrI bhagavadh gIthA) (antavaththu phalam thEShAm…)

‘puruSham’ – the lotus eyed One

‘avyayam’ – even after having been experienced by everyone continuously, the One who knows no exhaustion, and the One whose divine auspicious qualities keep multiplying exponentially without end

‘archayan’ – being the ardent worshipper who serves such a One with bhakthiyOga

‘nithyam’ – not being able to place the mind elsewhere even for a single moment, just as illustrated in (the SrI bhagavadh gIthA as) “the ones who have placed their mind and soul with me…” (machchiththA: madhgathaprANA:..). How do they worship bhagavAn? ‘bhakthyA’ (with devotion)

‘bhakthyA’ – the state of deep love of a servant towards his master is called ‘bhakthi’. ‘bhakthyA’ means ‘with such a mindset’ (towards the lord). How else do they worship? ‘dhyAyan’ (by meditating)

‘dhyAyan’ – a mental deed; constantly meditating on the many auspicious qualities of the Lord, which are like torrential rains that are capable of subduing the three types of heats of samsAra completely, with no obstacles in between. How else? ‘sthuvan’ (by praying)

‘sthuvan’ – a verbal deed; by singing the glories of the Lord and praising his auspicious qualities with an excited body and a choking voice with eyes filled with tears out of the joy felt by experiencing Him. How else? ‘namasyan’ (by prostrating)

‘namasyan’ – with all humility; meaning to say – having submitted oneself – who is soiled by ignorance of ego – at the Lotus Feet of the Lord physically and verbally, saying “All that I considered mine is now yours, please accept”, placing everything that is his such as his senses and faculties, without the least bit of attachment to them, and with all love, humility and utter devotion. How else? ‘yajamAna:’ (worshipping)

‘yajamAna:’ – by performing the dhEva-pUja / rituals of worship of the Lord; knowing no favour in return for the greatest favour that the Lord has done unto him – of accepting him into his fold, ‘yajamAna’ is the one who does an extraordinary, continuous and most affectionate service of the Lord with all beautiful items collected with pure devotion such as scented water, flowers, a mixture of honey and fruits, et al. by performing servile actions in various forms including touching the Lord, talking to Him, and offering him many enjoyments (bhogas) as per His wishes. Such a practitioner (yajamAna) will surpass all the difficulties and sorrows in his life (as said in ‘sarvaduHkhAthigO bhavEth’).

This itself is called ‘bhaktiyOga’, and is considered to be a highway to reach salvation. This is discussed and promoted in the principal upanishaths. Similarly, the worship of brahman (brahmOpAsanam) is achieved directly by following varNa-Ashrama principles. It is also known to be the product of developing auspicious qualities of the soul such as internal and external restraints and the like. It is born out of the various limbs of worship. It is accomplished by those who have purified their minds with constant uninterrupted flow of repeated affectionate thoughts about the Supreme Soul – also referred by other equivalent words such as ‘knowledge’, ‘meditation’, ‘uninterrupted contemplation and remembrance’, ‘wisdom’ etc, which is backed by firm belief. Such a brahmOpAsanA or worship of the Supreme Brahman that is characterized by auspicious qualities mentioned in various paravidhyAs such as upakOsala, etc., is thoroughly analyzed by bhagavAn bAdharAyaNa (vyAsa) with the help of the numerous vEdhic statements and the logics of brahma sUthras, and he has concluded upon the best means for attaining salvation – mOksham. Some of the various vEdhic statements and brahmasUthra lines that have assisted in this analysis are thus:

“The one who knows Him will attain immortality in this birth itself” (thamEvam vidhvAn amrutha iha bhavathi)

“The knower of brahman shall attain the Supreme Abode” (brahmavidhApnOthi param)

“The seekers try to know the Brahman by worship, donations, penance and by fasting” (yajnEna dhAnEna thapasA anAshakEna…)

“Restraining his internal and external faculties, the seeker shall worship the Supreme Brahman” (shAnthOdhAntha..)

“Just as the reins are most important to control a horse, so also the duties or karmas prescribed by the scriptures are most important to control the mind and worship the Brahman” (sarvApEkShA cha yajnAdhi shruthE: ashvavath)

“One should worship the Supreme Self by restraining his internal and external faculties” (shama-dhamAdyupEthaththvAth)

“One must repeatedly think about the Supreme Self” (Avruththirasakruth upadEshAth).

The commentator of the sUthras has stated thus: “vEdhanam or knowledge refers to upAsanam or worship, since the vEdhas say so”.

Maturity in such upAsanA or worship itself is termed as ‘bhakthi’ or devotion. Bhakthi is not anything else outside of this.  How do we say this? It is because it is not any different from the perception of spiritual union.

(to be continued…)

adiyen srinivasa raja ramanuja dasan

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