SrIvishNu sahasranAmam – 49 (Names 481 to 490)

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481) asath (असत्) and 482) asathksharam (असत्-क्षरम्)

bhagavAn bestows uninterrupted chain of sorrows in the form of this samsAra upon the souls who are involved only in inauspicious and sinful acts (asuras). Thus, he is called ‘asath-ksharam’ – the one who destroys the evil.

The scriptures hail thus:

  • “bhagavAn only enables the souls to do good deeds and lifts them out of the world of yama (narakam). he only enables the souls to do bad deeds as well, pushing them into the clutches of yama” (meaning, bhagavAn only thrusts the souls in the direction of their inclination based on their ‘karma’)
  • “This world has both good as well as bad elements. bhagavAn stays aloof from the two groups of elements”, etc.

Etymology: Since bhagavAn bestows eternal sorrow in the form of ‘samsAra’ upon the evil minded souls (asuras), he is called ‘asath’ by the learned men. Also, since he eliminates evil thus, he is called ‘asath-ksharam’.

असतां यः सदानन्तभवाख्याघ-प्रदानतः |
असदित्युच्यतॆ सद्भिः तादृक् क्षरम् असत्क्षरम् ||

483) avigyAthA (अविज्ञाता)

Even after seeing the infinite mistakes of his dear devotees, bhagavAn never punishes them for their ill deeds. Rather, he just forgives them. Not just stopping at that, bhagavAn goes a step further and acts as if he never knows of any mistakes of such souls! Thus, he is called ‘avgyAthA’ – the one ignorant one.

The SrImath rAmAyaNa hails this excellent attribute of bhagavAn in the ayOdhya kaNdam thus: “Even if a person spoke harshly to rAma, he would never respond to them likewise”.

Such ignorance towards the mistakes of the surrendered souls is, after all, an extraordinary attribute (and not a blemish of being ‘ignorant’).

That is why my revered father (kUraththAzhwan) hailed bhagavAn thus in one of his works:

“Oh lord! We question your very ‘omniscience’, because, after all, you are the one who never knows the faults of your devotees who have surrendered unto you!”

Conversely, whoever attributes absolute ‘ignorance’ unto bhagavAn with this divine name, without knowing his true nature of omniscience, would only have to be categorized as being deaf to all the logic expounded by the learned men practicing abject servitude unto the vEdhas and the AchAryas expounding such vEdhas. Such ignorant souls could only be pitied, and their views – rejected.

Etymology: Since bhagavAn doesn’t consider the sins of the surrendered souls even a least bit, he is called ‘avigyAthA’ by the learned men who know his divine qualities in their true sense.

प्रपन्नकृतपापानां किञ्चिदप्यविचारणात् |
अविज्ञातॆति कथितः बुधैस्तद्गुणपारगैः ||

484) sahasrAmSu: (सहस्रांशुः)

Even as bhagavAn is being hailed as ‘avigyAthA’ – the ignorant one, he is also hailed as ‘sahasrAmSu:’, indicating his omniscience. The word ‘sahasra’ is indicative of infinity, and the word ‘amSa’ refers to knowledge (indicated by ‘rays of effulgence’). Since bhagavAn possesses infinite knowledge and knows everything, he is called ‘sahasrAmSu:’.

Does this, by any chance, mean that bhagavAn possesses infinite knowledge other than the sins of his devotees? In other words, is bhagavAn’s omniscience exclusive of the sins of the surrendered souls? If this is a doubt at all, then our answer is a clear ‘NO’.

It is just that bhagavAn ignores the faulty deeds of the surrendered souls. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t know them altogether. Rather, his indifference towards such misdeeds is only hailed as his ‘ignorance’ and not the lack of omniscience therein.

The SrImath rAmAyaNa quotes rAma of having said thus: “…even if vibIshana has faults to his credit, I accept him into my fold unconditionally…”

Similarly, krishNa declares thus in the bhagavath gIthA: “Even if a great sinner sings my glories continuously, he shall be considered a great devotee of mine”

Etymology: The word ‘amSa’s refers to the varied forms of knowledge. The one who possesses infinite count of such knowledge forms is popularly called ‘sahasrAmSu:’. he is the grantor of knowledge.

अंशवॊ बुद्धयः प्रॊक्ताः सहस्रं सन्ति यस्य तॆ |
सहस्रांशुरिति ख्यातः ह्यष्टार्णॊ धीप्रदॊ मनुः ||

485) vidhAthA (विधाता) (also repeated in 44)

Although the souls surrendered at the feet of bhagavAn have committed sinful deeds, and although every such bad deed entails its own outcome of suitable punishment adjudged by yama dharmarAja, yet the surrendered souls are not affected by such setup. This is because even yama, karma etc are also under the control of bhagavAn himself. For the same reason, bhagavAn is called as ‘vidhAthA’ – the controller.

yama himself has declared thus: “I am appointed for adjudging the good and bad deeds in the worlds by that supreme controller himself, who is worshipped by dhEvas as well”

In this context, the dialogue between yama and his servitors may be remembered, which finds a place in all of brahma purANa, vishNu purANa, vAmana purANa, narasimha purANa, linga purANa, vaishNava dharma, SrI vishNu thathtvam, bhAgavatha purANa etc.

Etymology: Since even yama and others are under the control of bhagavAn (and hence, since bhagavAn protects his devotees by not allowing them to be affected by yama’s judgements even in the case of their wrong doing), he is called ‘vidhAthA’.

तादधीन्याद्यमादीनां विधाता इत्युच्यतॆ बुधैः |

486) kruthalakshaNa: (कृतलक्षणः)

If it is true that bhagavAn tolerates the misdeeds as explained in the previous divine names, then how would he differentiate the misdeeds of his devotees (committed either unknowingly, or repenting after doing the mistake knowingly) from the misdeeds of the lowly mortals who are distant to bhagavAn? In other words, how does he differentiate between the good people and the bad people? The answer is in this divine name – kruthalakshaNa:.

bhagavAn himself lays down the characteristics to identify his true devotees.

he indicates that anyone who comes to him with a friendly demeanor is considered his devotee. This is confirmed in the scriptures thus:

  • “I shall never let go of a soul who has sought my refuge with a friendly mind, even if he is obsessed with faults”
  • “Although a soul has been extremely evil in the past, if he now relentlessly chants my name, then he shall be considered as my true devotee; for his mind is resolute on the ultimate truth”, etc.

Additionally, the physical characteristic of the Sankha-chakra-mudhrA (the symbols of the conch and the discus marked on the shoulders) is also mentioned, as shown in the following scriptural statements:

  • “Until I return to dhvArakA, only the people with the marks of chakra (and hence Sankha) on their shoulder shall enter the city. None without the mark shall enter the city” (krishNa instructing the doorkeepers)
  • “Just as a chaste wife possesses bangles, toe rings, etc as clear indications of her marriage, so also the marks of chakra and Sankha on the shoulders of every person are indicative of his/her relationship with the supreme master”

All these scriptural statements and more indicate the vaishNava characteristics – both internal and external. Anyone outside of these characteristics shall be considered as a lowly soul.

Therefore, the blemishes of discrimination and partiality do not affect bhagavAn’s nature.

Etymology: The supreme soul hrushIkESa has kept a characteristic mark with which he identifies the souls acceptable to him. Thus, he is called ‘kruthalakshaNa:’.

कृतं हि लाञ्छनं यॆन स्वॊपादॆयॆषु जन्तुषु |
परमात्मा हृषीकॆशः स तु स्यात् कृतलक्षणः ||

गभस्तिनॆमिः सत्त्वस्थः सिंहॊ भूतमहॆश्वरः ।
आदिदॆवॊ महादॆवॊ दॆवॆशॊ दॆवभृद्गुरुः ॥ ५२ ॥

487) gabhasthinEmi: (गभस्तिनॆमिः)

Devotees of bhagavAn who are identified by bhagavAn with the marks of chakra and Sankha on their shoulders shall never fear yama or his servitors; for verily that bhagavAn himself stands for their protection with the fiercely spiked and effulgent chakra.

The word ‘gabhasthi:’ (गभस्तिः) refers to radiance, and ‘nEmi:’ (नॆमिः) refers to the spiked discus. The one who possesses a divine chakra / discus with radiance and fierce spikes is called ‘gabhasthinEmi:’.

yama himself declares thus:

“He, in whose mind resides that supreme soul, shall not even be seen by us; otherwise, my power and valor shall be destroyed by bhagavAn’s chakra. Such devotees of bhagavAn indeed belong to a different world, and not mine”

Etymology: He who possesses the extraordinary discus with radiant and fierce spikes is called ‘gabhasthinEmi:’. he is indeed the one who wards off all our sins.

ज्यॊतिर्विशिष्टनॆम्या यल्लक्षितं चक्रमुत्तमम् |
गभस्तिनॆमिर्यस्यास्ति नवार्णः पापनाशकः ||

488) sathvastha: (सत्त्वस्थः)

Also, since the results of karma are not found for the true devotees of bhagavAn, there is no fear of yama either. But how could the results of karma go missing for the devotees? It is because verily that bhagavAn resides in their hearts as ‘sathvastha:’ and cleanses them. It means bhagavAn willingly resides in the hearts of his dear devotees.

The scriptures hail this attribute in many ways.

vishNu purANa says:

  • “When the eternal supreme soul SrI hari resides in the hearts of his devotees with his divine weapons such as discus, mace, etc, how can the results of karma ever stick on to such souls? How can there be darkness at all, when the sun is shining bright?”
  • “…when mahAvishNu resides in their hearts like a glittering pure gem, how can their heart be ever filled with blemishes such as jealousy etc?”

The vishNu dharma hails thus:

“The servitors of yama, or his scepter and the rope, or yama himself, or his punishments are totally incapable of afflicting the devotees of kESava, who completely depend on him”

prahlAdha says thus in the vAmana purANa:

“Then, the ruler of worlds ikshvAku said further with utmost devotion thus: the devotees of vishNu in this world have no business with yama whatsoever”

Etymology: Since bhagavAn willingly resides in the hearts of his devotees (and thus protects them from the clutches of yama), he is called ‘sathtvastha:’.

सत्त्वॆ हृदि स्थितत्वात् स सत्त्वस्थः समुदीरितः |

489) simha: (सिंहः) (also repeated in 202)

If the authorities like yama and others do not comprehend the greatness of such true devotees of bhagavAn, he even goes to the extent of punishing the authorities themselves. Hence, he is called ‘simha:’.

yama declares thus in the vishNu purANa: “vishNu is capable of controlling even me”

mArkaNdEya hails thus in the linga purANa: “Upon seeing a vaishNava – the devotee of vAsudhEva, whose blemishes are all burnt out completely – dhEvas approach him with utmost humility and fear and prostrate before him. Even when yama himself sees such a vaishNava whose sins are all completely burnt out, that son of sUrya (yama) stands up with folded palms and pays his obeisance. Hence, every person must revere the vaishNavas highly, akin to vishNu himself. If this is followed austerely, then such a person reaches the supreme abode of vishNu, and shall not be enquired for any of his actions by anyone.”

In the same linga purANa, the kauSika upAkhyana hails thus: “Having seen kauSika and others then, who sang the glories of bhagavAn, the grandsire of all worlds – the four faced brahmA – welcomed them befittingly, and paid his obeisance”

Statements such as these may be seen in abundance in all the purANas and other scriptures. One may pursue such sources (pramANas) as need be.

While describing the naraka in SrI vishNu thaththva, it is said thus: “The servitors of yama stay away from the devotees who have surrendered unto the divine feet of bhagavAn, since verily that SrI hari himself is the master of all such divine souls. All dhEvas including yama himself fear vaishNavas and abstain themselves from insulting them (by trying to punish them for any of their deeds in the naraka), since otherwise all of these worlds would be destroyed by bhagavAn. Since the inception of time (or creation), no devotee of bhagavAn has ever been taken to naraka with the fear of the supreme soul”.

The vishNu dharma hails thus: “yama picked up a soul who was being baked in naraka and asked him with a friendly tone as to why he did not worship kESava during his earlier birth. After all, kESava himself is the destroyer of all difficulties. Had he worshipped bhagavAn in his earlier birth, there would be no need for him to enter naraka at all!”

Etymology: The one who punishes (harms) yama and others who are involved in punishing the devotees of bhagavAn without comprehending their greatness, is called ‘simha:’.

हरिभक्तान् अविज्ञाय दण्डॆ प्रवणमानसान् |
हिनस्ति च यमादीन् यः स सिंहः परिकीर्तितः ||

490) bhUthamahESvara: (भूतमहॆश्वरः)

Since bhagavAn is capable of controlling yama and others as explained till the previous divine name, he is called ‘bhUthamahESvara:’.

yama, brahmA et al are called ‘bhUthESvarA:’ (भूतॆश्वराः), since they are ranked above the lower mortals. Since bhagavAn is superior to even such controllers, and controls them, he is called ‘bhUthamahESvara:’ – the supreme controller.

Etymology: he who controls even the ordinary controllers such as Yama, Brahma et al, and who is the primordial creator of all worlds, is called ‘bhUthamahESvara:’.

भूतॆश्वराणां स ब्रह्मा-यमादीनां नियन्त्रणात् |
कारणं जगतां यश्च स स्यात् भूतमहॆश्वरः ||

adiyen srinivasa raja ramanuja dasan

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