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SrI vishNu sahasranAmam - Slokam 51 - Part 1.

From: Krishnamachari, N (Krish) (
Date: Thu Apr 22 1999 - 16:10:29 PDT

			 SrI vishNu sahasranAmam - Slokam 51 - Part 1.

	dharma-gup dharma-kr*t dharmI sad_aksharam asat_ksharam       |
	avij~nAtA shasrAmSuh vidhAtA kr*ta-lakshaNah

om dharma-gupe namah
om dharma-kr*te namah
om dharmiNe namah
om sate namah
om akshara-sate namah
om asate namah
om asat-ksharAya namah
om avij~nAtre namah
om sahasrAmSave namah
om vidhAtre namah
on kr*ta-lakshaNAya namah

476. dharma-gup - He who protects dharma.

om dharma-gupe namah.

dharmam gopAyati rakshati iti dharma-gup.  SrI Sa~nkara gives reference to
the gItA 4.8- dharma sampsthAnaparthAya sambhavAmi yuge yuge.  SrI satyadevo
vAsishTha observes that bhagavAn is dharma-gup because He protects the
beings through dharma systematically from the time of creation to the time
of destruction.  An illustration of this is the rule that the seed comes
from the tree and the tree gives back the seed, thus continuing the process
of the existence and survival of life forms.  He gives reference to the
Sruti - trINi padA vicakrame vishNur-gopA adAbhyah | ato dharmANi dhArayan
|| (yajur. 34.43).

The dharma cakram writer elaborates on this nAma by pointing out that
bhagavAn maintains dharma by rewarding those who observe dharma (with
wealth, health etc.), and punishing those who violate dharma (through
disease, suffering, etc.). so that they can be returned to the path of
dharma.  Peace in the society, rain, good crops, and general prosperity
result when the society as a whole follows the path of dharma;  disease,
earth quakes, war, looting, famine, etc. result when the society fails to
follow the path of dharma.  Thus, this nAma should remind us that our
adherence to the path of righteousness in everything we do (our relations
with our wives/husbands, our treatment of our parents, the behavior of the
people who are involved in public projects on how they treat their public
responsibility, how a person who has renounced the worldly life treats the
wealth that he may be able to collect, etc.)., all reflect in bhagavAn's
administration of His dharma as the dharma-gup.

477. dharma-kr*t - a) He who induces His devotees to follow dharma.
		b) He who practices dharma.

om dharma-kr*te namah.

a) Those who follow dharma do so because of His anugraha.  SrI BhaTTar
quotes - dharmam sAmAnyam amalam anAdinidhanam vibhum  |  durlabham yat
prabuddhAnAm tat-prasAdayitA vinA  ||  - Ordinary flawless dharma, which is
without beginning or end and all-pervasive, cannot be attained without His
Grace even by those who have great knowledge.  BhagavAn induces people
towards the path of dharma for their own benefit, and without any benefit
for Him, out of His sheer Mercy. 
SrI v.v.rAmAnujan refers us to nammAzhvAr 5.6.4 - SeivArgaLaic-ceivEnum

b) Even though He is Himself above dharma and adharma, He rigorously
observes the path of dharma so that He sets an example to the others -
dharma maryAdA sthApanArtham dharmameva karoti iti dharma-kr*t - SrI

SrI rAdhAkr*shNa Sastri points out the importance of dharma in our lives.
The jIvAtmA is caged into this body as a result of the previous karmA-s.
BhagavAn has shown us the path of dharma in order for the jIva to get
release from this cage.  BhagavAn does not have any such need to observe
dharma etc. because karma does not touch Him.  Even so, He observes all the
dharma-s consistent with His avatAra. Lord kr*shNa's words in the gItA ch.
3.22-24 refer to this.  

		na me pArtha asti kartavyam trishu lokeshu ki~ncana  |  
		na anvAptam avAptavyam varta eva ca karmaNi ||  

		yadi hyayam na varteyam jAtu karmaNyatandritah |  
		mama vartma anuvartante manushyAh pArtha sarvaSah  ||  

		utsIdeyur_ime lokA na kuryAm karma cedaham |  
		s~ankarasya   ca kartA syAm upahanyAm imAh prajAh  || 

478. dharmI - He who has dharma as an instrument.

om dharmiNe namah.

dharmah asya asti iti dharmI.  BhagavAn is known as dharmI because He
protects dharma, and uses it as a common means to protect His devoteees.
nammAzhvAr refers to Him as "neRi ellAm eDuttu uraitta niRai j~nAnattu oru
mUrti (4.8.6) - SrI v.v.rAmAnujan. 

dharma is eternal and endless just as BhagavAn is eternal and endless.  He
is dharma-svarUpi.  Those who follow the path of dharma reach the fame that
is ever-lasting, and those who destroy dharma end up destroying themselves.
All this is illustrated by the case of the pANDava-s and the kaurava-s
respectively.  BhagavAn constantly keeps imparting the path of dharma to His
devotees, in addition to setting an example to us by following dharma
Himself.  When BhIshma was about to leave his material body, bhagavAn took
yudhisThira to his bedside and asked bhIshma to impart all his knowledge of
dharma to his deserving grandson.  This nAma of mahAvishNu should constantly
remind us that bhagavAn is there always striving to show us the path of
dharma in every way. (dharma cakram).

The fact that bhagavAn is reflecting dharma all the time constantly to us is
evident when we see the sun, the moon etc. always following their prescribed
dharma without fail.  The sun always rising in the east and setting in the
west, the cycle of the moon, etc, are constant reminders to us of this fact
(SrI satyadevo vAsishTha).

The next four words are sat, aksharam, asat and ksharam, which are combined
in different sequence by SrI BhaTTar and by SrI Sa~nkara.  SrI BhaTTar uses
the sequence "sad-aksharam asad-ksharam", and SrI Sa~nkara uses the sequence
"sat asat ksharam aksharam".  The nAma-s they derive out of this sequence
are similar, except that SrI BhatTTar treats the word aksharam as an
adjective for sat, and the word ksharam as the adjective for asat.  Thus the
nAma-s according to his vyAkhyAna are sat, sad-aksharam, asat, and
asad-ksharam.  The nAma-s per SrI Sa~nkara are sat, asat, ksharam, and
The nAma-s sat and a-sat can be treated as a pair of opposites, and the
nAma-s sad-aksharam and asad-ksharam can similarly be treated as a pair. 

479. sat -a) He who is commendable.
	b) He who is ever existent.
	c) He who is in the form of good and meritorious acts.

om sate namah.

In SrImad bhagavad gItA, bhagavAn instructs arjuna on the significance of
the three terms "om, tat, and sat" in chapter 17.  Sloka-s 17.26-27 deal
with the word sat.  sat refers to existence (sad-bhAva), goodness
(sAdhu-bhAva), and auspicious or commendable action (praSaste karmaNi).  The
Sloka in gItA is - 

		sadbhAve sAdhubhAve ca sad-ityetat prayucyate  | 
		praSaste karmaNi tathA sac-chabdhah pArtha yujyate  ||  

SrI BhaTTar points out that bhagavAn is sat because He is unconditionally
auspicious and commendable, and He is also eternal in existence.
(nirupAdhikAt sad-bhAvAt, sAd-guNyacca).  SrI P.B. aNNa~ngarAcArya svAmi
gives reference to AzhvAr pASuram - uLan kaNDAi nan-ne~njE uttaman enRu uLan
kaNDAi, in support of the second of the above meanings.  

In advaitic interpretation, the meaning for this word is given as "Truth".
SrI rAdhAkr*shNa Sastri points out that in truth, there are two kinds - one
is pAramArthika sat - that which is true in all three time frames (past,
present, and future).  The other is vyAvahArika sat - like this world, which
originates in the pAramArthika sat and merges back into the pAramArthika sat
at the time of pralaya.  BhagavAn is the pAramArthika sat or nitya sat.

480. aksharam (sat) - a) He whose existence is never diminished or destroyed
in any way.
	b) sad-aksharam - He who never forsakes the good.
om akshara-sate namah.

SrI BhaTTar points out that aksharam is an adjective for sat (the previous
nAma), and thus gives the current nAma as sad-aksharam or aksharam-sat.
ksharam is that which decays or diminishes, or something that does not stay
associated with something else, and aksharam is that which is never
diminished or decays.   His sat or Existence, does not undergo any decrease
or diminution.  This is also true of His svarUpa and His kalyANa guNa-s.  So
the meaning of this nAma is - He who is ever existent without decrease or
destruction.  SrI BhaTTar gives reference to vishNu purANam and to ChAndogya
upanishad -

	apakshaya vinASAbhyAm pariNAmardhi-janmabhih      | 
	varjitah Sakyate vaktum yah sadAstIti kevalam               ||   VP

	"He is free from decrease, destruction, modification, growth and
birth.  He can only be spoken of as That which always is".

In ChAndogya upanishad 6.2.1we have - sadeva somya! idamagra AsIt - "
Existence alone, My dear child, this was in the beginning, one only without
a second." 

b)The root from which the word ksharam is derived is kshar - sa~ncalane to
flow, to distil (SrI satyadevo vAsishTha).  In the context of SrI BhaTTar's
vyAkhyAnam for nAma 482, sad-aksharam could also mean He who never parts
with or forsakes the good.    

481. a-sat - a) That which does not exist now, but existed in the past as
well as will exist in the future.
	b) He who is the cause of misery to those who do sinful acts.
	c) He who is non-existent for those who do not follow the path of

om a-sate namah.

a. In gItA 9.19, bhagavAn says "amr*tam caiva mr*tyuSca sat asat ca aham
arjuna - "I am immortality as well as death, O arjuna.  I am the being as
well as the non-being".  SrI rAmAnujna bhAshyam for this stanza is:  sat is
that which exists now (sad yad vartate), and asat is that which does not
exist now but which existed before and which may exist in the future (asad
yad atItam ca anAgatam ca).  Thus bhagavAn is a-sat (non-being) in the sense
of sat meaning existence as we saw in the gItA Slokam 17.26, and a-sat being
the things that don't exist now, but existed in the past and will exist in
the future.

b. In the sense of sad referring to good acts (sAdhu-bhAve in gItA Slokam
17.26), bhagavAn is a-sat in the sense of being the cause of distress to
those who do sinful acts (SrI BhaTTar).  This is in the form of the great
misery of endless samsAra (birth and death).

c. He is also non-existent (asat) with respect to those who do not follow
the path of dharma.  SrI v.v.rAmAnujan refers us to tirumAlai 15 - meyyarkkE
meyyanAgum vidi ilA ennaipOla poyyarkkE poyyanAgum puT-koDi uDaiya kOmAn,
and to nammAzhvAr - meyyanAgum virumbit-tozhuvArkkellAm poyyanAgum puRame
tozhuvArkkellAm (tiruvAimozhi 9.10.7).     

482. asat-ksharam - He who moves away from the bad.

om asat-ksharAya namah.

ksharam refers to something perishable or impermanent.  ksharam also means
something which flows away ( kshar sa~ncalane to flow, to distil).  BhagavAn
does not associate with the bad, and so He is ksharam with respect to the
asat (SrI BhaTTar). 

SrI satyadevo vAsishTha interprets ksharam as referring to this Universe
(the dynamism associated with it), and to aksharam as referring to the
antaryAmi in everything, which is responsible for all the movement in the
Universe.   Thus, bhagavAn is simultaneously ksharam (moving) and aksharam
(the cause of this movement).  He nicely illustrates this demonstration of
the ksharam and aksharam aspects of bhagavAn by a simple day-to-day example
- when we walk, one leg is moving while the other leg is stationary.
Similarly, bhagVaN is both kshara in the form of all things moving in the
Universe, and akshara in the form of the antaryAmi supporting this movement.
The author gives several examples from the Sruti, one of which is the
ISAvasya upanishad verse - 

		tadejati tan-naijati tad-dUre tadv-antike | 
		tadantrasya sarvasya tadu sarvasya bAhyatah  ||

SrI cinmayAnanda gives an example of the concept of bhagavAn being ksharam
and a-ksharam at the same time - the waves of the ocean rise and decay, but
they are nothing but the ocean that is non-decaying.  So they are both part
of the same thing.

-To be continued.

-dAsan kr*shNamAcAryan