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SrI vishNu sahasra nAmam - Slokam 70 - a-nirdeSya-vapuh.

From: Narasimhan Krishnamachari (
Date: Fri Feb 22 2002 - 10:18:37 PST

662. aniedeSya-vapuh - a) He of indefinable form 
Om anirdeSya-vapushe namah.

This nAma occurred earlier as nAma 179 (Slokam 19).   Please visit the
write-up for nAma 179 as well.

SrI kRshNa datta bhAradvAj gives the derivation thus:  na nirdeshTum
Sakyam vapuh yasya iti anirdeSya-vapuh - He is anirdeSya-vapuh because
He has a body that is beyond the reach of the mind, words, etc.

In his vyAkhyAnam for this nAma under Slokam 19, SrI BhaTTar quotes
from maula samhitA, and gives an analysis of the difference between the
nature of bhagavAn's form vs. our forms.  Our body is formed by the
seven great elements - the pa'nca bhUta-s, plus mahat and ahamkAra.  We
possess intellect, mind, body and limbs.  From the SAstra-s we know
that bhagavAn also has intellect, mind, body and limbs.  So the
question arises:  "Of what substance is bhagavAn's body composed?", and
the answer is given:  BhagavAn's body is composed of His form itself". 
 In other words, there is nothing else of which He is composed, and so
He can't be described in terms of something else.   This
a-nirdeSya-vapuh is further revealed thus:  "BhagavAn is of
indescribable form because His body is knowledge incarnate, lordship
incarnate, power incarnate, like the glowing ember, of the burning
khAdira or silk-cotton that has fire on all sides, like pure honey,
when drunk, that is sweet on all sides, like a bar of gold that is
being polished is gold all around, like a mansion that will be
attractive when viewed from all angles.  Similarly, bhagavAn is
entirely lordship and power in full.  Whatever He wants to become, He
becomes".  It is very clear that this description keeps looking for
similes to describe Him unsuccessfully, illustrating that He can't be

SrI BhaTTar also gives reference to SrI vishNu purANa (1.2.10-1.2.12),
which states the impossibility of describing Him:  "Who can describe
Him who is not apprehended by the senses, who is the best of all
things, the Supreme Soul, Self-existent, who is devoid of all the
distinguishing characteristics of form, color, etc., is exempt from
birth, growth, aging, death or decay, who exists everywhere and in whom
everything exists always……..".  - varjjitah Sakyate vaktum yah sadA
asti iti kevalam - All we can do is say that He exists always, but we
can't describe Him in words.

SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri quotes kaThopanishd 2.2.14 - "anirdeSyam paramam
sukham" in support of the interpretation of this nAma.

 Those who have realized Him give up after struggling for words in
their description of Him, as evidenced by the pASuram-s of AzhvArs.  
The thought is poured out by tiruma'ngai AzhvAr in his 3rd pASuram in
tiruneDunTAnDakam (referenced by SrI v.v. rAmAnujan): 

	tiruvaDivil karu neDu mAl Seyan enRum, tirEdaik kaN vaLai uruvAit
tigazhndAn enRum
	peru vaDivil kaDal amudam koNDa kAlam, perumAnaik karu nIla vaNNan
	oru vaDivattu Or uru enRu uNaral AgAdu, Uzhi tORu Uzhi ninRu Ettal
	karu vaDivil Se'nkaNNa vaNNan tannai, kaTTuraiyE yAr oruvar

"By nature, He who has immense Mercy towards His creation is dark like
the water-laden clouds; in tretA yugam, He is known to have a reddish
color; in kRta yugam His complexion is white like that of the conch. 
In each yugam devotees can worship Him in whatever form(s) He chooses
to present Himself in, but beyond worshipping, we cannot precisely
understand His true form.  People can describe this nIla megha SyAmalan
with lotus-like reddish eyes as they want, but none can describe Him in
the form in which He has revealed Himself to me".

SrI v.v. rAmAnujan also gives reference to nammAzhvAr's tiruvAimozhi
8.8.2 - paDiyE idu enRu uraikkalAm paDiyan allan paramparan - His
Nature is not such that it can be described as such and such; IDum
eDuppum il ISan - There is nothing that is equal to Him or above Him
(tiruvAi. 1.6.3); oruvaraiyum nin oppAr oppu ilA enginRALAl (peria
tirumozhi 8.1.2) - There is no one comparable to Him.  In praising Lord
oppiliappan of tiruviNNagaram, nammAzhvAr refers to Him as "tan oppAr
il appan" - oppu ili appan (tiruvAi. 6.3.9).    

There are vast numbers of additional references in divya prabandham
pointing to the indescribable nature of bhagavAn, but one more from
nammAzhvAr is included:

	kOlamE! tAmariak kaNNadOr a'njana 
nIlamE! ninRu enadAviyai IrginRa
SilamE! SenRu SellAdana munnilAm
kAlamE! unnai ennAL kaNDu koLvEnE?  (tiruvAi. 3.8.8) 

One can feel the depth of feeling that the great AzhvAr is trying to
convey through words, of the experience that cannot be described in

We have the tiatittirIya upanishd mantra - yato vAco nivartante,
aprApya mansA saha (Anandavalli - anu. 4) - He is inaccessible to words
or to mind; He can only be experienced. Similar passages abound in
veda; e.g., kenopanishad 1.5 to 1.9 - Brahman is that which reveals
speech, but which cannot be revealed by speech; that which gives us the
ability to see but which cannot be seen, etc.; ISAVAsya upanishad
mantra 4-5 (The Self is inaccessible to the mind since it is faster
than the mind; it is beyond the reach of the senses; It moves and moves
not; It is far for those who are ignorant, and near for those who are
wise; It is within and without; etc.).

 Under the current nAma, SrI BhaTTar's anubhavam is that bhagavAn
assumes different forms in the different yuga-s as needed in order to
bless the devotees, and so He is called a-nirdeSya-vapuh.  The nirukti
author summarizes SrI BhaTTar's thoughts thus - yugAnusAri rUpatvAt 

SrI satyadevo vAsishTha observes that He is inside everyone, permeates
everything inside and out, has a virAT SarIra (viSva rUpa), is neither
born nor ends nor ages, and this is His guNa of anirdeSya-vapuh.  

b) SrI satyadevo vAsishTha also gives an alternate interpretation that
is not given by any of the other major vyAkhyAna kartA-s, based on the
root vap - bIja santAne chedane ca - to sow (the seed, vapati).  Since
bhagavAn is the One who sows the seeds that result in the creation of
the Universe, and since He is indescribable, He is the Indescribable
Originator or the seed-sower.  He relates the origin of the word bAp or
bApu in hindi to this root vap - to sow.

-dAsan kRshNamAcAryan

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