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From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Tue Jul 29 1997 - 20:04:04 PDT

Dear Sri Vidyasankar and Sri Krishnamachari : 

I am responding to your individual queries on
Bhasma DhAraNam and DhAthA /VidhAthA names
of the Lord in VishNu Sahasra Naamam . My response
is not from a position of a learned scholar , but from 
the point of view of a novitiate . This is not a statement 
to cover false modesty . The subject is vast and many 
intrepretations are possible . I am sharing my thoughts 
in the spirit of trying to push the envelope fartherin our 

Bhasma DharaNam & Sriman NaarAyaNA worship

I agree with Sri Vidyasankar that there is no inherent 
contradiction between worshipping NaarAyaNA and wearing 
Vibhuthi on the forehead. His identification of the superiority 
of Vaithika KarmAs among the hierarchy of KarmAs , while 
assessing that J~nanA route is preferrable to KarmA route 
is consistent with the Samrtha sampradhAyam . 

Decorating( smearing )  one's forehead with sacred ashes (basmam/
vibhuthi ) is the first important act after snAnam and before 
beginning Vaidhika Karmas such as Namakam , chamaka 
pArAyaNam and performance of laghu or mahA nyAsam . 
Rudra archana , abhishEka vidhis require one to 
smear the sacred ashes on the devotee's body using the 
procedures outlined for BhasmOddhulanam / Bhasma
guntanam / bhasma lEpanam . " BhasmOddhulanam 
bhadramasthu bhavathu " is the prayer . Other Bhasma 
vidhis are prescribed .

The naamams for Lord SivA invoking his identification 
with ashes are Bhasma Saayin and Bhasma priyan." Bhasma 
snAnam " is done during  maanaseeka puja . The wearing
of sacred ashes is the reminder of Sri Rudran as 
suggested by the portion of the dhyAna slokam for one of 
the manthrams of Sri Rudram :

trilOchanam bhasma bhujanga bhooshaNam 
dhyAEth pasoonAm pathim--

Just as Sri VaishNavAs wear ThirumaNN to
remind themselves of BhagavAn's sacred feet , 
the samartha sampradhayam requires one to 
identify with the Lord's bhushaNam as Thiruneeru . 
The NayanmArs can not visualize their Lord 
without the Bhasmam . 

For instance , the first song that came out
of the mouth of Thiruj~naana Sambhandhar at the tender 
age of three at SeerkhAzhi in response to the 
darsanam of Parvathi-ParamEsvaran was :

thodudya seviyan vidaiyEriOr thooveNN madhisoodikk--
kAdudaya sudalippodi poosi yennuLLam kavar kaLvan--

Appar slautes EkAmrEswarar of Kanchipuram as
" Kacchi mayAnatthAn " to connect to the bhasmam
to the samhAra aspect of Sri Rudran .

Another Siva Bhakthar visualizes his Ishta daivam
as " Sadayum piraiyum saambar poocchum 
        keezh udayum konda uruvam--"

Both ThirumaNN by Sri VaishNavAs and the Thriuneer
by SmArthAs are worn on their bodies in the context of 
Nithya Vaidhika KarmAs in the context of the Saanthi Paatam 
for kEnOpanishad :

aapyAyanthu mamAngAni--sarvam brahmOpanishadam 
maaham Brahma nirAkuryAm , maa maa Brahma nirakarOth I
anirAkAraNamasthu anirAkAraNam mE asthu II 

(meaning ) : May all my limbs and faculties -- karmEndriyAs,
speech , prANan -- become powerful to do their respective 
duties (associated with Vaidhika KarmAs ) . All embody the 
Brahman shining in the Upanishads . May that Brahman 
never disassociate from me ! May I not be separated ever
from that Brahman ! I pray that this inseparable  relation 
between us be firmly established ! " .

All the SankarAchAryAs conclude their Srimukhams with 
" NaarAyaNa Smrithi " in the spirit of BrahmAnubhavam . 
Another instance of their merging NaarAyaNa worship with 
their sampradhAyam as SmArthAs is in MahA NyAsam .
In Laghu NyAsam .  The prayer begins with :

athAthmAnam SivAthmAnam Sri Rudra Roopam dhyAyeth 

The MahAnyAsa Kramam was written by BhOdhAyanA .
After panchAnga , DasAnga NyAsam , Hamsa Gayathri , 
Digh samputa nyAsam , ShodasAnga RowdhreekaraNam 
and Siva sankalpam comes PURUSHA SOOKTHAM ,
UTTARA NAARAYANAM , Kavacham , nEthram , asthram ,
ashtAnga praNAmam and concludes with Pala sruthi .
( ----yEvam ya: kuruthE nithyam sarva paapai: pramuchyathE I 
sarvAn kAmAn avApnOthi Siva saayujyam aapnuyAth II ) .

SmArthAs thus do not find any conflict between worshipping 
Srimamn NaarAyaNA and being SivA worshippers .

Sahasra Naamams DhAthA and VidhAthA 

Sri parAsara Bhattar was a genius in intrepreting 
scriptures and being a great AchArya . Hence , whatever
I say here is only to expand my own awareness of the roots
of the two naamAs . 

DhAthA is the name both for VishNu and BrahmA .
The root is from vidh meaning , " to bring about ,
to appoint , to accomplish , to grant , to cause , 
to produce , to create ,  to prescribe to nourish 
and to command " . Thus , the naamam dhAthA 
is thus much more than Creator .

The key may be in the Rg Veda Manthram in the tenth
canto , which starts with " DhAthA  DhAthruNAm bhuvanasya ---

The word VidhAthA also means creator . It is also another
name for Brahman/Sriman NaarAyaNan , the creator of BrahmA .

The section of Purusha Sooktham " dhAthA purasthAthyamu-
dhAjahAra I sakra: pravidhvAn pradhisaschathasra: II
tamEvam vidwAn amrutha iha bhavathi I nAnyA : panthA 
ayanAya vidhyathE II"

Saayana Bhashyam says : " Purvasmin kAlE chathurmukha : 
yamAth mana: kAraNa: bhoothamudhAjahAra , tvam vai 
poorvam samabhoo: I tvamidham poorvam kurushva ithi II " .

(meaning ) : In the ancient time , the four -faced BrahmA declared 
the DhAthA( VishNu ) as the cause of his being and as 
the one superior to him in every way and as the one 
who commanded him to engage in creation of the universe 
with His power ---" .

Purusha Sooktham portion goes on to state that one  who 
undrstands the primacy and supermacy of Sriman NaarAyaNA
this way attains immortality . It declares that there is no other way
( nAnya: panthA ayanAya vidhyEthE ) .

The next naamam , " dhaathurutthama: " recognizes the truth 
adumbrated in the Brahma -Rudra SamvAdham referred to by
Sri ParAsara bhattar on Yajna agra haranam ( precedence in 
honoring the Gods in a Yajnam ) . Brahma attests to the agra
sthAnam (first place ) of VishNu here and that is 
the basis of the naama , "dhAthurutthama : " . 

Om Veda PurushAya Nama :

Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan