You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : July 1998

(no subject)

From: Krishnamachari, N (Krish) (
Date: Tue Jul 21 1998 - 12:38:42 PDT

		SrI vishNu sahasranAmam - Slokam 37.

		aSokas-tAraNah tArah SUrah Saurir_janeSvarah      |
		anukUlah SatAvartah padmI padma-nibhekshaNah   ||

om aSokAya namah
om tAraNAya namah
om tArAya namah
om SUrAya namah
om Sauraye namah
om janeSvarAya namah
om anukUlAya namah
om SatAvartAya namah
om padmine namah
om padma-nibhekshaNAya namah

The previous nAma, purandarah, and the following three nAma-s, aSoka,
tAraNa, and tAra, are interpreted in terms of bhagavAn's guNa of removing
the fears of different kinds in us.  Different vyAkhyAna-kartA-s have
associated the different types of fears with the different nAma-s, but the
underlying idea is that His dayA is helping to remove these fears from us.
SrI rAdhAkr*shNa SAstri sums this up nicely - "Especially when we have
difficulties of any kind, chanting the sequence of nAmas
"aSokas-tAraNas-tArah" will help us overcome these difficulties".   SrI
BhaTTar has referred to these fears in terms of AdyAtmika, Adi-bhautika, and
Adi-daivika.  Adi-daivika is the class of fears that can arise from the
asura-s etc.  The Adi-bhautika group is the category of fears that can
arises from enemies, animals such as tiger, lion, serpent, etc.  The
AdyAtmika refers to the fears such as sorrow, delusion, hunger, etc.
There is also the major fear, that of the cycle of birth and death, that of

One may wonder how bhagavAn helps in removing the fears of these kinds, when
we know most of us have the fear anyway.  The dharma cakram writer gives a
very good explanation.  Fear arises when we associate our life with our
body.  When we realize the true nature of our soul, then we know there is
nothing to fear, because the soul is neither created nor destroyed.  When
one meditates on mahA vishNu, one realizes this true nature of AtmA, and
then he is relieved of all fears.  This is how bhagavAn helps in removing
the fears described below.   

With this brief introduction, let us look at the individual nAma-s.

338 a-Sokah - The dispeller of sorrows.

om a-SokAya namah

SrI Sankara and SrI BhaTTar give differing but equally enlightening
vyAkhyAna-s for this.  SrI BhaTTar points out that bhagavAn has this nAma
because He is the dispeller of the troubles such as sorrow, delusion,
hunger, etc.  SrI Sankara gives the interpretation that bhagavAn is devoid
of defects such as sorrow, delusion, hunger, etc., and so He has this nAma.

In SrI BhaTTar's vyAkhyAna. this nAma is associated with His removing the
sorrows of the adhyAtmika kind.  The next nAma will be interpreted in terms
of Adi-bhautika.  nAma 336, purandarah, which was covered last week, covered
the category of sorrows designated as Adi-daivika.  Thus, the sequence of
nAma-s purandarah, aSokah, tAraNah, and tArah, are interpreted as His guNa
of protecting us from all the different kinds of fears. 

339.  tAraNah - He who takes others to the other shore (a boat).

om tAraNAya namah.

tArayati iti tArah - One who helps in crossing.   The interpretation that
SrI BhaTTar gives, continuing on the vyAkhyAna he gave for purandara and
aSoka, is that this name refers to His assisting us in overcoming the fears
grouped as Adi-bhautika.  SrI BhaTTar reserves the explanation that He helps
in crossing the ocean of samsAra for the next nAma, tAra, whereas SrI
Sankara associates the current nAma with this guNa of bhagavAn. 

SrI cinmayAnanda seems to make a subtle suggestion that tAraNa refers to
bhagavAn "helping" others crossing the ocean of samsAra, whereas the next
nAma "tAra" refers to His saving others Himself.  I wonder if the difference
is one of throwing a stick to someone who is drowning but trying to swim,
vs. pulling out the drowning person when he has given up swimming.  This is
the kind of distinction that is made sometimes between how the person who is
persuing the bhakti mArga for attaining moksha is helped by bhagavAn vs. one
who is following the prapatti mArga. 

340. tArah - The Savior.

om tArAya namah.

SrI BhaTTar's interpretation is that He is tArah because He makes His
devotees cross over the ocean of samsAra.  The following quote from
atharva-Siras (4) - "garbha-janma-jarA-maraNa- samsAra sAgara mahA bhayAt
tArayati tasmAt ucyate tArah" - One who takes His devotee across the great
fear of the ocean of samsAra consisting of garbha-vAsa or conception, birth,
aging, and death.

341. SUrah - The Valiant.

om SUrAya namah.

This nAma is derived from the root "Su" to go, and signifies the urge for
victory.  Perhaps to emphasize the "go" aspect of this nAma, SrI
v.v.rAmAnujan gives examples from divya prabandham  which illustrate the
"go-get" nature of His victories.  "SenRu a~ngu ten ila~ngai SeRRAn" -
tiruppAvai; "SenRu a~ngu vANanai Ayiram tOzhim tenRit tiSai tiSai vIzhac
cheRRAi" - periYAzhvAr tirumozhi 5.3.4 (Note the choice of the word "SenRu"
in both examples). 

The dharma cakram writer illustrates the significance of this nAma for our
day-to-day life.  He points out that whenever there is battle between the
deva-s and asura-s, the asura-s invariable win first, and then the deva-s
seek the help of mahA vishNu who then helps them defeat the evil asura-s.
Our life is a replay of this scenario, with the constant battle between the
bad qualities in us and the good in us.  Invariably, the bad will win out
unless we seek the help of mahA vishNu by chanting His nAma.  This is what
we should learn from this nAma. 

342. Saurih - a) The son of valiant people like vasudeva, dasaratha, etc.
	b) The grandson of SUra, the name of vasudeva's father.
	c) The descendant of the group of people called SUra-s in the yAdava

om Sauraye namah.

The above different interpretations are found for this nAma based on the
different vyAkhyAna-s.  The first is from SrI parAsara BhaTTar and others
writers who base their vyAkhyAa-s on SrI BhaTTar.  The second is from SrI
Sankara.  The third is from SrI rAdhAkr*shNa SAstri.   In support of the
first interpretation, SrI v.v.rAmAnujan points out the valor of nandagopan -
ODAda tOL valian nadagOpan kumaran, the valor of dasaratha - dayaraRkku
maganAit tOnRi - born as the son of the valiant dasaratha, etc.
SrI Sankara's interpretation is that bhagavAn in His incarnation as kr*shNa
was born as the son of vasudeva, whose father's name was SUra.   SUrasya
gotrApatyam pumAn Saurih or SUra kulodbhavAt Saurih.  SrI rAdhAkr*shNa
SAstri points out that among the yAdava-s, there was a group who were called
the SUra-s.  Since vasudeva was from this group, kr*shNa is Saurih.

343. janeSvarah - The Lord of the people.

om janeSvarAya namah.

janAnAm jantUnAm ISvarah janeSvarah - The Lord of all things that are born
or created.  The dharma cakram writer points out that bhagavAn is the Leader
of everything by guiding them always as appropriate.   When there is
suffering, those that meditate on Him benefit by those sufferings by
reaching higher levels, and those that don't benefit fall to lower levels
till they reach a point when they feel they need to seek Him. At this point
He guides them appropriately to the higher levels.  SrI satyadevo vAsishTha
gives the interpretation that He is janeSvarah because He gives aiSvarya or
wealth to people.

344. anukUlah - One who is within bounds.

om anukUlAya namah.

kUlam means shore.  kUlam anuvartate iti anukUlah - One who is constrained
by the limits.  Lord rAma had great valor, but was not was conscious and
wonder-struck about that - "vIryavAn na ca vIeyeNa mahatA svena vismitah".
SrI P.B. aNNa~ngarAcArya svAmi explains that in spite of His enormous and
unbounded greatness, He is easily accessible to those who seek Him.  He is
bound by bhakti,  and this is His AnukUlya svabhAva or ability to be within
bounds.  SrI v.v.rAmAnujan points out the incident of His being bound by
yaSodA - being within the bounds of what a child is supposed to be -
kaNNInUN SiruttAmbinAl kattuNNap paNNiya peru mAyan.  Aycci kaNNIk
kayiRRinAl kaTTat tAn kaTTuNDirundAn - mUnRAm tiruvantAdi - 91.  Without
knowing His identity, YasodA challenges Him - Make yourself free if you can!
 - "yadi Saknoshi gaccha tvam ati ca~ncala ceshTita!" - and He just remains
tied, because He is anukUlah.

SrI cinmayAnanda gives the interpretation that He is anukUlah because He
always goes along with whatever anyone does.  Thus a murderer commits his
murder, and another helps humanity, and bhagavAn just is the Observer in
both cases.  He keeps Himself within His bounds.  SrI rAdhAkr*shNa SAstri
gives the meaning that anukUla means going towards the shore, based on kUla
= shore.  bhagavAn is anukUla because He helps His devotees go towards the
shore when they try to cross the ocean of samsAra.

The dharma cakram writer points out that bhagavAn is always acting His role
as an anukUlah to everyone (including the murderer in the above para) by
being the internal conscience of everyone and telling them what is right.
The inner conscience is always pointing to what is right and what is wrong.
Those who obey their inner conscience do not do anything that will be
negative to their path of progress towards Him, and those who disobey their
inner conscience deteriorate and move away from Him.  But He does His job of
being the anukUlah in everyone's case all the time by being their inner

345. SatAvartah - a) He who has several incarnations to sustain dharma
	b) He whose wealth is bubbling but not overflowing (like vortices)
	c) He who maintains and manages several cycles - the cycle of
samsAra for all the beings, the cakra-s of graha-s, nakshatra-s etc. 

om SatAvartAya namah.

Sata means hundred.  Here it means innumerable.  For the protection of
dharma in the world, He takes infinite varieties of forms or incarnations,
and so He is called SatAvarta (SrI Sankara).  Recall "dharama
samsthApanArthAya sambhavAmi yuge yuge".  Another interpretation, also by
SrI Sankara, is that it refers to the 100 nADi's or vessels that proceed
from the heart and maintain prANa or life in the body - nADI-Sate prANa
rUpeNa vartata iti vA.   

dharma cakram:  There are several examples which illustrate His guNa of
SatAvarta.  He appears in the form of the sun everyday in order to sustain
life in this world.  SrI satyadevo vAsishTha gives the reference to atharva
veda - sUryasya Avr*tam anvAvarte - 10.5.37.  His repeated incarnations in
human form to protect dharma in this world is another example.  His
protection of pAnDava-s and draupadi repeatedly when they were in distress
is another example.  He protected draupadi from duryodhana's evil act of
stripping her in public, from durvAsa's curse when he tested her by
appearing in her house and asking for food after she had cleaned the akshaya
pAtra, etc.  He protected prahlAda from all cruelties meted out to him by
hiraNyakaSipu.  He did many wonders by protecting the yAdava people in His
incarnations as kr*shNa.  

Avarta also means vortex.  Since His riches (aiSvarya) are so enormous that
they keep expressing themselves without overflowing like hundreds of
whirlpools, He is called SatAvarta (SrI BhaTTar).   In spite of this, He is
easily accessible to His devotees.  This corroborates the Mantra of the
para-aspect of the Lord - SAntodita vij~nAna prANAya - Unto Him of tranquil
and ever-growing knowledge and life.

SrI satyadevo vAsishTha uses the meaning "many" for Sata, and cycle (cakra)
for Avarta, and gives the explanation that bhagavAn has this nAma because He
rotates or cycles the lives through cycles of samsAra.   Another way to look
at this nAma is that He controls different kinds of cycles - nakshatra
cakra, rASi cakra, graha cakra, etc.

The aspects of para-vAsudeva with reference to His qualities have been
described so far (from the 334th nAma - vAsudeva).  Now begins the rUpa or
form of para-vAsudeva in SrI BhaTTar's interpretation.

346. padmI - He who carries the lotus in His hand.

padmam is what He carries in one of His four hands (Sankha, cakra, and gadA
are in the other three hands).  The lotus signifies the sAttvic qualities of
bhagavAn viz. dharma, j~nAna, vairAgya, and aiSvarya (SrI rAdhAkr*shNa
SAstri).  He refers us to SrImad bhAgavatam - itareNa dhunAnam abjam - with
the other hand He is playing with the lotus (10.23.22).  The padmam is
suggestive of His always being ready to welcome anyone who comes to Him.

SrI cinmayAnanda points out that bhagavAn first blows His conch and invites
us to offer His "knowledge" - signified by His padma, and if they don't
listen to this, He uses His gadA to give a gentle knock, and if this does
not yield results, then there is the cakra, which annihilates the evil and
restores order again.  One is reminded of sAma, dAna, bheda, and danDa.

SrI satyadevo vAsishTha uses the meaning "knowledge" for the word padma, and
suggests that one who gives True Knowledge or one who has True Knowledge is

347 - padma-nibhekshaNah - One who has eyes which resemble the lotus.

om padama-nibhkshaNAya namah.

This nAma describes the cool, benevolent, kind, inviting, consoling,
appearance of His eyes, which look like the lotus flowers.   SrI
v.v.rAmAnujan provides references from prabandham - "un mugam maiyyal ERRi
mayakkum mAya mandiram tAn kolO? ceyya tAmaraik kaNNinAi" - nAcciAr
tirumozhi 2-4;  "uvagaiyAl ne~njam uLLurugi un tAmaraik kaN vizhigaLin aga
valaip paDuppAn" - tiruvAi mozhi 6.2.7.  

SrI rAdhAkr*shNa SAstri points out that the sequence of nAma-s anukUlah
SatAvartah padmI padma-nibhekshaNah all refer to the quality of bhagavAn's
helping nature when one seeks His help.

The dharma cakram writer reminds of the saying "The face is the index of the
mind".  In this case, bhagavAn's lotus-eyes are conveying to us His Inner
Nature.  The equivalent of this nAma in tamizh is "tAmaraik kaNNan".

 -dAsan kr*shNamAcAryan



Narasimhan Krishnamachari (Krish)
IH 6H-413