You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : March 1996

vishNu sahasranAmam - (3)

From: 'srini' Srinivasan Srivilliputhur (
Date: Tue Mar 12 1996 - 08:38:49 PST

I'll use the abbreviation SA and PB respectively to denote SankarAcharyA's 
and ParAsara Bhattar's commentaries. Sundar posted the Mangala slokas from
PB's version on March 11, 1996.  In this posting I'll post the Mangala slokas
due to SA.  I'll strive to post translations to at least 10 slokas every Friday
(except when I'm out of Seattle March 23-29, whole of May and some time in June)

Abbreviation Key:
	MuU - Mundaka Upanisad; KeU - Kena; KaU - Katha; 
        BrU - Brihadharanyaka;  

			Mangala Slokas (SankarAcArya)
sankara begins his commentary with these 3 mangala slokas.

(SA-1)  saccidAnandarUpAya kRshNAyAklishtakAriNe
	namo vedAntavedyAya gurave buddhisAkshiNe

	[  "Obeisance to kRshNa whose nature is sat (existence/being), 
	   cit (consciousness) and Ananda (bliss), who performs his 
	   functions without any effort, who is cognized by the vedAnta,
	   who is the guru (teacher) and who is the witness of buddhi".
	   Sankara wants to impress us that although kRshNa, in whose 
	   praise the sloka is sung is saguNa brahmaN, he is sat cit Ananda 
	   swarUpa parabrahmaN. He is not only vishNu but also the ultimate 
	   parabrahmaN or the supreme self.  ]

(SA-2)	kRshNAdvaipAyanam vyAsam sarvalokahite ratam
	vedAbjabhaskaram vande SamAdinilayam munim

	[  "I worship the muni kRshNAdvaipAyana vyAsa, devoted to the 
	   welfare of the world, who is to the vedas as the sun is to the 
	   lotus and who is the fountain of self-control".

	   The words "kRshNAdvaipAyanam vyAsam" is a reminder of the 
	   famous text, "kRshNAdvaipAyanam vyAsam viddhi nArAyaNam prabhum", 
	   and show that he is an avatAra of vishNu. He is the sun causing the 
	   lotusses to blossom. The vedas were in a massy and unclassified 
	   condition and they were like closed lotuses. vedavyAsa classified 
	   and handed them to the world for our moral and spiritual welfare. 
	   In Chapter 10 of Gita (vibhUti yoga), 
	                  kRshNa says "Of all sages, Iam vyAsa".  ]

(SA-3)  sahasramUrteH purushottamasya sahasranetrAnana pAdabAhoH
	sahasraNamam stavanam praSastam nirucyate janmajarAdiSAtyai

	[  "The admirable stotra containing the thousand names of the 
	   supreme pUrusha (person) who has thousands of forms, eyes, 
	   faces, feet and arms is now being expounded to enable the 
	   creation to overcome the samsAric evils".

	   The pUrusha sUkta, found in all the 4 vedas, describes the 
	   cosmic pUrusha divinity as having one thousand heads, eyes, 
	   and feet.  Sankara suggests in this sloka that the number of 
	   names viz. one thousand is quite appropriate for a stotra of 
	   the cosmic pUrusha having one thousand eyes, faces, feet and 
	   forms. He echoes the sloka of brahmadeva, recited at the end 
	   of the stotra saluting the SaSvata ananta purusha of one 
	   thousand forms, legs, eyes, heads and hands possessing one 
	   thousand names existing for one thousand crores of years i.e. 
	   for ever.  ]

			nAmAvali (one thousand names)

Before reciting the 1000 names of vishNu, bhIshma makes it clear to his 
listeners that all the names are are very well known names of the self 
of the universe, which are expressive of His attributes, which are famous
and which are ever and anon sung with Ananda (joy) by Rshis. Whether they 
are proper or attribute names, they convey the great guNas and beneficient 
aspects and deeds of the AtmA of the universe. bhIshma considers the 
recitation of sahasranAmam as the greatest dharma.  As He (vishNu) realizes, 
receives and enjoys the object here, He is named AtmA. He is the only AtmA 
who possesses unimaginamble powers.  All the four purushArthas - the four 
objects of human aspiration, viz, dharma, artha, kAma and moksha are 
attainable through the chanting of the sahasranAmam. As the first name in 
the series 'viSwam' indicates, it is an easy and effective remedy for all 
samsAric ills without any restrictions whatsoever.

Among the 1000 names the words 'Sun' etc. are used because they are not only 
His manifestations (vibhUtis) and are not distinct from Him. The vishNu purANa 
says: "You are the AtmA in all indriyas. You are tyhe chief AtmA. You are the 
jIvAtmA. You are the ultimate supreme AtmA (paramAtmA). Yopu are the one AtmA 
manifested in all these five ways". "Everything luminous and illuminating is 
vishNu.  All the world systems are vishNu; all the woods are vishNu; all the 
mountains, all the rivers, all the oceans and in fact everything which is seen 
and everything that is unseen are all He alone".

In Gita Lord kRshNa says: "Of all the AdityAs, Iam vishNu"; "Having pervaded 
this whole universe with a portition of Myself, I exist".  According 
Mundakopanisad, "The purusha is all this- sacrifice, askesis, brahma, the 
highest, the immortal".  These quotations provide a good background for a 
proper understanding of the importance of 1000 names of God.

Accordinf Sankara, the words such as vishNu, though repeated, must be taken as 
referring to different aspects in different places.  The 1000 names consist of 
words in masculine (qualify vishNu), feminine (qualify devatA) and neuter 
genders (qualify brahmaN). 

S. G. Srinivasan                email :
Graduate Student
Dept. Of Mater. Sci. & Engg.
University Of Washington        Phone : (206)-632-1083 (H)
Seattle, WA 98195                       (206)-685-3851 (W)