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From: N Krishnamachari (krish_at_ihgp.ih.lucent.com)
Date: Tue May 13 1997 - 09:42:01 PDT
Dear Devotees: Part 4 of Sri Vishnu Sahasra NAmam Overview is included below. This is the concluding part of this contribution. -Dasan Krishnamachari ====================== Sri Vishnu Sahasra NAmam - Part 4. The Benefits As was pointed out earlier, traditionally our prayers end with a phala sruti - a section on the benefits of reciting the prayer. The Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram is no exception. The necessity of cleansing our body regularly to maintain our physical hygiene and good health is recognized by every one. But perhaps because we do not "see" our mind the same way as we see our body (i.e., as an externally visible entity), the necessity of keeping our minds clean is not as clearly recognized. However, those who do not "cleanse" their mind on a regular basis become "mentally" sick over a period of time, just as they become physically sick if they do not cleanse their body on a regular basis. Prayers are a means to mental cleansing when they are chanted with sincerity and devotion. This aspect of the usefulness of prayers in everyone's life is common to all prayers. The importance of Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram is that the deity being worshiped is none other than Vasudeva (sri maha vishnuh paramatma sriman narayano devata; saktir devaki nandanah; itidam kirtaniyasya kesavasya mahatmanah namnam sahasram divyanam aseshena prakirtitam; sahasram vasudevasya namnam etat prakirtayet, etc.). Sri Vyasa points out that it is by the power and command of Vasudeva that the sun, the moon, the stars, the world, and the oceans are controlled (sa chandrarka nakshatra kham diso bhur mahodadhih vasudevasya viryena vidhrtani mahatmanah). The whole universe of the Gods, Asuras, Gandharvas, etc., is under the sway of Lord Krishna (sasurasura gandharvam ....). In Bhishma's expert judgment, chanting Vasudeva's name with devotion and sincerity will ensure relief from sorrows and bondage. This in a nutshell is the phala sruti or the benefit of chanting Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam. Some have held the view that the phala sruti need not be, or even should not be chanted, because they somehow feel that it smacks of selfish desires. This is not consistent with the age-old practices of our ancestors. It is true that the phala sruti says that anything that is desired can be obtained if the prayer is sincere and offered with devotion. However, it is up to those who seek benefits through prayers that they should seek things that elevate them in life rather than lower them. An example of the latter type is the case of the evil king Ravana, who had prayed and obtained enormous powers through his prayers to Lord Siva. In the end, he lost all he had including himself by the misuse of his powers. The phala sruti in Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram was not just an add-on by someone trying to popularize the Stotram, but is an integral part of the Mahabharata text. Both Sri Sankara and Sri Parasara Bhatta have written commentaries to the phala sruti slokas. Thus, what is stated in the phala sruti has its authority from those who are worthy of great respect from us, and who have found it fit to comment and elaborate on the advice and information given to us through the phala sruti. Perhaps the most important of the benefits attained by one who chants the Stotram with devotion and sincerity is the cleansing of one's mind from all evil thoughts, and this is a very important and desirable benefit since this is the first step towards achieving pure happiness and absolute bliss. Firmness of mind, good memory, happiness of the self (inner happiness), and freedom from anger, jealousy, and greed, are some of the benefits that accrue to one who recites the stotram with devotion and eagerness. The key is the sincerity of purpose and devotion. The person who chants or recites is not the only one who benefits. Those who for whatever reason are unable to chant, benefit by just hearing the chanting (ya idam srunuyan nityam ....). Importance of Chanting Some might say that they do not understand the meaning of the Sanskrit words in the stotram and therefore do not feel comfortable chanting it. Sri Chandrasekhara Saraswathi Swami has given us his guidance on this issue in one of his discourses. He advises us that learning the chanting of prayers even without knowing the meaning is a worthwhile act, and can be compared to finding a box of treasure without the key. As long as we have the box, we can open it whenever we get the key of knowledge later, but the treasure will be already there. Some could feel that they do not know the correct pronunciation, and so do not want to chant incorrectly. H. J. Achar, in his book "Sri Vishnu Sahasranama - A Study", H.J. Achar, Sharada Press, Mangalore, 1972, has given the analogy of a mother to whom a child goes and asks for an orange. The child does not know how to pronounce the word "orange", and so asks for "ange". The mother does not turn away the child and does not refuse to give the child the orange just because the child does not know how to pronounce the word. It is the spirit or bhava that matters, and so as long as one chants the name of God with sincerity, considerations such as not knowing the meaning, not knowing the pronunciation, etc., do not matter, and God who is the Mother of all of us will confer His blessings on us. The Final Word Sage Vedavyasa concludes the Stotram with the assertion - twice stated - that there is no way a devotee of Vishnu can meet with any dishonor or disgrace of any kind (na te yanti parabhavam - ne te yanti parabhavam om nama iti). If this is not worth striving for, with as little investment as the mere chanting of the thousand names of Vishnu with sincerity, then nothing else is worth striving for. Harih Om Those interested in more information may refer to the following works. "Sri Vishnu Sahasranama with the Bhashya of Sri Parasara Bhattar, with Translation in English", A. Srinivasa Raghavan, Sri Visishtadvaita Pracharini Sabha, Madras, 1983. "Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram", Keelathur Srinivasachariar, The Little Flower Co., Madras, Reprinted 1981. "Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram", C. V. Radhakrishna Sastri, C. Venkatarama Sastri Trust, 1986.