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Sri Vishnu Sahasra NAmam - Part 4.

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.