You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : May 1999

SrI vishNu sahasranAmam - Slokam 53 - Part 1.

From: Kalyani Krishnamachari (
Date: Wed May 19 1999 - 18:23:09 PDT

		SrI vishNu sahasranAmam - Slokam 53.

	uttaro go-patir goptA j~nAna-gamyah purAtanah      |
	SarIra-bhUta-bhr*t bhoktA kapIndro bhUri-dakshiNah  ||

om uttarAya namah
om go-pataye namah
om goptre namah
om j~nAna-gamyAya namah
om purAtanAya namah
om sarIra-bhUta-bhr*te namah
om bhoktre namah
om kapIndrAya namah
om bhUri-dakshiNAya namah

496. uttarah - a) The Rescuer (of brahma and others from the asura-s)
		b) The Savior (of devotees from samsAra)
		c) He who transcends the bounds of birth and transmigration.

om uttarAya namah

uttAraNat uttarah - He who rescues.  SrI BhaTTar's vyAkhyAnam is that
bhagavAn is the Rescuer of brahma and others from the asura-s.  SrI
Sa~nkara gives the interpretation "janma samsAra bandhanAt uttarati iti
uttarah" - The Savior from the ocean of samsAra.  SrI T. S.
Kr*shNamUrti has translated this as "He who transcends the bounds of
birth".  SrI satyadevo vAsishTha supports the last two of these
interpretations by deriving the meaning from the words ap -waters, and
tara to cross, to swim across.  Alternatively, ut can refer to utkarsha
or atiSaya - extraordinary, exhalted, etc., and tara referring to
crossing, and uttara can thus refer to bhagavAn being the best means
(the only means!) for crossing the ocean of samsAra. 

The dharma cakram writer gives the significance of this nAma in our
day-to-day life.  Our mind is normally torn by all kinds of desires,
bondage, etc., and these are trying to puncture holes in our mind which
is the boat we need to safely cross this ocean of birth.  Rocks in the
form of aha~nkAra, mamakAra, etc. are trying to wreck this boat.  Till
we cross this life span, we need to have this boat intact without being
wrecked or punctured.  Meditation on bhagavAn is essential in order for
us to accomplish this.  The following from tiruvaLLUvar is relevant in
this context - "piRavip-perum kaDal nInduvar, nIndAr iRaivan aDi

497. go-patih -a) The Master of all words (veda-s as well as all
		b) The Protector of His own word.
		c) The Protector of His bhakta's words.
		d) Protector of the cows in His kr*shNAvatAra.
		e) Protector of all that moves around.
		f) The Lord of Mother Earth.
		g) The Lord of the (celestial) world.

This nAma re-occurs as nAma 599.

om go-pataye namah.

The word go means cow, words, veda-s, earth, etc.  Thus there are
several interpretations for this nAma.  SrI satyadevo vAsishTha nicely
summarizes many of these meanings through the following words: "gAvo
vAco, gAvah paSavo, gaur-bhUmiSca viSvanirmANe kAraNam iti bhAvArthah |
eva~nca - gopatih catushpadAm gavAm vAcAm bhUmeSca rakshaka ityarthah |
".  The concept that bhagavAn is the Master of all words is interpreted
by SrI BhaTTar as referring to His being the One who gave the veda-s as
well as all the languages to us.  The dharma cakram writer interprets
this as meaning that bhagavAn keeps His word to His devotees, as well
as meaning that He ensures that His bhakta's words come true.  We know
of bhagavAn's promise to protect those who surrender to Him
unconditionally, and we know that He ensured that  bhIshma's promise to
make Him take to weapons in the war against His own promise come true. 
He also made the words of prahlAda come true that BhagavAn will be in
the pillar when hiraNyakaSipu challenged the yound prahlAda.  

 The roots of interest in understanding the meanings for this nAma are:
gam - gatau to go, and pA- rakshaNe to protect.  In this sense, go can
also refer to indriya-s since they wander towards material objects, to
mind since mind wanders on all kinds of thoughts, to AtmA since AtmA
moves from one body to another, to body since the body moves from one
place to another, and on and on.  BhagavAn is the patih for all these. 
Among His creations for which He is the patih, veda is the one that is
heard, and the Universe is the one that is seen.  Veda-s expound the
way of life of the world, and the world is an expression of the veda-s,
and He is the pati for all of these.  

498. goptA - a) The Savior.
 b) He who hides Himself from non-devotees. 
 om goptre namah.
 This nAma re-occurs as nAma 600.  
 The nAma is derived from the root gup -rakshaNe to protect.  SrI
BhaTTar interprets the nAma as referring to bhagavAn being the
protector of all knowledge, thus extending the interpretation offered
in the previous nAma (a).  SrI Sa~nkara gives the interpretation that
bhagavAn is the protector of all beings and all the worlds.  SrI
rAdhAkr*shNa Sastri gives the reference from atharvaSiras 5 - samsr*jya
viSvA bhuvanAni goptA.  Among the supporting quotes given by SrI
satyadevo vAsishTha is the Sruti - trINi padA vicakrame vishNur-gopA
adAbhyah - yajur. 34.43.  He points out that bhagavAn's guNa of
protection of all that is on this land, in the sea or in the air, is
His dharma.  SrI BhaTTar's anubhavam for nAma 600, the second
occurrence of this nAma later, is that He is the Protector and
Administrator of the wheel of karma - bestowing the fruits of karma to
the beings for their acts, good and bad, the cycle of birth and rebirth
 Another meaning for the word gup is to hide, to conceal.  Based on
this, SrI Sa~nkara interprets the second occurrence of this nAma as
meaning that He hides Himself (from non-devotees) through His mAyA. 
SrI rAdhAkr*shNa Sastri uses both the meanings of gup (hide and
protect), and gives the interpretation that bhagavAn is goptA because
He protects His devotees by hiding them from their enemies, and from
all obstacles.  
 The dharma cakram writer observes that this nAma should remind us that
bhagavAn is the one who is constantly protecting everything He has
created.  Those who think they are protecting themselves or are being
protected by some other human being have this thought because of their
sheer ignorance.  This nAma should remind us of this simple fact.
499. j~nAna-gamyah - He who is to be realized by knowledge.
 om j~nAna-gamyAya namah.
 SrI cinmayAnanda points out that the knowledge referred to here is not
the mere knowledge of things.  SrI M. V. rAmAnujAcArya remarks that the
knowledge referred to here is para vidyA - The knowledge of the Supreme
Self, which is attained only by absolute meditational unison - samAdhi
nishThA.  The dharma cakram writer elaborates on this further. 
Knowledge can be considered to be of two kinds - that which is obtained
by external indriya-s like the eyes, ears, etc., or by mind - apara
vidyA, and that which is beyond the reach of the indriya-s - para
vidyA.  Among the means that aid in attaining this para knowledge are
j~nAna, bhakti, karma, and yoga.  Practices on a continuing basis such
as nAma samkIrtanam (chanting bhagavAn's nAma), SravaNam (listening to
bhagavAn's nAma, purAna, itihAsa, ...), kaimkaryam (performing duties
in support of temple services, making garlands, cleaning the temple
premises, ...), etc., facilitate in purifying our mind and developing
bhakti.  Bearing with patience any difficulties that arise in our life,
not rejoicing at any good things that happen in our life but dedicating
them to bhagavAn, etc., will also help in directing our mind towards
Him. j~nAnam in our context is the realization of the relationship and
association between us and our Creator.  This j~nAnam will materialize
for us only by His Grace.  This nAma conveys to us that BhagavAn is
realizable only through the j~nAnam, and He is the only One who can
bless us with this j~nAnam, but what we can do is prepare ourselves to
receive this j~nAnam when He decides to bless us with it. 
500. purAtanah - The Ancient.
 om purAtanAya namah.
 SrI BhaTTar explains the significance of the nAma in terms of the
previous nAma-s, indicating that He is Ancient in that He has been
giving us knowledge and protecting it not only in this kalpa, but in
all previous kalpa-s as well.  SrI v.v. rAmAnujan refers us to
nammAzhvAr - UzhitORUzhi vaiyam kAkkum Azhi nIr vaNNan (tiruvAimozhi
7.3.11).  SrI Sa~nkara's bhAshyam is "He who is not limited by Time and
who existed before anything else".  The dharma cakram writer observes
that this nAma also conveys several other thoughts - viz. that bhagavAn
is beginningless, not born, not governed by Time, not comprehended by
the mind, the Origin of everything that exists, etc.  SrI cinmayAnanda
points out that "Ancient" here refers to that from which the concept of
time itself originated, and thus He is the Truth that cannot be
measured in terms of Time.
To be continued.

-dAsan kr*shNamAcAryan
Do You Yahoo!?
Free instant messaging and more at