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The nAma purandarah for bhagavAn.

From: Narasimhan Krishnamachari (
Date: Fri Oct 13 2000 - 22:46:45 PDT

There was a question about the explanation for the nAma purandarah for
mahA vishNu a couple of days back.  SrI Sadagopan had responded to the
question.  I went back and looked at my write-up for this nAma, and
felt  I had not covered the nAma in sufficient depth.  Here is some
additional information which may be of use in getting a better
understanding of the significance of the nAma.


nammAzhvAr provides the direct answer to the question that was raised.

Perhaps the best way to explain the nAma is to start with SrI v.v.
rAmAnujan's reference to nammAzhvAr's tiruvAimozhi 1.1.8, the second
half of this pASuram being:

     "puram oru mUnru eRittu amararkkum aRivu iyandu 
       aran ayan ena ulagu azhittu amaittu uLanE".

"EmperumAn is the One who destroyed the three cities in the form of
rudra, gave the knowledge of the veda-s to the deva-s in the form of
brahma, and  performs the functions of creation, protection and
destruction".   Thus, yes it is rudra who destroyed the three worlds,
but he could do that because bhagavAn performed this action as the
antaryAmi of rudra, as his soul. 

Other anubhavam-s for the nAma follow: 

SrI BhaTTar:  asurapurAni dArayati iti purandarah - The destroyer of
the cities of asura-s.  This indicates the removal of fear from
asura-s, piSAca-s, thunder and lightning, planets and other troubles
which go by the name "Adi-daivika" - those that proceed from the gods. 
 Puram in this sense refers to the "dwellings of asura-s".

SrI Samkara vyAkhyAnam is "sura SatrUNAm pura dAraNAt purandarah" -
Because He is the Destroyer of the cities of the enemies of the gods,
He is called purandarah.

SrI cinmayAnanda talks of the "cities" referring to the fields of
experiences for us in this world - waking, dream and deep-sleep.  Since
bhagavAn helps in transcending the Gross, Subtle, and Causal bodies
(sthUla, suKshma, and kAraNa), and then experience the self, at that
moment the three "cities" are burned down or pillaged or blasted. 
Without overcoming the attachment to the sthUla, sUkshma, and kAraNa
SarIra-s, we cannot experience the self.  The darma cakram writer
nicely  explains that if we consider the sthUla SarIra as belonging to
bhagavAn and surrdner it in His service, then He helps in overcoming
our attachment to the sthUla SarIra.  If we dedicate the mind to His
service and to meditation on Him, He helps us overcome our actions
being controlled by our mind, and thus removes our attachment to being
controlled by the mind.  If we have mahAviSvAsam in Him and surrender
to Him unconditionally, He relieves us from the constraints of the
kAraNa SarIram as well.  This is when we are able to experience the
self.  Since bhagavAn is the cause of the destruction of the three
sArIra-s that are standing in the way of our experiencing the self,  He
is called purandarah.  

SrI kRshNadatta bhAradvAj gives the explanation - purANi SambarAdInAm
asurANAm nagarANi dRNAti iti purandarah.  He gives reference to the Rg
vedic mantra 7.99.5 - indrAvishNU dRgmhitA Sambarasya nava puro navatim
ca SnathishTham - Ye have destroyed, thou, Indra, and thou, vishNu,
Sambara's nine-and-ninety fenced castles.

SrI satyadevo vAsishTha starts with the meaning "body" for the word
pura, and gives the interpretation that since bhagavAn puts an end to
the body, He is purandarah - puram dArayati iti purandarah.  

By the way, it is not surprising that among mahA vishNu's nAmas are:
Siva (sarvah Sarvah Sivah sthANuh...), rudra (rudro bahu-SiRA babhruh),
narah, parameSvarah, etc., which by conventional usage may not
immediately strike as nAma-s of vishNu to our mind, but are all the
same  among the sahasra nAma-s of mahA vishNu.

-dAsan kRshNamAcAryan

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