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Re: infomation required

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_alum.calberkeley.org)
Date: Wed Sep 26 2001 - 18:25:05 PDT

> I am a new member to this group. I am seeking more information on
> Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam recital. How this has to be performed?
> Is it necessary that recital has to be done in group only, and 
> individual recital is advisable? What is the very purpose of Sri 
> Vishnu Sahasra Namam and Lalitha Sahasra Namam? From which web sites 
> I can get more information on these.

Dear Sahadevan,

Sri Vishnu Sahasranama is one of those rare prayers 
that is uniformly praised by the wise all over India, 
irrespective of sect, class, time period, or path in life. 
No doubt it is recommended by religious-minded saints such as 
our rishis, Alvars, and acharyas; but it was surprising to
me to find out that the famed secular poet Bana-bhatta, a Saiva himself, 
writes glowingly of the ceaseless recitation of Narayana's
thousand names [ "avicchinna-paThyamAna-nArAyaNa-nAma-sahasram", 
in kAdambarI ].  The Ayurvedic text Caraka-samhitA is even of 
the belief that Sri Vishnu Sahasranama recitation can cure 
physical ailments. In no small part because of this common 
acceptance, Sri Vishnu Sahasranama brings people together.
Despite other differences, during the 20 to 30 minutes of
recitation, devotees irrespective of gender and caste 
from different parts of India and abroad with different 
linguistic backgrounds can share in their enjoyment of 
the auspicious qualities of the Divine Lord. Sri Mukkur 
Lakshminarasimhacharya Swami would plead with his audience to 
take 20 minutes to recite this stotram daily; he would add
that with his own eyes he had seen families which previously
suffered from internal strife resolving their differences
over time once they started reciting this divine collection
of names.

In my understanding, one need not worry about the form of
recitation.  Yes, there are an anga-nyAsa, kara-nyAsa,
sankalpa, and phalaSruti that are often recited. However, 
the great acharyas whose advice I have been fortunate to
receive have taught me that in the interests of time, one 
may simply recite the names beginning with 'viSvam vishNu:' 
and ending with 'sarvapraharaNa-Ayudha:'.  These slokas are 
the essence of the Sahasranama Stotra and certainly do not
lose their effectiveness in engendering devotion and wisdom
in the absence of the prefatory and concluding verses.

One may do the recitation by oneself or in a group; 
while walking, or while sitting, or while lying down;
at morning or at night. It doesn't matter. One can even
recite the stotram without having bathed, if one is 
caught in such a circumstance. For, as that master of
irony Parasara Bhattar rhetorically asks, would one
bathe in salt water to purify oneself before taking
a dip in the holy Ganga? Such is the power of the
His Holy Names.

So why recite Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam? First and foremost,
so that one may participate in the enjoyment of the magnificent
qualities of the Divine Lord. The result of such enjoyment,
conscious or not, is the engendering of devotion, wisdom,
and mental peace.  Perform this as a service, as evidence
of the gracious presence of Him, as a token of thanks to Him.  
If you are interested in anything else -- material pleasure, 
relief from physical ailments, etc. -- you may choose to ask 
for these as a result of this prayer; but our saints have 
preferred to leave these things to the His will with the idea 
that His gracious nature takes care of this on its own.

Regarding the Lalita Sahasranaamam, I do not wish to
comment much except to say that it is a recent composition, 
a poor imitation of the original Sahasranama mentioned above.  
The legend surrounding its origin strikes me as unpalatable.  And
overriding all other issues, its unwarranted criticism of the 
original Sahasranama deems it worthy of total rejection,
in my humble opinion.

For further information, please consult Sri N. Krishnamachari's
extensive analysis of Sri Vishnu Sahasranama, available at
http://ramanuja.org/sv/sahara .

rAmAnuja dAsa,
Mani

p.s. Sri T.S. Sundara Rajan made me aware of the kAdambari
reference in a private communication. I am indebted to him
for it.
  

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