Saturday, August 13, 2005

Vishnu Sahasranama Sloka-1

Sri Sankara begins his commentary with these 3 mangala slokas.

saccidAnandarUpAya kRshNAyAklishtakAriNe
namo vedAntavedyAya gurave buddhisAkshiNe
["Obeisance to Krishna whose nature is sat (existence/being), cit (consciousness) and Ananda (bliss), who performs his functions without any effort, who is cognized by the vedanta, who is the guru (teacher) and who is the witness of buddhi".
Sankara wants to impress us that although Krishna, in whose praise the sloka is sung is saguna brahman, he is sat cit Ananda swarupa parabrahman. He is not only vishnu but also the ultimate parabrahman or the supreme self. ]

kRshNAdvaipAyanam vyAsam sarvalokahite ratam
vedAbjabhaskaram vande SamAdinilayam munim
["I worship the muni krishnadvaipayana Vyasa, devoted to the welfare of the world, who is to the vedas as the sun is to the lotus and who is the fountain of self-control".
The words "krishnadvaipayanam vyasam" shows that he is an avatara of Vishnu. The vedas were in a massy and unclassified condition and they were like closed lotuses. Vedavyasa classified and handed them to the world for our moral and spiritual welfare. ]

sahasramUrteH purushottamasya sahasranetrAnana pAdabAhoH
sahasraNamam stavanam praSastam nirucyate janmajarAdiSAtyai
["The admirable stotra containing the thousand names of the supreme Purusha (person) who has thousands of forms, eyes, faces, feet and arms is now being expounded to enable the creation to overcome the samsaric evils".
The purusha sukta, found in all the 4 vedas, describes the cosmic purusha divinity as having one thousand heads, eyes, and feet. Sankara suggests in this sloka that the number of names viz. one thousand is quite appropriate for a stotra of the cosmic Purusha having one thousand eyes, faces, feet and forms. He echoes the sloka of brahmadeva, recited at the end of the stotra saluting the Sasvata ananta purusha of one thousand forms, legs, eyes, heads and hands possessing one thousand names existing for one thousand crores of years i.e. for ever.]
I
n the very first names of Vishnu in the Vishnu Sahasranama, Sage Vyasa intends to indicate the sum and substance of the vedanta philosophy.

Om vishvam vishnur-vashatkaro bhuta-bhavya-bhavat-prabhuh
Bhutakrud bhutabhrud bhavo bhutatma bhuta-bhavanah ..1

Nama 1: vishvam
Vishvam means "Universe". It includes everything. The entire universe is created, sustained and dissolved by Brahman, the Supreme Being. This universe has no existence apart from Him. He is called Vishwam, because the whole universe has Him as the source. The Sanskrit term Visvam comes from the root Vis, to enter: Thus it means He who has created and entered into the entire universe, as the All-Pervading Reality. It can also mean, That into which the entire universe has entered to remain therein established.
Sri Sankara views that bhgavan who is Brahman or the Supreme Person created vishvam and is therefore, called vishvam. Brahman is the karta or the Creator here (the Cause), and viSvam is the creation or the effect. Because the Cause who is Brahman is being called by the nAma viSvam which is the effect, effects are nothing different from the Cause, and everything is Brahman.
SrI BhaTTar interprets the term "Worlds" or "Universe" here to denote entirety. BhagavAn is viSvam because He enters all the worlds. He points out that it is quite fitting that the first name of vishNu in SrI vishNu sahasranAmam suggests His immense glory, the fullness to the brim of His essential nature, form, qualities, etc., which are all natural, unexcelled, auspicious and superior.

Nama 2: Vishnuh
The term Vishnu means, That which is all-pervading.
That which has the nature of pervasiveness is Vishnu. He is the one who pervades all and nothing ever pervades Him. The root Vis means ‘to enter’. The entire world of things and beings is pervaded by Him.
SrI Samkara gives the following supports for this nAma:
antar bahiSca tat sarvam vyApya nArAyaNah sthitah - (mahA nArAyaNa upa. 1.13) - nArAyaNa pervades the whole universe externally and internally.
"yasmAd vishTam idam sarvam tasya SaktyA mahAtmanah tasmAd vishNuriti khyAto veSer dhAtoh praveSanAt (vishNu purANam 3.1.45)
"Because the whole world has been pervaded by the energy of the great Self, He is named vishNu, from the root viS - to enter or pervade."
SrI Bhattar's vyakhyanam is visati iti vishnuh. keSava exists everywhere and permeates everything that is His Wealth; He is unlimited by space, time, and substance; He pervades the whole universe internally and externally. SrI Bhattar gives the following references in support.
viveSa bhUtAni carAcarANi - He entered all beings, movable and immovabletat srshtvA tadevAnuprAvisat - Having created it, He entered into the same.

Nama 3: Vashatkaarah
ln the ritualistic portion of the Vedas, many mantras ending with ‘vashat’ and they are used in pouring devoted and dedicated oblations. Thus the term Vashatkaara means: He who is invoked, and for propitiating whom, the oblations are poured in Vedic ritualism, using mantras ending with vashat. Also Vashatkaara can mean yajna in its association and thus the term in its suggestion can signify ‘He who is of the form of the Yajna’. In the Upanishads also we find this meaning endorsed when the Upanishad mantra says: “Yajno vai Vishnuh” - Yajna itself is Vishnu.
Sri Sankara points out that BhagavAn is Himself the vashatkAra mantra, where vashat is a sacred sound (similar to Om, svAhA, etc). used on sacrificial offerings. It is also used in the anganyAsa and karanYasa practice before chanting the sacred slokas (e.g., sahasrArchis saptajihva iti saktyai sikhAyai vashat). VashatkAra is thus a mantra, and BhagavAn is the mantra svarUpi.
Sri Bhattar interprets the names VishNu, vashatkAra, and bhuta-bhavya-bhavat-prabhu, as additional elaborations of the name visvam. The root of the word is vas - to control as He wills. One who controls and directs (not merely pervades). It should be noted that Sri Bhattar has pointed out in his commentary for visvam that BhagavAn is everywhere, in the commentary for vishNu that He permeates everything that HE creates and possesses, and in the current one for vashatkAra that He controls as He wills. Thus, all these guNas are not something that have been acquired or imparted by something external, but this is His will and schema. The explanation in terms of BhagavAn having control over all His creations is appealing because of the continuity it provides to the interpretations of the previous nAmas.

Nama 4: bhUta-bhavya-bhavat-prabhu:
The Master of all things past, future, and present.
He who is the Lord (Prabhu) of the Past (Bhooita), the Future (Bhavya) and the Present (Bhavat). Time is the concept of the intellect; it expresses itself in the interval between experiences. Experiences are registered as thoughts and thoughts are ever changing. This very change is known and experienced by us. The knower of the change must be something other than the change. Thus, He who is the Illuminator of all changes, meaning the Consciousness (Aatman) is the Lord Vishnu. He is the One who is not conditioned by time.
The idea that BhagavAn is beyond the physical laws as we know them, such as the laws and constraints of time, can be inferred from this nAma. In order for Him to be the Lord of all things past, future, and present, He existed before anything existed, exists now, and will exist forever into the future. Thus the well-known and established physical law that all living things come to an end does not apply to Him. He is beginningless and endless.

Nama 5: Bhoota-krit
The Creator (Krit) of all creatures (Bhoota). This word can be dissolved in two ways:
(a) One who creates the creatures (Bhootaani Karoti iti Bhoota- Krit) or (b) One who annihilates all creatures (Bhootaani Krindati iti Bhoota-krit). In both these cases, Brahman, the Supreme is the One Reality that seems to function as the Creator, Sustainer or Destroyer, when He functions through different gunas in the Total-Mind. Functioning through preponderance in Rajoguna, He becomes the ‘Creator’; through Sattvaguna the ‘Sustainer’, and through Tamoguna, He Himself expresses as the ‘Destroyer’.
Sri Bhattar points out that this act of creation of is done by Him without dependence on anything external.

Nama 6: Bhoota-brit
The supporter of all things.
One who nurtures and nourishes all beings (living creatures) in all their attitudes is this Great Reality and, therefore, He is called as the Bhoota Bhrit. In Geeta there is an elaborate description of this idea in the l5th Chapter where the Lord points out how, He, as the light in the sun, fertility in the earth, growth in the plants, nourishment in food, heat in fire, -becomes Himself the ‘eater’, and, therefore, how He Himself presides over all the functions of the body and mind, and apparently nurtures and nourishes the creatures, who are in fact nothing other than Himself.
Sri Sankara interprets this nama as referring to the acts of creation or destruction ("bhUtani krtanti krNoti hinsti iti bhUta krt), and nama 7 as referring to the act of sustenance, in the context of the three functions of creation, sustenance, and destruction
Sri Bhattar explains that this support is like that of the support at the center for a wheel and its spokes. If this central support does not exist, the rest of the spokes and the wheel collapse. Thus, one can think of this support as the responsibility for the existence of all the things that He creates. This support is in the form of being the inner soul or atman of all beings (nama 8 below), and as the One who nourishes and protects all beings (nama 9 below). BhUtAni Bibharti iti bhUta-bhrt - One who supports all.

Nama 7: Bhaavah
One who ‘becomes’ (Bhavati iti Bhaavah) Himself into the movable and the Immovable beings and things in the world. He is the Pure Existence in all the sentient organisms and the insentient objects in the universe. Hence He is indicated by the term Bhaavah. He who exists always, independent of anything else.

Nama 8: bhUtAtma
The AtmA or soul of all beings. He is the essence of all beings. He is the indweller of all objects, individually and collectively.
He is the Aatman of all the beings: The very ‘Be’ in all the living beings. Just as the same universal space plays in all rooms as the room-space, or in all pots as the pot-space, so the Infinite Life playing through any given vehicle is called the Aatman of the vehicle. It is well known that space everywhere is one and the same; so too, the One Reality sports as though different Aatmans. This One Universal Soul is called in Vedanta the Supreme Brahman (Para-Brahman) .In Bhaagavata, the Lord is addressed as “You are the One Self in all living creatures ever illumining all their experiences.’’ In Kathopanishad: “The One enchanting Truth that revels in every form manifesting in plurality”.
All things are His body, and He is the soul of all things. The soul enters the bodies, and directly controls and directs all their activities.
Sri Sankara gives the following reference from BrhadAraNya Upanishad: esha ta AtmA antaryamyamrtah The Lord is the soul, the antarYamI or inner ruler of all beings, and amrta or never ceasing to exist.

Nama 9: bhUta-bhAvanah
One who nourishes and nurtures all beings that He created. One who creates and multiplies the creatures; meaning the One, who is the cause for the birth and who is responsible for the growth of all living creatures.
The key word that both Sri Sankara and Sri Bhattar use in their vyAkhyAnas for this nAma is vardhayati - makes them grow - the act of nourishing is emphasized.
Sri Sankara bhAshya says: bhUtAni bhAvayati janayati vardhayati iti vA bhUta-bhAvanah - He makes them shine (bhA - to shine), generates or invigorates, and makes them grow.
Sri Bhattar's words are: tAni dhAraka poshaka bhogyapradAnena vardhayati iti bhUta-bhAvanah - He is bhUta-bhAvana because He makes all things grow by bestowing on them things that sustain them, nourish them, and contribute to their enjoyment.

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