Vishnu Sahasranamam is a compilation of a thousand names of Lord Vishnu composed by Sri Veda Vyasa. It occurs within the body of the great epic MahaBharata. It was first revealed by Bhishmacharya to Yudhishtra (the eldest of the five Pandava brothers), on Bhishma Ekadasi day, under the following circumstances:


Bhishmacharya was lying mortally wounded on the battle field of Kurukshetra but he was still not ready to die as he was waiting for a more propitious time (Uttarayanam) to leave his body. Bhishma had been given a boon by his father King Santanu by which he could choose his moment of death. At that time, Krishna feels that with the passing away of Bhishma, the enormous wisdom that Bhishma gained from his long virtuous life of righteousness and devotion may be lost to the world. So he asked the new King Yudhishtra, to seek advice and guidance on various aspects of Dharma from Bhishma before he breathed his last.  Accordingly, Yudhishtra approached Bhishma and sought his words of wisdom on governance of the Kingdom and about leading a righteous life.

1511502_716731801705171_1904257645_nEven after listening patiently to a lot of guidance from Bhishma, Yudhishtra felt that he had not gained sufficient understanding to his key questions on how to achieve perfect happiness and salvation.  He wanted to learn from Bhishma the path to Moksha or liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Therefore he posed six specific questions relating to Bhishma on how to attain ultimate happiness. These questions are contained in two shlokas starting with “kim ekam daivatam loke” in the Poorvabhaga or the introductory part of the Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram.

The questions are:

  1. Who is the number One or Supreme Deity? (“kim ekam daivatam loke”)
  2. What is the highest goal of life? (“kim vaapyekam paraayanam”)
  3. Which Deity’s auspicious qualities should human beings pray to? (“stuvantah kam”)
  4. By worshiping which Deity will human beings attain prosperity in this world as well as bliss in the next? (“kamarchantah praapnuyur maanavaash shubham?”)
  5. Which code of conduct (Dharma) is the highest code of conduct in your opinion? (“ko dharmas sarva dharmaanaam bhavantah paramo matah”)
  6. By repeating which Mantra or Japa, can a living being be liberated from the bondage of the cycle of birth, life and death? (“kim japam muchyate jantur janma samsaara bandhanaat”)

Bhishma answers these questions, from his death bed of arrows, with clarity and elaborately not just for the sake of Yudhishtra but as a revelation to the whole of humanity, present and future. It is interesting to note that Bhishma’s answers were not arranged in the chronological order of Yudhishtra’s questions but were in a logical order embedding all the answers.

However, please find below the answers in the order of the questions posed by Yudhishtra:

  1. He who is the very sanctity that sanctifies all sacred things; He who is the most auspicious; He who is the god of gods; He who is the eternal father of all creatures is the one god – the LORD VISHNU. (“Pavitraanaam pavitram yo mangalaanaam cha mangalam Daivatam devataanaam cha Bhootaanaam yo avyayah pitaa.”)
  2. He who is the great effulgence; He who is the great penance ; He who is the Supreme All-Pervading Truth; He indeed is the Highest Goal to attain- the Lord VISHNU. (“Paramam yo mahat-tejah Paramam yo mahat-tapah, Paramam yo mahat-brahma Paramam yah paraayanam.”)
  3. The Supreme Purusha (person), who is the god of gods, who is ever up and forever working for the welfare of all, who is the Lord of the world and who is imperishable – the Lord VISHNU. He is the one to be meditated upon by chanting his thousand Namas. (“Jagat-prabhum deva-devam Anantam purushottamam Stuvan naama-sahasrena Purushah satatotthitah.”)
  4. By worshiping with devotion and chanting the one thousand Namas of the Purusha (the Lord Vishnu), a human being can reach true emancipation from the worldly ties. (“Tameva cha archayan nityam Bhaktyaa purusham avyayam Stuvan naama-sahasrena Purushah satatotthitah.”)
  5. Worshiping, meditating on and prostrating before the Lord Vishnu is the code of conduct superior to every other way of life. (“Dhyayan stuvan namasyamscha yajamanas tameva cha esha me sarvadharmaanaam bhavatah paramo matah”)
  6. By worshiping Lord Vishnu, Human beings get liberated from the miseries of worldly life.  He has no beginning or end and He is the great Lord and Controller of the whole Universe (“Anaadinidhanam Vishnum sarvalokamaheshvaram Lokaadhyaksham stuvannityam sarva duhkhaatigo bhavet”)

It may be noted that some of the points in Bhishma’s reply are reiterated over and over again for added emphasis.

Three points emerge from the above conversation:

  1. That Lord Vishnu is the Supreme All Pervading Truth.
  2. By reciting Vishnu Sahasranamam and meditating on the Lord with devotion one can get free from the worldly bondage and secure eternal happiness i.e. Moksha.
  3. Vishnu Sahasranamam is the best way of worshiping and meditating on Lord Vishnu.



This Vishnu Sahasranamam series has been authored with the help of my friend Shri Balaji.


  1. Dear Sir, Namaskarams !! Thank you very much for providing the deep explanation for Vishnu Sahasranamam. This is a great feast for anyone who is quenching for the inner meanings of the namams. Feels really blessed to come across your blog. Great job.

    Wish you, your family and your entire generation be blessed by the Divine !!

    Om Namo Narayanaya, Om Nama Shivaya !!

  2. My humble pranaams to you Sir.

    I’ve started reading your blog on the meaning of Sri Vishnu Sahasranama. Thank you so much. A simple person who has no Guru or mentor is able to touch the dust of Shri Krishna’s feet because of your work.
    Thank you once again

  3. My humble pranaams to you Sir.

    I’ve started reading your blog on the meaning of Sri Vishnu Sahasranama. Thank you so much. A simple person who has no Guru or mentor is able to touch the dust of Shri Krishna’s feet because of your work.
    Thank you once again

  4. I want to know whether for nitaya parayanam, the starting part”Suklambaradharam …” upto Dhyana slokas “Ksheerodanvat pradeshe … and the “Phalasruthi” part in the end (coming after Sarva praharanaayudha om namah ithi” can be excluded, by persons who cannot sit continuously, because this requires another 15 minutes time.

    • Hari Om.

      The dhyana Shlokas are recited you form a vivid mental image of the Lord. Hence it’s intended to prepare the mind to firm the image and focus on the Lord.

      As far as the recitation of the Sahasranamam, it begins with “Vishvam Vishnu Vashatkaro” and ends with “Vanamali Gadhee Sharngi”. Technically one could say it ends with the previous Shloka ending with “Sarvapraharanayudhah”.

      Reciting the above completes the Sahasra (1,000) namas.

      Phalashruti explains the benefit of reciting Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam. It’s a matter of choice.

      In the phalashruti Shloka 26 Parvati asks for a shortcut for the Sahasranamam to lord Shiva who says reciting “Shri Rama Rama Rameti” three times is equivalent to reciting the 1000 namas.

      So, to answer your question, you can recite the Sahasranamam by skipping the dhyana Shloka and phalashruti.

      Hari Om.

  5. Hi I love love this detailed explanation of Vishnu Sahasranama. I wish this was in a book or ebook form. From ur responses to the comments i see that ebook is in works. Is it already out? Would love to check it out !!!

  6. I read some shlokas randomly. It inspired to think over each name again and again. I am Maharashtriyan – Marathi Bhashik. I loved your 7 part English discourses on Shrimand Bhaagvat on YouTube. Just no words to express. I intend to translate your Blogposts on Sahasranaama in Marathi and Gujarati as well (on which I have good command), if at all you please permit. I will be highly obliged if you reply. Thanks a lot.

  7. Hi,
    Thankful to have come across this blog.
    When we are doing multiple recitations (example, 2 or 4 times) in one sitting, do we still have to do the complete stotram chanting starting with Shukam Baradharam, Ydhistira, Bhishma uvaacha, Dhyanam and then stotram followed by phalaStuthi?
    Alos for nitya parayanam would it be ok to chant VSN starting with dhyana slokas (after shuklam baradharam) and to skip yudhistira uvacha and Bhisma uvacha? Or would it be considered incomplete without Yudhisthira uvacha?

  8. Thank you for this grand attempt. I was looking all over for a good comprehensive explanation for each shloka so I can chant with greater awareness and focus . This has been by far the best I have come across online. Thank you 🙏

  9. I am realy trilled with the commentry that is very simple and understanding to everybody sir now only u r @ sloka no 12 when u will complete all 108 sloka sir .???? pls don” stop pls continue the same like us there are peoples in crore that they want like this . Pls give us the remaining slokas.thanking you sir lord sri krishna bless u.

    • Thank you Chary for your comments. We are completing one shloka a week and it might take close to two years before we complete this exercise of all the shlokas. We will continue to hasten it where possible.

      We intend to release a book in 3 volumes so that one can refer to it from time to time. We also intend to do an audio cd version of the commentary for those who wish to listen to it while attending to their other chores.

      Thank you for your interest and following 🙂 Hari OM!

    • Thank you for your feedback. I started the audio and the video as I realised that not all of them were able to read the blog regularly. So decided to create it as an alternative for them to catch up on this. It has turned out to be a very well liked feature.

      I intend to create the audio and video for the back editions over the next few weeks. Thank you. Regards.

      Hari OM!

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