In this Part we will explore the meaning of the third Shloka of Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam.

Shloka 3

Yogo YogavidaamNeta PradhaanaPurusheshvarah                |
NaarasimhaVapuh Shreemaan Keshavah Purushottamah ||3||

The Lord can be attained by Yoga and He is the Master of all those established in Yoga.  He is the Pradhana Purusha who controls of the Universe.  He takes multiple forms at his will and as Narasimhavapuh, He destroyed Hiranyakashipu to protect his ardent devotee Prahlada. He is so beautiful together with Goddess Lakshmi residing on his chest.  He is Keshava, the controller of the Trinity and He is the greatest among all Purushaas on whom  we should meditate at all times to attain liberation.

This Shloka contains the following 7 Namas:

18.   Yogah
19.   YogavidaamNeta
20.   PradhaanaPurusheshvarah
21.   NaarasimhaVapuh
22.   Shreemaan
23.   Keshavah
24.   Purushottamah


Now let’s look at the meaning of the above Namas in detail:

soul_body18.  Yogah – One who is attainable through Yoga

The word Yoga in Sanskrit has several meanings such as:  means, meditation, union, fitness, remedy, etc.

The realisation of oneness of the individual and the supreme Spirit, by keeping under control the senses of cognition together with the mind, is called Yoga.

Sri Adi Sankara interprets this Nama to convey the ‘union’ or ‘one-ness’. Bhagavan is called Yogah as He is attained by controlling the sense organs and the mind. Through this process we realise the one-ness of the Paramatma and the Kshetragna i.e. Jivatma.

Sri Parasara Bhattar interprets this as a ‘means to an end or simply a process’. According to him, this Nama means that meditating on Bhagavan is the sole means for attaining Mukti or salvation.

Swami ChinmayAnanda uses the meaning ‘meditation’ for the term yoga, and gives the interpretation for ‘Yogah’ as “One Who is realised by withdrawing the sense-organs from their objects of preoccupation and quietening the mind”.

19.  YogavidaamNeta – He is the master of those established in Yoga

Yogavit is one who enquires into, acquires or realises Yoga and Neta is a leader. Bhagavan is called ‘YogavidaamNetaa’ because he leads and nurtures the Yoga practitioners towards their goal of realisation.

In Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 Verse 22, Lord Krishna says:

ananyaashchintayanto maam ye janaahaa paryupaasate
teshaam nityaabhiyuktaanaam yogakshemam vahaamyaham

With single-pointed meditation, those who are constantly engaged in my worship, I carry the burden of acquisition and preservation of their needs.

20.  PradhaanaPurusheshvarah – He is the master of Prakriti and Purusha

Pradhaana is primordial Nature i.e. Prakriti or the world around us as perceived by our sense organs. It is also called Maya or the apparent reality. Purusha is Kshetragna or the Jivatma.

Eeshvarah is the Lord and Master and PradhaanaPurusheshvarah means the One who is the Lord and Master of both Prakriti and Purusha i.e. Lord Maha Vishnu.

21.  NaarasimhaVapuh – One in whom the body of a man and Lion are combined

Vapu means body and Naarasimha means a combination of a man and a lion; so NaarasimhaVapuh is somebody who has a body combining a man and a lion. This refers to the Narasimha Avatar of Bhagavan.


Narasimha Avatar is the Half-Man Half-Lion, 4th Incarnation of Lord Vishnu from Satya Yuga. The Asura (demon) Hiranyakashipu performed intense penance and austerities and was able to please Lord Brahma. When Brahma appeared before him he asked for immortality. But Brahma said he could not grant him the boon of immortality. So Hiranyakashipu asked for a series of boons all of which were with an intent to avoid death and assure him immortality. Accordingly, Hiranyakashipu was blessed with the following boons, That –

He will not die in any type of indoor or outdoor.
He will not die during day or night;
He will not die on earth or sky;
He will not be killed by any weapon; and
He will not be killed by a human being or animal

After being blessed with these boons, Hiranyakashipu defeated the demigods and rulers on Earth and announced that he was the Supreme God and declared that all prayers should be directed towards him and not to Vishnu.

The entire Kingdom followed his commands except his young son, Prahlada.  The little boy Prahlada worshiped Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu tried all means to make the boy worship Him. But all his efforts failed. Then the demon King tried to kill his son several times but each time the little boy was rescued by Vishnu.

Frustrated and incensed with his son’s worship of Vishnu, Hiranyakashipu demanded him to show him Lord Vishnu who is supposed to be omnipresent. In a fit of anger pointing to a pillar, Hiranyakashipu asked whether Vishnu is present in it. As soon as the young Prahlada affirmed, Hiranyakashipu took out his sword and struck the pillar.

In a flash, Lord Vishnu appeared (as Narasimha), breaking through the pillar,  in the form of a half Man- half Lion before Hiranyakashipu.  Hiranyakashipu froze at the sight and the Lord dragged Hiranyakashipu to the threshold of the palace and as the twilight period was approaching He put him on His lap and killed him with His claws. Thus, the Lord ensured that when He killed Hiranyakashipu:

  • He was neither inside nor outside the palace;
  • it was was neither day nor night, it was in the twilight hour;
  • Hiranyakashipu was neither on earth nor in the sky, as He kept him on his lap;
  • He did not use any weapons as He killed him using his paws; and
  • finally, He took the form of Naarasimhavapuh i.e. half man-half lion, neither a human nor an animal.

Thus, the Lord vanquished Hiranyakashipu and protected his ardent devotee Prahlada while ensuring that all the boons granted to Hiranyakashipu were honoured.

22.  Shreemaan – One on whose chest Goddess Lakshmi resides

Lord Vishnu and Goddess LaxmiShree is Goddess Lakshmi and she eternally abides on Bhagavan’s chest. Shree also means beauty and Sri Parasara Bhattar interprets Shreemaan as “most beautiful and charming personality”.

23.  Keshavah – One who controls the Trinity

Keshavah has multiple meanings, such as:

  1.  “Abhiroopaah keshaah yasya sah  – One Who has got captivating hair”
  2. One who killed a demon called Keshee. This appears in Vishnu Puranam (5.16.23). Narada says to Krishna, Because you have slain the impious Keshee, you will be known in the world by the name ‘Keshava’.
  3. One who controls the Trimurthi’s. This is explained by Sri Adi Sankara as: “Kascha Ascha Eeshascha Trimoortayah Keshaah, Yadvashena vartante sa Keshavah”.

‘Ka’ means Brahma, ‘a’ means Vishnu and ‘isa’ means Rudra; hence ‘Kesa’ denotes Trimurthi’s (the three embodiments) who are under His control i.e. ‘vasa’.

So Keshava is one who controls the 3 functional Entities namely the Creator, the Protector and the Destroyer.

24.  Purushottamah – The greatest among all Purushas

This is interpreted as ‘Purushaanaam Uttamah’ or ‘Purusheshu Uttamah’ or ‘Purushebhyo Uttamah’. Depending on the form that is used we can interpret this as either ‘Supreme among Purushaas (Jeevaas)’ or as ‘Superior to the Purushaas’.

In the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 15 Verse 18, Bhagavan says:

‘Yasmaat ksharam ateetoham aksharaadapi chottamah
Atosmi loke vede cha prathitah Purushottamah ‘

I am superior to Matter and superior to the Individual Soul; and hence I am called Purushottama in the world and in the Vedas.


Yogo YogavidaamNeta PradhaanaPurusheshvarah                |
NaarasimhaVapuh Shreemaan Keshavah Purushottamah ||3||

visvam4The Lord can be attained by Yoga and He is the Master of all those established in Yoga, hence He is called YogavidaamNeta.  He is the Pradhana Purushaeshvara who controls the Universe.  He takes multiple forms at his Will and as Naarasimhavapuh, He destroyed Hiranyakashipu to protect his ardent devotee Prahlada.

He is so beautiful together with Goddess Lakshmi residing on his chest, hence He is Shreemaan.  He is Keshava, the controller of the Trinity and He is the greatest among all Purushaas i.e. Purushottamah on whom  we should meditate at all times to attain liberation. 



The Vishnu Sahasranamam series is authored with the help of my friend Shri Balaji.


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