In this Part we will explore the meaning of the 37th Shloka of Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam.

 Shloka 37

Ashokas Taaranas Taaras Shuras Shaurir Janeshvarah       |
Anukulash Shataavartah Padmee Padmanibhekshanah || 37||

This Shloka contains the following 10 Namas:

338.   Ashokah
339.   Taaranah
340.   Taarah
341.   Shurah
342.   Shaurih
343.   Janeshvarah
344.   Anukulah
345.   Shataavartah
346.   Padmee
347.   Padmanibhekshanah

Now let’s examine the meaning of these Namas in detail:

338.   Ashokah – The dispeller of sorrows

Shoka is intense grief or overpowering sorrow.  Ashoka is someone who is totally free from grief or such negative waves of the Ocean of Samsara, which characterises the existence of most people. Sri Adi Sankara explains this by saying ‘Shokaadi Shadoormi Varjitah Ashokah – He is free from the six debilitating waves of Samsara such as hunger, thirst, sorrow, delusion, aging and death, hence He is Ashokah’.

In the Desika Sahasranamam we have ‘Shadoormi-dhvamsa Kovidaaya Namah’ highlighting this aspect. There are basically 3 types of afflictions that affect our lives. They are:

  • Adhyaatmika (Internal) – Source of troubles/obstacles arising out of one’s own body and mind, such as pain, diseases, laziness, absent-mindedness, mental disorder etc.
  • Adhi Bhautika (Physical or external) – Source of troubles/obstacles coming from external world, such as wild animals, people, natural calamities etc.
  • Adhi Daivika (Divine) – Random external source of troubles/obstacles coming from extra-sensory world of spirits, ghosts, deities, demigods/angels etc.

This explains why we recite ‘Om Shantih’ three times after each worship to neutralize the effect of the three types of sorrow.

Vishnu_universSri Parasara Bhattar explains that Bhagavan is called Ashokah as He dispels the sorrows of the Adhyaatmik kind. The next Nama will be interpreted in terms of Adhi Bhautika.

Purandarah (Nama 336) covered the Adhi-Daivik type of sorrow. Thus, the sequence of Namas Purandarah, Ashokah and Taranah are interpreted as His quality of protecting us from the three different kinds of sorrow.

Similar to this Nama we have in the Lalita Sahasranamam, the verse ‘Taapa trayaagni Santapta Samahlaadana Chandrikaa’ meaning Lalitambika provides relief like cool moonlight to people burnt by the three types of afflictions.

339.   Taaranah – One who helps the devotees to cross the Ocean of Samsara 

The root ‘Tar’ means to cross or get across and ‘Taar’ means to make someone go across. According to Sri Adi Sankara this Nama is to be interpreted as ‘Samsaara saagaraat Taarayati iti Taaranah – He helps you to cross the Ocean of Samsara hence he is called Taaranah’.

We are able to get over Samsara by thinking about Bhagavan as described in the Dhyana Shloka:

‘Yasya Smarana maatrena janma Samsaara bandhanaat
Vimuchyate Namas Tasmai Vishnave Prabhavishnave’

gajuMeaning: Salutations to Lord Vishnu who helps us to cut the bondage of Samsara just by thinking of him’.

Sri Parsara Bhattar interprets this Nama as Bhagavan assisting his devotees in overcoming the fears and sorrows of the Adhi-Bhautika kind (sorrows of people, animals and natural calamities).

Swami ChinmayAnanda makes a subtle suggestion that Taaranah refers to Bhagavan “helping” others crossing the ocean of Samsara whereas the next name “Taarah” refers to His saving them Himself.

340.   Taarah    – The Savior

PrahladaSri Adi Sankara explains this Nama as ‘Garbha Janma Jaraa Mrityu Lakshanaat Bhayaat Taarayati iti Taarah’ meaning He lifts them above the fear of conception, birth, ageing and death. Hence He is called Taarah’.

Sri Parasara Bhattar gives a similar interpretation and says that He is Taarah because He makes His devotees cross over the Ocean of Samsara. The following quote from Atharva Shiras (4) –

‘Garbha-Janma-Jaraa-Marana Samsaara saagara Mahaa bhayaat Taarayati’ – Tasmaat uchyate Taarah’ meaning One who takes His devotees across the great fear of the Ocean of Samsaara consisting of Garbha-vaasa or conception, birth, aging and death.

Clearly Taaranah and Taarah are very similar and Swami ChinmayAnanda makes a fine distinction as explained in the previous Nama.

The action in Taaranah is called ‘Markata Nyaaya’ or the analogy of the monkey where the baby has to cling to the mother wherever she goes in order to be safe.

The action in Taarah is called ‘Maarjaara Nyaaya’ or the analogy of the cat where the mother carries the baby in her mouth wherever she goes and thus the mother does all the work to keep the baby safe. Bhagavan behaves in the two ways depending on the stage of maturity of the devotee.

The Story of Sant Namdev

Namdev SamadhiThere was a pious tailor by the name Dhamaji in the village of Pandharpur. His wife Gonai was also pious and dutiful. They did not have a child and Gonai asked her husband to pray to Vitthal for a child. Dhamaji prayed to Lord Vitthal, who came in his dream and told him that at Sunrise his son will come floating down the stream in the Chandrabagha River. As told, he noticed a shell floating down the river and he opened it, and found a baby inside. He took the baby and went home and named him Namdev. Thus Sant Namdev, a saint, was born in 1269 CE to a family of tailors who were sincere devotees of Vittala of Pandharpur.

NamdevNamdev, from the age he began to talk, the first correct word he uttered was ‘Vittala’, and since then, he continued with the recitation of the sacred name. When he was seven, he prepared a pair of cymbals and spent his time in dancing and singing Bhajans, neglecting food, studies, school, rest, sleep, etc. His devotion to Vithoba was so innocent and sincere that he used to treat Him as his dearest brother or his playmate.

One day as Namdev’s mother asked him to take the plate of offerings to Vithoba. Namdev went to the temple, placed the plate before Vithoba and asked Him to accept the offering. However, when Namdev did not find any evidence of acceptance by Vithoba, he cried so bitterly that Vithoba actually assumed a human form and accepted the offerings gratefully. Namdev’s mother was surprised when her son came back in great joy with an empty plate and explained to her that Vithoba had accepted the offerings. So, the next day, she followed Namdev, without his knowledge, to confirm Namdev’s account. The same routine was witnessed and the mother had the grace of witnessing the Lord accepting their offerings. Her joy and pride in Namdev was unbounded. She felt grateful to the Lord that she was blessed to be the mother of such a great devotee.

From the beginning, Namdev had no interest in worldly affairs; he would not take interest in his father’s profession as a tailor, or in any other trade. His sole interest was to spend day and night in devotion to Vithoba. His parents were getting old; the family prosperity was waning. Therefore, their dearest wish was that Namdev should help in maintaining the family in comfort. So, one day Namdev was sent to the bazaar to sell a few sets of clothes. But Namdev was oblivious to the tricks of the trade. To him, money and its value were unknown subjects. He went to the bazaar with the clothes, because his father forced him. He sat there on a stone singing his Abhangs, forgetting entirely that he had gone there to sell the clothes. Soon it was time for him to go to the temple for the evening prayers. He remembered that he had not sold the clothes and that he would get a thrashing from his father. He was so restless to go to the temple and therefore sold all the clothes to the very stone on which he was seated, i.e., he kept the clothes on the stone, appointed another stone as a guarantee that the first one would pay the money the next day, and went to the temple.
Namdev’s father was furious on hearing his son’s account and asked him to bring forth the Dhondya (which means a stone) that had guaranteed the money. The next day Namdev went back to the bazaar, found that the clothes had vanished and took the second stone (Dhondya) home, as it refused to pay the money and locked it in a room. He then went to the temple and narrated all the events to Vithoba and explained his difficulties. When Namdev’s father asked him to show him Dhondya, Namdev replied that it has been kept in a closed room in the house and ran to the temple. When the father opened the room, he found, to his surprise, a lump of gold. The father was joyous but Namdev was quite indifferent to it. He only praised God for saving him from a thrashing.

In the meantime, Namdev married Radha Bai. They were blessed with three children. Namdev felt it increasingly difficult to take interest in household affairs; no amount of persuasion from all those people or his friends was successful in bringing him back to the worldly life. To him there was only one interest and that was Lord Vithoba. He used to spend hours on end sitting before Vithoba, talking to Him, discussing spiritual matters with Him and doing Abhangs. To Namdev, Vithoba was the beginning and the end of everything.

Frustrated with the state of affairs in the house, Rajabai decided to commit suicide. She therefore, tied her children and threw herself in the river; but looking at her desperation, Lord Vithoba appeared on the scene and lifted her and placed her on the bank of the river. When Rajabai found that God was not allowing her to die peacefully she dashed her head on the ground and again jumped into the river; but the God again placed her on the bank of the river in a very safe position.

Thinking that it was futile to try to end her life in this manner, she started towards her home. On her way she saw a dead serpent lying by the roadside. She picked up the dead serpent and came home, cut it into pieces and placed them on a pot for cooking. Her idea was to eat the poisonous bits herself and also share them with her children so that they could all end their lives simultaneously; but when she removed the cover of the pot, to her utter surprise, there was no trace of the serpent. Instead there were pieces of pure gold in the pot, glittering and shining. Rajabai was overjoyed at the sight of gold and she went to Namdev and showed the pieces of gold to him. On seeing that he said, “Oh! what a fool you are! Why did you give so much trouble to Lord Vithoba?” saying so he immediately sent for the Brahmins and distributed all the pieces of gold to them.

When Namdev was about twenty years of age, he met a great saint Jnanadev at Pandharpur. This was the most important period in the life of Namdev. Practically from this time, the two great saints almost never separated till death parted them.  Once Namdev and Jnanadev reached the desert of Marwar. Namdev was dying of thirst. They found a well, but the water was at such a low depth that it was impossible to get it by ordinary means.   Jnanadev proposed to assume the form of a bird by his Laghima Siddhi and bring the water up in his beak. But Namdev prayed to Rukmini and the level of the water rose miraculously to the surface. The well is seen even today at Kaladji, ten miles off Bikaner.

Namdev and Jnanadev came to Naganathpuri.  Namdev had started Bhajan in the temple. There was a huge crowd. The temple priests were not able to enter the temple and so became angry and objected to his bhajan.  Namdev went to the western gate of the temple and spent the night in doing Kirtan. Miraculously the image of the temple itself turned to his side.

namdev (2)A Brahmin of Bidar had invited Namdev to do Bhajan in his house. Namdev went there with a large number of devotees. The Sultan mistook them for rebel troops and sent General Kasi Pant against them. The general reported to the Sultan that it was only a religious party. The Sultan ordered that Namdev be arrested and brought to his Court. He asked Namdev to rouse a butchered cow to life or embrace Islam.  Namdev refused to accept Islam. So an elephant was sent to crush Namdev to death. Namdev raised the dead cow to life. The Sultan and others were struck with amazement. Namdev won the admiration of the Sultan and was set free.

Once Namdev took shelter in a temple. In that temple he saw a man sleeping with his feet on the Deity Itself.  Namdev was shocked, he woke up the man and rebuked him for this sacrilege. The man asked, “Namdev, why did you wake me up? Is there a single spot in this world which is not permeated by God? If you think that such a spot can be found, kindly place my feet there”. Namdev took the feet of the man in his hands and moved them to another direction, but a Deity was there. He then moved the man’s feet to yet another direction, but the Deity was there too! Namdev could not find any direction or spot where he could place the feet of the man without treading on the Deity. God was everywhere. Having realised this great truth that God had permeated the whole Universe, Namdev surrendered himself humbly to the man. The man was Visoba who then advised Namdev at great length. Namdev accepted Visoba as his Guru.

Pandharpur_Vithoba_templenamdev (1)Namdev wrote a large number of Abhangas or short poems, filled with the nectar of Bhakti and love towards God. Most of these are lost, but there are about four thousand Abhangas, which to this day are a great source of inspiration to all who would read them. Sixty-one of his hymns in fact came to be included in Sikh Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib.

Sant Namdev lived his final years in his Ashrama at Pandharpur, where he took shelter of Lord Vithoba and continued to propagate the Bhakti cult. He departed in July 1350 A.D., at the age of 80, wishing to remain as a stepping stone called ‘Namdev Payari’  at the entrance of the Lord’s abode, where he would always be blessed by the dust of the devotees feet as they come to worship the Lord.

Namdev’s maid-servant Janabai

No account of the life of Namdev would be complete without a mention of Janabai. She was a maid-servant in the household of Namdev. In several poems on devotion which she has left behind, she describes herself as ‘Nam’s maid-servant’ or ‘Namdev’s Jani’. She was one of the closest followers of Namdev and had no ambition other than to serve Namdev and sing the praises of the Lord Vithoba.

For instance, in one of her poems she sings:

“Let me undergo as many births in this world as You please, but grant that my desires are fulfilled. They are that I see Pandharpur and serve Namdev in every birth. I do not mind if I am a bird or a swine, a dog or a cat, but my conditions are that in each of these lives, I must see Pandharpur and serve Namdev. This is the ambition of Namdev’s maid.”

In another place, Janabai writes:

“Give me only this, O Hari, that I shall always sing Your sacred Name. Fulfil my only desire that You will accept my humble homage and service. This is all that I desire. Have mercy on me and fulfil my desires. I want to concentrate my eyes and mind on You and have Your Name on my lips. For this the maid Jani falls at Your feet.”

That sums up the philosophy of Janabai and how she attained her desired goal. So intense and sincere was her devotion to Vithoba that the Lord Himself used to lighten her household duties, which, as she became old, she found unable to perform. By her service and devotion to God, she completely succeeded in effacing herself and she got completely merged in Him. A great soul-Janabai! And a greater Master – Namdev!

The essence of Namdev’s message is that “Always meditate on the Lord. Recite or hear His glory. Serve the Lord and surrender yourself at His Lotus feet. The Lord will be near you. You will attain eternal bliss”.

341.   Shurah – The Valiant.

This Nama is derived from the root “Su” to go, and signifies the urge for victory. A Shoorah is a Valiant or bold person with fighting qualities. As Sri Adi Sankara puts is ‘Vikramanaat Shoorah – He is called Shurah because of his bravery’.

RamaHe has demonstrated his bravery in all his incarnations. As Rama he was able to win over fourteen thousand Asuras single-handedly in Janasthanam.

Even as a young boy he was able to protect the sacrifice of Vishwamitra against opposition from formidable demons such as Maaricha and Subaahu.

Shri V.V. Ramanujam gives some examples from Divya prabandham which illustrate the “go-getter” nature of His victories. He gives examples from Divya Prabandham which illustrates this aspect:

அன்றுஇவ் உலகம் அளந்தாய் அடிபோற்றி
சென்றங்குத் தென்இலங்கை செற்றாய் திறல்போற்றி
பொன்றச் சகடம் உதைத்தாய் புகழ்போற்றி
கன்று குணில்ஆ வெறிந்தாய் கழல்போற்றி
குன்று குடையாய் எடுத்தாய் குணம்போற்றி
வென்று பகைகெடுக்கும் நின்கையில் வேல்போற்றி
என்றென்றுன் சேவகமே ஏத்திப் பறைகொள்வான்
இன்றுயாம் வந்தோம் இரங்கேலோர் எம்பாவாய்      [Thiruppavai 24]

Meaning: Glory to your feet that spanned the Earth as Vamana. You went to Lanka and destroyed Lanka as Kodanda Rama, Glory to your strength. Glory is to your fame that smote the bedevilled cart as Krishna in the cradle. Glory to your feet that threw and killed the demon-calf Vatsasura. Glory to your spear that overcomes all evil. Praising you always humbly we have come to you, please Bestow your compassion on us.

சென்றங்கு வாணனை ஆயிரந் தோளும் திருச்சக் கரமதனால்
தென்றித் திசைதிசை வீழச்செற்றாய் திருமாலிருஞ் சோலையெந்தாய் [PeriyAzhvar Tirumozhi 5.3.9]

Meaning: You went with your Sudharsana Chakra (Discus) and cut apart the thousand arms of Banasura and scattered them far and wide. O Lord of Tirumalirumsolai!

Note the choice of the word “Senru” in both the verses which stresses the go-getter aspect.

The Dharma Chakram writer illustrates the significance of this Nama for our day-to-day life. He points out that whenever there is battle between the Devas and Asuras, the Asuras invariably win first, and then the Devas seek the help of Vishnu who then helps them defeat the evil Asuras. Our life is a replay of this scenario, with the constant battle between the bad qualities in us and the good in us. Invariably, the bad will win out unless we seek the help of the Lord by worshipping him and meditating on him. This is the essence for us to learn from this Nama.

342.   Shaurih      –         The Son of the Valiant

cropped-1150835_1770949879710962_1481570615_n.jpgAccording to Sri Adi Sankara this Nama means ‘Shurasya Apatyam Vasudevasya Sutah Shaurih – He is the son of Vasudeva who is the son of the King called Shura’. In other words he is the grandson of Shura hence he is called Shaurih.

The other way of describing this relationship is ‘Shurasya gotraapatyam pumaan Shaurih – He is a descendent of Shura’.  He is also the son of valiant people like Vasudeva, Dasharatha, etc.

Sri Parasara Bhattar says that he is son of the Valiant Vasudeva.

Sri V.V. RAmanujan points out the valor of Nandagopan – “Odaada tol valian Nandagopan Kumaran” and the valour of Dasharatha – Dayararkkumaganaait.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri points out that among the Yadavas there was a group of people who were called the Shooras. Since Vasudeva was from this group, Krishna is known as Shaurih.

343.   Janeshvarah      – The Lord of the people.

Sri Adi Sankara defines this as ‘Janaanaam Jantoonaam Eeshvarah Janeshvarah – the Lord of all things born or created’.

IMG_9177Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha gives the interpretation that He is Janeshvarah because He gives Aishvarya or wealth to people.

The Dharma Chakram writer points out that Bhagavan is the Leader of everything and guides them as appropriate at all times. When there is suffering, those who meditate on Him benefit by reaching higher levels, and those that don’t benefit reach a point to feel they need to seek Him. At this point He guides them appropriately to the higher levels. In Nama 287 we have already seen that he is ‘Sureshvarah’.  Janeshvarah is a further extension of the same.

344.   Anukulah    – One who is within bounds

Kula means shore so the word Anukulah literally means someone who is on the same side of the shore.  Since he is on the same side of the shore as you, he is close to you and easily accessible. This is the meaning that Sri Adi Sankara gives ‘Aatmatvena hi sarveshaam anukoolah Na hi svasmin Praatikoolyam svayam aacharati – Since His being the Self of all, He does nothing that would be unfavourable to Himself’.

Another interpretation of this Nama is that Bhagavan conforms and acts within the limits. Kulam anuvartate iti anukulah – One who is constrained by the limits.  Lord Rama had great valour, but was not conscious or boastful about that – “Veeryavaan na ca vIeyena mahataa svena vismitah”.

DamodaraSri V.V. Ramanujan points out the incident of His being bound by Yashoda – being within the bounds of what a child is supposed to be – Without knowing His identity, Yasoda challenges Him – Make yourself free if you can! – “Yadi Saknoshi gaccha tvam ati chanchala cheshthita!” – But He just remains tied, because He is Anukulah.

Anukulah can also be interpreted to be kulam anuvartate iti anukoolah – One who is constrained by the limits. Sri AnnangarAcharya explains that in spite of His enormous and unbounded greatness, Bhagavan is easily accessible to those who seek Him. He is bound by Bhakti, and this is His Anukulya svabhaava or ability to be within bounds.

Swami ChinmayAnanda gives the interpretation that He is Anukulah because He always goes along with whatever anyone does. Thus one man commits his murder, and another helps humanity, but Bhagavan is just the Observer in both cases. He keeps Himself within His bounds.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri gives the explanation that Anukulah means going towards the shore, based on the meaning of Kula for shore. Bhagavan is Anukulah because He helps His devotees go towards the shore when they try to cross the Ocean of Samsara.

The Dharma Chakram writer points out that Bhagavan is always acting in His role as Anukulah by being the internal conscience of everyone and telling them what is right. The conscience within everybody is always pointing to what is right and wrong.

345.   Shataavartah      –              He is Innumerable

Shata means hundred but in the context of this Nama it stands for Innumerable. Aavarta stands for rotation or repetition but in the current context it denotes an incarnation or Avatar. So Shataavartah is someone who takes innumerable incarnations for the protection of the virtuous.

DasavatharamIn the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 4 Verse 7 and 8, Bhagavan says:

“Yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamy aham”  [BG 4.7]
Meaning: Whenever and wherever there is a decline of righteousness and predominance of unrighteousness prevails; at that time I manifest personally, O’ Bharata!

“Paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge”   [BG 4.8]
Meaning: For the protection of the devotees and annihilation of the miscreants, and to re-establish righteousness, I appear millennium after millennium.

As Sri Adi Sankara puts it ‘Dharma traanaaya Shatam Aavartanaani Praadurbhaavaa Asya iti Shataavartah – One who incarnates himself innumerable number of times for protecting the Dharmic way of life’.

Sankara also gives an alternative meaning ‘Naadee shate Praanaroopena Vartate iti vaa – He circulates himself in blood vessels or blood stream of every living organism in the form of Praana or the force of life (oxygen) hence he is called Shataavartah’.

There are several examples which illustrate His quality of Shataavartah. He appears in the form of the Sun every day in order to sustain life in this world – ‘Suryasya Avritam Anvaavarte’

This corroborates the Mantra of the para-aspect of the Lord – SAntodita vij~nAna prANAya – Unto Him of tranquil and ever-growing knowledge and life.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha uses the meaning “many” for Shata, and cycle (chakra) for Avarta, and gives the explanation that Bhagavan has this Nama because He rotates or cycles the lives in Samsara.

The aspects of Para-Vasudeva with reference to His qualities have been described so far (from the 334th Nama – Vasudeva).  Now begins the Rupa or form of Para Vasudeva in Sri Parasara Bhattar’s interpretation.

His repeated incarnations to protect dharma in this world are examples. His protection of Pandavas and Draupadi repeatedly when they were in distress is a case in point. He protected Prahlada from all cruelties meted out to him by Hiranyakashipu. He did many wonders by protecting the Yadava people in His incarnation as Krishna.

Avarta also means vortex. According to Sri Parasara Bhattar. He is Shataavartah as His riches (Aishvarya) are so enormous that they keep expressing themselves without overflowing like hundreds of whirlpools. In spite of this, He is easily accessible to His devotees.

Another way to look at this name according to Sri Krishnamachari is that He controls different kinds of cycles – zodiacal, stellar and planetary.

346.   Padmee – He who carries the Lotus in His hand

Lord Vishnu and Goddess LaxmiPadmam means a lotus and Padmee is somebody who carries a lotus in his hand. Sri Adi Sankara describes this as ‘Padmam haste vidyate iti Padmee’ meaning He is called Padmee because he carries a Lotus in his hand.

It is interesting to note that ancient kings used to carry a lotus in their hand called ‘Leelaaravindam’ which they used to rotate playfully when holding their Darbars. This was a sign of royalty.

According to Sri Radhakrishna Shastri the Lotus signifies the Sattvic qualities of Bhagavan viz. Dharma, Jnaana, Vairaagya, and Aishvarya.  In Srimad Bhagavatam it says ‘itarena dhunaanam abjam’ meaning with the other hand He is playing with the lotus (10.23.22)’.

Swami ChinmayAnanda jocularly points out that Bhagavan first blows His conch and invites us to offer His “knowledge” – signified by His Padma, and if they don’t listen to this, He uses His Gada or mace to give a gentle knock, and if this does not yield results, then there is the Chakra, which annihilates the evil and restores order again.  One is reminded of Saama, Daana, Bheda, and Dandam.

Padma also is a name for Lakshmi and so Padmee is one who has MahaLakshmi besides him all the time.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha uses the meaning “knowledge” for the word Padma, and suggests that one who gives True Knowledge or one who has True knowledge is Padmee.

 347.   Padma-nibhekshanah – One who has eyes like the Lotus flower

1604624_1750713158401301_1631851258_nPadma is lotus, Nibha means comparable to and Eekshana means eyes. So the meaning of Padmanibhekshanah is one who has eyes beautiful like the Lotus.

Sri Adi Sankara describes this as ‘Padmanibhe Eekshane Drishau asya asti iti Padmanibhekshanah – He is called Padmanibhekshanah because he has eyes comparable to the lotus flower’.

The Nama that is soon to follow ‘Aravindaakshah’ also means the same.

In Ramayana the word ‘Rajeeva lochana’ (the lotus eyed one) is often used by Valmiki to describe Rama. Vishwamitra in asking Dasaratha to give Rama to him for ten days to protect his Yagna says ‘Dasharaatram hi yajnasya Ramam Rajeevalochanam’. But in refusing to give Rama Dasaratha used the same word, ‘Oona shodasha varsho me Ramo Raajeevalochanah’.

The name Padmanibhekshanah describes the cool, benevolent, kind, inviting, consoling, appearance of His eyes, which look like the Lotus flowers.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri points out that the sequence of names Anukulash Shataavartah Padmee Padmanibhekshanah all refer to the quality of Bhagavan’s helping nature when one seeks His help.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan provides references from the Divya Prabandham –

“செய்யதாமரைக் கண்ணினாயெங்கள்  சிற்றில்வந்து சிதையேலே”    [Nachiar Thirumozhi 2-4]

“உகவையால் நெஞ்சம் உள்ளுருகி உன்தாமரைத் தடங்கண் விழிகளின்” [ThiruvaiMozhi  6-2-9].

Both the above verses refer to Lord’s Lotus eyes as ‘Tamarai Kannan’.

The Dharma Chakram writer reminds us of the saying “The face is the index of the mind”. In this case, Bhagavan’s lotus-eyes are conveying to us His Inner Nature. The equivalent of this Nama in Tamil is “Tamarai Kannan”.


Ashokas Taaranas Taaras Shuras Shaurir Janeshvarah       |
Anukulash Shataavartah Padmee Padmanibhekshanah || 37||

vishnu_1_2Bhagavan is free from the six debilitating waves of Samsara such as hunger, thirst, sorrow, delusion, aging and death and hence He is Ashokah.

He is called Taaranah as He helps you to cross the Ocean of Samsara.  He lifts the devotees above the fear of conception, birth, ageing and death and hence his called Taarah.

He is called Shurah because of his bravery. He has demonstrated his bravery in all his Avatars or incarnations. He is the son of Vasudeva who was the son of the King called Shura.  In other words he is the grandson of Shura hence he is called Shaurih.

The Lord is Janeshvarah as He is the Cause of all things born or created. Since His being the Self of all, He does nothing that would be unfavourable to Himself and hence he is called Anukulah.

Bhagavan is easily accessible to those who seek Him. He is bound by Bhakti, and this is His Anukulya svabhaava or ability to be within bounds.

Shataavartah is someone who takes innumerable incarnations for the protection of the virtuous. As Bhagawan says in the Bhagavat Gita ‘Dharma samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge’.

He is called Padmee because He carries a Lotus in his hand denoting knowledge.  Bhagavan is called Padmanibhekshanah because he has eyes comparable to the Lotus flower’.



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



  1. At the outset, Thank you for a very detailed meaning of this sloka. ….. My question is what exactly is the intent of chanting this sloka? Is it to create the right vibrations for us to help in meditating on the qualities of the Lord for emulation. Does each sloka correspond to a group of people based on their rashi and paadam? And does it suffice to chant just that one sloka?


    • Thank you. Chanting of the Shloka is for purification of the mind and the body eventually leading to realisation of God. There are nine types of Bhakti to Lord and one of them is through Chanting of Lord’s Namas.

      For each Nakshatra or Star, there are four Padas, as given below:
      Ashwani (Aswini / Asvini )1 to 4
      Bharani (Barani) 5 to 8
      Kruttika (Krithikai / Karthikai)9 to 12
      Rohini 13 to 16
      Mrugasira (Mirugaseersham)17 to 20
      Ardra (Thirivathirai) 21 to 24
      Punarvasu (Punarpusam) 25 to 28
      Pushyam (Pusam / Poosam) 29 to 32
      Aslesha (Ayilyam) 33 to 36
      Makam 37 to 40
      Poorvapalguni (Puram) 41 to 44
      Uttaraphalguna (Uthiram) 45 to 48
      Hasta (Hastham) 49 to 52
      Chitra (Chithirai) 53 to 56
      Swati (Swathi) 57 to 60
      Visaakhaa (Visakam) 61 to 64
      Anuradha (Anusham) 65 to 68
      Jyeshtha (Kettai) 69 to 72
      Moolaa (Mulam) 73 to 76
      Poorvaashaadaa (Puradam) 77 to 80
      Uthraashaadaa (Thiradam) 81 to 84
      Sravanam (Thiruvonam) 85 to 88
      Dhanishtha (Avittam) 89 to 92
      Sathabishang (Sathayam) 93 to 96
      Poorvabhadra (Poorattathi) 97 to 100
      Uttarabhadra (Uthirattathi) 101 to 104
      Revati (Revathi) 105 to 108

      However, reciting the Rama Nama Pada (Sri Rama Rama Rameti Rame Raame Manorame….) has the effect of chanting the entire Sahasranamam.

      If you can make chanting a part of your daily routine, the benefits are enlisted in the Phala Shruti.

      Hari Om!

  2. the story of Sant Namdev is very touching..the meaning of Ashoka is a revelation as well..many a time we are reminded of God only when we get affected by the 3 afflictions.. nishkama karma is a tough act in this material world. Karthik

  3. Namaste! The story of Bhakth Namdev and Janabai is mindblowing. I think Taaranah nama is important for this kaliyug especially with crossing the Ocean of Samsara, the story of Gajendra Moksha in one of your previous part was fantastic. I am enjoying reading this and thanks once again.

  4. Hari om. Very interesting commentary. Especially the nama which describes about Yashoda and little Krishna in the nama Anukulah and also about the three sorrows in the first nama. I am not very expressive but wanted to appreciate my gratitude to both of you. Thank you.

  5. Hari om Uncle! I loved the story of Namdev. In those days god seems to appear to many devotees. Now a days even if we roll on floor and cry or jump from a hill god does not appear. Is it because our faith is not strong enough? Maybe a difficult question. I also liked the nama Padmee where Swamy Chinmayananda says about the lord knocking the head with his gadha, haha so funny. Very interesting to read from the blog. Thank you Sridhar Uncle and Balaji Uncle. Hari om!

    • Hari Om Shambavi!

      Hahaha. Very interesting observation! Let me try and explain the rationale. God has to be experienced and is usually not seen. When our devotion or Bhakti is deep, we meditate on HIM without seeking any favour and do our duty with utmost commitment we realise God. This is easier said than done as most of us go temples seeking for something in return e.g. higher grades in exams, promotion, new job, more money, so on and so forth.

      When we do Nishkama Karma (actions without expectations), we can always be in bliss.

      God bless you! Hari Om!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s