In this part we will explore the meaning of the 53rd Shloka of Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam.
Shloka 53
Uttaro Gopatir Goptaa Jnanagamyah Puraatanah                    |
ShareeraBhutabhrid Bhoktaa Kapindro Bhuri-Dakshinah ||53||

Bhagavan releases us from the bondage of the cycle of birth and death of Samsara. He is the Lord of the World and He protects all beings as the guardian of the world. He is attainable through spiritual knowledge and not by rituals or a combination of rituals and studies. Bhagavan is beyond the constraints of Time and even though He is more ancient than anybody else, He is eternal. He supports the 5 elements namely Earth, Fire, Water, Air and Ether which are the basic structure of all beings. He is the enjoyer of Pure Joy or Absolute Bliss. The human mind is often compared with a monkey that keeps jumping from one thought to the other. Meditating on Kapindrah, as Lord of the monkeys (refers to Lord Rama), will help us in controlling our thoughts which is essential for realisation of self and God. Bhagavan gives generous gifts and blessings to His devotees.

The above Shloka has the following Namas:

  1. Uttarah
  2. Gopatih
  3. Goptaa
  4. Jganagamyah
  5. Puraatanah
  6. ShareeraBhutabhrid
  7. Bhoktaa
  8. Kapindrah
  9. Bhuri-Dakshinah

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

  1. Uttarah – The Rescuer

Sri Adi Sankara gives two interpretations for this Nama. The first is ‘Janma Samsaara bandhanaat Uttarati iti Uttarah – He releases us from the bondage of the cycle of birth and death of Samsaara, hence He is called Uttarah’. Sankara’s second explanation is ‘Sarvotkrishta iti vaa – He is higher than all’. Shruti says ‘Vishvasmaat Indra Uttarah – The Supreme Lord towers over all’.

The Dhyana Shloka of Vishnu Sahasranamam says ‘Yasya smarana maatrena Janma samsaara bandhanaat Vimuchyate Namastasmai Vishnave Prabhavishnave – Just by meditating on His Nama He liberates you from the bondage of Samsara’.  In the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 12, Verse 7:
Teshaam aham Samuddhartaa Mrityusamsaara saagaraat
Bhavami na cirat partha mayy avesita-cetasam ||
Meaning: O’ Arjuna, those whose minds are absorbed in My thoughts, I rescue such devotees swiftly from the Ocean of death in the material existence of this Samsara’.

Sri Parasara Bhattar’s interpretation is that Bhagavan is the Rescuer of Brahma and other Devas from the Asuras – ‘Uttaaranat Uttarah – He who rescues’.

Sri T. S. Krishnamurti has explained this as “He who transcends the bounds of birth”.  Sri Satyadevo Vasishta supports these interpretations by deriving the meaning from the words ‘ap –waters’, and ‘tara to cross, to swim across’.

Alternatively, ‘Ut’ can refer to Utkarsha or Atishaya meaning extraordinary,  exalted, etc., and tara refers to crossing. Combining that Uttara also means that Bhagavan is the best means (in fact the only one!) for crossing the Ocean of Samsara.

The Dharma Chakram writer gives the significance of this Nama in our day-to-day life.  Our mind is normally torn by all kinds of desires. These thoughts constantly puncture holes in our mind which is the boat we need to safely cross this Ocean of Samsaara.  Rocks in the form of ahankara, mamakara, etc. are trying to wreck this boat.  Till we cross this life span, we need to have this boat intact without being wrecked or punctured.  Meditation on Bhagavan is therefore essential in order to accomplish this.  The verse from Thiruvalluvar is relevant in this context – “Piravip-perum kadal neendhuvar, neendhaar Iraivan adi Seraadaar – They would swim off the huge ocean of births. Those who don’t are the ones who have not reached out to the Feet of God”.

  1. Gopatih – The Master of all words

Krishna GopiThe word ‘Go’ means Cow, Words, Vedas, Earth, etc.  Thus there are several interpretations for this Nama.

  1. The Master of all words (Vedas)
  2. He keeps His own word
  3. The Protector of His Bhakta’s words
  4. The Protector of cows
  5. The Protector of all that moves around
  6. The Lord of Mother Earth
  7. The Lord of the (celestial) world

The words ‘gam – gatau’ means ‘to go’, and ‘paa- rakshane’ means ‘to protect’.  In this context, ‘Go’ can also refer to several things:

  • to indriyas since they wander towards material objects;
  • to mind since mind wanders on all kinds of thoughts;
  • to Atma since Atma moves from one body to another;
  • to body since the body moves from one place to another, and on and on.

Bhagavan is the Patih or Master for all these.

Among His Creations for which He is the Master or Patih, Veda is the one that is heard, and the Universe is the one that is seen.  Vedas expound the way of life of the world, and the world is an expression of the Vedas, and He is the Master or Patih for these.

Sri Adi Sankara gives 2 explanations. The first is ‘Gavaam Palanaat Gopaveshadharah Gopatih – He plays the role of a cowherd by caring for the cows (in Ayarpadi) hence He is called Gopatih’.

The second interpretation is ‘Gowh Mahee tasyaah Patitvaat vaa – Gow means the world and Gopatih therefore means someone who is the Lord of the World’. The Phalashruti says ‘Vishveshvaram Ajam Devam – He is the Lord of the Universe’.

The concept that Bhagavan is the Master of all words is interpreted by Sri Parasara Bhattar as referring to His being the One who gave the Vedas as well as all the languages to us.

The Dharma Chakram writer interprets this Nama and explains that Bhagavan keeps His word to His devotees, as well as ensuring His Bhaktas’ words come true.  We know of Bhagavan’s promise to protect those who surrender unto Him unconditionally, and we know that He ensured that Bhishma’s vow to make Krishna take to weapons in the war against His own promise come true.

He also made the words of Prahlada come true that Bhagavan is omnipresent by appearing from the pillar when Hiranyakashipu challenged the young Prahlada.

The Story of Krishna’s attack on Bhishma

bhishma-wheelKrishna broke his Vow on the ninth day of the War and rushed to attack Bhishma and the rationale for this is wonderfully explained in the ensuing story.

Bhishma was renowned for his commitment to his Vows and he never broke any “Rules” or “Principles” under which he was supposed to act.  This was the source of his strength and also the reason that he was so respected. But he mistook living within Rules as living with Dharma. He was immensely proud of the fact that he had done nothing wrong and was only performing his duty by protecting Kauravas to respect the “Vow” he took.

Krishna wanted to break that myth of Bhishma and teach him that “Dharma” is not just about following “Rules”. If following a “Vow” was causing unintended and wrong consequences, then one must not hesitate to break it. Krishna wanted to drive this point into Bhishma that protecting his Vow and supporting Kauravas was against the principles of Dharma. The Leeladhari Krishna waited for the opportune time to demonstrate this to Bhishma.

During the War, Duryodhana kept challenging Bhishma by scoffing at him that he was not killing Pandavas, because of his desire to make Pandavas win.  On the eighth day of the War, due to the repeated taunts of Duryodhana,   Bhishma lost his temper and made a vow to kill all the Pandavas and make Draupadi a widow the very next day. Duryodhana was very pleased to hear that.

Krishna, knowing all these developments, played his Leela with Bhishma. The next morning, Krishna asked Draupadi to touch Bhishma feet as he woke up (without the knowledge of Bhishma) to seek his blessings.  Bheeshma as a matter of habit, would say “Deergha Sumangali Bhava” (Long live with your husband) when any married woman touched his feet to seek his blessings. Draupadi sought Bhishma’s blessings as instructed by Krishna. Bhishma blessed by uttering ‘Dheergha Sumangali Bhava’ and when he looked up he was startled to see Draupadi. He was shocked and anguished that his Vow to Duryodhana was now at odds with his blessings to Draupadi. Bhishma came to know that Krishna had advised Draupadi and rushed to confront Krishna with his predicament.

Bhishma asked Krishna, “Why did you play this game?  I have to either withdraw my Vow or my blessings.  And if I did either I would not live up to my word. What can I do now?”

Krishna replied thus, “Your Vow was for Adharma and your blessings were for Dharma. So act in accordance with Dharma”. He consoled, Bhishma and said, I know how difficult it would be for a person like you to break your vow. In order to feel your suffering, I too shall break my Vow once in this war and you will be the reason for that.

Therefore, Krishna in spite of his Vow of not to fight in the war lifted the cart wheel and rushed to attack Bhishma. He told Bhishma that He didn’t need any weapon to kill him and only a cart wheel was enough for him.

It is here that Krishna taught Bhishma about his mistaken sense of “Dharma”. Bhishma lays down his weapon and asked Krishna to end his life. Arjuna fell at the feet of Krishna and pleaded the Lord to not break his Vow.

This episode beautifully illustrates how Bhagavan is prepared to do anything to keep a Bhakta’s word and also keep His word given to a Bhakta.

  1. Goptaa – The Saviour

Govardhan_Lila1Sri Adi Sankara says ‘Samastabhootaani Paalayan Rakshako Jagatah iti Goptaa – He protects all beings and hence He is Goptaa, the guardian of the world’. He saves all beings without expecting anything in return.

Another meaning for the word ‘Gup’ is to hide, to conceal.  Based on this, Sri Sankara interprets this to mean that He hides Himself (from non-devotees) through His Maya.

The Nama is derived from the root ‘Gup –rakshane’ meaning ‘to protect’.  Sri Parasara Bhattar interprets this Nama as Bhagavan being the protector of all knowledge, thus extending the interpretation given in the previous Nama.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri gives the reference from Atharva Shiras 5 – Samsrijya Vishva Bhuvanaani Goptaa – He is the One who creates all beings and sustains them.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha gives reference from the Shruti:
Treeni padaa vicakrame vishnur-gopaa adaabhyah – Yajur 34.43.
Meaning: He points out that Bhagavan’s Guna of protection of all that is on this land, in the sea or in the air, is His Dharma.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri uses both the meanings of ‘Gup’ of hide and protect and gives the interpretation that Bhagavan is Goptaa because He protects His devotees by hiding them from their enemies and shielding them from all obstacles.

The Dharma Chakram writer observes that this Nama should remind us that Bhagavan is the one who is constantly protecting everything He has created.  Those who think they are protecting themselves or are being protected by some other human being, are in delusion and sheer ignorance.  This Nama should remind us of this simple fact.

  1. Jnana-Gamyah – He who is to be realised by knowledge

dhruvaSri Adi Sankara’s interpretation is that ‘Na Karmanaa na Jnana karmabhyaam vaa gamyate kintu Jnanena gamyate iti JnanaGamyah – He is attainable through spiritual knowledge and not by rituals or a combination of rituals and studies’. Here Jnana refers to the highest knowledge namely Atma Jnana or Knowledge of the Self – Who you are and what you are. Without this Supreme and Ultimate Knowledge, mere rituals will not lead us to Bhagavan. Similarly knowledge of Vedas and Shastras and practice of rituals without Atma Jnaana will not lead us to realization of Bhagavan.

In the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 7 Verse 19, Bhagavan says:
Bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate
Vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma su-durlabhah ||
Meaning:  After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.

Swami ChinmayAnanda points out that the knowledge referred to here is not the mere knowledge of scriptures and rituals.

Sri M. V. RamanujAcharya remarks that the knowledge referred to here is ‘Para Vidya’ – The knowledge of the Supreme Self, which is attained only by meditational unison – Samadhi Nishtah.

The Dharma Chakram writer elaborates that knowledge can be considered to be of two kinds – that which is obtained by external indriyas like the eyes, ears, etc., or by mind by contemplation – Apara Vidya.  Among the means that aid in attaining this ‘Para’ knowledge are Jnana, Bhakti, Karma, and Yoga.  Regular practice of such actions like Nama Samkeertanam (chanting Bhagavan’s Nama), Sravanam (listening to Bhagavan’s Nama, Puranas, Itihasas etc.), Kainkaryam (performing duties in support of temple services, making garlands, cleaning the temple premises, etc.), facilitate the purification of our mind (Chittha Shuddhi) and foster Bhakti.  Equanimity in thought and bearing with patience any difficulties that arise in life and accepting good things that happen in our life as Ishvara Prasada and dedicating them to Bhagavan, etc., will help in directing our mind towards Him. Jnanam in our context is the realisation of the relationship and association between us and Him.  This Jnanam will materialise for us only by His Grace.  This Nama conveys to us that Bhagavan is realisable only through Atma Jnanam, and He is the only One who can bless us with this Jnanam.  But we can prepare ourselves and be ready to receive it when He decides to bless us with it.

  1. Puraatanah – He is Ancient and Eternal

Adi-JLiterally Puraatanah means someone who is very ancient. Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Kaalena Aparichchinnatvaat Puraa api bhavati iti Puraatanah – He is beyond the constraints of Time and even though He is more ancient than anybody else, He is Eternal’.

Sri Parasara Bhattar explains the significance of this Nama in terms of the previous Namas, indicating that He is Ancient in that He has been giving us knowledge and protecting it not only in this Kalpa, but in all previous Kalpas as well.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan refers us to NammAzhwar’s Thiruvai Mozhi (7.3.11): Uzhitoruzhi vaiyam kaakkum Azhi neer vannan  – He takes many forms and Avataars to protect the World since many Kalpas.

Swami ChinmayAnanda points out that the meaning “Ancient” here refers to that from which the concept of time itself originated and thus He is the Truth that cannot be measured in terms of Time.

The Dharma Chakram writer observes that this Nama also conveys several other thoughts – viz. that Bhagavan is  without a beginning , not born, not governed by Time, not comprehended by the mind, the Origin of everything that exists, etc.

  1. Shareera-Bhutabhrid – He who supports all the Tattvas which constitute the Shareera

Sri Krishna 7Sri Adi Sankara gives the interpretation that since Bhagavan nourishes the elements of the body and as He is Prana (the vital air) Himself, He is Shareera-Bhutabhrid.

Sri Sankara further explains this as ‘Shareeraambhaka bhutaanaam Bharanaat Praanarupadharah Shareerabhutabhrid – He supports the 5 elements namely Earth, Fire, Water, Air and Ether which are the basic structure of all beings, He is called Shareera-Bhutabhrit’.

The term Bhuta can refer to the Pancha Maha Bhutas (Earth, Fire, Water, Air and Ether), the 24 Tattvas (5 MahaBhutas, 5 Tanmatras, 5 Jananedriyas, 5 Karmendriyas, Mind, Ego, Intellect and Prakriti) or to the entire Universe of all beings.  Thus there are different interpretations for this Nama.

Sri Parasara Bhattar uses the meaning of Bhuta as referring to the 24 tattvas or the elements involved in the Creation of the Universe.  These Shareera-Bhutas are the elements of Creation.  Bhagavan supports these tattvas through His body, i.e., they are part of Him.   Sri Bhattar gives reference from the MahaBharata – Tasya Murdha Samabhavat dyauh sa-nakshatra Devata – His head was the sky along with the stars and the Deities – Shanti Parva 348.49.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan refers to NammAzhwar’s Thiruvai Mozhi (10.7.10): “Pongaimpulanum pori aindum karumEndiriyam aim-butam Iingiv-vuyireipirakiruti manangara manangale” – Meaning: The five senses such as sound, the five sense-organs, the five action-oriented limbs, the five elements like earth, prakr*ti, mahat, ahamkAra, and manas or mind.    A more general meaning for the word Bhuta is anything that exists (from Bhu – Satyayam – all that is true or exists.  Since all these beings are His body, and since He supports (bhrid) these Bhutas which are part of His Shareera, He is called Shareera-Bhuta-bhrid.  ThiruvAimozhi 10.7.2 – “Taaneyagi niraaindu ella ulagum uyirum taaneyai… nindrozhindaan”.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishta gives an alternate interpretation.  Different Devatas are associated with different parts of our body – the Sun with the eyes, the Moon with the mind, the skin with Vayu, the colour or Varna with Isha etc.  Bhagavan is the Protector of these Shareera-Bhutas or Devatas, and so He is called Shareera-Bhuta-bhrid.

502.            Bhoktaa – The Enjoyer

krishna and FS3This Nama can be interpreted as either ‘Bhunakti – Supports’ or ‘Bhunkte – Enjoys’. Using these two different meanings Sri Adi Sankara explains this Nama as ‘Paalakatvaat Bhoktaa – He supports all, hence He is called Bhoktaa’. Alternatively he says ‘Paramaananda Sandoha sambhogaat vaa Bhoktaa – He is the enjoyer of Pure Joy or Absolute Bliss hence He is called Bhoktaa’.

We covered this Nama earlier where we explained that Bhagavan’s Guna is that of enjoying even the simplest of offerings from His devotee.  The Verse from, the Bhagavad Gita (9.26) “Patram, pushpam, phalam, toyam…” was referenced.  He is also the Ultimate Enjoyer of the offerings to all the gods (Bhoktaram yajna tapasaam sarvaloka Maheshvaram… Bhagavad Gita Chapter 5. Verse 29).

Sri Parasara Bhattar extends this Guna of Bhoktaa to include not only the offerings to the Gods (havya), but also to the kavya, the offering to our pitrus or the deceased ancestors – havya kavya bhujo Vishnoh udak-purve mahodadhau (MahaBharata Shanti Parva 348.3) – Bhagavan is stationed in the northest Ocean and consumes the havya and kavya that are offered with sincerity.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan gives several references to support the interpretation:

  • Seigaip-payan unbenum yaane ennum –  I enjoy the fruits of all actions (NammaAzhwar’s Thiruvai Mozhi 5.6.4);
  • Aham annam aham annam aham annam  aham annAdo’ham annAdo’ham annAdah – – I am the food or the object of enjoyment for My devotees, and I am the Enjoyer or consumer of the offerings of My devotees as well (Taittiriya Upanishad 9.10.1);
  • வாரிக் கொண்டு உன்னைவிழுங்குவன் காணிலென்று
    ஆர்வற்றவென்னையொழிய என்னில்முன்னம்
    பாரித்து தானென்னை முற்றப்பருகினான்
    காரொக்கும் காட்கரையப்பன்கடியனே. (Thiruvai Mozhi – 9.6.10)
    Meaning: I thought, If ever I see him I will gobble Him, but before I could, He deceived me and hastily drank me all.  My dark Lord of Tirukkatkarai is one step ahead!·
  • Avaa arac-cuzh ariyai – He who mingles with His devotees intimately and to His heart’s content. (Thiruvai Mozhi 10.10.11).

shabariThe obvious examples of Kannan eating with great delight the handful of puffed rice from Kusela, and His accepting the food offered by Vidura over that offered by Duryodhana demonstrates that He enjoys offering made with love and devotion. Lord Rama had the berries offered with love by Shabari.

Swami ChinmayAnanda gives two derivations for the meaning for Bhokta-bhunakti iti Bhoktaa – The Protector, and bhunkte iti Bhoktaa – The Enjoyer.   

Sri Satyadevo Vasishta nicely expresses this – Rakshako Bhakshanashca.  He creates, protects and swallows at the time of Pralaya.

The Dharma Chakram writer explains the function of Bhagavan as Bhokta in a way that applies to our day-to-day life.  Bhagavan is in all of us – in some cases He is the observer, in others He is the guide, in yet others He is the Enjoyer, etc. (Bhagavad GIta Chapter 13 Verse 22).   For those who spend their time in worldly pursuits, He is just the Observer.  For those who observe the path of Dharma, He is the Bharta in times of need – as in the case of PANDava-s.  For those who offer to Bhagavan the worldly gains that they get, such as the fame etc. that come to them, He is the Bhoktaa, i.e, He accepts these as offerings, and He bestows on them His anubhavam instead.   The more we dedicate our actions and the benefits of these actions to Him, and thus make Him the Bhoktaa, the more He reveals to us what true happiness is, and the more we are relieved of undesirable attributes such as ahamkAram, mamakAram, etc.  The significance of this Nama thus is for us to realize that we should dedicate all our actions and their effects to Bhagavan as the Bhoktaa, and we should instead enjoy Him and attain eternal bliss.

Sri Parasara Bhattar interprets the next few Nama-s in terms of the Guna Anubhavam of the incarnation of Bhagavan as Sri Rama.

503.            Kapindrah – The Lord of the Monkeys Sri Adi Sankara points out that the word ‘Kapi’ can mean a monkey or a boar (Varaha) and so the Nama Kapindrah has two meanings.

ramsethu2The first meaning is ‘Kapeenaam Vanaranam Indrah Kapindrah Raghavo vaa – He was the Lord of the monkey faced Vanaras, hence He is called Kapindrah (referring to Lord Rama)’.

The second meaning is Kapishcha asau Indrashcha iti Kapir Varahah Varaham Vapuraasthitah Kapindrah – He had acquired the form of a great boar in his Varaha Avataar, hence He is called Kapindrah, the great Boar’.

Sri Parasara Bhattar’s interpretation is that Bhagavan assumed the human form which was very different from His Nature in order to propagate the performance of sacrificial acts laid down in the Vedas which He had Himself promulgated earlier in the form of Hayagreeva and the Devas assumed the form of monkeys which are even more different from their nature.  He was the Indra or the Lord for the Gods who were His servitors, and hence He is called Kapindra.  This is supported by the following Shloka from Valmiki Ramayana
-Sarva-LokeShvarah Saakshat Lokanam hita-kamyaya    |
Sarvaih parivrito devaih Vanaratvam Upagataih       || (Yuddha Kanda 114.16)
Meaning: Loka here means the world, the people of the world, and also the Vedas. So His incarnation is for the protection of the world, its people and the Vedas.   Sri Radhakrishna Shastri observes that for One who could control thousands and thousands monkeys, it is a trivial task to control the Indriyas of mortals like us.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishta interprets the word Kapi based on Kapi sancalane – anything that moves about, and this applies  to the Sun, the Moon, and all other objects that move.  He thus interprets the Nama to mean “He gives the power of movement to everything that moves”.  This can then be extended to even the movement of the pure blood and impure blood simultaneously inside the body without getting mixed up, the Atma moving from one body to another, etc., and thus He is KapIndrah, the Controller of movement in everything and everywhere.

The Dharma Chakram writer points out that the mind is like a monkey that keeps jumping around from one thought to another and can be controlled if we seek the help of Bhagavan and meditate on Him. One can conquer Ajnana by meditating on Lord Rama just as He controlled the monkeys won over Ravana in the battle. Our soul is caged and imprisoned by the Ajnana, just as Sita Piratti was imprisoned by Ravana and it is only by controlling the mind that we can get rid of this Ajnana and release the soul from its bondage. This Nama should teach us that it is possible to achieve control over mind with the help of Bhagavan, Kapindrah.

504.            Bhuri-Dakshinah – The liberal giver of largesse

Lord Vishnu and Goddess LaxmiBhuri refers to abundant, numerous or in full measure.  Dakshinah refers to gifts or offerings. Sri Adi Sankara interprets this Nama as referring to the enormous offerings given by Bhagavan in various Yajnas or Sacrifices performed to uphold Dharma. He says ‘Bhurayo Bahvayah YajnaDakshinaah Dharmamaryaadaam Darshayatah Yajnam Kurvatah Vidyanta iti BhuriDakshinah – Bhagavan has performed many sacrifices or Yajnas as a model for others and as a respect for Dharma.  He has given away abundant gifts as offerings during these events hence He is called Bhuri-Dakshinah, one who gives generous gifts’.

In Rama Avataar He performed a grand Ashvamedha Yajna after His triumphant return from Lanka. In the Mahabharata He was the chief guest for the Rajasooya Yajna performed by the Pandavas.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishta derives his interpretation based on Daksh Vriddhau Sighraarthe – to grow, to go in speed, and gives the meaning that Bhagavan makes things that He creates grow very fast and also make them move about as soon as they are born.  A bird starts eating things as soon as it is born without worrying about whether something is raw or ripe and starts growing.  A  new born child starts drinking milk the moment it is born and a young animal starts walking as soon as it is born as well.  This aspect of Bhagavan where He makes everything grow fast and move around quickly. 

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri explains that the word Dakshina also means dextrous, able and clever (Panini 1.1.34).  Thus this Nama also means that Bhagavan is extremely dextrous.  Sri V.V. Ramanujan points out that this example should extend to the Vaideeha Karmas such as Shraddha, in which the Dakshina should be given liberally to the participants.  He gives the example of Lord Krishna’s Guru Dakshina – that of bringing back Sandipani’s son to life again – Mari kadal vaai maandaanai Oduvitta takkanaiyaa uruvuruve koduthaan – He restored his Guru’s Sandipani’s son who was lost at Sea (PeriAzhwar Thiru Mozhi 4.8.1).

The Story of Sri Krishna’s Guru Dakshina

Sage Sandipani was an Acharya and also the Guru of Krishna aGuru Dakshina 1nd Balarama. The brothers, along with their friend Sudama, went to study at Guru Sandipani’s Ashram.

While staying as students at the Ashram of Sandipani Muni, the two brothers, Sri Krishna, Balarama and their friend Sudama mastered their lessons rapidly.  After the completion of their studies, they asked the sage to suggest a Guru Dakshina of his choice. The Sage asked Sri Krishna to restore his lost son, Punardatta who was kidnapped by Punyajana demons.

PanchajanyaKrishna and Balarama went in search of the Sage’s son. They found that Sandipani’s son had been taken hostage by the demon ShankhAsura who inhabited a beautiful conch named, “Pancha-janya” beneath the Ocean, near Dwaraka.

Sri Krishna took the conch and extracted Punardatta from the depths of the Ocean. He went to the abode of Yama and blew the conch once again. Yama paid obeisance to both of them saying, ‘O Vishnu, what can I do for you both?’

Kṛiṣhṇa replied: ‘O great ruler, restore life to My Guru’s son, who was brought here as a result of his own Karma.’ After he was brought back to life, they returned to Sage Sandipani’s Ashram. It was thus in the process of rescuing His Guru’s son from the clutches of Yama that Sri Krishna acquired His famous conch, Pancha-Janya from ShankAsura.

The Lord is benevolent and gives his blessings and gifts abundantly to His devotees.


Uttaro Gopatir Goptaa JnanaGamyah Puraatanah                           |
Shareerabhootabhrid Bhoktaa Kapindro Bhooridakshinah ||53||

Balaji01Bhagavan releases us from the bondage of the cycle of birth and death of Samsaara, hence He is called Uttarah. He is the Lord of the World and so He is called Gopitah. He protects all beings and hence He is Goptaa, the guardian of the world. He is JnanaGamyah who is attainable through spiritual knowledge and not by rituals or a combination of rituals and studies. He is Puratanah as He is beyond the constraints of Time and even though He is more ancient than anybody else, He is Eternal.

He supports the 5 elements namely Earth, Fire, Water, Air and Ether which are the basic structure of all beings; He is called Shareera-Bhutabhrit.  He is the enjoyer of Pure Joy or Absolute Bliss hence He is called Bhoktaa. He was the Lord of the monkey faced Vanaras, hence He is called Kapindrah (referring to Lord Rama). The human mind is often compared with a monkey that keeps jumping from one thought to the other. Meditating on this Nama, will help us in controlling our thoughts which is essential for realisation of Self and God. He gives away abundant gifts as offerings and blessings; hence He is called Bhuri-Dakshinah, one who gives generous gifts.



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



  1. Hari Om Sir!
    No words to describe! I can only think of this……
    bhakthAmrutham viswajanAnumOdhanam sarvArththadham………

    That which is nectarean for the devotees…
    That which pleases everyone, that which is accepted by everyone..
    That which contains all essential principles…
    Being equivalent to the 1000s of branches of upanishads…
    This explains all…
    Hari Om! _/_

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