In this part we will explore the meaning of the 61st Shloka of Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam.

shloka 61
Sudhanva Khanda-parashuh Daaruno Dravina-pradah  |
Divi-sprik Sarva-drik Vyaso Vaachaspatir Ayonijah       ||61||

He has a splendid Bow and wields a broken axe. He is destroyer of evil and one who bestows riches to His devotees.  His expanse touches the sky and He is All Seer and Omnipresent.  He is the arranger and expands knowledge of all types into easily understandable parts. He is the Master of all learning, and is not born in a mother’s womb.

The above Shloka has the following Namas:

  1. Sudhanvah
  2. Khanda-parashuh
  3. Daarunoh
  4. Dravina-pradah
  5. Divi-sprik
  6. Sarva-drik
  7. Vyasah
  8. Vaachaspatih
  9. Ayonijah

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

  1. Sudhanvaa – He has a splendid bow

vaduvur ramarThe literal meaning of this Nama is “One who has a splendid bow”. Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Shobhanam Indriyaadimayam Shaarngam Dhanuh asya asti iti Sudhanvaa – He has the great and beautiful bow called Sudhanvaa which symbolises the body and sense organs and hence He is called Sudhanvaa’. Bhagavan’s bow symbolises the senses, and He supports the ego or awareness due to the senses (indriya ahamkaara), represented by the Saarnga (bow) in His hand. Since Bhagavan is so fluent in archery that the bow is virtually an extension of His body, thus attaining the status of a body organ.

Sri Parasara Bhattar refers to the fight that ensued between the Devas and the Asuras at the time of the distribution of the nectar, and recalls the demonstration of the splendour of His bow in bringing about the end to that conflict.

Sri Radhakrishna Sastri refers us to Sri Vishnu Puranam 1.22.69, wherein reference is made to the significance of the Dhanush in His hand –
Bhutaadim indiryaadim ca dvidhaa aha’mkaaram Ishvarah    |
Bibharti Samkha rupena Saarnga rupena ca sthitam   ||
Meaning: Bhagavan’s Dhanush symbolizes the senses, and He supports the ego or awareness due to the senses, represented by the Saarngam, the bow in His hand. Bhagavan is the source and is the supporter of everything in the Universe as represented by the different weapons and aspects of His Form. This provides another way of meditating upon Him by concentrating on the forms that are easier for the mind to grasp than to meditate on an abstract truth.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan gives reference from the Divya Prabandham that conveys the meaning of this Nama:

  • Tadavarai tol Chakrapaani Saarnga vil Sevagane – O’ Lord with mountain-like arms, bearing the discus and the bow (Saarnga) – PeriAzhwar ThiruMozhi 5.4.4
  • Parametti, pavittiran, Saarngam ennum vil Andan – The pure and large hearted Lord wielding the Saarnga bow – Thiruppallandu

In the Pancha Ayudham Stotram we have:
Yajjyaa ninaada Sravanaat suraanaam cetaamsi nirmukta bhayaani sadya: |
Bhavanti daityaa Sani baanavarshi Saarngam sada aham Saranam prapadye ||
Meaning: I always seek refuge in the powerful bow of the Lord known as Saarngam, which showers unceasing downpour of fiery arrows on the evil Asuras. The sound of the twang of the bow string of the Saarngam during its use by the Lord chases away the fears of the Devas instantly.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha gives the analogy of the function of Bhagavan in protecting the world from the Asuras with His Dhanush, just as the bow-shaped eye-lashes protects the eye from unwanted objects. 

  1. Khanda-parashuh – One who wields a broken Axe

Lord Parashurama kills the sinful kings of the worldSri Adi Sankara gives two different interpretations by taking two different forms of this Nama – Khandaparashuh and Akhandaparashuh. Both the meanings refer to the Parashurama Avataar.  Sri Sankara interprets Khanda-parashuh as ‘Shatroonaam khandanaat Khandah Parashuh asya Jaamadagnyaakriteriti Khandaparashuh – He destroyed His enemies with His axe when He was born as the son of Jamadagni, hence He is called Khandaparashuh’.

Taking the Nama as Akhandaparashuh, Sri Sankara interprets this as ‘Akhandah parashuh asya iti vaa – He has an axe which is invincible and undefeated by any enemy hence He is called Akhandaparashuh’.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha interprets this as khadi – bhedane – to break and param Srinaati iti parashuh Shatram, taken together to make the Nama Khanda Parashuh meaning One with the broken axe. 

Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj interprets this as Khandayati Satrun iti Khandah, Khandah Parashuh yasya iti Khanda Parashuh – He whose axe punishes or destroys the enemies. 

Sri Parasara Bhattar quotes the incident involving Bhagavan’s fight with Rudra, where He discharged the axe which broke.  So He is known as “One with the broken axe”.

Atha Rudra vighaataartham isheekaam nara uddharan   |
mantraishca samyuyojaashu so’bhavat parashur-mahaan   ||
kshipatashca sahasaa rudre khandanam praapavaanstathaa   |
tato’ham Khanda-Parashuh tatah Parashu-khandanaat   ||    (MahaBharata Santi Parva 362.49)
Meaning: Then for the destruction of Rudra, Nara took a reed and by the recitation of mantras gave new power to it.  At once it became an immense axe.  It was thrown at Rudra with great force.  But then it broke.  Because of the breaking of the axe, from that time I came to be known as “Khanda Parashuh – the Lord with the broken axe”.

Sri Bhattar has another interpretation where he explains this Nama as Akhanda Parashu – One who is the wielder of the powerful axe to referring to Parashurama Avataar.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan quotes Ramanuja Nutrandhaadi-56 – ‘Kokkula mannarai muvezhukaal oru kur mazhuvaal pokkiya devanaip potrum punitan referring to the Parashurama Avatar where he annihilated Kshatriyas 21 times.  

In the Divya Prabhandam NammAzhwar has a reference to this in his Thiruvai Mozhi (6.2.10): 
நின்றிலங்கு முடியினாய். இருபத்தோர் கால்அரசு களை கட்ட, வென்றி நீண்மழுவா – O’ Lord of radiant crown, the wielder of the axe that destroyed Kings for 21 generations.

  1. Daarunah – The Destroyer of Evil

krishnanarayanaSri Adi Sankara takes this as Daarunah (also Draavinah) with the basic meaning of this Nama as ‘the harsh or merciless one’. He interprets this as ‘Sanmaarga virodhinaam Daarunatvaat Daarunah – He is harsh towards the evil doers hence He is called Daarunah’.

In the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4 Verses 7 and 8, Bhagavan says:
Yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata               |
Abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamy aham || 4.7
Meaning: Whenever and wherever there is a decline in righteousness, and a predominant rise of unrighteousness – at that time I manifest Myself personally, O descendant of Bharata.

Paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam                |
Dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge || 4.8
Meaning: In order to protect the virtuous and to annihilate the evil doers, as well as to reestablish the principles of Dharma, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.

Bhagavan is harsh towards the evil doers and destroys them mercilessly. Some commentators take this Nama as Draavinah which means ‘the Desired One’. True devotees only desire to get close to Bhagavan and do not desire any material benefits. Hence He is Draavinah or the Desired One for devotees.

Sri Parasara Bhattar interprets this as “BaahyAbhyantara ari daaranaat Daarunah – He splits (destroys) the enemies into pieces both internally and externally, so He is called Daarunah. 

Sri V.V. Ramanujan gives reference from the Divya Prabhandam and quotes NammAzhwar’s Thiruvai Mozhi (9.9.2) – Igal idattu Asurargal kootram – The Lord who struck death to the Asuras to explain the meaning of this Nama as Destroyer of the Evil forces.

Swami ChinmayAnanda gives a nice explanation that when He punishes anyone, it is for the ultimate good of the one who is being punished.  Up to a point the Lord is All-Mercy, but when He finds out that no other method can save the individual, like a surgeon at the operation theatre, He appears to be relentless – merciless.

  1. Dravina-pradah – The Bestower of Wealth

Lord Vishnu and Goddess LaxmiSri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Dravinam Vaanchchitam Bhaktebhyah pradadaati iti Dravinapradah – He gives His devotees whatever they desire and hence He is called Dravinapradah’. This being the case the discriminating devotee(s) will not ask for the transient material riches but will seek the ever-lasting Bhakti and Bhagavan’s grace.

Sri Parasara Bhattar interprets this Nama as Bestower of Wealth in the form of Shaastras – He gave the substance of all the Shaastras and their meaning.   The Dhyana Shloka on Vyasa is:
Vahan vai vama hastena sarva Shastraartha samcayam    |
Dakshinena ca Shaastraarthaan Adishamshca yatha sthithaan   ||
Meaning: Vyasa holds in his left hand the collection of all the Shaastras and their purport, and propounds with his right hand (the Upadesha Mudra) the true import of all the Shaastras”. 

Sri NammAzhwar calls Bhagavan “Pannbudai Vedam paranda payan” in Thiruvai Mozhi 6.6.5 to mean that the Lord gave Vedas to Brahma. 

Sri Radhakrishna Sastri explains that Dravinam means wealth that is fluid – Drava – that can be used right away as needed.    

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha derives the meaning for Dravina as wealth from dravati -gacchati iti dravinam dhanam – that which never stays in one place.  He gives the following references from the Sruti in support of his interpretation for the Nama:

  • Dadhaati ratnam dravinam ca Dashushe agne sakhye ma rishama vayam tava (Rig Veda 1.94.14) – He gives wealth and treasure to the worshipper. Let us not in your friendship, Agni, suffer harm.
  • Yatkamas te juhumas tanno astu vayam syaama patayo rayinaam (Yajur Veda 23.65) – We beseech You grant the fulfilment of our desire. May we become the masters of material and spiritual wealth.

 576.            Divi-sprik – He Who touches the Skies 

TrivikramaThis Nama has the following meanings:
·         He who reaches the Skies
·         He has immense knowledge
·         He extends beyond this Universe
·         He who took a gigantic form in His Vamana/Trivikrama Avataar
·         His Vishwaroopam as revealed to Arjuna and others
·         The Antaryami for Sun as well as other planets holding them all in place 

Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Divah sparshanaat Divisprik – He touches the Skies and hence He is called Divisprik’. This can be explained in a purely physical sense as pertaining to his huge form as in Trivikrama Avataar. It can also explained in a figurative sense as referring to aspects such as his immense knowledge, his majestic personality and His Supreme qualities.

Sri Parasara Bhattar interprets the Nama as referring to the unbounded extent of His knowledge.  By His para vidya (Brahmic or Supreme knowledge), He touches the mystic nature of His Reality as it is in Paramapadam or Vaikuntham. 

Sri V.V. Ramanujan gives reference to Thiruvai Mozhi 3.1.9 – மழுங்காத ஞானமே படையாக, மலருலகில் தொழும்பாயார்க் களித்தாலுன் சுடர்ச்சோதி மறையாதே?- Your glory and brilliance will remain undiminished even after sharing the divine knowledge with all the devotees in the world.

This Nama also means that the Lord resides in His para form in the regions far beyond the skies. The Sruti declares that one-fourth of His form is in the form of this Universe and three-fourths is beyond the Universe:
Tripaadurdhva udait purushah paado asyehaabhavat punah |
tato vishvam vyakraamat Saashanaanashane abhi || Rig Veda 10.90.4 ||
Meaning:  All creatures are one-fourths of him with three-fourths Purusha up in heaven. Three-fourths Purusha went up and one-fourth of him is here. Then he strode out to every side over between earthly and heavenly beings.

In the Chandogya Upanishad (3.12.6), it says:
Etavann asya mahimato jyayams ca purusah
pado ‘sya sarva-bhutani tri-pad asyamrtam divi |
Meaning: The Supreme Personality of Godhead is full of glory and opulence. His one foot is all material elements and all living entities, and His three feet are the eternal spiritual world.

Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj explains the Nama as Divah sprik and notes that in the Vamana Avataar, Bhagavan touches the skies while measuring the three feet of land that was promised to Him by Mahabali – “VamanAvataare Sri Bhagavan sva Charana kamalena vardhamaanena divam pasparsha”.

Sri ChinmayAnanda gives the interpretation that He revealed His Universal form to Arjuna as Divah sprik. 
Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha gives references to the Sruti to interpret the Nama as below:
Vaatasya nu mahimaanam rathasya rujanneti stanayannasya ghoshah   |
divi-sprigyaatyarunaani krinvannuto eti prthivya renumasyan   ||  (Rg. 10.168.1)
Meaning: O’ The Wind’s chariot, O its power and glory! Crashing it goes and has a voice of thunder. It makes the regions red and touches the heaven and as it moves the dust of earth is scattered. 

He further points out that the terms Divi-kshayam, Divi-kshita, Divi-carah, Divi-jah, Divi-yajah, Divi-yonih, Divi-Sritah, Divishadah, Divi-sadam, etc., are used repeatedly in the Vedas and refers to the Sun.  So he interprets the Nama Divi-sprik as referring to Bhagavan as the Antaryami of the Sun and all the Grahas that are in the skies.   

577.            Sarva-drik – The All-seer 

1511502_716731801705171_1904257645_nThis Nama has the following meanings:
·         He who sees everything – the totality of para tattvam
·         He who is in the form of knowledge of every kind
·         He who is the Creator of all forms that can see under all kinds of conditions 

Sri Adi Sankara explains this Nama ‘Athavaa Sarvaa cha saa Drik cha iti Sarvadrik, Sarvaakaaram Jnaanam; sarvasya drishtitvaat vaa Sarvadrik – Sarvadrik means knowledge pervading all. It also means somebody whose vision extends to everywhere’. 

Sri Bhattar explains this Nama as ‘Sarvasya drashta Sarva-drik – He who has realized the totality of the para tattvam.  The nirukti description is “sarva darshanaat Sarva-drik”.  Sarva-drik means He who is Omniscient – He who sees everything, He who is the eye of all.    

In the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, Verse 14, we have:
Sarvatah pani-padam tat sarvato ‘ksi-siro-mukham
Sarvatah srutimal loke sarvam avrtya tisthati ||
Meaning: With hands and feet, everywhere, with eyes, heads and faces everywhere, He hears everything. In this way the He pervades everything in this world. 

Sri V.V. Ramanujan gives reference from NammAzhwar’s Thiruvai Mozhi (3.10.10) – தளர்வின்றி யேயென்றும் எங்கும் பரந்த தனிமுதல் ஞானமொன்றாய் – The Lord of effulgent knowledge, pervader of all, stands as a formless being unknown to the five senses. Sarva-drik also means “jnana’ or ‘knowledge’.  He is in the form of knowledge of all categories and kinds. 

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha elaborates on His being able to see everything.  He points out that Bhagavan has created all the different creations that can see in water, in air, in space, and even in darkness.  He has spread Himself in the Universe in diverse forms which are endowed with bodies to suit these different conditions, and equipped with senses which make them function well under these different circumstances.  Ants can smell from far away, birds that can hear from a long distance, camel can store water for a long time, etc. He sustains all life forms and pervades all.    

578.            Vyasah – The Arranger 

vyasaThis Nama has the following meanings:
·         He who arranged the Vedas into its four divisions, the Puranas into 18, etc.
·         He who divided His creation into its various sub-divisions and time into various parts (e.g., different living beings, day and night, Sukla paksha and Krishna paksha, Sun and the Moon etc.)  
·         He whose ornaments (like Kaustubha) shine distinctly 

Sri Adi Sankara interprets this Nama taking it together with the previous Nama as SarvadrigVyasah.  He explains this Nama as ‘Sarvadrishaam sarvajnaanaam Vistaarakrit Vyaasah SarvadrigVyasah – He expands or enlarges knowledge of all types hence He is called Sarvadrigvyaasah’. He expands the knowledge continuously into specific domains so that we can easily understand Him and His Creations.

The second explanation offered by Sri Sankara is taking the Nama Vyasah on its own and he interprets it as:
Rigvedaadi vibhaagena Chaturdha veda vyastaah kritaah,
Aadyo veda Ekavimshatidhaa kritah, Dviteeya Ekottarashatadhaa Kritah,
Saamavedah Sahasradhaah kritah, Atharvavedo navadhaa Shaakhaabhedana kritah.
Evam Anyaani Puraanaani Vystaani anena iti Vyaasah Bramhaa –
Meaning: First He divided the Vedas into four starting with Rigveda; He aso divided Rigveda into 21 parts, Yajurveda into 21 parts, Samaveda into 1000 parts and Athrvaveda into 9 parts. Similarly he divided the Puranas into various parts. It was all done by Brahma Himself and He is called Vyasa (the codifier) because of this’. Thus He is SarvadrigVyaasah because He is the embodiment of all knowledge, He sees everything and He is symbolic of Brahma who is the codifier of Vedas and Puranas.

Sri Parasara Bhattar gives the interpretation that because Bhagavan divided the Veda, originally in a single form, into its four divisions (Rig, Yajur, Sama, and Atharva) He is called Vyasa – ‘Vibhajanstu caturdha vai vedamekam trikaalavit iti Vyasah.   

In the Sri Vishnu Sahsranamam, in the initial meditation Shloka 4 we have ‘Vyasaya Vishnu rupaya Vyasa rupaya Vishnave – Vyasa is Vishnu and Vishnu is Vyasa’.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha gives the derivation ‘Vyasyante – Prithak kriyante anena iti Vyasah –  He by whom things are separated or divided is Vyasa’.   Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj gives another dimension to the interpretation of this Nama – ‘Yasya Kaustubhadini Abharaaani Visheshena asanti dipyanti sa Vyasah – He whose ornaments like the Kaustubha shine distinctively is known as Vyasah.   

579             Vachaspatih – The Master of all Learning 

hayagrivaSri Adi Sankara has taken this Nama together with the next Nama as VachaspatirAyonijah.  He interprets this as ‘Vaacho Vidyaayaah Patih Vachaspatih, Jananyaam na jaayate iti Ayonijah, iti savisheshanam ekam naama – He is the Master of all learning, and is not born in a mother’s womb. Basically Vaachah means word or language but here it stands for all knowledge. So Vaachaspati means a master of all knowledge. He is Ayonijah because He is unborn and is without a beginning or an end.

This Nama occurred earlier as Nama 218. Sri Parasara Bhattar interprets the current occurrence as referring to Vyasa’s authorship of Srimad MahaBharata, also called the fifth Veda – He is the Master of words.   

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri comments that one who has mastered the words also does not waste words, and is precise.  This certainly applies to Bhagavan giving us all the instructions for all aspects of life concisely in the form of the Vedas, the brahma Sutras etc. 

579.            Ayonijah – The Unborn 

sri-padmanabha-swamy-thiruvananthapuramIn Sri Parasara Bhattar’s interprets Ayonijah in the context of Bhagavan’s incarnation as Vyasa. He explains that Vyasa was created out of a sound by Bhagavan as:
Sarasvata-atha bhuyo jagat srishtvaa “bho” Sabdena anuvaadayan    |
SaarasvatIm uccacAra tatra sArasvato’bhavat    ||   (MahaBharata Santi Parva 350.37) 

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha observes that Bhagavan created the Sun, and we can easily perceive that the Sun was not born like the normal humans, and so it is easy to perceive that Bhagavan is Ayonijah. 

Sri Adi Sankara and Swami ChinmayAnanda have interpreted the above two Namas as one Nama – ‘Vachaspatir-Ayonijah – He who is the Master of words and who is unborn’.

The Dharma Chakram writer has described this Nama as wealth of two kinds:  Preyas and Shreyas. Preyas is that which causes attachment to worldly desires.  Shreyas, on the other hand, is that which gives spiritual satisfaction. Preyas gives transient happiness and problems emerge at one stage or the other as this form of happiness is short lived.

Shreyas removes all problems and sufferings, and leads to liberation or Moksham ultimately.  After getting the wealth of Shreyas, there is nothing more to aspire for as it is eternal and permanent wealth. Bhagavan is ever ready to give the wealth one seeks, and most go after the transient worldly pleasures, and very few seek Shreyas.   

The Story of Nachiketas

This is an inspiring story as enunciated in the Katha Upanishad about a young boy named Nachiketas. Nachiketas, who was the son of the Sage Vajashravasa (also known as Gautama and Aruni), goes on a quest to learn about the Soul and Brahman.

Nachiketa-at-Homa-Pit_wth-KIng-Uchashrava_ED_S Vajashravasa, desiring of Supreme Knowledge, was performing a sacrifice in which the Karta (performer) had to give away all his wealth. He started an offering to donate all his possessions. But Nachiketas noticed that his father was only donating the cows that were old, barren, blind, or lame; not such as might buy the worshiper a place in heaven. He felt that by giving these cows his father would not get the desired result of the sacrifice.

Nachiketas, wanting the best outcome for his father’s ritual, asked: “I too am yours, to which god will you offer me?” After being pestered thus, Vajashravasa (Gautama) answered in a fit of anger said, “I give you to God of Death (Yama)”.

nachiketasNachiketas decided to obey his father by going to the abode of Yama. On reaching Yama’s abode, he found that Yama was not there. He waited at Yama’s abode for three days without food, water and sleep. Upon his return, Yama was deeply grieved to see that nobody had attended to Nachiketas. Yama apologised for keeping him waiting and greeted him with due respect. He told Nachiketas, “You have waited for three days without hospitality, therefore you may ask three boons of me”.

Nachiketas first asked, “O Lord of Death! As the first of the three boons, I choose that Gautama, my father, be pacified, be kind and free from anger towards me, and that he may recognise me and greet me when I am sent away by thee.”

Yama agreed and said, “Through my favour, Aruni (thy father), will recognise you and will (possessed of affection) as before. When he sees you released from the mouth of death, he will lose his anger and will sleep peacefully at night.”

Next, Nachiketas wished to learn the sacred fire sacrifice and asks, “O Death! Thou knowest the fire sacrifice which leads to heaven; explain that to me, for I am full of faith that (fire) by which those who aim at the attainment of heaven attain immortality. I pray for this as my second boon.”

Nachiketas is selfless in asking for his second boon for the benefit of the world at large and proves himself to be a worthy disciple.

Yama responds thus, “I know well the fire (sacrifice), O Nachiketas, which leads to heaven and I will tell it to thee. Learn it from me. Know that it is the means of attainment of eternal heaven and also the support of the Universe, and is seated in the cavity of the heart of the learned.”
“I now grant this additional boon; this Fire-Sacrifice shall be named after thee; and take this multi-formed and variegated necklace.”

Whoever performs three times this sacrifice of Nachiketas fire and has been united with three and has performed the three kinds of duties overcomes birth and death. The three-fold Karmas that every householder is expected to perform daily are sacrifices (agnihotram), chanting of Vedas and giving away in charity.

The third (and most significant) boon

Nachiketas now is ready to ask his third boon and says, “When a man is dead, some say He exists and some say He does not. This I should know, being taught by thee. This is the third boon I ask.”

Yama was reluctant on this question. He said, “On this point even the Devas have doubted in olden times. Verily the subject is very subtle, it is not easy to understand. O! Nachiketas, choose another boon; do not press me on this, give this one up for me.”

Nachiketas countered, “O Death, you say that even the Devas have doubts here and that this is not so easy to know. I can find no other accomplished teacher other than you to teach me this and no other boon can equal this one for me.”

Yama responds by tempting Nachiketas and says, “Choose sons and grandsons who may live a hundred years, herds of cattle, elephants, gold and horses. Choose a vast territory on earth, live yourself as many years you like. Whatever desires are difficult in this world of mortals, you ask for them all according to your wish. These fair maidens with their chariots and musical instruments – I will give them to you but O’ Nachiketas do not question the state of the Soul after Death.”

Nachiketas responded by saying, “Ephimeral these; O! Death, these tend to decay, the vigour of all the sense in man. Even the longest life is indeed short. Let thine alone be the chariots, the dance and the music. No other boon would do.”

Yama was secretly pleased with this disciple, and elaborated on the nature of the true Self, which persists beyond death. The key of the realization is that this Self (within each person) is inseparable from Brahman, the supreme spirit, the vital force in the universe. Yama’s explanation is a succinct explication of Hindu metaphysics, and focuses on the following points:

  • The sound Om! is the syllable of the Supreme Brahman
  • The Soul, whose symbol is Om is the same as the omnipresent Brahman. Smaller than the smallest and larger than the largest, the Soul is formless and all-pervading.
  • The goal of the wise is to know this Soul.
  • The Soul is like a rider; the horses are the senses, which he guides through the maze of desires.
  • After death, it is the Soul that remains; the Soul is immortal.

Mere reading of the scriptures or intellectual learning cannot realize Soul. One must discriminate the Soul from the body, which is the seat of desire. Inability to realize Brahman results in one being enmeshed in the cycle of rebirths. Understanding the Self leads to moksha or liberation.

Thus having learnt the wisdom of the Brahman from Yama, Nachiketas was freed from the cycle of birth and death.

The theme of Katha Upanishad is that the treasure of human life, the real Self, is to be found within. Within is immortality. Within is where Atman or Reality resides. The journey to the discovery of the real Self is the goal or the purpose of life. One who has realized one’s own real Self can then realize the cosmic Self who encompasses the entire universe. The most valuable and elevating contribution of Vedantic literature is that the Self, or God, is not far away from us, but dwells within the inner chamber of our being. 


Sudhanva Khanda-parashuh Daaruno Dravina-pradah      |
Divi-sprik Sarva-drik Vyaso Vaachaspatir Ayonijah           ||61|| 

ananthasayanamHe has a splendid Bow and hence He is called Sudhanvah. He is called Khanda-parashuh as He wields a broken axe and in his Parashurama Avataar annihilated Kings for 21 generations to avenge the killing of His father (Jamadagni). He is destroyer of evil and hence known as Daarunah. He bestows riches to His devotees and hence He is Dravina-pradah

He is Divi-sprik as His expanse touches the sky as He demonstrated in His Vishvaroopa form as well as in His Vamana/Trivikrama Avataar.  He is All Seer and Omnipresent, hence He is Sarva-drik.  He is the arranger and expands knowledge of all types into easily understandable parts, so He is called Vyasah. He is the Master of all learning, hence He is Vaachaspatih and as He is not born in a mother’s womb, He is Ayonijah.



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


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