In this part we will explore the meaning of the 62nd Shloka of Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam.

 Shloka 62
Tri-saama Saamagah Sama Nirvaanam Bheshajam Bhishak     |
Sanyaasakric_chamah Shaanto Nishthaa Shaantih Paraayanam ||62||

He is sung by the three hymns called Devavrata, the chanter of Sama hymns, and He is Sama Veda Himself. He removes the sins of those who sing of Him. He is the symbol of Ultimate Bliss who is also the medicine for all the ills of life. He is also the ultimate physician who gives relief from the miseries of life. He is the maker of the ascetic, the giver of self-control, concentration and peace, and He is both the means and the end to the final abode.

The above Shloka has the following Namas:

  1. Trisaamah
  2. Saamagah
  3. Sama
  4. Nirvaanam
  5. Bheshajam
  6. Bhishak
  7. Sanyaasakrit
  8. Shamah
  9. Shaanthah
  10. Nishthaa
  11. Shaantih
  12. Paraayanam

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

  1. Trisaamaah- He who is propounded by the three-fold Sama Veda

sukadeva_goswami- Sama VedaSri Adi Sankara interprets this as ’Devavrata Samaakhyaataih tribhih Saamabhih Saamagaih Stuta iti Trisaamaa – He is worshipped using the three parts of Sama Veda collectively known as Devavrataas, hence He is called Trisaamaa’. The three parts of Sama Veda are called Brihat, Rathantara and Vaamadevya and are collectively called Devavrataas. The Sama Veda chants are musical and it is sung in praise of Bhagavan in three parts of Sama Veda, hence He is called Trisaamaa.

Garuda, the carrier of Bhagavan, represents the Sama Veda.  The body of Garuda is Vaamadevya while its wings are Brihat and Rathantara.

Of the four Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama, and Atharvana), Sama Veda praises the various deities as its principal theme.  It is musical to hear when it is chanted with the proper intonations. Bhagavan declares in Srimad Bhagavad Gita – ‘Vedanaam Samavedo’smi’ (10.22) meaning ‘Of the Vedas, I am the Sama Veda’.  Thus it is a vibhuti of Bhagavan Himself.

Swami ChinmayAnanda explains Trisaama as One Who has been glorified by the three Saamas i.e. the Devas, the Vratas and the Saamans.

  1. Saamagah – The singer of Sama

Sri Adi Sankara explains this as ‘Saama gaayati iti Saamagah – He sings the Saaama Veda and hence He is called Saamagah’. Sama Veda is so musical and melodious that Bhagavan himself sings it ever so often. In fact He is the creator of Sama Veda with its built in music and He derives pleasure in singing it.

Sri Bhattar explains that the liberated souls (muktas) in Paramapadam sing the Sama Veda – Etat Sama Gaayannaaste (Taitiriya).

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri says he who knows the Sama Veda, is the knower of Brahman –
Rco ha yo Veda sa Veda devaan yajugumshi yo Veda sa Veda sarvaan |
Samani yo veda sa veda sarvam ||

Swami ChinmayAnanda explains that the singer of Saman songs is Samagah. The one who performs the actions prescribed in the Sama Veda and invokes the Lord is called Udgaata.

Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj says – Samabhih mantraih giyate iti Sama-gah – He Who is praised by the Sama.

  1. Sama – He removes the sins of those who sing of Him

Bhagavan is called Sama because He is the embodiment of Sama Veda. Sri Adi Sankara says ‘Vedaanaam Samavedosmi iti Bhagavadvachanaat Samavedah Sama – Bhagavan Himself has said that among the Vedas He is Sama Veda, hence He is called Sama’.

In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 10 Verse 22), Bhagavan says ‘Vedaanaam Samavedosmi – Of the Vedas, I am Sama Veda’.

Sri Bhattar derives the meaning from the root ‘sho’ (so)- anta-karmani – to destroy, to bring an end to.  (Paapam) syati iti Sama – He who brings an end to the sins of those who sing about Him.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan gives references to NammAzhwar’s Thiruvai Mozhi (3.6.2) –
மூவ ராகிய மூர்த்தி யைமுதல் மூவர்க் குமுதல் வன்றன்னை,
சாவ முள்ளன நீக்கு வனைத் தடங்க டல்கிடந் தான்தன்னைத்,
தேவ தேவனைத் தென்னி லங்கை எரியெ ழச்செற்ற வில்லியை,
பாவ நாசனைப் பங்க யத்தடங் கண்ண னைப்பர வுமினோ.
Meaning: So praise the Lord with Lotus eyes, the redeemer of Karmas, He lies in the deep ocean, worshipped by the celestials.  He is the Lord of all Devas and destroys our Karmas.  He wielded a mighty bow and burnt Lanka to dust.

Swami ChinmayAnanda explains that this is to express the very sacredness of the Veda itself and Bhagavan says He is Sama Veda.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri uses the meaning of Sama in the sense of Sama, Dhaana, Bheda, Dandam, and interprets the word Sama as referring to His being soft and sweet.  He urged Duryodhana to follow the path of dharma using the Sama Marga – that of being soft and gentle in His persuasion.

In the Chandogya Upanishad (2.1.1), it says:
Om samastasya khalu saamna upaasanam saadhu,
yat khalu saadhu tat Saameti aachakshate, yad asaadhu tad a-saameti ||
Meaning: Initiated by the glorious expression of Om, meditation of Sama Veda is excellent and even in parts the fruits are substantial. Meditation pertaining to the letter enhances further achievement. Upasana or meditation of Sama is graded as ‘Khalu’ or outstanding, or Saadhu or excellent, or ‘Sama’ otherwise it is ‘A-saaman’ i.e. not good!

The Dharma Chakram writer observes that Sama Vedam is so called because of its sweetness and softness.

  1. Nirvaanam – He is Absolute Bliss

Sri Adi Sankara explains this Nama as ‘Sarva Duhkha upashama lakshanam Paramaananda roopam Nirvaanam – He is devoid of all suffering and is a symbol of perfection and joy, hence He is called Nirvaanam or Absolute Bliss’.

In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 2 Verse 72) Bhagavan says:
Eshaa braahmee sthitih paartha nainaam praapya vimuhyati |
Sthitvaasyaam antakaale pi brahma-nirvaanam richchati  ||
Meaning: Oh, Arjuna, having gained the realisation of the Ultimate Truth, one is never deluded and even at the moment of death, being situated in this state, liberation from material existence and attainment of the ‘Bramha Nirvaanam or Moksha’ is assured.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri points out that Vaanam refers to body, and the state of being beyond the ‘I’ and “mine” feeling associated with the body, is Nir-Vaanam.

Sri Bhattar gives the interpretation that Bhagavan is called Nirvaana because He is the cause of attainment of the state of Bliss by those whose sins have been eliminated.  Nirvaana is the state when even the wind that blows is not felt by the body and where there is total disassociation of the Self with the body.

The Dharma Chakram writer points out that suffering is of three kinds – bodily, mental, and that associated with ajnana (ignorance).  Animals have bodily suffering, most humans have bodily and mental sufferings.  As long as the animals have no hunger and no disease, they are happy.  But a human who is free from hunger and disease, all the same makes himself unhappy by pursuit of misery in the form of worldly pleasures.  It is when humans try to satisfy the five indriyas (senses) through external means that they invite and incur suffering and sorrow.  It is only by getting into the state of Nirvana (the total disassociation of the Self with the body) that one starts to overcome this kind of suffering.  This can only happen by meditating on Bhagavan who is the embodiment of Nirvaana.  This is the essence of this Nama.

  1. Bheshajam – He is the Remedy for all ills

Bheshajam means a medicine and Sri Adi Sankara interprets this Nama as ‘Samsaara rogasya Aushadham Bheshajam – He is Bheshajam because He is the medicine or the antidote for the ailment called Samsaara or the worldly existence’. The only way to be relieved of the repeated sufferings from Samsaara is to consume the medicine in the form of Bhagavan by devotional service to him.

In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 7 Verse 29) Bhagavan says:
Jara-marana-moksaya mam asritya yatanti ye
te brahma tad viduh krtsnam adhyatmam karma cakhilam
Meaning: Intelligent persons who are endeavouring for liberation from old age and death take refuge in Me. Such persons learn the Ultimate Truth, the embodied Self and the entire subject of Cause and Effect or action and reaction.

Sri Bhattar gives reference to the Bhishma stava Raja (from Srimad MahaBharata):
Narayanat Rshi-ganaah tathaa siddhaa mahoragaah   |
Devaa devarshayaScaiva yam viduh duhkha bheshajam    ||
Meaning: The groups of Rishis, Siddhas, the serpent-gods, and godly seers came to know of this medicine for this ailment of Samsara from Sriman Narayana”.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan gives reference to PeyAzhwar’s Munram Thiruvantadhi (1.4) –
மருந்தும் பொருளும் அமுதமும் தானே,
திருந்திய செங்கண்மா லாங்கே, – பொருந்தியும்
நின்றுலக முண்டுமிழ்ந்தும் நீரேற்றும் மூவடியால்,
அன்றுலகம் தாயோன் அடி.  [2285]
Meaning: The Lotus-eyed Lord is himself the medicine with its healing power that bestows the sweet well-being.  He made, swallowed and remade the Universe, then measured it, by seeking a gift of three feet of land.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri explains that He is the medicine that leads to Nirvaana, the tender and soothing medicine for the disease called Samsara.

The Dharma Chakram writer observes that for self -realization one needs good bodily health but more importantly good mental health.  For both of these, one should lead a life of control of the senses and control of the mind.  Just as we take medicine for remedying the illness of the body, we should resort to the medicine of meditating on Him so that we can gain purity in our mind and thoughts.  Most of us do not worry about developing a healthy and pure mind, but this is very important for attaining Bliss.  Chanting His Nama and meditating on Him are the means to maintain a pure mind; hence He is the Medicine.

  1. Bhishak – He is the Ultimate Physician

dhanvantariBhagavan is not only the medicine as seen in the previous Nama but He is also the doctor administering the medicine. Sri Adi Sankara explains this as ‘Samsaara roganir moksha kaarineem paraam Vidyaam upadidesha Geetaasu iti Bhishak – He is the Doctor (for the soul) because He has given us the knowledge to attain relief from the disease called Samsaara and has shown the path to attain liberation in various sacred texts such as the Bhagavad Gita’. He is therefore the Doctor also known as ‘Bhava roga Vaidyanatha’.

Shruti says ‘Bhishaktamam Tvaa Bhishajaam Shrinomi – I hear you are the highest physician among physicians’. Bhagavan is the first and foremost among the physicians – Prathamo Daivyo Bhishak (Taittriya Upanishad 4.5.1).

Sri V.V. Ramanujan gives reference from the Divya Prabandham by quoting PeriyAzhwar’s ThiruMozhi (5.3.6):
எருத்துக் கொடியுடை யானும் பிரமனும் இந்திர னும்மற்றும்
ஒருத்தரும் இப்பிற வியென்னும் நோய்க்கு மருந்தறி வாருமில்லை
மருத்துவ னாய்நின்ற மாமணி வண்ணா மறுபிற விதவிரத்
திருத்திஉங் கோயிற் கடைப்புகப் பெய்திரு மாலிருஞ் சோலையெந்தாய். [458]
Meaning: Siva, Brahma, Indra and all  other Devas do not know the medicine for this malaise called Samsaara.  Sriman Narayana alone is the doctor who can cure this disease and grant Moksha.  O’ Doctor! Please help me in getting rid of this terrible disease.  I shall come and live at Your temple door step.  You are the only Saviour (Rakshaka).

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri observes that the mantra “Nirvaanam bheshajam bhishak” should be recited by those who seek relief from diseases.

The Dharma Chakram draws analogy between the physician who treats the diseases of the body, and Bhagavan who treats the diseases of the mind. Unlike the bodily cure which is transient and temporary, the treatment that Bhagavan gives by removing the ajnana or ignorance is permanent. This is the spirit with which one should meditate on this Nama.

Swami ChinmayAnanda gives an alternate explanation – that this Nama can refer to Bhagavan in His form as Dhanvantari, the Deity of Medicine in the Indian system of Medicine.  Since He appeared in this form as the Lord of Physicians, He is called “The Physician – Bhishak”.

  1. Sannyaasa-krit – He cuts asunder the bonds when desires are renounced

Nar NarayanaKrit is the creator and Sanyaasa is Renunciation as a way of life, so Sanyaasakrit is one who created the Sanyaasa ashram or the institution of Renunciation as a way of life (Ashrama) for those seeking beatitude.  Sri Adi Sankara says ‘Mokshaartham Chaturthama ashramam Kritavaan iti Sanyaasakrit – He instituted the fourth Ashrama of Sanyaasa for the attainment of Moksha or liberation and hence He is called Sanyaasakrit’.

There are four Ashramas that are prescribed in the Hindu Dharma, namely, Bramhacharya, Grahastha, Vaanaprastha and Sanyaasa. Of these Sanyaasa is the final stage that entails total renunciation to gain knowledge of the Ultimate Truth that reveals the path to Moksha and Bhagavan is the maker of this order. As Nara and Narayana He Himself embraced this order of Sanyaasa as a role model for others.

Sri Bhattar interprets this Nama in relation to the previous Nama, and explains “Sattvikena Sanyasena rajas-tamasau kritanti iti Sannyaasa-krit – He who cuts the bonds of Rajas and Tamo Gunas, he who performs all acts in a dispassionate and unattached manner with a spirit of renunciation of desire for the fruit attains liberation.

Another Nama for this is Sattvika-tyaga – The abandonment of all the fruits of any action we perform, and assignment of these benefits to Him and Him alone; in other words, every act that we perform should be for His benefit and His pleasure.  This is the gist of karma yoga that is enunciated in the Bhagavad Gita.  The word ‘san-nyasa’ here signifies surrender of the burden to the Master, and this surrender alone is the remedy from the afflictions of Samsara.

Sri Bhattar gives reference from the Mundaka Upanishad (3.2.6) –
Vedanta vijnana sunishcitaarthaas-Sanyaasa yogaat parimucyanti sarve|
te brahma loke tu parantakaale paraamrtat parimucyanti sarve |
Meaning: This perfect knowledge (Vedanta Vijnana) without any ambiguity comes from the science of Vedanta to be practiced with pure intentions, renunciating everything else – by sanyaasa yoga and with a pure heart (suddhasattva). And those who acquire this knowledge at the end of their journey get delivered to the supreme state of immortality and attain Moksha.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri points out that Sannyaasa is the process of surrendering of the burden for all our acts and the fruits thereof to Him.  It is the only means for relief from this Samsara and it is He alone who shows this path of Sannyaasa to His devotee; in other words, He is the One who leads His devotee to perform Sannyaasa.

Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj echoes this when he gives the following interpretation for the Nama:
Samyak nyaaso nikshepah samnyaasah shad-vidha
Saranagateh ekatamam angam Atma nikshepanaam adheyam |
tam karoti dradhayati bhakta-hridaye iti samnyAsa-krit
Meaning: Bhagavan is Sannyaasa-krit in the sense that He is the One who blesses His devotee so that He performs the act of surrender or Saranagati.   He is also the One who gives the needed qualifications to those who undertake the Sannyaasa Ashrama.

The Dharma Chakram writer brings out the importance of leading a life detachment.  He gives the analogy of a child forming in the mother’s womb, which has to give up the mother’s womb at the appropriate time if it were to live.   Similarly, the Jiva has to give up the life dominated and controlled by the Indriyas if it has to evolve to a higher level and free itself from the cycle of Samsara.

  1. Shamah – He Who is Calm

vaduvur ramarThis Nama has several meanings:

  1. He who instructs on how to control anger
  2. He who instructs on how to control the mind which is the principal dharma for a Sannyaasi
  3. He who controls all beings even during pralaya
  4. He Whose nature is Calmness
  5. He who puts an end to the darkness in His devotees’ mind.

When the mind stills to rest that is Shamam which is the essence of jnana yoga. One has to go through several steps before finally attaining a state of calm when nothing of the mind is left, it rests in the Atman; that is the destination point. That is the goal of a Sannyaasi.

Sri Adi Sankara gives two interpretations for this Nama. The first is ‘Sanyaaseenaam Praadhaanyena Jnaana saadhanam Shamam aachashte iti Shamah – Bhagavan is the instructor of the rule of Shama or control of the mind for the Sanyaasi, hence He is called Shamah’.

Sri Sankara gives the following quote from Smriti ‘Yateenaam Prashamo Dharmo, Niyamo vanavaasinaam, Daanameva Grihasthaanaam, Shushrooshaa Bramhachaarinaam – The prime conduct for the Sanyaasis is mind control, for the Vaanaprasthaas it is discipline, for Grihasthaas it is charity and for Bramhachaaris it is service’.

His second interpretation is ‘Sarva bhootaanaam shamayati iti vaa Shamah – He controls all beings hence He is called Shamah’.

The root from which the word is derived is ‘Samu – upaSame – to grow calm, to put an end, to stop (note the link to Shanti)’.  So the meaning is – One who puts an end to turbulence in mind or One who quietens the mind or calms down the mind etc.  Thus, the interpretations are:  He puts an end to qualities like tamas in His devotees; He puts an end to all things at the time of pralaya; He gives instructions on how to calm down the mind; and He controls all beings.

Sri Bhattar interprets this Nama by linking it with the previous Nama and refers to Bhagavan as the Instructor on how to control the desire, anger, fear etc.   He gives reference to the Bhagavad GIta (Chapter 5 Verse 29):
bhoktaaram yajna tapasaam sarvaloka maheshvaram  |
suhrdam sarva bhutaanaam jnaatva maam Santim Rcchati  ||
Meaning: Thus knowing me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities; the Ultimate controller of all planes of existence and the merciful benefactor of all living entities achieves perfect peace.

Swami ChinmayAnanda gives the interpretation that Sannyaasa without Shama is inconceivable and Bhagavan Himself is the embodiment of calmness, so He is called Shama.

The Dharma Chakram writer refers to the lifestyle adoped in the ancient traditional system that ensured that control of the mind was built into the daily chores and duties of all the four Ashramas.  This Nama Nama reveals to us the need and benefits of control of the mind and channelling the thoughts towards the ultimate goal in life of Moksha.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishta observes that by meditating on this quality of Bhagavan, the person will attain Shanti.  He interprets Shamah to mean that Bhagavan puts an end to the darkness in us – tamo bhavaani kaaraani Samayati Nishaacaranam.

  1. Shaantah – He whose mind is always tranquil

Krishna GopiSri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Vishaya sukheshu asangatayaa Shaantah – He is totally free from attachment to the world of senses hence He is called Shaantah’. In the Dhyaana shloka he is referred to as ‘Shaantaakaaram – One who is the embodiment of Shaantam’.

In the Svetasvatara Upanishad (6.19) it says:
nishkalam nishkriyam shaantam niravadyam niranjanam |
amrutasya param setum dagdhendanam iva analam || 19 ||
Meaning: The Supreme Personality is perfect and is partless, free from action, faultless, untainted, and is always at peace. He resembles the fire that has consumed its fuel, seeking refuge to that Effulgent One, whose light turns the understanding towards the Atman.

Sri Bhattar comments that even though Bhagavan’s greatness is such that it can express itself like a rising ocean, He chooses to be tranquil like a calm and wave free Ocean.  A poet has said of Sage Vyasa:  His tranquillity is such that even the wild animals become tranquil at his very sight.   It can also be said that in spite of all the Oceans of apacaras that all of us commit, which can justifiably make Him seethe with anger at our deeds, He still keep Himself tranquil and is always willing to forgive us.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri  gives the reference to Prashna Upanishad 5.7 – Santam, Ajaram, Amritam, Abhayam, Param Ceti—This Brahman is Peace, without old age, Immortal, fearless and Supreme..

The Dharma Chakram writer observes that the more one gets involved in the desire for material objects, the more one loses peace of mind.  The more one draws interest inward and seeks knowledge of the Self, the more one finds peace.  Thus control of the mind is the path to attaining peace.

  1. Nishthaa – He is the object of concentration

om-namo-bhagavate-vasudevaya-Nishthaa essentially means a pivot or firm support.  Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Pralaye Nitaraam tatraiva tishthanti Bhootaani iti Nishthaa – He is the stable final Abode for all the beings during Pralaya or final dissolution of the World’. We have already seen the Nama ‘Samsthaanah’ (387) carrying a similar meaning.

Sri Bhattar’s interpretation for this Nama is “Vyutthita cittaih Subhaashraya bhute asmin nishthiyate iti Nishthaa” – Those who have achieved a deep level of concentration have Him and His body as the object of their meditation. The root from which the word is derived is shthA (sthA) – gati nvrittau – to stand, to wait, to be at hand etc.

Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj gives the derivation of this Nama as – niyatam sthaanam ni-shthaanam svajanakaamaanaam iti Nishthaa – He is the firmly established abode which is the object of desire for His devotees.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishta comments that while Bhagavan has permeated everything in this world and makes everything else go, He Himself is fixed. Just as a worm inside a stone cannot move the stone while the worm itself keeps moving, the rest of the world keeps moving within Him and because of Him, but He is fixed – Nishthaa.

The Dharma Chakram writer observes that the significance of the Nama lies in realizing the importance of having our thoughts anchored on Bhagavan-Nama-dhyanam. The more we let it wander in search of worldly objects, the more we will be plagued by needless and meaningless fears and confusion on the real purpose of our existence, and the more we will slip and fall from that great Object whom we should attain in order to be rid of the cycle of Samsara.  We should meditate on Him with “Nishthaa” or firmness.

  1. Shaantih – He is Peace

omvibrationSri Adi Sankara explains this as ‘Samasta avidyaa nivrittih Shaantih Saa Bramhaiva – He is the annulment of all types of ignorance hence He is Shaantih’. Shaanti refers to elimination of something evil or undesirable. Bhagavan eliminates and removes our ignorance of all types hence He is aptly called Shaantih. He is nothing but the absolute Bramhan, the perfect entity.

When a devotee has attained the perfect calm in the final state of meditation, this state is called Samadhi.  At that stage, the Lord makes the devotee enjoy Him and Him alone, and forget all else including the self, other activities, interests, etc.  This quietening of the all interests and activities of the devotee is called Shaanti, which is granted only by the Lord.  Those who have abandoned everything else find peace in Him who is the Ultimate Bliss. This final stage of perfect meditation is Shaanti.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan quotes from the Sruti – yatra naanyat pashyati naanyat Srunoti sa Bhuma – when you enjoy Him and His greatness, nothing else is seen or heard or enjoyed.

He also quotes from the Divya Prabandham – Ippaal kai valaiyum megalaiyum kaanen, kanden ghana magarak kuzhai irandum naangu tholum (Thiru Neduntaandagam 22) – When Thirumangai Azhwar had Him in his mind, he did not remember anything about himself; he only saw Bhagavan and His beauty, His radiance, His Abharanams, etc.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri gives reference from the Katha Upanishad 2.2.13 – teshaam Shaantih Shaasvati netareshaam – Permanent Peace is to be found in Him and nowhere else.

Swami ChinmayAnanda explains that agitations are caused by desire and the consequent temptations to strive for, acquire and indulge in them. Bhagavan is All-Full and has no desire to be fulfilled, hence He does not seek fulfilment among the perishable objects of the Universe, and so He is Peace.

Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj explains the meaning based on the root Sama – Alocane – to look at, and explains the Nama as indicating that He is the object of meditation of the devotees – Bhaktaanaam Alocana Vishayatvaat Shaantih.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishta gives the interpretation based on Sam-upashame – to grow calm, to put an end to, to stop – and interprets the Nama on the basis of the Sruti – dyauh Shaantih antariksham Shaantih prithivi Shaantih Apah Shaantih.   Here the word Shaanti can be interpreted as each level supporting the previous level.  Everything else is ultimately supported by Him and ends in Him, and so He is called Shaantih.

  1. Parayanam – He is the Means and the end to the Final Abode

gajuSri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Param utkrishtam Ayanam Sthaanam Punaraavritti shankaa rahitam iti Paraayanam – He is the final place of abode or destination to seek which is the highest and guarantees permanent bliss from which there will be no return to Samsaara’.

Bhishma says to Yudhishtra ‘Paramam yo Mahat tejah Paramam yo Mahattapah Paramam yo MahadBramha Paramam Yah Paraayanam – His is the Ultimate brilliance, His is the Ultimate penance, He is the Ultimate Bramhan and He is the Ultimate place to reach’.

The first interpretation is that He is the Means, and the second one is that He is the End.  Both are appropriate since Bhagavan is really both the Upaaya (means) and Upeya (End).

Param ayanam Parayanam – The root from which the word “ayanam” is derived here is ay- gatau – to go. He is the best means for attaining Him, since the highest bhakti that is needed for attaining Him is acquired from Him alone.

Sri Bhattar gives reference to the Bhagavad GIta, Chapter 18 Verses 53-54, in support of the interpretation:
Ahankaram balam darpam kamam krodham parigraham |
vimucya nirmamah santo brahma-bhuyaya kalpate ||18.53||
Brahma-bhutah prasannAtma na Socati na kaankshati  |
Samah sarveshu bhuteshu mad-bhaktim labhate param  ||18.54||
Meaning: One who is without false ego, false strength, false pride, lust, anger, and who does not accept material things, such a person is certainly elevated to the position of self-realization. One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.

In Chapter 11 Verse 54 of the Bhagavad Gita, the Lord says:
Bhaktyaa tu ananyayaa Sakya aham evam vidho Arjuna |
jnaatum drashtum ca tattvena praveshtum ca parantapa ||11.54||
Meaning: My dear Arjuna, only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you enter into the mysteries of My understanding.

Swami ChinmayAnanda gives the quote from the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 15 Verse 6 – Yad gatvaa na nivartante tad dhaama paramam mama – He is the Supreme Goal, and there is no return to Samsara after reaching Him.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri observes that the japa on “Sannyaasa krit Shamah Shaanto nishthaa Shaantih Parayanam” will bring peace to a disturbed and agitated mind.

The Dharma Chakram writer explains that when we convert our desire for worldly pleasures into a desire for Him instead, we elevate ourselves through Bhakti yoga.  When we realize the true nature of the self and the distinction of the body and the mind, and realize that we are subservient to Him and Him alone, we elevate ourselves through jnana yoga.   Thus, it can be seen easily that He is the means for attaining Him.

The Story of the Dirty Cloth

There was once a lady who lived in small village. She used to wear a white saree. She wore it for a long time and when it was no long wearable she cut it up into pieces and used it as dust cloth. This dust cloth became so dirty that she finally threw it away.

The dirty cloth lay on the street and was getting trampled by everyone and getting even more dirty. One day Saint Ramdas walked by and saw this piece of cloth. He picked it up and washed it in the river near his Ashram. He used some soap and water to get all the dirt out. The cloth was now clean but wasn’t much of a cloth and was in tatters.  The saint took all the strands and lined them up and then twisted them. This form a nice thick strand. He put this strand as arati and lit it to offer it to the Lord.

The substance of the Story:

The dirt on the cloth are our sins, the saints cleaning them with soap and water is the Bhakti, the turning it into strand for Arati is the act of detachment and the lighting of the lamp is seeking the Ultimate Truth.


Tri-saama Saamagah Sama Nirvaanam Bheshajam Bhishak     |
Sanyaasakric chamah Shaanto Nishthaa Shaantih Paraayanam ||62||

mahavishnuHe is sung by the three hymns called Devavrata and hence He is Tri-saama.  He is the chanter of Sama hymns, and so He is Saamagah.  He is Sama Veda Himself as proclaimed in the Bhagavad Gita where He says Of the Vedas He is Sama. He is a symbol of perfection and joy, hence He is called Nirvaanam or Absolute Bliss. He is the Ultimate Bliss who is the medicine for all the ills of life and so He is Bheshajam. He is also the ultimate physician who gives relief from the miseries of life and hence Bhishak.

He is the maker of the ascetic, and He is the One who leads His devotee to perform Sannyaasa to provide permanent relief from this Samsara.  Bhagavan is the instructor of the rule of Shama or control of the mind for the Sanyaasi, hence He is called Shamah. Bhagavan is totally free from attachment to the world of senses hence He is called Shaantah. He is the firmly established abode which is the object of desire for His devotees, hence He is Nishthaa. Eternal and permanent peace is only to be found in Him and nowhere else and hence He is called Shaantih. Bhagavan is both the means and the end to the final abode and hence He is Paraayanam.



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


    • It’s indeed heartening to learn that you have taken a keen interest. As you rightly observe, one life time is not enough to learn about all the scriptures of Sanatana Dharma.

      Learning from a Guru certainly accelerates ones spiritual growth. The challenge however is to find the right Guru as there are many charlatans who can do more damage than good. As they say, when there is a deep burning desire for a Guru, just like that of a drowning man gasping for breath, a Guru appears! Good luck for finding a Guru!

      There are some good sources for learning: Chinmaya Mission, Arsha Vidya Foundation are institutions of renown that run residential and short term programmes. You can also buy commentaries from these institutions on Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita etc.

      Hope that was useful.

      Hari Om!

  1. Dear Sridhar Iyengar, I am very much impressed withe detailed explanation given by you on Sri Vishnu Sahasranaamam. Can I get complete explanation of the Sloka right from the beginning. Thanking you.

    Sent from my iPad



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