In this part we will explore the meaning of the 68th Shloka of Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam.

Shloka 68 
Archishmaan Architah Kumbho Vishuddhatma Vishodhanah    |
Aniruddho Apratirathah Pradyumno Amitavikramah              ||68||

He has great lustre and He is the primary source of light for the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars. He is worshipped by the celestials like Brahma and is adored by all those adorable. His pot is always brimming with plenty and is the object of desire. He has the whole world subsumed within Him. He is immaculate and Pure. He is also the purifier who purifies the mind and heart of His devotees by their mere remembrance of Him. He is unobstructed, unopposed and matchless. He has treasures galore as the Creator and as Lakshmipati. He is valiant beyond reckoning.

The above Shloka has the following Namas:

  1. Archishmaan
  2. Architah
  3. Kumbho
  4. Vishuddhatma
  5. Vishodhanah
  6. Aniruddho
  7. Apratirathah
  8. Pradyumno
  9. Amitavikramah

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

  1. Archishmaan – He Who has great lustre

visnu2The word Archish refers to rays and Archishmaan is someone who generates rays from within himself. Based on this Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Archishmanto yadeeyena Archisha Chandrasooraah sa eva mukhyah Archishmaan – Out of His radiance other luminaries like the Sun and the Moon radiate light but He alone remains the primary source of light, radiation and brilliance, hence He is called Archishmaan’.

In the Kathopanishad (2. 5. 15), we have:
Na  tatra Suryo bhaati na Chandra taarakam, Nemaa vidyuto bhaanti kuto’yam agnih
Tam-eva bhaantum anubhaati sarvam, Tasya bhaasaa sarvam idam vibhaati ||
Meaning: The Sun does not shine there, nor does the Moon, nor the Stars, nor the lightnings and much less this Fire. When He shines, everything shines after Him; by His light, all these shine.

Sri Parasara Bhattar interprets that Bhagavan has the great lustre that He reveals to His true devotees.  Ordinarily, people are unable to realise His greatness, however, in a few cases like Arjuna, Dhridharashtra etc., He gave them Divine Vision so that they could see His true greatness, lustre and splendour.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan gives an alternate interpretation that this can refer to His jyoti in His Archa form.  Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj also gives this interpretation – Arci-vigraha kantih tadasya asti iti Arcishmaan.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri explains that He reveals His lustre or greatness to His devotee just at the level that His devotees can enjoy.  In truth, His Divine Lustre is much beyond and no one can fully comprehend or realise its magnitude.

Swami ChinmayAnanda gives reference from the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 13, Verse 18):
Jyotisam api taj jyotis tamasah param ucyate
Jnanam jneyam jnana-gamyam hrdi sarvasya visthitam ||
Meaning: He is the illuminator of all that illuminates.  He is knowledge beyond the darkness of ignorance, He is the object of knowledge, He is the goal of knowledge and He resides within the heart of everyone.

Sri Baladeva Vidyabhushan, who is a follower of the Gaudiya Sampradayam, gives the interpretation that Bhagavan is called Archishmaan (Jaajvalyamaanah) because He was radiant with anger on hearing that Kamsa had disgraced his own father (King Ugrasena) by dethroning him and putting him in prison – Kamsaat pitror-avajnaya Jaajvalyamaanatvaat Archishmaan.

  1. Architah – He Who is worshipped

image3Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Sarvaloka architaih Virinchya adibhih api Architah iti Architah – He is worshipped even by Brahma and the rest who are themselves worshipped all over the world, hence He is called Architah, the worshipped One’. In terms of the hierarchy of worship He occupies the highest position and in that sense He is truly the Architah.

Sri Parasara Bhattar explains that all the Gunas that have been described so far are consistent with Him being Architah meaning ‘One to be worshipped’.  This Nama also refers to His incarnation in the Archa form.  Unlike incarnations that are limited to us by the period or Yuga in which they took place (For e.g. Rama Avataar or Krishna Avataar, the Archa forms are not at all limited in any way.  It is accessible to us in holy places, temples, and even houses at all times.  The mysterious truth (Guhyam) about the Archa form can be found in Bhagavat Shastra (the Pancaraatra Agama), Bodhayana Smriti, Vaishnava Purana, and other scriptures.

Sri Bhattar gives the following passage from Vaishnava dharmam, which describes the benefit of the worship of the Archa Murti:
su-rupaam pratimAm Vishnoh prasanna vadanekshanaam   |
kritvaa’tmanah pritikarim suvarna rajatadibhih    ||
tam archayet taam pranamet tam yajet tam vicintayet    |
vishatyapasta-doshastu tameva abrahma rupinim    ||
Meaning: After having shaped a beautiful image of Vishnu with a lovely face and lovely eyes, out of gold, silver, and the like in a manner that would be pleasing, one should worship it, perform yagna and meditate on it.  By doing so, one would enter into that form which is none other than Brahman itself, and will have all the sins dispelled.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan gives reference from the Divya Prabhandam by quoting a Pasuram from Poigai Azhwar’s Mudhal Thiruvantadhi (44) –
தமருகந்த தெவ்வுருவம் அவ்வுருவம் தானே,
தமருகந்த தெப்பேர்மற் றப்பேர், – தமருகந்து
எவ்வண்ணம் சிந்தித் திமையா திருப்பரே,
அவ்வண்ணம் அழியா னாம்.
Meaning: He assumes whatever form His devotees want Him to assume, accepts whatever name they give Him, and becomes whatever form the devotees give Him when they meditate on Him.

Krishna with BowTulsidas, a staunch devotee of Lord Rama, once went to Brindavan, the temple of Sri Krishna. Seeing the statue of Krishna, he said, “How shall I describe Thy beauty, O Lord! But Tulsi will bow his head only when you take up the bow and arrow in your hands”. The Lord revealed Himself before Tulsidas in the form of Sri Rama with bow and arrows!

Sri Ramanujan also refers us to the Bhagavad GIta (Chapter 4 Verse 11) which conveys the same thought.
ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham
mama vartmanuvartante manusyah partha sarvasah ||
Meaning: All of them, as they surrender unto Me, I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O’ son of Paṛtha.

In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 7 Verse 21) Bhagavan says:
yo yo yam yam tanum bhaktah sraddhayarcitum icchati
tasya tasyacalam sraddham tam eva vidadhamy aham ||
Meaning: Whichever form of God a devotee desires with faith to worship, I make his faith steady so that he can devote himself to that particular deity.

Sri NammAzhwar tells us the same truth in Thiruvai Mozhi (3.6.9):
தஞ்ச மாகிய தந்தை தாயொடு தானு மாயவை அல்லனாய்,
எஞ்ச லிலம ரர்க்கு லமுதல் மூவர் தம்முள்ளு மாதியை,
அஞ்சி நீருல கத்துள் ளீர்கள் அவனி வனென்று கூழேன்மின்,
நெஞ்சி னால்நினைப் பான்ய வனவன் ஆகும் நீள்கடல் வண்ணனே.
Meaning: The Lord of radiant Gods worshipped by Indra, Brahma and Siva, is Father, Mother and self, yet apart from all.  O’ People, do not fall into confusion calling to this or other God as My dark hued Lord takes the form that the heart seeks. He will assume whatever form we give Him even in our thoughts.

The Dharma Chakram writer points out that from this Nama, we can take understand that He can be worshipped in whatever form one chooses to worship Him, depending on one’s mental maturity in the path of Sadhana.

  1. Kumbhah – He Who is an object of desire

This Nama has several meanings:

  1. He Who is an object of desire
  2. He Who shines in this World
  3. He Who fills this World with His fame
  4. He in Whom everything is contained
  5. He Who envelops the Earth

vishnuhThe word Kumbha means a pot or container and based on this Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Kumbhavat asmin sarvam Pratishthitam iti Kumbhah – He is like the ultimate pot or container that contains all objects of the Universe hence He is called Kumbhah’.

In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 9 Verse 6) Bhagavan says:
Yathaakaashas Sthito Nityam Vaayus Sarvatrago Mahaan
Tathaa Sarvaani bhootaani Matsthaani iti upadhaaraya ||
Meaning: As the mighty wind, blowing everywhere, always rests in ethereal space know that in the same manner all beings rest in Me.

Brihadaaranya Upanishad (1.5.1) says ‘Tasmin Sarvam Pratishthitam – everything is contained within him’. He is verily Kumbhah, the Container of all things.

Sri Parasara Bhattar gives two derivations for this Nama, the first of these is “He Who is desired” which is derived from the root ‘kamu – kantau’ which means to desire.  Thus one interpretation for the Nama is He Who is desired – Kamyata iti Kumbhah.  He is desired by the devotees because He is the Ultimate in beauty, He is the One by reaching whom there is no return to the Ocean of Samsara, there is nothing more to desire after reaching Him.

Sri Bhattar gives the alternate interpretation based on the root ‘bha’ meaning ‘to shine’, in association with the word kum – this world.  So He Who shines in this world is Kumbhah – kau bhati iti kumbhah.   Sri Bhattar attributes His shining in this world to His presence as the Archa Murti in the shrines, and gives several quotes to support the sanctity of the areas around the sacred shrines, the power of His presence in the shrines etc.  The reference to Bhumi here is to the Divya Desams and it is considered that birth, living, or death in a Divya Desam is the most purifying for anyone. Yama and his servants won’t dare to approach one who dies close to a Divya Desam (as recounted in the Story of Ajamila).

Sri V.V. Ramanujan gives reference to Thirumozhi – acco oru azhagiyava (9.2.1); and to Thiruppaan Azhwar – en amudinaik kanda kangaL matronrinaik kAnaave; and to Thirumaalai – maadaraar kayarkan ennum valaiyul pattu azhunduvenaip podare endru Sollit tan paal Adaram peruga vaitta azhagan arangan, which all illustrate His being the Object of desire for His devotees.

Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj gives the interpretation which is a variation of the above –
kuh bhumih prapa’nca pratIkah; umbhati purayati iti umbhah
koh prapa’ncasya umbhah – purakah sva-yaSasA iti kumbhah
Meaning: Bhagavan fills this world with His fame and thus makes it complete, a fit place to live.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri elaborates on this – Bhagavan protects everyone in this Universe like a vessel that protects the water contained inside it.  He gives the following supports from Chandogya Upanishad (8.1.3) – ‘ubhe asmin dyava prithivI antareva samahite’.

Swami ChinmayAnanda gives yet another variation of the interpretation – He is called “The Container”, because everything and every happening is within Him alone.

The Dharma Chakram writer explains that He supports everything.  All our friends and relatives can at best support us only for a period of time in our life while He is the One who supports the Jiva all the way until it attains Moksha.   But the Jivas who are steeped in ignorance only think of support from their friends and relatives, and do not realize that the real support comes from Him.  We find many means to keep our eyes and ears in good shape, but we don’t spend the time to keep our minds in great shape.  This Nama tells us that He is the Only One who can support us in achieving this.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha derives the meaning from the root ‘Kubhi Acchadane’ meaning ‘to envelop, to cover’, and explains that Bhagavan envelops the earth in the form of the Sun and hence, He is called Kumbhah.

642.      VishuddhAtma – He is of a Pure Nature

RangaThe word ‘Vishuddha’ means ‘pure’ and based on this meaning Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Gunatrayaateetatayaa Vishuddhashcha asau Aatmaa iti Vishuddhaatmaa – He is the purest soul as He is unsullied by the effect of the three Gunaas or qualities hence He is called Vishuddhaatmaa’. The three different Gunas lead to different impurities. The ‘Tamas’ Guna leads to indolence and inaction, the ‘Rajas’ Guna leads to ego, anger and greed and even the ‘Sattva’ Guna can lead to complacency, bondage and self-righteousness. Bhagavan is Gunaatheethah i.e. He is above all these qualities and is not afflicted by any of its attributes; hence He is a pure Soul or Vishuddhaatmaa.

Sri Parasara Bhattar’s interpretation is that Bhagavan sacrifices all that He has for His devotees and bestows them with His Grace. He is One of Pure Nature.

Sri Thiruppaan Azhwar describes the Lord in His first Pasuram of Amalanaadhipiran. Incidentally the word ‘Amala’ means ‘Pure’.
அமல னாதிபிரா னடியார்க் கென்னை யாட்படுத்த
விமலன் விண்ணவர் கோன்விரை யார்பொழில் வேங்கடவன்
நிமலன் நின்மலன் நீதிவானவன் நீள்மதி ளரங்கத் தம்மான்திருக்
கமலபாதம்வந் தென்கண்ணி னுள்ளன வொக்கின்றதே.
Meaning: The Pure and Perfect, and the foremost-Lord is the radiant king of the celestials and resident of ThiruVenkatam surrounded by the fragrant groves. His golden rule is just and unblemished. He made me a slave of His devotees. He is the Lord of Arangam (Sri Rangam Temple) surrounded by the lofty walls. O, His auspicious Lotus feet have come to stay in my eyes!

Swami ChinmayAnanda explains that He has the Purest Soul. He is beyond all passions and desire, and all disturbances arising from these – Tri-Guna-teethah meaning He is the One who transcends all the Vaasanas that generate the three moods constituting the entire phenomenon of Maya.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha gives the following reference from the Ishavasya Upanishad (8) which describes His Shuddha (Pure) Svarupam – ‘Sa paryagac chukram-akaayam-avranam, asnaa-viragm shuddham-apapa-viddham – He, is the Atman, is all-pervading, bright, bodiless, scatheless, without muscles, Pure, unpierced by evils’.

643.     Vishodhanah – The Purifier

Vishnu5Vishodhana means purification just as Vishuddha means purified. So Bhagavan Himself being Pure, He also purifies His devotees. Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Smritimaatrena Paapaanaam kshapanaat Vishodhanah – He quells all our sins by mere remembrance of Him. When we just think about Him, He cleanses our heart and mind; hence He is called Vishodhanah – ‘The Purifier’.

In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 18 Verse 66) Bhagavan says ‘Aham tvaa sarvapaapebhyo moksha isyami ma suchah – I will rid you of all your sins, worry not’. By remembering Him, the human heart becomes cleansed of its sins, permanently swept of all feelings of restlessness and attains true joy.

Sri Parasara Bhattar interprets this as Vishodhayati iti Vishodhanah meaning Bhagavan is known as “The Purifier” since He purifies those who give up their bodily afflictions and thereby making them fit to attain Him.  This is reflected in NammAzhwar’s Thiruvai Mozhi (2.7.4):
கோவிந்தன் குடக்கூத்தன் கோவலனென் றென்றேகுனித்து
தேவும்தன்னையும் பாடியாடத்திருத்தி, என்னைக் கொண்டென்
பாவந்தன்னையும் பாறக்கைத் தெமரேழெழு பிறப்பும்,
மேவும்தன்மைய மாக்கினான் வல்லனெம் பிரான்விட்டுவே.
Meaning: For dancing and singing Govinda, Gopala and many such names, He made me Pure and took me into His service.  My dear Lord Vishnu rid me of my past misdeeds.  Then he made me love Him, now and through seven lives.

Swami ChinmayAnanda explains that by remembering Him, the human heart becomes cleansed of its sins, immaculately swept of all consequent feelings of restlessness.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha points out that Bhagavan purifies this Universe in various ways – by the process of Creation (navo navo bhavati JayamAnah), by His being unconstrained and unrestrained in any way (Indrasya baahvor bhuyishthamojah) – Amogha Shakti, in the form of the Sun, etc. Through Creation, He renews the old into the new, and thus makes us feel fresh like one who wakes up from restful sleep.

The Story of Saint Kanhopatra

Kanhopatra1Kanhopatra (or Kanhupatra) was a 15th-century Marathi saint-poet, venerated by the Varkari sect.  Kanhopatra was a daughter of a rich courtesan named Shama, who lived in the town of Mangalvedhe, near Pandharpur. Kanhopatra spent her childhood in the palatial house of her mother, served by several maids, but because of her mother’s profession, Kanhopatra’s social status was demeaningly low.

Kanhopatra was trained in dance and song from early childhood so that she could join her mother’s profession. She became a talented dancer and singer. Her beauty was compared to the apsara (heavenly nymph) Menaka. Kanhopatra’s was forbidden from marriage, as it was not socially acceptable for a daughter of a courtesan to marry. Shama suggested that Kanhopatra should visit the Badshah (Mughal King), who will adore her beauty and gift her money and jewellery, but Kanhopatra flatly refused as she was far too devoted to Lord Vitthala.

Due to her mother’s continued harassment insisting her to become a courtesan intensified, Kanhopatra, fled to Pandharpur disguised as a maid, with the help of her aged house help Hausa. When Kanhopatra first saw Vithoba of Pandharpur, she sang an abhang that her spiritual merit was fulfilled and she was blessed to have seen Vithoba’s feet. She had found the unparalleled beauty she sought in her groom in Vithoba. She “wedded” herself to the God and settled in Pandharpur. Kanhopatra moved into a hut in Pandharpur with Hausa and lived an ascetic’s life. She sang and danced at the Vithoba temple, and cleaned it twice a day. She gained the respect of the people, who believed her to be a poor farmer’s daughter maddened by the love of Vithoba. In this period, Kanhopatra composed abhangs dedicated to Vithoba expressing her devotion and her struggle to balance her piety with her profession. In her poetry, she implores Vithoba to be her saviour and release her from the clutches of her profession. About thirty of her abhangs have survived, and continue to be sung even today. She is the only female Varkari saint to have attained sainthood based solely on her devotion, without the guidance of any guru or a male Varkari saint, or through parampara (tradition or lineage).

Hearing the tales of Kanhopatra’s beauty, the Badshah of Bidar ordered her to be brought to him. When she refused to go with the King’s guards, the King ordered his men to get her by force. Kanhopatra took refuge inside the Vithoba temple. The soldiers of the King besieged the temple and threatened to destroy it if Kanhopatra was not handed over to them. Kanhopatra requested a last meeting with Vithoba before being taken. Kanhopatra merged with Lord Vithoba in a form of a marriage and died at His feet. She was buried within the compound of the temple.

tarati tree—which is worshipped by pilgrims in her remembrance—instantly surfaced on the spot where Kanhopatra was buried.  Kanhopatra is the only person whose samadhi (mausoleum) is in the precincts of the Vithoba temple. The burial spot in the Pandharpur temple is worshipped as her samadhi by devotees even today. A small shrine is also dedicated to her in her home town Mangalvedhe.

The chief gate of Vithoba temple, Pandharpur, where Kanhopatra is buried.

Kanhopatra’s abhangs frequently portray her struggle between her profession and her devotion to Vithoba. She presents herself as a woman deeply devoted to Vithoba, and pleads with him to save her from the unbearable bondage of her profession. She expresses disgust for the society which adored her as an object of beauty rather than as a human being, and abhorred her for her profession. She describes how she has been the object of lustful thoughts. She worries that she was beyond the “scope of God’s love”.

In Nako Devaraya Anta Aata—believed to be the last abhang of her life—unable to bear the thought of separation from her Lord, Kanhopatra begs Vithoba to end her misery. In the abhang Patita tu pavanahe, she acknowledges her Lord as the saviour of the fallen and asks him to save her as well:
O Narayana, you call yourself saviour of the fallen…
My caste is impure I lack loving faith
my nature and actions are vile.
Fallen Kanhopatra offers herself to your feet,
a challenge to your claims of mercy.

In another of her abhangs she shows her sense of vulnerability and her will to “remain untouched in the midst of turbulence”. She compares herself to food being devoured by wild animals – an expression never used by male saints:
If you call yourself the Lord of the fallen, why do O Lord not lift me up?
When I say I am yours alone, who is to blame but yourself if I am taken by another man.
When a jackal takes the share of the lion, it is the great, who is put to shame.
Kanhopatra says, I offer my body at your feet, protect it, at least for your title.

Kanhopatra refers to Vithoba by names such as Narayana, Krishna, Sripati and Manmatha. She refers to Krishna-Vithoba as the “champion of the low”, and as a mother. Kanhopatra also asserts the importance of chanting of Lords Namas and reveals how that has helped her. She says that even Death would fear God’s name, which purified the sinner King Ajamila – who ascended to heaven when he coincidentally called to God at his death bed, the “robber” Valmiki – who was transformed into a great sage by utterance of God’s name – and even the prostitute Pingala attained enlightenment. Kanhopatra believed that her chanting would ultimately lead her to salvation. Krishna wants to point out that however abominable you may be He doesn’t even consider it important once you take shelter of His Lotus feet.

The import of this Nama is that constant chanting of Lord’s Nama or mere remembrance of Him will cleanse the heart and mind.

  1. Aniruddhah – He Who is in the form of Aniruddhah, is unobstructed


The second interpretation is ‘Na niruddhyte Sharubhih Kadaachit iti – He is never ever hindered by His enemies, hence He is Aniruddha’. His enemies are powerless against Him and He is completely unstoppable and this attribute is implied in the Nama ‘Aniruddha’.

This Nama occurred earlier as Nama 187.  The root from which the word is derived is ‘Rudhir – Avarane’ meaning ‘to oppose, to besiege’.  The word ‘niruddha’ means obstructed, hindered, restrained, etc. so Aniruddha is one who is unrestrained or unrestrainable.  The Nama literally means “One who cannot be obstructed in any way – na asti nirodho yasya sa Aniruddhah”.

Sri Parasara Bhattar has explained in Nama 187 by giving reference to Maula Samhita to support the interpretation for this Nama – ‘aparimita cheshtho Bhagavan Aniruddhah – Unlimited are the exploits of Bhagavan Aniruddha’. He uses this Unobstructed Power to protect all beings and to repel all opposition. Bhagavan’s acts are selfless and for the good of His Creation, His devotees, His Seshas, and never for His own benefit.

The Dharma Chakram writer observes that the Aniruddha form of Bhagavan also illustrates that He has unobstructed power to help His devotees who want to overcome the influence of the Indriyas.

Swami ChinmayAnanda explains this as He is invincible by His enemies.   Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha gives the example of the inability of anyone or anything to prevent the Jiva from leaving the body when the time comes.

  1. Apratirathah – The Matchless

arjuna_krishna_chariot-frontSri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Pratirathah Pratipakshah asya na vidyate iti Apratirathah – He has no opposition or match, hence He is called Apratirathah’.

‘Prati-rathan’ is one who can oppose another in a fight mounted in a chariot.   a-prati-rathan is One who has no such person who can confront Him thus.   Bhagavan is matchless as no one can stand directly in front of His chariot and engage Him successfully in a battle – ‘na prati-rathah samana Shaktiman ko’pi yasya iti A-prati-rathah’, He is Matchless and hence called Aprathirathah.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan  gives the reference to Thiruvai Mozhi (2.3.2) – “Otthaar mikkaarai ilaiyaaya mayan” meaning One Who is Superior and Peerless.

Sri Parasara Bhattar gives the interpretation that as Janardana (Tormentor of the wicked), He is matchless  and there is no one who can stop Him.

Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj gives reference from the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 11 Verse 43) where Arjuna says:
pitasi lokasya caracarasya tvam asya pujyas ca gurur gariyan
na tvat-samo ‘sty abhyadhikah kuto ‘nyo loka-traye ‘py apratima-prabhava
Meaning: You are the father of this complete cosmic manifestation, the worshipped chief, the spiritual master. There is no one equal to You, how could there be anyone greater than You in the three worlds?” You are immeasurable.

Swami ChinmayAnanda’s interpretation is that in the loving Presence of Vishnu, everyone is vanquished, and there is no one to oppose Him or even to threaten Him.

  1. Pradyumnah – He Who illumines the Jivas

This Nama has several meanings, viz.:

  1. He Who illumines the Jivas
  2. He Whose wealth is of a Superior order
  3. The Bestower of all desires
  4. He Who is endowed with great strength

pradyumnaSri Adi Sankara interprets this in two ways and the first is ‘Prakrishtam Dyumnam dravinam asya iti Pradyumnah – He possesses wealth of the highest order hence He is called Pradyumnah’. This is based on the fact that Dyumnam means wealth or prosperity and Bhagavan has the ultimate Wealth because He owns everything, in fact, the whole Universe including the Goddess of Wealth Sri MahaLakshmi (Sridharah).

The second interpretation is based on the Vyuha form of Pradyumna. Sri Adi Sankara says ‘Pradyumnah, Chaturvyuhatma vaa – Pradyumnah’ meaning He is one of four manifestations of Bhagavan hence He is Pradyumnah’. The word dyumnam means wealth as well as lustre.  Sri Sankara uses the former meaning and Sri Parasara Bhattar uses the latter.

Sri Parasara Bhattar’s explanation is that “Atma pradyotavaan pradyumnah” – He makes the individual souls effulgent.

Parthasarathy-aniruddha-pradyumna-balaramaPradyumna is the one in charge of Creation and is endowed with the leadership of Aishvarya and Veerya. Lord Krishna has His divine presence with Aniruddha and Pradyumna at the Triplicane Parthasarathy Temple in Chennai.  Bhagavan is also present in all the four Vyuhja forms at the Nachiyar Koil in Tiruvanur near Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha derives the meaning from pra + dyu + mna (pra –  prakrshta, utkrshta – Superior; dyu – lustre; mna – abhyase – repeatedly.    Thus, he gives the interpretation that Bhagavan displays His special lustre again and again in the form of the Sun, and so He is called Pradyumna; or because He gives lustre to the Jivas repeatedly birth after birth.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri gives the additional meaning “desire” to the word dyumnam.   Pradyumna is the deity for manas, and in this role He creates the desires in us that contribute to the sustenance of Creation.

The Dharma Chakram writer gives the interpretation that the desires being fulfilled are those of the devotees to realize the Self. The best of desires are that of Self-realization and of performing eternal service to Him.  He is the Only One who can fulfill this, and so He is called Pradyumna – The Bestower of all desires.

Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj interprets ‘dyumnam’ to mean ‘balam’ or strength and gives the meaning ‘He who has distinguished strength – prakrishtam dyumnam balam yasya iti Pradyumnah’.

  1. Amitavikramah – He is of immeasurable steps

trivikrama-perumal-moolavarThis Nama occurred earlier as Nama 519 (Shloka 55). The word ‘Mita’ means measurable or limited and ‘Amita’ is the opposite of that which means unlimited or immeasurable or enormous. Vikrama is valour or prowess. Based on this, Sri Adi Sankara offers two interpretations, the first is ‘Amitah Atulitah Vikramah asya iti Amitavikramah – He has unlimited prowess hence He is called Amitavikramah’. The second interpretation is ‘Ahimsita vikramah vaa Amitavikramah – His valour is not injured or repudiated by anyone else hence He is Amitavikramah’.

Many like Ravana or Shishupala have tried to damage or injure his valour but none could prevail over him. He is verily Amitavikramah or of unlimited prowess.

The word ‘Vikrama’ also means ‘stride’.  Sri Parasara Bhattar interprets this Nama in the context of Lord’s Tri-vikrama Avataar – “Trilokye’pi aparya vasita vikramatvaat Trivikramah Amita-vikramah – In His incarnation as Trivikrama, all the three worlds were no match for His three steps.  So He is Amitavikramah”.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan takes ‘Amita’ to mean ‘innumerable’, and gives the interpretation that He has innumerable feet – Taalgal Ayirattaai pergal Ayirattaai tamiyanen periya appane (from Thiruvai Mozhi 8.1.10) – O Effulgent Lord of thousand arms and thousand heads, thousand lotus eyes, thousand feet and thousand names! The first verse in Purusha Suktam – sahasra Sirsha purushah; sahasrakshah sahasra paat also conveys a similar meaning of Lord being omnipresent.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri makes a connection to the previous Nama by observing that since Pradyumna is the Lord of manas, He acts with unlimited speed of mind (power of mind) in His role as Pradyumna, and so He is also called Amitavikramah.

Swami ChinmayAnanda remarks that as Sriman Narayana, is of immeasurable prowess, is Omnipotent, and none can stand against Him.


Archishmaan Architah Kumbho Vishuddhatma Vishodhanah    |
Aniruddho Apratirathah Pradyumno Amitavikramah              ||68||

image2He has great lustre and He is the primary source of light for the Sun, the Moon and the Stars, so He is Archishmaan. He is worshipped by the celestials like Brahma and is adored by all adorable, hence He is Architah. He is Kumbhah as His pot is always brimming with plenty and He is the object of desire. He has the whole world subsumed within Him. He is immaculate and Pure, so He is called Vishuddhatma. He is also the purifier who purifies the mind and heart of His devotees by their mere remembrance of Him, hence He is known as Vishodhanah.

He is Aniruddhah who is unobstructed and unopposed. He is Aprartirathah as He is matchless in the battlefield. He has treasures galore as the Creator and as Lakshmipati, He is Pradyumnah. He is valiant beyond reckoning and is Amitavikramah whose giant strides are immeasurable.



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



    • Dear Murthy ji

      Hari Om! Thank you for your keen interest.

      I have now posted commentaries for Shloka 82 and 83. Usually I post commentary for one Shloka every week but due to school vacation, have not been able to do so. I will be publishing a book at the completion of the commentary for all the Shlokas.

      Om Namo Narayana!!! God bless you!!!


  2. Hi Sridhar,

    Hearty congratulations on your prestigious, top ranking assignment in Bahrain. It is nice to note that you are still continuing this blog with the same enthusiasm and dedication as before.



  3. Sridhar,Yet again, another piece of gem from you and such a bliss to read. The story of Saint Kanhopatra is a cherry topping on the cake. Not many would be aware of the only woman varkari. Thanks once again for sharing.

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