In this part we will explore the meaning of the 71st Shloka of Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam.
Brahmanyo Brahmakrit Brahmaa Brahma Brahmavivardhanah |
Brahmavid Braahmano Brahmee Brahmajno Braahmanapriyah ||71||
He promotes Vedas and and nurtures all aspects of Brahma such as the Scholars, penance, scriptures and the ultimate Wisdom. He is the Creator who created Brahma, the Creator and He is the Supreme Brahman. He protects Dharma and makes them grow. He is the Knower of Vedas and He has spread the knowledge of the Vedas leading the life of a Braahman in His Nara-Narayana Avataar. He has all possessions that define the word ‘Brahma’. He knows the true meaning of the Vedas as He is the source of the Vedas. He loves Braahmanas (realised persons and not by caste) and is the beloved of the Braahmanas.
The above Shloka has the following Namas:
- Brahmakrit- Brahmaa
Now let’s examine the meaning of the above Namas in detail:
- Brahmanyah – He who promotes Vedas and all aspects of Knowledge
Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Tapo Vedaashcha Vipraashcha Jnaanam cha Brahmasamjnitam; Tebhyo hitatvaat Brahmanyah – The word ‘Brahma’ is collectively applied to Penance, Vedas, Wise men well versed in the knowledge of scriptures and Brahmanyah is one who nurtures all of these’. Bhagavan supports and encourages all the aspects of Brahma such as Penance, Vedas, the Scholars and the ultimate Wisdom and hence He is called Brahmanyah, the patron of all aspects of Brahma.
Since Bhagavan is the cause for the existence and enjoyment of Prakriti and Purusha, He nurtures them. Sri Parasara Bhattar’s interpretation for this Nama is that He is benevolent to Jiva and Prakriti, so He is called Brahmanyah.
Sri V.V. Ramanujam explains that the vastness of Prakriti, Jiva, and ParamAtma (and thus all being Brahman) is captured by NammAzhwar in Thiruvai Mozhi (10.10.10):
சூழ்ந்தகன் றழ்ந்துயர்ந்த முடிவில் பெரும்பா ழேயோ
சூழ்ந்தத னில்பெரிய பரநன் மலர்ச்சோ தீயோ
சூழ்ந்தத னில்பெரிய சுடர்ஞான வின்ப மேயோ
சூழ்ந்தத னில்பெரிய என்னவா அறச்சூழ்ந் தாயே
Meaning: O Great expanse, wide, deep, tall, and endless! Expanding bigger than that, O Radiant flower! Expanding bigger than that, O Radiant knowledge-bliss! Expanding bigger than that, you have blended into me!
O’ the AntarAtma of the Jivatmas, who encircle, extend over, and are larger than, the Prakriti in extant, whose Jnana is unlimited, and whose very nature is characterized by Jnana, Ananda, and tejas! Oh the unique possessor of samkalpa Jnana, which extends beyond the above, and has its halo even beyond still further, which is pure Bliss in nature! My desire to join you is even larger than your samkalpa Jnana. But You have now enveloped me, and I am a drop in your vastness of nectar ocean. My long-time ambition is fulfilled.
The first line above refers to the vastness of Prakriti, the second refers to the vastness of the Jnana of the Atman, and the third line refers to His vastness. When the term Brahman refers to the Supreme Being, it is qualified by both cit and acit, or has both conscious and unconscious entities as His body; when it refers to Prakriti, it is qualified by only ‘acit’ or insentient; and when it refers to Atman, it is qualified by ‘cit’ or consciousness.
In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 11 Verse 40), Arjuna says:
namah purastad atha prsthatas te
namo ‘stu te sarvata eva sarva
sarvam samapnosi tato ‘si sarvah
Meaning: O’ embodiment of all, my obeisances unto You from the front and from the back. I offer obeisances unto You from all the sides as well; O thou of unlimited potency and infinite power, You completely pervade the entire Universe, therefore You are everything.
Sri Radhakrishna Shastri gives examples of Bhagavan retrieving the Vedas from the asura by the name HayagrIva in His Matsya Avataar; He showed the path of penance in His Nara-Narayana Avataar. He gave us knowledge of the Vedas through His discourse of the Bhagavad Gita. He has taken several Avataars to protect the Brahmanas in their times of distress.
As examples of Bhagavan being beneficent to the Brahmanas, Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj gives the example of Lord Krishna doing Pada Puja for all the Brahmanas who came for the Rajasuya Yaaga performed by Yudhisthra. Sri Baladeva VidyA Bhushan gives the example of Lord Krishna retrieving the son of His Guru from the Ocean.
Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha observes that He is called Brahmanyah because He is big, and He makes His devotees big by giving them all the things to enjoy as well as by supporting and protecting them.
- Brahma-krit-Brahma – The Creator Who created Brahma, the Creator
Brahma has been defined in the previous Nama and Krit is one who creates. Sri Adi Sankara gives the interpretation as ‘Tapa Aaadeenaam Kartritvaat Brahmakrit – He has created all the aspects of Brahma such as Penance, Vedas, the Scholars and the ultimate Wisdom and hence He is called Brahmakrit’.
Sri Parasara Bhattar takes Brahmakrit-Brahmaa as a single compound Nama while Sri Adi Sankara treats them as two separate Namas. For the second part, Sri Adi Sankara gives the interpretation that ‘BrahmAtmana sarvam Srijati iti Brahma – He creates everything assuming the form of Brahma, the Creator, hence He is called Brahma’. He is the Antaryami of Brahma the four-faced Creator, so He is the real Creator.
Sri Bhattar explains this Nama again using the generic meaning “big” for the word Brahman. The creator of the world, the four-faced Brahma, is Brahma-krit because He creates the big things, namely the Universe. Bhagavan is the Biggest as He is the One who created Brahma, so He is called Brahma-krit-Brahma.
Sri V.V. Ramanujan gives reference from Sri NammAzhwar’s Thiruvai Mozhi Pasuram (2.2.4):
Meaning: My Lord created the four-faced Brahma so that he could create all the other things including all the Devas, and all the sentient and non-sentient objects. Other than my Krishna, is there any other Lord worthy of worship with flowers?
In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 11, Verse 37) Arjuna says:
kasmac ca te na nameran mahatma
gariyase brahmano ‘py adi-kartre
ananta devesa jagan-nivasa
tvam aksaram sad-asat tat param yat
Meaning: Why should they not offer respects unto you, You are the greatest of all;O’ the original creator of Brahma? O Infinite one! Lord of all Lords! O’ refuge of the Universe and the most worshippable, You are indestructible, the manifest and unmanifest yet transcendental to them.
Swami ChinmayAnanda gives a slight variant – He is Brahma-krit because He performs the Brahma and abides in tapas etc. Sri Baladeva VidyaBhushan gives a similar explanation – Brahma karoti Brahmacarya lakshanam tapas carati iti Brahma-krit.
Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha gives the meaning that Bhagavan makes His devotees big, and so He is Brahma-krit. Sri Radhakrishna Shastri says that He created the four-faced Brahma, the Vedas, the Brahamanas, tapas, etc. as special (magnanimously), so He is Brahma-krit.
- Brahma – The Supreme Brahman
Sri Adi Sankara gives a succinct interpretation for this Nama and says He is ‘Brihatvaat Brahmanatvaat cha Satyaadilakshanam Brahma – The hugeness and His attributes like Truth, Wisdom and Permanence give Him the name Brahma’. He is mammoth because He pervades all space. He is pure existence, the only reality and He is everlasting.
The Taittriya Upanishad (2.1) says He is ‘Satyam Jnanam Anantam Brahma – He is Brahma, the essence of Truth, Wisdom and Permanence’.
In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 11, Verse 37) Arjuna says:
tvam adi-devah purusah puranas
tvam asya visvasya param nidhanam
vettasi vedyam ca param ca dhama
tvaya tatam visvam ananta-rupa
Meaning: You are the original Lord, the eternal Personality, You are the Supreme refuge of the Universe, the knower and the knowable and the Supreme abode; by Your Infinite form all the Universe is pervaded.
The Vishnu Puranam (6.7.53) says ‘Pratyastam Itabhedam yat Sattaamaatram Agocharam Vachasaam AAtmasamvedyam Tat Jnaanam Brahmasamjnitam – That Knowledge which ends all differences, is pure existence beyond the grasp of words and is experienced in one’s Self is called Brahman’.
This Nama signifies that He is the ParamAtma. There are two aspects to this that are brought out: 1) He is Big, and 2) He makes everything big. His “Bigness” is explained in terms of His Parattvam in the commentaries of Sri Adi Sankara and those following him. Sri Parasara Bhattar and those following his school of interpretation, emphasise His unlimited Kalyana Gunas.
The root word for this Nama is the same as for the previous Namas, namely ‘Brah’ – to grow or to increase. Sri Parasara Parasara Bhattar quotes the following in support:
‘Brihatvaat Braahmanatvaacha brahmeti parikirtyate’ – He is called Brahman because He is big, and He makes others big. He is everywhere, He is in everything, He makes everything big, His Gunas are big, and He performs all His actions without any support and by His mere samkalpam. He expands the non-sentient matter into gross and subtle, He sustains these in a form that is useful for the Jivatmas to enjoy. He sustains the Jivatmas, He nurtures them to lead them towards their ultimate goal, namely His realisation. He is big with countless unsurpassed qualities, by His essential nature, by the glory of His possessions, etc.
Sri V.V. Ramanujan explains that His greatness is such that He can lift a baddha Jiva (an ordinary Samsari) to the level of a Nitya Suri (ever free angels) through His Infinite Mercy.
Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj gives the interpretation – Brimhayati prajah sva-dayadrisha iti Brahma – He who enhances His devotees by His mere Merciful glance (karuna Kataksham), is Brahma.
Swami ChinmayAnanda gives the interpretation – Brimhatvaat Brahma – Because He is the Biggest, the Vastest, the All-Pervading, He is called Brahma.
- Brahma-vivardhanah – He makes Dharma grow
The word ‘Vardhana’ comes from Vriddhi which means growth. Based on this Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Tapaadeenaam Vivardhanaat Brahmavivardhanah – He is Brahmavivardhanah because He supports and grows the different aspects of Brahma such as penance’. We have already seen the explanation of ‘Tapo Vedaashcha Vipraashcha Jnaanam cha Brahmasamjnitam; Tebhyo hitatvaat Brahmanyah’ – The word ‘Brahma’ is collectively applied to Penance, Vedas, Wise men well versed in these and Higher knowledge. Bhagavan nurtures all these aspects and encourage them to grow constantly hence He is called Brahmavivardhanah.
Sri Parasara Bhattar’s interpretation uses the meaning ‘tapas’, which in itself includes dharma, for the term Brahma. The Sruti text is “tapo Brahma”, and He Who makes it grow is Brahma-vivardhanah – tapo Brahma, tam vivardhayati iti Brahma-vivardhanah.
Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj gives the interpretation that because He nurtures the tattva of Brahma in the hearts of His devotees, He is called Brahma-vivardhanah – Brahma tattvam, tat visheshena vardhayate sva-jana hridayeshu iti Brahma-vivardhanah.
Swami ChinmayAnanda includes austerities, Vedas, truth, and knowledge under the term tapas, and since He grows these in His devotees, He is called Brahma-vivardhanah.
Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha gives reference to the Sruti – Brahma vai yajnah (Aitareya Brahmana 7.22). Sri V.V. Ramanujan adds that tapas involves getting detached from objects of sensual enjoyment; the more one grows tapas, the more will be the growth towards enjoyment of Him.
Sri Vasishtha gives another interpretation which uses the meaning “big” for Brahma. Because He grows things indefinitely and infinitely, as in the case of a seed yielding a tree, which yields many more seeds, and the process continue on and on, He is called Brahma-vivradhanah.
vivardhanam vishvamidam samastam yatah svayam Brahma-vivardhanah sah |
bijaacca vriksham kurute vivriddham vrikshaacca bijaan kurute bahun sah ||
The Dharma Chakram writer includes tapas, dhaanam, and yajnam under the term Brahma for this Nama. Tapas is the means by which one keeps improving his or her own self. When one sacrifices what one has for the benefit of the society, it is called dhaanam. Doing all our actions through thought, word, and deed without feeling self-ownership, and dedicating them to Bhagavan, is yajnam. All karma should be performed without attachment. This way of doing karma leads one to forsake the worldly pleasures, and seek union with the God.
Our actions should reflect an alignment in our thoughts, words and deeds. This can be practiced by:
- Talking good things, chanting Shlokas, Kirtans, Bhajans, Vedas etc., are tapas by word;
- Nurturing good thoughts, and not entertaining bad thoughts, becomes tapas through thought;
- Performing tapas without Doer-ship or desire for fame, and should be as ordained in the Shastras;
- Giving Dhaanam wholeheartedly with joy without reservation or hesitation and not expect anything in return;
- Perform Yajna with selflessness and with Sraddha consistent with the Shastras. It is His thought that grows this path of tapas, dhaanam, and yajnam. Therefore He is called Brahma-vivardhanah.
- Brahma-vit – The Knower of the Vedas
The word ‘Vit’ comes from ‘Vetti’, which means ‘one who knows’. Based on this, Sri Adi Sankara explains this Nama as ‘Vedam Vedaartham cha yathaavat Vetti iti Brahmavit – He knows all the Vedas with their meaning hence He is called Brahmavit’. Since the earlier name spoke of him as ‘Brahmakrit – the creator of Vedas’ it is but natural that He is also Brahmavit, the knower of the Vedas.
Brahma vetti iti Brahma-vit – He Who knows Brahma is Brahma-vit. The term Brahma in the current Nama is interpreted as referring to the Vedas by Sri Parasara Bhattar. The Vedas are endless – ananta vai Vedah, and Lord Sriman Narayana is the only One who knows all there is to know of the Vedas in their entirety:
anaadi nidhanam Brahma na deva na Rshayo viduh |
ekas tad Veda Bhagavan dhaata Narayanah svayam ||
Meaning: The Vedas are both beginning less and endless. Neither the Gods, nor the Sages, know it in entirety. The one great Creator, Bhagavan Narayana alone knows it, by Himself.
Note that the Vedas are the ones that reveal Him, and just as He cannot be entirely known, so also the Vedas cannot be entirely known, except by Him.
In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 15, Verse 15), Bhagavan says:
sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto
mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca
vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedanta-krd veda-vid eva caham
Meaning: I am the in-dweller in the heart of all beings, from me arises consciousness, wisdom, and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas I am to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedas and I am the Knower of the Vedas.
In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 9 Verse 24) Bhagavan says, ‘aham hi sarva yajnanam bhokta ca prabhureva ca’ meaning He is the One who is the object of worship to all other Devatas such as Agni, Vayu, etc. He is In Chapter 7, Verse 22 He says, ‘labhate ca tatah kaman mayaiva vihitan hi tan’ – I am the One who brings fruition to all the offerings.
Anyone who does not clearly understand these, and interprets the Vedas in any other sense, is not a knower of the Vedas.
Sri V.V. Ramanujan gives references to Thirumangai Azhwar’s Pasurams from Periya Thirumozhi:
பண்டாய வேதங்கள் நான்கும்ஐந்து வேள்விகளும் கேள்வியோடங்கமாறும் கண்டானை (2.5.9)
Meaning: He is the substance of the four Vedas, the five sacrifices, the six Angas, and this devotee’s very own.
பண்டைநால் மறையும் வேள்வியும் கேள்விப் பதங்களும் பதங்களின் பொருளும்,
பிண்டமாய் விரித்த பிறங்கொளி யனலும் பெருகிய புனலொடு நிலனும்,
கொண்டல்மா ருதமும் குரைகட லேழும் ஏழுமா மலைகளும் விசும்பும்,
அண்டமும் தானாய் நின்றவெம் பெருமான் அரங்கமா நகரமர்ந் தானே. (5.7.1)
Meaning: The timeless Vedas, the sacrifices, the Prasnas, the vyakaranas, their meanings, the cause of all these, the sacred fire-altar, the holy waters of rivers, the Earth, the clouds, the wind, the seven oceans, the seven mountain ranges, the sky, the Universe; the Lord stands as all these, and as the resident of Arangama Nagar (Sri Rangam).
Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj uses the word ‘vid – labhe’ meaning ‘to get or to find’, and interprets the Nama in terms of Lord’s Matsya Avataar where He restored the Vedas even as they were escaping from Brahma’s mouth – Visramsitaan uru bhaye salile mukhaat me Adaaya tatra vijahaara ha Veda maargan (Srimad Bhagavatam – 2.7.12) – The four-faced Brahma’s words – Because of my great fear at the vast waters at the end of the millennium, the Vedas came out of my mouth, and the Lord who enjoys those waters protected the Vedas.
Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha gives the meaning for Brahma as anything big, seen or unseen, and gives the interpretation:
Vivriddham vivardhanam va Brahma, drishyam adrishyam
Jnana maatra gamyam ca yat, tad sarvam ko vetti iti prashne vaktum Sakyate,
sa eva sarvasya Adhaaro Bhagavan Vishnuh vetti iti, tasmat sa Brahma-vit.
Meaning: Bhagavan is Brahma-vit, because He alone knows all things big, that are seen or unseen, or that can be perceived only through Jnana, and He is the One who creates them, sustains them, and grows them bigger.
The Dharma Chakram writer points out that the true knowledge of the Vedas lies in understanding the differences between Prakriti, Jiva, and the ParamAtma, and in particular, the realisation of the distinction between Jiva and the Supreme ParamAtma. Those who equate the lives of Lord Rama and Krishna to the ordinary Jivas like us, are the ones who are truly ignorant of the Vedas, since they have not realised the differences between the Jivatma and ParamAtma. The Vedas are a secret (marai) to those who don’t have the mental maturity to realise the truth behind the Vedas. The realisation that He is not just a Purusha but He is the Purushottama, that He is beyond the three Gunas, that He is the Supreme in everything, that there is nothing that binds Him or constrains Him etc., is the true knowledge of the Vedas.
- Braahmanah – The Instructor of the Vedas
A Braamhana is one who pursues the understanding of Brahma. It refers to a person engaged in the service of the Lord and does not apply specifically to a single caste. According to Amara Kosha, the Sanskrit dictionary, a Braamhana is described as one who engages in the six-acts – yajana yaajana adhyayana adhyaapana dhaana pratigraha lakshanaani meaning:
- the act of yagna or sacrifice,
- helping to conduct a yagna or sacrifice,
- learning the Vedas,
- teaching or instructing the Vedas,
- giving dhaanam (charity) to others, and
- receiving or accepting alms from others.
Sri Adi Sankara interprets this Nama as ‘BraamhanaAtmana Samastaanaam lokaanaam pravachanam kurvan Vedasya ayam iti – In the form of a Braamhana (Nara Narayana) Bhagavan teaches to everyone the essence and details of Vedas hence He is called Braahmanah’. Sri Sankara emphasizes the role of a Braahmana as a teacher of Vedas.
Sri Parasara Bhattar says ‘Brahma nayati, anati iti Braahmanah’ – He Who guides or recites the Veda is a Braahmana. Sri Bhattar refers to Bhagavan’s taking birth in the atri gotra as Dattatreya, and other such births as Braahmana in order to establish the teachings of the Vedas in this world.
The Dharma Chakram writer summarises the qualifications for a Braahmana as one who:
- knows the true nature of Brahman, and devotes his entire life in the service of Brahman;
- has no attachment to his body or to material things in this world;
- has absolute trust in Bhagavan’s Kalyana Gunas, Vedas and Shastras;
- dedicates himself through thoughts, words, and deeds to Bhagavan;
- acts with dedication and engages in eternal service of the Lord and His devotees;
- by nature has control over his mind and indriyas;
- is not interested in worldly enjoyment;
- accepts whatever difficulties confront him without question, and does not cause harm to others in return;
- has his Dharma as to live for the Vedas, to learn the Vedas and to impart the knowledge of the Vedas to others; and
- will dedicate himself to live in such a way that he leads by example to others on what it is to live a life of righteousness and love towards others.
- Brahmee – He who possesses all that goes by the term Brahma
Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Brahmasamjnitaah tat shesha bhootaah Atra iti Brahmee – He has everything that goes by the Nama Brahma, hence He is called Brahmee’. The term Brahma covers many things such as Veda, Penance, Mind and Praana. Since all these reside in Bhagavan, He is called Brahmee, the abode of Brahma. It can be said that he owns these and hence He is called Brahmee.
Sri Parasara Bhattar gives the interpretation that He is called Brahmee because He possesses all that is in the form of pramana (the means of knowledge), and prameya (the objects of knowledge). Sri Srinivasa Raghavan notes that this includes the Vedas (pramana), and Prakriti, purusha, Ishvara, etc. (the prameyas – those that are to be known from the Vedas).
Sri Radhakrishna Shastri observes that the Vedas, the four-faced Brahma, the Braahmanas (vipras), tapas, etc., are all there to reveal His true nature, and since they are all His possessions, He is called Brahmee.
Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj gives the interpretation that because He has the four-faced Brahma in His nabhi-kamalam (in the lotus rising from His navel), He is Brahmee – ‘sa nabhi kamale Vishnoh sthito Brahma prajapatih’ (Markandeya Purana 78.51).
The Dharma Chakram writer observes that the significance of this Nama is to realise that just as the body, which is made of the Pancha Bhutas, needs their support for its survival, so does the realization of the ParamAtma, who resides within us, requires the support of His possessions, namely the Vedas, the Braahmanas (vipras), and tapas. One should learn the Vedas, lead the life as revealed in the Vedas, and live like a Braahmana as described in the previous Nama. This yogic way of life will lead to His realisation.
- Brahmanjah – The Knower of the inner meaning of the Vedas
Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Vedaan Svaatmabhootaan jaanaati iti Brahmajnah – He knows the inner meaning of the Vedas which are an expression of himself and hence He is called Brahmajnah’. We saw earlier that as Brahmavit, He is the knower of Vedas and their meanings. In this Nama it goes one step further and identifies that Bhagavan as the Vedas Himself in essence. Brahmavit refers to cultivated knowledge but Brahmajnah refers to innate knowledge.
Sri Parasara Bhattar distinguishes between this Nama and the earlier Nama Brahma-vit (671), as follows:
‘Brahma-vit – anata vai vedah; taan avadhinaa vetti iti Brahma vit – Vedas are limitless; He knows the Vedas to completion or to the ultimate limit, and so He is called Brahma-vit.
‘Brahmajnah – vedaan artha-paryantam saakshaatkaroti iti Brahmajnah” – He perceives, comprehends, and knows the Vedas including their significance or meanings, and therefore He is called Brahmajnah.
Based on the above, Sri Bhattar explains that Brahma-vit refers to the breadth of His knowledge of the Vedas, while Brahmajnah refers to the depth of His knowledge of the Vedas.
The Nirukti author gives the corresponding summary for Veda-vit as ‘yo vedaan antato vetti sa Brahma-vit udiritah’ – He Who knows the Vedas to their full extent is Brahma-vit is called Brahma-vit, and for Brahmajnah as “yo vedaan arthato vetti so’yam Brahmajnah Iritah” – He Who knows the Vedas with their true inner meanings is vedajnah.
Swami ChinmayAnanda comments for the first one as ‘One who has intuited the Vedas and their full commentaries’, and for the second one, ‘One Who knows the nature of Brahman as no one else can; He being the very Brahman, no one else knows His nature as He Himself can’.
Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj explains as ‘Brahma Sri Vishnor vibhutih; tad sva vibhuti rupam jaanaati iti Brahmajnah – Brahma is one of His many manifestations and He who knows this Brahma is Brahmajnah.
- Braahmana-priyah – He loves Braahmanas and is loved by the Braahmanas
Sri Adi Sankara gives two different explanations for this name. The first is ‘Braamhanaanaam priyah Braamhanapriyah – He is loved by Brahmins hence He is called Braamhanapriyah’. The other explanation is ‘Braahmanaah Priyaah asya iti vaa – He loves Brahmins hence He is called Braamhanapriyah’.
Sri Sankara gives another quote from Mahabharata (Shanti Parva 47.29) in support of this ‘Yam devam Devakee devee Vasudevaada jeejanam Bhumasya Braamhano guptyai Deeptam agnim ivaaranih – Just like flint generates a sparkling fire Devaki and Vasudeva have generated Krishna for the protection of the Brahmins of the world’.
In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 7 Verse 17) Bhagavan says: ‘Priyo hi Jnaaninotyartham aham sa cha mama priyah – the Jnaani loves me and I love the Jnaani’. This shows the mutual love between Bhagavan and His Bhakta, thus justifying the interpretations given by Sri Sankara.
Sri Parasara Bhattar’s interpretation is that the Braahamanas are extremely dear to Him, and hence He is called Braahmana-priyah. He gives the example of how Bhagavan treated Sage Bhrigu with respect even when the latter kicked Him in His vaksha sthalam (chest).
Both, Sri Sankara and Sri Bhattar quote Bhagavan’s words:
‘Ghnantam Shapantam parusham vadantam yo Braamhanam na pranamet yathaarham Sa paapakrit Brahmadavaagnidagdho Vadhyashcha dandyashcha na chaasmadeeyah’ (Itihaasa Samuccha 30.100)
Meaning: Even if a Brahmin beats a person, curses him, or utters harsh words to him, one should bow to the Brahmin as I did to Bhrigu. One, who does not honour the Brahmin will be consumed by the wild fire of the Brahmin’s anger, and such a person deserves to be killed and punished. He is not Mine’. This shows the love and respect he holds for Brahmins.
In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 12, Verse 20), Bhagavan says:
Ye tu dharmyAmritam idam yathoktam paryupaasate |
Shraddhaana mat-parama bhaktaaste ativa me priyaah ||
Meaning: He who follows this imperishable path of devotional service and who completely engages himself with faith, making Me the supreme goal, is very, very dear to Me.
“I am victorious over the Asuras because of the blessings of the Brahmins – vipra prasaadaat Asuraan jayaami (Vishnu dharma 52.23).
Sri Radhakrishna Shastri gives the following explanation:
The Brahmins are very dear to Him because they live for the sole purpose of chanting the Vedas as well as teaching the Vedas. Since the Vedas are the Lord Himself, the love of a Brahmin in the Vedas as He chants them transforms into a love for Him; and since the Brahmin gives the place for Him in them in the form of the Vedas, the Brahmin is dear to Him.
The Dharma Chakram writer adds that those who live for Him are Brahmins, and those who live for themselves are the rest.
Swami ChinmayAnanda observes that the term Braahmana here refers to the class of people who have the Supreme experience of the Divine, those men of complete realisation, and not to the Brahmins by caste.
Sri Bhadrachalam Ramadas
There was a Telugu Vaishnava called Gopanna Garu in a place called Golconda in Andhra Pradesh. He was also called as Ramadas due to his Bhakthi towards Rama. His father was a Diwan and had left a lot of wealth for him before he passed away. Both Ramadas and his wife Sundari Bai were staunch Rama Bhakthas. They had a son and he was named as Raghavan.
Every year he would invite a lot of saints and sadhus to their house to perform bhajans, kirthans and discourses and celebrate Sri Rama Navami for 10 days in a grand manner. Ramadas always spent his time singing the praise of lord Rama. He would hold a veena in one hand and sing the praise of lord always.
Once they were celebrating Sri Rama Navami in their house. There were hundreds of Bhagavathas who were singing Ramadas’s kirthans. The Vedas were being recited and Ramayan was also being read. Sundari Bai was taking care of food preparation for the sadhus and others who had come for the occasion. She would also come and listen to the kirthans in between and also take care of little Raghavan. The kirthans were over and they were about to start the Divya Naama Sankirtan.
Sundari Bai wanted to feed the kid before going to the Divya Naama Sankirtan and so she put him in her lap and started feeding milk to him. She made him go to sleep and then went to the Divya Naama Sankirtan. Ramadas and Sundari Bai were completely absorbed in the Divya Naama Sankirtan. After some time Raghavan woke up and found that he was alone and started crying. Raghavan went in to the kitchen looking for his mother. He accidentally slipped in to vessel that had some hot porridge and he was completely boiled. After some time Sundari Bai came in search of her kid and found that he was not in the room where she had left him. She went searching for him when she went in to the kitchen she found him completely burnt. She exploded out her emotions but immediately consoled herself and decided that she would not tell this to any one till the Sri Rama Navami celebrations were over.
When the Sankirtan got over Gopanna came in and asked his wife to serve food for the guest. Looking at her he knew something was wrong and asked her what had happened. As Sundari Bai narrated the incident, he was shocked looking at Raghavan. The others who came in to have the food were also shocked to see the state of the kid. Suddenly a Yogi came inside the house and walked towards them. He asked them what had happened and when they told him that the kid was burnt. He went near the kid and touched the kid. Raghavan immediately opened his eyes. His limbs started moving and he got up as if nothing had happened to him. The yogi then gave the kid to Gopanna and away. Gopanna instantly knew that it was none other than Lord Rama himself.
He now wanted to take up a job to serve Lord Rama. He went to meet his uncle and told him that he was expecting him during the Utsavam and got the prasadams as he did not come. Akkanna asked him if he was ready to take up a job and he immediately agreed to it. Akkanna introduced Gopanna (Ramadas) to the King as the son of the earlier Diwan.
Akkanna told the King that Gopanna was now looking for a job and hence had come to meet him. The King then said that he was indebted to his father for the services he had rendered him earlier and proposed that Gopanna be made the Tahsildar (a person who collects the revenue on behalf of the King) and he agreed to it. Ramadas was made the Tahsildar of Bhadrachalam. The people of Bhadrachalam on hearing that a new Tahsildar is coming came to welcome him. The invited him to the Ramaswamy temple. This temple was very and poorly maintained. Seeing the state of the temple Ramadas started crying and felt bad that Lord Rama was kept in such a bad state.
The priest then requested Ramdas to renovate the temple and also perform a kumbabishekam during his tenure as the Tahsildar. Ramadas sold his house and his wife’s jewels to fund the work. The money that he raised from selling his assets was not sufficient for building the temple. As he didn’t want the work to be stopped, he took the tax collected for the King and completed the temple thinking he would manage and pay it later to the King. The construction of the temple was completed successfully.
As the temple got completed the dates for Sri Rama Navami was also nearing. So he decided to perform the Utsavam in Bhadrachalam. The ceremony started and Ramadas was singing happily and performing the Unjal (swing) seva for Lord Rama. The celebrations started and the residents from the village of Bhadrachalam and other Saints, Sadhus and Bhakthas were engrossed in worshipping Lord Rama.
Someone wrote an anonymous letter to the King saying that Ramadas had misappropriated the revenue collected in Bhadrachalam. The Accountant confirmed that they have not received any money from Bhadrachalam for sometime. Hearing this, the King ordered for the arrest of Gopanna. It was the last day of the Rama Navami celebrations and Ramadas had finished the pooja and was exiting the temple when the King’s soldiers promptly arrested him and brought him before the King.
Gopanna confessed that he had used the funds for building the temple. The King then ordered him to repay the money but Ramadas did not have it to repay. The King ordered for the imprisonment of Ramadas.
One night lord Rama and Lakshmana took 10,000 mohras and came disguised as Ramadas’s assistants to meet the King. Lord Rama introduced himself as Ramoji and Lakshman introduced himself as Laksmanoji and said that they were the assistants of Gopanna and that they have brought the 10,000 moharas to get him released. As Rama was saying this, Lakshmana emptied the bag in front of the King and all the golden coins fell down, they then asked the King to give them a receipt for the same.
The King was completely spellbound on this vision and was only uttering ‘Ramoji, Lakshmanoji’. Meanwhile Lord Rama and Lakshmana put the receipt in the prison cell of Ramadas. On seeing this Ramadas was surprised and was wondering who were these Ramoji and Lakshmanoji mentioned in the receipt. He saw the King approaching towards his cell along with Akkanna. The King ordered the release of Gopanna. The King immediately held the hands of Ramadas and asked where were Ramoji and Lakshmanoji. Ramadas now understood who had come and said that he would take him to them if he comes with him to Bhadrachalam.
Ramadas showed the temple to the King and told him that this was the temple he had built using his money and that is why the God had given Darshan to the King even though he himself has not had his darshan. On seeing Lord Rama, Ramadas fell at his feet and sang a kirthan thanking him. He continued to take care of the Bhadrachalam Temple after that and King became the patron of the Temple. The Bhadrachalam temple we see today was built by Ramadas.
The Lord always comes to the aide of His true devotees!
Brahmanyo Brahmakrit Brahmaa Brahma Brahmavivardhanah |
Brahmavit Braamhano Brahmee Brahmajno Braamhanapriyah ||71||
He promotes Vedas and and nurtures all aspects of Brahma such as the Scholars, penance, scriptures and the ultimate Wisdom and hence He is called Brahmanyah. He is the Creator who created Brahma, the Creator, so He is Brahmakrit-Brahmaa. As the Creator of Brahma, He is the Supreme Brahman. He protects Dharma and makes them grow, hence He is known as Brahma-vivardhanah.
He is the Knower of Vedas and hence He is Brahma-vit. He has spread the knowledge of the Vedas leading the life of a Braahmana in His Nara-Narayana (and other) Avataar(s). He has all possessions that define the word ‘Brahma’ and hence He is Brahmee. He knows the true meaning of the Vedas as He is the source of the Vedas, so He is Brahmajnah. He loves Braahmanas (realised persons) and He is the beloved of the Braahmanas, hence He is known as Braahmanapriyah.
HARI OM TAT SAT
OM NAMO NARAYANAAYA
This Vishnu Sahasranamam series is authored with the help of my friend Shri Balaji.