In this part we will explore the meaning of the 76th Shloka of Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam.
Shloka 76
Bhutavaaso Vaasudevaḥ Sarvaasunilayonalaḥ   |
Darpaha Darpado Adṛipto Durdharoth Aparaajitaḥ ||76||

He is the primary abode of all beings and He is the Dvaadasha Mantra – ‘Vaasudeva’. He covers, conceals or envelops the whole Universe with his Maya or illusions and He is the abode of all life giving breath in the form of JivAtma. His power and wealth have no finite limit or cap and He destroys the pride from those who deviate from the path of Dharma. He bestows pride and self-respect to those who act righteously. He is permanently in a state of Supreme Bliss and even though He did many great things He never became proud of His majestic nature. He is beyond the grasp of anyone except through intense concentration and constant contemplation. He is undefeated by internal enemies such as passion, desire and is undefeated by external enemies like the demons or Asuras, He is Invincible.

The above Shloka has the following Namas:

  1. Bhutavaaso
  2. Vaasudevah
  3. Sarvaasu-Nilayah
  4. Analah
  5. Darpaha
  6. Darpadah
  7. Adriptah (or Driptah)
  8. Durdharah
  9. Aparaajitah

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

  1. Bhutavaasah – He is the abode of All Beings

This Nama has three meanings:

  1. He is the abode of all creatures
  2. He dwells in the hearts of His devotees
  3. The dwelling place of the Great Elements

krsna-opens-his-mouthSri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Bhutaani atra abhimukhyena vasanti iti Bhutavaasah – All beings live in Him as He is the primary abode of all beings, hence He is called Bhutaavaasah’. He quotes from Harivamsham (3.58.53) which says ‘Vasanti tvayi Bhutaani Bhutavaasas tato Bhavaan – All beings take abode in You hence You are called Bhutavaasah’. In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 9 Verse 4) Bhagavan says ‘Mat sthaani Sarvabhutaani – All beings have their place within me’.

Sri Parasara Bhattar’s description for the Nama is ‘Yasmin vasanti Bhutani Bhuta-vaasa sa kathyate – He in Whom all beings reside is called Bhuta-vaasah’. 

Sri V.V. Ramanujan comments that Lord Krishna revealed through several Vishwarupa Darshans that He is Bhuta-vaasah, One in Whom all beings reside. In the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 11 Verse 15, Arjuna says:
Pashyaami devaans-tava deva dehe sarvaans-tatha Bhuta vishesha sanghaan   |
Brahmanam Isam kamalAsanastham Rshinshca sarvaan uragaanshca deeptaan ||
Meaning: O Lord, I behold in Your body all the Gods and all the diverse hosts of beings, Brahma, Shiva, the Seers, and the lustrous snakes.

In Chapter 7 Verse 7 of the Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavan says:
mattah parataram naanyat kincidasti dhana’njaya    |
mayi sarvam idam protam sutre manigaNA ||
Meaning: There is nothing higher than Myself, O Arjuna.  Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.

Sri NammAzhwar refers to Perumal as ‘Uyirgal ella ulagum Udaiyavan (Thiruvai Mozhi 3.2.11) – He is the Soul of all Souls’.

PeriAzhwar describes Yashoda’s experience of finding all the Universes inside the child’s (Krishna’s) mouth – ‘Vaiyam Ezhum kandal pillai vayule’ (Thirumozhi 1.1.6).

Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj interprets the Nama as “He who dwells in the heart of His devotees, who perform His worship and sing His praise” – Bhuteshu bhajana paarayaneshu pranishu Avaso yasya iti Bhuta-vaasah. 

Swami ChinmayAnanda interprets the terms Bhutah as referring to the five Great Elements, and thus interprets the Nama to mean “He Who is the very dwelling place for the Great Elements”.  He quotes the following from Hari Vamsa as support:  “Vasanti tvayi Bhutani Bhutavasas-tato bhavan” (279.52).

The word Bhutah is derived from the root ‘bhu – bhav’ means ‘to be’; bhavanti iti Bhutani.  The word Vasah is derived from the root ‘vas – nivase’ means ‘to dwell’.   Sri Satyadevo Vasishta gives the derivation – Samantaad vasanti Bhutani yasmin sah Bhuta-Vaaso Vishnuh – He in Whom all beings live is Bhuta-vaasah. 

He gives some examples to illustrate His Guna of Bhuta vasah in the context of His being the Controller of the five great elements.  Even though human beings are constituted of the five great elements, our principal nature is that of Prithvi, while that of the fish is primarily the nature of water.  The fish is created such that its lungs don’t fill with water as it lives in water, whereas the fish cannot live outside the water and on the land.  Those that fly in the air are primarily of the nature of Vayu.  He says that if the ashes from burnt cow dung are let to stand for 50 years, an insect will originate from this that will be fire-proof, and thus will have fire as its principal nature.  Thus, Bhagavan has created the different creatures in different ways, and associated them with the Pancha Maha Bhutas in different ways.  All these are illustrations of the fact that He is Bhutavaasah – One in Whom everything lives, and One Who lives in everything.  Sri Vasishta refers us to the Rig Veda Vishnoh karmaani pashyata (1.22.19) – Look at Vishnu’s works, whereby He has let His great ways be seen.

  1. Vaasudevah – The Dvaadasha Mantra

om-namo-bhagavate-vasudevaya-This is the third occurrence of this Nama having appeared before as name 334 and name 700. The root ‘vas’ among other things also means to cover. Based on this Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Vasati Aacchaadayati jagat Mayayaa iti Vaasuh Sa Eva Deva iti Vaasudevah – He covers, conceals or envelops the whole Universe with His Maya or illusions hence He is Vaasu; and in addition He is also Deva or Divine thus He is called Vaasudevah’. He quotes from the Mahabharata, Shanti Parva (341.41) to support his view – ‘Chaadayaami Jagat vishvam Bhutyaa Surya Ivaamshubhih – Just like the Sun drowns the whole world with its rays I envelop the whole world with my splendid spell’.

Sri Parasara Bhattar says that Vaasudevah is the Para form of the four Vyuha murthis. He further says Bhagavan’s Nama represents Mantras.  Like Visnhu is the Shatakshra Mantra, Narayana is the Ashtakshara Mantra and Vaasudeva is the Dvaadasha Mantra. These three Namas make up the Vishnu Gayatri Mantra:
Om Narayanaya Vidhmahe
Vaasudevaya Dheemahe
Tanno Vishnu Prachodayaath |
Meaning: Om! Let us meditate on Sri Narayana, the Lord who dwells in all beings, and is known as the Sovereign of the world. May that Sri Vishnu inspire and illumine our mind and understanding.

Also in the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 7 Verse 25, Bhagavan says:
naham prakasah sarvasya yoga-maya-samavrtah
mudho ‘yam nabhijanati loko mam ajam avyayam ||
Meaning: I am never manifest to the foolish and ignorant. For them I am covered by My illusory potency (Yoga-Maya) in the external energy; and so the deluded world knows Me, the unborn and imperishable.

  1. Sarvaasu-nilayah – The Abode and support of all souls

visvam4Asu means breath and based on this, Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Sarvam eva Asavah Praanah Jivatmake yasmin Aashraye nileeyante Sah Sarvaasunilayah – He is the abode of all life giving breath in the form of JivAtma hence He is called Sarvaasunilayah’. In other words all life depends on Prana or the life-breath. He supplies this basic ingredient of life by Himself being the JivAtma in each living being.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishta explains the Nama ‘Sarvaasu-nilayah’ by analysing it into three parts: Sarva, Asu, and Nilayah.  Sarva means All; Asu is derived from the root ‘as – bhuvi’ means ‘to be’ (asti) –  asti iti asuh-  the word asu is also used to refer to life, breath, etc.; Nilaya means abode, derived from the root ‘lee – Sleshane’ means to stick, to lie on. So, Sarvaasunilayah means Abode and life force of all beings.

The interpretations for the Nama cover the following:
a) Bhagavan is the necessary and essential support for His true devotees who cannot live without Him;
b) He is the support and vital life-force for all beings;
c) He is the final resting place for all souls at the time of pralaya.
The sum total of all this is that all the beings dwell in Him and He is their support during their existence in this world and  laya (rest) in Him during Pralaya. 

Sri Parasara Bhattar gives the interpretation that Bhagavan has this Nama indicating that He is the indispensable support for His devotees – Sarva prana Alambanam Sarvaasunilayah. Alambanam means abode or support. Sri Bhattar gives support from MahaBharata, Uttara Kandam (28.22), which describes how Krishna’s arrival at Hastinapuram was greeted by the people there with the joy that one would feel if the Sun appears all of a sudden in a place that has been dark for a long time, or when breeze arrives in a region where there has been no wind for a long time:
Asuryamiva Suryena nivaatamiva vayuna   |
Krishnena samupetena jahrshe bharatam puram   || 

Sri AnnangarAcharya’s interpretation is that everyone is so captivated by Him that their very life depends on Him, and this why He is called Sarvaasu-nilayah – “ellarum tammidattileye praananai vaittirukkum padiyaaga manoharamai iruppavar”. 

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri suggests the explanation for the Nama as ‘He Who is the final resting place for all Jivas’ –   ‘ella uyirgalum odungum idam’.  Just as the indriyas act as if they are independent of the Jiva in the waking state, but lose this so-called independence in the sleeping state, the Jiva merges into Him at the time of Pralaya, and so He is the Nilaya or the final resting place for all the asus or Jivas.  

  1. Analah – He is never satisfied that He has done enough for His devotees

This Nama has several meanings:

  1. He is never satisfied that He has done enough for His devotees
  2. He cannot tolerate any offense committed to His devotees.
  3. He receives the prana Shakti as His own and functions in the form of the JIvAtma.
  4. He is beyond smell etc.
  5. He is unlimited and eternal (in His Glories) (alam – paryapti – end).
  6. He exists in the form of Fire.
  7. He is unmatched and has no opposition (alam – opposition)
  8. He rejuvenates His devotees who intensely long for Him (an – pranane).

DasavatharamThis Nama occurred in Shloka 32 earlier.  The Nama can be looked at as an-alah, a-nalah, or ana-lah with different interpretations based on the different ways of looking at it.

Alam denotes finiteness or an object of limited measure. Analam is the opposite namely infinite or unlimited. Using this meaning, Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Alam Paryaaptih Shaktisampadaam naasya vidyate iti Analah – His power and wealth have no finite limit or cap hence He is called Analah, the one who is unlimited or unrestricted.

Sri Adi Sankara gives an alternative interpretation that is based on the root ‘nal – gandhe bandhane ca’ means ‘to smell, to bind’.  In this interpretation, the Nama is explained as a-nalah; na alam asya sah a-nalah – He Who is beyond smell etc.  Sri Sankara gives support from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (3.8.8): 

sa hovaca, etad vai tad aksaram, Gargi, Brahmana abhivadanti, asthutam ananu,
ahrasvam, adirgham, alohitam, asneham acchayam, atamah,
avayv anakasam, asangam, arasam, agandham, acaksuskam asrotram, avak,
amanah, atejaskam, apranam, amukham,
amatram, anantaram, abahyam;
na tad asnati kim cana, na tad asnati kas cana.
Meaning: This Brahman is nothing but the Absolute. Beyond that, there can be nothing. That is the immaculate Absolute,” says Yajnavalkya. Etad vai tad aksaram – It is imperishable. The great ones say, this is Aksara – etad vai tad aksaram, Gargi.  Brahmana abhivadanti, asthulam – It is not gross, therefore, it cannot be visualised. It is not subtle, because to call it subtle would be to distinguish it from the gross. It is inseparable from that which is called the gross. Therefore, I cannot call it subtle also. So it is not gross, not subtle – asthulam, ananu.

Ahrasvam, adirgham – You cannot call it long; you cannot call it short, because it is not in space. When it is not in space, how can you measure it and call it, of this length, of this measure and that length etc.? So it is immeasurable. Alohitam – It cannot be called as possessed of any colour, because colour is the perception of the eyes. It is an object. And it is already ruled out as being an object of any kind. It has no connection with anything – asneham. It cannot be associated with anything; it cannot be related to anything. It stands by itself. It is light by itself – acchayam.
Atamah – 
It is not darkness also, because it sees everything. It is the utmost brilliance that you can think of. It is not space; it is not air; it is not water; it is not earth; it is not an object; it is not individual; it is not you; it is not me – avayu anakasm. Asangam – It stands by itself. It has no space. You cannot grasp it through the senses of taste, sight, hearing etc. – arasam.  

Agandham, acaksuskam asrotram- It has no eyes; it sees everything. It has no ears; it hears everything. Avak – It has no speech, but it speaks, and all the languages are known to it. Amanah – It has no mind; it thinks all things. Atejaskam – It cannot be called brilliance also, ultimately. You call it Light of lights. The ultimate conception of Reality is light; it is a Light that stands by its own Self.
Apranam – It has no Prana; it does not breathe. It is not an individual being. Amukham – It has no mouth. It has no organs. It has no measure of any kind, sensory or psychological – amatram. It is not inside; it is not outside – anantaram abahyam. If you say “inside”, it means that it is not “outside”. If you say “outside”, it means that it is not “inside”. So, neither is this definition applicable to it nor that. It does not consume anything – and it is not consumed by anyone.

brahman2Na tad asnati kith cana, na tad asnati kas cana – Neither it wants anything, nor is it wanted by anybody. Nothing is an object to it, and it is not an object to anyone. Such a mysterious thing is the ultimate Reality of Brahman, unmanifested substratum of the all-pervading principle. This is the Para Brahman; this is the Absolute; this is All.”

Sri Parasara Bhattar uses the meaning ‘al – paryapti’ meaning ‘to be satisfied’, and gives the interpretation to the Nama ‘An-alah’ as ‘He Who is not satisfied’; in spite of all that He does for His devotees, He feels that He has done nothing to help His devotee – ‘na ki’ncit kritam eshaam maya iti avitriptah’.

Sri Bhattar quotes an incident from MahaBharata, where Lord Krishna expresses His feeling of being permanently indebted to Draupadi who cried out for His help.  He gives the additional interpretation that Bhagavan has this Nama because of His Guna of not being able to put up with apacaram to His devotees. He quotes the following words of Bhagavan:
dvau tu me vadha kaale’smin na kshantavyo katha’ncana |
yajna vighna-karam hanyaam Pandavanam ca dur-hridam ||
Meaning: At the time of destruction two persons will not at all be forgiven by Me. I will kill Him who obstructs the conduct of this sacrifice, and also him who is ill-disposed to the Pandavas.

Both experiences are true, and are different dimensions of His Guna, the first expounding His Parattvam (Supremacy), and the second expounding His Vatsalyam (affection).

Sri V.V. Ramanujan describes that even though He protected her when she cried out for help, and He helped the Pandavas, still His heart was heavy that He did not do enough for Draupadi.   As Lord Krishna was departing to Sri Vaikuntam after the mission of Krishna Avataar was accomplished, He said: Ranam pravriddhamiva me hridayaat naapasarpati(Udyoga Parva 28.22) – ‘That cry for help uttered by Draupadi, calling me ‘Govinda’, even though I was far away in Dwaraka – that cry is never away from My mind, like a debt that has increased over time with interest accrued on it’.

Sri NammAzhwar describes this Guna of Bhagavan in Peria Thiruvantadi 53:
ஒன்றுண்டு செங்கண்மால். யானுரைப்பது,
உன்னடியார்க் கெஞ்செய்வ னென்றே யிரித்திநீ,-நின்புகழில்
வைகும்தம் சிந்தையிலும் மற்றினிதோ, நீயவர்க்கு
வைகுந்த மென்றருளும் வான்.
Meaning: O Adorable Lord with Lotus like red eyes!  I have something to say. You are always keen to do something for your devotees. But even the experience of Vaikuntam you offer is not any sweeter than the joy of contemplating on your glories.

Analah also refers to fire as He is like the fire that keeps consuming whatever is offered, and grows more and more eager to consume.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri gives another dimension to His not being ‘satisfied’ – He is not satisfied with just the materialistic offering during His worship, but will be satisfied only when it is offered with bhakti or devotion. Bhakti is the only requirement for satisfying Him, and not any accompanying materialistic offerings. In the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 Verse 26, Bhagavan says:

patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam asnami prayatatmanah ||
Meaning: If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit a water, I will accept it.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishta uses the same approach as above, but gives the interpretation that since Bhagavan ultimately takes away the Pranas, He is called Analah.    Using the meaning ‘paryapti – tripti vacana’ for the term ‘alam’, Sri Vasishta interprets An-alah as ‘One Who does not have an end’. 

He also explains it as Varana – resistance or opposition for the word ‘alam’, and gives an alternative interpretation, ‘He Who has no one to oppose Him’. 

Swami ChinmayAnanda quotes the Bhagavad Gita (12.5) in support: ‘naanto’smi mama divyanam vibhutinam paramtapa – Of My Divine Glories, there is no end’.   He also takes the meaning “fire” for “analah”, and comments that the Nama can refer to His being in the form of Fire and sustaining our body with the right amount of warmth that is needed.   

Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj takes a different approach from others, and gives his interpretation starting with the root ‘an – pranane’ meaning ‘to live, to breathe’ and using the Unadi Sutra ‘VrishAdibhayashcit –  – he derives the word Analah, and gives the interpretation ‘Anayati samujjIvayati tapah: Krishna sva-janaan sva-darshanena iti Analah’ – He Who rejuvenates His devotees who are engaged in intense tapas on Him, by giving His darshan to them.

The Story of Krishna and Vidura

viduraniKrishna visited Hastinapur as a peace negotiator. Duryodhana, the sworn enemy of the Pandavas, wanted to invite Krishna to a feast.  Duryodhana arranged for lavish lunch of delicious food to be served in opulent golden dishes, and water in golden cups.

He said to Krishna, “Please come and take Your meal with Me.” Krishna declined and said, “I can’t eat anything as I have no appetite. I only eat anything where there is love and affection, I can never eat with you, because you have no love and affection for Me! I came to Hastinapura to ask you to make peace with the Pandavas, but you have not complied. How can I take My meal with you? I’m not a beggar, and I’m not hungry.”

Shortly after rejecting Duryodhana’s opulent feast, Krishna went to Vidura’s house. Vidura was Krishna’s devotee, and was also very affectionate to Arjuna and his four brothers. In fact, on several occasions he had saved them from great danger. Because of this, Krishna was very fond of Vidura. When Krishna got to Vidura’s house, Vidura was not there, so Krishna pleaded with his wife Vidurani, “Oh, Vidurani Maiya, I am so hungry! Please give Me something to eat.”

Vidurani was very affectionate to Krishna, and she was anxious to serve Him. She began to offer Him bananas, but in her excitement and confusion, she threw away the fruit and gave Him the peels. Krishna affectionately accepted the peels, and relished them joyfully. They tasted sweeter to Him than all the preparations and offerings that He is usually accustomed to.

While Krishna was completely absorbed in accepting Vidurani’s offering of banana peels, Vidura came in. He was shocked at what he saw, and exclaimed, “Oh, Vidurani! What are you doing?”

Krishna tried to caution him, “Don’t speak to her. She is not in her external senses. She is fully absorbed in transcendental love and affection.”

Vidurani, however, came back to external consciousness when she heard her husband speak, and soon realised what was happening. She realised her blunder and gave Krishna the fruit of the bananas and threw away the peels. Krishna was a little disappointed. “Oh! This fruit is not as tasty as the peels were.”

Spiritual lesson:
From this episode, we can see that Krishna never becomes hungry. He doesn’t want to taste banana, or sweets, or milk or anything. He just wants to take the essence of all the fruits. The essence is simply love and affection, the mood of bhakti in the offering.

Krishna will never accept anything from someone who has no deep love and affection for Him. On the other hand, He will persuasively take what He wants from a devotee who has love and affection for Him, even if that devotee is hesitant to give Him thinking it may not be fit enough for him (like the rice flakes of Sudama). That is Krishna’s nature. He accepts whatever is offered to Him with complete devotion.

So in whatever we do we should add bhakti. As Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita 9.27:
yat karosi yad asnasi yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kurusva mad-arpanam
Meaning: O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.

  1. Darpa-ha – The Destroyer of Pride

Krishna-kills-Kamsa1Darpa means pride and Darpahaa means the destroyer of pride. Sri Adi Sankara’s interprets this Nama as ‘Dharmaaviruddhe Pathi Tishthataam Darpam hanti iti Darpahaa – He destroys the pride from those who deviate from the path of Dharma or righteousness hence He is called Darpahaa. We have earlier seen Namas with similar structure such as Kamaha (destroyer of desire), Krodhaha (destroyer of anger) and Veeraha (destroyer of aggressor).

Sri Parasara Bhattar gives the above interpretation, and points out instances of Bhagavan destroying the pride of the Devas and Asuras.  He gives as examples such as Bhagavan lifting up the Govardhana mountain against the lashing rains caused by indra to subdue Indra’s pride, the carrying away of the Parijata tree from the garden of Indra, chopping off the grove-like arms of BanAsura, etc.  

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri points out that ‘darpam’ refers to acts that are undertaken when one becomes ecstatic without knowing one’s own position (relative to Bhagavan), and starts indulging in actions that are not consistent with Dharma.  This applies equally to those who follow do not follow the path of Dharma as well as to those who follow Dharma but get carried away from the success of their Dharmic acts, and take pride in their accomplishments.  In these cases, Bhagavan imparts a lesson to these people by temporarily posing some obstacle. 

Sri Satyadevo Vasishta explains the Darpa-ha Guna of Bhagavan by alluding to the day-to-day events in our lives.  He observes that most JiIvas consider themselves independent of Him and feel proud.  When these same Jivas observe someone else undergo suffering, momentarily their pride gives way to a temporary annihilation of a tiny part of their pride.  Thus He performs His act of destroying the pride constantly (darpa-ha), even as He is the Bestower of pride to us (see next Nama).  

  1. Darpa-dah – The Bestower of Pride (to His devotees)

KrishnaandSudhamaWhile destroying the pride of the unworthy and unrighteous person, Bhagavan gives self-respect and justifiable pride to those who are righteous and follow Dharma. Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Dharma vartmani vartamaanaanaam darpam dadaati iti Darpadah – He bestows pride and self-respect to those who act in the Dharmic way hence He is called Darpadah’. So Bhagavan can be both Darpahaa and Darpadah depending on the merits of the person.

Sri Parasara Bhattar explains that Bhagavan brought pride to the Yadava clan by being born into it and negted the curse of Yayati. By being born as Rama into the Ikshvaku dynasty, He brought pride to them. He also gives examples of Azhwars taking pride in singing His glories. He gives reference to Sri NammAzhwar’s Pasuram from Thiruvai Mozhi (6.4.2) where the Azhwar says – ‘நேயத் தோடு கழிந்த போதெனக் கெவ்வுல கம்நிகரே?’ meaning ‘My time is spent lovingly, now who in the world can match me?’

Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj gives the explanation – Darpo harshah; tam Sattvikebhyo dadati Atmanam pradarshya iti Darpa-dah – Bhagavan makes His true devotees proud by revealing Himself to them. 

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri explains that Bhagavan gives pride (Darpo garvah) as a strength to His devotees when they have to face the opponents of Dharma.  He gives the examples of Hanuman bubbling with God-given pride when he was crossing the ocean going in search of SIta Piratti, when he was addressing Ravana, etc.   Thus Bhagavan gives the strength in the form of pride to His devotee as necessary.

Swami ChinmayAnanda points out that Bhagavan creates this pride in His devotees, which helps them in their urge to be the best among the righteous and the virtuous.  This pride is their protection from compromising in even a small way in any act.  This is positive ‘pride’ of a higher order, and not the pride as in ego referred to in the previous Nama.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishta interprets the term Darpa as referring to attractiveness, beauty etc. (Drip – harsha Mohanayoh).  His interpretation is that the Nama indicates that anything that is attractive or beautiful around us is because of Lord Vishnu, the Darpa-dah, has bestowed it to these objects. 

The Dharma Chakram writer comments that pride per se is not bad.  It is like a knife that can be used to cut a fruit or cut the hand.  A pure devotee of Vishnu should feel proud about his position, and this will help him advance further spiritually.  The feeling of pride reflecting as ‘I am following the path of dharma; I am a sesha (servant) of the Lord; I cannot be defeated in my objective of attaining Him’, is a positive pride that is good.  

  1. Adriptah – He Who is not proud Himself (or Driptah – One Who is Immensely Happy)

ananthasayanamIn some versions this Nama is referred as ‘Driptah’ which basically refers to one who is over-joyed or immensely happy. Sri Adi Sankara uses this and says ‘Svaatmaamrita Rasaasvaadanaat Niyapramudito Driptah – He is permanently in a state of Supreme Bliss because of His very nature which is always immersed in a nectar of joy hence He is called Driptah.

Sri Parasara Bhattar gives his interpretation using the Nama A-driptah first, followed by the explanation for the Nama as ‘Driptah’ as an alternate.  Sri Bhattar’s interpretation for Adriptah is – ‘One Who does not become proud’.  He quotes the following in support:
evam vidhaani karmaani kritva Garuda-vaahanah    |
na vismayam upaagamat paarameshthyena tejasa   ||  (MahaBharata 51.28)
Meaning: Even though He did so many great things like these, He never became proud because of His majestic nature.

Sri Bhattar’s alternative interpretation as Driptah, is that He is delighted with the love and care given by Yashoda and Nandagopa – Yashoda-Nanda-Lalana Driptah. 

Sri Vasishta explains that Bhagavan is Adriptah (One Who is not proud) since He never violates any of His commandments under any circumstances, even though He is the Ultimate Controller of everything.

Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj interprets the Nama as “nityam harsha mayatvAt dRptah”, and “garva rahitatvAt a-dRptah” – “He is Driptah because of His eternal Blissful nature”, and “He is Adriptah because He is devoid of pride”.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri gives the interpretation for Driptah and says that Bhagavan is proud as the fighter for Dharma. 

  1. Durdharah – He is difficult to Control (as a child Krishna)

This Nama has the following meanings:

  1. He is difficult to Control
  2. He cannot be subdued by the evil-minded
  3. He is difficult to contemplate as an Abstract (except by those of trained mind)

yasoda-krishna_3aThe root word ‘Dhar’ means ‘to bear or hold’. It is extreme difficult to constantly focus upon Bhagavan to attain liberation. It requires many births and a lot of effort to be able to achieve the level of concentration and intense focus required for that. Also, it is not possible without His grace. Based on this, Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Na shakyaa Dharana yasya Pranidhanadishu Sarvopadhivinirmuktatvaat tathaapi tatprasaadatah Kaishchit duhkhena dharyate hridaye janmaantara sahasreshu bhavanayogaat, tasmaat Durdharah – It is very difficult to concentrate and grip his image in the centre of the heart except after training for several births. It is only attainable by a very few and that too only with His grace, hence He is called Durdharah, the object of very difficult contemplation’.

Sri Sankara quotes the following verse from the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 12 Verse 5) in support:
klesho’dhika-taras-teshaam avyaktaasakta-cetasaam    |
avyakta hi gatir-duhkham dhavadbhir-avapyate    ||
Meaning: Greater is their trouble whose minds are set on the Unmanifest; for, the path of the Unmanifest is very hard for the embodied to tread.

Sri Parasara Bhattar interprets this in terms of Krishna’s Leelas and explains as ‘One Who is difficult to control and be held down physically. He says, ‘Bala leeladiprasa’ngeshu matta-maata’ngatvaat taabhyaam Dur-dharah durvaara-ca’ncala ceshtitah” – He (Child Krishna), in His sportive activities in His childhood, was uncontrollable by Yashoda and Nandagopa, like an elephant in ruts.  He quotes from the Vishnu Puranam (5.6.15):  Yadi Saknoshi gaccha tvam ati-ca’ncala-ceshtita – “O You of naughty acts! Now run away if You can’ (Yashoda’s words to Krishna after He was tied to a mortar).  

In another sense, this Nama can be interpreted to mean that Bhagavan cannot be restrained by the evil-minded people under any circumstance.  Sri Bhattar gives the following to support:
imam hi pundarikaaksham jidhrikshanti alpa-medhasah     |
patenaagnim prajvalitam yathA balo yatha’balah           ||   (Mahabharata Udyoga Parva 129.16)
Meaning: These men of little knowledge want to seize and bind Him just like a weak person trying to control a blazing fire with a piece of cloth. (speaking of Duryodhana)

dur-grahah panina vayuh duh-sparshah panina Sashau    |
dur-dhara prithivi murdhna dur-grahah keshavo balaat    || (MahaBharata Vana. 309.28)
Meaning: The wind cannot be caught by hand, nor can the moon be touched by the hand, nor the Earth be supported by the head of a man; so also, Keshava cannot be caught by force.  

baby-krishna-stealing-butterSri V.V. Ramanujan gives references from the Divya Prabandham and quotes from PeriAzhwar’s Neerattam. In these Pasurams, Yashoda persuades Krishna to come and have a bath. PeriAzhwar captures these beautiful moments.  A few of the Pasurams from Peria Thirumozhi (Neerattam) have been recited here for you to enjoy and indulge in the divine experience:
வெண்ணெ யளைந்த குணுங்கும் விளையாடு புழுதியும் கொண்டு
திண்ணெனெ இவ்விரா உன்னைத் தேய்த்துக் கிடக்கநான் ஒட்டேன்
எண்ணெய்ப் புளிப்பழம் கொண்டுஇங்குஎத்தனை போதும் இருந்தேன்
நண்ண லரிய பிரானே நாரணா நீராட வாராய் || 2.4.1||
Meaning:  With butter smeared all over Your body, and odour emanating thereof and with the dust sticking to Your body, I will not allow You to rollover on the bed tonight!  I have been waiting for You, for so long now, with scented oils and soap nut powder to give You a good bath.  O Narayana, hard-to-get Lord, come for your bath, Yasoda calls Krishna.

Krishna steals butterஎண்ணெய்க் குடத்தை யுருட்டி இளம்பிள்ளை கிள்ளி யெழுப்பி
கண்ணைப் புரட்டி விழித்துக் கழகண்டு செய்யும் பிரானே
உண்ணக் கனிகள் தருவன் ஒலிகட லோதநீர் போலே
வண்ணம் அழகிய நம்பீ மஞ்சன மாடநீ வாராய். || 2.4.6||
Meaning: Rolling down oil pots, pinching sleeping kids and making them cry, popping out eye lids to frighten others and doing similar such mischievous acts are perhaps Your pastime! My Lord! I shall give You fruits.  O the noble One of  wavy-ocean hue, come and have a bath, Yashoda pleads with Krishna.

கறந்தநற் பாலும் தயிரும் கடைந்துஉறி மேல்வைத்த வெண்ணெய்
பிறந்தது வேமுத லாகப் பெற்றறி யேன் எம்பிரானே
சிறந்தநற் றாய்அலர் தூற்றும் என்பத னால்பிறர் முன்னே
மறந்தும் உரையாடமாட்டேன் மஞ்சன மாடநீ வாராய். ||2.4.7||
krishnaMeaning: Since the time of Your birth, I hardly recollect seeing good milk, curd and butter stored in the pots!  Being Your fond mother, I never dare narrate Your mischievous deeds to others in a way that they may chide You! Please come and have a bath, pleads Yashoda to Krishna.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri refers to Sri Krishna showing His Vishwarupam like an uncontrollable elephant under rut when Duryodhana tried to bind Him in his court. 

Another interpretation for the Nama is that Bhagavan is beyond the grasp of anyone except through intense concentration and meditation extending over several births, and in this sense also He is Dur-grahah.  Sri Shastri indicates that Dharana is an anga of yoga that is between Dhyana and Samadhi, and is attained only after practicing Dhyana over several births. 

Sri Satyadevo Vasishta gives the derivation ‘duhkhena dhartum Sakhyo Dur-dharah’ – One Who can be realised only with great difficulty.  Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj gives the interpretation – duhkhena Ayasena dhriyate hridaye a-samahita-manasaih iti Dur-dharah – He Who can be held only with great difficulty by those who do not have a calm and composed mind. 

  1. Aparaajitah – The Invincible

krishna's armyAparaajitah means one who is undefeated by others. Sri Adi Sankara explains this Nama as ‘Na Aantaraih Ragadibhih Baahyairapi Danavaadibhih Shatrubhih Paraajitah iti Aparaajitah – He is undefeated by internal enemies such as passion, desire and is undefeated by external enemies like the demons or Asuras hence He is called Aparaajitah, the Invincible’.  Many great conquerors are able to defeat all the external enemies but are vulnerable against the internal enemies such as passion, desire, anger, jealousy, lust and greed. But Bhagavan is victorious against all enemies both within and outside.

The root from which this Nama is derived is ‘Ji – jaye’ means ‘to conquer’.  Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj gives the explanation – na parajitah kadapi kenapi iti Aparaajitah – He Who cannot be conquered by anyone and through any means and hence He is Aparaajitah. 

Sri Parasara Bhattar quotes several examples where the Devas have declared over and over again that Bhagavan cannot be vanquished by anyone.
ekam hanishyasi ripum garjantam tam Mahamridhe    |
na tu tam praarthayasyekam rakshyate sa Mahatmana   ||
yam Ahur-veda-vidusho varaham ajitam harim   |
Narayanam a-cintyam ca tena krishnena rakshyate   || (MahaBharata Udyoga Parva 129.40)
Meaning: Indra tells Karna: ‘In the great fight, I give you the power to kill one thundering warrior, but this cannot be the one you wish to kill (Arjuna), since he  is protected by the Great Lord (Krishna).  Krishna is none other than the Invincible Hari, Who had assumed the form of the Wild Boar, and Who is the Incomparable Narayana, as declared by the Vedic scholars”.

The same message is given to Jayadratha by Rudra:
Ajayyaanshcapi avadhyaanshca vaarayishyasi taan yudhi   |
Rte Arjunam Maha-bahum devairapi duraasadam   |
yam Ahuh amitam devam Sankha-cakra-gadha-dharam   |
pradhAnah sostra-vidushAm tena kRshNena rakshyate   ||  (MahaBharata Vana. 260.75)
Meaning: In the fight you can ward off the attacks of all invincible and indestructible warriors except the long-armed Arjuna who is unassailable even to the Gods, since he is protected by Krishna who is the Unknowable Deity Who bears the conch, discus and mace as arms.

Bhishma, Drona, etc., declare that they could have annihilated the Pandavas without a trace if only Krishna had not been their Protector, and that just as certainly as truth rests with a Brahmin, humility is certain in the pious, and wealth is sure in the skillful, so also victory is certain for Narayana:
Dhruvam vai Brahmane satyam dhruva Sadhushu sannatih   |
Srir-dhruva capi daksheshu dhruvo Narayane jayah   || 

In the Vishnu Sahasranama phala-Shruti Shloka, Sanjaya says:
Yatra yogeshvarah Krishno yatra Partho dhanur-dharah   |
tatra Shrir-vijayo bhutir-dhruva neetir-matir-mama       ||   (Bhagavad Gita 18.78)
Meaning: Sanjaya says: Where Krishna, the Lord of the yogas is, and where Partha, the bow-armed Arjuna is, there is prosperity, there is victory, there is wealth, and there is firm justice – this is my conclusion.

Sri Parasara Bhattar quotes from the Ayurveda caraka samhita, where again the invincibility of Bhagavan is conveyed:
yatha’ham naabhijanami Vaasudeve paraajayam    |
maatushca paanigrahanam samudrasya ca shoshanam   |
etena satya-vaakyena sicyataam agado hyayam   ||
Meaning: On the veracity of the following statements, may this medicine be pounded and be effective: ‘There is no defeat for Vaasudeva; I have not witnessed the marriage of my mother; the Ocean will never become completely dry. These are all absolute true statements’. 

In Vaitarana, the following is used to invoke the efficacy of the poison-removing mantra:
ratnakara iva akshobhyo himavaniva ca acalah    |
jataveda iva adhrishyo Narayana iva ajayah    ||
Meaning: Let this poison-removing mantra be effective just as the ocean is imperturbable, Himavan is unshakable, fire is unapproachable, and Narayana is unconquerable”.

Sri Bhattar also gives references from the Srimad Ramayanam and MahaBharatam:

  • Ajayyah Shaashvato dhruvah (Yuddha Kandam 111.15); He is Inivincible, eternal and steady
  • Ajitah khadga-dhRk (Yuddha Kandam 117.15); He is unconquered, and is the Wielder of the Sword Nandaki;
  • Yatah Krishnah tato jayah (MahaBharata Udyoga. 6.79) – ‘Wherever Krishna is, victory is certain there’.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan gives references from the Divya Prabandham in support of Sri Parasara Bhattar’s interpretation:

  • Parpanabhan uyarvura uyarum perum tiralon” (Thiruvai Mozhi 2.7.11) – Padmanabha is the mighty one, higher than the highest;
  • Andru aivarai velvitta maayap port terp paganar (Thiruvai Mozhi 4.6.1) – He commanded the army in fierce battle, and secured victory for the five Pandavas.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishta also derives the interpretation for the Nama starting from the word para meaning Supreme – para eva kashcin-nasti na dvitiyo na tritiyah iti atharva vacanaat, tasmaat parajitvasya asambhavaat bhagavatah Aparaajita iti namna samkirtanam upapadyate – Since there is no one who is Para (Supreme) except Him, there is no possibility of His being vanquished by anyone else, and so He is called Aparaajitah.

Bhutavaaso Vaasudevaḥ Sarvaasunilayonalaḥ   |

Darpaha Darpado Adṛipto Durdharoth Aparaajitaḥ ||76||

visvam1All beings live in Him as He is the primary abode of all beings, hence He is called Bhutaavaasah. He is the Dvaadasha Mantra – Vaasudevah and He covers, conceals or envelops the whole Universe with his Maya or illusions hence He is Vaasu; and in addition He is also Deva or Divine thus He is called Vaasudevah. He is the abode of all life giving breath in the form of JivAtma hence He is called Sarvaasunilayah. His power and wealth have no finite limit or cap hence He is called Analah, the one who is unlimited or unrestricted.

He destroys the pride from those who deviate from the path of Dharma or righteousness hence He is called Darpahaa. He bestows pride and self-respect to those who act in the Dharmic way hence He is called Darpadah. He is permanently in a state of Supreme Bliss because of His very nature which is always immersed in a nectar of joy hence He is called Driptah. Even though He did so many great things like these, He never became proud because of His majestic nature and hence He is also known as Adriptah.  Bhagavan is beyond the grasp of anyone except through intense concentration and meditation extending over several births, and He Who can be held only with great difficulty by those who do not have a calm and composed mind, hence He is Durdharah. He is undefeated by internal enemies such as passion, desire and is undefeated by external enemies like the demons or the Asuras hence He is called Aparaajitah, the Invincible.



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



  1. You have succinctly summarized the spiritual meaning from the story of Lord Krishna and Vidhura. As usual a treat to read and my sincere prayer to LORD is to keep me coming back to this blog and to read and re-read again and again

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