In this part we will explore the meaning of the 95th Shloka of Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam.

Ananta-Hutabhuk-Bhokta Sukhado Naikado Agrajah |
Anirvinnah Sadaamarshi Loka-Adhishthanam Adbhutah ||95||

He is Limitless, Omnipresent and Sustainer of all Worlds. He is the giver of bliss to His devotees and takes many incarnations to protect and re-establish Dharma. He is First born and Hiranyagarbha. He is free from despondency and despair, and is compassionated and forgiving. He is the protector of the three worlds. His acts and creations are wonderful and hence, He is wonderful.

The above Shloka has the following Namas:

  1.    Anantah-Hutabhuk-Bhokta
  2.    Sukhadah
  3.    Naikajah (or Naikadah)
  4.    Agrajah
  5.    Anirvinnah
  6.    Sadaamarshi
  7.    Loka-Adhishthanam
  8.    Adbhutah

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

  1.    Anantah Hutabhuk Bhokta – He is Limitless, Omnipresent and Sustainer

Sri Adi Sankara explains this Nama in three distinct parts viz. Anantah, Hutabhuk and Bhokta. He interprets the first part of the Nama, Anantah, in two different ways. The first is ‘Nityatvaat Sarvagatatvaat Deshakaalapariccheda Abhaavaat Anantah – His Permanence, Omnipresence and the ability to transcend beyond the limitations of time and space aptly makes Him Anantah, the Limitless One’.  

The second interpretation is ‘Anantah Shesharupo va – He is called Anantah also because of His manifestation as the Adishesha (a.k.a. Anantah), the serpent that carries the Earth on its head.

As seen in the previous Shloka, ‘Hutam’ refers to Yagna or Sacrifice and Bhuk means the Protector or the Enjoyer.  Sri Sankara interprets this as ‘Hutam Bhunakti iti Hutabhuk – He protects the Yagna, hence, He is called Hutabhuk, the protector of the Yagna’, just as He did in the case of Vishvamitra’s Yagna from the intrusions of Tadaka and other demons.

Sri Sankara uses the term Bhokta in two senses – ‘Bhunkte one who enjoys or consumes’ and ‘Bhunakti’ meaning ‘one who protects’.  His first interpretation is ‘Prakritim Bhogyaam Achetanaam bhungte iti Bhokta – He enjoys or consumes all the objects of nature which have no faculty of thinking, hence He is called Bhokta, the Consumer’. Clearly all objects of nature get consumed or lose their identity ultimately through Fire, Sun or passage of time.

His second interpretation is ‘Jagat paalayati iti va Bhokta – He protects the World, hence He is called Bhokta’.  Of the three functions of Bhagavan viz. Creation, Sustenance and Dissolution, Bhokta refers to His role as the Sustainer or Protector.

Sri Parasara Bhattar interprets this Nama as representing the last two steps in the Arciradi Marga (the eleventh and twelfth steps to Sri Vaikuntham). Indra and Brahma escort the Jiva in the final steps of the Jiva’s ascent to Parama-padam (sa Indra lokam, sa Prajapati lokam – Kaushitaki Upanishad). Sri Bhattar interprets Huta-bhuk as a reference to Indra, since he is the consumer of all offerings through fire in the sacrifices – sapta tantushu hutam bhunkte iti Indro huta-bhuk. He relates ‘Bhokta’ to ‘Brahma’ – prajah bhunakti – paalayati iti Prajapatih Bhokta. Since Brahma is engaged in the process of Creation, he is called Bhokta (Praja means propagation, production, birth). As both Indra and Brahma are under Bhagavan’s control, Bhagavan is called Ananta-Huta-bhug-Bhokta.

Sri Baladeva Vidya Bhushan treats ‘Ananta-Huta-bhug-Bhokta’ as two Namas – ‘Anantah’ and ‘Huta-bhug-Bhokta’, and gives a similar meaning to that of Sri Bhattar for ‘Huta-bhug-Bhokta’ –
Huta-bhugbhih amruta pariNama rupam hutam
bhunjanaih vidyuta paryanta Agatena amanavena purushena sahitaih
Varuna Indra prajapatibhih sva-pada gaminam bhaktam bhunakti paalayati it Huta-bhug-Bhokta
Meaning: He is the Protector of the devotees who have been escorted by the amanava purushas through the Indra loka, Brahma Loka etc., and who are on their final stages of reaching His Abode, escorted by Varuna, Indra, and Prajapati.

His Supreme Lordship is well explained in Srimad Bhagavatam (12.3.1), where Suta Goswami says:
Yam Brahma Varunendra-Rudra-Marutah stunvanti divyaih stavair
Vedaih sanga-pada-kramopanisadair gayanti yam sama-gah
dhyanavasthita-tad-gatena manasa pasyanti yam yogino
yasyantam na viduh surasura-gana devaya tasmai namah||
Meaning: Unto that personality whom Brahma, Varuna, Indra, Rudra and the Maruts praise by chanting transcendental hymns and reciting the Vedas with all their corollaries, pada-kRamas and Upanishads, to whom the chanters of the Sama Veda always sing, whom the perfected yogis see within their minds after fixing themselves in trance and absorbing themselves within Him, and whose limit can never be found by any of the Devas or Asuras — unto that Supreme Personality of Godhead I offer my humble obeisance.

Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj, like Sri Bhattar, treats ‘Ananta-Huta-bhug-Bhokta’ as one Nama, but interprets it as consisting of two parts – na antah yasya iti anantah – One for Whom there is no end, is Anantah; and huta- bhuja paavakena bhunkte iti Huta-bhug-Bhokta – He Who consumes (the offerings of oblations in sacrifices) through fire is Huta-bhug- Bhokta; Anantashca asau Huta-bhug- Bhokta iti Ananta-Huta-bhug-Bhokta – He Who is eternal, and Who consumes the offerings through fire, is Ananta-Huta-bhug-Bhokta.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha expresses this as ‘rakshako bhakshanashca’. Bhagavan Creates, Protects, and then swallows at the time of    Pralaya or Dissolution.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha uses the meaning bhuj – to eat, and interprets the Nama ‘Bhokta’ as One Who consumes or swallows everything in the form of Kaala or time – Kaala rupo hi Bhagavan Kaalakramena sarvam bhunkte. He also links the term ‘ananta’ to ‘Bhokta’ by pointing out that Bhagavan consumes all things over time in different forms – Agni, Surya, Kaala or Yama, etc.

Sri Vasishtha notes that just as the Ocean is the source of the rain that results in the small rivers, and the rivers merge back into the ocean, so also is Bhagavan who is the Origin of everything, He supports everything (Bhokta), and He also ends everything (One Who consumes everything in the end – Bhokta) – utpaadayita, rakshita, bhakshita ca bhavati.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri refers to the Katha Upanishad (Mantra 2.25):
yasya brahma ca kṣatraṃ ca ubhe bhavata odanaḥ |
mṛtyuryasyopasecanaṃ ka itthā veda yatra saḥ ||
Meaning: Of whom, the Brahma and kshatra are the food, and death but the pickle to (supplement it), His whereabouts, who thus can, know?

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri notes that His protection takes the form of His blessings as He ensures successful completion of the sacrifice even when there may be inadvertent deficiencies in the performance of the Yagna:
yasya smritya ca namoktya taop yaaga kriyaadishu            |
nyunam sampurnataam yaati satyo vande tam acyutam ||

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri elaborates on this further: When offerings are made to different devatas in a sacrifice, Agni (fire) receives it first, and then passes it on to Surya, who then takes it to the respective deities. All the deities ultimately offer these to Bhagavan, Who is the ultimate receiver of all the offerings.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan gives several references to support the above interpretations:

  • Seigaip-payan unbenum yaane ennum (Thiruvai Mozhi 6.4) – I enjoy the fruits of all action;
  • ahamannam_ahamannam_ahamannam ahamannaado ‘hamannaado_’hamannaadah (Taittiriya Upanishad) – I am the food, I am the food, I am the food. I am the eater of food, I am the eater of food, I am the eater of food.

Sri Nammazhwar in his Thiruvai Mozhi Pasuram 9.6.10 says:
வாரிக் கொண்டு உன்னைவிழுங்குவன் காணிலென்று
ஆர்வற்றவென்னையொழிய என்னில்முன்னம்
பாரித்து தானென்னை முற்றப்பருகினான்
காரொக்கும் காட்கரையப்பன்கடியனே.
Meaning: I thought, “If ever I see him I will gobble him”, but before I could, he deceived me and hastily drank my all.  My dark Lord of Tirukkatkarai is smart!

The Dharma Chakram writer explains the function of Bhagavan as Bhokta in a way that applies to our day-to-day life, by giving reference from the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 13 Verse 23). Bhagavan is in all of us – as the Observer, as the Guide, as the Enjoyer, etc.
Upadrastanumanta ca bharta bhokta mahesvarah  |
Paramatmeti capy ukto dehe ‘smin purusah parah ||
Meaning: Within the body, supreme to the individual consciousness, an indwelling Observer, a sanctioner, a preserver, an enjoyer and indeed ultimate controller as well, is described as the Ultimate Consciousness.

For those who spend their time in worldly pursuits, He is just the observer. For those who observe the path of Dharma, He is the Bharta or Protector and Supporter in times of need. For those who offer to Bhagavan the worldly gains that they get, such as fame, wealth, etc. that comes to them, He is the Bhokta or the Enjoyer, i.e, He accepts these as offerings, and He bestows on them His Grace.

The more we dedicate our actions and the benefits of these actions to Him, and make Him the Bhokta, the more He reveals us true happiness, and enable us to get rid of undesirable attributes such as ahamkaram, mamakaram, etc. The significance of this Nama thus is for us to realize that we should dedicate all our actions and their effects to Bhagavan as the Bhokta, and we should enjoy Him and attain the eternal bliss.

  1.    Sukhadah – The Giver of Bliss to His Devotees

Sri Adi Sankara interprets this Nama as ‘Bhaktanam Sukham khandayati iti va Mokshalakshanam Dadaati iti Sukhadah – He gives comfort and joy to His devotees by leading them to Moksha, hence He is called Sukhadah, the comfort-provider’.

Sri Sankara gives an alternative explanation by taking this Nama as Asukhadah ‘Asukham dyati khandayati iti vaa Asukhadah – He eliminates discomfort or unhappiness from his devotees hence He is called Asukhadah, the distress-remover’.

We can also interpret this in a third way by explaining it as ‘Sukham dyati iti Sukhadah – He destroys the happiness of the evil’.

Sri Parasara Bhattar’s in his earlier interpretation of this Nama referred to Bhagavan’s Guna of bestowing bliss on those who followed Sadacara. The ‘sukha’ that is bestowed by Bhagavan includes the ordinary pleasures of life and specifically refers to the Perinbam or the Supreme Bliss of Moksha, which He alone can bestow among all the deities.

For the current instance of the Nama, Sri Bhattar continues on the earlier theme of his interpretation and describes the ascent of the Jiva to Parama-padam:
Amaanava mukhena sprishtva sa-vaasanam  samsaramutsayam, svapti sukham dadati iti Sukha-dah |
Meaning: Once the Jiva reaches the final step, Bhagavan removes the last traces of contact of the Jiva with this world along with the latent impressions, and confers the bliss of Moksha on the Jiva, and so He is called Sukha-dah. The touch by the Amaanava Purusha removes all traces of association of the Jiva with the Samsara, and thus the purified Jiva is led to the Paramatma.

Sri Bhattar gives support from the Chandogya Upanishad (5.10.2):
masebhyau saavatsara saavatsarad Adityam Adityac candRamasaa candRamaso vidyutaa tat puruno maanavau sa enaan Brahma gamayaty ena deva-yaanau panthaa iti.
Meaning: From there (through the Sun, Moon, Vidyut etc.), the Amaanava, the super-human, takes him to ParaBrahman.  This is known as the path of the Devas.

Sri Baladeva Vidya Bhushan’s interpretation is along the same lines – tato maanavena sva-paarshadena AnItaaya vidhvasta-li’nga dehaya sva- bhaktaya sva-parshada tanu labha rupam sukham dadati iti Sukha-dah.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri gives another anubhavam for the Nama: sukha- dah = sukham dyati – Bhagavan even takes away the ‘sukham’ of His devotees, namely the ordinary pleasures of life, in order to help the devotees lose their attachment to the materialistic pleasures, and instead seek the higher Bliss of attainiung Him.

Sri Vasishtha notes that sukham means ‘udakam’ or ‘water’ as specified in nighantu (1.12) – probably based on the root ‘khanu – avadharane’ meaning ‘to dig’. So he interprets the Nama as referring to Bhagavan being the Giver of water in the form of wells, rivers, ponds, etc., for the survival of all the beings.

Alternately, Sri Vasishtha interprets the term su-kha as a reference to this body – a well-dug moat, and since Bhagavan has given this body to the Jivas, He is Su-kha-dah – suvyavasthita khatam ca idam Sariram jivebhyo dadati iti Su-kha-dah. The Lord has beautifully mixed flesh and bones with fluids and made a beautiful piece of creation called the ‘body’, and so He is ‘Su-kha-dah’.

  1.     Naikajah – He who incarnates again and again

This Nama can be divided into Na+Eka+Jah.  Ekajah means one who is born once and Naikajah is the opposite, namely, One who is born again and again. On this basis, Sri Adi Sankara interprets this Nama as ‘Dharma guptaye Asakrit Jaayamaanatvaat Naikajah – He incarnates repeatedly for protecting and upholding Dharma, hence He is called Naikajah, One who is born again and again’.

In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 4 Verse 8) Bhagavan says:
Paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam                |
Dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge ||
Meaning: In order to protect the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to re-establish the principles of righteousness (Dharma), I advent myself millennium after millennium.

Some commentators have taken this Nama as ‘Naikadah’ meaning one who gives gifts to His devotees again and again.

The Nama can also be looked at as na-eka-dah.  Sri Parasara Bhattar continues his interpretation based on the reception accorded to the mukta Jiva upon reaching Sri Vaikuntham. He explains the Nama as follows: ekam dadati iti  eka-dAh; tad-viruddaah Naika-dah – Those who give only one thing are called ‘Ekadah’; unlike these, Naikadah are those who bestow many things. Sri Bhattar interprets the Nama is in terms of the reception accorded to the mukta Jiva as he ascends to Parama-padam. Bhagavan has thousands of celestials as His attendants, who are well-versed in the art of receiving the muktas, and bestow countless garlands, gifts etc., as the Jiva arrives. He quotes the Kaushitaki Upanishad (1.4) in support:
tam pa’nca-Satani apsarasah upadhaavanti Satam maala-hastaah Satam a’njana-hastaah tam Brahmala’nkaarena ala’nkurvanti||
Meaning: Five hundred Apasaras rush forth to receive the Mukta. A hundred of them have garlands in their hands, and another hundred have scented pastes etc., in their hands to decorate him. They decorate him with the adornments of the Brahman itself.

Sri Baladeva Vidya Bhushan’s interpretation is also that He is the Giver of many things – ‘na ekam vastu dadati, api tu sva-paryantani sarvaani vastuni dadati’ – He gives everything, including Himself.

Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj also gives a similar interpretation, namely, that Bhagavan’s Nama as ‘Naika-dah’ refers to His being the Bestower of all the four Purusharthas viz. Dharma, Artha, Kaama and  Moksha – ‘bhaktebhyo na ekan arthan bahun eva kaamaan catur-varga antarvartino dadati iti Naika-dah.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri refers to the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 4 Verse 7):
Yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata
Abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamy aham ||
Meaning: Whenever there is a decline of Dharma, and a predominant rise of Adharma, O’ Arjuna! At that time I incarnate Myself.

Sri Satyasandha Thirtha uses the Nama as Naikajah, but gives an entirely different interpretation – he looks at the Nama as consisting of the upasarga ‘ni’, and the word ka-ja. He interprets the word ka-ja as ‘born from water’, viz. Lotus, ‘ke jayanti iti kajani Kamalani.  He then interprets ‘ni-kaja’ as a reference to Sri MahaLakshmi, and gives the meaning to Naikajah as ‘The Lord of Sri MahaLakshmi’. Alternatively, he interprets ‘nikajam’ as a reference to the gardens or forests containing Lotuses, Tulasi flowers etc., and then gives the interpretation that Bhagavan’s Nama symbolises that He is ever present in these places – nitaram kajani yasmin tad-vanam ni-kajam, tatra bahvo nai-kaja iti – He Who is present where there are lots of Lotus flowers, Tulasi flowers etc.  He quotes:
TulasI kaananam yatra yatra padma vanaani ca |
Vasanti Vaishnava yatra tatra sannihito Harih   ||
Meaning: Hari is present in the Tulasi gardens, in the forests where there are Lotus flowers, and in places where Vaishnavas live.

Sri Raghunatha Thirtha, another Acharya of the dvaita sampradaya, uses yet another variation for the Nama and interprets this as ‘Aneka-dah’, but gives the same meaning as for Naika-dah – anekani bahuni dadati iti Aneka-daH.

  1.    Agrajah – He is the ‘First-born’

‘Agra’ means first, before or at the beginning and ‘Jah’ means one who is born. Based on this, Sri Adi Sankara interprets as ‘Agre jaayate iti Agrajah Hiranyagarbhah – He appeared before anybody else hence He is called Agrajah, the first-born’. Here he refers to Bhagavan’s appearance as the primordial golden egg called Hiranyagarbha from which all other creations happened. In support he quotes the following passage from Rigveda ‘Hiranyagarbhah Samavartata agre – Hiranyagarbha appeared prior to all others’.

Sri Bhattar uses the word ‘Agra’ in the sense of ‘in front’, and ‘Ja’ in the sense of ‘One who came forward’. He continues the interpretation of the current Nama along the lines of the Mukta Jiva’s arrival at Sri Vaikuntham.  He explains the Nama as referring to Bhagavan coming forward, or manifesting Himself, along with Sri or MahaLakshmi, to welcome the mukta Jiva on his arrival at Sri Vaikuntham.  His words are – ‘Evam praaptaanaam muktanaam agre saha sarveshvarya Sriya yatha -parya’nka vidyam Parama bhogyo jayate iti Agrajah’.

This is described in the Kaushitaki Upanishad (1.5, 1.6):
sa Agacchati amitaujasam parya’nkam” iti prabhriti |
upa Sri rupa Bramhanam tasmin Brahmaste, tamitthamvit paadenaiva agre Arohati,
tam Brahma Aha “ko’si’iti” iti prabhriti ca|
sa ya Brahmani citih ya vyashtih taam citim jaayati,
taam vyashti vyashnute iti” ityevamanta hi parya’nka vidya           |
Meaning: The Mukta comes near the dazzlingly lustrous couch. The Supreme Brahman is seated on it with Lakshmi beside Him and the celestial attendants around Him. The Mukta who has meditated on the Lord thus, now realizes Him in this manner, and climbs on the couch.  The Supreme Brahman enquires about the Mukta. After that, the Mukta acquires the knowledge that the Supreme Brahman has.  He also enjoys the Bliss of Brahman.

Sri Vasishtha refers us to the Purusha Sukta Mantra (23 and 24) –
Yo devebhya atapati  yo devanam purohitah
purvo yo devebhyo jatah  namo rucaya brahmaye ||23||
Meaning:  I salute the One who is Lord of the Devas; He is the priest of all the Devas. He is the One who emerged earlier than the Devas; He is the brilliant One!

Rucam bramham janayantah  deva agre tadabruvan
yastvaivam brahmano vidhyat  tasya deva asan vase ||24||
Meaning: When this knowledge for given to the Devas, they said thus: The One who realises Him, He will be please with them.

Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj refers Srimad Bhagavatam, which explains that Brahma was able to see Lord Sriman Narayana and His lokas prior to starting his creation, through intense tapas:
tasmai sva-lokam Bhagavan sabhajitaH sandarahayamasa param na yat-param  |
vyapeta samklesha vimoha sadhvasam sva-drishtavadbhih  abhishtutam  || ( S.B. 2.9.9)
Meaning: The Lord, very much satisfied with the penance of Lord Brahma, was pleased to manifest His personal abode, Sri Vaikuṇṭham, the Supreme planet above all others. This transcendental abode of the Lord is adored by all self-realised persons freefrom all kinds of miseries and fear of illusory existence.

Swami ChinmayAnanda explains the Nama as: ‘The One Who was First-Born’. Naturally, everything came from Him alone. That from which everything comes, in which everything exists, and into which everything finally merges, is Agra-jah.

  1.     Anirvinnah – He Who is devoid of despondency or anxiety

The term ‘Nirvinna’ means ‘despondency, despair or depression’ and so Anirvinnah refers to someone who does not have any concerns, anxieties or worries. Based on this, Sri Adi Sankara interprets this Nama as ‘Avaapta sarva kaamatvaat Apraapti hetu abhaavaat Nirvedah asya naasti iti Anirvinnah – He has got everything He could wish for and there is nothing that He cannot obtain, so He has no cause for any depression or anxiety. Hence He is called Anivinnah, the carefree one’.

Sri Parasara Bhattar gives the interpretation that Bhagavan ‘ceases to be concerned – because he is relieved’, and so He is Anirvinnah – devoid of concern. Sri Bhattar explains that Bhagavan is at last relieved that His devotee – the Mukta, has arrived safely at Sri Vaikuntham, and has been united with Him. Until the Jiva, an object of compassion for Bhagavan, reaches Him, He is concerned about the Jiva and whether the Jiva will get rid of the Karmas and move towards Him. As the Jiva becomes a Mukta – a released soul, Bhagavan is pleased. 

Sri Bhattar gives the example of Lord Rama feeling pleased upon fulfilling His promise when Vibhishana was crowned as the King of Lanka.
एष मे परमः कामो यदिमं रावणानुजम् || ६-११२-१०
लङ्कायां सौम्य पश्येयमभिषिक्तं विभीषणम् |
Meaning: Rama said to Lakshmana “O gentle one! This is my paramount desire that I should see this Vibhishana, the brother of Ravana being consecrated for throne in Lanka.

Sri Vasishtha and Sri Radhakrishna Shastri both note that Nirvinnah meaning frustration, despondency, etc., are characteristics of those who keep changing constantly, or for those who can’t get enough of what they want, or not satisfied with what they get. All of these happen because of the effects of Purva-janma Karma. None of these is an issue for Bhagavan – He has no birth and no karma, He is never changing, He has everything He wants, and can get anything He wants at His will. So He is beyond being dissatisfied, frustrated etc., He is full of Bliss, Brahmananda svarupan. Bhagavan’s creations are changing constantly, and are suffering from their karmas, and so they undergo Nirvinna, but He Himself is beyond all these, and so He is Anirvinnah.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha gives two root words for deriving the Nama: vid-sattaayaam – to happen, to be; and vid – vicaarane – to discuss, to consider. ‘Anirvinnah’ refers to ‘One Who does not have any concerns’. Sri Vasishtha gives the interpretation – nirvedam kshobham klesham Alasyam va na praapnoti sa Anirvinno Vishnuh – He Who does not become despondent, indifferent, depressed, lazy, etc., is Anirvinnah; or, yo na kadaacidapi nir-vedam = khinnataam (viraktataam) praapnoti sa Anirvinnah – He Who does not get inflicted by depression, despair, frustration etc., on any account is Anirvinnah.

Sri V.V.Ramanujan refers to Sri Thirumazhisai Azhwar’s Pasuram (Naanmugan Thiruvandadi 23):
வித்து மிடல்வேண்டுங் கொல்லோ, விடையடர்த்த
பத்தி யுழவன் பழம்புனத்து, – மொய்த்தெழுந்த
கார்மேக மன்ன கருமால் திருமேனி,
நீர்வானம் காட்டும் நிகழ்ந்து.
Meaning: The Lord who killed seven bulls is a Bhakti-cultivator; need we sow seeds afresh in a repeatedly cultivated soil? The crop grows tall, seeking the rain-cloud whose hue resembles the Lord Himself.

Thirumazhisai Azhwar refers to Bhagavan as the cultivator of Bhakti as Bhagavan tries to inculcate Bhakti even in those who have gone away from Him, without giving up, even as a farmer keeps cultivating his land no matter whether he get results out of the first  effort or not.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan comments that in the very first Pasuram of Thiruvai Mozhi, Sri NammAzhwar says:
உயர்வற வுயர்நலம் முடையவன் யவனவன்
மயர்வற மதிநலம் அருளினன் யவனவன்
அயர்வறும் அமரர்கள் அதிபதி யவனவன்
துயரறு சுடரடி தொழுதெழென் மனனே.
Meaning: Arise, O heart, worship the feet of the one, who is higher than the highest good, who is the Lord of the ever-wakeful celestials, who dispels all doubt and grants pure knowledge.

Swami ChinmayAnanda refers us to the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 3 Verse 22):
na me parthasti kartavyam trisu lokesu kincana
nanavaptam avaptavyam varta eva ca karmani  ||
Meaning: O’ Arjuna, there is nothing prescribed for Me in all the three worlds which ought to be done, nor is there anything not acquired that ought to be acquired. Yet I go on working.

Sri Ananta Krishna Shastri gives another view – Bhagavan never gets tired of fulfilling the desires of His devotees, and so also He is Anirvinnah – One Who does not get exhausted, negligent, lazy, etc., in fulfilling His devotees’ desires.

The same explanation is given by Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj – na nirvindati kadapi svajana  kaaman Apramapara purtishu iti  Anirvinnah.

  1.    Sadaamarshi – He is ever patient

Sat stands for good people and Aamarshee means one who forgives. Based on this, Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Satah Sadhoon Aabhimukhyena Mrishyate Kshamate iti Sadaamarshi – He forgives any transgressions that is committed inadvertently by good people, hence He is called Sadaamarshi’.

Sri Parasara Bhattar continues his description of the arrival of the mukta Jiva in Sri Vaikuntham. He explains the Nama in terms of Bhagavan’s trait of helping the mukta Jiva in performing kainkaryam to Him once he is in Sri Vaikuntham. Bhagavan patiently accepts, with pleasure, all kainkaryam offered to Him by the mukta.  The Lord accepts with a pleasant disposition whatever kainkaryam the mukta wishes to perform to out of his intense love and bhakti to the Lord, even if it is not a kainkaryam that He needs.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan refers us to Sri NammAzhwar’s Thiruvai Mozhi Pasuram (10.8.10):
உற்றே னுகந்து பணிசெய் துனபாதம்
பெற்றேன் ஈதேயின் னம்வேண் டுவதெந்தாய்
கற்றார் மறைவாணர் கள்வாழ் திருப்பேராற்கு
அற்றார் அடியார் தமக்கல்லல் நில்லாவே
Meaning: My Lord I have rendered joyful service and attained your Lotus feet.  This is all I ask for.  No more shall miseries besiege the devotees of the Lord in Tirupper where many Vedic scholars live.

Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj echoes the same thoughts as that of Sri Sankara – satah Sadhun Asamantaat masrshitum Seelam yasya iti Sadaamarshi – He forgives any transgressions that is committed inadvertently by good people, hence He is called Sadaamarshi’.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri refers us to Srimad Ramayana in support:
कथंचिदुपकारेण कृतेनै केन तुष्यति |
न स्मरत्यपकाराणां शतमप्यात्मवत्तया || २-१-११
Meaning: That Rama, because of his good bent of mind, feels glad even by whatever way a good thing is done to him. He does not remember any number of bad things done to him.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha gives support from the Rig Veda, illustrating the extreme patience of Bhagavan: naakshas-tapyate bhuri bharah (Rg. 1.164.13) – The axle of the wheel that supports all the living creatures never becomes over-heated, and is never broken.

Sri Satya Sandha Thirtha derives the exact opposite meaning for the term SadaAmarshi, based on dividing the Nama as ‘Sada + Amarshah’ (instead of Sada + marshah) – Sada Amarshah kopo daityeshu asya asti iti SadaAmarshi – He Who is extremely impatient with the evil people, the demons.

Short stories on Bhagavan’s Karunya Bhaavam (Compassion)

Bhagavan’s Karunya Bhaava is brought out in this Shloka in Srimad Ramayana:
Katha’ncit upakaarena kritena ekena tushyati
Na smaratyapakaranam Satam apyAtma vattaya ||2.1.11||
Meaning: He is glad even if one good act is performed in His service, even if it is done inadvertently.  He forgives hundreds of transgressions done to Him and ignores them.

Short Story 1

Even though this person lived close to the Parthasarathy temple in Triplicane, Chennai, he never went into the temple.  Soon his son got married and had a baby. On the first birthday of this child, he invited the parents of his daughter-in-law. The girl’s parents were very religious and when they visited they brought plenty of gifts for the child and the family for the ‘Ayush homam’ (First birthday event). 

The girl’s father asked this man to take him to the Parthasarathy Temple. He was not very interested in doing that, but, he went with him as a gesture of courtesy to the guest. Even though he visited without any desire or intent, Bhagavan took note of it – ‘Katha’ncit upakaarena kritena ekena tushyati’.

Short Story 2

There was another lazy Brahmin who used to take bath only at 11 o’clock every day. He will go to the riverside and wash his garment and then take a bath. He will come out of the bank and wring out his garments to drain the water. He does not do any of the Nitya karmas (Sandhya or madhyahnikam -noon Sandhya]. 

After his death, Perumal asked His Dhutas to give him His Vishnu Loka. When they said that he had not done anything, He said, “Yes, he has done”.

What did he do? Asked the Dhutas. Bhagavan said, as he came out of the bank and wrung out his garments, there was a Thulasi plant that got water from his dhoti and kept growing. Even though his intent was not to water the Thulasi plant, Bhagavan took his act of wringing water out of his garment and treated it as a good act. He felt satisfied that the man had offered water to the Thulasi plant – Katha’ncit upakarena kritena ekena tushyati.

Short Story 3

Once during the festival season, Perumal went to the river bank for theertha vari (sacred water rite). On the river bank was a fisherman busy fishing.  When he was asked to leave to give way for Perumal’s ritual, he refused to leave saying that there are a lot of fish coming there to take the bait and he would be fishing only at that spot. The Theertha vari was over.

That fisherman got old and died. Vishnu Dhutas came to get him. Again the question arose – this person was causing disturbance during the Theertha vari but why was he getting Vishnu loka?

Just at the moment the fisherman dived into the water to catch the fish to hold on to its tail, the Bhattar (high priest), at that very moment, dipped Perumal into the water. Perumal took note of all those who took bath when He was doing avabhrita snaanam [done at the end of Yagna]. He made a note that this fisherman also was one of them – katha’ncit upakarena kritena ekena tushyati. Even if a person commits a good act without intent, He considers it as an act done with great desire. 

Short Story 4

A person’s daughter’s wedding was fixed. So, he went to buy silk sarees and other things to Kanchipuram. He bought the saris and went back home. PerumAL ordered that he should be credited with having come to Kanchipuram Garuda Sevai as he was buying silk saris in the store, when Perumal was being taken around the streets where the shops were. Even though this person folded his hands in respect of Perumal only from the store and went home after finishing his purchases, the Lord noted that he came for Garuda Sevai and blessed him – katha’ncit upakarena kritena ekena tushyati.

Short Story 5

There was a person who had a habit of drinking coffee early in the morning as the sun rose. As the milk was not available in time, he bought a cow. The cow provided him with milk on time but one day, he did not get his coffee on time. When he asked for the reasons he found that the cow had not been milked. He went to milk the cow but it broke loose from the stump and started running. He kept chasing the fleeing cow and he finally gave up.  He was angry and gave up on the cow.

Upon his death, the Vishnu Dhutas came to get him. Why? When he was chasing and running behind the cow going around the temple, Perumal took it as this person circum-ambulating His temple. This person had done a mile of running around the temple at that time – katha’ncit upakarena kritena ekena tushyati.

The Story of Ajamilan in Srimad Bhagavatam also reinforces Bhagavan’s Karunya Bhaavam.  Bhagavan considers any act done by a person to have been committed for Him, even though the person did not do it for that purpose. He looks for some act that the person does and thinks of it as having been done for Him.

  1.    Loka-Adhishthaanam – He bears and sustains all the Worlds

The word ‘Loka’ means the World and ‘Adhishthaanam’ means ‘to support or to bear’. Based on this, Sri Adi Sankara interprets this Nama as ‘Tam Anaadhaaram Aadhaaram Adhishthaaya Trayo Lokaah Tishthanti iti Loka-Adhishthaanam Bramha – All the three Worlds stand stable using Him as their support though He Himself has no external support, hence He is called Loka-Adhishthaanam, the supporter of all the Worlds’.

Sri Parasara Bhattar specifically refers to Bhagavan being the Support of the World that the Mukta Jiva enjoys, namely the world of Bhagavan’s Nitya Vibhuti (Param-Padam).

Sri Baladeva Vidya Bhushan echoes similar thoughts – Lokaanaam svaantikam Agataanaam svajanaanaam nityam Ashrayatvaat Loka-Adhishthaanam – He is the final resting place and Abode for those who have reached the end of their journey and reached Him.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan refers to Sri NammAzhwar’s Thiruvai Mozhi Pasuram (3.9.9):
வாய்கொண்டு மானிடம் பாடவந்தகவி யேனல்லேன்,
ஆய்கொண்ட சீர்வள்ளல் ஆழிப்பிரானெனக் கேயுளன்,
சாய்கொண்ட இம்மையும் சாதித்து வானவர் நாட்டையும்,
நீகண்டு கொள் என்று வீடும் தரும்நின்று நின்றே.
Meaning: I was not born to sing in praise of mortal men.  The gracious Discus wielding Lord of great virtues is the one who is deserving to be extolled.  He provides me for my life here and hereafter, and even takes me to Vaikuntham, and tells us: “This is your house. Take it”.  

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha gives several supports from the Shruti:

  • तस्य नाक्षस्तप्यते भूरिभारः सनादेव न शीर्यते सनाभिः || Rig 1.164.13 – The axle of the wheel that supports all the living creatures never becomes over-heated, and is never broken.
  • रचो अक्षरे परमे वयोमन यस्मिन देवा अधि विश्वे निषेदुः |Rig 1.164.39 – Of what use is the ved, for he whom is not becoming established in the Absolute? What will be the value of this great knowledge other than mere words? It says, become established in atman, the avyayam (undecaying), the even-ness to reap the full value of the knowledge.
  • tasmin idam sam ca vicaiti sarvam sa otah protashca vibhuh prajaasu – Yajur Veda 32.8 – That Being, hidden in mystery, in whom all find single home; in That all this unites; from That all issues forth; He is omnipresent, is present in all created things.

Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj refers to Rig Veda 10.82.6:
अजस्य नाभावध्येकमर्पितंयस्मिन विश्वानि भुवनानि तस्थुः || Rig 10.82.6 – It rested set upon the Unborn’s navel, that One wherein abide all things existing.

Sri Radhakrishna Shastri explains that He is the Support for the world and gives examples of Lord’s Kurma and Varaha incarnations, and His bearing the earth in His form as Adi Sesha. 

  1.    Adbhutah – He is wonderful

Sri Adi Sankara gives the interpretation for this Nama as ‘Svarupa Shakti Vyaapaara Kaaryaih Adbhutatvaat  vaa Adbhutah – His image, His power and His deeds are awesome, hence He is called Adbhutah, a wonderful person’. Bhagavan is wonderful and each and every aspect of Bhagavan is wonderful, thus giving Him the name Adbhutah, the Wonder.

Sri Sankara quotes the following Mantra from the Katha Upanishad (1.2.7) which says:
Shravanayaapi Bahubhir yo na labhyah Shrunvantopi bahavo yam na vidyuh;
Aashcharyo vaktaa Kushalo asya labdhaa Aashcharyo Jnaataa Kushalaanushishtah ||
Meaning: The Supreme Self is such that He is not gained by many for the mere hearing, and not known by many even while contemplating. Rare is an expounder of Him, and rare is an able attainer, and rare is he who knows Him under the instruction of an adept teacher’. Such is the amazing nature of Bhagavan.

Sri Sankara also quotes the following Shloka from the Bhagavad Gita (2.29) which says:
Ashcharya-vat pasyati kascid enam ashcharya-vad vadati tathaiva canyah |
Ashcharya-vac cainam anyah srnoti srutvapy enam veda na caiva kascit ||
Meaning: Some look on the soul as amazing, some describe him as amazing, and some hear of him as amazing, while others, even after hearing about him, cannot understand him at all.

Sri Parasara Bhattar interprets the Nama in terms of Him being ‘Insatiable’ – He is always delightful to enjoy, no matter how much we have enjoyed Him. He is always a source of wonder, as if unseen before – sarvada sarvaih sarvatha anubhave’pi apurvavat ati-vismayaniyah.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha derives the Nama using the root ‘bhu’ meaning ‘to be’, and ‘ad’ to mean ‘occasionally’ or ‘sudden’. The term ‘adbhuta’ also means ‘Ashcharya’ – wonderful.

Sri Baladeva Vidya Bhushan captures the spirit of the interpretation through the following words – ‘Vicitraih pratikshanam nItanaih guna rupa caritaih taih tesham vismaya karanaat Adbhutah’ – He makes His devotees, the muktas enjoy Him every second in great wonder and amazement, by expressing His Guna, rupa, etc. through numerous acts that give pleasure to them.

Sri V.V. Ramanujan gives reference from Sri Thirumangai Azhwar’s Periya Thirumozhi Pasuram (8.1.9 and 10.10.9):

  • pandu ivaraik kandu arivadu evvuril yaam – Where have I seen Him before? Wonders the mind.
  • innaar endru ariyen; anne! Azhiyodum pon Ar Sangam udaiya adigalai innar endru ariyen – My mother! I am unable to identify Him Who has the divine chakra in His hand, and also the golden hued bow called Sarngam. I just can’t define

He also refers to Sri NammAzhwar’s Thiruvai Mozhi (8.6.10):
அற்புதன் நாரா யணனரி வாமனன்,
நிற்பது மேவி யிருப்பதென் னெஞ்சகம்,
நற்புகழ் வேதியர் நான்மறை நின்றதிர்,
கற்பகச் சோலைத் திருக்கடித் தானமே.
Meaning: The wonder-Lord Narayana-Hari, who indulges in playful acts, resides as Vamana in my heart.  The sound of Vedic chants reverberates through the groves of Kalpa trees in Tirukkadittanam.

Swami ChinmayAnanda summarises the message as: ‘He, and the teacher who teaches of Him, and even the student who grasps Him are all wonders’.

Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha gives the meaning: ad = kadAcit bhavati iti Adbhutam – He Who appears occasionally is Adbhutam – sannapi a-bhutam iva iti arthah – Being present, He is not present at the same time. While Bhagavan exists amongst us all the while, we are oblivious to this fact, and more or less live in a state where He does not exist for us. This is signified by the Nama ‘Adbhutah’.

Sri RaghunAtha Thrtha explains the Nama as ‘Adyam bhogyam annadikam bhavati asmat iti Adbhutam’ – He, because of whom grains and food exist for sustaining life, is Adbhutah”.

In Summary
Ananta-Hutabhuk-Bhokta Sukhado Naikado Agrajah |
Anirvinnah Sadaamarshi Loka-Adhishthaanam Adbhutah ||95||

He is Limitless, Omnipresent and Sustainer of all Worlds and hence He is called Ananta Hutuabhuk Bhokta. He gives comfort and joy to His devotees by leading them to Moksha, hence He is called Sukhadah, the comfort-provider’. He takes many incarnations to protect the pious and re-establish Dharma, hence He is Naikadah. He is First born and the Hiranyagarbha, so He is Agrajah.

He has got everything He could wish for and there is nothing that He cannot obtain, so He has no cause for any depression or anxiety. Hence He is called Anivinnah, the carefree one. He forgives any transgressions that is committed inadvertently by good people, so He is Sadaamarshi. All the three Worlds stand stable using Him as their support though He Himself has no external support, hence He is called Loka-Adhishthaanam, the support for all the Worlds.  All His acts and creations are wonderful and hence He is Adbhutah.



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



  1. Recently I was meeting someone and the mention of Garuda Puranam in the morning put them off. I am rather surprised at this behaviour. It is here Sir Maya Vishnu explains the whole of life and I wonder what make one behave in that way? and that too a Brahmin?

    • Sorry for the delayed response to your query. It is called Garuda Purana because it is in the form of a dialogue between Garuda and Lord Vishnu. Later, Garuda recited the same to Sage Kashyapa and it contains about 19000 slokas and is classified as Saattvika Purana. Garuda Puranam for a large part consists of diverse topics covering cosmology, mythology, ethics, good versus evil, Hindu philosophies, Yoga, Karma and rebirth, ancestral rites, astronomy, etc. These are divided into two parts, a Purva Kanda (early section) and an Uttara Kanda (later section).

      The Uttara Khanda (represents only 10% of the Purana) is more often known as Pretakhanda or Pretakalpa and deals with life after death and funeral rites. It also lists different forms of punishments for different kinds of sins which scares the hell out of the readers. Hence, some people tend to regard as inauspicious.

      Hope this clarifies. Hari Om!

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