In this part we will explore the meaning of the 99th Shloka of Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam.
Uttaarano Dushkritiha Punyo DuSvapnaNaashanah |
Veerahaa Rakshanah Santo Jivanah Paryavasthitah ||99||
He enables people to cross over the Samsara Sagara, the suffering of this worldly life. He destroys the Sins arising out of evil acts and creates auspicious effects for those who worship Him. He eliminates the bad dreams of those who meditate on Him and destroys the multiple and aimless paths of people by granting them liberation. He protects all the three worlds and manifests Himself in the form of ‘righteous’ for the sake of increasing knowledge and humility. He is the life giver and pervades everything in this Universe.
The above Shloka has the following Namas:
Now let’s examine the meaning of the above Namas in detail:
923. Uttaaranah – He Who lifts up
The word ‘ut’ is a prefix to denote ‘intensity’ and ‘taarana’ is derived from the root ‘tr – plavana santaranayoh’ meaning ‘to enable someone to cross over or swim’. Based on this, Sri Adi Sankara interprets this Nama as ‘Samsaara saagaraat Uttaarayati iti Uttaaranaah – He enables people to cross over the Samsara Sagara or the suffering of the worldly life, hence He is called Uttaaranah, One Who enables His devotees to cross over this Samsara Sagara.
Sri Parasara Bhattar continues with his interpretation in the context of Gajendra Moksham and explains that the Nama refers to Bhagavan lifting both the elephant and the crocodile from the pond – tau sarasah uttaaritavaan. Sri Bhattar uses the word ‘tau’ to emphasise that He lifted both from the pond. Bhagavan protected both the elephant and the crocodile, thereby relieving the crocodile also of its curse and thus liberated it.
Sri Baladeva Vidya Bhushan gives the same interpretation also – sarovaraat Gajendram uttaarayamasa iti Uttaaranah. Most other interpreters explain the Nama as a reference to Bhagavan lifting the devotees from the Samsara Saagara (Life).
Swami ChinmayAnanda explains the Nama to mean ‘One Who lifts us out of the Ocean’. By identifying through our body-mind-intellect with the changing whirls of matter around us, we assume the changes which provide us the horrible sorrow of mortal finitude. We can lift ourselves from the giddy changes in these whirls of finite matter, by fixing our thoughts upon Him, the one Consciousness that illumines all changes in all living creatures. With constant meditation on Him, we get uplifted into a state of Immortality – changeless, blissful, and supremely satisfying. Hence Sri Narayana is called ‘the Uplifter or the Saviour’.
Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha explains the Nama as: bhavartisantaptaanaam bhavac- charana Agatanaam uttitiIrshunaam Uttaarano naaviko naaveva ityarthah – He Who, like a person rowing a boat to help cross a river, helps the Samsari who is tortured by the heat of Samsara. Bhagavan helps those who surrender unto Him in crossing over the ocean of Samsara.
Sri Satya Sandha Thirtha explains the Nama in terms of the pranava mantra that lifts up the spirits of the Sanyasins etc. – utkrishtah taarah pranavo yesham ta uttaarh sannyasinaH tesham nah sukham yasmat sa Uttaaranah.
- Dushkriti-ha – He Who slays the evil-doers
Sri Adi Sankara offers two different interpretations for this Nama. The first one is ‘Dushkriteeh Paapasamjnitaa Hanti iti Dushkritiha – He destroys the Sins arising out of evil acts, hence He is called Dushkritiha – the Destroyer of Sins’.
The other interpretation is ‘Ye Paapakarinah Taan Hanti iti va Dushkritiha – He destroyers those who perform sinful acts, hence He is called Dushkritiha, the Destroyer of evil doers’.
Sri Parasara Bhattar explains the Nama in terms of Bhagavan killing the crocodile that seized the leg of the devotee Gajendra who was involved in Bhagavad kainkaryam, and threatened his life. Sri Bhattar continues with this explanation and gives reference from the Vishnu Dharma (69) – sthalastham daarayaamasa graaham cakrena Madhavah – Madhava slew the crocodile with His discus.
In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 4 Verse 8), Bhagavan assures that:
Paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam |
Dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge ||
Meaning: For the protection of the righteous, and to annihilate the evil, as well as to reestablish Dharma, I advent Myself Millennium after Millennium.
Sri Baladeva Vidya Bhushan also interprets the Nama in the context of Gejendra Moksham – ‘dushkritim graaham hatavaan iti Dushkriti-ha – He Who destroyed the crocodile that committed a sin towards a devotee.
Sri V.V. Ramanujan gives references from Divya Prabandham where this Guna of Bhagavan is extolled:
- Polla arakkanaik killik kalaindaanai (Sri Andal in Thiruppavai Pasuram 11) – He Who got rid of the ferocious demon as if like plucking a weed off the ground;
- Vezham muvaamai nalgi mudalai tunittaanai (Sri Thirumangai Azhwar’s Periya Thirumozhi 6.8.3) – Bhagavan came on Garuda (who is the incarnation of the Vedas), and destroyed the crocodile and removed the pain and suffering of Gajendra.
We see this act of Bhagavan annihilating the evil forces in all His incarnations. Lord Ranganatha also displayed His anger when the priest committed apacaram against Sri Thiiruppaan Azhwar.
Sri Radhakrishna Shastri reminds us that it is not only Bhagavan who redeems us from our sins, even chanting His Nama is just as effective. While coming to the aid of Draupadi, Lord Krishna assured Rukmini that even before He could go and help Draupadi, His Nama had already protected her when she cried out for Him in distress. Bhagavan also reforms those who are inadvertent sinners. He destroys the sins of those who surrender unto Him.
This is what Sri Thirumangai Azhwar means when he declares ‘nalam tarum Sollai naan kandu konden Narayana ennum Namam – I have learnt the Narayana Nama that bestows goodness’.
We have also heard ‘Ram se Bada Ram ka Naam’ meaning Lord Rama’s Nama is even greater than Him. This is manifested in Ramayana when the Vanaras wrote the name of Lord Rama on the stones, and the stones started floating on the Sea making a bridge (Setu) to Lanka.
Swami ChimayAnanda interprets this Nama as when bad actions (Dush-kritis) are undertaken by anyone, prompted by sensuous desires, they leave impressions (Vasanas), and these always have a propensity to make them repeat them. When one turns the mind towards Lord Narayana, the Self is emptied of these existing Vasanas, and so the Lord is indicated as the ‘Destroyer of the Sins’.
Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj explains the Nama as – Dushkritih hanti prapannanam iti Dushkriti-ha – One Who destroys the sin of the prapannas, those who have sought refuge in Him.
- Punyah – The Purifier
Sri Adi Sankara offers two interpretations, the first of which is ‘Smaranaadi Kurvataam Sarveshaam Punyam Karoti iti Punyah – He creates auspicious effects for those who worship Him by techniques such as meditation, prayer, recitation of Namas etc. and hence He is called Punyah, the bestower of auspicious results’.
The second interpretation is ‘Sarveshaam Shruti Smriti Lakshanayaa vaachaa Punyam Aachaashta iti va Punyah – Through the medium of Vedas and other scriptures, He gives the ways and means of earning punya and explains the importance of doing auspicious deeds, hence He is called Punyah, the one who spreads the message of Punya’.
Sri Parasara Bhattar explains this Nama in the context of Gajendra Moksham. He explains that those who hear the story of Gajendra Moksham become Pure and their sins are relieved, as He rid the sins of Gajendra and the Crocodile.
There are two derivations of the word ‘Punyah’ – first, the root ‘Pu – pavane’ meaning ‘to purify’, and the second as ‘Pun – Subha karmani’ meaning ‘to be pious’. Sri Parasara Bhattar gives the definition – Punaati iti Punyah – He who purifies is Punyah, which is derived from the root Pu – pavane. Sri Bhattar points out that Bhagavan has this Nama because He purifies even the worst of the sinners and makes them fit for extolling Him.
In the Shloka ‘Maanasam Vaachikam Paapam Karmanaa Samupaarjitam Shree Rama Smaranenaiva vyopahati na samshayah’, it says that any sin committed in mind, in speech or in action gets eradicated just by remembering the Rama Nama. This is beyond doubt’.
Sri V.V. Ramanujan observes that the Nama ‘Punyam’ is a favourite of the Azhwars. Among the references he gives are from Sri Thirumazhisai Azhwar’s – ‘Anantan mel kidanda em Punniya!” (Tiruccanda viruttam 45), and from Sri Thirumangai Azhwar’s – ‘un adiyen manam pugunda ap pulava! Punniyane!’ (Periya Thirumozhi 3.5.7).
The Dharma Chakram writer explains that just as the thoughts of indriya-sukham are thoughts that are not conducive to His realisation, the thoughts about Him produce the purity that leads to His realisation.
Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha says ‘pavata iti, puyate va anena iti Punyah – pavitrah papanaviddhah Subho va – He who purifies, or One by whom things are purified is Punyah; or, One who is pure, devoid of any sin, auspicious, etc. He gives the example of Bhagavan in the form of the Sun purifying all objects in the Universe, in addition to being pure Himself.
Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj gives the derivation as ‘punati Subham karma Acarati iti Punyah – One Who observes pious activities is Punyah. Punyah means ‘One who is excellent in observing the pious activities’, and not just in the sense of being good. Bhagavan sets the example to His devotees on performing pious acts by performing them Himself.
The Story of Kubera’s Sons
Nalakubera and Manigriva, were the sons of Lord Kubera, the God of Wealth. Once the two brothers were having fun on the banks of the river Mandakini Ganges. They were very intoxicated and enamoured in the company of women. Just then, Sage Narada was passing by and the women scampered to cover themselves at the sight of the venerable Sage. However, Nalakubera and Manigriva were so intoxicated that they could not appreciate the presence of the great Sage and therefore remained oblivious to his presence and failed to pay their respects to the great Sage.
On seeing them so degraded by intoxication, Sage Narada, desiring their welfare, decided to reform them and exhibited his mercy upon them by cursing them. Sage Narada cursed them thus: ‘You shall remain as two trees in Gokula forever’. Hearing this, the wives of Nalakubera and Manigreeva fell at the Sage’s feet and asked him to forgive their husbands. Sage Narada relented and said, ‘A curse once given cannot be retracted. It can only be modified or lessened. Your husbands will be released by Lord Vishnu himself when he incarnates as Krishna’.
Sage Narada therefore contemplated that they should remain for one hundred years, in the time of the Devas, in the form of trees, and after that they would be fortunate enough to see the Supreme Lord, face to face, by His causeless mercy. And thus they would become great devotees of the Lord and be liberated. After this, the great Sage Narada returned to his abode and the two Devas turned into trees, known as the twin Arjuna trees.
Krishna was tied to a mortar by Ma Yashodha as a punishment for his pranks. The child Krishna was dragging the wooden-mortar to which he had been tied and as he passed between the two Arjuna trees, the mortar stuck in between the two trees.
With a mighty heave, the little Krishna pulled it forward; the force of the pull uprooted the trees and they crashed to the ground. Immediately, two purified heavenly beings in resplendent clothes appeared from the trees and paid their respects to Lord Krishna. Thus, the Kubera’s sons were released from Sage Narada’s curse.
Nalakubera and Manigriva immediately offered their prayers to the child Krishna, the master of Gokula. The Lord, bound to the wooden grinding mortar by the ropes of Yashoda, began to smile and said, ‘It was already known to Me that My great devotee-Sage Narada had shown his causeless mercy by saving you from the abominable condition of pride due to possession of extraordinary beauty and opulence in the family. He has saved you from gliding down into the lowest condition of hellish life.
You are very fortunate because you had the great opportunity to see him. If someone is able to see a great saintly person like Sage Narada, who is always serene and merciful to everyone, then immediately that conditioned soul becomes liberated. This is exactly like being situated in the full light of the Sun: there cannot be any visionary impediment.
Therefore, O Nalakubera and Manigriva, your lives have now become successful because you have developed ecstatic love for Me. This is your last birth within this material existence. Now you can go back to your heavenly abode, and by remaining in the attitude of devotional service, you will be liberated in this very life.
After this, they circumambulated the Lord many times and bowed down before Him again and again, and they left. As the Lord remained bound up with ropes to the grinding mortar, Nanda Maharaj and others rushed to the site hearing the loud crash of the trees. Nanda Maharaja untied the knots to free his child and picked him up with great relief and affection. He was relieved and glad that the falling trees had not hurt his baby.
Jai Shri Krishna!
- Dus-Svapna-Naashanah – The Remover of evil dreams
The word ‘Duh’ stands for bad and ‘Svapna’ means dream. Naashanah is one who destroys or forestalls. Based on this, Sri Adi Sankara interprets this Nama as ‘Bhaavinah Anarthasya Soochakaan Dussvapnaan Naashayati Dhyaatah Stutah Keertitah Poojitash cheti Dus-Svapna-Naashanah – He destroys the bad dreams of those who meditate on Him, who praise Him, who recite His prayers and who worship Him, hence He is called Dus-Svapna-Naashanah’. Bad dreams are generally harbingers of bad things to happen and by eliminating such nightmares Bhagavan eliminates the possibility of bad things happening to His devotees. Samsara or the worldly life itself is a bad dream and Bhagavan liberates those from this Samsara who surrender unto Him.
Sri Parasara Bhattar continues with his interpretation in the context of Gajendra Moksham. He explains that those who hear the story of Gajendra Moksham will be relieved of inauspicious dreams. Sri Bhattar has given support from the phala Shruti of the Gajendra Moksham as described in Vishnu Dharma:
ye mam tvam ca sarashcaiva graahasya ca vimoskanam |
ye smarishyanti manujaah prayataah sthirabuddhayah |
dus-svapno nashyate tesham su-svapnashca bhavishyati ||
Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj quotes support from Srimad Bhagavatam (8.4.14), where it says that meditating on Lord Krishna and Gajendra Moksham will relieve the devotees from the affliction of bad dreams:
Etan Maharaja taverito maya Krishnanubhavo Gajaraja Mokshanam |
Svargyam yashasyam kali kalmashapaham Dus-Svapna Naashanam kuru varya Shrunivataam ||
Meaning: Suka Maharishi says O’ Parikshit Maharajan! I have narrated to you this great mahima of Lord Krishna that is called the Gajendra Moksham, the hearing of which destroys all sins accrued in this Kali Yuga, bad dreams will be eliminated, and one can attain higher Lokas and achieve fame.
Sri Radhakrishna Shastri comments that since Bhagavan ensures that His devotees are not exposed to dangers, they do not get bad dreams. He further comments that by cultivating the habit of constant meditation of Bhagavan’s Nama, one can eliminate any potential occurrence of bad dreams.
Swami ChimayAnanda interprets that the worst dream is that of being re-born. He notes that when one is ever centered in Narayana-smarana, then his subconscious mind is not loaded with half-digested thoughts and unexpressed intentions, repressed desires and suppressed motives, immoral passions and covetous inclinations, and he has no fearful dreams in his sleep. Over time he enters Narayana-consciousness, where there is no room for bad dreams.
Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha gives references to Vedic passages where prayer is made for the removal of bad dreams:
- jaagrad dush-svapnyam svane dush-svapnyam | (Atharva. 16.6.9)
- punarehi vrishaakape suvita kalpayavahai |
ya esha svapnanamshano’stameshi patha punar-vishvasmad-indra uttarah || (Rig. 10.86.21)
- Veerahaa – He Who cuts the bonds of Samsara
The word ‘Vee’ stands for ‘different’, ‘Ra’ for paths and ‘Haa’ for destroyer. On this basis, Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Vividhaah Samsaarinam Gatih Muktipradaanena Hanti iti Veerahaa – He destroys the multiple or varied and aimless paths of people by granting them liberation and hence He is called Veerahaa, the destroyer of varied paths’.
Sri Sankara explains that Bhagavan shows the right path to the Samsaaris and gives them salvation, by guiding them away from following the wrong paths.
Sri Bhattar further explains that ‘One Who removed the strong bonds with Yama for Gajendra’ – Mokshayaamaasa nagendram paashebhyah Saranaagatam (Vishnu Dharma 69). The Nirukti author summarises as ‘Veeram tad-baadhakam mrityum hatavaan Veera-haa matah’.
Sri NammAzhwar describes some of these instances in his Thiruvai Mozhi Pasuram (5.3.8):
பேய்முலை யுண்டு சகடம் பாய்ந்து மருதிடைப்
போய்முதல் சாய்த்து, புள்வாய் பிளந்து களிறட்ட,
தூமுறு வல்தொண்டை, வாய்ப்பிரானையெந் நாள்கொலோ,
யாமுறு கின்றது தோழீ! அன்னையர் நாணவே?
Meaning: He killed Putana by sucking the Milk of her, smote cart, tore the twin marudu trees, ripped the beak of Bakasuran bird, and killed the rutted elephant. He killed them all and then just smiled with His bright pearly teeth showing through the red coral lips in a mild artistic smile that is characteristic of Him whenever He achieves a feat.
Sri Thirumangai Azhwar refers to Him as ‘the Veera beyond all Veeras’ – vem tiraal Veeraril Veerar oppaar (Peria Thirumozhi – 2.8.2).
Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha elaborates that it where Vishnu is there is victory and Victory is present where Dharma is present. A person who has strength, but engages in evil acts or tortures the innocent is called an ‘aparadhi’ or one who has committed an aparadham. Bhagavan destroys these people and eliminates them leaving no trace. Sri Vasishta gives the derivation – viruddha gatin hanti iti Veera-ha. Sri Vasishtha gives another interpretation by using the roots ‘Ir –gatau – to go’, and ‘hamm – gatau – to go’ – vividham Irati iti Veerahaa – referring to all the different creatures which move in different ways; taansca yo hanti – gamayati – He Who makes it possible for them to go, is Veera-haa – Sarveshaam bahudha iranaam jantunaam gamayita Vishnuh.
Sri Satya Sandha Yatiraja explains using ‘vih – Garudah’ and ‘Irah – Vayuh’ as ‘taabhyaam hanti gacchati iti Veera-ha – Vishnu is called Veera-ha because He goes along with Garuda and Vayu in destroying the Asuras.
Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj gives the interpretation: Visheshena Irayanti kshipanti Dharma maargam iti Veerahaa Kamsa Ravana prabhritayah; taan Veeran hanti iti Veera-haa – He destroys those that discard the path of Dharma, such as Kamsa, Ravana etc.
Swami ChinmayAnanda explains Veerahaa as one who provides various or different paths or ways for the passage from birth to death.
The Dharma Chakram writer observes that just as there are those who follow the path of Adharma and are destroyed by Bhagavan, there are the internal enemies in each one us in the form of Kaama, Krodha, Moha, Matsarya and Lobha. The lesson to take from this Nama is that the chanting and meditation on the mantra derived from this Nama will result in His destroying these internal enemies within us that obstruct us from realising Him.
As people wander in different directions searching for happiness, Bhagavan ultimately gives them liberation or enlightenment, thereby putting an end to their confused and aimless wanderings. Hence, He is called Veerahaa, the terminator of aimless wandering.
- Rakshanah – The Saviour
The word ‘Raksha’ means to protect and Rakshanah is one who protects. Sri Adi Sankara interprets this as ‘Sattvan Gunam Adhishthaaya Jagat trayam Rakshat Rakshanah – He protects all the three worlds establishing His Sattvic nature (benevolent nature) in the process, hence He is called Rakshanah, the Protector’. Whenever the righteous were in peril, He appeared in His various incarnations and protected them from the evil doers, hence He is rightly known as Rakshanah, the Saviour.
Sri Parasara Bhattar relates the Nama to the protection of Gajendra by Bhagavan – tam sparshana parirambhana SaantvanAdibhih rakshitavaan – Bhagavan saved the elephant by touching it, embracing it, and speaking words in consolation. Sri Bhattar quotes from Vishnu Dharma in support:
evamuktva maharaja Gajendram Madhusudanah |
sparshayamasa hastena gajam gandharvameva ca ||
Sri NammAzhwar in his Thiruvai Mozhi Pasuram (2.2.9) stresses that it is Lord Vishnu’s nature to protect:
Meaning: Lord Krishna is the protector of this world. The Azhwar points out that in addition to offering protection, the Lord performs the functions of destruction and creation through Rudra and Brahma respectively by being their antaryamis (inner soul). He mingled and merged Himself into the Universe. He made Brahma the creator on his lotus-navel. He made Indra and the gods, and all the worlds.
Swami ChinmayAnanda reminds us that protection is the reason that Bhagavan keeps taking incarnations by referring to the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 4 Verse 8):
Paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam |
Dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge ||
Meaning: To deliver the righteous and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of Dharma, I advent Myself Millennium after Millennium.
Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha refers to the Rig Vedic mantra (4.3.14):
Rakshano agne tava rakshanebhi Rakshanah sumukha prinanah |
Pratishphuta viruja vIdvaho jahi raksho mahi cid vaavridhaanam ||
Meaning: O’ Agni! The ever guarding God, keep us safe and protect us with your love and affection. And destroy severe afflictions and demons that become mighty.
- Santah – He Who is righteous and follows Dharma
The word ‘Santah’ refers to the good people and to those who follow the righteous path of Dharma. Sri Adi Sankara interprets this Nama ‘Sanmaargavartinah Santah Tadrupena Vidyavinayavriddhaye sa eva vartate iti Santah – Bhagavan manifests Himself in the form of righteous people for the sake of increasing knowledge and humility, hence He is called Santah, the personification of the righteous people’.
Sri Parasara Bhattar explains the Nama as ‘Ashritaan santanoti (samyak tanoti) iti Santah – He blesses those who seek refuge in Him and those who are forever engaged in His thoughts enjoy peace and prosperity’. Sri Bhattar gives another interpretation as: ‘tesham asti iti Santah’ – He Who exists for His devotees is Santah.
Sri Baladeva Vidya Bhushan gives a similar interpretation – ‘evam Gajendram Saranagatam santanoti iti Santah.
This Nama illustrates the Guna of Bhagavan that increases confidence in His devotees and provides reassurance that He will protect without fail. The very sight of Bhagavan during His ceremonial processions around the streets inspires confidence in His devotees.
Sri Velukkudi Krishnan refers us to the Shlokam:
Na te rupam na cakaro nayudhani na caspadam |
Tatha’pi purushakaro bhaktanam prakashase ||
Meaning: Neither Your Divya Atma svarupam, nor Your Divya mangala vigraham, nor for that matter Your Divya Astras, or Your own Sri Vaikuntham, are for Your benefit. They are all for Your devotees’ benefit, and thus You are not independent, but You are the possession of Your devotees). Even so, You shine as the Supreme Being.
The word ‘sam’ is a prefix and the root for the Nama is ‘tanu – vistaare’ meaning to expand or spread. He Who bestows the desired benefits on His devotees is Santah – tebhyah ishtam dattavaan iti Santah.
Sri Satya Sandha Thirtha gives the derivation for the Nama as ‘sampurvaat tanoteh dah vyaaptah’ – He who is present everywhere and permeates everything. This is consistent with the meaning ‘tanu – vistaare’ meaning ‘to spread’.
Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha explains the Nama as ‘Samyak tanoti vistaarayati jagat iti Santah’ – He Who expands the world, is Santah.
Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj uses the root ‘san- sambhaktau’ meaning ‘to worship’, and gives the interpretation – ‘Sanyate Araadhyate sma iti Santah – He Who is worshipped, is Santah’.
- Jivanah – The Life-Giver
‘Jeev’ means to ‘live’ and based on this, Sri Adi Sankara gives the interpretation ‘Sarvaah prajaah Praanaroopena Jeevayan Jivanah – He makes all people live by giving them the vital life breaths or the vitalising airs, hence He is called Jivanah, the Life Giver’.
Clearly no life can exist without oxygen or the air to breathe which is the creation of Bhagavan, hence He is the giver of all life in the Universe.
Sri Parasara Bhattar’s interpretation is – ‘sva-hastena hananaat graaham api gandharvatvena jivayan – Jivanah – Even though Bhagavan slew the crocodile for its apacaram, He restored the crocodile to its former form as a Gandharva, and so He is JivanaH – the Life-Giver. Sri Parasara Bhattar gives support from Sri Vishnu Puranam (69):
Sa hi devala Sapena huhuh Gandharava-sattamah |
Graahavatmam agamat Krishnat vadham praapya divam gatah ||
Meaning: The foremost among Gandharvas, Huhuh by name, had become a crocodile by the curse of Sage Devala. Later, when the crocodile met its death at the hands of Krishna, he went back to Svarga. Even though all we superficially note is that Bhagavan slew the crocodile, in fact He restored his life as a Gandharva.
Whatever Bhagavan does, including the slaying of the Rakshasas in His different incarnations, it is truly for the benefit of the Rakshasas who are slayed by Him.
Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha explains the Nama as JIvayati = pranayati jivana upayoga sadhanaih iti Jivanah – He Who sustains life by giving all the means for all the created beings to live is Jivanah’.
Sri NammAzhwar describes Bhagavan as ‘One Whose nature it is to protect – Kaakkum iyalvinan Kanna Peruman (Thiruvai Mozhi 2.2.9)’.
All acts of Bhagavan are directed towards protection of the Jivas. His swallowing the whole Universe with all beings at the time of pralaya, is only for the purpose of protecting them and giving them new bodies in the next cycle of Creation. When a living being meets with ‘death’, it is only a means of removing the old, aged body, and giving the Jiva a new body. Thus, Bhagavan is Life-Giver in His acts of Creation, Protection and Destruction.
Sri Baladeva Vidya Bhushan’s interpretation is along the same lines as that of Sri Parasara Bhattar – Graahamapi gandharvatbavena jivati iti Jivanah.
Sri V.V. Ramanujan refers to Sri NammAzhwar’s Thiruviruttam Pasuram 1, where Bhagavan is referred to as Uyir Alippaan – Life Giver’.
Swami ChimayAnanda explains the Nama as ‘One Who is the life-spark in all living creatures’. He gives support from the Srimad Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 15 Verse 13):
Gam avisya ca bhutani dharayamy aham ojasa |
Pusnami causadhih sarvah somo bhutva rasatmakah ||
Meaning: I enter into each planet, and by My energy they stay in orbit. I become the Moon and thereby nourish all plant life.
- Paryavasthitah – He Who pervades everything
The word ‘Pari’ means ‘all around’ and ‘Avasthita’ refers to ‘being established’. On this basis, Sri Adi Sankara interprets this Nama as ‘Paritah Sarvatah Vishvam Vyaapya Avasthitah iti Paryavasthitah – He has occupied the Universe all around and has fully established Himself, pervading everything in the space of the Universe, hence He is called Paryavasthitah, One Who is spread all around the Universe’. He is permeating all things inside (Sarvantaryami) and outside (Sarvavyaapi).
Sri Parasara Bhattar’s interpretation is ‘Vaatsalyaat Gajendram pari = paritah, avasthitah iti Paryavasthitah – Out of His Vaatsalyam (affection) to Gajendra, He stood close to Gajendra. He refers us to the Shloka from Vishnu Dharma which praises Bhagavan’s attachment and affection to His devotees – Pritimaan PundarikAkshah Saranagata Vatsalah.
Sri V.V.Ramanujan refers us to Sri NammAzhwar’s Thirvai Mozhi Pasuram (10.10.1) where the Azhwar points to this Guna of Bhagavan:
முனியே. நான்முக னே.முக்கண் ணப்பா என் பொல்லாக்
கனிவாய்த் தாமரைக் கண் கரு மாணிக்கமே. என்கள்வா
தனியேன் ஆருயிரே. என் தலை மிசையாய் வந்திட்டு
இனிநான் போகலொட் டேன் ஒன்றும் மாயம் செய்யேல் என்னையே
Meaning: O Bard, my coral-lipped Lord of Lotus eyes, my black uncut Gem! The soul of Brahma, Siva and this forlorn self! At last you have come to me. Now I shall not let you go, pray do not play your tricks again.
Also in his Thiruvai Mozhi Pasuram (8.3.6), the Azhwar says ‘tiru nila maniyaar meniyodu en manam Suzha varuvaare – Bhagavan, with His cool bluish gem-like hue, comes to His devotees and completely occupies their mind’.
In the whole of Thiruvai Mozhi 1.9, the Azhwar describes how Bhagavan enjoys His devotees and pervades them and floods them gradually, and how all the indriyas of the devotees are ultimately permeated by Him without interruption, and dedicated to His thought permanently.
Sri Radhakrishna Shastri refers us to the following from Narayana Suktam:
Yacca kincijjagatsarvaṁ drishyate shruyate’pi va |
antarbahishca tatsarvam vyapya Narayanah sthitah ||
Meaning: Whatever is in this Universe that is seen or heard of—pervading all this, from inside and outside alike, stands Supreme, the Eternal Divine Being Narayana.
The act of permeation of Bhagavan as our antaryami in all of us, is a result of His concern for the Jivas, to ensure that He is always with the Jiva to help him in whatever he undertakes.
Sri Krishnan enjoys the Nama with his explanation that Bhagavan went round and round Gajendra, to find out all the places where he might have suffered injury in his encounter with the crocodile, so that He can comfort the elephant as needed, and so He is called Paryavasthitah.
Sri Baladeva Vidya Bhushan also explains the Nama in terms of Bhagavan being close to Gajendra with Vatsalyam – Vatsalya bharena Gajendrasya paritah sthitatvaat Paryavasthitah.
Sri Krishna Datta Bharadvaj enjoys another aspect of Bhagavan’s Guna – His extreme concern to His devotee, and His ever being ready to protect the devotee from any harm. He interprets as ‘Parito bhaktam avasthitah tasya rakshaayai iti Paryavasthitah. He gives support from Srimad Bhagavatam (1.12.9, 10), where it describes how Bhagavan protected Parikshit in his mother’s womb by surrounding the yet-to-be-born child from the Brahmastra of Ashvatthama:
Kshatajaksham gadapanim Atmanah sarvato disham |
Paribhramantam ulkabham bhramayantam gadam muhuh ||(SB 1.12.9)
Astra tejah sva-gadaya nIharamiva gopatih |
Vidhamantam sannikarshe paryaikshata ka ityasau ||(SB 1.12.10)
Meaning: Bhagavan with angry red eyes was moving around like wind in all directions around the yet-to-be-born child, whirling the Gadha in His hand that was shining like a burning firewood, and destroying the Tejas of the BrahmAstram with His Gadha like the Sun that removes the dew. The child wondered aloud who this Purusha was, who had suddenly appeared by his side.
Sri Satyadevo Vasishtha indicates the base root for the Nama as ‘stha – gati nivrittau’ meaning ‘to stand, to wait, to be at hand’ etc. and Pari is a prefix which means ’round, round about’ etc. Sri Vasishtha gives the interpretation ‘paritah sarvata Urdhvat adhah, tiryak ca avasthitah – sarva-vyapaka iti Paryavasthitah’ – He has pervaded all things and hence He is called Paryavasthitah.
Uttaarano Dushkritiha Punyo DuSvapnaNaashanah |
Veerahaa Rakshanah Santo Jivanah Paryavasthitah ||99||
He enables people to cross over the Samsara Sagara or the suffering of the worldly life, hence He is called Uttaaranah. He destroys the Sins arising out of evil acts, hence He is called Dushkritiha – the Destroyer of Sins. He creates auspicious effects for those who worship Him by techniques such as meditation, prayer, recitation of Namas etc. and hence He is called Punyah, the bestower of auspicious results. He destroys the bad dreams of those who meditate on Him, who praise Him, who recite His prayers and who worship Him, hence He is called Dus-Svapna-Naashanah.
He destroys the multiple or varied and aimless paths of people by granting them liberation and hence He is called Veerahaa, the destroyer of varied paths. He protects all the three worlds establishing His Sattvic nature (benevolent nature) in the process, hence He is called Rakshanah, the Protector. Bhagavan manifests Himself in the form of righteous people for the sake of increasing knowledge and humility, hence He is called Santah, the personification of righteous people. He makes all people live by giving them the vital life giving breath or the vitalising air, hence He is called Jivanah, the Life Giver. He has occupied the Universe all around and has fully established Himself, pervading everything in the space of the Universe, hence He is called Paryavasthitah, One Who is spread all around the Universe.
OM NAMO NARAYANAAYA
HARI OM TAT SAT
This Vishnu Sahasranamam series is authored with the help of my friend Shri Balaji.