SrI vishNu sahasra nAmam – phala Sruti - 1.
iti idam kIrtanIyasya keSavasya mahAtmanah |
nAmnAm sahasram divyAnAm asesheNa prakIrtitam || (1)
The above is addressed by bhIshma to yudhisThira at the end of the 107 Sloka-s containing the 1000 nAma-s of bhagavAn. The meaning is: "Thus, the thousand divine names of bhagavAn keSava, the Supreme Being, Who is worthy of being praised, have been sung in their entirety". SrI BhaTTar comments that the word `kIrtanIyasya' has been chosen to indicate that bhagavAn richly deserves the praise, and that by using this word, bhIshma is telling yudhishThira that he should begin the recitation of the names right away. The reason for the same is given by the choice of the name keSava (the Creator of brahmA and Siva – see the interpretation for the nAma keSava – nAma-s 23 and 654), and mahAtmanah (He is the Supreme Being). The word `divyAnAm' (divine) applied to the nAma-s signifies that the nAma-s are worthy of being sung in this world as well as in SrI vaikunTham. The word `aSesheNa' is used to denote that nothing that is significant or important has been left out by bhIshma in his communication to yudhisThira, and everything that needs to be known has been taught.
SrI Sa'nkara explains the word `aSesheNa' to mean `a-nyUna, an- atirikta' – neither less, nor more, but exactly thousand nAma-s. The implication is that the choice of the thousand names by bhIshma are significant, and are not randomly chosen. SrI Sa'nkara also refers us back to one of the initial six questions – kim japan mucyate jantuh (see Introduction for detailed meanings), and points out that these 1000 divine nAma-s are the ones that are the object of `japa' referred to therein. He points out that `japa' consists of three kinds - ucca, upAmSu, and mAnasa – loud, whisper, or in the mind (trividha japo lakshyate – uccaA, upAmSu, mAnasa lakshaNah trividho japah). The words prakIrtitam in the current Sloka answers that all three means – chanting loudly, through a low tone, or by contemplating in the mind, can be used in singing His praise (kIrtana).
This Slokam emphasizes that these nAma-s are divine, and are sung in SrI vaikunTham by the nitya sUri-s themselves. They are specifically selected as sung by the Rshi-s (Rshibhih parigItAni – see the Introductory section). This stotram is unlike any other stotram that we know of. It was first revealed in Lord kRshNa's presence.
ya idam SRNuyAt nityam yaScApi parikIrtayet |
nA'Subham prApnuyAt ki'ncit so'mutreha ca mAnavaH || (2)
In this Sloka, the qualifications for reciting the stotra, and the result from recitation are declared in general terms. "Nothing inauspicious or unwelcome will accrue to that man in this world or in the world beyond, when one hears this daily or recites it".
SrI BhaTTar comments that he, who according to his qualification and ability, hears it or meditates on it in his mind, will encounter nothing inauspicious in this world, or hereafter. Note that the benefit is attained by chanting, as well as by listening.
By the term `hereafter (amutre ca)', lesser worlds than SrI vaikunTham, such as svargam, brahma lokam etc. are meant. SrI Sa'nkara points the case of yayAti and his father nahusha, both of whom ended up suffering after reaching brahma lokam and indra lokam respectively, because they committed sins against brAhmaNa-s after reaching these higher worlds. Such inauspicious instances won't happen to those who chant or hear this divine stotram – yayAti nahushAdivat aSubha prApti abhAvam.
vedAnta-go brAhmaNah syAt kshatriyo vijayI bhavet |
vaiSyo dhana samRddhah syAt SudraH sukham avApnuyAt || (3)
The next few Sloka-s declare the benefits attained by chanting the hymn, hearing it chanted etc. SrI BhaTTar has categorized the benefits as follows:
- The current Slokam declares the benefits attained by people of the four varNa-s, when they chant the stotram without necessarily directing their chanting for any specific benefit, and do so without necessarily following any special discipline etc. - The next Slokam (Slokam 4 in this sequence) declares the benefits attained by those who chant the stotram with specific benefits in mind. - Sloka-s 5 to 8 declare the benefits attained by those who chant the hymns following discipline such as getting up early in the morning, taking a bath etc., before chanting.
The organization along the above lines will be clearer as we see the meanings of the Sloka-s, in particular, Slokam 5 etc.
Thus, there is benefit that is bestowed by the recitation of the hymn, whether it is done by those with intense devotion or is chanted without necessarily following any specific discipline, whether specific benefits are sought by the person chanting the hymn or not, etc. (Note: Based on Slokam 2 of this sequence, whatever benefit is described for chanting the hymn, equally applies for listening to the hymn being chanted).
The current Sloka declares that by reciting this hymn or hearing it being chanted, (without necessarily following any specific rules etc., and without specifically seeking any benefit), still certain benefits are attained by people belonging to the four varNa-s. Thus, a brAhmaNa reaches the knowledge of the vedAnta-s, in other words, the knowledge of the self and its relation to the Supreme Self. If he is a kshatriya, he will be victorious in war. A vaiSya (businennman) will attain immense wealth, and a SUdra will be bestowed with great happiness.
SrI Sa'nkara gives an elaborate explanation for the words `vedAnta-go brAhmaNah syAt', and using the meaning "The brAhmaNa will get KNOWLEDGE of the vedAnta-s, he proceeds to argue that sage vyAsa is declaring through this Slokam that simply reciting the hymn is not the means to salvation (japa karmaNA sAkshAt mukti Sa'nkAyAm, karmaNAm sAkshAt mukti hetutvam nAsti, api tu j~nAnenaiva moksha iti darSayitum `vedAntago brAhmaNah syAt' ityuktam) , but the knowledge obtained by the recitation is the path to salvation. We won't go into elaborate details of SrI Sa'nkara's argument on this point in the vyAkyAnam for this Slokam; however, this is one instance of how the vyAkhyAna-kartA-s orient their vyAkhyAna-s so that they can establish their philosophy, and argue that important works such as this one by veda vyAsa can be `shown' to support their system of philosophy. SrI v.v. rAmAnujan explains that the knowledge that is attained by chanting the hymn is the realization of the eternal relationship between the soul and the Supreme Soul as servant and Master (not the realization that everything is imaginary and non- existent, except Brahman, as SrI Sa'nkara defines true knowledge).
One commentator adds that this Slokam – by referring to the benefits attained by all the four varNa-s, implies that there is no constraint in anyone chanting the hymns. Some AcArya-s have asked the women among their followers to refrain from chanting the hymn either in part or in full. The instructions vary from being allowed to chant only the 107 Sloka-s starting from "viSvam vishNuh" up to "Sa'nkhabRn- nandakI", not chanting anything, chanting the stotra in its entirety, etc. To my knowledge, there is no restriction listening to the hymn, which is as powerful in conferring benefits as chanting the hymn. In all cases, one's own AcAryan's instructions should be rigorously followed.
dharmArthI prApnuyAt dharmam arthArthI cArthamApnuyAt |
kAmAn avApnuyAt kAmI prajarthI cApnuyAt prajAm ||
In this Slokam, it is declared that those who desire righteousness (dharma), will be blessed with that; those who desire wealth will be blessed with wealth; those who are after the pleasures of life, will be bestowed with all pleasures of life; those who desire progeny will be blessed with children.
SrI vishNu sahasra nAmam - phala Sruti - Part 2.
bhaktimAn yah sadotthAya Sucis_tad-gata mAnasaH |
sahasram vAasudevasya nAmnAm etat prakIrtayet || (5)
SrI BhaTTar groups the four Sloka-s, 5 to 8, as a statement of the benefits
accruing to a devotee (bhakta) who recites the nAma-s as a japa (chanting)
in accordance with the rules laid down for the same. SrI BhaTTar's words are: "atha niyama viSeshavat japa rUpa sa'nkIrtane bhaktasya sarva samRddhim Aha".
From the previous two Sloka-s, it is noted that the act of chanting – either aloud or in a whisper or in the mind, or just listening to others chanting the stotram, leads to benefits, either explicitly desired and sought, or those consistent with the varNa dharma-s of the one who chants or listens to the stotram. Now vyAsa points out that if a person gets up early in the morning, purifies himself with a bath and the observance of the rites and rituals consistent with his dharma as laid down in the SAstra-s (according to his varNa and ASrama), and recites the thousand nAma-s of vAsudeva with his mind firmly fixed on Him, he will be bestowed with salvation itself (anuttamam Sreyah prApnoti – Slokam 6).
SrI Sa'nkara's vyAkhyAnam is: "bhaktimAn ityAdinA bhaktimatah Suceh
satatam udyuktasyaikAgra cittasya SraddhAlorviSishTAdhikAriNah phala viSesham
The special benefits accruing to one who is devout, pure, ever persevering with one-pointed attentive meditation, and with faith, are revealed next.
SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri notes that the benefis stated next are those that
accrue to one who has single-minded devotion to vAsudeva,
meditates on him constantly, is pure in thought, word and deed, and chants the thousand nAma-s of vAsudeva as laid down in this Slokam.
In order to reinforce the thoughts embedded in this Slokam, let us look at the individual meanings of a few words in the Slokam:
- bhaktimAn – A devotee.
Specifically, it refers to the devotee of vAsudeva (vAsudevasya nAmnAm). Single-minded devotion is of importance here, as noted in the above.
anya devatA worship – resort to other devatA-s, is to be avoided. -
sadA utthAya – always getting up early in the morning. -
Sucih – Purifies himself. The purity referred to is both external and internal. The external purity involves taking a bath etc.
The other aspects of purification involved here are the strict observance of nitya karma-s as laid down in the SAstra-s for the devotee – the varNASrama dharma-s.
Our AcArya-s repeatedly emphasize that any activity undertaken without observing the nitya karma-s will end up as wasted effort. - tad-gata-mAnasaH – The mind of the devotee should be concentrated on bhagavAn vAsudeva. This is a re-emphasis on the single-minded devotion to vAsudeva that was mentioned under `bhaktimAn'. - prakIrtayet – kIrtana specifically refers to chanting, recitation.
The specific benefits that such a devotee will attain are specified in the next three Sloka-s:
yaSah prApnoti vipulam j~nAti prAdhAnyameva ca |
acalAm Sriyam Apnoti Sreyah prApnoty_anuttamam || (6)
na bhayam kvacit Apnoti vIryam tejaSca vindati |
bhavaty_arogo dyutimAn bala rUpa guNanvitah || (7)
rogArto mucyate rogAt baddho mucyeta bandhanAt |
bhayAn mucyeta bhItastu mucyrtApanna ApadaH || (8)
SrI BhaTTar has given his interpretation for the above Sloka-s in two short
"anuttamam Sreyah – muktih | anye abhyudaya viSeshAh ||" -
`anuttamam Sreyah in Slokam 6 means `salvation'; all the other fruits mentioned are fruits of success in this world'.
Prof. Srinivasa Raghavan has given the following translation for the above Sloka-s:
"He becomes endowed with great reputation and becomes the foremost among
his kith and kin.
He acquires wealth that never diminishes in this world, and he also gets unexcelled prosperity in the next (namely, salvation).
"There is no fear for him from any quarters. He acquires valor and
power. He is never unwell, and always shines.
He becomes endowed with strength, a healthy body, and noble qualities.
"He who is suffering from any disease will get over it. He who is in
bondage will be relieved of it.
He who is affected by fear will become free from it, and he who is in difficulties will become rid of them".
SrI Sa'nkara also does not comment on the above Sloka-s.
The idea is that both SrI BhaTTar and SrI Sa'nkara consider that the meaning is self-explanatory.
The most important benefit is the one that SrI BhaTTar has commented on – anuttamam
Sreyah – moksham.
The other benefits can all be understood as aid to this most important, and in fact the only phalan that such a devotee will aspire for.
Thus, for instance, being rid of fear in this world can be understood as the full confidence that bhagavAn will definitely redeem us from the ocean of samsAra at the end of our current birth in this world, -
mahA viSvAsam; acalAm Sriyam – undiminished wealth in this world – the opportunity and blessing to be involved in kai'nkaryam to Him always – the ka'inkarya SrI;
rogArto mucyate rogAt – the devotee will be rid of the greatest of
diseases, namely attachment to the worldly and materialistic objects of this
and, above all, the attachment to this body and to all the things associated with the body;
bhayAn mucyeta bhItah – the devotee will be rid of the greatest of all fears – the fear of repeated births, the fear of samsAra; yaSah prApnoti – the devotee will be known for his single-minded devotion to vAsudeva, as his greatest accomplishment;
dyutimAn, tejaSca vindati – the tejas of such a devotee will be self-revealing, as we can feel in the presence of our AcArya-s.
(To be continued)