Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam - SLOKA 002

10 -pUtAtmA  
11 -paramAtmA
12 -muktAnAM paramAgatiH

13 -avyayaH
14 -puruShaH
15 -sAkshI
16 -kshetrajnaH
17 -akshara

Nama 10:  pUtAtmA

The Pure Self - One who is untainted by the effects of karma,  good or bad. pUta AtmA yasya saa pUtAtmA - One who has the pure Atma is pUtAtmA.

Our Atmas reap the fruits of the actions that we are involved in because of their association with our body.  BhagavAn is also associated with the same bodies since we are all extensions of His body.  However,  He is Pure Atman because He is not affected by the fruits of the  association with the bodies.

Sri Bhattar gives a very simple example to make this point.  A teacher  uses a stick to strike a student.  Both the teacher and the student come in contact with the same stick, but the pain of association with the stick is felt by the student, but not by the teacher.  So also, even  though both the Lord and the jIvAtmans are associated with the bodies of  the jIvAtmans, the Lord is not affected by the fruits of the actions of  the jIvAtmans.

In the Gita, Sri KrshNa says: "na mAm karmANi lipanti" - actions do not taint me.

Also, the sruti says: shubhAshubhah karmabhiryo na lipyati kadAcana - never tainted by actions, good or bad.

Nama 11: paramAtmA

The Supreme Soul - for whom there is no other guiding or superior soul

paro mA asya saa AtmA paramAtmA -
That Soul for whom there is none superior is paramAtmA.

All of us have Him as our inner soul, but BhagavAn has no one as His inner Soul that guides Him. There is no one superior to Him.
The author of Nirukti says: "Atma IsvaratvAt paramAtmA - One who is the Lord of Himself is paramAtmA.

Sri Eknath Easwaran refers to what Lord Krishna says in the Gita:
"I am in every one, but no one is in Me". He does not give the reference to the Sanskrit sloka, and I am unable to access it.
(I seek help from the Bhakti members in identifying the relevant sloka). There are several pramAnas from the srutis for this:

"na param puNdarIkAkshAt drsyate bharatarshabha" -
There is nothing superior to the Lotus-eyed.
"param hi puNdarIkAkshAt na bhUtam na bhavishyati" -
There was nothing in the past, and there will be nothing in the future, that is superior to the Lotus-eyed Lord.
"na daivam kesavAt param: - There is no God superior to Kesava.
"matta: para-taram nAnyat kincidasti" -
Greater than Myself, there is nothing else (GitA 7-7)
"param hi amrtam etasmAt visva-rUpAt na vidyate" -
There is no greater nectar than the Lord of Universal form.
"parah parANAm paramah paramAtmA" -
He is greater than the great; He is superior, and he is the Supreme Soul (visHNu purANa - 1.2.10)

"paramAtmA ca sarveshAm AdhAra: paramesvara: | 
vishNurnAma sarva-vedeshu vedAnteshu ca gIyate
|| (VishNu purANa 6.4.10) 
The Isvara above all Isvaras, the paramAtmA who is the supporter of every being,
is sung by all vedas and vedantas as Lord VishNu.

Nama 12:  muktAnAm paramA gatih

One who is the ultimate goal for all muktas or released or liberated souls.

Muktas are those who are already released from all bondage, and enjoy every bliss that the BhagavAn has. They have equality with God in the enjoyment of this Bliss. The goal that such a mukta longs for at this stage is to constantly serve the Lord, and thus the Parama purusha is muktAnAm-paramA-gatih.

The muktas are .compared to those who reside in the celestial world, the sveta dvIpa. They have no needs such as food, no wants, no desires, etc. For these people who have accomplished everything and who are equal to God in their enjoyment of bliss, the one goal that is of interest is the unceasing servitude to God, and thus God is the Supreme and Ultimate Goal for the muktas.

ParamA gati is the goal, after attaining which you won't desire anything else. In other words, this is the limit of the goal . Normally, the nature of any goal is such that if you attain .that goal, then you will want to attain the next higher goal. This is not the case with paramA gati. Some pramANas from the srutis are the following:
".....mAmeva anuttamAm gatim" - (They attain) Me, the unsurpassed goal -Bhagavad GItA 7.18
"sA kAShThA sA parA gatih" - He is the highest means; He is the Supreme Goal - kaThopanishad -3.11.

Sri Bhattar interprets the next five names (13 to 17) in terms of why the muktAs choose BhagavAn as their Supreme goal. It should be noted that Sri Bhattar's vyAkhyAna weave a thread of continuity in the sequence of the names occurring in the stotram, and for this reason Sri Bhattar extends the interpretation to levels beyond what is etymologically derived from the word. Relatively speaking, Sri Sankara seems to more strictly adhere to the literal meaning of the word in his vyAkhyAna. Of course, there are also the inevitable differences in interpretation because of the visishtAdvaita vs. advaita philosophies. The reasons for the muktAs choosing Sri MahA VishNu as their Supreme gaol are:
     He does not send them back to the cycle of samsAra once they reach Him (13),
     He gives the enjoyment of His Bliss to the muktas in abundance (14),
     He witnesses the muktas' enjoyment of Him and is in turn pleased, which pleases the muktas (15),
     He knows the right place for the muktas to get their eternal Bliss (16), and
     He is one whose Greatness never diminishes over time in spite of the constant Bliss that He provides to the muktas (17).

Nama 13: avyayah  

a) One who does not send back anyone who has reached Him to the cycle of birth and rebirth .(Sri Bhattar)
b) Indestructible (Sri Sankara)

Sri Bhattar's vyAkhyAna -

na vIyate - na vyapagamyate iti avyayah - He is avyaya because He does not send them back (to samsAra)

.In the Yama Smrti, we find the following:

"sattvam vahati sUkshmatvAt param nArAyaNam prabhum |
paramAtmAnam AsAdya param vaikunTam Isvaram ||
amrtatvAya kalpeta na nivarteta vai puna
:| "

The Mukta bears a body of pure and subtle sattva and attains the Supreme Lord nArAyaNa. Once he reaches the Supreme Lord in the supreme VaikuNTha, he becomes fit for immortality and is not returned back to this world any more.

Sri Sankara's vyAkhyAna -

Sri Sankara gives a different interpretation to this name - Indestructible - based on na asya vyayah iti avyayah, where vyaya means something that can be destroyed. He gives the following pramANa from the BrhadAraNya Upanishad: "ajarah amarah avyayah - He is undecaying, immortal, and indestructible" (6.4.25).

See also the nArAyaNa sUktam - anatamavyayam kavim ..... The Immortal and Indestructible Seer.

14: puruShah 

a) One who bestows on the Muktas the enjoyment of the Bliss of Himself in plenty.- puru sanoti iti purushah
b) One who is reclining in this body - puri sete iti purushah
c) One who existed before anything else existed - purA aasIt iti purushah
d) One who completes and fulfills existence everywhere - pUrayati iti purushah

Puru sanoti iti purushah - One who gives in plenty; 
puru means plenty, and sanoti means giver.

Or, purUNi phalAni sanoti - dadAti iti pururshah
One who gives plentiful benefits.

We find in the taittirIya upanisahd - 
"rasi vai sah , rasam hveyAm labdhvA AnandI bhavati
He is Pure Bliss Itself. Having attained Him, the Mukta becomes endowed with joy".

Several other explanations for this name are possible. One of these, that is also given by Sri Sankara
in addition to the above that Sri Bhattar has also chosen, is supported by the following in MahAbhArata

"navadvAram puram puNyam etairbhAvaih samanvitam |
vyApya sete mahAtmA yastasmAt purusha ucyate
|| -(12-203-35).

"Since the great Soul pervades and resides in this holy city (the body) with nine dvAras or gates, possessed of these organs (senses, etc.).,
He is called purusha".

Another alternative interpretation that Sri Sankara gives is "puri sete iti purushah - One who dwells in this Fort city - our body".
He refers to the following from the taittirIya AraNyaka
"pUrvameva aham iha Asam iti purushasya purusahtvam" - I indeed existed here before; as I existed before, I am called purusha.
We may recall that the purusha is sometimes pronounced as pUrusha in vedic chantings (ato jyAyAgsca pUrushah - in purusha sUktam as an example).

pur is used to refer to this body, as in Gita 5-13: nava dvAre pure dehe..the fortress with nine gateways.

Sri Chinmayananda suggests that these different ways of interpreting the meanings of the names is a way to understand more and more about
the Nature of the Lord.

15: sAkshI 

One who directly witnesses everything .as it is. The All-Knower, The Omniscient

BhagavAn sees everything directly by His own awareness without any instrument for seeing (such as the sense organs) in between.
SAkshAt Ikshate - The Direct Cognizer.

Just as the sun illumines everything but is not affected in anyway by the state of the objects it illumines, so also the Lord witnesses everything but is not affected by all that He witnesses. The jIvAtmAs see everything through some sense organ or othe other, and so the deficiencies of these organs limits what is seen. Not so in the case of the Lord.

Sri Bhattar interprets this name as indicating that the Lord witnesses the muktas enjoying the Bliss that He confers on them, and is thus happy Himself. Obviously, this give great pleasure to Mukhtas, since they are interested in His happiness, and this is one of the reasons for His being their paramA gati.


One who knows, and can lead the muktas to the exact place where the muktas will get their sought-after Supreme Bliss.

Sri nArAyaNa is the vaikunTha vAsi
VaikunTha is the place after reaching which there is no return to this world.

That this is a place which even the greatest of sages can realize only after intense meditation and devotion to the Lord is evident from the following passage attributed to Sage Agastya in varAha purANa -

"adyApi tam lokavaram dhyAyan tishThAmi suvrata! |
kada prApyet tu asau loka: sarva loka varottamah

"I am even now steeped in the meditation of that supreme world. When am I going to reach that best and noblest of all worlds? This is the thought that is haunting me".

In varAha purANa, BhagavAn tells Sage Agastya:

"pasya lokamimam mahyam yo na vedestu drsyate |
tvat-priyArtham ayam lokah darsitaste dvijottama

" See this world which exists for my sake and which is not seen even by the vedas. O best of Brahmins! This world has been shown to you in order to
please you". Note that even a sage of the standing of Agastya has not seen this place except when God chose to show it to him.

Sri Sankara has interpreted this name based on Bhagavad Gita Chapter 13 - slokas 1 and 2, in particular. Here, the word kshetra refers to the body, and kshetrajna refers to One who knows (understands the principle or tatva behind) all the bodies and is the direct witness of the actions of all the bodies (by being directly inside the bodies and not needing any secondary means to witness these). I would like to request our Bhakti group members to elaborate on the interpretation of the word kshetrajna as it occurs in Bhagavad Gita and, in particular- if the interpretation of this term in Gita is different from the meaning that God is the soul in all the bodies. May be, kshetrajna is a guNa of the Supreme Soul, and is an elaboration of the name "bhUtAtmA".

17: akshara

One whose greatness never diminishes over time in spite of being enjoyed by the muktas constantly. 
na ksharati iti aksharah .

His greatness is innate, and does not derive from something external. So it never diminishes. 
In Nirukti, this is explained as follows:

"sadA anubhUyamAno'pi nissIma guNa gauravAt |
muktai: kvacit na ksharati iti akshara: parikIrtita: ||"

Sri Sankara's interpretation is: "sa eva na ksharati iti aksharah - He alone exists without dying.

Sri Bhattar has thus explained in nAmas 13 to 17 the reason why muktas consider the Lord as the paramA gati
We will continue with nAma 18 in the next part.