AdhAra-nilayo dhAtApushpa-hAsaH praja-garaH |
The Abode of those who supportthe world through their righteous actions.
SrI BhaTTar specifically givesthe example of the likes of prahlAda, vibhIshaNa,the pANDava-s, etc., whose righteous conduct in life is an example for us, and thus serve as the support for the world to follow. BhavAn is the abode for such pious men, and so He is called AdhAra-nilayaH - dhArmikatayA jagad-AdhArAH prahlAda-vibhIshaNa-pANDavAdayaH, teshAm nilayaH AhdAra-nilayaH. SrI BhaTTar quotes a Sloka from vishNu smRti in support:
varNASrama Acara-parAH santaHSAstraika tatparAH |
"O! Mother Earth! Thosewho strictly adhere to the rules of conduct stipulated for different castes andstages of life, and also scrupulouslyfollow the dictates of the SAstra-s, are your support. On them your burden rests".
Note the emphasis here on theadherence to the dharma-s of the varNa- s (castes) and the Asrama-s (stages inlife, such as brahmacarya, gRhasta,etc.). These are the ones because of whom this earth keeps going; these are the ones who are supported by bhagavAn in their righteous observances and conduct - AdhAra-nilayaH.
SrImad SrImushNam ANDavanexplains the nAma in two ways:
puviyum iru viSumbum nin agattanee en
"It is true that Yousupport everything including all the worlds, the skies, etc. But now You reside inside me by enteringinside me through my ears, and thus I am supporting You inside me. Now Youtell me whether You are supporting me or I am supporting You - whether You are the bigger One or I am the bigger one. You tell me,emperumAn with the cakra that drinks the blood of Your enemies".
The above pASuram of AzhvArsupports the alternate interpretation that bhagavAn has as His residence (nilayam)the hearts and minds of those whosupport the varNa and ASrama dharma-s (AdhAra-s), and so He has the nAma AdhAra-nilayaH.
SrI kRshNan also quotes thegiTA Slokam 7.18 as additional support:
udArAH sarva evaite j~nAnItvAtmaiva me matam |
"All these are indeedgenerous, but I deem the man of knowledge to be My own very self;
The declaration by Lord kRshNathat the j~nAnI is His own self, once again supports the second interpretationabove.
SrI Sa'nkara explains the nAmain terms of bhagavAn's support of the pa'nca bhUta-s etc. -
SrI vAsishTha gives numerousexamples from the Sruti in support:
- yatrAdhi sUra udito vibhAtikasmai devAya havishA vidhema | (yajur. 32.7)
- yataH sUrya udetyastam yatraca gacchati |
"I hold that Supremebecause of which the Sun rises, sets, and rests.
- na te vishNo jAyamAno na jAto deva mahimnaH paramantamApa |
"None who is born or beingborn, Lord vishNu, has reached the utmost limit of Thy grandeur. The vasthigh vault of heaven hast Thou supported, and fixed earth's eastern pinnaclesecurely".
- yasyorushu trishuvikramaNeshu adhikshiyanti bhuvanAni viSvA (Rg. 1.154.2)
"He within whose threewide-extended paces all living creatures have their habitation".
SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri choosesto interpret the nAma as "One Who is resident -nilayaH, in the pa'nca bhUta-s". Even though the five elements, by themselves, perform different functions withinour body (e.g., agni converts thefood that we consume into forms such as blood; water carries this into the different parts of the body'; earth supports all the beings of this world; etc.), bhagavAn, by being present in these elements, ensures that there is mutual coordination such that all beings function as a unit, in a healthy way. Sri SAstri quotes the gItA Slokam 15.13-14 toillustrate this point:
gAm AviSya ca bhUtAnidhArayAmaham ojasA |
"And entering the earth Iuphold all beings by My strength.
aham vaiSvAnaro bhUtvA prANInAmdeham ASritaH |
"Becoming the digestivefire, I function within the bodies of all living beings. In union withinward and outward breaths, I digest the four kinds of food - chewed (like riceetc.), sucked (like mango fruitetc.), licked (like medicinal power mixed with honey), and drunk (like water)".
SrI SAstri also gives supportfrom the bRhadAranyaka Upanishad:
yaH sarveshu bhUteshu tishThansarvebhyo bhUtebhyo'ntaro yam sarvANi
"He who dwells in allbeings, who is within all beings, whom all beings do not know, whose body is allbeings, and who controls all beingsfrom within, is your Internal Ruler - the Self, the Immortal".
SrI satya sandha tIrtha givesan explanation based on the dhArA or thedownpour of rain caused by indra in gokulam:
a) One Who created the Universe(dhA - to produce, or dhA - to lay upon).
a) SrI BhaTTar derives theinterpretation for the instance of the nAmain Slokam 5 based on the root dhA -
b) For the current instance ofthe nAma, SrI BhaTTar gives the interpretation-
SrI M. V. rAmAnujAcAryaexplains SrI BhaTTar's interpretationbased on the root "dhA - dhArana poshaNayoH -
na me pArtha asti kartavyamtrishu lokeshu ki'ncana |
"For Me, arjuna! There isnothing in all the three worlds which ought to be done,
Different interpreters givetheir different anubhavam-s of the unending dimension of His guNa ofprotecting
SrI aNNa'ngarAcArya explainsthe nAma as -
SrI kRshnanillustrates this by referring us to Lord rAma's incarnation,
For the earlier occurrence ofthis nAma, SrI vAsishTha gives the interpretation
SrI kRshNa datta bhAradvAjgives the interpretation -
c) Sri Sa'nkara uses the pAThama-dhAtA in the current instance for his primary interpretation, and gives theinterpretation as -
SrI vAsishTha also givesthis pATham as an alternative, and gives the same interpretation.
d) As an alternative, if thepATham `dhAtA' is used, SrI Sa'nkara givesthe interpretation based on the root dheT - pAne - to drink, andthe explanation is -
SrI vAsishTha gives this interpretation as one of his alternate interpretationsalso -
SrI satya sandha tIrtha givesthe interpretation - dhAtA = dhAraNa poshaNakartA.
SrI baladeva vidyA bhUshaNexplains the nAma in Slokam 5 as -
e) The term dhAtA is also usedto refer to the four-faced brahmA.
He Who is like the bloom of a flower.
om pushpa-hAsAya namaH.
The roots involved in the nAma are:
SrI BhaTTar explains the nAma as -
SrImad SrImushNam ANDavan explains SrI BhaTTar's bhAshyamas a reference to bhagavAn' Sakti-sor powers that are enjoyable for the devotee(svAnubhava SaktInAm), since they blossom forth towards the devoteesas needed for protecting them (since He has Sakti-s or parAkrama-sthat are worthy of enjoyment by the devotee - bhogya bhUta Sakti-s).
SrI veLukkuDi kRshNan describes the nAma in terms ofbhagavAn's whole tirumEni as anillustration of His flower-like tenderness. This tendernessis particularly reserved for His dear devotees - thus illustratingHis avatArapryojanam that is the current topic of SrI BhaTTar's vyAkhyAnam. He draws the parallel between theinterface of bhagavAn and Hisdevotees on the one hand, and His flower-like tendernesson the other. For His devotees, having His divine Feet attheir head is like having the soft flower in their head. His LotusFeet are soft to touch just as the flowers are soft to touch. BhagavAn'swhole tirumEni is soft to touch, just as the flowers are. Theflowers blossom on seeing the Sun, and bhagavAn is delighted when Hesees His devotees, who are like the Sun to Him. In other words, Hisdevotees enjoy Him like a beautiful tender flower. SrI kRshNan refersus to periya tirumizhi-8.1.5, where tiruma'ngai AzhvAr enjoys bhagavAn'stirumEni as pushpa-hASan:
aDit-talamum tAmaraiyE am-kaigaLum pa'nkayamE enginrALAl
"His Feet are soft like lotus flowers. HisHands, with which He picks us upwhen He surrender at His Feet, are equally soft like lotus flowers. Then He embraces us with affection, andthe divine beauty of His tiru-muDiand His divine ornaments that we get to enjoy atthat time, is something that will never leave our thoughts ever. Wepray for the blessings of the One with broad eyes (SrI devi) Who isseated on the lotus flower in His broad vaksha sthalam (His chest), so that we are united with Him for ever. ThisemperumAn is waiting for us in thedivya kshetram by name tiruk-kaNNa puram, which is itself the place full of fragrant lotus flowers drippingsweet honey".
Another pASuram that SrI kRshNan refers us to is fromnammAzhvAr's tiruvAimozhi (3.1.2),where AzhvAr describes bhagavAn's eyes, feet, hands, etc., for all of which the tender, fragrant, andbeautiful lotus flowers are but avery poor comparison (since they have nowhere nearthe beauty compared to emperumAn's beauty) -
SrI kRshNa datta bhAradvAj gives a similar interpretation -
SrI Sa'nkara interprets the nAma as referring to bhagavAnblossoming into the form theUniverse - mukulAtmanA sthitAnAm pushpANAm hAsavat prapa'nca rUpeNa vikAsaH asya asti iti pushpa-hAsaH - As thebuds of flowers blossom forth, Hehas blossomed forth in th form of the Universe.
SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri's anubhavam is that bhagavAn makesHis devotees blossom with delightat His thought, and He also blossoms in theirheart and gives fragrance to their thought, and so He is called pushpa-hAsaH.
SrI vAsishTha explains the nAma as
He Who is awake day and night,for the protection of thedevotees.
om pra-jAgarAya namaH.
SrI vAsishTha indicates theroot for the nAma as "jAgR - nidrAkshaye - to awake.
SrI BhaTTar explains the nAmaalong the above lines - rAtrim divam pra-jAgartiiti pr-jAgaraH - He Who is awake day and night, to protect His devotees, like afarmer intent on protecting his crops. Hegives a mantra from kaThopanishad in support:
ya eshu supteshu jAgarti kAmamkAmam purusho nirmimANaH (kaTho.5.8)
"This purusha (thesupreme) keeps awake while others (the individual souls) are asleep, creating through his eternal willpower. (That is the effulgentand that is Brahman)".
SrI kRshNan explains this asbhagavAn keeping wide awake while we are all fast asleep, bestowing all our desires and requeststhat are infinite andnever-ending.
SrImad SrImushNam ANDavanpoints out an obvious demonstration of His beingawake, in the form of His looking after us, while we are fast asleep. We all go to bed with the full hope that we will wake up alivethe next morning. And He, as pra-jAgaraH, is there to wake us upsafe and sound, fully rejuvenated, the next morning.
SrI Sa'nkara also interpretsthe nAma as One Who is ever awake, as partof His nature - nitya prabuddha svarUpatvAt jAgarti it pra- jAgaraH. This is interpreted by some as indicating that bhagavAn is not affected by nescience,and thus He is not affected by sleep that isa result of tamo guna etc.
SrI raghunAtha tIrtha gives yetanother anubhavam -
SrI satya sandha tIrtha looksat the nAma as praja + aga + ra. In this interpretation, praja = He Who creates; aga = HeWho resides in the hills ofve'nkaTAcala, ra = ramati = He Who enjoys the company of devoteesby being in ven'kaTAcala. (prakarsheNa janayati lokAn it prajA;ageshu ve'nkaTAdi parvateshu ramata iti aga-raH, prajaSca asau agaraScaiti prajAgaraH.
This guNa is alsoreflected in the world through the pa'naca bhUta-s forwhich He is the antaryAmi, and ensures that they are all functioning in theinterest of the jIva-s constantly - vAyu, agni, water,AkASa, etc. never sleep. So also, the Sun never sleeps, the AtmA neversleeps, and the prANa never sleeps.
a) He Who rises high.
om Urdhva-gAya namaH.
a) The term Urdhva means`above'. Urdhva-gaH means "One Who rises high". SrI BhaTTar explains the nAma as acontinuation of his explanationof the previous nAma - He Who sleeplessly protects His creation. He devotes Himself to this task ofrakshNam even without sleep,because He aims high in whatever He does, and so He is "Urdhva- gaH". SrI BhaTTar's words are: svabhAva-tu'ngaH - HeWho, by nature, rises high ineverything.
His aiming high in everythingis sung by nammAzhvAr through the phrase"karuttin kaN periyan" (tiruvAi. 10.8.8) - "He Who is great whenit comes to paying attention to His goal". nammAzhvAr also identifiesHis paramount goal "kAkkum iyalvinan" (tiruvAi. 2.2.9) - HeWhose Nature it is to protect. It is this paramount goal of His thatis being sung in this nAma.
SrImad SrImushNam ANDavanexplains the nAma as "uyarvaRa uyar nalam uDaiyavan yavan avan" (tiruvAi. 1.1.1) - HeWho possesses auspicious qualitiesthat cannot at all be excelled".
SrI Sa'nkara explains the nAmaas - sarveshAm upari tishThan Urdhva- gaH- He Who stands above all.
b) SrI ananta kRshNa SAtrygives an alternate interpretation that the nAmasignifies that Lord vishNu is the One Who takes us to SrI viakunTham.
c) SrI vAsishTha interprets thenAma as - sarveshAm Urdhva sthiti SAlitvAt,sarvataH SreshThatvAt vA Urdhva-gaH - "He who is above everyonein all aspects". He notes that even in real life, the place of knowledge, namely the brain, is above all otherorgans in the body,reflecting an aspect of this guNa of bhagavAn.
a) One Who leads His devoteesin the right path.
om sat-paThAcArAya namaH.
patha means path. satrefers to `righteous'. The word AcAra is derived from the root car - gatau - to walk. `AcAra' means `conduct,behavior'.
a) Sri BhaTTar interprets thenAma as "One Who leads His devotees in the right path" - sat-pathe =svAbhAvika dAsya mArge, AcaraNam = teshAmpravartanam asya iti sat-pathAcAraH - He Who induces (leads) thedevotee in the right path of kainkaryam (servitude) to Him, which isthe true nature of the devotee. Recall that in this segment, Sri BhaTTaris interpreting the nAma-s in terms of the benefits to the devoteesfrom His guNa-s (avtAra prayojanam). Since it is in the interestof the jIva-s to recognize and follow the relationship of Sesha-SeshIbhAva (the Master-servant relationship between the Supreme Being and the jIva), bhagavAn facilitates this,and leads the devotee in this path. SrI BhaTTar refers us to the words of advice given by Lord kRshNa to arjuna:
a-nityam a-sukham lokam imamprApya bhajasva mAm | (gItA 9.33)
"You are now in thetransitory and unhappy world. To get over it, worship Me".
SrI satya sandha tIrtha alsogives an interpretation similar to that of SrI BhaTTar - sat-pathe = san-mArge Acarayati yogyAniti sat- pathAcAraH.
b) Sri Sa'nkara interprets thenAma as - satAm panthAnaH karmANi sat-pathAH |
SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri refersus to Slokam 3.22 in the gItA, where bhagavAntells us
na me partha asti kartavyamtrishu lokeshu ki'ncana |
"For Me, arjuna, there isnothing in all the three worlds that ought to be done,
sat-pathe AcAro yasya sa sat- pathAcAraH- He Whose conduct or behavior is along the righteous path, is sat-pathAcAraH.
om prANa-dAya namaH.
This nAma is one of two nAma-sthat is repeated four times in SrI BhaTTar's pATham (the other nAma isnivRttAtmA). The other instances forthe current nAma are: 66, 323, 409 - Sloka-s 8, 35, 44.
The root from which the wordprANa is derived is aN - prANane - to breathe,to live, to move. pra- is an upasarga, meaning `in a special way'.The word `prANa' can be translated as `vAyu" or air - prANyate =jIvyate anena iti prANaH = vAyuH.
The ending stem -da of the nAmacan be interpreted in several ways:
- dadAti - gives (dadAti itidaH) - do - avakhaNDane - tocut (dyati) - kAlAtmanA avakhaNDayati - prANomRtyuH prANastakmA (atharva. 11.4.11) -dai - Sodhane - to purify. prANAnAn dApayati Sodhayati SudhyantivA. - dA - lavane - to cut; prANAn dAti lunAti it prANa-daH (kAlaH sarvasya IsvaraH - atharva.19.53.8)
In essence, it is because ofHim that beings breathe, and it is becauseof Him that they cease breathing. Here is the beautiful composition of SrIvAsishTha summarizing the various interpretations thatare possible for the nAma prANa-daH:
prANAn dadAti, kimu vA dyati,dAti kim vA prANan viSodhayati, dApayati iti kim vA |
"He is the Giver of prANa,the Taker of prANa, the Purifier of prANa, Enlightener of prANa, and is present everywhereand in everything in the form of prANa. The Supreme Deity,. Lord vishNu,is sung thus as prANa-daH in the Sruti-s".
Other references to the Srutithat are provided by SrI vAsishTha are:
prAna-dA apAna-dA vyAna-dAvarco-dA varivo-dAH |
yaH prANa-daH prAnadavAnbabhUva yasmai lokAH dhRtavantaH ksharanti | (atharva. 4.35.5)
prANo mRtyuH takmA prANam devAupAsate |
Another independent line ofinterpretation given by SrI vAsishTha is based on the root prA - pUraNe - tofill. In this interpretation, he givesthe derivation - prANaH = pUrNaH, pURNasya dAtA prANa-daH - He Whogives fullness to everything. He gives real-life examples, such asour finding that the minerals are distributed uniformly through ourbodies, we find the milk oozing out from any part of the tree thatis cut, etc. And he also gives the beings all kinds of comforts to livewith. So He is One Who bestows fullness - prANa-daH.
Several interpretations of thenAma are possible. One interpretation is: PrANam = jIvanam dadAti iti prANa-daH - He Whosustains life through vAyu orair is prANa-daH. PrANa is one of the five airs that enable the functions of the body (the others being apAna,vyAna, etc.).
SrI BhaTTar's interpretationsfor the four instances of the nAma are given below:
66: asya aiSvaryasyaprathamam vishayam - prANam dadAti - Giver of life (strength and vitality) that enables the devoteesto perform eternalkai'nkaryam to Him. SrI BhaTTar gives the example of bhagavAngiving this energy and will to the nitya sUris- to serve Him uninterruptedly- sUribhyaH sadA-darSana-rUpa-svAnubhava paricaraNa- anukUla bala-daH. The nitya sUri-s not only get the ability toserve Him, but also thebenefit of performing kai'nkaryam to Him eternally, beingwith Him constantly, and enjoying Him permanently. This is the firstexample of the foremost action of bhagavAn, signifying His lordshipover all.
- ya Atma-dAH bala-dAH (taitt.yajur. 4.1.8) - He gives the Selfand He bestows strength. - SadaivaHprANa AviSati (bR. Upa. 3.5.20) - The vital airs enter the body of a created being, along with theSupreme Divinity.
BhagavAn is pRANa-daH also inthe sense that He is the prANa or life for His true devotees, and He gives Himself for them toenjoy. SrI kRshNa dattabhAradvAj captures this thought with his interpretation - prANAn = jIvanam dadAti bhaktebhyaH AtmAna darSayitvA iti prANa-daH.
323. Sri BhaTTarinterprets the sequence of eleven nAma-s starting from nAma 323 as a description of the kUrmAvatAra. In this context, SrI BhaTTarinterprets the term prANa to refer to strength, and the nAma prANa-daH as One Who gave the strength to the deva-sduring the episode describingthe churning of the Milky Ocean. So bhagavAn is called prANa-daH - The Giver of strength. Theamara koSa gives severalmeanings for the word prANa - vital breath, strength, prowess,life etc. - SaktiH parAkrama prANau . (amara koSa 2.8.102), andone of the meanings for the word prANa is seen to be strength.
SrI T. S. Raghavendran givesthe following Sloka in support of the aboveinterpretation:
marutAm bala dAnAd-hi samudramethane bhRSam |
In a sense, bhagavAn not onlygave strength to the deva-s for the purposeof churning the ocean, but He Himself gave His strength to thewhole effort by serving as the support for the huge mountain that wasused as the axle for churning the ocean, in the form of a kUrma (HiskUrma incarnation). He is meditated upon as ananta-bala Saktan (omananta-bala-Saktaye namaH) - One Who is endowed with unlimited strengthand power.
409: Giver of life to all. SrI BhaTTar's vyAkhyAnam is "prasiddhAnapi prANAn dadAti iti prANa-daH". Sri SrInivAsa Raghavantranslates this as "One Who bestows the well-known life itself to all", but SrI Satya MurthyAyyangar chooses to translate itas "The Imparter of liveliness (instead of the Imparter of life)". SrI BhaTTar gives the example of thestate of the trees, shrubs,flowers etc. in ayodhyA when SrI rAma was separated from sItA through the abduction by rAvaNa. Even theywithered because of sadnessover this event:
api vRkshAH parimlAnAHsa-pushpA'nkura korakAH | (ayodhyA. 59.4)
"Even the trees with theirflowers, buds, and sprouts withered. All that remained in the forests and gardens were only dryleaves".
On the other hand, when rAmareturned from exile to ayodhyA later withsitA, fruits and flowers appeared in plenty even out of season (describedby SrImad vAlmIki in SrImad rAmAyaNam).
956: SrI BhaTTar givesanother example of His giving `life' to the devotees: He confers redemption on those soulsthat have been poisoned bythe indulgence in material pleasures - Atam ujjIvanam dadAtiiti prANa-daH - He gives a new life to these souls. The niruktiauthor describes this through the following words:
kAntAdi vishaya AsaktyA nashTaAtmabhyaH kRpA vaSAt |
"BhagavAn is calledprANa-daH because He instills life in the jIva-s whose souls are getting lost because they havebeen poisoned by the sensuouspleasures".
SrI Sa'nkara's vyAkhyAna-s forthe different instances of the nAma are:
- Slokam 8: prANAn dadAticeshTayati iti prANa-daH - He Who bestowsvital airs. kohyevAnyAt kaH prANyAt (taitt. 2.7) - (But for this), Who then couldlive, and who could breathe? -Alternate interpretation by Sri Sa'nkara: prANAn kAlAtmanA dyatikhaNDayati , prANAn dAyati (dApayati) Sodhayati vA, prANAn dAti lunAti iti vA prANa-daH - He Who takes away the life inthe form of death, orpurifies or destroys the prANa-s (breaths). - Slokam 35: surANAm asurANAm ca yathAsa'nkhyam prANam dadAti dyati vA iti prANa-daH _ He Who gives life (energy) tothe gods, and destroys(kills) the life of the demoniac beings (asura-s). -Slokam 44: He Who gives life to all beings at the time of creation,or He Who withdraws all life at the time of pralaya - sRshTyAdausarva-prANinAm antaryAmitayA prANAn dadAti iti prANa-daH |
Slokam 102 (current): mRtAn parIkshit-prabhRtIn jIvayan prANa-daH- He Who revived the life of parIkshit and others. (Recall thatSrI KrshNa also revived the son of the guru with whom He formally performed gurukula vAsam, by retrieving the son from yama lokam).
It is obvious how both SrIBhaTTar and Sri Sa'nkara have explained the nAma-s such that there is no punarukti dosham.
SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri givesanother dimension to the anubhavam of thenAma -
apyaham jIvitam jahyAm tvAm vAsIte sa-lakshmaNAm |
(Adressing sItA pirATTi):
Other interpretations, given inSrI T. S. Raghavendran's book, are:
- prANAn indiryANi dadAti itprANa-daH - He who gives indirya-s toall and makes them function,
He Who guides the devotee to surrender to Him with love.
om praNavAya namaH.
nAma 410 praNamaH, is related. `praNavaH' is an alternate pATham for nAma 410.
SrI vAsishTha indicates the derivation of the nAma from the root Nu stutau to praise, to commend. pra- is a prefix, meaning `in a special way'. praNauti iti praNavaH, praNamayati iti vA He Who is praised or worshipped is `praNavaH'. Just as the root bhU becomes bhav, the root Nu becomes Nav (pANini sUtra 3.3.57 Rdorap). Pra + Nav = praNav. In interpretations below that contain `na' in the root, the na become `Na' by the application of the pANini sUtra 8.4.14 upasargAt a-samAse'pi NopadeSasya, leading to the change of the `na' to `Na'.
SrI BhaTTar's vyAkhyAnam for the nAma is:
SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri quotes the yoga sUtra tasya vAcakaH praNavaH (1.27)
praNava refers to the mantra represented by the three letters a, u, and m "aum" or "OM". This syllable, which is considered a mantra that is the essence of all veda-s, is considered as a manifestation of bhagavAn Himself in sound form. Detailed vyAkhyAna for this mantra has been expounded by the great AcArya-s, and this should be learnt from the AcArya-s. The mantra reminds us, the jIva-s, of the eternal and inseparable relationship of the jIvAtmA to the paramAtmA in a Sesha-SeshI relationship.
SrI V. N. Vedanta deSikan has translated SrI M. V. Ramanujacharya's interpretation for the nAma thus: "BhagavAn informs the souls if they can understand of the perennial bond of relationship existing between Himself and the individual soul, as imbedded in the secret import of the praNava mantra. The key is that "we should try and understand" this eternal relationship between us and Him, and the true nature of our selves, and surrender to Him.
In the last chapter of the gItA, almost near the end, bhagavAn summarizes His instructions to arjuna:
man-manA bhava mad-bhakto mad-yAjI mAm namas-kuru |
"Focus your mind on Me; Be My devotee; Be My worshipper; Prostrate before Me.
It is enlightening to read bhagavad rAmAnuja's explanation of the meaning of the Slokam, so that we truly understand the nature of this obeisance that bhagavAn instructs us to offer to Him.
mad-bhaktaH bhava "atyartham mama priyaH atyarthamatpriyatvena ca niratiSaya priyAm smRti santatim kurushva ityarthaH".
Note the use of word `priyam' thrice in this one sentence of vyAkhyAnam by SrI rAmAnuja. This priyam is the basis of the relationship between Him and us. It is because of His intense love and compassion to us that we should bow to Him, and surrender to Him, and He assures us that He will redeem us as a result.
mad-yAjI bhava "tatrApi mad-bhakta iti anushajyate |
Translation: "Be My worshipper (yAjI). Here also, the expression `Be My devotee' is applicable. Yaj~na is worship.
Note again the emphasis on `atyartha priyam'. This is the basis of the ArAdhana that bhagavAn is advising us to practice.
mAm namas-kuru namo namanam mayi atimAtra-prahvI bhAvam atyartha-priyam kuru ityarthaH |
Translation: "Prostrate before Me". Prostration means `bowing down'.
For those who thus surrender to Him, bhagavAn says: mAm eva eshyasi, satyam te pratijAne" "I make this solemn promise to you. You shall attain Me as a result". These are not mere empty words, because bhagavAn continues: "priyo'si me" "You are dear to Me". Thus, bhagavAn is not just advising us to worship Him with love as the basis, but He is bound to us by the same love, even more intensely than we can ever command. Elsewhere bhagavAn has already declared: "He in whom there is great love to Me, I hold him also as exceedingly dear to Me. I Myself will enable him to attain Me". (gItA 7.17).
SrImad SrImushNam ANDavan points out that the spirit of the gItA Slokam above is best understood if we look at the phrases as "man-manA eva bhava", "mad-bhata eva bhava", "mad-yAjI eva bhava", " mAm eva namas-kuru", "mAm eva eshyasi" Meditate on Me alone, Worship Me alone, Prostrate only to Me; You will definitely attain Me without any doubt.
SrI BhaTTar also gives support from the atharva Siras: pRaNAn sarvAn paramAtmani praNamayati, etasmAt praNavaH | - "The mantra is called praNava mantra, because it makes all souls to obey, and pay respects to, the paramAtmA" (as indicated in the earlier translation, this is considered the greatest privilege by those who understand the significance of the mantra).
SrI Sa'nkara interprets the current instance of the nAma as a reference to bhagavAn through the sound of the syllable "OM". Since bhagavAn is represented by this syllable in word form, this syllable is none other than bhagavAn
For the instance of the nAma in Slokam 44, Sri Sa'nkara gives the interpretation
SrI kRshNa datta bhAradvAj explains the nAma as "prakarsheNa nUyate
SrI satya sandha tIrtha gives the interpretation for the nAma as
SrI baladeva vidyAbhUshaN gives the interpretation
SrI Raghavendran has included some additional interpretation and support:
praNamanti iha yam vedAH tasmAt praNavaH ucyate sanatkumAra
raso'ham apsu kaunteya pabhAsmi SaSi SurayayoH |
(Lord kRshNa declares to arjuna): "O arjuna! I am the taste in the waters, the light in the Sun and the Moon, and the praNava (OmkAra) in all the veda-s, sound in the ether, and manhood in all men".
SrI vAsishTha gives support from kaThopanishad:
sarve vedA yat-padam Amananti tapAmsi sarvANi ca yad vadanti |
"I shall briefly teach you that abode of which all the veda-s speak, of which the AraNyaka-s and the Upanishad-s mention, desiring which brahmacarya is observed. That is OM".
The Upanishad continues on:
etad-dhyevAksharam brahma stad-dhyevAksharam param |
etad-Alambanam SreshTham etad-Alambanam param |
"This letter is indeed Brahman. This very letter is the Supreme. Meditating upon this letter one gets whatever one wants. This is the best support. This is the highewst support. He who knows this is glorified in the world of Brahman".
SrI vAsishTha gives several other references to the Sruti, where the significance of the praNava mantra is revealed to us:
viSve devAsa iha mAdayanta OM pratishTha | (yajur. 3.13)-
The significance of the praNava mantra is the meditation on the mantra with its meaning in mind, which, at a high level, reveals to us the permanent and eternal relationship between us and the paramAtmA, Lord vishNu.
a) He Who trades His role as Master with His devotees, and becomes subservient to them.
om paNAya namaH.
SrI vAsishTha indicates the root for the nAma as `paNa vyavahAre to bargain, to bet or stake at play', or `paNa stutau topraise'. Most interpreters have used the first meaning, and SrI kRshNa datta bhAradvAj and SrI satya sandha tIrtha have used the second meaning.
vyavaharati, vyavahArayati vA viSvam, saH paNaH He Who transacts the activites of the world, or He because of whom the people of theworld transact their activites, is paNaH. (The term ApaNa means a market or a shop a place where transactions are conducted). Different interpreters give different anubhavam-s of His `transactions' or dealings with us.
a) SrI BhaTTar draws from the Sesha-SeshI bhAvam, or the Lord-servant relationship that exists between Him and us. While this is thenatural relationship between bhagavAn and us, sometimes He chooses to reverse this relationship, and behaves as if He is the servant of the devotee. This is the `transaction', namely the reversal of the role, that Sri BhaTTar enjoys through this nAma evam teshAm svAmya-dAsya vyatihAreNa vyavaharati iti paNaH He behaves as though there is a transaction whereby there has been an interchange of the role of the Master-servant relationship between Him and us (vyatihAreNa means `interchangeably, reciprocally'). He acts as if they are the masters and He is their servant. SrI veLukkuDi kRshNan notes that this is what is reflected in tirumazhiSai AzhvAr being called `tirumazhiSaip pirAN', and Lord ArAvamudhan of tirukkuDantai being called "ArAvamudha AzhvAr".
Lord kRshNa declares that He considers His true devotees as His AtmA an example of the reversed role.
udArAH sarva evaite j~nAnI tvAtmaiva me matam | AsthitaH sa hi yuktAtmA mAmevAnuttamAm gatim || (gItA7.18)
" .I deem the man of knowledge to be My very self; for he, integrated, is devoted to Me alone as the highest end". BhagavadrAmAnuja's vyAkhyAnam is: "ayam mayA vinA Atma dhAraNa asambhAvanayA mAm eva anuttamam prApyam AsthitaH, ataH tena vinA mama api AtmadhAraNam na sambhavati, tato mama api AtmA hi saH" This person (the j~naNi who is solely devoted to Him) considers Him to be the highest, and finds it impossible to support himself without Me; so also, I find it impossible to be without him. Thus, verily, He is My self".
b) There is another aspect to the `transaction' that bhagavAn has put in place. This is in the form of our offerings to the different godsthrough yaj~na etc. SrI vAsishTha gives examples from the Sruti where this `transaction' aspect is captured:
yo agnishomA havishA saparyAt daivadrIcA manasA yo ghRtena | tasya vratam rakshatam pAtamamhaso viSe janAya mahi Sarmayacchatam || (Rg. 1.93.8)
"Whosoever honors agni and soma with devout heart, through oil and poured oblation, for him, they (agni, soma etc.) in turn protect hissacrifice, preserve him from distress, and grant to the sacrificer great falicity".
agniH pUrvebhiH RshbhiH Idyo nUtanairuta |
"Worthy is agni to be praised by the living as by ancient seers; he shall bring hitherword the gods".
agne naya supathA rAye | (Rg. 1.189.1)
"agni, god who knows every sacred duty, by goodly paths lead us to riches".
In the spirit in which SrI vAsishTha has interpreted the nAma, namely, that offerings are made to the deva-s, and the deva-s inreturn, bestow goods on the people, the following Slokam from the gItA lends support to this thought:
DevAn bhAvayatAnena te devA bhAvayantu vaH |
ishTAn bhogAn hi vo devA dAsyante yaj~na bhAvitAH |
"By this (i.e., through sacrifices), please the gods, and the gods will support you. Thus nourishing one another, may you obtain thehighest good".
"The gods, pleased by the sacrifice, will bestow on you the enjoyments you desire. He who enjoys the bounty of the gods withoutgiving them anything in return, is but a thief".
c) SrI Sa'nkara interprets the nAma as one referring to the `transaction' aspect of bhagavAn creating the different life-forms (according to their karma?). He quotes a mantra from the upanishad in support:
sarvANi rUpANi vicitya dhIraH; nAmAni kRtvA'bhivadan yadAste |
"He, the Wise, keeps creating various forms and giving a name to each".
d) SrI Sa'nkara's alternate interpretation is:
SrIrAdhAkRshNa SAstri comments that as a merchant gives merchandise that is commensurate with the amount that is paid to him, bhagavAnmeasures out the phalanx commensurate with the karma; thus, the price for happiness is following the path of dharma, and the price for suffering is one's having followed the a-dharmic path.
e) SrI cinmayAnanda explains this guNa of bhagavAn in terms of the functioning of everything in the universe: "PaNaH The SupremeManager of the Universe. By giving the exact reward for all actions, Lord both orders and justly manages all activities of each individual and directly supervises the interactions between individuals and things constituting this scientifically precise universe".
f) SrI kRshNa datta bhAradvAj uses the root paN stutau to praise, and explains the nAma as "paNyate stUyate sattva guNavadbhiH itipaNaH He Who is worshipped by those who are endowed with a predominance of the sattva guNa. This is also one of the interpretations provided by SrI satya sandha tIrtha paNyate janaiH stUyate iti paNaH.
g) SrI raghunAtha tIrtha gives yet another dimension to His `transactions' paNayati devAn vyahAreshu pravartayati itipaNaH