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Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam - SLOKA 107



Sa'nkha-bhRn_nandakI cakrI Sar'nga-dhanvA gadA-dharaH |
rathA'nga-PANIr_akshobhyaH sarva-praharaNAyudhaH ||


om Sa'nkha-bhRte namaH.
om nandakine namaH.
om cakriNe namaH.
om Sar'nga-dhanvane namaH.
om gadA-dharAya namaH.
om rathA'nga-pANaye namaH.
om akshobhyAya namaH.
om sarva-praharaNAyudhAya namaH.

nAma 993. Sa'nkha-bhRt.

In this last Sloka of the stotra before phala-Sruti, bhagavAn's celestial weapons are described. There are several aspects in which the Ayudha-s or weapons in bhagavAn's hands are enjoyed by the devotees.

1) 2) . These weapons are enjoyed by His devotees as divine ornaments, while at the same time they are objects of terror for His enemies.

Even though bhagavAn has many weapons that decorate Him (for instance, the shoDaSAyudha stotram by svAmi deSikan describing 16 weapons in the hands of Lord sudarSana), the pa'nca Ayhudha-s are the ones that receive mention in this Sloka. The pa'nca Ayudha-s or the five weapons are also sung in the pa'ncAyudha stotram.

3) In addition to the aspect that the weapons in bhagavAn's hands are worshipped as decorations for Him (which is how most devotees view the weapons), and the aspect that He carries them for the protection of His devotees and the destruction of their enemies, there is another aspect that is to be enjoyed. This is the perspective of the special devotee such as nammAzhvAr, who becomes extremely concerned about the safety of His Lord because of his intense love towards His Lord. We already know that periAzhvAr sang ma'ngaLASAsaam to the Lord and prayed for a `long life' for His Lord (paLLANDu). Similarly, nammAzhvAr gets concerned that His Lord has been left to carry all these huge weapons in His hands, with nobody coming forward to help Him by carrying them for Him. SrI v.v. rAmAnujan refers us to tiruvAimozhi pASuram 8.3.3:

ALum AL Ar, Azhiyum Sa'ngum SumappAr tAm vALum villum koNDu pin SelvAr maRRillai
 tALum tOLum kaikaLai Arat tozhak kANEn nALum nALum nADuvan aDiyEn j~nalattE.

The pASuram is one where AzhvAr is in deep bhagavad anubhavam, to the point that he is worried and concerned that there is no to one to help His Lord carry these heavy weapons, and instead they only keep calling on Him to bestow on them worldly things, instead of realizing that He is the only true object to wish for.

4) There is a fourth aspect to the Ayudha-s that Lord vishNu holds on His tirumEni, that is described in SrI vishNu purANam. Here, the Ayudha-s that Lord Hari holds in His divine body are described as representing the various tattva-s that ultimately are involved in the creation of the Universe and its beings. SrI kRshNan describes these in detail in his sahasra nAma upanyAsam. Briefly, the following is a summary:

- cakram – symbolizes the constant movement of manas – vAyu vegam mano vegam - Sa'nkham – tAmasa aha'nkAram, from which the pa'nca bhUta-s have appeared; (pRthivi, ap, vAyu, tejas, AkASam). e.g., Sabdam, one of the tan-mAtras which is the first stage before AkASa appears, is the sound emanating from the conch. - gadhA - – buddhi – unlike manas which is ca'ncalam, buddhi is the stabilizing factor. - SAr'nga – sAttvika – the five karma indriya-s and the five j~nAna indriya-s. SAr'nga is the controlling force for the indriya- s. - nandakI – the sword represents brahma vidyA; the sheath for the knife is the controlling force that controls avidyA.

The Sloka-s from SrI vishNu purANam from chapter 1.22 that describe the above are:

pradhAnam buddhirapyAste gadA rUpena mAdhave || (68)

bhUtAdim indriyAdiSca dvidhAha'nkAram ISvaraH | 
bibharti Sa'nkha rUpeNa SAr'nga rUpeNa ca sthitam || (69)

bala svarUpam atyanta javenAntarivAnilam | 
cakra svarUpaSca mano dhatte vishNuH kare sthitam || (70)

bibharti yac-cAsi ratnam acyuto'tyanta nirmalam | 
vidyomayantu tad-j~nAnam avidyA koSa samsthitam | (73)

"Intellect abides in Madhava in the form of His mace. The Lord supports egotism (aha'nkAra) in its two-fold division, into elements and organs of sense, in the emblems of His conch-shell and His bow. In His hand vishNu holds, in the form of His discus, the mind, whose thoughts fly swifter than the winds.

"The bright sword of acyuta is holy wisdom, concealed at some seasons in the scabbard of ignorance".

Thus Lord vishNu embodies the shapeless elements of the world as His weapons and His ornaments, for the salvation of mankind.

5) Yet another aspect to the pa'cAyudha-s is that these are asAdhAraNa lakshaNa-s for bhagavAn (the symbols that are unique to Him, and to no other god), as noted by SrI v.v. rAmAnujan.

MandodharI, rAvaNa's wife, describes rAma as "tamasaH paramo dhAtA Sa'nkha cakra gadA dharaH". 
Arjuna requests bhagavAn to display His `usual form', with crown and with mace and discus in hand, after he sees bhagavAn's viSva rUpam and becomes frightened.

kirITinam gadinam cakra hastam icchAmi tvAm drashTum aham tathiva | 
tenaiva rUpeNa catur-bhujena sahasra bAho bhava viSvamUrte || (gItA 11.46)

"I wish to see You as before, with crown and with mace and discus in hand. 
Assume again that four-armed shape, O Thou thousand-armed, of Universal Form!".

Another reference to the pa'ncAyudha-s is given by SrI kRshNa datta bhAradvAj, from SrImad bhAgavatam:

sarvAtmanIdam bhuvanam nirIkshya sarve'surAH kaSmalam Apura'nga | 
sudarSanam cakram asahya tejo dhanuSca SAr'ngam stanayitnughosham ||

parjanya ghosho jalajaH pA'ncajanyaH kaumodakI vishNu gadA tarasvinI | 
vidyAdhadro'siH Sata-candra yuktaH tUNottamau akshayasAyakau ca ||

"O King! Finding the whole world as the body of SrI Hari, the asura- s became concerned and sad. At the same time, the sudarSana cakra with incomparable tejas, the bow called SAr'nga that made the sound of the thunder, the conch by name pA'ncajanya that made the sound of the clouds about to shower, the gadA with enormous power, the sword that represents vidyA and that has a hundred sharp edges were prostrating to Lord Hari….".

Now we will look at the specific nAma Sa'nkha-bhRrt.

SrI vAsishTha indicates the root for the word "Sa'nkha' as Sama – upaSame – to grow calm, to put an end to, to stop. (This is also the root for the word SA'ntiH). The application of the uNAdi sUtra 1,102 (SameH khaH) leads to the addition of the affix kha to the root Sama, leading to the word Sa'nkha – the conch-shell. The word `bhRt' is derived from the root bhR – dhAraNa poshaNayoH – to hold, to support. Sa'nkham bibharti iti, Sa'nkham pushNAti iti vA Sa'nkha- bhRt – He Who holds the conch, He Who supports the conch, He Who nourishes the conch, etc. The last interpretation is the one that SrI BhaTTar emphasizes, and the one that ANDAL relishes, as we will see.

SrI BhaTTar, who has described the previous 991 nAma-s by emphasizing bhagavAn's saulabhyam and sauSIlyam, finishes the last eight nAma-s by reminding us that this same bhagavAn is none other than the Supreme Lord of all the Universes – in other words, he describes the last eight nAma-s as indicative of bhagavAn's supreme overlordship – "parama aiSvarya cihna divya AyudhadvAt". At the same time, he directs his interpretation to aspects of these Ayudha-s in His hands that evoke the sense of bhakti rasam in His devotees. Thus, his interpretation for the nAma Sa'nkha-bhRt is that bhagavAn is supporting or nourishing the Sa'nkha through the adharAmRtam from His mouth (bhR – dhAraNa poshNayoH – to support, to nourish). This is the anubhavam that ANDAL has about the Sa'nklham in bhagavAn's hands.

ANDAL devotes a full tiruvAimozhi in praise of bhagavAn's divine conch, and enviously describes how His conch is blessed to be always with Him (unlike cakrattAzhvAn who has to go wherever there is need – such as the gajendra moksham incident, to take care of the enemy, and then return). The conch is resting either in His hand, or when it feels the need for some nourishment, it just goes to His mouth and enjoys the droplets of His adharAmRtam, and then returns back to His hand for rest. One sentence that summarizes ANDAL's description of His pA'ncajanyam – 

"uNbadu Sollil ulagaLandAn vAyamudam, kaN paDai koLLil kaDal vaNNan kait-talattE (nAcciyAr tiru. 7.7).

SrI Sa'nkara's vyAkhyAnam for the nAma is: pA'ncajanyAkhyam bhUtAnaha'nkArAtmakam Sa'nkham bibhrat Sa'nkha-bhRt – The Bearer of the conch shell, called the pA'ncajanya, which stands for the tAmasa ahmkAra, from which the five elements are born. The inner significance of this interpretation is seen in the detailed explanation that is given in SrI vishNu purANam that has been described earlier.

SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri notes that the name pA'ncajanyam itself signifies that the divine conch is the representation of the tattva called ahamkAra that is the origin of the pa'ncabhUta-s. Of course, there is also the vRttAntam about bhagavAn slaying the asura by name pa'ncajana, who was in the form of a conch, and this conch also became a decoration for bhagavAn, and is known as pA'ncajanyam.

SrI SAstri notes that the sound that emanates from His pA'ncjanyam has the effect of removing the internal enemy in the form of ignorance in the minds of the devotees, as well as the powerful external enemies. Thus, in both senses the conch is a weapon that He bears for the protection of the devotee and the annihilation of the enemy of the devotee.

SrI vAsishTha refers us to hymns from the Rg-veda that are directed to the praise of the glory of the Sa'nkha. There are ten mantra-s in Rg veda 4.10 that all praise the glory of the Sa'nkha. Even though Ralph T. Griffith, the European translator of these mantra-s into English, describes these mantra-s as referring to those `accompanying the investiture of a person with a protective amulet of shell', SrI vAsishTha refers to them in the context of bhagavAn's nAma of Sa'nkha- bhRt, as a reference to the glory of bhagavAn's Sa'nkha.

994. nandakI – He Who has nandakI, the sword.

om nandakine namaH.

The root for the nAma is nand – samRddhau – to be pleased, to thrive. Both SrI BhaTTar and SrI vAsishTha refer to the pANini sUtra 3.1.150 – Asishi ca, whereby the affix vun is added to the verb when benediction is intended. This leads to the word nandakaH, with the meaning `may he be happy'. nandakI then refers to One Who is inseparably associated with the sword that is prayed for with the prayer: "May He keep me happy" m j. SrI BhaTTar interprets the nAma as a reference to the divine sword that the Lord possesses, to whom the Lord makes the prayer to give Him joy in His victories.

SrI vAsishTha on the other hand interprets the nAma as "One Who has beings for whom He wishes happiness always, and whom He can bless as "may he be happy always" – ASamsanArham priyam vastu nityam asya asti iti `nandakI'. Thus, he does not even refer to the divine weapon in his interpretation.

Sri Sa'nkara explains the nAma as One Who carries the sword called nandaka, representing knowledge –"vidyA-mayo nadakAkhyaH asiH asya asti iti nadakI". This follows the description of the divine weapons given in SrI vishNu purANam that we discussed in the previous nAma. SrI baladeva vidyA bhUshaN gives the same interpretation – vi~jnAnAtmako nandako asiH asya asti iti nandakI.

SrI cinmayAnanda gives the following explanation: "The Lord's sword is called nandaka. Therefore, this term indicates One Who holds and wields the nandaka sword. The word nanda-kam means "that which brings bliss". The SAstra-s sing that this divine sword in the sacred hands of Lord Hari represents the Knowledge-Spiritual (vidyA- tattva) with which a seeker can destroy his ignorance of the Self in him".

995. cakrI – He Who has the cakra, the Discus.

om cakriNe namaH.

We have studied this nAma earlier in Sloka 97 (nAma 908). Please refer to that write-up as well.

Cakra refers to the Discus, and He who has the Discus as one of His weapons is cakrI. The cakra in bhagavAn's hand is called the sudraSana cakra. As noted earlier, it serves as the adornment for bhagavAn, as well as a weapon against the enemies of His devotees. SrI BhaTTar notes that the carkra in His hands is always smeared with the blood of the rAkshasa-s who are the sworn enemies of the gods who are His devotees. It is also adorned by the flames of fire that are shooting out of it. periAzhvAr refers to Him as taDavarai tOL cakkarapANi (periAzh. 5.4.4) – "One with the broad shoulders bearing the cakra (and the SAr'nga bow)".

SrI satyadevo vAsishTha takes a more generic meaning for the term cakra as something going round and round or happening again and again in circles, and gives the interpretation that bhagavAn has the nAma cakrI because He has established this world with events that happen again and again in circles – such as the appearance of the sun, the moon, the planets, etc.

SrI kRshNa datta bhAradvAj gives references to SrImad bhAgavatam and SrI vishNu purANam:
- sudarSanam cakram asahya tejaH – "The sudrSana cakra with tejas that cannot be confronted" – SrImad bhAga. 8.20.30. 
- namaste cakra hastAya (SrI VishNu purA. 5.30.22)

SrI cinmayAnanda explains the nAma as "One Who carries the Discus called sudarSana. sudarSana means "that which gives the auspicious vision. 
The SAstra-s attribute to this Discus-Divine the representation of the human mind".

SrI baladeva vidyA bhUshaN captures the thought as: "tejas-tattvam sudarSana cakram asya asti iti cakrI" – He Who bears the sudarSana cakra that represents the tattva of tejas.

SrI veLukkuDi kRshNan's anubhavam is that bhIshma has introduced `nandakI' between Sa'nkha and cakra just so bhagavAn's beauty with Sa'nkha and cakra does not get the dosham of dRshTi from those who are not His devotees.

Other names for cakra noted by SrI kRshNan are: hetirAjan, rathA'nga, and sudarSana. rathA'ngapANi is the nAma we will discuss after a couple of nAma-s.

996. SAr'nga dhanvA – He Who has the bow named SAr'nga.

om SAr'nga-dhanvane namaH.

SAr'ngam dhanuH asya iti SAr'nga-dhanvA – He Who has the bow by name SAr'nga. 
The word SAr'nga can be derived from the root "SRR – himsAyAm – to tear to pieces, to hurt, to kill. 
The word dhanush is derived from the root dhan – Sabde – to sound.

SrI BhaTTar describes the greatness of the SAr'nga bow as one that is capable of destroying not only the evil forces, but even the names and status of the enemies, by a mere twang (the sound caused by the vibration of the chord of the bow) echoing in a powerful and fiery manner. Added to this is the power of the sharp arrows issuing out of the bow. Note SrI BhaTTar's anubhavam that the SAr'nga dhanus destroys its enemies in two ways: by the sound that emanates when its chord is plucked, and the shower of arrows issuing from it – jyAgosha Sara-varsha nASita. The sound emanating from the string of the bow rejuvenates the ASrita-s and shatters the will of the enemies.

SrImad SrImushNam ANDavan reminds us of ANDAL's pASuram singing the glory of the SAr'nga dhanus, in her pASuram – Azhi pOl minni, valam puri pOl ninRu adirndu tAzhAdE SAr'ngam udaitta Sara mazhai pOl vAzh ulaginil peidiDAi. (tiruppAvai 4) – an appeal to the Rain-god to shower rain like the shower of arrows that shoot out from SAr'nga, the divine bow in the Lord's hands. Note that instead of comparing the shower of arrows to the rain, ANDAL compares the rain to the shower of arrows, meaning that the rain can only try to match the shower of arrows shooting out from the SAr'nga bow. For ANDAL, the profuse and ceaseless shower of arrows from His bow is the known (upamAna), and the shower of rain becomes only the upameyam.

SrI kRshNa datta bhAradvAj refers to the great sound of the bow as described in SrImad bhAgavatam – "dhanuSca SAr'ngam stanayitnughosham" (8.20.30) 
- The SAr'nga bow that makes the sound that resembles thunder.

Sri Sa'nkara's explanation is: indriyAdi aha'nkAra Atmakam SAr'ngam nAma dhanuH asya asti iti SAr'nga-dhanvA – He has the bow called SAr'nga, representing the senses and egotism (aha'nkAra).

SrI cinmayAnanda explains the nAma as: " "One Who aims His unerring Bow called SAr'nga". He continues: "This bow of nArAyaNa is glorified in our texts as representing the Ego, as the apex of all the sense organs, aha'nkAra-tattva. In this concluding stanza, the instruments of Blessing in Sree nArAyaNa's hands are remembered with reverence and devotion.".

SrI baladeva vidyAbhUshaN explains the nAma as – kriyA tattvam SAr'ngam dhanuH asya iti SAr'nga-dhanvA - He Who bears the bow by name SAr'nga that represents the kriyA tattvam.

997. gadA-dharaH – He Who bears the Mace.

om gadA-dharAya namaH.

gada – vyaktAyAm vAci – to speak. gadati – Sabdam karoti iti gadA – that which generates sound is gadA. dhara is derived from dhR'nj – dhAraNe – to hold, to bear, to support. 
gadAyAH dharaH gadA-dharaH – He Who holds or bears the mace. BhagavAn's Mace is called kaumodakI. SrI BhaTTar describes the kaumodakI as the `queen of maces, that gives Him pleasure and that emits flames all around like the fire at the final dissolution of all the worlds".  SrI vAsishTha compares the sound that emanates from the kaumodakI to the sound that one hears from the thunders.

SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri relates the incident of the destruction of kANDa vanam by arjuna with the help of kRshNa. At that time, the kaumodakI was given as a gift by varuNa to kRshNa, according to a description in mahA bhArata. He also gives another derivation for the nAma: kumudaH is One Who rejoices in the company of Bhumi devi. kumodakaH is One Who makes the earth happy. KaumodakI is that which belongs to Him – kumodakasya idam.

The vishNu purANa description given at the beginning of this Sloka attributes the buddhi tattva with the gadA, and SrI Sa'nkara gives his interpretation according to the vishNu purANam – buddhi- tattvAtmikAm kaumodakI nAma gadAm vahan gadA-dharaH – The Bearer of the club called kaumodakI representing the principle of intellect.

SrI kRshNa datta bhAradvAj gives reference to SrImad bhAgavatam: kaumodakI vishNu gadA tarasvinI (8.20.31) - vishNu's gadA that has enormous strength.

998. rathA'nga-pANiH – He Who is armed with the wheel in His hand.

Om rathA'nga-pANaye namaH.

rathA'ngam, cakram pANau yasya iti rathA'nga-pANiH.- He Who has the discus in His hand. SrI vAsishTha gives the following derivation: The word ratha is derived from the root ramu – krIDAyAm – to play, to sport; by the application of the uNAdi sUtra 2.2, the affix kthan is added, leading to the word ratha – chariot (ramate = krIDati yasmin yena vA rathaH). The word a'nga is derived from the root agi – to go. rathah a'ngati yena tad rathA'ngam – That which makes the chariot go is rathA'ngam or wheel.

In one interpretation for this nAma, the reference is to the wheel or discus in His hand. We studied the nAma cakrI (nAma 995), and one might feel that there is redundancy between the two nAma-s. SrI BhaTTar points out that in nAma 995, bhagavAn being the Possessor of the Ayudham or weapon was described, whereas in the current nAma His readiness for action (having the cakra ready in His hand for release) is described, and thus there is no repetition. It is His readiness for action at all times that is enjoyed in the current nAma. In periya tiruvantAdi-87 this readiness is described by nammAzhvAr as "eppozhudum kai kazhalA nEmiyAn" – He Who has the discus that never leaves His hand.

Another interpretation given for the nAma is a reference to the incident where bhagavAn jumped from the chariot and rushed towards bhIshma during the mahA bhArata war with the wheel of the chariot in His hand, just to make the promise of His devotee bhIshma come true, even when it involved His breaking His own promise not to take to weapons during the war. SrImad SrImushNam ANDavan reminds us of this incident in explanation of this nAma.

SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri refers us to bhIshma's own description of this incident:

sva-nigamam apahAya mat-pratij~nAm Rtam adhikartum avapluto rathasthaH | 
dhRta ratha caraNah abhyayAt calatguH haririva hantum ibham gatottarIyaH || (bhAga. 1.9.37)

"Giving up His promise not to take arms in the battle, and just to fulfill my promise that I will make Him take arms, 
He who had ascended the chariot jumped down and rushed towards me with the haste that made the earth shake, 
like a lion that was rushing to kill an elephant".

SrI baladeva vidyA bhUshaN also gives the interpretation in terms of bhagavAn bearing the wheel of the chariot in order to fulfill the vow of His devotee 
– bhakta pratij~nA pratipAlakatAm ati-SlAghyatvAt punarAha rathA'ngapANiriti bhIshmam prati pradarSitam etat.

999. akshobhyaH – He Who is unshakable.

Om akshobhyAya namaH.

We studied this nAma earlier in Slokam 86 – nAma 807. Please refer to that write-up for additional insights on bhagavAn's akshobhyatvam.

SrI satyadevo vAsishTha gives the following derivation for the nAma: The nAma is derived from the root kshubh kshobh – sa'ncalane – to be agitated or disturbed. The application of pANini sUtra 3.1.124 – R- halor-Nyat, results in the word kshobhyah, giving the sense of SakyArthe arhArte vA - `one who is capable of', and `or one who is fit to be'.. Thus, khshobhyah means `one who can be agitated, perturbed, shaken', and akshobhyaH means "One who cannot be shaken' - na kshobhayitum = sa'ncalayitum Sakyah akshobhyah.

SrI BhaTTar's vyAkhyAnam is – prapanna abhaya dAna dArDhyAt sva- mahimnA'pi akshobhyaH – He Who cannot be shaken from the firm vow that He has taken to protect those who have surrendered to Him; this vow of His cannot be shaken even by His own Great Self". One is reminded of the words of bhagavAn found in SaraNagati gadyam of bhagavad rAmAnuja:

- anRtam nokta pUrvam me na ca vakshye kadAcana - I have never uttered an untruth before, and will never utter one ever. 
- rAmo dvir-nAbhibhAshate – rAma never talks with two tongues 
- sakRdeva prapannAya tavAsmI ca yAcate | 
abhayam sarva bhUtebhyo dadAmyetad vratam mama || (yuddha. 18.33) 

"It is My vow to protect unconditionally from every living being, anyone that surrenders to Me even once, or seeks my protection saying "I am your servant"". 

- sarva dharmAn parityajya mAm ekam SaraNam vraja | 
aham tvAsarva pApebhyo mokshayishyAmi mA Sucah || (gItA 18.66) 

"Completely relinquishing all Dharma-s, seek Me alone for refuge. I will release you from all sins. Grieve not".

SrI veLukkuDi kRshNan points to the incident where sItA tries to persuade rAma not to bear arms while in the forest, but to follow the path of penance instead. Lord rAma's response is that He had given His word to the Rshi-s in the forest that they will be protected from the rAkshasa-s at all costs, and that He won't swerve from His word even if it involves losing sItA and lakshmaNa:

apyaham jIvitam jahyAm tvAm vA sIte sa-lakshmaNam | 
na tu pratij~nAm samSrutya brAhmaNebhyo viSeshatah || (AraNya. 10.19)

"O sItA! I would rather give up My life, or even you and lakshmaNa, than break My promise, especially that which has been made to brAhmins".

Lord rAma reinforces His commitment to protect anyone who approaches Him with sincerity, during vibhIshaNa SaraNAgati:

mitra bhAvena samprAptam na tyajeyam katha'ncana | 
dosho yadyapi tasya syAt satAm etat agarhitam || (yuddha. 18.3)

"I will not forsake anyone who has approached Me with a feeling of true love, even if this person has any faults. This is the conduct that will be considered blemish-less by elders".

The write-ups for the nAma satya-sandhah (Slokam 54), acyutah etc., give ample support to His akshobhyatvam.

SrI Sa'nkara's interpretation is – ata eva aSakya-kshobhaNa iti akshobhyaH – `thus equipped with the various weapons, He is said to be unassailable". 
In other words, SrI Sa'nkara associates the unassailability with the previous nAma-s describing His weapons.

SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri's anubhavam is that bhIshma is describing the Lord whom He saw for 10 days in the battlefield through these last few nAma-s (rathA'nga pANiH - the previous nAma, and akshobhyah – the current nAma). SrI baladeva vidyA bhUshaN gives essentially the same interpretation – tyakta Sastro'pi kshobhayitum gharshitum a- SakyatvAt akshobhyah.

Another anubhavam of His being unshakable, is given by SrI cinmayAnanda through the following words: "One Who cannot be exasperated by anyone, by any act or acts, however blasphemous they may be; One Whose peace and calm cannot be stormed out by any happening in his outer world; Ever-peaceful. The term suggests Infinite patience, love and kindness towards man and his frailties".

1000. sarva-praharaNAyudhaH – He Who has all weapons that act against evil.

Om sarva-praharaNAyudhAya namaH.

praharaNam means `striking, beating, attacking, hurting' etc. sarvANi praharaNAni AyudhAni yasya iti sarva-praharaNAyudah. – He Who has all kinds of destructive weapons to punish the evil.

In this Slokam, starting from nAma 993, and up to nAma 999, bhIshma has explicitly referred to the following Ayudha-s of bhagavAn – Sa'nkha – the divine conch, nandaka – the divine sword, cakra – the divine discus, Sar'nga – the divine bow, and gadA – bhagavAn's mace. These are the five weapons that are prominently sung in the pa'ncAyudha stotram. Then we have the shoDaSAyudha stotram that describes the 16 weapons that cakkarattAzhvAn himself has. This in no way is the limit of His weapons. He has limitless number of weapons that can strike at the enemy. This is the message conveyed in this nAma. The difference in the anubhavam of the different vyAkhyAna-kartA-s is on why He is carrying these weapons.

SrI bhaTTar explains that the nAma signifies that bhagavAn possesses countless Ayudha-s that are very powerful in removing all the obstacles encountered by the prapanna-s (those who have unconditionally surrendered to Him), are befitting His greatness, possess the great power to destroy the enemies of His devotees, serve as both ornaments and armaments to Him, and which have taken a vow as it were, to protect His devotees always, in all places, and through all means. Just as Hee has infinite Sakti, He has infinite Ayudha- s. These weapons are not to be looked upon simply as mere tools of machinery in the mundane physical sense. Each of these weapons possesses infinite power. (SrI bhaTTar's words are – sva-nishThAnAm sarva anishTa unmUlayitRRNi ……sadA, sarvatra, savathA, sarva-prakAra samASrita….). These weapons help Him discharge His responsibility as the Supreme Lord of the Universe, to root out all the miseries of His devotees". The yAga that is mentioned by SrI BhaTTar in his vyAkhyAnam – dIrgha satra yAga, could also be enjoyed as referring to bhagavAn's long and never-ending yAga or undertaking of the `protection of the people, and all His creation'. This aspect – namely, that whatever bhagavAn does, including the carrying of weapons, is solely for the protection of His devotees, has been the emphasis throughout SrI BhaTTar's vyAkhyAnam for all the nAma-s. We will enjoy more of this commitment of bhagavAn to protection of all of His creation in a subsequent write-up.

The words sarva and praharaNa are adjectives to the word `Ayudhah". `sarva' signifies that in addition to the Ayudha-s that have been mentioned explicitly, He has many more such Ayudha-s not mentioned here, which are all aspects of His indescribable splendor.

SrI v.v. rAmAnujan's anubhavam is that bhagavAn, who can destroy all His enemies through His mere Will, still carries the weapons just to cause terror in the hearts and minds of the wicked people.

SrI Sa'nkara explains the nAma as `etAnyeva AyudhAni asya iti na niyamyate, api tu sarvANyeva praharaNAni AyudhAni asya iti sarva- praharaNAyudhah – He has all of kinds of destructive weapons, and it cannot be categorically declared that He possesses only such and such weapons. SrI Sa'nkara comments that even though finger-nails are not considered Ayudham by any standards, in His case, He uses them as Ayudham as well, as He showed in the case of hiraNya-kaSipu – Ayudhatvena aprasiddhAnyapi karajAdIni asya asya AyudhAni bhavanti iti. SrI Sa'nkara further comments that this final nAma declaring that "He is One Who possesses all kinds of weapons with which He can strike", is chosen to show His satya-sa'nkalpam and His Lordship over all. He refers us to the bRhadAraNyaka upoanishad – "esha sarveSvaraH" (BU 4.4.22).

It may be recalled from discussions of several previous nAma-s that a major distinguishing feature between SrI Sa'nkara's and SrI BhaTTar's commentaries is that the former emphasizes Lord vishNu's paratvam (Supremacy), whereas the latter stresses His saulabhyam and sauSIlyam, and above all, His supreme concern for the welfare of His devotee. The respective vyAkhyAna-s for this final nAma by the two vyAkhyAna-kartA-s reflects this aspect of their approach to the commentary very distinctly – SrI Sa'nkara concludes that the final nAma reinforces Lord's sarveSvaratvam – Lordship over all, whereas SrI bhaTTar concludes that the nAma signifies bhagavAn's ever- readiness to go for the protection of His devotees with all His weapons.

While SrI Sa'nkara mentioned bhagavAn's use of even His fingernails as Ayudham, SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri goes one step further – The Lord used grass as a weapon (kAkAsura), the sucking of the breast milk from a demoness (pUtanA) as a weapon, etc. SrI veLukkuDi kRshNan notes that bhagavAn used the garbha grass in the case of SukrAcArya who tried to interfere in bhagavAn's scheme to get three feet of land from vAmana. The point to enjoy is that just as He uses anything as a weapon to destroy the wicked, He will use anything to protect His devotee as well – He is satya-sa'nkalpan; by His mere Will, He can accomplish anything He wishes.

A legitimate question that can be raised, is: "Why does the Lord even need any weapons at all to destroy His devotees' enemies, when He can achieve this by His mere sa'nkalpam? For instance, Lord rAma Himself tells sugrIvan:

piSAcAn dAnavAn yakshAn pRthivyAm caiva rAkshasAn |
a'ngulyagreNa tAn hanyAm icchan harigaNeSvara || (yuddha. 6.18.22)

"O King of the army of monkeys! It is quite possible for Me to destroy all the ghosts, the asura-s, the yaksha-s, and all these rAkshasa-s with the tip of My finger, if I so desire".

Then why is it that He carries all these weapons? On reason given is that He carries them so that they will induce terror in the hearts of the enemies of His devotees, and at least in some cases, they will desist from harming His devotees, without His having to punish them. SrI v. v. rAmAnujan refers us to ANDAL's tiruppAvai (25): "ka'njan vayiRRil nerppenna ninRa neDumAlE!" – He struck fear deep down in the bowels of kamsan by His very thought. Another anubhavam is that when dealing with those who show enmity to Him alone, He uses His sa'nkalpa Sakti to punish them, but if anyone ill- treats His devotee, then bhagavAn becomes angry, and instead of destroying them through His sa'nkalpa Sakti alone, He resorts to His weapons to punish them (tiruvAi. 4.8.1).

Another aspect of His many divya Ayudha-s is that they are nitya-sUri- s who worry about His protection out of their love and attachment to Him, even though He does not need any protection Himself. But it is their love of Him that makes them be always on the lookout for His protection, and so they all reside in His tirumEni, always watching out for any unforeseen enemies. Recall periyAzhvAr singing pallANDu for Him, for His divine weapons, etc., all because of his concern for the welfare of emperumAn, driven by His deep love to Him.

This nAma formally concludes the write-up on the 1000 nAma-s of Lord vishNu. We still have the phala Sruti Sloka-s to cover. In addition, a member of the list who has been giving me great encouragement and support in all my works (including sahasra nAma, tAtparya ratnAvaLi, etc.), raised a very interesting question: Is there any special significance that the enumeration of the most prominent nAma-s chosen by bhIshma based on the nAma-s most commonly sung by the Rshi-s etc. (Rshibhih parigItAni), ends with a description of bhagavAn's weapons? We will cover this in a separate write-up devoted for this subject.

-dAsan kRshNamAcAryan


SrImate SrI ra'nga rAmAnuja mahA deSikAya namaH.

sarva-praharaNAyudha om nana iti |

Slokam 107 that we concluded in our last posting, has different versions in different books. The version we used in our last posting is the version used by some; there are some who include the words `sarva-praharaNAyudha om nama iti' as part of Slokam 107, at the end of the Sloka that we had in our last posting. There are some versions that just include the nAma `sarva-praharaNAyudhaH' once more at the end as part of Slokam 107, followed by the words `om nama iti' as the next sentence.

This is then followed by phala Sruti. Not all commentators have included vyAkhyAna beyond what we covered in our previous posting. Some proceed further, and give interpretation for the words `sarva- praharaNAyudha om nama iti', followed by interpretation for the phala Sruti Sloka-s; others give vyAkhyAnam for "sarva-praharaNAyudha om nama it', but do not include a commentary for the phala Sruti Sloka-s.

SrI satya devo vAsishTha, SrI kRshNa datta bhAradvAj, SrI M. V. rAmAnujAcArya, NS SrI cinmayAnanda, are among those who end their commentaries WITH Slokam 107 as we had in the preceding posting. SrI BhaTTar, SrI Sa'nkara, SrI v.v. rAmAnujan, are among those who continue their vyAkhyAna-s further, even though they do not all cover everything beyond this point.

sarva-praharaNAyudha om nama iti 

I came to know about a `Critical edition' of mahA bhArata by the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. Following is a brief description of the `Critical Edition' provided to me by Dr. Bob Evans of the University of Chicago:

"The project took decades. Some of the greatest Sanskrit scholars of India and the West worked on the project at different times. What I recall from Professor van Buitenen at the University of Chicago (from Sanskrit classes nearly 30 years ago), is that the goal was to try to reconstruct Vyasa's orginal text by comparing the oldest dated manuscripts from all over India. As manuscripts were copied and recopied over thousands of years, variations crept in. Some were mistakes made by the copiers, others were corrections based on the learning of the copier, etc. etc. In some cases, there were stories that exist only in one region and not in other regions. The differences were culled out (and fully documented in notes). In a nutshell, the editors attempted to recover the "original" text before the variations crept in over time. In the West, this approach has been used to "recover" the "original" texts of the Bible. In India, this approach has been used to edit the Ramayana (project completed) and the Bhagavata Purana (project in progress at Tirupati)".

The editing of this manuscript for mahabhArata extended over several years (the cover page of the Critical Edition that I have lists the starting date as August 1925, and the effort was on-going as of at least April, 1961). The reason for my bringing up this information is that this Critical Edition does not have the words "sarva- praharaNAyudha om nama iti" in its text. This may partly explain why certain vyAkhyAna-kartA-s have omitted this line from their commentaries. However, it is worth noting that Adi Sa'nkara, the first one known to have written a vyAkhyAnam for SrI vishNu sahasra nAmam, has included these words in his vyAkhyAnam, and has commented on the phrase. Others have included his vyAkhyAnam when they have included the vyAkhyAnam for this line in their publications.

I am unable to find a vyAkhyAnam for this line by SrI BhaTTar in three texts that I have. asmad AcAryan, SrImad SrImushNam ANDavan, does not include this in his upanyAsam on SrI vishNu sahasra nAmam, and continues directly to the phala Sruti after Slokam 107. However, Prof. A. Srinivasa Raghavan, in his English translation of SrI BhaTTar's `bhagavad guNa darpaNam', has added an explanation in English for the line `sarva-praharaNAyudha om nama iti', which esentiallay echoes SrI Sa'nkara's vyAkhyAnam. . The same is the case with the English translation for SrI BhaTTar's vyAkhyAnam by SrI vishNu sahasra nAma satsa'ngam, New Delhi.

SrI Sa'nkara's vyAkhyAnam for this line is: "dvir-vacanam samAptim dyotayati | OmkAraSca ma'ngalArthaH |" - 
The repetition "sarva- praharaNAyudhah" marks the end of the work. The syllable "OM" is used for auspiciousness. He gives support from the bRhan-nAradIya purANam (51.10):

Om-kAraScAtha SabdaSca dvAvetau brahmaNah purA | 
kaNTham bhitvA viniryAtau tasmAn-mA'ngaLikAvubhau ||

"As the words OM and atha proceeded from the throat of brahmA at the beginning, they are auspicious".

He further comments that by the word namaH, the author of the stotra offers obeisance to Lord vishNu. He gives support from the Sruti:

bhUyishThAm te nama uktim vidhema | (ISA. 18)  
"We offer Thee many words of salutation with the word `namaH'".

SrI Sa'nkara notes that it is the practice followed by elders to offer salutation to bhagavAn at the beginning of an act as well as the end of the act. (ante'pi namaskArasya SishTaiH AcaraNAt).

He concludes his vyAkhyAnam of the tenth hundred with the following Sloka-s pointing out the greatness attained by prostrating to Lord kRshNa:

eko'pi kRshNe sukRtah praNAmo daSASvamedhAvabRthena tulyah | 
daSASvamedhI punareti janma kRshNa praNAmI na apunar-bhavAya ||

atasI pushpa sa'nkASam pIta-vASasam acyutam | 
ye namasyanti govindam na teshAm vidyate bhayam ||

loka-trayAdhipatim a-pratima-prabhAvam Ishat praNamya SirasA prabhavishNum ISam | janmAntara pralaya kalpa sahasra jAtam Asu praNASam upayAti narasya pApam ||

"Even one salutation, offered with sincerity to Lord kRshNa, is equivalent to ten aSva-medha yAga-s properly performed. He who has performed the aSvamedha yAha can still take another birth, but he who salutes kRshNa is never re-born.

"There is no fear for those who bow down before Govinda, whose color resembles that of the atasI flower, who is clad in yellow pItAmbaram, and who never lets His devotees fall.

"The non-righteous acts committed by a man in his past births, over a thousand kalpa-s and pralaya-s, are immediately destroyed by slightly bowing down his head before the Supreme Lord, vishNu, of incomparable excellence, and the Master of the three worlds."

SrI v. v. rAmAnujan notes that in the gItA, it is declared that the syllable `OM' is the representation of Brahman in sound form ? ` omityekAkasharam brahma' (gItA 8.13). Lord kRshNa declares again ?

tasmAt OM iti udAhRtya yaj~na dAna tapaH kriyAH | 
pravartante vidAnoktAH satatam brahma vAdinAm || (gItA 17.24)

"Therefore, the sacrificial acts performed as specified in the veda- s, gifts and austerity by the expounders of the veda-s, or such acts by those belonging to the first three stations, are always and at all times begun after pronouncing the syllable OM at the beginning".

The same practice applies to the completion of an act as well, according to the practice of elders.

SrI satya sandha tIrtha uses a version of Sloka 107 that contains a repetition of the nAma saeva-praharaNAyudaH, followed by the words `om nama iti', as follows:

Sa'nkha-bhRn_nandakI cakrI SAr'nga-dhanvA gadA-dharaH | 
rathA'nga-pANr_akshobhyaH sarva-praharaNAyudhaH sarva- praharaNAyudhaH || 
om nama iti ||

This pATham retains the recurrence of the nAma sarva-praharaNAyudhaH twice in sequence, followed by the words `om nama iti', as a separate phrase following this version of Slokam 107. SrI satya sandha tIrtha also points to the common practice that the last word(s) are repeated at the end, to signify conclusion of the work ? adhyAyAnte dvir-uktiH syAt vede vA vaidike'pi vA |

SrI veLLukuDi kRshNan includes comments for the phrase `sarva praharaNAyudha om nama it', and his vyAkhyAnam also echoes the spirit of SrI Sa'nkara bhAshyam. He gives the example of the brahma sUtra, where the last word(s) at the end of each of the four adhyAya-s are repeated, to signify the end of the adhyAya:

etena sarve vyAkhyAtA vyAkhyAtAh | - at end of chapter 1 
vaiSeshyAttu tad-vAdas-tad-vAdah ? at end of 2nd adhyAya 
evam muktiphalAniyamas-tadavasthAvadhRtes-tadasthAvadhRteh - at end of 3rd adhyAya 
anAvRtti SabdAt anAvRtti-SabdAt | - at end of 4th adhyAya.

This is the form of the sUtra that is used by both Adi Sa'nkara and bhagavad rAmAnuja in their bhAshya-s for the brahma sUtra, confirming that this is the form in which bAdarAyaNa himself has given the sUtra to us (with the words repeated at the end to indicate conclusion).

Thus, in conclusion of the write-up on the phrase `sarva- praharaNAyudha om nama it', we note that this phrase is not found in the Critical Edition of mahA bhArata. SrI Sa'nkara has commented on this line, and many subsequent commentators have followed his commentary. As expected, his commentary follows the vedic tradition of indicating the conclusion of the work by repetition of the last nAma, followed the `OM' and 'namaH' Sabda-s.

-dAsan kRshNamAcAryan 



SrI vishNu sahasra nAmam - Slokam 107 - Additional Comments.

As I started on the write-up for Slokam 107, I received the following feedback from a devotee:
"In texts that are organized and ordered (i.e. texts that are not randomly organized), the final portions are often reserved for summary or conclusive statements. Do any of the commentators explain why the final Sloka of nAmas is reserved for the Lord's weapons? Or, are the nAmas randomly organized, so that the final verse of nAmas has no more special significance that the other nAmas?"

The current write-up is an effort to address this comment. The answer to the question of whether the nAma- are a random collection, or whether there is any organization to the nAma-s, is answered easily. I have reproduced one paragraph from the Introduction that I wrote for the current series several years back: "In his commentary on Sri vishNu sahasra nAmam, SrI BhaTTar has beautifully traced a thread of connectivity in the sequence of the 1000 nAma-s as they occur in the stotram. He has identified an organization and structure in the composition that refers to the guNas of the Lord in the five manifestations in which He has revealed Himself to us, as described in the pA'ncarAtra Agamas. These manifestations are: para, vyuha, vibhava, arcA, and antaryAmi. Thus, for instance, SrI BhaTTar has noted that the first 122 nAma-s in the stotram describe the qualities of the Lord in his para vAsudeva form. The next set of nAma-s describe the vyuha forms etc. Thus the nAma-s as they occur in the stotram are not just a random collection of nAma- s, but have a beautiful thread of organization and structure to them. SrI BhaTTar has identified 44 such manifestations of BhagavAn in his exposition. Sri Srinivasachariar, in his editorial introduction to SrI vishNu sahasra nAmam published by LIFCO, (1967), describes this beautifully as an arrangement of the petals of a rose 44 layers deep, or a step of stairs with 44 steps leading to the enjoyment of the Supreme. I will not go into the enumeration of these 44 forms at this stage, but will identify these as we go along. The enumeration and the corresponding Slokas can be found in the LIFCO publication". It is the unique contribution of SrI BhaTTar's commentary that he has identified this connectivity or organization in the sequence of the nAma-s. No other commentator has identified this thread of connectivity in the sequence of nAma-s. This connectivity and organization have been pointed out through the series of subsequent postings after the above Introduction was written. Having thus answered the question of organization, and noted that there is definite organization and structure to the sequence in which the nAma-s have been strung together by bhIshma, we now look at the question of significance of the reference to bhagavAn's Ayudham-s in the final Slokam 107. In other words, why, of all the possible endings for the stotram, did bhIshma choose to sing the praise of emperumAn with His divine weapons to conclude the stotram?

Perhaps the best reason for including a description of bhagavAn with His weapons as the concluding Slokam, can be best appreciated by understanding why He bears the weapons to start with. In the viSisTAdvaita tradition, two anubhavam-s are given for His bearing the weapons. One is that they are part of His adornments. The second, and the one that is relevant in the current context, is that He is carrying them for the protection of His devotees against the asura-s etc. After singing His guNa-s of saulabhyam and sauSIlyam through 992 nAma-s, SrI bhIshma perhaps sees it fit to point out that all these guNa-s of bhagavAn are purely for the benefit of His devotees, and that He stands ready, carrying His most ferocious weapons, ever ready to protect His devotees at all costs. Protection of the devotees is the primary and only concern of bhagavAn. Everything He does, including His functions of Creation, is for the protection of the jIva-s. It is this aspect of bhagavAn's commitment to Protection of His devotees that is signified in this concluding Slokam of the stotram, and that is revealed to us by presenting Him with His ferocious weapons. The devotees themselves enjoy these weapons as adornments on His divine tirumEni, and at the same time, these weapons are the objects of terror in the hearts of the most ferocious enemies of the devotees (hiraNyakaSipu, rAvaNa, SiSupAla, etc.).

In his vyAkhyAnam for the nAma akshobhyaah, SrI BhaTTar describes the vratam of bhagavAn in protecting His devotees – to the point that He won't even mind forsaking His dear brother lakshmaNa, or separating from sItA pirATTi. His vyAkhyAnam, taken from the write-up for the nAma akshobhyah, is – prapanna abhaya dAna dArDhyAt sva-mahimnA'pi akshobhyaH – He Who cannot be shaken from the firm vow that He has taken to protect those who have surrendered to Him; this vow of His cannot be shaken even by His own Great Self". One is reminded of the words of bhagavAn found in SaraNagati gadyam of bhagavad rAmAnuja:

anRtam nokta pUrvam me na ca vakshye kadAcana - I have never uttered an untruth before, and will never utter one ever. rAmo dvir-nAbhibhAshate – rAma never talks with two tongues sakRdeva prapannAya tavAsmI ca yAcate | abhayam sarva bhUtebhyo dadAmyetad vratam mama || (yuddha. 18.33) "It is My vow to protect unconditionally from every living being, anyone that surrenders to Me even once, or seeks my protection saying "I am your servant"". sarva dharmAn parityajya mAm ekam SaraNam vraja | aham tvAsarva pApebhyo mokshayishyAmi mA Sucah || (gItA 18.66) "Completely relinquishing all Dharma-s, seek Me alone for refuge. I will release you from all sins. Grieve not".

SrI veLukkuDi kRshNan points to the incident where sItA tries to persuade rAma not to bear arms while in the forest, but to follow the path of penance instead. Lord rAma's response is that He had given His word to the Rshi-s in the forest that they will be protected from the rAkshasa-s at all costs, and that He won't swerve from His word even if it involves losing sItA and lakshmaNa:

apyaham jIvitam jahyAm tvAm vA sIte sa-lakshmaNam |
na tu pratij~nAm samSrutya brAhmaNebhyo viSeshatah || (AraNya. 10.19)

"O sItA! I would rather give up My life, or even you and lakshmaNa, than break My promise, especially that which has been made to brAhmins".

Lord rAma reinforces His commitment to protect anyone who approaches Him with sincerity, during vibhIshaNa SaraNAgati:

mitra bhAvena samprAptam na tyajeyam katha'ncana |
dosho yadyapi tasya syAt satAm etat agarhitam || (yuddha. 18.3)

"I will not forsake anyone who has approached Me with a feeling of true love, even if this person has any faults. This is the conduct that will be considered blemish-less by elders".

Thatg is the level of commitment of bhagavAn to the Protection of His devotees.

BhagavAn's supreme commitment to the Protection of His devotees is sung by nammAzhvAr and other pUrvAcArya-s over and over again. BhagavAn is in fact the One responsible for Creation, Protection and the Destruction of all things. But Protection is the driving force for His functions of Creation and Destruction as well. His fundamental nature is one of protection. He performs creation and destruction only as acts that are directed towards protection.

kAkkum iyalvinan kaNNa perumAn SErkkai Seidu tan undi uLLE vAitta tiSai-mugan indiran vAnavar AkkinAn deiva ulagugaLE. (tiruvAimozhi 2.2.9)

This pASuram states that kaNNa pirAn has, as His nature, the function of protection. Because this is His nature, He protects all the jIva- s in His stomach at the time of pralaya, but it is really protection. This `destruction' again, is a prelude to creation that is in the welfare of the jIva-s, by giving them another opportunity to attain Him by giving them a body and all the comforts to enjoy, and is thus really protection in truth. BhagavAn is the One who creates brahmA first from the brahmANDam that emanates from His navel, and then gives him the power to create all other things, and thus He is the true Creator through brahmA also. Similarly, brahmA creates rudra, and bhagavAn remains as the antaryAmi of rudra, and enables him to perform the function of `destruction', the function that He has entrusted to rudra. It is bhagavAn's nature to protect the jIva-s. This is what He considers more important than the functions of destruction and creation. These other two functions are done only to facilitate the protection of the jIva-s, so that ultimately the jIva-s will attain moksham, and join Him in SrI vaikunTham for ever. The Supreme Deity (perumAn) takes incarnations for the primary purpose of protection, because this is His very nature (kAkkum iyalvinan). Note Lord kRshNa's declaration – paritrANAya sAdhUnAm, vinASAya ca dushkRtAm – For the protection of the good, and the destruction of the evil. Protection is mentioned first, and destruction only follows as the next function in importance. Like removing the weeds so that the intended grains can grow, destruction of the evil is only for the protection of the good.

The first set of words in AzhvAr's pASuram – kAkkum iyalvinan, refers to the function of protection, which is His nature. SErkkai Seidu – The second set of words, refers to the function of destruction. This is subservient to the function of protection. It is for the purpose of protecting the jIva-s from being destroyed during the pralaya, that He saves everything in His stomach at the time of pralaya, even ensuring that they do not bump into each other and suffer any damage. AkkinAn – The third function in this sequence, namely creation, is dependent on the previous step, that of samhAram, which again was meant for protection.

In order of importance, protection is the most important. By saying "kAkkum iyalvinan AkkinAn", AzhvAr emphasizes that the main purpose is protection, and creation is only a means of protection – giving a body to the jIva-s so that they can expend their karma-s and attain Him. By saying "SErkkai Seidu AkkinAn", AzhvAr clarifies that Serikkai Seidal or destruction is again a prelude to "Akkal' or creation. svAmi deSikan captures the gist of this pASuram as "rakshNAya avatIrNam" – BhagavAn takes incarnations solely for the purpose of protection. The destruction of rAvaNa, hiraNyakaSipu etc., really result in their attaining moksham – the ultimate protection, even though we only see them as `killing of rAvaNa or hiraNyakaSipu'. We have the well-known Slokam from the jitante stotram that declares that everything that bhagavAn possesses including His divine weapons, is for the benefit of His devotees: na te rUpam na cAkAro nAyudhAni na cAspadam | tathA'pi purushAkAro bhaktAnAm prakASase || (jitante. 1.5)

"Neither Your divya Atma svarUpam, nor Your divya ma'ngaLa vigraham, nor for that matter Your weapons, 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".

Having thus understood that the concluding Slokam of the vishNu sahasra nAma stotram emphasizes the concern of Protection that bhagavAn has for His devotees by mentioning His divine form with His weapons, a very logical question that can arise in some people's minds is: "Obviously emperumAn can destroy His devotees' enemies merely by His Will power. Why does He have to carry weapons to destroy these sinners?"

To understand this, let us look at nammAzhvAr's pASuram (tiruvAi. 4.8.1):

ERu ALum iRaiyOnum, tiSai muganum, tirumagaLum kURu ALum tani uDamban, kulam kulamA asurargaLai neeRu Agum paDiyAga nirumittu, paDai toTTa mARALan kavarAda maNimAmai kuRai ilamE. (tiruvAi. 4.8.1)

Many of bhagavAn's kalyANa guNa-s are to be enjoyed in this pASuram; however, let us look at the following in the current context:

- kulam kulamA aSurargaLai neeRu Agum paDiyAga nirumittu, paDai toTTa mARALan – He is also the One who made the decision through His mere Will that the wicked asura-s who were enemies of His devotees will be destroyed without trace, by numbers upon numbers, and Who used His weapons to destroy them.

The key words to note are `nirumittu' (having decided in His mind), and paDaai toTTa (He Who then used His weapons to destroy them). So bhagavAn has made up in His mind that the asura-s will be destroyed without trace. But how does He accomplish this – not just by His sa'nkalpam alone, but though the use of His weapons. Here is the anubhavam by our pUrvAcArya-s:

nirumittu – sankalpittu: emperumAn is also One Who could have destroyed the asura-s, who were enemies of His devotees, through a minute fraction of His Infinite Will power. But instead of destroying them thus with His Will power alone, bhagavAn chooses to use His weapons to kill them. He would have destroyed them through His Will power alone if they were showing enmity only towards Him; but instead, they were showing enmity towards His devotees, and this is something that He could not tolerate. So He became angry, and used His weapons to destroy them. Through his choice of words, AzhvAr shows that bhagavAn will not tolerate any offense to His devotees – He will not tolerate bhAgavata apacAram.

kulam kulamA asurargaLai nIrAgum paDiyAga nirumittu paDai toTTa – refers to His veeryam - one His six primary guNa-s.

mARu ALan – He Who considers the enemies of His devotees as His own enemies; He Who literally exchanges His position with that of the devotee, and destroys their enemies. Note Lord kRshNa's refusal to eat in duryodhana's place, just because the later was an enemy of the pANDava-s; in other words, He considered the enemy of the pANDava-s as His own enemy –

dvishad-annam no bhoktavyam dvishantam naiva bhojayet | pANDavAn dvishase rAjan mama prANA hi pANDavAH ||

Thus, bhagavAn's weapons are a sign of His ardent desire to protect His devotees. By singing bhagavAn's Form with His weapons in the last Slokam, bhIshma wants to brings out this guNa of bhagavAn, namely His commitment to protect His devotees against all forces opposed to His devotees.

SrI BhaTTar reflects the intensity of bhagavAn's commitment of protection of His devotees through His superb choice of words: `at all times, in all places, by all means, ` etc. In fact, SrI BhaTTar extends this commitment to protect the devotees, not only to bhagavAn, but to the divine weapons as well – who are all nitya-sUri- s who have taken the forms of His divine weapons. Let us look at his commentary: - SrI BhaTTar gives his summary at the conclusion of the last nAma sarva-praharaNAyudah – He Who has all the weapons that act against evil. He elaborates this further, and the translation of this explanation is: "He has also numberless other divine weapons befitting Him which are powerful enough to uproot completely the distress of His devotees who are rooted in Him – weapons that have taken a vow as it were, in a long sacrifice to protect at all times at all places by all means, and in all ways those who have resorted to Him; which have unlimited power, which are like ornaments to Him and which help Him to discharge His duties as the Supreme Lord of the Universe". As we will see below, bhagavAn's main function in His leelA is the protection of the jIva-s. All His kalyANa guNa-s, and everything He possesses, are for the benefit of the devotee. Just as there is no limit to bhagavAn's kalyANa guNa-s, there is no limit to the enjoyment of His kalyANa guNa-s as well. And there is no limit to the extent to which He will go in ensuring protection of His devotees. It is hoped that the significance of the concluding stotram of SrI vishNu sahasra nAmam, with a reference to bhagavAn's form bearing His ferocious weapons, is thus understood in terms of His most important guNa – Protection of His devotees at all costs, under all circumstances, in all places, at all times, to quote SrI BhaTTar.

-dAsan kRshNamAcAryan

Commentary on PhalaShruti follows.