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SLOKA 23

211 - gurur-guru-tamah
212 - dhAma
213 - satyah
214 - satya-parAkramah
215 - nimishah
216 - animishah
217 - sragvI
218 - vAcaspatih
219 - udAra-dhIh
  


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23.211 - gurur-guru-tamah

The foremost among the preceptors.
Om gurutamAya gurave namah.
guru means 'spiritual preceptor'. SrI Bhattar interprets the following phrase 'guru-tamah' as an adjective for guru, i.e., the guru who is the best of all guru-s. SrI Sankara views this as two nama-s, guru and guru-tama.
He is the foremost of preceptors since he is the one who gave the veda-s to brahma, who then is the source of the veda-s to the rest of the world. yo brahmANam vidadhAti pUrvam yo vai vedAnSca prahiNoti tasmai- He who brought brahma into existence and imparted the veda to him (SvetASvatara 6.18). We also have "guruh ka iti | guruh sAkshAd-AdinArAyaNah" - The Ultimate guru is AdinArAyaNa (tripAdvibhUti mahAnArAyaNopanishat - 8.15). In SrI SankarAcArya guru pramparA, the first guru is nArAyaNa - nArAyaNam padmabhuvam vasisTham Saktim ca tatputra parASaram ca vyAsam Sukam ........SrI SankarAcAryam. We all know that SrIman nArayANa is the first and foremost in the SrIvaishNava guru paramparA.
In dharam cakram, the writer says that He is guru-tama because you don't have to even go and look for Him. He pervades everything and is everywhere, and all we need to get His teaching is to feel the need for it. All that is needed is the thirst for His mercy in order for us to progress in getting true knowledge instead of living the life of a stone or tree.

23.212 - dhAma

a) The Place of Residence.
b) The Supreme Light.
c) The Abode of all desired things.
Om dhAmne namah.
We encountered the word dhAma when we looked at the nAma tri-kakud-dhAma (nAma 62). Some of the same thoughts presented there apply here.
SrI Bhattar interprets the nAma-s starting with the previous one as referring to the matsya incarnation. Because of my a~jnAnam, I was not able to understand the connection with matsya avatAra for the previous nAma. For the current one, he points out that bhagavAn is dhAma because He is like the helmsman who steers the boat carrying the seeds of all the transitory moving and non-moving objects at the time of pralaya.
SrI Sankara interprets the nAma as being the Supreme Leading Light. SrI RAmAnuja in his gItA bhAshya for slokam 10.12 (param brahma param dhAma), chooses the meaning "Supreme Light" in that context for the word dhAma - dhAma Sabdo jyotirvacanah - param jyotih.
The writer in dharma cakram elaborates further on the term "Supreme Light". The eye sees with the light from the Sun. But neither the Sun's light nor the eye can see the Ultimate. For that you need the light called bhagavAn's Grace, the Inner Light. This is what mahA vishNu is, viz. dhAma the Supreme Light, which can reveal what no other light can. It is the eye of intense desire to reach Him that can see this light, and no other eye can.
Other interpretations given include "He is the Abode of all desired objects", "He is the Abode of all desires", "He is the Abode for all karma-s", etc.
SrI chinmayAnanda, in addition to the interpretation "Supreme Light", gives the alternate interpretation that He is dhAma because He is the Ultimate Goal (dhAma = peak).

23.213 - satyah

The Good.

Om satyAya namah.

This naAma has occurred previously as nAma 107, and will re-occur as nAma 873. Please refer to the explanation for nAma 107.

In the current context of matsya avatAra, SrI Bhattar points out that He is satya because He was good to sat-purusha-s such as Manu who sought His help at that time.

At the time I submitted the explanation for nAma 107, I did not have SrI satyadevo vAsishTha's vyAkhyAna. Now I am adding some extracts from this source. Under nAma 107, one explanation given was - satya is One who is 'excellent' in sat, based on the pANini sUtra 4.4.98. SrI satyadevo vAsishTha refers us to the Slokam in bhagavad gItA (17.26 and 17.27) for a definition of 'sat' in Lord KRshNa's words.

sad bhAve sAdhu bhAve ca sadityetat prayujyate |
praSaste karmaNi tathA sac-chabdah pArtha ucyate ||

ya~jne tapasi dAne ca sthitih saditi cocyate |
karma caiva tadarthIyam sadityevAbhidIyate || (gItA 17.26 and 27)

The word 'sat' thus refers to existence, goodness, good acts, firmness in sacrifice, austerities, and gifts, and any acts for such purposes. One who is excellent in all these, or One who is excellent to (i.e., supports) those who do acts along these lines, is satya.

23.214 - satya-parAkramah

One of unfailing valor.

Om satyaparAkramAya namah.

SrI Bhattar, continuing on his interpretation of this sequence of nAma-s in terms of maysa avatAra, gives the example of bhagavAn performing truthfully the courageous acts towards Manu and others. The writer in dharma cakram points out that there can be two kinds of valor, one which is used for the good of the people, such as that of SrI Rama, and the other that is used for demonstrating power and for hurting others, such as RAvaNa's. Meditating on mahA vishNu gives us the ability to develop the valor of the former kind.

 
23.215 - nimishah

One whose eyes are closed (towards the enemies of His
devotees).

Om nimishAya namah.

na Ikshate iti nimishah. His Graceful Sight does not fall on those who are opposed to Him or His devotees. SrI Sankara gives the meaning that His eyes are closed while He is in yoga-nidrA. SrI RAdhAkRshNa Sastri points out that He is nimisha (with closed eyes) because He does not need His eyes to see, His ears to hear etc. The dharma cakram writer points out that He of closed eyes is seeing all because He is everywhere, in every one of us, all the time, and is watching all that happens everywhere even without eyes. Those who can contemplate on the yoga-nidrA of vishNu can close their eyes and meditate, and over a period of time, will be able to divert their minds towards Him in that state (normally, whether our eyes are open or closed, they wander in worldly thoughts!).

23.216 - animishah

One with eyes closed.

Om animishAya namah.

SrI Bhattar interprets the nAma in terms of the matsya incarnation. In His celestial Fish incarnation, He never closes His eyes and is ever-watchful of His devotees (Fish do not have eyelids, and so never close their eyes). SrI Sankara gives two additional explanations - He is ever awake because of His wisdom, or He is Atma svarUpa, and AtmA never sleeps.

The dharma cakram author gives the significance of this nAma as indicating that one who contemplates on this nAma will be always spiritually awake, and bad thoughts and the worldly distractions won't enter his mind. One is reminded of tiruppANAzhvAr's concluding pASuram in amalanAdipirAn "en amudinaik kanDa kaNgaL maRRonRinaik kANAvE". While the AzhvAr sang this when he was witnessing the beauty of the Lord in the temple, the statement aptly applies to the inner eyes as well.

23.217 - sragvI

Adorned with the garland (vaijayantI).

Om sragviNe namah.

srag means garland. According to PANinI's ashTAdhyAyI 5.2.121 - as mAyA medhA srajo vinih - the affix vin coming after sraj indicates 'association with'. So here the meaning is 'One who is associated with the garland always - referring to the vaijayantI garland of vishNu. Prof. A. srinivAsa rAghavan points out that the vaijayanti is composed of the five precious gems - pearl, ruby, emerald, sapphire, and diamond. SrI Sankara refers to the vaijayanti as referring to the garland made of the tanmAtrA-s or the rudiments of the five basic elements (taste, sight, sound, smell, and sensation) of the pa~nca bhuta-s. SrI rAdhAkRshNa Sastri gives the reference to vishNu purANa - pa~nca svarUpA yA mAlA vaijayantI gadA bhRtah | sA bhUta hetu sangAtA bhUta mAlA ca vai dvijah || (1.2.72). The writer in dharma cakram suggests that we should divert all our tan-mAtra-s to the service of vishNu (he gives the example of ANdAL who decorated herself with the flower garland just to make sure it was good enough for Lord RanganAtha).

SrI satyadevo vAsishTha derives the meaning starting from sRj to create or set forth. Since all creations such as the stars, Sun, etc., are Hiscreations, He is sragvI. In a garland, there may be different kinds of flowers, but they lose their identity as soon as they are part of the garland. So also, all these different creations are together the sragvI or bhagavAn vishNu. Or, just as it is common practice to identify an important person in our society by putting a garland around the neck, bhagavAn is distinguished by this unique garland to indicate His Lordship and superiority.

23.218 - vAcaspatih

The Lord of Speech.

Om vAcaspataye namah.

SrI Bhattar's interpretation is that He is vAcaspati because it was He who propounded the knowledge of the veda-s through SrImad matsya purANa. It is the power of expression in the matsya purANa that reveals the guNa of vAcaspati in Him.

SrI Sankara interprets this nAma and the next one - udrAradhIh, as one nAma, vAcaspatirudAradIh, meaning "The Lord of vidyA, being of magnificent intellect. All the other interpretations I am using, except that of SrI satyadevo vAsishTha, follow this same line. The latter gives the vyAkhyAna for these as separate nAma-s, but lists the nAma as one, and points out that this combining is done only to make sure the count of the nAma-s is exactly 1000. SrI Bhattar does not have the problem since there are other places where the others consider two separate names whereas he combines them into one (e.g., gurur-guru-tama, the first nAma in the current posting).

According to satya bhAshyam (the name that SrI satyadevo vAsishTha has given to his vyAkhyAnam), the term vAcaspati signifies that bhagavAn protects, or is the Master of, vidyA or veda.

23.219 - udAra-dhIh

One with vast knowledge.

Om udAra-dhiye namah.

dhI here means buddhi or intellect. UdAra means generous, noble, illustrious, etc. One who has a generous disposition towards His devotees, or one who has an illustrious or special intellect that can capture all things at all times, is udAradhIh. SrI chinmayAnanda gives the interpretation that bhagavAn has a large-hearted tolerance to appreciate the weekness of His devotees' heart, and a great sympathy and infinite kindness towards sinners in general. He has enough paternal kindness to overlook our trespasses, unlike the laws of physical nature which are blind and uncompromising.