At the outset, we will note that there are different versions of this Sloka in use, where the nAma-s 649 and 650 occur as follows. vIrah SUrah, Saurih SUrah, Saurir-vIrah, vIrah Saurih, etc. Thus the two names are chosen from vIrah, Saurih, and Surah, depending on the pATham that is being used.
648. kAla-nemi-nihA –
a) The destroyer of the wheel of ignorance of Time.
b) The Destroyer of the asura by name kAlanemi.
c) He Who sets the direction for the sun who is the controller of Time.
d) He Who is beyond the wheel of Time.
om kAla-nemi-nighne namah.
a) nemi refers to the outer ring of a wheel; nihanam means killing, slaughter. SrI v.v. rAmAnujan comments that the wheel of Time represents avidyA; since bhagavAn destroys this avidyA, He is called kAlanemi-nihA. SrI M. V. rAmAnujAcArya explains that kAlanemi – the wheel of Time- refers to the bane of kali, and since He destroys the effect of kali, namely avidyA, by firmly residing in the holy places and shrines, He is called kAlanemi-nihA. SrI BhaTTar quotes the following words of bhagavAn in support, but the reference is not available:
avidyAkhyA ca yA nemih kAlacakrasya durdharA |
sA mayIyam samASritya vigraham vidhunoti ca ||
“avidyA (Ignorance) is an irresistible folly of the wheel of Time;
when it comes to Me, it loses its form”.
The nine-syllabled mantra containing this nAma “om kAla-nemi-nighne namah” removes the root-cause of avidyA or ignorance, as summarized by the author of nirukti:
kAla-cakrasya yA nemih avidyAklhyA ca durdharA
tAm nASayati yaScAsau kAla-nemi-nihA smRtah ||
navAksharo manurayam avidyA-mUla mocakah ||
SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri explains that for those who are caught up in the wheel of time (being born again and again?) because of avidyA, He stops this wheel for them when they seek His help. He destroys their karmA-s accumulated over time; He ensures that kAla (yama) does not get them in his cycle, to be born again.
b) SrI Samkara interprets the nAma as a reference to His destroying the asura by name kAlanemi – kAalanemim asuram nijaghAna iti kAlanemi-nihA.
kAlanemi was born later as kamsa, and bhagavAn destroyed kamsa also; so the nAma can be interpreted as as a reference to His destroying kamsa. SrI kRshNa datta bhAradvAj gives reference to SrImad bhAgavatam (10.51.42 – kAlanemi-hatah kamsah …), and gives the interpretation – kAlanemih kamsah tasya nihanteti kAlanemi-nihA. SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri also makes a reference to kamsa’s killing as an interpretation for this nAma.
c) SrI satyadevo vAsishTha gives a different explanation. He uses the root hA – to go, and interprets nihA as One who gives directions or makes things happen. He interprets kAla as time, and nemi as the wheel, or that which keeps going. So kAla nemi is interpreted as referring to the sun, and kAla-nemi-nihA as He who makes the sun go, or who sets the direction for the sun, which sets the direction for time.
d) SrI cinmayAnanda gives the interpretation that the Supreme Self is called kAlanemi nihA because Self is beyond the reach of intellect, and time is but a concept of intellect only, and since He is beyond this wheel of Time, He is called kAlanemi-nihA.
e) The dharma cakram writer points out that we should learn to use “time” without wasting it for our personal pleasures, but to overcome the karma-s of the past and to avoid accumulating karma-s for the future. The clock was invented to measure time, and we use that to beautify ourselves instead of learning to use it for making the best use of it. The nature of time is that you don’t get it back after it is past. He who does not waste even a single moment of it and devotes all the time in the service of God and His creatures is the one who has utilized time properly, and thus won over time. Of all the indriya-s that we have for utilizing time, at least one of these indriya-s should always be in the service of Him. The most precious possession that God has given to mankind is Time. Those who use it properly overcome Time itself and reach Him who is beyond Time.
649. Saurih –
a) The son of SUra (another name for vasudeva), or He Who is born in the race of SUra-s, a yAdava clan.
b) A reference of Sauri rAjap perumAL of tirukkaNNapuram
c) He Who is ever valiant and victorious.
This nAma has been presented earlier as nAma 342 (Slokam 37). Please see the previous write-up as well.
Om Sauraye namah.
a) He is the son of vasudeva, who is also called SUra - SUrasya – vasudevasya apatyam iti Saurih (SrI BhaTTar). Or, because He is born in the kulam of SUra, He is called Saurih – SUra vamSa prAdurbhUtatvAt Saurih – SrI kRshNa datta bhAradvAj.
(Note: Under nAma 342, it has been indicated that kRshNa is the grandson of SUra. This was based on SrI anantakRshNa SAstri’s explanation. Under the explanation given for this nAma in Slokam 37, SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri indicates that since Lord kRshNa was born in the race of yAdava-s by name SUra-s, He is called Saurih, and both vasudeva and his father were known by the name SUra).
b) Or, He is in the form of Sauri rAjap perumAL in tirukkaNNapuram (utpalAvartaka), as Lord kRshNa (SrI BhaTTar).
c) SrI satyadevo vAsishTha derives the meaning from the root SUra – vikrAntau – to be heroic. Thus Saurih means One who is heroic and victorious – SUrayata iti Saurih. The alternate meaning he gives is: SUrasya apatyam Saurih - atyanta SUrah. apatyam normally means progeny, as SrI BhaTTar has used above, but SrI satyadevo vAsishTha points out that it can also mean atyanta “the Ultimate”, based on a reference from niruktam (6.32).
SrI Samkara uses the pATham “vIrah” in place of “Saurih” in this place, and his next nAma is Saurih. The meaning of “vIra” is “He Who is valiant”. The dharma cakram writer observes that unlike for all other creatures, for man there are two types of potential enemies – those from outside and those from inside. The enemies from inside are the more difficult to overcome – desire, anger, fear, jealousy, pride, lust, etc. One who does not win over these enemies will not make progress in life. A vIra is one who does not run away from these enemies, but fights valiantly and overcomes them. For these enemies who are fighting us from within, it is not enough for us to fight alone – we need His help to overcome them. It is only when we realize this that He helps us, as evidenced in purANa-s over and over again. It is only when the deva-s realize that they can’t by themselves be victorious over the asura-s, and go to Him and seek His help, that He takes His incarnations and comes and helps them overcome the asura-s. We should learn to seek His help in fighting and overcoming the internal enemies inside us.
Under the earlier occurrence of this nAma, SrI Sankara's interpretation is that bhagavAn in His incarnation as kRshNa was born as the son of vasudeva, whose father's name was SUra. SUrasya gotrApatyam pumAn Saurih or SUra kulodbhavAt Saurih. This is the same as explanation a) for this nAma by SrI BhaTTar for the current occurrence for this nAma.
650. SUrah – The Valiant.
Om SUrAya namah.
The sequence in Samkara pATham is “kAlanemi-nihA vIrah Saurih Sura-janeSvarah”, and BhaTTar pATham is “kAlanemi-nihA Saurih SUrah SUra-janeSvarah”. The nAma “SUrah” occurs once in Samkara pATham, in Slokam 37 (nAma 341); in BhaTTar’s pATham, it occurs twice, the second one being the current occurrence. He explains the first occurrence in terms of the generic guNa of His valor (Sauryam), and the second occurrence as specifically referring to His incarnation as Lord rAma, whose valor is well-known.
The derivation of the meaning from its root is explained under nAma 341. SrI satyadevo vAsishTha’s anubhavam is that He is unrestrained not only in the sense that His valor is unconstrained, but He is also unconstrained by deSa, kAla, etc. (kAla dig deSa vibhAga muktah), unconstrained in fulfilling the desires of His devotees (dadAti varyam), pervades this Universe unconstrained in His functions of creation, protection, and destruction, sustains all creatures by being unconstrained and appearing in the form of the Sun as mitra, varuNa, and agni in the morning, afternoon and evening (mitrasya varuNasyAgneh…), etc.
651. SUra-janeSvarah – The Chief of the SUra-s or the valiant people.
Om SUra-janeSvarAya namah.
SUra janAnAm ISvarah Sura-janeSvarah – The Chief of the valiant people. SrI aNNa’ngarAcArya and others give the example of His being the Chief of valiant warriors of the likes of hanuman, sugrIva, etc. SrI Samkara gives the example of His being the Lord of indra and others. SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri observes that bhagavAn is the Lord of gods like indra, men like arjuna, and monkeys such as sugrIva and hanuman.
SrI satyadevo vAsishTha gives another dimension of this guNa of bhagavAn – He is the one from whom all that moves in any form has originated, and thus He is the Lord of all.
SrI baladeva vidyAbhUshaN gives the interpretation that He has this nAma because He is the Lord or Chief of the SUra klan, through acts such as the destruction of kamsa.
652. tri-lokAtmA -
a) He who ever moves about in the three worlds.
b) He Who makes the three worlds move about.
c) He Who is the AtmA for everything in all the three worlds.
Om tri-lokAtmane namah.
a) SrI BhaTTar gives his interpretation based on the derivation of the word "AtmA" from the root ata - to be always moving about (ata sAtatyagamane) - trIn lokAn atati satatam gacchati. SrI v.v. rAmAnujan gives reference to tiruvAimozhi, where nammAzhvAr beautifully expresses this concept -
"viN mIdiruppAi! malai mEl niRpAi! KaDal SerppAi!
maN mIduzhalvAi! ivaRRuL e'ngum maRainduRaivAi!
eN mIdiyanRa puRavaNDattAi!.. (6.9.5).
He keeps moving about in all the three worlds in order to be easily accessible to everyone.
b) SrI satyadevo vAsishTha extends this anubhavam to point out that not only does He move about in the three worlds, but He is the One who makes everything move about in all the three worlds -
avan anRi Or aNuvum aSaiyAdu.
So He is tri-lokAtmA in this sense as well.
c) SrI Sankara gives the interpretation that He is the AtmA of everything in all the three worlds - trayANAm lokAnAm antaryAmitayA AtmA iti tri-lokAtmA. The three worlds here refer to the earth, the world above and the world below. SrI cinmayAnanda interprets the term tri-loka to refer to the three states of experience - the waking, the dream and the deep-sleep, and gives the interpretation that He is the Reality, the Self of the all the three worlds of experiences.
Thus, He is called tri-lokAtmA because He moves about in the three worlds, He is the antaryAmi of everything in the three worlds, and He makes everything in the three worlds move about.
653. tri-lokeSah -
The Ruler of the three worlds.
Om tri-lokeSAya namah.
tri-lokAnAm ISatayA tri-lokeSah - By virtue of His being the Lord or Ruler of the three worlds, He is known as tri-lokeSah. NammAzhvAr's well-known pASuram "agalagillEn" refers to Him as as "ulagam mUnRu uDaiyAi (tiruvAimozhi 6.10.10). SrI Sankara elaborates His Rulership thus - trayo lokAh tadA~jnayA sveshu sveshu karmasu vartanta ititri-lokeSah - The three worlds, in obedience to Him, attend to their respective functions. SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri gives support from the Sruti-s - esha loka pAla esha lokeSah (kaushItakI 3).
654 (23). keSavah -
a) One who has beautiful locks of hair
b) He whose hair is of supreme fragrance
c) He who is the source or origin of brahmA and Siva.
d) He who is the source of the rays emanating from the Sun etc.
e) The Slayer of keSi
f) The tormentor of His enemies
g) One who has Adhipatyam over water (oceans etc.)
h) One who has Adhipatyam over the different kinds of sukham (including moksham)
Om keSavAya namah.
This nAma occurred as nAma 23 in Sloka 3.
The word keSa refers to hair, as also rays of light. Some of the interpretations are based on these two meanings. Another approach at interpreting the nAma is based on the word kam = water or sukham. Yet another interpretation is based on the root kliS - to torment. There is also one which is based on kah + Isah = keSah.
From amara pada vivRti of lingayasUrin, we have the following:
a) SobhanAh keSA yasya sah keSavah - He who has beautiful hair. keSa means hair, and the suffix va is added to keSa to denote the "beauty" of the hair, by a grammatical rule - "keSAdvo'nyatarasyAm" iti praSamsAyAm vah (SrI BhaTTar). SrI aNNa'ngarAcArya svAmi nicely translates the nAma in tamizh as "kuzhal azhagar".
Under nAma 23, SrI BhaTTar adds that by implication, this nAma indicates that the Lord is possessed of qualities like supremacy and loveliness which are all His own by nature. He possesses curly locks of hair, which are sublime, soft and blue (praSasta - snigdha - nIla - kuTila - kuntalah).
SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri adds to this anubhavam further. In His incarnation as nRsimha, the beauty of His Lion's hair (piDari mayir in tamizh) was exceptionally beautiful. MArIca has described Lord rAma's hair as "SikhI kanaka mAlayA" - beautiful like a golden garland. The gopi-s describe Him as "kuTila kuntalam komalAnanam - One with curly locks of hair and lotus-like face. SrI Samkara bhAshyam is "abhirUpAh keSAh yasya sah keSavah" - "His hair's beauty is compatible with His divya ma'ngala rUpam" - black, curly, consistent, just indescribably beautiful.
NammAzhvAr describes the beauty of the keSam of bhagavAn as well as its fragrance in 7.7.9 - tiruvAimozhi:
koLginRa kOLiruLaic cugirndiTTa kozhum SuruLin
uL koNDa nIla nan-nUl tazhai kol? anRu ...
"I thought may be the darkness of His hair can be compared to the thread made out of the darkness that results at the time of pralaya kAlam; but no, this is not a good enough comparison - there is no comparison. The comforting fragrance of tulasi that emanates from His kuzhal has completely stolen my AtmA, and only I can feel it and feel about it".
b) vAnti gandhayanti iti vAh gandhavantah keSAh yasya iti keSavah
(based on the root vA - gatigandhanayoh)-
He who has fragrant keSa. We just saw nammAzhvAr's reference in the previous para to the fragrance of tulasi emanating from His kuzhal.
c) bhagavAn is called keSava because ka - brahmA, and ISa - Siva, originated from His body. SrI Sankara and SrI BhaTTar quote the following from harivamSa:
ka iti brahmaNo nAma (brahmeti samAkhyAta) ISo'ham sarva dehinAm |
AvAm tavA'nge sambhUtau (tavAmSa sambhUtau) tasmAt keSava nAmavAn || -
The above are words of Siva to bhagavAn - (ka is the name of brahma, and I am ISa who rules over all the embodied beings. Both of us have been born out of Thy body, and therefore Thou art known by the name keSava). Thus, the nAma signifies that brahma and Siva originated from bhagavAn.
d) SrI Samkara gives the additional interpretation that He is the owner of the keSa-s or rays that emanate from the Sun, the moon, and all the effulgent objects in the cosmos, and so He is called keSava. He gives the support from mahAbhArata:
amSavo ye prakASante mamaite keSa sam~jnitAh |
sarvaj~nAh keSavam tasmAt mAm Ahuh dvija-sattamAh || (mahA.12.328.43)
(Literallay, the above says: "The rays that are emanating from Me are called keSa-s, and so the learned Brahmins call me by the name keSava").
e) SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri gives a reference from vishNu purANam, and narrates that when brahmA with the other deva-s sought the help of Lord nArayaNa against the terror from asura-s, the Lord plucked two keSa-s (hairs - one black and one white), and told brahmA that those two hairs will descend on earth as kRshNa and balarAma, and relieve the earth of the burden of the demons:
evam sastUyamAnastu bhagavAn parameSvarah |
ujjahArAtmanah keSau sita-kRshNau mahAmune ||
uvAca ca surAnetau mat-keSau vasudhAtale |
avatIrya bhuvo bhAra kleSa hAnim karishyatah || (vishNu purA. 5.1.59-60)
(The commentator indicates that the above should be taken just as an indication by bhagavAn that His hair should be sufficient to take care of the asura-s, and should not be literally taken to suggest that the two hairs took incarnation).
f) SrI satyadevo vAsishTha has another anubhavam of this nAma - He derives the meaning that keSavah signifies One who torments His enemies - based on the root kliS - vibAdhane - to torment, to distress, and the uNAdi sutra (kliSeran lo lopaSca). kliSnAti, kliSyate vA anena iti keSavah.
g) Two more interpretations by SrI satyadevo VasishTha: kam refers to water and to sukham: kam = jalam or sukham; He who has the Adhipatyam over water (oceans etc.) is keSavah - jalam tamIshTa aiSvarya bhAvAya nayati iti keSah (kam + Isah);
or, He who has control over the sukham (aihika as well as Amushmika) of the jIva-s.
h) In the explanation under nAma 23, the interpretation of the nAma based on His destroying keSi has been covered. This is also explicitly the subject of the next nAma.
655. keSi-hA -
a) He who killed the asura by name keSi.
b) He who directs agni, sUrya, indra, vAyu etc. in their functions.
Om keSighne namah.
a) keSi-nAmAnam asuram hatavAn iti keSi-hA. kamsa sent the asura keSi to destroy child kRshNa, and keSi who took the form of a horse to destroy kRshNa was destroyed by kRshNa. The references in tiruppAvai to "mA vAi kINDAn", and in 2nd tiruvantAdi to "kUndal vAi KINDAn" are
to this incident.
b) SrI satyadevo vAsishTha takes the meaning of the root hA- to go, and derives his interpretation for the nAma based on the Rg-vedic description of keSi referring to agni, vAyu, and sUrya (see the mantra below. KeSi is one who has keSa or hair. smoke is the "hair" of the fire; the rays of sUrya are the keSa-s of sUrya; indra (lightning) is the keSi which is not seen - the reference to dadRSe na rUpam in the mantra (Ralph Griffith translates this as referring to vAyu instead of indra in his traslation); These are explained in Yaska's niruktam in detail (12-24,25).
The Rg-vedic mantra he quotes in support is:
trayah keSina RtuthA vicakshate samvatsare vapata eka eshAm |
viSvameko abhicashTe SacIbhirdhrAjirekasya dadRSe na rUpam || (1.144.44)
Thus, in this interpretation, bhagavAn is called keSi-hA because He directs agni, sUrya, indra, or vAyu perform their functions.
SrI vAsishTha has given several other interpretations for this nAma (e.g., keSi referring generically to a horse, keSi referring to AtmA, heart, etc.), which are not being covered here. Those interested can refer to his original vyAkhyAna in samskRt, with translation in hindi.
656. harih -
a) The Green-hued.
b) He Who removes the distress of His devotees
c) He Who wards off samsAra with its cause from His devotees.
d) The Destroyer of the Universe at the time of pralaya.
Om haraye namah.
a) The term hara refers to green color. BhagavAn's words from mahA bhArata are given in support by SrI BhaTTar:
iDopahUtam …….varNaSca me harih SreshThah tasmAd harir-iti smRtah || (mahA. SAnti. 343.39)
"My superior complexion is green, and therefore I am called Hari".
One is reminded of the familiar pASuram "paccai mA-malai pOl mEni…) (tirumAlai 2).
b) SrI aNNa'ngarAcArya gives the interpretation "ArtigaLai harippavar" - He who removes the distress of His devotees.
c) (samsAram) harati iti harih - He who wards off samsAra with its cause from His devotees is harih (SrI Samkara). Alternatively, pApAnAm harati iti harih - He who wards off the sins of His devotees.
d) SrI satyadevo vAsishTha extends the anubhavam to include bhagavAn's destruction of the world at the time of pralaya, and His destruction of the darkness in our minds always.
The dharma cakram writer observes that the sight of green gives a feeling of peace to the mind; the thought of Hari, the green-hued One, similarly gives peace to the mind. The "hari nAma" is chanted whenever one starts anything auspicious, and this is to remove all obstacles and sins that may be committed in the process. SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri notes that in kali santaraNa Upanishad, the repetition of the 16 nAma-s in the following familiar chant is prescribed for the removal of all sins caused by kali:
hare rAma hare rAma rAma rAma hare hare |
hare kRshNa hare kRshNa kRshNa kRshNa hare hare ||
(kali santaraNa upa. 6.2)