om mahA-kramAya namah
om mahA-karmiNe namah
om mahA-tejase namah
om mahoragAya namah
om mahA-kratave enamah
om mahA-yajvane namah
om mahA-ya~jnAya namah
om mahA-havishe namah
SrI BhaTTar enjoys bhagavAn's greatness in terms of His unboundedvAtsalyam towards His devotees in the next few nAma-s. Theinterpretation of SrI BhaTTar is in terms of His relation with Hisdevotees, how He makes it easy for the worshipper to worship Him, etc.676. mahA-kramah
a) He Who provides easy step-by-step access for theelevation of His devotee.
b) He of the three great strides (in His tri-vikrama incarnation).
c) He Whose strides are great in that He reaches everything fasterthan anyone else.
d) He Whose Feet are great (to surrender).
Theword kramam refers to step or pace (of the feet), and also to a systematic orgradual approach. SrI Samkara uses the first meaning to explain thenAma in terms of His tri-vikrama incarnation, and SrI BhaTTar uses the secondmeaning and interprets the nAma in terms of bhagavAn's making it easy fordevotees to reach Him through gradual steps.
a) Since bhagavAn provides a systematic approach to elevate us who are at thebottom of the pit of samsAra from our lowly levels to His level, He is calledmahA-kramah. SrI BhaTTar provides a very lucid analogy to make this pointclear. Just as a mother starts feeding breast milk to the child first foreasy digestion, and then slowly starts feeding cow's milk, then other fluids,and then solid food, so also bhagavAn provides gradual steps to His devotees toreach Him. At first, He removes from our mind the dislike against Him;then He makes us believe in Him and His vedic injunctions; then He makesus obey these injunctions with pleasure; after this, He bestows knowledge anddevotion, and generates deep faith in Him; ultimately He makes us attain Him. Even though this takes several births in the cases of most of us, He keeps at ittill He gets us to Him. SrI BhaTTar quotes the following in support:
janmAntara sahasreshu tapo dhyAna samAdhibhih |
narANAm kshINa pApAnAm kRshNe bhaktih prajAyate || (laghuatrismRti)
"The sins of human beings get annihilated over a period of several birthsby means of austerities, meditation, and contemplation on Him, and devotion toLord kRshNa results in the end".
bahUnAm janmanAm ante j~nAnavAn mAm prapadyate (gItA 7.19)
"It is only at the end of many births that a wise man resorts to Me".
AbhyAsa yogena tato mAm icchAptum dhana'njaya | (gItA 8.8)
"O Arjuna! Strive to attain Me by constant practice of meditation".
SrI v.v. rAmAnujan gives related reference from divya prabandham:
"ARRa nalla vagai kATTum ammAn" (tiruvAi. 4.5.5), and
"neRi vASal tAneyAi ninRAnai…" (mudal tiruvantAdi 4).
SrI v.n. vedAnta deSikan in his tamizh vyAkhyAnam for the first reference bringsout the point that bhagavAn shows this path to arjuna step by step, gradually,and not all at once. Doing so all at once would have only confused arjunaprofusely. The second reference stresses that it is only by His Grace thatthe step-by-step path will be revealed, and not otherwise; Siva tried hisbest to realize Him by controlling all his indriya-s, and could not find Him
b) SrI Samkara interprets the nAma as referring to His tri-vikrama incarnation -
mahAntah kramAh pAda-vikshepA asya iti mahA-kramah.
He gives reference totaittirIya Upanishad in support -
Sanno vishNur-uru-kramah (1.1).
SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri adds that the significance of mahA here is that thesemeasures are nothing known to us, and beyond our comprehension - we can't definewhat each "step" of bhagavAn means in this context of tri-vikramaincarnation. All we can say is that His steps are "big".
c) SrI cinmayAnanda interprets the "long stride" to refer to His beingable to permeate and pervade everything, one of meanings of the term "vishNu"; He reaches everything and everyone earlier than anything else or anyone else,and so He is mahA-kramah, or One with great strides, in this sense aswell. SrI satyadevo vAsishTha conveys this anubhavam in his vyAkhyAnam aswell -
na cAsti ki'ncit bhuvi vartamAnam mahAkramo yan-na vaSe karoti… -
There is nothing in this universe that is not under the control of thismahA-kramah.
d) The dharma cakram writer gives yet another anubhavam - His steps (Feet) areso great that by resorting to them one crosses the ocean of samsAra; ourordinary steps only allow us to cross short distances in this earth. Thelowliest of beings here will become the greatest of mukta-s just by surrenderingto His steps - such is their greatness.
- He of great actions.
Om mahA-karmaNe namah.
This nAma occurs as nAma 793 again (Slokam 84).
mahAnti karmANi yasya iti mahA-karmA -
One Whose actions are great is mahA-karmA. SrI BhaTTar and his followersinterpret the nAma in terms of His great actions in helping His devotees. Other interpretations emphasize His great actions in the form of His creationetc.
SrI BhaTTar refers to His actions as "ati-vismayanIyam" - extremelysurprising, and refers to bhagavAn's action in lifting the likes of worms,germs, and less, from those low levels to the level where they are capable ofenjoying His supreme glory. He lifts us from our very low levels to thelevel of a nitya sUri, a wonder that can't even be comprehended by us. SrIv.v. rAmAnujan gives reference to nammAzhvAr (tiruvAi. 7.5.1):
"….puRpA mudalAp pul eRumbu enRu Ado onRu inRiyE naRpAl
ayottiyil vAzhum SarASaram muRRavum naRpAlukkumuittanan…" -
LordrAma lifted all the jIva rASi-s starting from the blades of grass, the ants, andall other life forms that existed in His land ayodhyA with Him to SrI vaikunThamwhen He departed this world after His avatAra kAryam ended. KulasekharaAzhvAr refers to the same incident in perumAL tirumozhi 10.10 - "anRuSarASara'ngaLai vaikundattu ERRi…", where His makA-karmA aspect is sung.
His great actions do not stop with just directly helping His devotees by liftingthem to His level, but also in His acts in punishing His devotee's enemies,including tricking them as part of His leelA. SrI BhaTTar interprets theoccurrence of this nAma in Slokam 84 in this sense (in terms of His BuddhaavatAra, where He intentionally taught those who were averse to Him to followthe non-vedic path). These great acts of His are also just, since they areaimed at punishing those who are set against Him.
SrI Samkara interprets the nAma in terms of His great karma or act in the formof His creation of this Universe etc. - mahat jagat utpatyAdi karmA asya itimahA-karmA. SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri gives the example of His swallowing theentire universe at the time of dissolution. In the later occurrence ofthis nAma in Slokam 84, SrI Samkara brings out another aspect of His greatcreation - that of bringing out the great elements etc. - mahAnti viyadAdInibhUtAni karmANi kAryANi asya iti mahA-karmA.
SrI kRshNa datta bhAradvAj refers to Lord kRshNa's words in the gItA that Hisactions are "divya" karma-s (divine actions) - janma karma ca medivyam … (gItA 4.9.
The dharma cakram writer explains His "great action" in terms of Hissupporting whatever a jIva is after: if the earthly pleasures is what onewants, He supports that by providing the means for these; if after some stagethis person realizes that it is not worth going after earthly pleasures, Heprovides the necessary means for them to follow the yogic path; when the personmatures in this path over several births, and starts feeling the desire to seekHim, He aids this person in this path as well, and ultimately unites this personwith Him. He does all these things simultaneously to all the beings,according to their wishes and desires.
For the English-speaking world, SrI cinmayAnanda's description for this nAma isa good summary, which is similar to SrI Samkara's interpretation: "Tocreate a cosmos so scientifically precise and perfect out of the five greatelements, and to sustain them with an iron hand of efficiency, all the timepresiding over acts of destruction without which the world of change cannot bemaintained, is, in itself, a colossal achievement".
678. mahA-tejAh –
He of great Resplendence.
Om mahA-tejase namah.
SrI BhaTTar's interpretation is that He is called mahA-tejAh because He has theeffulgence which destroys the darkness of the beginningless ignorance of eventhose who are tAmasic by nature. SrI v.v. rAmAnujan gives referenceto the Sruti - "nArAyaNa paro jyotih". The jyoti of a thousandSuns is a but a small fraction compared to His jyoti. tirumazhiSaip pirAn called Him "SodiyAda Sodi nee"- "You are the unquestionable jyoti (tiruccanda viruttam 34)".
SrI Samkara's anubhavam is that He is called mahA-tejAh because of His radiancethrough which the Sun and other luminaries possess their light. The Sun is knownto illumine everything around us, but this Sun itself gets its tejas from aminute fraction of His tejas. SrI Samkara quotes the Sruti "yenasUryas-tapati tejaseddhah (tait. brAh. 3.12.9)" - "By whom thesun shines, illuminated by His effulgence". He also gives referenceto the gItA -
yad-Aditya gatam tejo jagad-bhAsayate'khilam |
yac-candramasi yac-cAgnau tat-tejo viddhi mAmakam || (gItA 15.12)
"Know that tejas (Light) to be Mine which is residing in the Sun and whichillumines the whole world, and that is in the moon and in the fire".
SrI cinmayAnanda gives reference to muNDakopanishad II.2.10 -
na tatra sUryo bhAti na candra tArakam nemA vidyuto bhAnti kuto'yamagnih |
tameva bhAntam anubhAti sarvam tasya bhAsA sarvam idam vibhAti ||
"Even the Sun, moon, the stars and fire have no light of their own.
By Him they shine, the Giver of light in all".
He also gives another reference to the gItA –
"jyotishAmapi taj-jyotih tamasah param ucyate"(13.17 –
"That Light of all lights, is said to be beyonddarkness".
SrI Samkara also gives the alternate interpretation that He is endowed withbrilliance of various excellences like harshness towards His enemies, valor,etc., and so also He is called mahA-tejAh -
kraurya SauryAdibhih dharmaih mahadbhih samalamkRta iti vA mahA-tejAh.
His being merciless towards dushTa-s, being aggressive against conquering eventhe strongest of enemies, being unconquerable, etc., are all aspects of "tejas". His tejas is supreme, and so He is called mahA-tejAh (SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri).
The dharma cakram writer observes that while the Sun eliminates the darknessoutside us, He eliminates the darkness inside us, while at the same time Heprovides the light to the Sun and other objects that remove the darknessoutside. Just as the Sun reveals itself as well as the objectsoutside with its light, He reveals Himself in addition to enlightening the innerselves of all of us.
679. mahoragah –
a) He Who is great, and enters into our heart (uras).
b) He Who has a great heart (uras), and blesses us.
c) He Who manifests Himself in the form of the great serpent ananta, vAsuki,etc.
d) He Who has the serpent ananta as His bed.
e) he Who traverses everywhere in the form of the Sun with His broad chest.
Om mahoragAya namah.
a) SrI BhaTTar derives his interpretation by using the combination mahA + urah +gah. Uras refers to chest, and in this context it refers to the heartwithin us. urah pradarSitam hRdayam, yad-dvArA tAn (adIyAn) gaccgatiiti mahoragah - He is called mahoragah because He reaches us who are small likea particle of dust compared to Him, through our hearts. SrI BhaTTar posesthe rhetorical question: "How does He enter our heart?", and gives theanswer that He enters our heart the same way the material objects of pleasureenter our heart, namely through our indriya-s. We see His form through oureyes, we hear His praise through our ears, etc., and He slowly gets into ourheart through our own indriya-s, and occupies it after displacing ourmaterialistic desires from our hearts.
SrI v.v. rAmAnujan gives several references to prabandham in support of SrIBhaTTar's interpretation:
"vandAi! En manam pugundAi, manni ninRAi, nandAda kozhum SuDarE! E'ngaLnambi!" - tiruma'ngai AzhvAr, tirumozhi 1.10.9;
"eNNam pugundu tittikkum amudE! imaiyOr adhipatiyE" - tiruvAimozhi6.10.3;
"muttanAr mukundanAr pugundu tammuL mEvinAr; ettinAl iDar kaDal kiDatti?Ezhai ne'njamE" - tiruccanda. 115;
"vandu aruLi en ne'nju iDam koNDa vAnavar kozhundu" - tiruvAi. 5.7.7.
b) While SrI BhaTTar interprets uras as referring to our heart, the term canalso refer to His great heart in blessing the lowest of creatures -
mahatA urasA hRdayena gacchati sva-bhaktam mucukundam iti mahoragah (Sribaladeva vidyA bhUshaN).
SrI vidyA bhUshaN uses the term "bhakta praNayittvam", or love for thedevotee, to describe the significance of this nAma. He gives examples ofLord rAma's getting into guha's heart by His Ali'nganam or embrace, His showingHis magnanimous heart in performing the last rites for jaTAyu, and His showingHis great affection for His devotee by accepting the fruits offered by SabarI.
c) uragah means serpent. The snake or serpent moves around on its chest (uras),and so it is called uragah - urasA gacchati iti uragah. SrI Samkara uses this meaning for urgah, and gives the interpretationthat bhagavAn manifests Himself in the form of the great serpent vAsuki, and soHe is called mahoragah. He supports his interpretation with the quote fromgItA 10.28 - sarpANAmapi vAsukih. Lord kRshNa also declares that He isananta among the many-hooded serpents - anataScAsmi nAgAnAm (10.29), andbased on this, SrI cinmayAnanda interprets the nAma as indicating that He hasthis nAma because He manifests Himself in the form of ananta.
d) SrI kRshNa datta bhAradvAj suggests that the nAma is suggestive of His havingananta as His bed -
mahAn - mahanIyah, uragah - anantah, SayyA-rUpeNa yasya iti mahoragah.
e) SrI satyadevo vAsishTha uses the same etymological approach as SrI BahTTar (mahA+ uras+ gah), but comes up with the interpretation that He is mahoragah becauseHe moves relentlessly with His great (broad?) vaksha-sthalam (chest), in theform of the Sun.
In passing, I would like to point out that most of SrI satyadevo vAsishTha'sinterpretations are based on an assumption of identity between Lord vishNu andthe Sun, even though I have not represented his interpretations in this view. The significant value I have derived from his vyAkhyAnam is the very detailedetymological derivation of each nAma, which is thorough, with references to thepANini sUtra-s, and detailed vedic references. In this aspect, hisvyAkhyAnam is superb.
a)He Who is worshiped by the great yAga-s.
b) He Who can be easily worshiped.
c) He Who can be worshiped in many ways
d) He Who is the Great Sacrifice (that gives the best results)
e) He Who performed the great sacrifice called the pA'ncarAtra kratu.
Om mahA-kratave namah.
The word "kratuh" occurred as nAma 449 in Slokam 48, and the meaningof the term was explained there. Briefly recapitulating, the term "kratuh"refers to a particular type of sacrifice, or can also refer to bhagavAn since Heis the object of the yAga-s. SrI satyadevo vAsishTha also gives the explanation"karoti iti kratuh, kriyate vA kratuh" - One who performs is a kratuh,or that which is performed is kratuh.
The term "mahA" is used in the sense of "great","many", "great because of its ease", etc., in the differentinterpretations.
a) SrI aNNa'ngarAcArya gives the interpretation "He Who is the object ofworship of the great yAga-s". "mahA" is interpreted here with themeaning "great".
b) SrI BhaTTar gives the interpretation that He is mahA-kratuh because "Heis the Great Lord Who has the easiest means of worship" - mahat sarvasukaram ArAdhanam asya iti mahA-kratuh. Based on the supporting references hehas quoted in his interpretion, I feel that he is using the term "mahA"or "great" here in two ways: 1) to mean "easy or simple for thedevotee, and thus "great from the point of view of the devotee", 2) torefer to the multitude of easy ways that are available to worship Him.
He gives reference to vishNu dharma (90.69), and to gItA (9.27), where heemphasizes the ease of worship:
yo na vittair na vibhavaih na vAsobhir na bhUshNaih |
toshyate hRdayenaiva kas-tam ISam na toshayet || (vishNu dharma-90.69)
"Who will not endeavor to please that God Who is pleased by just sincerityof heart alone, but not by wealth or riches, clothes or ornaments?"
yat karoshi yad-aSnAsi yaj-juhoshi dadAsi yat |
yat-tapasyasi kaunteya tat-kurushva madarpaNam || (gItA 9.27)
"Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice,whatever you give, whatever you practice as austerity, O kaunteya, do it as anoffering to Me".
SrI baladeva vidyA bhUshan also associates the ease of His worship with thisnAma, and explains that He is mahA-kratuh because He has such great (easy) waysof worship such as being offered the tulasi leaves, in order to obtain thegreatest of blessings.
c) In his commentary, SrI BhaTTar also says that "He is to be worshiped byall acts which have been prescribed by the Agama SAstra-s, and by offering toHim, these acts become sanctified and sweet" - samarpaNa samskArasvAdu-kRtaih Agama SAstra kArita sarva vyApAraih ArAdhyatvAt" - from whichit may be inferred that the term 'mahA" may refer to the many ways ofoffering worship.
d) SrI Samkara's interpretation is that He is mahA-kratuh because He is Himselfthe Great Sacrifice - mahAnSca asau kratuSca iti mahA-kratuh. Akratuh is a sacrifice that is performed for specific benefits, and thus it is asacrifice that yields specific benefits. We note that bhagavAn declares that Heis kratuh Himself, in gItA 9.16:
aham kratur-aham ya~jnah svadhAham aham aushadham |
mantro'ham ahmevAjyam aham-agnir-aham hutam || (gItA 9.16)
"I am the kratu; I am the sacrifice; I am the offering to the manes; I amthe herb; I am the mantra; I am myself the clarified butter; I am the fire; I amthe oblation". This Slokam is explained in greater detail under the nAmamahA-havih (nAma 683).
e) SrI kRshNa datta bhAradvAj gives the interpretation - mahAn kratuhpa'ncarAtro yaysa it mahA-kratuh. SrI Ramachandra Rao in his AgAma kOSa vol. IV,quotes from the Satapata brAhmaNa which says that purusha nArAyaNa performed thegreat pA'ncarAtra kratu or sacrifice, and attained superiority over all beingsand became all beings Himself:
"purusho ha vai nArAyaNo'kAmayata atitishTheyam |
sarvANi bhUtAni ahameva idam sarvam iti |
sa etam purushamedham pA'ncarAtram ya~jna
kratum apaSyat tam Aharat tena ajAyata teneshTam |
atyatishTatsarvANi bhUtAnIdam sarvam abhavat || " (13.6.1)
a)He Who performs great sacrifices.
b) He Who has the special class of devotees (mahA-yajvA-s) of a superior nature.
According to pANini sUtra 3.2.103 (suyajor'ngvanip), the word yajvA is derivedfrom the root yaj - to sacrifice, with the addition of the affix 'ngvanip. Whenthe affix 'ngvanip is added to the root yaj, the result is yajvA with a pastsignification, and thus means "one who has sacrificed". SrI satyadevovAsishTha gives the etymological derivation "mahAntam ya~jnam kRtavAn itimahA-yajvA" - He Who has performed great sacrifices.
a) SrI Samkara gives the interpretation that He is called mahA-yajvA because Hehas performed great sacrifices. SrI cinmayAnanda gives the example of theaSvamedha yAga in His incarnation as Lord rAma. He is also the yajAmana of allsacrifices performed by all devotees, since He ensures their successfulcompletion, and in this sense also He is mahA-yajvA, the Great Sacrificer.
b) SrI BhaTTar interprets the term "mahA-yajvA" as a reference to thesuperior class of devotees who worship vishNu with single-minded devotion,without worshiping any other devatA for any reason. In this derivation of theinterpretation, a yajvA is one who offers worship, a mahA-yajvA is one whooffers the superior form of worship whereby he worships only Lord vishNu withoutworshiping anya devatA-s, and bhagavAn is Himself referred to as mahA-yajvAbecause He has this superior class of devotees, or because He is the Leader ofthese devotees. He is also a mahA-yajvA because He worships (values) thesemahA-yajvA-s as His AtmA, and uplifts the devotees who worship Him specially incomparison to those who worship anya-devatA-s (sva-yAjinAm anya-yAjimyo'piatyutkarshatvAt mahA-yajvA - SrI BhaTTar). SrI v.v. rAmAnujan has given themeaning in tamizh for SrI BhaTTar's vyAkhyAnam (tannai ArAdhippavargaLaicciRappUTTubavan). SrI aNNa'ngarAcArya svAmi's interpretation is "tannaiArAdhippavargaLaic ciRandavargaLAgac ceibavar" - "He Who especiallyelevates those who worship Him exclusively".
The superiority of His exclusive devotees derives from the fact that these arethe ones who seek the best of all blessings - moksham, to the exclusion of allother worldly benefits.
682. mahA-ya~jnah –
a) He Who is the best among those to be worshiped.
b) He Who manifests Himself in the form of the best of ya~jna-s.
c) He Who is worshiped by the great j~nAni-s, or He Who is worshiped through great sacrifices.
Om mahA-ya~jnAya namah.
As in the previous nAma, the root from which ya~jna is derived is yaj- deva pUjA sa'ngati karaNa yajana dAneshu - to sacrifice, to make an oblation to, to give, to associate with, etc. The act of sacrifice, or one who is worshipped through a sacrifice, are both referred to by the term ya~jnah - yajanam ya~jnah, ijyate iti vA ya~njah (SrI satyadevo vAsishTha).
a) SrI BhaTTar's interpretation for this nAma is "He Who is the best among those to be worshiped". SrI v.v. rAmAnujan explains this interpretation as follows: ya~jnam is bhagavad ArAdhanam; ya~jnah is the object of this ArAdhanam; MahA-ya~jnah is the Most Superior Object of bhagavad-ArAdhanam, or He Who is the best among those to be worshiped. SrI BhaTTar points out that the term ya~jna includes such ways of worship as singing suprabhAtam to emperumAn, respectful approach, offering sweet things such as mixture of honey etc., prostrating at His Feet, etc. The best of ya~jna-s is when these are offered to Him rather than any to other devatA. SrI BhaTTar points out that worship of Lord vishNu is the best because "He protects His devotees as if there were His own body" - rakshate bhagavAn vishNuh bhaktAn Atma-SarIravat, "He accepts the rites performed by His devotees with great joy and with a bowed head" - tAh sarvAh SirasA devah prati-gRhNAti vai svayam (mahAbhArata moksh. 17.163), vidhi prayuktAm pUjAm ca gRhNAti SirasA svayam (SAnti. 353.64), etc.
b) SrI Samkara gives the interpretation for the nAma as "He who manifests Himself in the form of the Great Sacrifice", and gives the support from the vibhUti yoga in gItA: "ya~jAnAm japa ya~jno'smi" (gItA 10.25)- "Of sacrifices, I am the sacrifice of japa". SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri observes that unlike kratu which is a sacrifice performed with a specific benefit in mind, ya~jna is a sacrifice that is done as part of one's duty, and is not done with a specific benefit in mind. Among the ya~jna-s, the japa ya~jna (silently repeating a sacred mantra) is declared as the best by bhagavAn in the referenced gItA Slokam. The japa ya~jna can be performed easily, without interruption, and with no accessory needed other than the desire to perform this ya~na.
c) SrI satyadevo vAsishTha gives the meaning "He Who is worshiped by great ya~jna-s", or "He Who is worshiped by the great j~nAni-s" - mahat yajanam yasya, mahadbhih ijyata iti vA).
The dharma cakram writer explains the spirit behind offering worship to bhagavAn who is the mahA-ya~jnah (the personification of the ya~jna-s) through five types of ya~jna-s that are expected of each one of us: the bhUta ya~jna, the pitR ya~jna, the nara ya~jna, the Rshi ya~jna, and the deva ya~jna. bhUta ya~jna involves our rendering service and assistance to the life forms that are below our level. This involves the protection of plants, trees, the four-legged animals, etc., all of which are rendering service to us in various ways, and making our life possible. The pitR ya~jna involves our devotion and service to our elders, to our parents, etc., who have devoted their lives to bring us up, educate us, and help us live the way we live, and thus made our lives possible. The nara ya~jna involves service to our fellow humans in the society, including how we treat others in our thought, word, and deed. Without the help of the others in the society, we will not be able to lead our lives, and in return, we owe the debt to society to make it better by spreading good thoughts, good word, and good deed. The Rshi ya~jna involves learning, chanting, protecting, and propagating the mantra-s, veda-s, and the knowledge that the Rshi-s have given us. This will lead to our acquiring the kind of knowledge that they possessed, over time. The deva ya~jna involves our worshipping Him with constant and uninterrupted devotion, which will result in our attaining Him. The significant point to take from this discussion is that we should perform all the above five types of ya~jna-s with the full realization that these are all offerings to Him, since He is the mahA ya~jnah who is worshiped by al these offerings. They should be performed for His pleasure and not with any benefit for us in mind, with the clear understanding that He is the Doer who is just using us as the means for getting these done, etc.
683. mahA-havih –
a) He Who is worshiped with supreme oblations.
b) He Who manifests Himself in the form of the great Offering.
c) He Who accepts the whole Universe as havis at the time pralaya.
Om mahA-havishe namah.
The root from which the word havis is derived is hu - dAnAdAnayoh - to offer, to perform a sacrifice, to eat. The word havis is explained by the uNAdi sutra "arci Suci hu sRpi chAdi chardibhya ish (268), and has the meaning "clarified butter offered in sacrifice". In common usage, the term is used for referring to the material used in the oblation to the fire. mahA-havis is the greatest of these oblations, and mahA-havih refers to the One who is the recipient of the supreme oblations. SrI satyadevo vAsishTha indicates that the term havih can also refer to one who is making the offering, one who is the object or recipient of the offering, that by which the offering is made, etc.
We will see in the interpretations below that He is mahA-havih in all the above senses: He is mahA-havih because:
- He is worshiped by the offerings that are themselves supreme in nature (e.g., in the form of our AtmA);
- He is the Great or Supreme acceptor of the meager offerings that we make;
- Everything is but a form of Him, or His manifestation, and He manifests Himself in the form of the Great Sacrifice.
a) SrI BhaTTar interprets havis as referring to the offerings, and thus mahA-havis refers to the great offerings; mahA-havih is the receipient of the great offerings. SrI BhaTTar explains what these "great offerings" are, or why the offerings to Him are great or supreme: He can be worshiped without killing of any animal - na tatra paSu ghAto'bhUt (mahA. SAnti. 337.9); the sacrifices to Him that He likes best are the offering of our mind, buddhi, and indriya-s to Him, and best of all, Atma-samarpaNa (ahamevan mAm juhomi - tait. nArA. 41; pratyagAtma havishTvAt, ahimsram AtMAdi havih yasya syAt sa mahAhavih).
SrI v.v. rAmAnujan refers us to nammAzhvAr's Atma-samarpaNam to Him in pASuram 2.3.4 in tiruvAimozhi - "enadAviyuL kalanda peru nal udavik kaimmARu enadAvi ozhindEn ini mILvadenbadu uNDE…". SrI ALavandAr also refers to Atma samarpaNam in his stotra ratnam (53) - "aham adyaiva mayA samarpitah". Even though this AtmA belongs to Him to start with, we offer it to Him as if it is an offering from us of something that belongs to us, and He is kind enough to accept it as a supreme offering.
The concept of offering the AtmA as an oblation to the fire is to be understood as referring to the burning of the feeling, or getting rid of the feeling once for all, that our AtmA belongs to us and that we have independent ownership of our soul.
SrI baladeva vidyA bhUshaN gives an interpretation similar to that of SrI BhaTTar, and gives different examples of the great offerings that He likes -
namaskAra, svAdhyAya, aushadi rUpatvena ati-pavitratvAt anya havibhyo mahAnti havImshi yasya sa mahA-havih
(He is called mahA-havih because He has the offerings that are suprmely pure, in the form of namaskAra, chanting of veda-s, and offerings of tulasi leaves). He quotes the following in support:
tulasI dala mAtreNa jalasya culukena ca |
vikrINIte svam AtmAnam bhaktebhyo bhakta-vatsalah || (quote from vishNu dharma)
"bhagavAn who dearly loves His devotees, just trades away His own Self in exchange for the offering of some tulasi leaves or a palm's content of water".
He also quotes from moksha dharma, where it is stated that no matter what a person who has single-minded devotion offers to Him, He accepts it with a bowed head:
yAh kriyAh samprayuktAh syuh ekAnta gata bhuddhibhih |
tAh sarvAh SirasA devah pratigRhNAti vai svayam ||
(from moksha dharma)
A brAhmaNa qualifies for the title of brAhmaNa by pure nAma japam, and nothing else is required:
japyenaiva hi sam-Suddhyet brAhmaNo nAtra samSayah |
kuryAd-anyan-na kuryAt maitro brAhmaNa ucyate || (from moksha dharma)
b) SrI Samkara gives the interpretation that bhagaVan is Himself the Great Sacrifice. SrI rAdhAkRshNa SAstri gives reference to the gItA in support:
aham kratur-aham ya~jnah svadhAham aham aushadham |
mantro'ham ahmevAjyam aham-agnir-aham hutam || (gItA 9.16)
"I am the kratu; I am the sacrifice; I am the offering to the manes; I am the herb; I am the mantra; I am myself the clarified butter; I am the fire; I am the oblation".
Bhagavad rAmAnuja explains the concept in his vyAkhyAnam for Slokam 9.15. -
"… vividha vibhakta nAma rUpa sthUla cit acit vastu SarIrah syAm iti
samkalpya, sa ekadeva eva tiryang manushya sthAvarAkhya vicitra
jagac-charIrah avatishThate iti anusandhAnASca mAm upAsate.." -
The Lord wills thus: May I become embodied in gross animate and inanimate entities, distinguished variously by name and form. He alone then abides, with the variegated cosmos as His body, comprising gods, animals, men, and immobile things. (The mahAtma-s) worship Me contemplating on Me thus.
Thus, everything is part of His body, His form. In the context of the current nAma, He is Himself the havis also - aham hutam (SrI tirukkaLLam svAmi reminds us that this does not mean that everything or everyone is identical to Him, but that everything is part of Him).
The concept that He is the AtmA of everything, is also conveyed in Slokam 4.24 of gItA:
brahmArpaNam brahma havih brahmAgnau brahmaNA hutam |
brahmaiva tena gantavyam brahma karma samAdhinA || (gItA 4.24)
"Brahman is the instrument through which the offering is made; The offerings are Brahman; The One who offers is Brahman, and the offering is made into the agni which is Brahman. One who performs all actions with this understanding and knowledge of the Supreme Brahman, attains none other than Brahman".
SrI rAmAnuja again explains that the ladle with which the offering is made is Brahman because it is an effect of Brahman, (who is the material cause of this universe); The oblation likewise is Brahman; It is offered by the agent Brahman into the fire of Brahman. Again, identity is not to be inferred from this, but the sense that He has all these as His body.
c) SrI rAdhAkRshNa Sastri gives the additional interpretation that He is mahA-havih since He accepts as an offering the whole universe at the time of pralaya, and contains it all within Him. Just as an offering made to fire becomes fire itself, the offering made to Him at the time of pralaya becomes a part of Brahman Himself.