VSN #6 – In Praise of Lord Vishnu

by Sahadev Komaragiri

There are some parts in vishNu sahasra naamaM (VSN) which are very difficult to pronounce and chant. There was a time when I used to just sit and watch others chant effortlessly while I could not. The dhyaanam section was my first biggest hurdle to cross. In my opinion this section starting with ‘kSheerO dhanvat pradESE‘ consists of more tongue twisters than any other part. But incidentally this turned out to be my favorite part as soon as I started chanting it comfortably. I now realize that this section consists of some of the best ways to describe and praise Lord Vishnu as a prelude to the beginning of the sahasra naama.

This post is part of the series on vishnu sahasra naamaM

To begin with, this section has five chief verses. There are others that were added. When you move from one VSN group to the other, you might find the new group chanting some unfamiliar verses in this section. When it comes to praising the Lord, which is the main purpose of this section, people adopt their own verses. But it is safe to say that the five chief verses are usually chanted by all. Thanks to MS Subbulaxmi, whose chanting of VSN is more popular than all others combined, we now notice some standardization in the chanting of VSN.

A description embedded in poetic Sanskrit forms is very difficult to translate without losing the original intent and beauty expressed by the author. Without attempting to translate these five slokas, I shall provide a brief introduction to what is in these verses. The symbolism represented in these verses may be obtained from various texts available on this subject.

kSheerO dhanvat pradESE – This sloka describes Lord Vishnu seated on a diamond studded throne along the shores of the milky ocean(kSheerO dhanvat pradESE). He is bedecked in various forms of pure(Suchi) pearls and jewels and armed with his Shankha and Chakra. He is shining in the brightness caused by nectarine rain drops. May He grant us purity.

BhooH paadau yasya naaBhi – In continuation of the above verse, it is stated that His feet is across the entire earth, the sky is His navel, wind is His presence, the sun and the moon are His eyes, the directions are His ears, the heaven is His head, fire is His face and  the ocean is His covering. His entire form is filled with the gods, humans, birds, cows, snakes, gandharvas and rakshasas(sura, nara,  khaga, go, BhOgi gandharva dhaityai). I salute the Lord in whom the entire creation rests.

Shantaakaram BhujagaSayanaM –While the previous verse describes His infinite form in various physical attributes, this verse describes His form in more subtle ways. His appearance is peaceful(Shaantaakaram), He is rested on aadiSesha, He is padmanaaBha and He is lotus eyed. I salute the Lord who protects all the worlds.

mEghaShyamaM peetakauSEyavaasam – In this verse we notice that the description is subtle yet less metaphorical. He is described as the lotus eyed Lord whose countenance brings peace and who is the very epitome of purity. I salute the Lord who protects all the worlds. The last line – vishNuM vaMdE sarvalOkaika naadhaM – is same for this verse and the previous one.

saShaMKhachakraM sakirITa kuMDalaM – This final verse describes Him as we all know Him as the one who is adorned with ShaMKha(Conch), chakra, crown and protective vest across his chest. I bow my head in reverence (namaami vishNuM Shirasa) and offer my sincere salutations to You.

It is these beautiful forms of the God that we must etch on our hearts as we are about to chant the sahasra naama – the grand form as in the first verse, the infinite form as in the second verse, physical beauty as in the third one, the peaceful form as in the fourth one and the pristine form as in the final verse.

I am sure some of you noticed devotees in worship lanes with tears rolling down their cheeks as they view their favorite deity in the temples. This is spontaneous reaction emanating not from the worries in their mind, but because of the beauty one sees in the Lord along all the aspects described in these verses. It is the thought that this infinite Lord is one with us that makes it difficult for Rishis to move out of their meditative states.

When the mind is filled with these thoughts on a daily basis as we chant the sahasra naama, is it not obvious that a spiritual transformation is imminent?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Srikrishna August 24, 2015 at 2:21 am

Awesome! Recollecting the Vishnu Sahasranamam by reading this page.. almost brought tears to my eyes.. Many thanks!

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Sahadev Komaragiri August 25, 2015 at 9:12 am

Thank you!

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