God Almighty is incomprehensible, nay wondrous and so are His attributes and names. It is an impossible task for mortal beings with a limited knowledge intellect to adequately describe the Lord’s qualities. It is an impossible task almost like crossing the ocean with a small raft. However, one sings the names of God to purify one’s speech and verily vasana. The Name of the God is God himself. The Name (naama) and the person named (naami) are the same. The name of the God serves an unfailing bridge to cross the ocean of this worldly existence. The name is the nirguna (formless) form of the God with a form (Saguna).
The concept of naama-japa can be traced to the Vedas where one truth is described as many names. Later in the epics and puraanaas, the naama-Japa or saadhana became means for God-realisation and liberation. The tradition of naama paarayana inspired sthothras with 108,300.1000 names of the God.
In this Kaliyuga, what is obtained through meditation, sacrifices and rituals is obtained by soulful chanting the names of the God.
Of the three most popular Sahasra Naamas, Vishnu Sahasra Naama, Lalithaa Sahasra Naama and the Siva Sahasra Naama, Vishnu Sahasra Naama is given as an instruction by Bheeshma to Yudhishtra in the presence of Lord Krishna himself, in the Anusaasan Parva of the Mahaabhaaratha. Yudhishtra asks Bheeshma: By reciting what, is a living being liberated from the bondage of birth and transmigration? In reply, Bheeshma recited this Vishnu Sahasra Naama — Stotra” to get rid of all sorrow”.
Shri Vishnu Sahasra Naama and the Bhagavad Gita deserve to be sung...geyam gitanamasahasram...as said by Aadi Shankaracharya in his famous ‘Bhaja Govindam’. This garland of the thousand names of Vishnu has its own unique phonetic beauty, vibrations and deeper layers of meanings. The recitation of this Sahasra Naama is a rich spiritual experience.
Once Sri Paarvathi asked Parameswara: “Lord, pray, tell me what easy means a learned man can manage to read the Sahasra Naama every day”.
Lord Siva replied: “One who repeats the names ‘Sri Raama, Raama, Raama’ and rejoices in the name of that Lord who delights everyone derives the same benefits as that got by reciting the whole Sahasra Naama”.
The Bhavan has so far published three books on Sri Vishnu Sahasra Nama namely (i) Sri Vishnu Sahasra Naamam A Study (1972) by Shri T.M.PMahadevan,(ii) Sri Vishnu Sahasra Naama Stotram with English translation of the commentary by Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada by Shri P. Sankarnarayanan (1978) and (iii) Shri Vishnu Sahasra Naama by Shri D.A.Desai (1998).
The present edition of Sri Vishnu Sahasra Naama by Shri. MS. Parthasarathi was published first in April 1999, with text in Roman transliteration and English translation in simple language, by Sri Visishadwaita Research Centre. Chennai. We are happy to publish the second Indian edition of the same. We pray that this work may inspire the devotees to do the naama-paaraayana and attain the Lord. This dedicated, selfless and soulful seva of Shri Parthasarathi will earn its reward by inspiring all of us to turn to the naama-seva of the Supreme Lord.
I did not write an introduction to the earlier edition, as I felt that anyone who began to peruse the book would understand my reasons for writing it. However, I should explain that the inspiration came from my grandson Krishna, who was at that time six years old. His insatiable appetite for seeking answers to and the meaning of everything prodded me into undertaking what was certainly a task beyond my capability. He was one day listening to my recitation of Vishnu Thrisathi, when he wanted to know the meaning of every one of the three hundred names. Instead of translating the Thrisathi, I decided it would be more useful to translate the Sahasra Naama itself. The desire to present in simple English the meaning of the greatest of Sthothraas to the Supreme Being drove me on, resulting in this work. When I submitted the draft to His Holiness the 45th Jeer of Ahobila Math, he blessed it and authorised its publication by the Sri Nrisimha Priya Trust.
A US edition was brought out in 1999 for distribution to those interested in the meaning of the Sahasra Naama living in the US. All profits from the distribution of this edition were sent to support the work of the Mathuraantakam Vedha Paatasaala.
In the earlier editions, the focus was on transliteration to facilitate recitation by even those who know only simple English. In this edition. I have tried to adhere to the Sanskrit text more closely in transliteration. I have also tried to simplify the translation and to make it more relevant and appropriate to the current state of scientific knowledge.
I have adopted a simple phonetic approach to transliteration in terms of the English (Roman) alphabet, ignoring the pronunciation of words in English, as it is not a phonetic language. In case of doubt, I have given importance to making the recitation of the naamas and slokaas as simple as possible. Readers should bear with me if I have committed any mistakes anywhere in this book in any respect.
I dedicate this book to His Holiness the 45th Jeer of Ahobila Math whose kindness and encouragement have been a source of inspiration to me and my family. I thank him for His ready approval of the publication of this second edition by the Bhavan.
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