About the Author
Shri T.N. Raghavendra
was born in the year 1941 hailing from a hoary family in Karnataka of great
lineage. A technocrat by education, training and wide experience, Shri Raghavendra is an expert on
foundation engineering. Though deeply immersed in mundane affairs Shri Raghavendra has taken a
quantum leap into the esoteric metaphysical field in recent years. He has
authored some 14 books in a time span of less than a decade on Vedantic texts such as the Geetha,
Upanishads, Smritis and the Rigveda.
His work on the Rigveda in eleven volumes-a clear
manifestation of the grace of his Guru (the presiding deity of Mantralaya-the qualified Brahman-the all-pervading Sri Hari Narayana) shines like the
bright stars on a clear evening sky. Anyone, even an atheist coming into
contact with him, personally or by perusal of his books will invariably develop
a sense of deep devotion to the all-pervading Reality. His word can
appropriately be christened Prasthana Dwaya.
Spiritual literature is like honey which we can
take only a sip at a time. Knowledge is power and divine knowledge brings
unflinching faith and devotion. The worldly person asks what is god and where
is god as though it is an object to be possessed and controlled. The worldly
mind obsessed with matter rebels at spiritual literature. The spiritual
knowledge takes us beyond the vagaries of the world and the mind. Once we
experience the peace and tranquillity that emanates from the spiritual
knowledge, the mind overcomes its own resistance.
SrI Visnu Sahasranama is the
spiritual literature par excellence. It is an ocean of divine knowledge
depicting the power and glory of the Supreme Lord. For the seekers of truth and
divine knowledge, it is the source of light. For devotees, it is the Supreme
I have put in my small effort in explaining the
meaning of every nama (name) depicting the power and
glory of the Supreme Lord by bringing together the statements of Supreme truth
as explained in the Vedas, Upanisads, Bhagavadgita and other holy scriptures. This divine
knowledge declared in our holy scriptures is what makes our country great and
enduring. This knowledge and devotion is what gives us strength in times of doubts
I have borrowed extensively the mantras and
their meaning from various upanisadic texts. I am
grateful to authors and publishers of various books specially
to Sri Ramakrishna Math who are in the forefront for spreading our immortal scriptures.
I am thankful to the T.T. Devasthanams
for the financial assistance.
I am also thankful to Sri Nithyananda
Compugraphics for their painstaking efforts in
bringing out this difficult work of Sanskrit mantras in English.
Many great scholars have appreciated and have
given encouragement for this work. I am highly thankful to them.
This devotional work, I offer at the lotus feet of the
Supreme Lord Venkataramana Swamy
of the Seven Hills and pray that all readers of this book be blessed by the
I am indeed happy to inscribe the foreword to
Sri T.N. Raghavendra’s exposition of the glory and
exalted spiritual merit of Sri Visnu Sahasranama. Sri Raghavendra is
himself a specialist structural engineer by profession and has been brought up
in a modern tradition. After a phase of prosperous worldly pursuits, he
underwent a spiritual transformation which diverted him and his intellectual
energies towards our scriptural spiritual heritage. Thus commenced the phase of
his life devoted to a deep spiritual quest of the enduring vitality and verity
of our spiritual literature and lore. He has written with prolific constancy on
the religious classics. The present work is one of them. The spiritual
transformation from a man of science and setting him on a journey of
exploration of the spiritual dimensions of human personality, the inner man,
can occur only by rare divine grace.
present work on "Sri Visnu Sahasranama"
has the impress of a true seeker. His vision of beatific, mystic glory and
grace of the thousand auspicious and celestial names of the Supreme being as a great liberating force and spiritual redemption
of man is truly elevating. The commentary, which contains well researched
allusions to other spiritual texts, is indicative of the author’s intuitive
attainments. Sri Raghavendra is truly blessed.
It is a fitting tribute to the rare and rich
talents of the author that the T.T. Devasthanams
administration has agreed to provide financial assistance for this publication.
May the Lord of the Seven
Hills shower His Blessings on the author and the reader.
Sri Visnu Sahasranama is the essence of Vedas, Upanisads
and Bhagavad Gita. The
Supreme God is one, nameless and formless but takes innumerable names and
forms. There is no limit to the powers and glory of God. Sri Visnu Sahasranama is the thousand
names of one Supreme God, the Supreme Self, the all-pervading Supreme spirit
Sri Hari Narayana. The
names of God is necessary for us, otherwise we cannot relate ourselves with God
without giving name and form in initial stages. Name and form is the only way
our mind functions. Once we transcend the mind, names and forms become
Thousand names of the Supreme God depicts thousand divine qualities and nature of God, whom we
worship in innumerable names and forms. Even we try to give form to the
formless, since Re is eternal, immortal and creator, sustainer
and destroyer of entire universe, of time and space.
The greatest wonder that the Supreme God has
created is human being. Man is differentiated from animals by the faculty of
mind, which is the means of thinking and discrimination. With this mind we are
able to distinguish right from wrong, good from bad and comprehend all the
differences and discriminations in this universe. This human being is the
culmination of the evolutionary process starting from the single cell beings.
All creatures undergo changes and adapt themselves to the changing environment
guided and controlled by the Supreme intelligence that is ingrained in nature.
Another faculty that all living creatures are
provided with is the consciousness. This is the faculty given to see, to hear,
to smell, to taste and to experience. This is the background for all matters
and objects in the universe to exist. This is also the background for the
perception of all matter and objects by the living beings. This consciousness
is the source of all existence.
The purpose and goal of all creatures to live in
this universe is the happiness one enjoys after taking birth on this earth.
Everything on earth, all nature and creatures is beautiful and blissful. All
experiences end up in joy. This is the quality of the creation in this
All bodies are formed by the’ composition of
the elements air, water, fire, earth, sun, moon, ether, sky, intellect, ego,
and the mind. This body so made is kept alive by the vital force prana, the divine and Supreme
energy. This is the force that makes the person real with name and form
performing various functions and makes it real. When the body is not able to
hold the vital force in the body, due to sickness, disease, old age or any
other reason, the body dies and disintegrates into elements.
While the body is alive it breathes air, drinks
water, eats food, enjoys sex with the opposite sex and indulges in various
activities. The beings derive happiness in all these activities. This pleasure
is the nature of all the beings as long as they are alive. This bliss is the nature
and quality of all the natural elements.
These faculties of Supreme intelligence,
Supreme consciousness and Supreme bliss which accompany the vital force prana must have a source from which they have evolved.
yat bhavam tat bhavati-If we think a
jar half full, it looks half full. If we look at its half emptiness, it looks
half empty. If we go to a sports ground and look at the people running with joy
and happiness, we also get involved in the game and feel exhilarated.
If we go to a hospital, we also feel anxious
and depressed by the atmosphere. If we go to a temple, we are filled with the
hope and faith. So each environment has its own atmosphere by which one is
influenced and affected. It is the way we look at things, and positive mental
attitude helps to infuse confidence and happiness in ourselves and our
So also our attitude to life. This life is a
journey without end and only the play goes on with change of players every now
and then. There is no loser nor winner. The whole thing
is a dynamic metamorphosis with everyone feeling that he or she is the central
figure and ultimately resigning to fate. Everyone attains the object of their
desire and everything culminates in knowledge. This desire is the force that
drives everyone to function for the attainment of their desire. The goal of all
activity is happiness in one form or the other and to attain this happiness,
the help of Supreme intelligence is also provided by the Supreme Self. It is
the individual effort along with the guidance of the Supreme intelligence which
drives people in the direction of satisfaction of their desires whose product
is happiness. So the first question we have to ask is whether what we are doing
gives happiness to us as well as to others who are with us.
Work is the means of attainment and is the way
for attaining all desires. It is the means of purification. It is the means of
livelihood and gives the right to fight for one’s rights. Work is the support
of one’s standing in society. The work one does without attachment to the
fruits of work is the means of liberation. Nothing comes free in this world. We
have to pay for water, for fresh air, for food and for living. We have to pay
for what we take and what we give also. This right to take and give comes from
work. When we work, we are entitled to the rights of work. That only is ours.
We have the right to give and sacrifice only what is ours. This giving and
sacrifice gives us joy and happiness. The happiness is not in receiving from
someone but in giving to as many. This giving is the nature of the Supreme
Self. He has created all these great elements air, water, fire, earth, sun,
moon, ego, intellect, ether, sky and all the-planets and the stars that
together make up this body and the nature. From this earth and nature only are
all bodies evolved. We are the children of nature and this nature is the means
of life on this earth.
Our body and the mind is the lower nature of
the Supreme Self created by the Supreme Self. The vital force or prana is the divine power and energy that keeps all bodies
alive. This vital force is always accompanied by the intelligence,
consciousness and bliss. These are the higher nature of the Supreme Self.
Whatever beings are alive are conscious, intelligent and enjoy bliss and
happiness. The happiness is the nature and quality of our self which is in us
which we call it self, or the soul or the atma. This is the eternal part (amsa)
of the Supreme Self which having created the body resides in the body and
experiences the quality of nature and its own creation. Being seated in the
body, it thinks of itself as the body and is therefore confined and also
limited by the adjuncts of the body. Since the body is perishable, (all bodies
which are limited and finite are perishable.) the soul thinks it dies and takes
birth with the body. Since the soul or atman is an infinitesimal part of the
Supreme Self, it is deathless and changeless. It takes any number of bodies one
after the other as per its desires and enjoys the quality of nature as per its
desires. What it wants, it gets. What it desires, it enjoys. It totters between
life and death of the bodies, being attached to the qualities of the body.
The qualities of the body being dual in nature,
it suffers and enjoys. It cries with pain and exults with pleasure, revels in
achievement and shrinks with failure. Since the mind is relative in nature and
function, it compares with all it comes across and verifies itself. It thinks
high with the low and rich with the poor. It considers intelligent among the
dull and righteous among the wicked. There is always a better one and there is
always a lower one than the other. The mind always relates with the other and
the ‘other’ is the mind. It never finds bliss but jumps from one end of mental
condition to the other. Rarely it is static and
peaceful. Mind always deals with the limited and finite. It always thinks in
terms of images. The mind experiences the quality of the image it thinks of.
The fruit of the activity of mind is always pain and misery.
To overcome this pain and misery, we have to
take shelter under the changeless, timeless and limitless Supreme God whose
nature is Supreme consciousness, Supreme intelligence and Supreme bliss. The
mind experiences the nature of the thought it is immersed in. When the mind
contemplates on the Supreme Self, it stops since it cannot conceptualise the
Supreme Self. With this prayer and meditation, the mind experiences the joy and
bliss which is the higher nature of the Supreme Self (Paramatman).
The goal of all knowledge and human activity is
happiness. We do not intend to do any work which does not result in prosperity
and happiness. This prosperity itself, we think, is the means of happiness. No
doubt this wealth and prosperity is the means for physical and material well-
being, but does not result in bliss which is the essence of happiness. The
prayer and worship of the Supreme Self gives immense joy since the mind is
temporarily dissolved in the Supreme bliss. The mind can conceptualise only the
name and form since these are the only means of relationship with the mind.
Even though the Supreme Self has no name and form, since it is the source,
support and devourer of all this universe and pervades
the entire universe, it is given several names that suit many regions,
religions, many situations and places. People worship these names and forms of
the one and the same Supreme Self, the all-pervading Supreme spirit Sri Hari Narayana. These names and
forms vary from place to place, time to time, but is the single changeless,
deathless limitless Supreme reality.
We call the Supreme Self, the all-pervading
Supreme spirit, the indestructible divine energy whose higher nature is the
intelligence, consciousness and bliss, by the name Sri Hari
Narayana He is also called as Supreme Brahman. This
Supreme Brahman is also the entity which expresses itself as Brahma the creator,
Sri Visnu the supporter and provider and Mahesvara who is the devourer of this universe at the end
of the kalpa. They are the three aspects of the
Supreme Self, representing the three different functions. They are one and the
same in reality. Only the Supreme Self is worshipped in different names and
forms assigning different functions in different regions and religions from
time to time.
In Hindu religion we worship the Supreme Self,
the all-pervading Supreme spirit Sri Hari Narayana by a thousand names arranged under the heading of
‘Sri Visnu Sahasranama’.
They are indicative of the glory, the magnificence, the nature and quality of
the Supreme Self, which the words are trying to reach. The words are meant to
describe the known and the limited, whereas the Supreme Self is nameless,
formless, unlimited and eternal. The words return without touching that Supreme
truth. These thousand names are only indicative of the Supreme Self, since
there are any number of names to sing the glory of
that Supreme truth.
That is the omnipotent, omnipresent and the
omniscient. That is the magnificent and the merciful. By singing these thousand
names of Sri Hari Narayana,
the all-pervading Supreme spirit, we are cleansed of our bodily impurities,
mental worries and anxieties and we experience the bliss which is not of the
mind and the world, but in spite of them.
We are not the body and mind alone, but the Self,
the soul. Body is made of great elements such as air, water, fire, earth and
other components. The mind is the lower nature of the Supreme Self which
represents the outer world in human being. The Self whose essence is the
Supreme Self is the changeless, deathless Supreme divine energy which is
neither created nor destroyed and whose nature is intelligence, consciousness
and bliss. By praying to the name and form of the Supreme Self, the
all-pervading Supreme spirit we attain health and wealth; by worshipping the
name and form of the Supreme Self, Sri Visnu, our
mind is purified of all thoughts and worries which are the cause of misery.
These are the divine qualities of the Supreme Lord. By imbibing these divine
qualities, we also attain to divinity. As mentioned in the Sri Visnu Sahasranama, "Nara and
Narayana" are the two ends of existance, the micro and the macro. Macro includes the
micro. Nara, the human being by attaining these divine qualities has hope and
faith to merge in Narayana, the macro.
By meditating on the nameless and formless
Supreme Brahman, our mind attains the nature of the Self and feels the oneness
with the nature of the Supreme Self.
Here an effort is made to explain the meaning
of the thousand names of the all-pervading Supreme Self Sri Hari
Narayana. who is also·referred as Sri Visnu. These
are just the explanation and expansion of his glories who
is nameless and formless but is the cause of all things that exist. He is the
Sri Visnu Sahasranama are the thousand names
of the all-pervading Supreme spirit Sri Hari Narayana, which are chanted with Supreme devotion. They
proclaim the quality and nature of the Supreme Self who is beyond all qualities
but the creator of all qualities. They also proclaim the nature and quality of
the individual self which has attained Supreme knowledge and liberation.
While chanting these thousand names of Sri Hari Narayana we have to add the
Om before and after each name of the Supreme Lord. ‘Om’ is the all-pervading
sign, symbol and sound of Supreme Brahman, which is the nearest indication of
the Supreme Self. The chanting of this ‘Om’, the symbol of Supreme Self, gives
Lord Venkataramana Svamy at Tirupati is the
manifestation of Sri Visnu, the all-pervading Supreme
spirit Sri Hari Narayana,
who is blessing the devotees leading them to Supreme consciousness, knowledge,
prosperity and bliss.
Brahma Sutras (77)
Yoga Vasistha (81)
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