Vishnu Sahasranama


The Mahabharata battle is over. Bhishmacharya is sleeping on a bed of arrows. Here the coronation of Dharmaraja is in progress in the presence of Sree Krishna and Sri Veda Vyasa. With force Dharmaraja had agreed for the coronation, however he was not happy and at peace. Since gallant, elderly, lakhs and lakhs of soldiers perished, Dhamaraja was guilty and thought that because of him they all perished. When Dharmaraja was in this condition, Sree Krishna brought Dharmaraja in from of Bhishmacharaya and requests Bhishmacharya to preach righteousness and wisdom.

Bhishmacharya praises Dharmaraja for taking the side of righteousness and winning the war and tells Dharmaraja: if you had not taken the side of righteousness and fought against evil, I would have considered you as coward. Listening the words of Bhishmacharya, Dharmaraja guilt vanished, and he also requests Bhishmacharya to preach righteousness and wisdom.

Hence, Bhishmacharya preaching Dharmaraja about righteousness and wisdom is recorded in the “Anushasana Parva” as important verses by Sri Veda Vyasa as 1,000 Characteristics of “The GOD”. It is interesting to note that Bhishmacharya who knew “Sree Lord Krishna” as the supreme deity, was looking at Sree Lord Krishna who was wearing a garland made of Tulsi leaves and imparting righteousness and wisdom to Dharmaraja in the form of 1,000 characteristics of “The Lord”.

The 1,000 names that come in Vishnusahasranama extols the 1,000 characteristics of “The GOD”. Our names are not characteristics, it is merely means to recognize us (i.e., one can say ‘yes, I am here’ when your name is called). However, “The GOD’S” every name defines his characteristics.

There are various Sahasranama. The most famous amongst those are Lalita Sahasranama, Shiva Sahasranama, Ganesha Sahasranama, Narashima Sahsaranama .etc. Amongst all the Vishnu Sahasranama’s is the one that has been interpreted by various philosophers, and the one that is a part of Mahabharatha and regarded as the cream of all Sahasranama’s. There is also a Vishnushasranama in Padma Purna, but it is not that famous.

The Vishnushasranama that comes in “Anushasana Parva” of Mahabharatha, is comprised of 13 verses in prologue, 117 verses as the main body, and 22 verses in epilogue – in all 152 verses (1+5 + 2 = 8, the 8th avatara Sree Krishna, Astami when Sree Krishna was born).

You may find more than 152 verses in many recordings and/or books and some of these have come from various other sources (for example (a) ಶ್ರೀರಾಮ ರಾಮ ರಾಮೇತಿ ರಮೇ ರಾಮೇ ಮನೋರಮೇ - This is a verse from the Bṛhad-viṣṇu-sahasranāma-stotra in the Uttara-khaṇḍa of the Padma Purāṇa (72.335), (b) ಸಂಜಯ ಉವಾಚ, ಯತ್ರ ಯೋಗೇಶ್ವರಃ ಕೃಷ್ಣೋ ಯತ್ರ ಪಾರ್ಥೋ ಧನುರ್ಧರಃ – This verse come before the Bhagavad Gita Upadesha in Mahabharatha, (c) ಅನನ್ಯಾಶ್ಚಿಂತಯಂತೋ ಮಾಂ ಯೇ ಜನಾಃ ಪರ್ಯುಪಾಸತೇ – This verse is from Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 9, Verse 22 ,etc.). It is nothing wrong to recite these verses as part of Vishnushasranama. However, please note these are not part of Vishnushasranama that comes in “Anushasana Parva” of Mahabharatha and has been added for convenience.

In the Vishnusahasranama, we can notice some characteristics comes more than once. Here every characteristic can be interpreted in 100 ways, hence if a characteristic comes twice, it has 200 interpretations extolling the greatness, righteousness, and wisdom of the Lord.

It is impossible for human mind to comprehend all the characteristics of “The Lord”, even Goddess Maha Lakshmi also is still trying to comprehend.

The most important chapter Anushasanaparva in Mahabharatha contains the Vishnushasranama. Seers and elders have extolled the greatness of “Mahabharatha” authored by Sri Veda Vyasa as the cream amongst all the Vedic literature. This is “The GOD’s” creation.

Amongst all Vedic literature Mahabharatha is the conclusion. In the past by the request Sri Veda Vyasa, the deities and rishis placed Mahabharatha on one scale and all Veda’s on one scale and Mahabharatha was proven superior to all the Vedas. The summary of the Mahabharatha is contained in 700 verses of the Srimad Bhagvad Gita and 1000 names contained in Vishnusahasranama.

Mahabharata contains important meanings and psychologically trains our mind. The epic explains the behavior and situations experienced by our mind and body. The epic explains the battel our mind and body experiences when dealing with truth-untruth, justice-injustice, good-evil. The 7 characters represented below in Mahabharata represents the 18 characteristics or behavior exhibited by all human beings.

1) Dharmaraja – Justice

2) Bhimasena – Devotion, wisdom, renunciation, consciousness, intellect, swiftness, statefulness, attached-detachment, sprit, and strength

3) Arjuna – Hear, think/reflect, and intellectual consciousness

4) and 5). Nakula-Sahadeva – character and courtesy

6) Draupati – knower of the correct knowledge

7) Sree Krishna – knowledge

Every verse, word, and letter in the Mahabharatha explains the one who is above these 18 characteristics. Mahabharatha has 100,000 verses (1 lakh verses) i.e., 3,200,000 letters (32 lakhs). Every letter is the name and explains the characteristics of “The GOD”. This is the reason reciting Mahabharatha is essentially remembering the names and characteristics of “The GOD”.

It is difficult for every human being to understand and recollect every day the 100,000 verses (1 lakh verses), hence Sri Veda Vyasa extracted 700 verses in the form of Srimad Bhagvad Gita and 1000 names contained in Vishnusahasranama to help us understand and recollect every day the names and characteristics of “The GOD”.

Every verse in the Veda has at least 3 meanings. Every verse in the Mahabharatha has at least 10 meanings and every verse in the Visnushasranama has at least 100 meanings. Hence seers and elders proclaimed Srimad Bhagvadgita and Vishnusharanama as important scriptures.

Sri Veda Vyasa provided us the summary of the Vedas, in the form of Brahatisahasra containing 1,000 verses and 72,000 letters explaining the names and characteristics of “The GOD”. The summary of the 1,000 verses in Brahatisahasra is contained in Vishnusahasranama.

A Human Being lifespan is 100 years, that is made of 36 thousand days and 36 thousand nights. A human being is made of 72,000 network of channels though which energy travels (peripheral nerves) and blood vessels. Our of these 72,000 peripheral nerves and blood vessels, 32,000 are on distributed on left and 32,000 are on your right and if there is proper flow of energy and blood one will stay healthy.

That is for the reason one does Gayatri Japa for 1,000 times three times a day to channel proper flow of energy and blood. Because Gayatri Japa has 24 letters. 1,000 recitations are equal to 24,000 and reciting Gayatri Japa for 3 times (1,000 times each) is equal to 72,000. If one recites Gaytri Japa for more than 72 times it is hard for our Body to regulate our energy and blood flowing through the peripheral nerves and vessels and may lead to undesirable consequences.

By reciting Vishnusahasranama once is equal to reciting the 72,000 letters in Brahatisahasra. Hence, we can cleanse and regulate the flow of energy and blood through these 72,000 peripheral nerves and vessels. Hence Vishnusahasranama is the remedy to treat various diseases. It is also important to know the meanings when reciting Vishnusahasranama else it will be mundane.

When should one recite the Vishnusahasranama?

Vishnusahasranama is an important contribution from Sri Veda Vyasa. This can be recited by male or female, and person belonging to any religion and/or varna any time of the day or night. Vishnusahasranama can be recited before taking shower/bath or after shower/bath and in any location (Hotel, your car, home, temple etc.,).One has to recite Vishnusahasranama with devotion, belief, pure consciousness, by proper pronunciation, and breath control. If we do not pronounce properly, since all words/letters describe “The GOD”, he will forgive us.

Come let us understand the meanings embodied in Vishnusahasranama.