Hara Hara Shankara, Jaya Jaya Shankara

Hara Hara Shankara, Jaya Jaya Shankara

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Greatness of Vishnu Sahasranama

HIS best gift

Prayer is a wonderful way of expressing our gratitude to GOD and his benevolence. Prayer does not necessaril mean to ask GOD for any favours, it is a thanksgiving for keeping us alive today, for a good health, a peaceful state of mind and the benefits we enjoy than many many under-privileged people. This expression of thanking is done in many ways like chanting slokas, mantras, music, bhajans, harikathas etc etc. Among these, the most easier and affordable way to thank GOD is chanting slokas. Not everyone has a good a voice, not everyone is entitled to chant mantras but everyone has the privilege to chant slokas anytime and anywhere.

All slokas extol the LORD. His/HER greatness. Be it in Mahalakshmi ashtakam, or the ganesha pancharatnam, all of them praise the lord for what he is to us, his/her beautiful form, compassion, mercy, love and many many other qualitites. Among all the 1000s of chants available for us today, one of the most popular slokas is the Vishnu Sahasranama. A 1000 divine names of the lord Vishnu with each name depicting one of his many unique natures. Each and every great saint like Shri Adi Sankara, Shri Ramanuja, Shri Madhvacharya and others have written great commentaries on this.

Why is the Vishnu Sahasranama so important or rather good to chant. ?

When a child returns from school, it loves to narrate to its mother all that happened that day. He would love to tell his mom about his teacher, his friends and the special events at school. If his mom would do something that would make the child happy, the mom would get a lot of praise, a few hugs and kisses for being so special to her child. Little does the child know that all mothers are the same. It always looks towards it mom at times of success or failures. 

In the same way, the Lord is our saviour and protector. He loves to listen to his devotees. When his devotees thank him and sing his praise, he is full of joy. This does not mean to say that GOD has emotions. He is beyond all feelings. The intention is: he wants his devotees to narrate to him, to have 100% faith in his powers. And he is ready to do anything for his bhakta, when we whole heartedly pray to HIM. For example, In gajendra moksham, when the elephant king's leg was caught by the corcodile, it called out to Lord narayana for help. The Lord in Vaikuntam, came so hurriedly from his abode and killed the crocodile to save his devotee. The lord need not have to come all the way from vaikuntam, He could have whirled his sudarshan chakra from his abode and saved the elephant. But the purpose is not that alone. It becomes a necessity to the Lord to appear and show his love to his devotee. When a mother comes to know that her child is not doing well, no matter where she is and how she is, she hurriedly comes to save her child. In the same way, the LORD, a universal mother cannot bear to see his devotees suffering. He is ever willing to help us. All he expects is a 100% faith which we refuse to give him. And that is the cause of all our suffering. 

By chanting the Vishnu Sahasranama, we get our mind cleaned of all our illusions and develop unflinching bhakti.

Who was the first to chant the Vishnu Sahasranama and what are the circumstances that it came into being.? 
There is an interesting story for this. 

After the Mahabharata war, the Yudhistra, the eldest pandava was made king. The first job he did was to visit his grand-sire Bhishma who was lying in the bed of arrows waiting to give up the body and reach his final abode. The pandavas along with Shri Krishna went to Bhishma. Yudhishtra asked the following 6  important questions:

1.Who ("kim") is the greatest ("ekam") Lord ("daivatam") in the world ("loke")?
2. Who is the one ("ekam") refuge ("paraayanam") for all?
3. By glorifying ("sthuvantah") whom ("kam") can man ("manavah") reach the Auspiciousness ("shubam") (peace and prosperity)?
4. By worshipping ("archantah") whom, can a man reach auspiciousness (peace and prosperity)?
5. What ("ko") is, in thy opinion, the Greatest Dharma?
6. By doing japa of what can “creatures” (jantu) go beyond ("mutchyate") the bonds ("bandhanaath") of samsara?

The result of this is the flow of Vishnu Sahasranama from the lips of Bhishma. The beauty of this is that this was chanted in front of the lord himself. The Mahabharata is great in many ways but to us, it has given us two rare and precious gems by which we can attain moksha. The Bagavadgita where the Lord has taken the place of an acharya. The Gita which deals at length about karma, gnana and bhakti is a wonderful dialogue between Arjuna and Krishna  The other is the Vishnu Sahasranama, where the lord is a spectator to his devotee's prayers. A 1000 names of the lord where each name attributes a special quality. Mere chanting gives us immense benefits. What to speak if we knew its meaning while chanting?.

This wonderful piece of divinity can be learnt by anyone. To make it easy, Smt. MS Subbalakshmi has been a virtual guru for lacs and lacs of devotees. Technology is always there helping us in these things too. Google for Vishnu Sahasranama or look for this in you tube. You will find aplenty of this. Regular classes are being held to spread this. As part of LAHARI too,we have uploaded a few parts for the benefit of all.

What will we get if we chant this great sahasranama? Needless to say, we should pray for no benefit. Pray for the sake of praying and not for any favours. Did we ask for good parents, did we ask for a good education, did we ask for all the luxuries. Didn't we get without asking? When all these have come , our needs will be attended too, without asking. He will take care and give what is best for us.  

However, whether you want it or not, chanting the Vishnu Sahasranama gives immense benefit depending with the intention we pray.  The benefits according the phala stuti that comes at the end of the sahasranama are as follows:

That man who hears the names every day or who recites them every day, never meets with any evil either here or hereafter.

If a Brahmana does this, he succeeds in mastering the Vedanta.
If a Kshatriya does it, he becomes always successful in battle.
A Vaisya, by doing it, becomes possessed of affluence.
A Sudra earns great happiness.

 If one becomes desirous of earning the merit of righteousness, one succeeds in earning it (by hearing or reciting these names).

 If it is wealth that one desires, one succeeds in earning wealth (by acting in this way).

 So also the man who wishes for enjoyments of the senses succeeds in enjoying all kinds of pleasures, and the man desirous of offspring acquires offspring (by pursuing this course of conduct).

 That man who with devotion and perseverance and heart wholly turned towards him, recites these thousand names of Vasudeva every day, after having purified himself, succeeds in acquiring great fame, a position of eminence among his kinsmen, enduring prosperity, and lastly, that which is of the highest benefit to him (viz., emancipation itself).

Such a man never meets with fear at any time, and acquires great prowess and energy. Disease never afflicts him; splendor of complexion, strength, beauty, and accomplishments become his.

The sick become hale, the afflicted become freed from their afflictions; the affrighted become freed from fear, and he that is plunged in calamity becomes freed from calamity.

The man who hymns the praises of that foremost of Beings by reciting His thousand names with devotion succeeds in quickly crossing all difficulties.

That mortal who takes refuge in Vasudeva and who becomes devoted to Him, becomes freed of all sins and attains to eternal Brahma.

They who are devoted to Vasudeva have never to encounter any evil. They become freed from the fear of birth, death, decrepitude, and disease.

That man who with devotion and faith recites this hymn (consisting of the thousand names of Vasudeva) succeeds in acquiring felicity of soul, forgiveness of disposition, prosperity, intelligence, memory, and fame. 

Neither wrath, nor jealousy, nor cupidity, nor evil understanding ever appears in those men of righteousness who are devoted to that foremost of beings.

This hymn in praise of the illustrious Vishnu composed by Vyasa, should be recited by that person who wishes to acquire happiness and that which is the highest benefit (viz., emancipation).

Those persons that worship and adore the Lord of the universe, that deity who is inborn and possessed of blazing effulgence, who is the origin or cause of the universe, who knows on deterioration, and who is endued with eyes that are as large and beautiful as the petals of the lotus, have never to meet with any discomfort. 

Wow...looks like a whole bumper offer. Tempts anyone to chant and be blessed. So, let us start learning this at least with the intention of gaining these benefits,  It may seem too long, feel it may take too long to learn, we may be too old to start off. But better late than never.  Even one line or a couplet of lines everyday is enough to start off. Group chanting always helps one to learn faster and easier. 

Let us climb one step. The lord will come down 10 steps and lift us. Let it start as a mundane job, bhakti will slowly flow in. Let it start with a inward force or an unwanted choice. The vibrations and the urge to chant more will slowly flow in. Let us make a beginning today...HE will continue the saga

I would recommend the following website for this great gift of bhishma. It has the sahasranama with meanings too. Also, some recommendations of particular couplets for different nakshatras (birth stars). But please don't restrict yourself to these lines alone. Try learning the entire sahasranamam. Let us try going beyond mere material happiness.

Ram Ram


  1. How do I attach a file here ?
    I have a neat 5 page Satyanarayana story - that I got when I was in Pittsburgh US temple. I'd like to share it.
    Shashi ( White House resident )

    Chapter I
    Shaunaka and eighty eight thousand other rishis assembled at
    the forest of Naimisharanya and asked Maharishi Soota, the
    narrator of the Purana, "Oh Maharishi, please tell us how
    mankind can attain salvation." Maharishi Soota answered, "Even
    Narada Muni had asked Lord Vishnu, the consort of Lakshmi, the
    same question! Let me repeat what Lord Vishnu told Narada.
    Please listen carefully.
    Narada, during one of his regular journeys to various worlds,
    came to the earth. There he saw people suffering as a result of
    their past deeds. To remove their suffering and offer salvation,
    Narada traveled to Vishnu Loka and found Lord Vishnu adorned
    with conch, chakra, gadha and lotus in his four hands, and a
    garland around his neck. Narada spoke humbly,'Oh Supreme
    Lord, the savior of the destitute and the troubled, I surrender at
    thy feet.' Lord Vishnu greeted him and asked, 'tell me what you
    want, and I will fulfill your wishes'. Narada replied, 'Oh Bhaga-
    wan, people on earth are suffering in many ways as a result of
    their past sinful deeds. Please bestow thy grace and reveal to me
    as to how they can be helped.'Lord Vishnu replied,'Mankind
    can rid itself of all its sorrows by performing a puja called Satya-
    nararana Puja. This puja, when performed according to religious
    rites, will bring happiness, peace of mind and wealth in this life,
    and salvation beyond.' On hearing this, Narada was filled with
    joy, and addressed Lord Vishnu, 'Oh Lord, in your infinite grace,
    please tell me the details of the puja that you have just mentioned,
    how and when to perform it and who has performed it before.'
    Lord Vishnu answered- 'This puja can be performed on a
    full moon day. One must invite his friends and relatives, and
    perform the puja with devotion offering fruits, ghee, milk, curd,
    butter, wheat flour. sugar and honey to God. After the puja is
    completed he must read the story of Lord Satyanarayana, and
    then distribute prasadam to everyone. The puja thus performed,
    will bring fulfillment of one's wishes. Particularly, in the
    Kaliyuga, this puja can bring contentment.'"

  3. Chapter 2
    Maharishi Soota continued addressing the assembled rishis,
    "Oh rishis. I will now tell you who have all observed the Satya-
    narayana vratha in the past.
    Once, there lived a very poor brahmin in the beautiful city
    of Kashi. Plagued by acute hunger, he used to wander about in
    search of food. Lord Vishnu took the form of an old man,
    appeared before the poor brahmin, and asked, 'Friend, why are
    you wandering aimlessly?' The brahmin replied, 'Sir, I am a very
    poor man. Unable to bear the pangs of hunger, I beg for alms.
    Sir, if you know a way out of this misery, please tell me.' Lord

    Vishnu, who was in the guise of an old man, replied, 'Oh
    brahmin, Lord Satyanarayana grants the wishes of all his devotees,
    and removes their sorrows. So, you should perform His puja, and
    reap its benefits.' Lord Vishnu then explained the details of the
    Satyanarayana Vratha to the brahmin, and disappeared.
    The poor brahmin resolved to perform the puja. After a
    sleepless night, he got up early in the morning and went to beg
    for alms, his mind fixed on only one thing, namely - the puja.
    That day he got a lot of money with which he bought fruits,
    milk, curd and honey, and performed the puja with his friends
    and relatives. With Lord Satyanarayana's grace he shed his
    poverty, and lived a contented life. Every month on the full moon
    duy, he performed the puja, and finally attained Moksha (salva-
    Maharishi Soota continued, "One day when this brahmin
    from Kashi was observing Satyanarayana Vratha. A woodcutter
    entered his house and asked for water. Seeing the brahmin
    perform the puja, the woodcutter inquired about the puja.The
    brahmin, who had been bestowed with Lord Vishnu's grace,
    spoke, This is called Satyanarayana Vratha. One who observes
    the Vratha will be blessed by the Lord. I myself have been
    bestowed with wealth.' The woodcutter was delighted to hear this.
    He learned the proper way to perform the puj a, ate the prasad
    that was offered, and went his way.
    With Lord Satyanarayana in his mind, the woodcutter
    resolved that he would observe the Vratha with whatever he was
    going to earn by selling firewood that day. He went to that part
    of the city where rich people lived, sold the firewood, and made
    twice the normal profit. Pleased with his luck, the woodcutter
    bought bananas, sugar, ghee, milk, curd, honey and wheat flour,
    and performed the Satyanarayana puja with his friends and
    relatives. By Lord Satyanarayana's grace he too acquired enough
    wealth, lived comfortably, and finally attained Moksha."

  4. Chapter 3
    Maharishi Soota continued, "Oh best of ascetics, I will now
    tell you the story further. In the olden days there lived a wise
    king by the name Ulmamukha. He had mastered all his senses, and
    always spoke the truth. He used to go to the temple everyday, and
    offer gifts to the brahmins. His lotus-faced wife was a pure and
    pious woman. One day, the royal couple was performing Satya-
    narayana Puja at the banks of the river Bhadrasheela. At that
    time, a merchant called Sadhu sailed by. Seeing the king perform
    some puja,Sadhu stopped his boat, got off, and addressed the
    king humbly, 'Oh King, would you kindly tell me what you are
    doing with such devotion and concentration?' The king replied,
    'Oh Sadhu, I have no children. In order that I may be blessed
    with children, I am worshipping the Lord Almighty Satya-

    On hearing this, Sadhu spoke humbly,'Oh king, please tell me
    how to perform the puja. I would like to observe the Vratha,
    as I too have no children.' The king told him all the details.
    Sadhu returned home, and with great joy, told his wife that they
    should perform Satyanarayana Puja which will fulfill their desire
    to have children. He then resolved to perform the puja after the
    child was born. By the divine grace, Sadhu's wife Leelavati soon
    conceived, and in due course , gaye birth to a beautiful girl who
    was named Kalavati.
    One duy, Leelavati reminded her husband of his promise to
    perform Satyanarayana Puja. Sadhu told his wife that he would
    do the puja at the time of his daughter's wedding, and got busy
    with his work.
    In the meantime , Kalvati grew up, and blossomed into a
    lovely girl. Sadhu sent out messengers to find a suitable bride-
    groom for his daughter.
    One of his messengers found a good-natured and handsome
    boy in a vaishya family from KanchanNagar. Sadhu found the
    boy to be a suitable match for his daughter, and celebrated her
    marri age with great pomp and show. But Sadhu completely forgot
    about the Satyanarayana Puja, and the Lord placed a curse on
    Then, one day Sadhu went on a business trip with his son-in-
    law. He stopped to trade at Ratnapur which was ruled by king
    Chandraketu. During the time he was in Ratnapur, some thieves
    robbed the king's treasury, and were running away. The king's
    soldiers followed them in hot pursuit. The frightened thieves
    threrv all the things they had robbed near Sadhu and his son-in-
    law, and escaped. Finding the things of king's treasures near
    Sadhu and his son-in-law, the king's soldiers thought that they
    were the thieves, arrested them, and brought them before the
    king. The king ordered them to be chained, and thrown into
    prison. Because of Lord's Maya, nobody even listened to what
    Sadhu had to say in his defense. King Chandraketu also confis-
    cated all their merchandise.
    Lord Satvanarayana's curse did not spare even Sadhu's wife.
    Some robbers broke into her house., and Leelavati lost everything.
    One day Kalavati was very hungry, and went out of the
    house. She wandered here and there, and stopped at a house
    where Satyanarayana Puj a was being performed. She stayed at
    that place until the puja was finished, and ate the prasad that was
    offered. When she reached home, it was very late in the night.
    Leelavati asked her where she had been. Kalavati told her mother
    that she was listening to Satyanarayana Katha in somebody's
    house. Leelavati at once remembered her husband's promise to
    perform the puja, and resolved to observe the Satyanarayana
    Vratha herself. She collected all her relatives and friends, prayed
    to Lord Satyanarayana to forgive their sins.

    ( to be continued )

  5. Chapter 3 ( remainder - attached )
    Lord Satyanarayana was pleased with Leelavati's prayers. He
    appeared before king Chandraketu in his dreams, and told him to
    release the two merchants from prison as they were not the real
    thieves. If the king failed to do So, Lord Satyanarayana warned
    that his kingdom, wealth and children would all disappear.
    Next morning, the king told his counsellors about his dream,
    and ordered Sadhu and his son-in-law to be released, and brought
    before him. The latter were frightened, and stood before the king
    with bowed heads. The king talked to them gently and said, 'You
    two have suffered greatly because of your fate, but now there is
    nothing to fear.' The king returned their merchandise, gave them
    new clothes, and gifts, and bade them goodbye.

  6. Chapter 4
    Sadhu and his son-in-law loaded their boat with the riches
    given to them by the king, and sailed homewards. Lord Satya-
    narayana wanted to test Sadhu further. He took the form of an
    ascetic with a trident, appeared before Sadhu, and asked him what
    he was carrying in his boat. Without realizing that the ascetic was
    indeed Lord Satyanarayana in disguise, Sadhu laughed mockingly,
    and said, 'You brahmin, were you thinking of stealing my things?
    We do not have any valuables in the boat except leaves and
    creeper plants.' Whereupon Lord Satyanatayana replied, 'Oh
    Sadhu, so be it.' The God then departed in great haste , and stood
    by the seashore.
    When Sadhu went into his boat, he discovered to his horror
    that the boat was filled with leaves and creeper plants just as he
    had falsely told the ascetic. Sadhu swooned at the sight, but was
    revived by his son-in-law who spoke, 'This must be the curse of
    the ascetic. He must be a mystic. Let us go to him, and ask for
    his forgiveness.' The two merchants went to the seashore where
    the ascetic was meditating. They fell at his feet, and repeatedly
    begged for his forgiveness.

    Pleased by Sadhu's devotion, the Lord said, 'Sadhu, do not
    weep. You suffer because you have broken your promise time and
    again.' On hearing this, Sadhu prayed to God, 'Oh Lord, even
    Brahma and other Devas, drowned in your Maya, cannot
    comprehend your various forms completely. How can I, with my
    limited ability, comprehend your various forms? I pray according
    to my limited knowledge Please show me your true form, and
    bless me.'

    Upon hearing this, God was pleased- and granted his wishes
    restoring his merchandise in the boat and disappeared. The two
    merchants then joyfully sailed homewards. On reaching their
    hometown they sent a messenger to their wives to inform them of
    their safe arrival. At that time, Leelavati and Kalavati were
    performing Satyanarayana Puja. Leelavati quickly finished the
    puja, and asked her daughter to do so. She then hurried to the
    seashore to meet her husband. Kalavati, in her eagerness to meet
    her husband, forgot to eat the prasad, and rushed to the seashore.
    This action of her angered Lord Satyan arayana. He caused the
    boat and her husband to drown in the sea.
    Not finding her husband, Kalavati started weeping. All were
    wonderstruck and frightened. Sadhu was at a loss to know what
    to do. Thinking that it was Lord Satyanarayana's Maya, he
    announced to everybody that he would perform Satyanarayana
    Puj, and prayed to Lord Satyanarayana again and again. At this,
    Lord Satyanarayana, the savior of the sinners, was very pleased,
    and said, 'Oh Sadhu, your daughter did not eat the prasad in her
    haste to see her husband, and so I made him and the boat
    disappear. Let her go home, and take the prasad, and return.' On
    hearing this , Kalavati rushed home, and ate the prasad. When she
    returned to the seashore, she found, to her joy, her husband and
    the boat. Then Sadhu returned home happily with his relatives,
    performed Satyanarayana Puja on every full moon day. With
    God's grace, he enjoyed all the comforts in this world, and finally
    attained salvation."

  7. Chapter 5
    Maharishi Soota continued, "Once there was a king called
    Tungadhwaja who underwent a lot of misery because he refused
    the Satyanarayana prasad.

    One day after hunting, he was resting under a tree. Cowherds
    were happily performing Satyanarayana Puja nearby. The king in
    vanity, refused the prasad they offered. When he reached his
    palace, he found that his kingdom, all his sons, his wealth and
    everything had disappeared. Then it occurred to him that Lord
    Satyanarayana was probably angry with him. He went back to the
    cowherds, prostrated himself before Lord Satyanarayana, and per-
    formed the puja with great devotion. The Lord showered his
    blessings, and the king regained everything he had lost earlier. He
    lived happily, and reached Vaikunta after his death."
    Maharishi Soota said, "Oh holy men. I have narrated to you
    the Satyanaraya Katha which was originally told by Lord
    Vishnu to Narada Muni. By observing this Vratha, mankind can
    attain salvation. In this Kaliyuga, observance of the Vratha can
    lead to gratification of one's wishes."
    Thus ended the narration of Maharishi Soota, after which
    Shaunaka and other rishis returned to their respective places.

  8. Please excuse , as I had to upload it in pieces - as this blog page had a certain file size limit.

  9. Well written Kiran. Thanks a lot for sharing. Nice stories.

  10. SIR ,