Monday, May 10, 2010

Generosity in Vishnu Sahasranama Bhashyas - Part 1

In the following two posts, we will wind up our discussion of Generosity as one of the Divine Attributes of the Lord Narayana. This time, let us sit back and enjoy the following divine names as explained in the viSNu-sahasranAma-bhASya-s (commentaries to the Chapter on the 1000 divine names of the Lord in the mahAbhArata epic) of Sri Adi Sankaracharya and Sri Parasara Bhatta. The arrangement of names differ slightly in the commentaries of the two Acharyas, and hence I will indicate two numbers for each name. The label "AS#" indicates 'according to Sri Sankaracharya', and "PB#" means 'according to Sri Parasara Bhatta'. I will provide the English translations for each name, plus the original Sanskrit commentaries wherever possible. I believe that the explanations given by the Acharyas are quite clear and explain various aspects of the Lord's generosity. Hence, I will not venture to elaborate them further. I have pointed out the source material at the end of this post.

[AS# 48, PB# 47] hRSIkeshaH:  One of the explanations given by Sri Adi Sankara for this name is: "yasya vA sUrya rUpasya candrarUpasya jagat-prItikarA hRSTAH keshA rashmyaH saH hRSIkeshaH |" meaning, "He who, in the form of the sun and the moon, delights the earth with His rays." The Acharya then provides a verse from the Veda that supports this interpretation (Krishna Yajurveda, Taittiriya Samhita, 4.6.3.h) and the following verse from the Mokshadharma (mokSadharma) section of the Mahabharata [1-2]:
sUryA-candramasoH shashvadaMshubhiH kesha-saMj~nitaiH      |
bodhayan svApayaMshcaiva jagat-uttiSThate pRthak                    |
bodhanAt svApanAccaiva jagato harSaNaM bhavet                      ||
agnISoma-kRtairebhiH karmabhiH pANDunandana!                      |
hRSIkesho(a)hamIshAno varado lokabhAvanaH                             ||
Translation: "The sun and moon through their rays (known as kesha in Sanskrit) always uphold the world as it were by awaking it and causing it to sleep. By such awaking and causing to sleep, the world  is delighted (Sanskrit: harSa). It is in consequence of these acts of the fire (sun) and Soma (moon) who uphold the universe that I have come to be called by the name of hRSIkesha, O son of Pandu! Indeed, I am the boon-giver, the Lord, the sustainer of the universe."

In relation with this explanation, we have also seen similar statements by Sri Sankara in his commentary to the Bhagavad Gita verse 9.19 in a previous post on this page.

[AS# 64, PB# 64] ma^ngalaM paraM:  Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada Acharya connects the term "param" (supreme), which he explains as "paraM sarvabhUtebhya utkRSTaM brahma" (Lord Vishnu is the Supreme Brahman on account of His supremacy over all beings), with the term "ma^ngalaM" which he explains in two ways:

(1) Supreme beneficence, as explained by the following verse, says Sri Sankara:
"ashubhAni nirAcaSTe tanoti shubhasantitaM                         |
smRtimAtreNa yat puMsAM brahma tadma^ngalaM vidhuH ||"
Translation: "That Brahman is known as beneficence which wards off all evils and brings on a series of benefits to men on being merely remembered by them."

(2) kalyANarUpAdvA ma^ngalam (or, due to His attractive appearance, He is known as ma^ngalam).

Hence,the explanation given by Sri Sankara is "Supremely beneficient/attractive".

[AS# 257, PB# 258] vRSabhaH:  Sri Sankaracarya explains, "varSatyeSa bhaktebhyaH kAmAn iti vRSabhaH", meaning "The showerer of desired objects on His devotees".

[AS# 298, PB# 299] kAmapradaH:  According to Adi Sankara, this name is to be explained as "bhaktAnAM kAmAn prakarSeNa dadAtIti kAmapradaH", meaning "He who fulfills all the desires of His devotees". Sri Bhattar explains the name as "svakAmebhyaH kSudrakAmeshca yatArhaM kAmyaM pradAti", meaning "One who fulfills everything: He grants Himself to those who long for Him. He also grants wishes of those who long for trivial, lowly fruits (i.e., materialists)." Sri Bhattar then quotes the Veda (Katha Upanishad verse 2.2.13), which says "eko-bahUnAM yo vidadhAti kAmAn", meaning "The Supreme being, though One, dispenses desired objects to many".

[AS# 330, PB# 332] varadaH:  One explanation that Sri Sankara adopts for this name is "abhimatAn varAn dadAti varadaH", meaning "The granter of boons of the objects desired".

[AS# 350, PB# 352] mahArddhiH:  Sri Bhattar explains this name as follows: tad-yoga-kSema-kSama nissIma-vibhUtiH ("Lord Vishnu is known as mahArddhiH as He has boundless riches which can bring about prosperity and security to His devotees").

[AS# 460, PB# 461] suhRt:  Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada explains "suhRt" as "Friend", exactly in the same manner as he did in Gita Bhashya 5.29 - "pratyupakAra-nirapekSatayA-upakAritvAt suhRt", meaning "He is a true Friend as He confers benefits without desiring anything in return". Sri Bhattar explains more vividly: "nupakAriNi api 'kiM asya bhavishyati? kiM karavANi' iti SubhASamsi SobhanahRdayatvam su-hRtvam. su-hRtvam" which means, "friendliness is that quality of a benevolent person who wishes good even for those who have not helped him in any way, and who, being apprehensive of any evil that may befall them, always thinks 'How shall I help them?'". Note the similarity with Sri Periya Vachan Pillai's comment on "audArya" in the Saranagati Gadyam of Sri Ramanujacharya.
(to be continued)


[1] English version of the quote can be found at page 164 here.

[2] Sanskrit version of the quote:

[3] A comparison of Sri Bhattar's and Sri Sankara's commentaries to the Vishnu Sahasranama can be read here in five parts.

[4] Sanskrit commentary and English translation of Sri Sankara's commentary are adopted from the book titled "Visnusahasranama - with the Bhasya of Sri Samkaracarya, translated into English in light of Sri Samkara's Bhasya" by R. Ananthakrishna Sastry, published by Adyar Library and Research centre (1980 edition).

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