VSN #3 – The Five Questions

by Sahadev Komaragiri

The saints of Upanishads sought answers to one simple question – what is that one thing which when known everything else is known? In spite of several answers provided to this one question, the human mind is still not content. A very knowledgeable King Yudhistir asks Bheeshma five questions along the same lines.

This is part of my series of articles on viShNu sahasra naamaM. Bheeshma is the previous article in this series. The revelation is the next article in this series.

1.   kimEkam daivataM loke? Who is the only one unifying God of this world?

2.   kiM vaa pyEkaM parAyaNaM? What is that one supreme refuge sought by all beings?

3.   stuvantaH kaM kamarchantaH prApnuyurmAnavA shubham? By reflecting upon what attributes of that one unifying God, do we accumulate the highest good?

4.   kO dharmaH sarvadharmANAM bhavataH paramOmataH? Of all the dharmas, which one is of the highest value?

5.   kiM japanmuchyate jantuH janma saMsAra bandhanat? By constantly meditating upon which one name can one be delivered from all the human entanglements?

The response provided by Bheeshma, to this complex set of questions, requires careful attention. He provided answers to all the questions. Just as there is a common connection between all the questions, there appears to be a common connection between all the responses.  Thus responds Bheeshma:

“The Lord of the universe, the God of the gods, the Infinite One and the only unifying God is none other than Sri Maha Vishnu.

One is liberated from afflictions of all kinds when one meditates with utmost concentration on His thousand names, contemplates on His infinite forms, reveres Him, offers salutations to Him, and completely surrenders to Him.

He has neither beginning nor end. He is the Lord of all the worlds and the Master of the Universe. He is the source of all knowledge and all dharma. He is superior to everything and everyone else. He is the Creator who gives all the worlds their prominence and stature. One who reflects and immerses oneself in these attributes of Lord Vishnu will be freed from all entanglements.

The only highest dharma is worshipping and praising Lord Vishnu.

The One who provides the effulgence to everything that shines, the One who is the knowledge behind everything that is to be known, the One who represents the Super Consciousness spread across the entire universe is the only refuge that is sought by all beings.”

What is truly fascinating is that these questions are asked by a king who just won the greatest war ever fought where millions died including many among his kith and kin. The answers are provided by the one who is literally on his death bed. The king has a long way to go but not Bheeshma. Neither of them had to bother about these deep philosophical issues when there are other pressing matters to attend to. The questions are about one unifying God, a supreme refuge, path to highest good, the highest dharma and the way to find relief from all entanglements! All the answers point to one supreme being “Sri Maha Vishnu”. To a rational mind, the questions sound intellectual enough, but the responses may not be very satisfying. The trouble is, rational minds look for a logical response. How can one rationally describe the deep pain that stems from the losses made in a war or stock market or the happiness you experience when you spot a very happy two year old? To the same mind a happy two year old is annoying at times and liberating at other times. Happiness or pain is what is experienced by the mind and it is the source of both, the rest is illusion. The responses provided by Bheeshma are about treating the mind and focusing it on a superior force. As we close this post, please close your eyes and reflect on a few things : What is it that provides the effulgence to everything that shines? What is the secret behind everything that is to be known?

These are the thoughts that constantly troubled the ancient Hindus..

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jasper February 28, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Humble question – is “muchyate” (as in kiM japanmuchyate jantuH) a variation of “mukt+yate”. I see this same version also used in the uttara peethika – “rogarto muchyate rogaat, baddho muchyeta bandhanaat…” and always wondered if the word mukti (liberation) has any bearing on this. Pardon me if you have already talked about this elsewhere in your posts. I haven’t looked at all of them yet.


Sahadev Komaragiri February 28, 2011 at 9:33 pm

The word muchyate is actually uchyate, often times you will find it as muchyate depending on the word used before it. It is an effect of joining it with the previous word. Uchyate means “is said”, in this context, the question is: By chanting what name, is it said, to help humans. In other words what do sages think about it. Context drives the meaning and yet the etymology is respected. I do not think it is related the word mukti. Similar sounding/meaning words include uvacha and uccharan.


Paul K December 18, 2014 at 9:58 am

kim japan muchyate jantuh janma-samsara-bandhanat
=> by chanting which, the being is liberated (muchyate).

The roots vach (bru), to speak or utter, produces uchyate (passive)
The root much to liberate, produces muchyate (passive)

If Uchyate is to be used, the sloka would have been – japan-nuchyate


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