VSN #4 – The Revelation

by Sahadev Komaragiri

Having answered all the five questions of King Yudishtir, Bheeshma continues: ‘O King Yudhistir listen to me as I narrate the thousand names of the Lord who is the purity in everything that is pure, the auspiciousness in everything that is auspicious, the God worshipped by all the gods, and the eternal One from whom everything emanates during creation and into whom everything merges at the time of destruction. I will now recite the thousand names of Lord Vishnu which were described in sheer joy and ecstasy by great saints who, in deep meditation, experienced the various forms of Lord Vishnu.’

This is part of my series of articles on viShNu sahasra naamaM. The five questions is the previous article in this series. Dhyaana Sloka is the next article in this series.

Thus started Sri Vishnu Sahasranaamam, the source of inspiration for millions of people around the world. The words rishiBhiH parigeetani used in this connection are my favourite words. I truly love the meaning behind these words. My effort to translate these words, as reflected in the above paragraph, resulted in this – described in sheer joy and ecstasy by great saints.  Geeta simply means song. But what is parigeeta? Here is what I read about this word in the book “Vishnu Vidya” authored in Telugu by Sri Samavedam Shanmukha Sharma. Humans try to perceive truth through a sense of touch, hearing and seeing. Rishis meditate incessantly to arrive at truth. Their experience of truth is achieved by means that are above the senses. It is in deep meditation that they experience sheer joy, they find themselves weeping in joy, their body trembling and in a choked voice they sing the glory of the Lord.. This is parigeeta. Bheeshma declares that all the thousand names of Sri Maha Vishnu are experienced and narrated in parigeeta.  He humbly states that he is just repeating these names.

It is believed that chanting Vishnu Sahasranaamam provides the right knowledge to seekers, justice to those seeking justice, wealth to those in need and more important than anything else is that it helps people live a life that is free from all fear and afflictions. Why not? A simple analysis of even a few of the names and the deep meanings and philosophies embedded in them, makes us realize the shallowness of all things that we pursue and seek to own. A serious study and understanding of the nature of our true Self is the only way out of the web of entanglements that we find ourselves in. Vishnu Sahasranaamam provides the mirror that we desperately need.

Vaikunta EkaadaSi, the 11th day of the Shuukla paksha of dhanur maasa of the Hindu Calendar, is the day chosen by Bheeshma to take leave of this mortal world. It is also observed as Bheeshma Ekadasi. Millions of Hindus around the world celebrate this day chanting Vishnu Sahasranaamam in his honor. Some celebrate this day as the birthday of Vishnu Sahasranama. Exactly two months earlier on another Ekadasi day of mArgaseersha month was born Bhagavad Gita in the form of a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna. This day, celebrated as Geeta Jayanti, and Bheeshma Ekadasi are considered the two most auspiscious days. These days are marked with a special spiritual significance, more significant than all the other Hindu festivals.

Adi Shankara is perhaps the first one to write an elaborate commentary on vishNu sahasra naamaM. It is believed that it was his first assignment from his guru. This commentary of his is most revered and authoritative. In his famous composition Bhaja Govindam, he exhorted thus: ‘gEyam geeta naama sahasraM, dhyEyaM sreepati roopamajasraM, nEyaM sajjana saMgE chittam, dEyam deenajanaaya tu vittam’. Meaning: Recite Bhagavad Gita and Vishnu Sahasra Nama while constantly meditating upon the beautiful forms of Sri Maha Vishnu, seek and join the company of good people and spread your wealth among the poor and the destitute.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Bala Girisaballa October 26, 2010 at 4:08 am

can you also translate bhaja govindam in english and provide commentary?


Sahadev Komaragiri October 26, 2010 at 9:24 am

Bala: I do have it on my wish list!


Sivakumar December 5, 2011 at 11:17 am


I think Vaikunta Ekadesi and Bhishma Ekadesi are not one and the same. Vaikunta Ekadesi follows immedialy after a month after Geetha Jayanti while Bhishma Ekadesi is celebrated after one more month. If you check this year’s calendar, Dec 5 2011 is the Gita jayanthi, Jan 5 2012 is Vaikunta Ekadesi while Bhishma Ekadesi falls on Feb 3 2012.


Sahadev Komaragiri June 29, 2012 at 8:04 am

Thanks for the feedback. I stand corrected.


Hariharan June 29, 2012 at 5:41 am

Nice writing on the holy Vishnu Sahasranamam. Your explanation of the word parigeethani is profound and enlightening. I have been brought up chanting this VSN from a very young age, and it has been like a bosom friend throughout the years. It has been my repeated experience that chanting the VSN mentally, and simultaneously pondering on the meanings of the names to the extent possible, gives great peace, and happy circumstances. Even pondering on a few namas itself will give this great effect. To quote a simple example, I travel a lot. Many times, while travelling to visit temples in distant places, I had to depend on public transport which is invariably crowded. As soon as I somehow get into the bus, I mentally chant the namaas- and quickly someone moves affording me a convenience to sit comfortably and either continue with my mental japam or do something else. Similarly, when disappointing situations occur, or when I lose my mental peace, whenever I sit down and recite the VSN, the pain is abated, and peace returns. It is very wonderful!


Sahadev Komaragiri June 29, 2012 at 8:03 am

Thank you Hariharan. So true, VSN certainly provides solace and happiness when chanted. I think it is physiological because of the deep breathing that one goes through while chanting VSN. It is also spiritual because of the images that are brought to the fore simply on reflecting the power behind the names. Thanks for the feedback.


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