VSN #16 – Great Names

by Sahadev Komaragiri

Is it possible to feel and be one with the Universe?

These days the word maha is used very casually, as in maha cola and maha strong! When used sparingly and accurately it should convey true greatness. A mahaatma is a great soul as in Mahatma Gandhi. The word mahaa should convey a meaning that someone or something was never seen before and is unlikely to be seen again. na bhutOH na bhaviShyatIH. The word maha as used in viShNu sahasra naamaM(VSN) conveys greatness that is in proportions to the size of the Universe and in a timeframe that is beyond the beginning and end of the Universe. Such greatness can only be visualized with a mind that is focused and tuned to the glories of the Almighty.

This post is part of the series on viShNu sahasra naamaM

The VSN has nearly 41 mahaa names that describe the greatness of the attributes associated with Lord Vishnu. mahaasvanaH(41) is the very first maha name and it appears in the fifth verse. svana means sound. Whatever He says is nothing but most auspicious and most sacred. It is the words that He uttered that became the most revered Vedas.

The word mahaa when used in a string of names that come in quick succession enhance the value we derive from them. It is like a string that connects several roses to make a beautiful garland. Let us consider the first string of the mahaa names that comes from verses 18 and 19 connected by three names in verse 18 and four more names in verse 19:

mahaamaayO mahOtsaahO mahabalaH; mahabuddhiH mahaaveeryO mahaaSaktiH mahadyutiH |

The One with great magical powers. He is the ultimate source and owner of all the magical powers. The spell He casted across the entire universe in the form of the illusion(maya) is impossible to see through. His biggest magical power, in my opinion is demonstrated by a question asked by Yaksha to King Yudishtir and his correct response as acknowledged by the Yaksha.

Question: What is the most surprising thing in the entire world?
Reponse: All human beings know that at some point or the other their life will come to an end, but they all live and acquire things like if they are going to be around forever!

The One with unmatched enthusiasm. To understand what this means imagine, just for a few moments, what kind of enthusiasm it takes to create the Universe and put in it those human beings whose enthusiasm for life goes up and down in life after life!

The One with extraordinary strength. Here is my attempt to describe the word strength – the ability to do great things with help from none, the ability to do or even not do a certain thing just by a single thought and where the accomplished task is free from any defects whatsoever. There is nothing in the Universe, that He Himself created, that can match His strength at physical, mental or intellectual levels.

The One with outstanding intelligence. Einstein was quoted as saying this about God and His creation:

I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know his thoughts. The rest are details.

The most intelligent man ever known to walk on this earth is trying to understand the intelligence of his creator; the way the creator creates the curiosity in His creation to know its creator is indeed the intelligence of highest quality!

The One with great vigor or energy. He does not change with passage of time like all other things in His creation. He is called maaveerya because all the energy across the entire Universe is manifested from Him. In spite of being the source of all energy His energy in itself does not get reduced or dissipated.

The one who is all powerful. Power is distinct from strength. While strength is ability to accomplish huge tasks power is the ability to control the outcome. One task when completed must provide different results to different beings, all at the same time. In God’s creation this power can be explained by the example of the Sun which provides the light to see, converts water to clouds to cause rains, helps in the growth of the plants through the process of photosynthesis which in turn sustains the humans and a myriad other things.

The one who has infinite radiance. This is not the radiance that depends on other things or has a fixed lifespan. The sun in our solar system has a life span and depends on its own resources to burn and radiate light. The other difference is that the radiance of God provides warmth and peace of highest levels like nothing else of His kind.

The other sequence of the mahaa names appear in the 72nd verse where all the eight names in the verse highlight His greatness. Here it is:

mahaakramO mahaakarma mahatEja mahOragaH |
mahaakratuH mahaayajvaa mahaayajNO mahaahaviH ||

Here are a few more mahaa names, but not all, and their meanings and interpretations that attempt to discover the Creator and His mahaa nature.

The One who designed a great sequence. The word krama stands for a sequence. Just think of the 365 x 24 x 7 sequence to understand its accuracy that has not changed for millions of years. The sun has been and will continue to rise in the east and set in the west. The human race continues to have its undisturbed stages of life where everyone ever born from the elements of nature ends up in the same. Not just this perfect sequence that can be easily understood but the Creator has provided a sequence of events one must follow to understand and merge in Him. This krama includes faith followed by devotion, desire to know, knowledge, detachment from the world and finally nirvaaNa.

He is mahaakarma(672), for He is the One who takes up magnificent actions. He is known as mahatEja(673), the One with great effulgence. In spite of being the most unimaginable and most widespread form He enters the hearts of His devotees who are totally insignificant when compared to His greatness. That is what makes Him the one with a great Heart and therefore He is called mahOragaH(674). He is easy to offer prayers to, one needs no qualifications by birth or knowledge in order to offer prayers to Him and therefore He is called mahaakratuH(675). The names mahaayajvaa mahaayajNO and mahaahaviH refer to three different parts of a sacrifice(yagna) where He is the One who is being prayed to, the sacrifice itself and the offering too.

There are several other maha names that convey the true greatness of SrI mahaa viShNu. It does not matter how much we try to imagine this greatness or talk and write eloquently about it. It does not matter how much you know about His greatness. The greatness is as good as not being there for us, unless we experience it even if it is in a very small proportion. It is there if you think it is there and it is not there if you think it is not there. That is His true maya. He provides glimpses of His greatness in His own creation that can be sensed with ordinary faculties such as the five senses. One needs no great imagination, but just a small desire to know Him. That in itself unleashes a floodgate of vast experiences of His greatness. The power of creation and its hidden treasures can be seen in every being, every life form and every object. Take a deep breath and just visualize how the air we breathe sustains our life and our imagination. Close your eyes and try and perceive the vastness of the Universe and be one with it. You are already in tune with the greatness of the Creator.

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