VSN #12 – Melodious Names

by Sahadev Komaragiri

There are names in viShNu sahasranaamaM(VSN) that are both magical and musical at the same time. These are the names we hear all the time in bhajans and other devotional songs. For every name of this kind, I can easily imagine one soul stirring bhajan or devotional song. Play the following tune to notice how beautifully and melodiously one of the names of Lord Vishnu is invoked.

This post is part of the series on viShNu sahasra naamaM

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It is true that the names visvaM and viShNu are awe-inspiring. When we meditate on these names, they help us navigate the wonders of His creation and His omnipresence. When you are in meditation next time, think of these two names and the profound meaning and depth of awareness that can be achieved. I find these names to be extremely beneficial as it shapes my understanding of the nature as well as the nature of my fellow beings. The names visvaM and viShNu inspire and evoke deep thinking. But the names like naarayaNa, vaasudEva, gOvinda, hari, raama and kRuShNa bring out the joy and love for God especially in light of musical and devotional settings. These names also carry special meaning and legend as sketched in our puraaNas. Some of the eternal mantras contain these names. The arrangement of syllables in these names coupled with the presence of the primeval pranava(OM) provides great joy to those who chant these mantras. OM namO naarayaNaya and OM namO bhagavate vasudevaaya are two of my favorite examples. Close your eyes and chant any of these mantras for a few minutes to find out yourself the potential it holds for joy and excitement.

Let us look at these names and the special meanings that they carry. The numbers in the parenthesis indicate the number of the name in the sequence of the 1000 names.

The word naara stands for things that are used regularly. ayaNa means residing in. naarayaNa is one who resides in things that we use every day. The things that are used regularly are not really the materialistic things like a car, house or even food that we eat. There are things that we use more regularly than these. These constitute the space we live in, the heat or temperature that keeps our body ticking, the air we breathe, water that is the elixir of human life and the earth we call our home. Lord viShNu resides in all these elements that are central to our very existence and therefore he is called naarayaNa. If only we all respected the five elements as the abode of God, our environment would not have been trashed the way it was trashed in the last few decades!

Here is a a clip of my favourite song that takes the melodious name of naarayaNa from bhakth prahlaad. This is certainly one of the most soul-stirring tunes ever.

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vaasudEva(332, 695, 709)
Every being lives within the elements that He created. He resides in these elements as identified in the name naarayaNa. Thus He makes Himself a shelter for all the living beings to live in. This is apt description of the word vaasu. This root word has its presence the word nivaas which means a residence. dEva may be treated as a word that represents a deity or a Being that nurtures life. Therefore the One who provides shelter and nurtures all beings is called vaasudEva.

gOvinda(187, 539)
The meaning of this word depends on how you interpret the root word gO. I like the interpretation where the word gO represents the word, that which is spoken in Vedas. The One who can be understood by reading Vedas is known as gOvinda. The alternative meanings of the word gO include earth and cows. The One who protects the earth or One who protects the cows is called gOvinda.

The one who terminates or ends something. That something which cannot be terminated or ended by ordinary beings. One who can end all our desires and attachments is called hari. The One who wipes out the tears of His devotees is called hari. The One who ends the continuous cycle of life and death is called hari. This one capability of God is what draws millions around the world to Him. We all take our worries to Him so that He may end them and relieve us of all the burden of carrying loads of worries on us.

Here is another enchanting melody:

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This name represents a very well known avatar or incarnation of sree mahaa viShNu. Lord Vishnu descended on earth as raama to kill Ravana. The purpose of the incarnation was to rid mother earth of all the rogue elements that were making life difficult for humans. The word raama, however, has a very special meaning.  That one who impresses others with exemplary characteristics. raama was considered to be one of the most handsome people to ever walk on earth. He had a very rare combination of  nobility, courage, righteousness, kindness, truthfulness, determination, and scholarship all put together in one. Scores of saints spent their entire life writing about Lord Rama’s qualities. These include Thyagaraya Swami and Bhadrachala Ramadas.  The One who carries impressive personality is raama.

kRuShNa(57, 550)
The word kRuShNa is typically used to identify black color. This is one of the characteristics of Lord Krishna. However, the meaning that is more appropriate and relevant is derived from the words kRuSh and Na. kRush stands for everlasting or permanent and Na represents happiness. Therefore the One who bestows everlasting happiness is called kRuShNa. It goes without saying that most complete avatar of Lord Vishnu is that of kRuShNa in the dwapar yug. Lord Rama’s divinity was unknown at the time of his birth and until late into His life when he killed Ravana. Very few recognized his divinity. It is different for kRushNa, His birth was predicted. People tormented by dropping moral values were waiting for Him to arrive. He had devotees all over the world when He was still walking around the earth. This incarnation of Lord Vishnu draws to itself more and more devotees as a source for lasting happiness.

During the last part of the kaliyuga sage Narada approaches creator Brahma and asks him about one thing the people of Kali Yuga can do that can help them liberate themselves from the cycle of sin and rebirth. Lord Brahma replies that people may seek refuge in the SrI hari naama maMtraM which goes like this:

harE raama harE raama, raama raama harE harE
harE kRuShNa harE kRuShNa, kRuShNa kRuShNa harE harE

There are just three names – hari, raama and kRuShNa – arranged in such a wonderful rhythmic manner. May Lord Hari remove all our worries, may we imbibe all the wonderful qualities of Lord Rama and May Lord Krishna bestow us lasting happiness.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

ramarao November 15, 2015 at 10:34 am

HAri Om… This is Rama rao , nice to know about the commentaries .. need more elaborate on the other namams and your experiences


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