VSN #13 – Most Common Names

by Sahadev Komaragiri

For new parents, it is not uncommon these days to pick a name for their new born baby from the viShNu sahasra naamaM(VSN). Any simple ritual at home or at a temple involves taking the Lords name. These are the names you hear almost on a daily basis depending on your length of involvment in religious activities. There are many Hindu names that are typically named after Lord Vishnu or one of his incarnations, the names that are found in VSN. The purpose behind naming our children after these names is that it provides us an opportunity to take Gods name at least a few times a day. Our religion and our God is so strongly bonded to us. We do not lose any opportunity in uttering some name of some form of the God we adore so much. In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says that all names and all forms are His. He will respond to a call by any name. VSN refers only to a thousand names!

This post is part of the series on vishnu sahasra naamaM

A temple priest offering you theerth calls upon three names of Lord Vishnu. While consuming the theerth or sacred water one recites kESavaaya svaaha for the first sip, naarayaNaaya svaaha for the second, and maadhavaaya svaaha for the third. Orthodox Hindus offer their daily prayers during a simple ritual called saMdhyAvaMdanaM. During this process 24 names of Lord Vishnu are invoked. We find all these names in the VSN.

courtesy: www.vishnuji.org

Achamanam is considered to be one of the primary acts performed before commencing any ritual. Achamanam provides the purity of thought, mind and action that is necessary to perform the ritual. During this process, without getting into various types of Achamanam and other details, the devotee chants twenty four names of Lord Vishnu. If you ever sat down with a priest for any ritual, the first act requested of you is to undertake aachamanaM. He asks  you to take three sips of water  from your cupped palm while he chants three names and later continues to chant 21 other names.  All these twenty four names are in the VSN. These are kESava(23), nArAyaNa(245), mAdhava(72), gOviMda(187), viShNavE(2), madhusoodhana(73), trivikrama(530), vaamana(152), SrIdhara(610), hriShIkESa(47), padmanAbha(48), daamOdhara(367), saMkarShaNaaya(552), vaasudEva(332), pradyumna(640), aniruddha(185), puruShOttama(24), adhOkShaja(415), naarasiMha(21), achyutaa(100),  janArdhana(126),  upEMdra(151), hari(650), and SrIkriShNa(57).

dwAdaSa nAma paMjaraM
In Vaishnavite tradition, devotees of Lord Vishnu, invoke twelve names of Lord Vishnu to seek his protection from twelve directions assigning a name and a weapon of Lord Vishnu to each of the twelve directions. In this invocation, called dwAdaSa nAma panjaraM, the devotee requests God to shield him from all directions. Thus the devotee finds kESava(23) to the east, nArAyaNa(245) to the west, gOvinda(187) to the south, viShNu(2) to the north, madhusoodana(73) to the south east, trivikrama(530) to the south west, vAmana(152) to the north west, SrIdhara(610) to the north east, hrIShIkESa(47) to the direction below,mAdhava(72) to the direction above, padmanabhA(48) who is seated in the heart and finally dAmOdara(367) who is present both inside and outside the body. Notice how it is not just the eight standard directions but also above and below. Not just that but deep inside the heart as well as every other direction from both inside and outside. We seek our God viShNu to be always with us, around us, below us, above us and within us.

An analysis of each of these names is strictly an academic exercise that should be left out for some other day.

There are some other names that we hear because someone we know is named after such and such a name of Lord Vishnu. These include prabhu(35), eeshwar(36), aaditya(39), surESh(85), Sarma(87), puMdareek(111), janaardan(126), SrInivaas(183, 607), guru(209), siddhaarth(245), aSOk(336), udbhav(373), paramEshwar(377), raama(394), sudarshan(417), manOhar(459), bhagawaan(558), Siva(600), dhanaMjaya(657), AnaMt(659, 882) and SiSir(913). I know at least one kid, friend, relative or individual named after one of these names.

Do you have any other favorite names of Lord Vishnu from the VSN?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Hari August 15, 2012 at 3:08 am

All are my favourite names. At the end of recitation a conversation between Parvathi Deviand Maheshwara is recited. Parameswara says? in the event of lack of time one can do better than reciting VSN and stopping it mid way – one can simply chant the name RAMA as many times as is possible under the circumstances? which would give the same benefits as a Sahasranaama recital. Of course this is applicable only when one is truly short of time – normally one takes about 20 minutes to recite the entire VSN. Hence this tip is to shared with the truly dedicated devotees not to some trying to find an easy way out of a complete recital.


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