A beautiful incarnation: Introduction to Vishnu Sahasranama

A beautiful incarnation - An introduction to Vishnu Sahasranama

CV Subbaraman Sir and I have been discussing some subjects around the concept of God during the last few days. Vishnu Sahasranaama which forms part of Mahabharatham (Bhishmapitamaha recites it) condenses the ancient concept (not of any religion, religions came millenniums later) of God. The thousand names of Vishnu (The protector), each one with an independent meaning, in just hundred odd stanzas itself is unbelievably Godly.
I had the benefit of listening to Vishnu Sahasranama recited twice by my father on almost all days during my stay inside a Shiva temple in Malabar during 1952-59.
Now, please open the link to know the meaning of 5 or 6 names of Vishnu.
M G Warrier

CV Subbaraman Sir's thoughtful observations(via email):

Vishnu Sahasranaama stotram is a beautiful rendering.  The entire rendering  did come  from the heart of Shri Bheeshma Pitaamaha lying on his arrow bed, bearing the pangs of wounds inflicted by Arjuna.  Ecen in such a situation this Grand Old Man had many more things to offer to Yudhishthira besides Vishnu Sahasranaamam. Only a person like Yudhishthira had the good sense to seek good things from this GOM, Duryodhana was busy with scheming as always! So, in a way we should be indebted to the Pandava for this great piece on Vishnu. Although certain names might appear to be repetitive each use has a distinct meaning  and context. A daily recital of the 1000 names including the preliminary shlokas and the "shruti Phala" stanzas does not cost more than 20 minutes a day - an affordable time out of 1440 minutes! It is customary for people reciting the Sahasranaamam to also recite Ashtothhara of Lakshmi which may take less than  ten minutes only. After all one cannot ignore the better Half!!

It would be interesting to note that while the Sahasranaamam was given out by Bheeshma Pitaamaha, the Ashtothhara of Lakshmi came from Lord Shiva Himself at the request of His consort Parvathy.

Vishnu Sahasranaamam was composed by Sage Sanaka and transmitted to GOM. It is said that any stotra should have six main ingredients: salutation, benediction, statement of the doctrine, praise of the deity and His attributes, description of His valour, form and deeds, and Prayer. There are only two Sahasranaamams which are popular among the devotees: one is Vishnu and another is Lalitha. There are various other sahasranaamams, but are not in the daily list of reciters. 
The Ramakrishna Math Chennai has brought out a book on Vishnu Sahasranaamam with meaning in English and commentary of Shankara that too in English.


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