Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Part 36 - Answers by Bheesma – Part 8


Reiterating the greatness of the  names and concluding

Slogam 13
Yani namani gounani vikhyatani mahatmanah |
Rishibhih parigeetani tani vakshyami bhootaye ||
(Slogam reiterating and explaining the greatness of the thirunamam of bhagawan)

Yani – Yavanudaiya
Namani – Thiru namangal yellam
gounani  - Gunathai kata vanthanavo
vikhyatani – Ulagathile prabhalangalaga prasidangalaga irukinranavo
mahatmanah – Bhagavanudaiya thiru namangal prasidangalaga irukinranavo
Rishibhih parigeetani  - Rishigal Yellaralum pada pattathu, I am going to say something new
tani vakshyami  - avaigal athanaiyum unakku sollugiren
bhootaye – un nanmaikaga, ne nandraga Vazhvatharkaga, athma ujivanathukaga sollugiren kel

Gounani – Gunathai Kata Vantha Sabhdangal/sorkal
Any word need to explain either Jathi(group), Gunam(attributes), Seyal(action, Karma)
Porkollan – based on action
Ramaha – Ramayateti Ramaha – aandathai kodukum gunathai kodukum sol
Varahaha , Vamana  etc.

So what are Bhagawan’s Seyal ? All the vilayyatu
Guna’s ? Words which explain his kalyana Guna’s

Now Bheeesmar starts to say all the 1000 names and he finishes them.
Yudhistra is still questioned on who that Vishnu is , where is he ?
So Bheesmar says “don’t keep searching around, he is none other than Devaki Nandan your attahi pillai.“
Pasuram – “Vanthu piranthathum angor ayi kulam” (???)

More Detailed meaning to explain the greatness of the namam…

As far as we all know, the distinction in the origin of words (indicating name/place/animal/thing) is identified to be of four types: (a) material nature or ‘dravya’, (b) category / birth or ‘jaati’, (c) characteristics / qualities or ‘guNa’ and (d) deeds or ‘kriyA’. In this case, since the thousand names connote the Supreme Entity, since the thousand names are themselves extraordinary in all senses, and also since the thousand names explain the Supreme Nature of Bhagavan, His absolute supremacy over all other entities namely sentient and the insentient, His countless auspicious qualities and also His divine deeds during His incarnations (meaning, since it explains all of the dravya-jaati-guNa-kriyA of Bhagvan the Supreme Entity), these thousand names are aptly called the ‘characteristic names’ (gouNAni nAmAni). This means that the thousand names are a result of the numerous auspicious divine qualities and deeds of Bhagavan, which indicate verily those divine attributes of Bhagavan.
To quote from the scriptures, Bhagavan Himself declares thus in various places in the Mahabharata:
“My names are born out of my various qualities and deeds”
“All of my names are born out of my characteristics, and some learned people take those names of mine to sing my glory”
“Know my names to be denoting my divine deeds”
“Oh sinless royal scion, listen unto me; my names are born out of my divine deeds as well”, et al.
All these statements clearly rule out the possibility of associating any random meanings to the thousand names of the Lord. Those names are all born out of specific qualities and deeds of Bhagavan, and clearly indicate those aspects of Bhagavan only.
‘vikhyAtAni’ – those names that are popularly used among the Vedas and many scriptures in other languages as well; the names that are known to be popular due to their extraordinary nature; the names that are popularly known among the learned schola
rs; although prone to change in meanings as per the context, the names that are popularly known to connote a single entity called Bhagavan
‘RshibhiH’ – by all the true seers of the endless Vedas with all its purport, such as Sanaka, Sanatkumara, Narada et al.
‘parigItAni’ – the names that are lovingly used to represent the various forms, divine attributes and connotations of Bhagavan, as affectionately as a cow feeding its calf
‘yAni nAmAni’ – whichever names have been collected from various sources by Vyasa and strung into verses, just as bees collect honey from various flowers and gather all of it in one place, and which have been coming down in the rich tradition until ourselves
‘tAni vakshyAmi’ – I shall tell them to you. For what reason is this being told?
‘bhUtayE’ – the word ‘bhUti’ originally means that which exists. It represents life. That means to say, all these thousand names of the Lord are being told in order to revive the soul from the bondage of samsAra in which he is bound from time immemorial and thus lost the sight to reach the right abode.
The Vedas precisely expound these ‘life and non-life’ aspects (sat-asat-bhAvau) of the souls thus: “Those who think of the Supreme Entity as being lifeless, become lifeless themselves – and thus lose sight to reach the supreme abode. Whereas, those who consider the Brahman to exist amongst us shall be considered as true scholars (and they are full of life)”.
Owing to the boundless supremacy and boundless knowledge of Bhagavan, with whatever little names that can be offered unto Him, the souls attain the extraordinary result of the wellness of self (AtmalAbha). This is indicated by the word ‘mahAtmanaH’ (meaning, of that great soul). This is also complemented in the scriptures thus: “I have heard of the various auspicious names of the Lord with their origins. As far as my knowledge goes, I can only say that Keshava the Supreme Lord is not reached by words, and is not bound by any of the meanings of His names”.
Thus, as the thousand names of the Lord are purely born due to His various auspicious qualities and deeds, all such people eligible to learn these names should refrain from getting associated with those who try to steal those aspects from Bhagavan (in other words, from those who negate the existence of the Supreme Self).

The discussion on ‘saguNa / nirguNa’ Brahman: ( antaryami website)

If someone opines that the worship of Brahman attributed with all auspicious qualities (saguNa brahmam) is only for lowly results such as attainment of heaven et al, and that the worship of Brahman devoid of all qualities (nirguNa brahmam) is only for those who desire for the supreme salvation, then down be with such deaf people who have not listened to the scriptures declare the greatness of the thousand names of the Lord with all auspicious qualities as ‘releasing all creatures from the clutches of samsara’ and ‘making the practitioners reach the Supreme Brahman’.
Additionally, if the advaitins suppose the presence of two entities saguNa brahmam and nirguNa brahmam as a fact, then it clearly refutes verily the basis of advaita (non-dualism).
When Yudhishtira has asked “which is the loftiest of all dharmas in your opinion?” and Bhishma has declared “this is the loftiest of all dharmas in the best of my knowledge” in reply, and thus when Bhishma has clearly intended to propound the greatest of all dharmas – namely the chanting of thousand names of the Lord – selected from the most sacred of all scriptures, if someone opines that this is only for a lowly result, then it becomes imperative to discuss that entity superior to the said Brahman, which would be a better solution to attain a higher result.
Oh arguers (advaitins)! please do not say that the worship of the saguNa Brahman is the first step in achieving the worship of nirguNa Brahman and eventual attainment of salvation; because, it would be wrong to differentiate between saguNa and nirguNa brahmams and thus propound the worship of saguNa brahmam as the means to attain nirguNa brahmam. This is simply not the case.
Also, when the Supreme Brahman Bhagavan is in fact attributed with so much of auspicious qualities, what would be the basis to call him ‘nirguNa’ (devoid of qualities)? If such basis is known to be ‘avidyA’ (ignorance), then the tenets of Vedas are truly beautiful, which prescribe the Brahman attributed with all ignorance, confusions and other faults as the supreme medicine to a dying mortal who has been downed with the poison of samsara effected with birth, death, passion, et al. [Note Bhattar’s sarcasm here]
If you (the advaitin arguers) opine that such faults attributed to the Supreme Brahman are all baseless and false, then it would only mean that your argument of considering the Supreme Brahman as being devoid of qualities is baseless and false. Then you are only establishing the fact that the Supreme Brahman is only devoid of faults, but surely has some qualities. Then, indeed, you are propounding the ‘saguNa brahmam’ attributed with all auspicious qualities and devoid of all faults, even though you don’t like it.
If you argue that the Supreme Brahman is faulted with ignorance, then who dispels this ‘supreme ignorance’? If you think it is the ardent learner of advaita (the one who later realizes that he is the Brahman himself) who dispels such ignorance of the Supreme Brahman itself, then this is all the more beautiful than what was said before to say “the Supreme Brahman Himself is affected by the samsara, and an ordinary mortal in this samsara dispels His ignorance”!
Also, how would the statements supporting the saguNa brahmam lose importance at all? If your reply to this question is “because the nirguNa vAkyas (statements propounding the nirguNa brahmam) refute them”, then can it not also be said the other way, as “the saguNa vAkyas refute the nirguNa vAkyas, and hence saguNa vAkyas gain more importance”? Then, the credits and oppositions to both of these categories of statements are alike. None gain superiority over the other!
In another sense, if at all it is true that the Supreme Brahman is devoid of all qualities, and that the ultimate aim of all mortal souls is to attain that nirguNa brahmam, then why did the Vedas and other scriptures propound the saguNa brahmam in the first place? If your reply to this is “in order to attribute all qualities to the Brahman and later show that the Brahman indeed is devoid of all those qualities”, then let there not be such refutations at all. If no qualities are attributed to the Brahman unnecessarily in the first place, then there would not arise any need to refute each of such statements. Why this over burden at all? Haven’t we learnt from the Mahabharata which says “staying away at a safe distance from marsh is much better than touching it and washing off the soil later”? Wouldn’t the Vedas know this?
Also, it is not a universally applicable logic that when two consecutive statements are mutually in disagreement in their meanings, then the latter is more powerful over the former statement. If we say that certain object “is present in this place”, and later say that the same object “is not present in another place”, nobody would say that the two statements are contradicting, although the meanings differ per context. For all that we know, if the former statement is weaker, it is never possible to write the latter statement without refuting it. If it is written without refuting the former, then it means the two are not mutually contradicting. Thus, even if the saguNa and nirguNa statements come one after the other, they do not refute each other, since they are not mutually contradicting. If it is understood that it is always a fact the latter statement refutes the former ones (irrespective of whether they contradict or not), and thus declare that the nirguNa vAkyas refute the attributes of Brahman, then the Vedas also declare that “void itself is the truth” towards the end. Will that mean that the presence of Supreme Brahman itself is refuted? If it is understood that such statements are born out of the ignorance of the lower mortals bound in this samsara, and thus do not apply to the Supreme Self; then it can also be considered that the Vedas themselves are born out of the ignorance of the Brahman and thus do not apply to the Supreme Entity. What is the difference in these arguments? It makes no sense!
In fact, we can also see the statements supporting attribution of auspicious qualities to Brahman towards the end of Vedas (upanishats), even later to nirguNa vAkyas. Then how do we reconcile the two categories without contradictions?
The fact is this: Vedas intend to negate all bad qualities of the soul-body relationship of the Supreme Brahman with all other entities. In order to achieve this, they speak the nirguNa vAkyas. However, before negating any such bad qualities, they attribute all auspiciousness to the Bhagavan, refuting all faults. That is how the upanishats proudly declare “He is devoid of sins, and does not undergo aging”, et al.
Forgetting this, and applying the truth and falsity to the saguNa and nirguNa statements of the Vedas is nothing but deception unto the Vedas. If at all the source of knowledge itself is contaminated with falsities, then it loses all its credibility. It would be like possessing unreal gold or silver, which is not very pleasing. As said earlier, if you argue that refuting nirguNa brahmam by attributing qualities to the Supreme Self is false, then, by the same logic we can say that refuting saguNa brahmam by voiding the Brahman of all qualities is also equally false. Then how would Vedas serve to be the subject of highest philosophy at all? This debate is just being unnecessarily raised. Let these arguments stop at this.
The scholars knowledgeable about the Supreme Entity opine thus: The statements supporting the saguNa brahamam intend to speak about the numerous auspicious qualities of the Supreme Brahman, such as knowledge, power, et al. Similarly, the statements supporting the nirguNa brahmam intend to speak about the voidance of the innumerable faults such as passion, hatred, et al. in the Supreme Brahman. The Vedas attribute many auspicious qualities to the Brahman by describing Him as ‘satyakAmaH’ (the one whose desires are unfaltering), ‘satyasaMkalpaH’ (the one whose desires are always fulfilled), et al. Thus, when it says ‘nirguNam’ (being devoid of qualities), it only means it is speaking only about those qualities which are opposite to the said auspicious ones. That means it is refuting only the undesirable qualities in the Brahman and attributing all desirable auspicious qualities unto Him.
This is just like the logic of using words such as ‘pada-AhavanIya’, ‘brAhmaNa-parivrAjaka’, ‘brAhmaNa-kaunDinya’, ‘gO-baleevarda’, et al. (usage of common words and special words together, without mutual rebuttals), and is free to be used here as well.
Thus, for the expounders of nirguNa brahmam, it comes as asphyxiation when the Vedas refute the blemishes in the Supreme Brahman as well as attribute all the auspicious qualities to Him in a single statement that begins by saying “He is devoid of all sins” (apahatapApma) and ends by saying “His desires are unfaltering, and are ever fulfilled” (satyakAmaH satyasaMkalpaH).
Similarly, another line begins by saying “He who is invisible” (yat tat adrEshyam), and ends by saying “The learned see that eternal, all-pervading, omnipresent, atomic, ceaseless entity who is also the originator of all” (nityaM vibhuM sarvagataM susUkShmaM tadavyayaM yadbhUtayOniM paripashyaMti dhIrAH).
Such doctrines do not expect application of heavy logic such as in saying “The pillar is there. The pot is not there” et al. The author of Brahmasutras Sri Vedavyasa has explained this invisibility on the one hand and attribution of the auspicious qualities on the other in one of his aphorisms that says “He is possessed with invisibility and other qualities, since the scriptures declare thus”.
Also, Vyasa – in the guNOpasaMhAra section of his Brahmasutras – has at first thought whether the various auspicious qualities attributed to Bhagavan as propounded in the Veda-vidyas such as Shandilya, upakosala, dahara, purusha, paryanka, et al are just suppositions, and later refuted this school of thought with his aphorism “There are no shortcomings in the Vedic texts, due to their respect towards Him”. Sage Parashara has made this all the more clearer with two of his statements that say “None of the lowly qualities including the sattva born out of this prakrti are found in Bhagavan” (rebuttal of faults) and “He is the dwelling of all auspicious qualities” (attribution of qualities). Similarly, the various sacred scriptures talk endlessly about His being devoid of all blemishes on the one hand, and His being a dwelling of all auspicious qualities on the other, as shown with a few examples below:
“All desires enter into Him only”
“… the controller and ruler of all”
“… The one whose desires are steadfast and ever fulfilled”
“… The one who is omniscient – the all-knowing”
“His powers are supreme, and are known in various ways. His knowledge, strength, and actions are all naturally supreme”
“Mother, father, brother, dwelling, protector, friend, and the destination – are all verily Narayana Himself”
“He is the doer of all deeds, in Him dwell all the fragrances, and He is the essence of everything”, et al.
In the Anandavalli (Taittireeya Upanishat – 2 chapter), the retreat of speech and mind due to sheer inability is only shown when it tries to discuss the boundless knowledge, strength, youthfulness, and other auspicious qualities of Bhagavan. (yatO vAchO nivartaMtE | aprApya manasA saha)
Even in the Vishnu puranam, in the context of explaining the word ‘Bhagavat’, it begins by saying “this word is attributed to the one who is ever-pure, and possessed with unlimited wealth”, and further proceeds to attribute all auspiciousness to Him.
In the Sabha parva, Bhishma says thus: “Oh king! Many learned scholars have been worshipped by me. From them, I have heard about all the auspicious qualities of Shouri (Krishna) who possesses all of those qualities. In all their opinions, only Srihari – who is full of auspiciousness – is the best entity eligible for worship by one and all.”
The same Bhishma says in Karna parva, thus: “Even if one is teamed up with people of all worlds, he cannot complete listing out all the auspicious qualities of that great wielder of the conch and discus along with His sacred sword, the invincible and all pervading Vasudeva, even if he tries for tens of thousands of years!”
The Varaha purana says thus: “Even if a man with a very pure heart is blessed with the lifetime of one four-faced Brahma, and is granted with millions of mouths, he cannot glorify even 0.01% (one out of ten thousand) of auspicious qualities of Bhagavan!”
The Matsya purana says: “Just as pearls are infinite in the heart of the oceans, oh son! So also, the divine auspicious qualities of Bhagavan are infinite.”
The Vaishnava dharma speaks thus: “Even if all the sages get together, it would be impossible for them to sing the glories of Bhagavan, who is possessed with such innumerable auspicious qualities”.
Similarly, there are many more examples from Srimad Ramayana and Mahabharata as well.

The boundlessness of Bhagavan’s qualities:

If someone argues that the Supreme Brahman Himself is affected by a limiting adjunct or ‘upAdhi’, and hence bound in this worldly existence (Bhaskara’s school of thought), then the verses in this chapter that talked about the purity and auspiciousness of Brahman (pavitraM maMgalaM param) would become meaningless, since verily the Brahman Himself is attributed with unlimited blemishes.
Also, the Vedic statements such as ‘from where the speech withdraws’, et al. do not profess the ineligibility of Brahman of being expounded as the Supreme Entity, because of the following inconsistencies otherwise:
a) The Supreme self would be trifled.
b) The statements such as ‘knowing the bliss of Brahman, one loses all fears…’ et al contradict the aforesaid statement, in which case the inability of words and mind to speak about the Supremacy of Brahman would be illogical.
c) The various statements expounding the Supreme Brahman within the sacred scriptures would be mutually contradictory.
d) The need for discussing and learning about the Supreme Brahman as directed in the first aphorism of Brahmasutras (‘therefore, the next step would be to know about the Brahman’ – अथातॊ ब्रह्मजिज्ञासा) would not arise.
e) The various statements and reasoning from scriptures such as ‘the one who is known from the best of all words – Vedas’, ‘the one who doesn’t know the Vedas will not know the Brahman either’, ‘since He is known only from the shAstras’, et al. – would be contradicted.
f) The statements beginning with ‘He becomes the object of bliss’ while explaining the bliss of humans, and continuing to multiply hundred folds at each level as in ‘hundred times of his happiness’ to denote the bliss of higher mortals right up till the four faced Brahma would all be wholly contradicted.
Thus, by simple reasoning based on the Brahmasutra ‘the limit on whatever has been mentioned up till now is denied, and then on the shastras say something more’ (प्रकृतैतावत्त्वं हि प्रतिषॆधति ततॊ ब्रवीति भूयः), we can conclude that the auspicious qualities of Brahman are never limiting and are ceaseless and supreme. This is verily the opinion of all scholars. [This aphorism explains the statement 'nEti nEti' (unlimited, unparallelled)]
Thus one of the verses composed by my revered father Sri Koorattazhwan has been explained, which originally says: “Oh Sri Hari! The Vedas engaged to quantify your auspicious qualities such as your bliss, et al. However, after going a considerable distance and realizing that there was no boundary to limit those qualities, the faculties of speech and mind returned, failing the Vedas in their pursuit!”
Similarly, another statement that says “Oh Lord, you do not have any limiting adjuncts such as names, births, et al” ( यत्र नाथ विद्यन्तॆ नामजात्यादि कल्पनाः) is also explained with this reasoning. If you take this statement to mean since the limiting adjuncts such as names and births are refuted, only now perhaps the true and non-imaginary nature of Brahman (of being formless) is revealed, then you are asphyxiating yourself, beware! If what you thought was true, then why would the verse house the name ‘nAtha’? The fact that the Supreme Brahman can be perceived even without words would be refuted with this thought. So, the real purport of this statement would have to be understood thus: This statement only means to refute the limitedness of Bhagavan due to His being denoted by mere limiting words, although bearing divine names befitting His extraordinary forms in reality. This is also confirmed elsewhere by sage Parashara, thus: “Behold! That Vishnu has entered into your womb, whose names, deeds and forms know no bounds, and who is expounded by all the scriptures!”


It is said that there is no need to dissect a name into its constituent words to understand the meanings of it. Even if one finds a reason for such dissection, it is not prescribed because the names are really not intended for it. This is because, every name of the Lord has its own meaning on the whole, and that name itself becomes a source of knowledge to know about Bhagavan. None of the names have any opposition by anyone. Also, as said in the statements “those names derived out of His qualities…”, and “since you all know His greatness, chant His name…” it can be comprehended that the various names of the Lord have the only intention of telling us about His divine qualities.
Even if the names of the Lord just help in remembrance of His divine qualities, just as in mantras, they do not lose their true nature of granting the Lord Himself to the chanter. This is a well established fact. That is why Bhishma expounded the greatness of such names of the Lord – both in the beginning as well as at the end of this chapter, and carefully placed the thousand names in between in order to remember Him. Among these names, each one of them is independent of the other, and each of them is equally capable of conferring all desires of the chanter. This is established from the fact that each of such individual names is capable of transforming into a mantra in itself, as can be seen in the famous twelve-syllable, eight-syllable, six-syllable and other such mantras in the Bhagavat-shastras. Each of such names can independently be used for fulfilling all kinds of desires by a seeker. This is also shown by the scriptural statement ‘nAmachit vivaktana’ (chant His name) by the usage of singular form for the word ‘name’.
Although the divine names of the Lord are capable of conferring infinite fruits upon the chanter just by mere pronunciation, knowing the real meanings of each of such names will only help the chanter realize His unlimited auspicious qualities, and his mind is soothed and purified instantly. That is why it is said in the chapter that explains the divine names in the Shanti parva of Mahabharata thus: “Vyasa glorified Madhusudana by chanting His various names along with his disciples. Oh holy one! Please explain the meanings of those divine names to me. Hearing with all attention about the Lord of even the four faced Brahma, I shall be purified from all sins and blemishes, just as the autumn moon is free of all blemishes.”
We should also see Dhritarashtra’s words in this regard: “Oh Sanjaya! I ask you again, tell me more about that lotus eyed Bhagavan, knowing whose divine names and deeds, one attains that Supreme Soul Himself”.
We can also learn about the various usages of these divine names of the Lord along with their characteristics from the various chapters such as in Udyoga parva, Moksha dharma, Vaishnava dharma, nAma-nirvachana adhyAya, et al., as also in the various mantrakalpas (prescription of mantras) in the Vedic scriptures.
Thus ends the introductory chapter (upOdghAta prakaraNam) in Sri Bhagavad-guNa-darpaNa, which is an explanation of Sri Vishnu Sahasranama by the scion of Sri Harita clan, the son of Srivatsanka Mishra (Koorattazhwan) – Sriranganatha by name, also called Sri Parasara Bhatta, who wrote this glorious commentary at the behest of Sri Rangaraja.
The upOdghAta(introduction) prakaraNam ends here. 

1 comment:

Vikram Srinivasan said...

By the way, very nice article.

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