Vishnu Sahasranāma | Verses 1-10
The Thousand Names of Lord Viṣṇu
viśvaṁ viṣṇur vaṣaṭkārō bhūta-bhavya-bhavat-prabhuḥ |
bhūta-kṛd bhūta-bhṛd bhāvō bhūtātmā bhūta-bhāvanaḥ
Let me offer my respectful obeisances to Śrīman Nārāyaṇa, who pervades the entire universe (viṣṇu). He is worshiped in the Vedic sacrifices (vaṣaṭkāra).
He is eternally the Supreme Controller, in all phases of time, including past, present and future (bhūta-bhavya-bhavat-prabhu).
He is the creator of the cosmic manifestation (bhūta-kṛt) and He maintains it as well (bhūta-bhṛt).
He is the master of all spiritual and material potencies (bhāva). He is the creator of all living entities (bhūtātmā) and the well-wisher who promotes their welfare (bhūta- bhāvanā).
In his commentary, Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa quotes the description of creation found in the Upaniṣads:
so 'kāmayata bahu syāṁ prajāyeya
"Supreme Personality desired: Let me become many.
I will manifest the entire creation by My potencies."
pūtātmā paramātmā ca muktānāṁ paramā gatiḥ |
avyayaḥ puruṣaḥ sākṣī kṣetrajñōkṣara eva ca
Lord Kṛṣṇa is supremely pure (pūtātmā) and He is the Supreme Soul (paramātmā).
He is the ultimate goal and destination of the liberated souls (muktānāṁ parama gatiḥ) and He is the eternal (avyaya) Supreme Person (puruṣa).
He is the witness of everything (sākṣī) and He knows what happens to all living entities (kṣetrajña). He is infallible (akṣara).
In his commentary, Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa notes that although Lord Kṛṣṇa is the creator of the cosmic manifestation, He remains aloof from it. For this reason He remains always free from material contamination, and He is the supreme pure.
yōgō yōgavidāṁ netā pradhāna-puruṣeśvaraḥ |
nārasiṁha-vapuḥ śrīmān keśavaḥ puruṣōttamaḥ
He is the auspicious reservoir of yogic perfection, and success in yoga practice depends upon Him (yoga).
He is the leader of those advanced in yoga (yoga-vidām netā), and He is the supreme controller of the material universe and all living entities (pradhāna-puruṣeśvara).
Even though He has appeared in a half-man, half- lion incarnation (nārasiṁha-vapuḥ), He is extremely handsome (śrīmān).
He is the father of Brahma and Śiva (Keśava), and He is the supreme Person (Puruṣottama).
In his commentary, Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa quotes Lord Śiva's explanation of the name Keśava:
ka iti brahmāṇo nāma
īśo 'ham sarva-dehinām
"Ka is a name of Brahma, and I (Śiva) am known as Īśa, because I am the master of all living entities who reside in material bodies.
O Lord Kṛṣṇa, because we are born from your body, you are therefore known as Keśava (the father of Brahma and Śiva)."
Lord Kṛṣṇa is known as Puruṣottama because He is the best of all persons including both conditioned and liberated souls. The Lord Himself has explained the meaning of this name in the Bhagavad-gītā (15.18):
yasmāt kṣaram atīto'ham akṣarād api cottamaḥ |
ato'smi loke vede ca prathitaḥ puruṣottamaḥ ||
"Because I am transcendental, beyond both the fallible and the infallible, and because I am the greatest, I am celebrated both in the world and in the Vedas as that Supreme Person."
sarvaḥ śarvaḥ śivaḥ sthāṇur bhūtādir nidhir avyayaḥ |
saṁbhavō bhāvanō bhartā prabhavaḥ prabhur īśvaraḥ
Lord Kṛṣṇa is present everywhere, and therefore He is everything (sarva). He is supremely beneficial (sarva) and He is the most auspicious (Śiva).
He is always very merciful (sthāṇu) and He is the creator of all living entities (bhūtādi). He gives happiness to all (nidhi) and He is imperishable (avyaya).
He always thinks how to protect the devotees (bhāvana) and He descends to the material world in order to protect them (sambhava). He is the maintainer of the devotees (bhartā) and He is the origin of everything (prābhava).
He is the supreme master who can perform any feat impossible to be performed by Brahma or anyone else (prabhu), and He is the supreme controller of all living entities (īśvara).
In his commentary, Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa quotes Arjuna's explanation of how Kṛṣṇa is everything (Bhagavad-gītā 11.40):
sarvaṁ samāpnoṣi tato'si sarvaḥ ||
"O Kṛṣṇa, You are all-pervading, and thus You are everything."
Lord Kṛṣṇa's appearance within this material world to protect the devotees is explained by the Lord Himself in the Bhagavad-gītā (4.8):
paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām |
dharma-saṁsthāpanārthāya saṁbhavāmi yuge yuge ||
"In order to deliver the pious and annihilate the miscreants, as well as to re-establish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium."
The Lord's killing of Hiraṇyakaśīpu and protection of the Pāṇḍavas by different tactics may be cited as examples of these purposes of the Lord.
svayaṁbhūḥ śaṁbhur ādityaḥ puṣkarākṣō mahāsvanaḥ |
anādi-nidhanō dhātā vidhātā dhātur uttamaḥ
Lord Kṛṣṇa is the self-sufficient Lord (Svāyambhu) whose auspicious transcendental qualities bring great happiness to the devotees (šaṁbhu).
Among devas He appears in a splendid golden form (āditya) and He is all- pervading (puṣkarākṣa). He is the supreme object of worship (mahāsvana) and He was never born and will never die (anādi-nidhana).
He is the original creator, before Brahmā or anyone else (dhātā) and He is the original author of all Vedic injunctions (vidhātā). He is the Supreme Person (dhātur uttama).
Kṛṣṇa's self-sufficiency is described in Īśa Upaniṣad (mantra 8):
kavir manīši paribhuḥ svayambhūḥ
"The Supreme Person is the self-sufficient philosopher who is omniscient and the greatest of all."
The all-pervasiveness of the Lord is explained in the Śruti-śāstra:
"akāśātmā (Śrīman Nārāyaṇa is all-pervading)".
Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa presents the following quotes from the Śruti, where Kṛṣṇa's authorship of them is explained:
tasya vā etasya mahato bhūtasya niśvāsitam etad yad ṛg-vedo yajur-vedaḥ
"The Ṛig-veda and Yajur-veda are produced
from the breathing of Śrīman Nārāyaṇa."
yo brahmāṇaṁ vidadhāti pūrvam yo vidyās tasmai jñāpayati sa Kṛṣṇaḥ
"It was Kṛṣṇa who in the beginning
instructed Brahma in Vedic knowledge
and who disseminated Vedic knowledge in the past."
In the Bhagavad-gītā (14.3), Kṛṣṇa Himself explains that He is the original creator of all living entities:
mama yonir mahad brahma tasmin garbhaṁ dadhāmy aham |
saṁbhavaḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ tato bhavati bhārata ||
"The total material substance, called Brāhman, is the source of birth, and it is that Brāhman that I impregnate, making possible the births of all living beings, O son of Bhārata."
aprameyō hṛṣīkeśaḥ padma-nābhō ‘mara-prabhuḥ |
viśva-karmā manus tvaṣṭā sthaviṣṭhah sthavirō dhruvaḥ
Lord Kṛṣṇa is unlimited and cannot be measured by the finite senses of Brahma and the other devas (aprameya), and He is the master of the senses (Hṛṣīkeśa).
Lord Brahma took birth from His lotus-navel (padma-nābha) and He is the master of devas (amara-prabhu) who gives them jurisdiction in the affairs of creation and maintenance of the material universe.
Seated within the hearts of Brahma and the other devas, He gives them the ability to create and maintain the universe (viśva-karma).
He knows everything (manu) and His form is very handsome and splendid (tvaṣṭā).
He creates innumerable universes by His inconceivable potency (sthaviṣṭha) and He is eternal (sthavīra and dhruva).
That Lord Kṛṣṇa is unlimited and immeasurable is explained in the following statement of Lord Brahma:
na hy ādi-madhyāntam ajasya yasya
vidmo vayam sarvamayasya dhātuḥ
"Neither I, nor any other deva can understand
the beginning middle or end of the unborn,
all-pervading Śrīman Nārāyaṇa,
the creator of everything."
The handsomeness of Lord Kṛṣṇa is described in the following quote from the Śruti-śāstra:
sarvāṇi rūpāṇi vicitya dhīro
nāmāni kṛtvābhivādan yad aste
"The saintly devotees meditate on the handsomeness of the forms of Śrīman Nārāyaṇa, and chant His holy names."
That Lord Kṛṣṇa is the source from whom the universe has emanated is confirmed in the Smṛti-śāstra:
viṣṇor viśvam idam jagat
"From Lord Viṣṇu the entire universe and all living entities have emanated."
The inconceivable potencies of the Lord are described in the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (6.8):
parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate
svabhāvikī jñāna-bala-kriyā ca
"Śrīman Nārāyaṇa has such potencies that anything He wants done will be done perfectly well through the control of material nature."
It is further explained:
Śrīman Nārāyaṇa is the controller of the material manifestation and the living entities. He is the master of the modes of nature."
agrāhyaḥ śāśvataḥ kṛṣṇō lōhitākṣaḥ pratardanaḥ |
prabhūtas trikakud dhāma pavitraṁ maṁgalaṁ param
Śrīman Nārāyaṇa is the non-material cause of the material manifestation (agrāhya), and He is eternal (śāśvata). He has an eternal, all- attractive form (Kṛṣṇa), and His handsome eyes are reddish (lohitākṣa).
He removes the distresses in the hearts of His devotees (pratardana), and He is the supreme monarch (prabhūta). He resides in the spiritual world, which is three fourths of the entire existence (trikakud-dhāma).
He is the supreme pure, free from all material contamination, and He is the supreme purifier (pavitram). He is the supreme auspiciousness (maṅgalam param).
Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa notes that the most important form of the Supreme is the form of Kṛṣṇa. This form is a completely spiritual and it is full of spiritual bliss. This form is extremely handsome, and is compared to the exquisite Atasī flower.
The etymological derivation of the name Kṛṣṇa is found in the Mahābhārata (Udyoga-Parva 71.4):
kṛśir bhu-vācakaḥ śabdo
ṇaś ca nirvṛti-vacakaḥ
tayor aikyaṁ param brahma
Kṛṣṇa ity abhidhīyate
"The word "kṛṣ" is the attractive feature of the Lord's existence,
and "na" means spiritual pleasure.
When the verb "kṛṣ" is added to affix "na",
it becomes Kṛṣṇa, which indicates the Absolute Truth."
Of all the names of Śrīman Nārāyaṇa, Kṛṣṇa is the most important, as the Lord Himself has confirmed:
nāmnāṁ mukhyatamaṁ nāma
Kṛṣṇākhyam me parantapa
"My dear Arjuna, 'Kṛṣṇa' is the most important of all My names."
The Lord's handsome eyes are reddish. This is described in the Śruti:
"The Supreme Lord has a complexion like a dark monsoon cloud and His eyes are reddish."
The handsome eyes of the Lord are also described in the Smṛti:
mada-vighūrṇita-locana iṣan mānadaḥ sav-suhṛdāṁ vana-mālī
wears an exquisite garland of forest flowers,
and His eyes move as if He were intoxicated.
He is very kind and affectionate to His friends
and He is fond of praising them."
Lord Kṛṣṇa is the supreme auspiciousness.
This is confirmed in the Smṛti- śāstra:
Smṛti-matreṇa yat pumsām
brahma tan maṅgalam viduḥ
"Simply by remembering Śrīman Nārāyaṇa
all inauspiciousness is driven away,
and auspiciousness becomes very prominent.
For this reason, the Personality of Godhead
is known as the supreme auspiciousness."
The Smṛti-śāstra again confirms this point:
maṅgalāya parasmai namaḥ
"I offer my respectful obeisances
to the Personality of Godhead,
who is the supreme auspiciousness"
īśānaḥ prāṇadaḥ prāṇō jyeṣṭhaḥ śreṣṭhaḥ prajāpatiḥ |
hiraṇyagarbhō bhūgarbhō mādhavō madhusūdanaḥ
Lord Kṛṣṇa is the creator of everything (īśāna), and in His form as the first puruṣa-avatara, Kāraṇodakašāyī Viṣṇu, He gives life and the functions of the mind and senses to the living entities (prāṇada).
As the second puruṣa-avatara, He is the life-force, which maintains the living entities (prāṇa). He is the oldest person (jyeṣṭhā), and He is the best person, full of excellent transcendental qualities (śreṣṭha).
He is the master of Garuda and other eternally liberated souls (Prajāpati), and His spiritual realm is as splendid as gold (hiraṇyagarbha). He is the maintainer of the earth planet (bhū-garbha) and the husband of the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī-devī (mādhava).
Remembrance of Him puts an end to the repetition of birth and death in this material world (Madhusūdana).
Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa gives the following explanation of the word prāṇada (giver of life, mind and senses to the living entities):
janānām asṛjat prabhuḥ
created the intelligence, mind, senses,
and life-force of the many living entities."
Lord Kṛṣṇa is the master of all living entities.
This is described in the Śruti:
tad akṣare parame prajāḥ
"The imperishable Personality of Godhead
is the supreme master and father of all living entities."
The Lord's spiritual realm is as splendid as gold.
This is confirmed in the Śruti- śāstra:
hiraṇmaye pure kośe
virajaṁ brahma niṣkalam
"The supremely pure Personality of Godhead
resides in the spiritual world, which has a golden effulgence."
Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa gives the following derivation of the name Mādhava:
"ma" means Lakṣmī-devī, the goddess of fortune. "Dhava" means husband.
Therefore "mādhava" means "the husband of the Goddess of fortune".
In this connection, the Puruṣa-sūkta prayer explains:
śrīś ca te lakṣmīs ca patnyau
"Śrī and Lakṣmī are the wives of Śrīman Nārāyaṇa."
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura notes in this regard that Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is the principal goddess of fortune, and therefore the name "Mādhava" also means "the husband of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī” or the husband of the gopīs in Vrājabhūmi".
Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa quotes Lord Śiva's explanation of the name Madhusūdana:
"'Madhu means the material existence of repeated birth and death, and nisūdana means killer. Therefore, the name Madhusūdana means 'He who stops the repetition of birth and death'".
īśvarō vikramī dhanvī medhāvī vikramaḥ kramaḥ |
anuttamō durādharṣaḥ kṛtajñaḥ kṛtirātmavān
Lord Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Controller (īśvara), and He is unlimitedly powerful (vikramā). He wields the transcendental Śārṅga bow (dhanvī), and He is supremely intelligent and expert (medhāvī).
He can travel anywhere immediately, even without the help of Garuḍa (vikramā and krama), and there is no one who is superior or equal to Him (anuttama).
The non-devotees cannot approach Him (durādharṣā), and He is very grateful to they who offer even a small tulasī leaf or forest flower with sincere devotion (kṛtajña).
By His illusory potency, māyā, the conditioned souls engage in fruitive activities (kṛti). He keeps an eternal loving relationship with the liberated souls (ātmavān).
Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa explains the word anuttama by citing the Vedic literatures:
na tat samaś cābhyadhikaś ca dṛśyate
"No one is superior or equal to Śrīman Nārāyaṇa."
(Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.8)
mattaḥ parataram nānyat
"O Arjuna, there is no truth superior to Me." (Bhagavad-gītā 7.7)
The Lord Himself has explained the word kṛtajña:
patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ yo me bhaktyā prayacchati |
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ ||
"If one offers me with love and devotion a leaf, flower, fruit or water, I will accept it."
sureśaḥ śaraṇaṁ śarma viśva-retāḥ prajā-bhavaḥ |
ahaḥ saṁvatsarō vyālaḥ pratyayah sarva-darśanaḥ
Lord Kṛṣṇa is the master of devas and the benefactor of the worthy devotees (sureśa).
He is the shelter that removes the distresses of them who approach Him (śaraṇa), and He is full of transcendental bliss (śarma). He is full of spiritual prowess (viśva-retāḥ) and He is the father of all living entities (prajā-bhāva).
He is like a daytime that causes the conditioned souls to awaken from the long night of material ignorance (ahaḥ), and He rescues the devotees from the fearful ocean of repeated birth and death (samvatsara).
Everything enters into Him at the time of devastation, and He is the dear friend of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, Tārakā and Pālī (vyāla).
He is the only person in whom one can completely place his trust (pratyaya).
He reveals His form, qualities, and everything about Himself to the sincere devotees, who have full confidence in the instructions of the spiritual master and the words of the Vedic literatures (sarva-darśana).
Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa quotes the description of the word śaraṇa found in the Vedic literatures:
sarvasya śaraṇam suhṛt
“Śrīman Nārāyaṇa is the friend and shelter of all living entities.”
The word śarma is described in the Śruti-mantra:
"Śrīman Nārāyaṇa is full of transcendental bliss."
The Lord Himself describes the word samvatsara:
teṣām ahaṁ samuddhartā mṛtyu-saṁsāra-sāgarāt |
bhavāmi na cirāt pārtha mayy āveśita-cetasām ||
"O Son of Pārtha,
for the devotees who have fixed their minds upon Me,
I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death."
The Lord further states:
dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ
yena mām upayānti te ||
"To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love
I give the understanding by which they can come to Me."
Lord Kapiladeva gives the following description of the word sarva-darśana:
paśyanti te me rucirāṇy amba santaḥ
rūpāṇi divyāni vara-pradāni
sākaṁ vācaṁ spṛhaṇīyāṁ vadanti
"O My mother,
My devotees always see the smiling face of My form,
with eyes like the rising morning sun.
They like to see
My various transcendental forms, which are all benevolent,
and they also talk favourably with Me."
(Śrīmad- Bhāgavatam 3.25.35)