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Anecdote

Here’s an interesting anecdote on the commentary of Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam by Sri Adi Sankara.Sri Adi Sankara wanted to write a commentary on Lalita Sahasranamam and asked one of his disciples to bring palm-leaf manuscripts of Lalita Sahasranamam. The disciple went into the room where it was kept and returned with the manuscript.WhenSankara opened it, he found that it was Vishnu Sahasranamam. He asked the disciple to go back and get Lalita Sahasranamam. When the disciple returned, Sankara found that it was Vishnu Sahasranamam again. Sankara once again advised the disciple to bring Lalita Sahasranamam. When the disciple returned for the third time and it turned out to be Vishnu Sahasranamamagain!.

The disciple replied “Revered Sir, I brought Lalita Sahasranamam every time but I was intercepted by a beautiful little girl on the way who snatched it from me and gave this instead each time”. Sankara was intrigued and looked around for the girl but there was no trace of her. He realised that Goddess Lalita wanted him to write commentary on the Sahasranamam of her brother Vishnu first. A little annoyed, Sankara asked the disciple “Don’t you understand, I asked you to bring Lalita Sahasranamam.”Bhagawan Vishnu says

Yomaamnaamasahasrenastotumichchatipandava Soham ekenashlokenastutaevanasamshayaha

“If someone wants to worship me by reciting the Sahasranamam but is able to utter only one Shloka (out of the hundred and seven) I still consider that worship equivalent to the chanting of the full Sahasranamam.”

Going one step further, it is said that repeating even a single Nama is enough to give the full effect of Sahasranamam.

Parvati asks Lord Shiva

“KenopayanelaghunaVishnornamasahasrakamPathyatepanditairnityamshrotumichchamiahamprabho?”

“What is the easy way adopted by the learned to recite the Vishnu Sahasranamam daily?”

Lord Shiva replies,

“Sri Rama RamaRametiRameRameManorameSahasranamaTattulyam Rama Nama Varaanane”.

It is said that recitation of the above Shloka three times, gives the benefit of reciting the whole Sahasranamam. “If one recites the single Rama Nama repeatedly that itself is equivalent to reciting all the one thousand Namas!”

Bhishma says

“YaaninamanigounanivikhyatanimahatmanahRishibhifparigeetanitanivakshyamibhootaye.”

Bhishma makes it clear that he is expounding just a compilation of His qualities as elaborated by various Sages.In the Hindu scriptures all mantras have three principal elements. They are:1. Devata or the presiding Deity 2. Rishi (or Sage) to whom it was first revealed 3. Chandas or the verse form. This three-some matrix is described in the preamble to the Sahasranamam as follows

“RishirnamnamsahasrasyavedavyasomahamunihiChchando-nushtuptatha devo bhagavandevakee-sutaha”

Lord Vishnu says to Sage Narada, “Nahamvasamivaikuntheyoginamhridayena cha, mad-bhakta yatra gayantitatratishthaminarada”, i.e., “I dwell neither in Vaikuntha nor in the hearts of the Yogins, but I dwell where my devotees sing my name, O Narada.”

What better way of singing His Nama than by reciting Vishnu Sahasranamam!Kurma Puranam says:

“BharatamsarvashastreshubharategeetikavaraVishnossahasranamapigneyampathyam cha taddvayam”

Meaning MahaBharata is superior to all Dharmashastras; within that Bhagavad Gita and Vishnu Sahasranamam stand out and these two have to be learnt and recited constantly.Vishnu Sahasranamam is full of deeper meanings and about this aspect it is said:

“trayarthassarvavedeshudasharthassarvabharatevishnossahasranamapinirantarashatarthakam”

According to this, all Vedas have three levels of meanings. MahaBharata, also known as the fifth Veda, has ten different levels of meanings. But Vishnu Sahasranamam has hundred different meanings for each Nama! Apart from the meaning there is also the positive vibration from the chanting of each Nama. So even if the recitation is done without knowing the meaning it is still beneficial but if it is done with full understanding of the import of the meanings, it is sheer bliss.