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Anga Nyasa

All rituals start in Mantra Sadhana with a beautiful function – the installation of the Lord in the devotee’s own physical form. This is technically called as Anga-Nyaasa and Kara-Nyaasa. The “Installation in the Limbs”, and the “Installation in the Palm”. This is a method by which the seeker with willful thoughts and deliberate physical signs (mudras) sanctifies himself to be a Divine Temple and installs various sacred deities in himself.

Neither in the Northern Indian scriptural texts on Vishnu Sahasranama nor in the original Maha Bharata do we find this ‘subjective installation ceremony’ (Anga-Nyaasa) prescribed. However, pundits of ritualism in the South employ the Anga-Nyaasa; and it being such a beautiful act, allowing the seekers to become one with the energy of the mantra, is being shared below as the most popular one practiced widely in the Southern India.

This “Installation Ceremony” declares to the devotees that the enchanting form of Lord Vishnu is to be ultimately realized as One Infinite Reality without names or forms – in which the recognition of even the distinction between the meditator-meditated- meditation is to cease.

Just as a devotee feels highly inspired in the divine atmosphere of a sacred temple, so too, after the Anga-Nyaasa, however shattered we might have been, before we entered the Pooja-room, we can work ourselves up into a divine mood of peace, tranquility and purity by way of installing Bhagwan’s energies within us.

The body itself is rendered as the temple of the Lord, wherein the various limbs become the altars upon which, with a heart of love and faith, the devotee invokes and installs various deities. In this process, in order to bring the full blast of the sacred suggestions to him, the repetition of each of these mantras is emphasized by a corresponding physical sign or hand gestures (mudras).

अस्य श्री विष्णोर्दिव्य सहस्रनाम स्तोत्र महामन्त्रस्य ||
श्री वेदव्यासो भगवान् ऋषिः |
अनुष्टुप् छन्दः |
श्रीमहाविष्णुः परमात्मा श्रीमन्नारायणो देवता |
अमृतांशूद्भवो भानुरिति बीजं |
देवकीनन्दनः स्रष्टेति शक्तिः |
उद्भवः, क्षोभणो देव इति परमोमन्त्रः |
शङ्खभृन्नन्दकी चक्रीति कीलकम् |
शार्ङ्गधन्वा गदाधर इत्यस्त्रम् |
रथाङ्गपाणि रक्षोभ्य इति नेत्रं |
त्रिसामासामगः सामेति कवचम् |
आनन्दं परब्रह्मेति योनिः |
ऋतुस्सुदर्शनः काल इति दिग्बन्धः ||
श्रीविश्वरूप इति ध्यानं |
श्री महाविष्णु प्रीत्यर्थे सहस्रनाम जपे पारायणे विनियोगः |

Asya Srī Viṣṇōrdivya Sahasranāma Stōtra Mahāmantrasya ॥
Srī Vēdavyāsō Bhagavān Rṣiḥ ।
Anuṣṭup Chandaḥ ।
Srīmahāviṣṇuḥ Paramātmā Srīmannārāyaṇō Dēvatā ।
Amṛtāṃśūdbhavō Bhānuriti Bījaṃ ।
Dēvakīnandanaḥ Sraṣṭēti Saktiḥ ।
Udbhavaḥ, Kṣōbhaṇō Dēva Iti Paramōmantraḥ ।
Saṅkhabhṛnnandakī Chakrīti Kīlakam ।
Sārṅgadhanvā Gadādhara Ityastram ।
Rathāṅgapāṇi Rakṣōbhya Iti Nētraṃ ।
Trisāmāsāmagaḥ Sāmēti Kavacham ।
Anandaṃ Parabrahmēti Yōniḥ ।
Rtussudarśanaḥ Kāla Iti Digbandhaḥ ॥
Srīviśvarūpa Iti Dhyānaṃ ।
Srī Mahāviṣṇu Prītyarthē Sahasranāma Japē Pārāyaṇē Viniyōgaḥ ।

A. Asya Srī Viṣṇōrdivya Sahasranāma Stōtra Mahāmantrasya Srī Vēdavyāsō Bhagavān Rṣiḥ

For this sacred chant, the “Thousand Names of Lord Vishnu”, Sri Veda Vyaasa is the divine Rishi.

Great mantras of deep spiritual significance and sublime Vedic dignity are not  veda-vyaasa Rishi

(Mantra- Drashtaa). Such Rishis themselves admit that they did not manufacture, compose or create the mantra, but they had a revelation or vision (Darsanam) of the mantra.

The Mantra- Drashtaa, the Rishi, is the guru of the seeker, who is seeking his path with the help of that particular mantra. The Rishi of a mantra is installed at the roof of the head and the seeker, in his seat of Vishnu-Sahasranaama-chanting,

B. Anushtup Chandah

The metre (“chandah”) in which the revealed mantra comes to the teacher

 Anushtup is the name of the particular metre in which this thousand-name- chant on Vishnu is sung. The chant is to come out through the mouth, and therefore, the ‘altar of the metre’ can be only the mouth.

Symbolism: The fingers that were touching the roof of the head now come down to touch the lips, when the mantra ‘B’ is repeated in the mind by the seeker.

C. Srīmahāviṣṇuḥ Paramātmā Srīmannārāyaṇō Dēvatā

Lord Vishnu of the form of the entire universe of variegated names and forms (Vishva-roopah) is the deity of the mantra. Vishnu is the theme of the chant. The Lord of Vaikuntha is the altar at which the devotee is preparing to offer himself in humble dedication and utter surrender.

Symbolism: Since Lord Vishnu is, to the devotee, the Lord of his heart, the very centre of his personality, while chanting mentally the mantra ‘C’ devotee, installs the Lord in his heart, bringing the fingers from the lips down to touch his bosom.

D. Dēvakīnandanaḥ Sraṣṭēti Saktiḥ

Every deity is a manifestation of the mighty Omnipotency of the Supreme. The creator and sustainer (Srashtaa) of Dharma, the son of Devaki (Devakeenandana), is the manifested power (“shaktih”) of the Almighty.

Symbolism: This creative power of righteous-ness and peace is installed at the navel (naabhi) point, and, therefore, the fingers come down from the heart region to the navel.

E. Udbhavaḥ, Kṣōbhaṇō Dēva Iti Paramōmantraḥ Saṅkhabhṛnnandakī Chakrīti Kīlakam

The mighty Creative Power invoked and established on the navel region cannot be as such conceived by the mind. Therefore, to ‘nail’ it down (Keelakam) and establish it in our comprehension, this mantra conceives (“udbavah”) the Power as the Lord, who bears the Conch (“shanka”), the Sword, named Nandaka, and the Discus (“chakra”). This is only to show how the total cosmic Power, expressed in terms of our present understanding as creation, sustenance, and destruction, is but a manifestation of the Lord. The conch (Sankha) represents the ‘call’ of the Reality, the Lord’s own declarations stated in the scriptures. Nandaka, the sword that punishes to bring joy (Nandana) into the community and the destruction, without which evolution is impossible, is represented by the concept of the Discus (Chakra).

Here it is also to be noted that the blowing or the conch represents speech; wielding the sword represents action and the discus that takes off from Him at His will, represents his thoughts. Thus this great Power installed at the navel expresses itself in the world through speech, action and thought.

Symbolism: To conceive fully this form is to hold firmly the Lord’s own feet, and, therefore, when this mantra is mentally chanted, the fingers move away from the navel, and with both hands the seeker touches his own feet. Therefore the Guru is kept at the roof of the head, the Veda (metre) in the mouth, the Lord in the heart,the Power in the navel and, thereby, the seeker himself becomes so sacred that he prostrates unto himself by holding his own feet.

F. Sārṅgadhanvā Gadādhara Ityastram

When this divine installation has taken place, and therefore, the body has become the Temple of the Almighty, and therefore, it has become a scared treasure house to be protected. But the seeker himself has no power to protect, and so, he invokes the very weapon (Astra) of Vishnu, the protector of the world, to stand by for the defence of the sanctified bosom. Saarga is the name of the Bow (Dhanus) of Vishnu and the Mace (Gadaa) is another of his weapons. These two form the artillery of defence; which are manned by the Lord himself.

Symbolism: At this moment when this mantra is mentally chanted, it is significant that the student lifts the palm away from the feet, and with the stretched out index and middle fingers of the right palm snaps them on the open left palm.

G. Rathāṅgapāṇi Rakṣōbhya Iti Nētraṃ

Lord Vishnu as Lord Krishna played the part of the charioteer and gained the name “Rein-handed” (Ratha-anga-paani). A charioteer has to guide every step of every horse in order that the chariot be safe, and the travel be pleasant. Of the sense organs, the eyes (“netram”) are the most powerful and once they are well guided, all others also follow their heels. When Lord Vishnu, the charioteer, Himself is installed in the eyes (“netram”), the individual is safe (“rakshobya”) in his spiritual pilgrimage. 

Symbolism: Therefore, invoking the Divine Driver, with reins in his hand (Rathaangapaani), He is installed in the pair of eyes, and at the moment of mentally chanting this, both the eyes are touched by the tip of the fingers.

H. Trisāmāsāmagaḥ Sāmēti Kavacham 

He (Tri-Saamaa) who is glorified by all the three (“tri”) types, of Saama songs (Deva-Vrata-Prokta), He who is the very theme that is glorified by the Saama songs (Saamagah), He whose glory itself is the manifested Sama Veda (Saama), He is none other than the Supreme This great Lord is installed a, an armour (“kavacham”) to wear for self-protection.

Symbolism: While chanting this in the mind the seeker first touches with the tip of his finger, of each arm, the same shoulders, and afterwards crosses the arm, in front of him making fingers of each palm touch the other shoulder-as if he is actually wrapping himself and wearing the divine armour.

I. Anandaṃ Parabrahmēti Yōniḥ

The Supreme (“para”) Brahman, the Infinite Bliss (“anandam”) is (“eti”) the very womb (Yonih) from which the universe has emerged out. The procreated world of endless variety has only one Eternal Father, and this source is immaculate Bliss. When this is chanted the seeker installs the Bliss Infinite at the very place of procreation in himself. It is a spot in this great divine temple of the body, wherein is the one source, from which the world has emerged out, manifesting itself as the power of procreation (Taittireeya).

J. Srīviśvarūpa Iti Dhyānaṃ

The entire band of experience gained through the instruments of the body, mind and intellect in terms of perceptions, emotions and thoughts together is indicated by the term Visva. He, who has manifested to be the total world of experiences (Visva), must therefore be Visvaroopah. The cosmic form of the Lord (Visvaroopa) is the total universe. Thus to meditate (Dhyaanam) upon Him as the whole universe, is a method of installing Him in our intellect.

Symbolism: At this moment the seeker locks his fingers and sits in meditation.

K. Rtussudarśanaḥ Kāla Iti Digbandhaḥ

Truth (Ritam), the lord, and his weapon, the discus, called Sudarsana, and his annihilating power, Time (Kaala)-these three are the mighty forces that guard this scared temple of life in the seeker at the outer frontier of his world of influence (Dik-Bandhah). To be truthful and ever to seek the great Reality (Ritam), to discriminate and see the play of the Lord in all situations (Su-Darsanam), and to control the very instrument of the time (Kaala), which is intellect in the seeker, is to guard the frontiers of one’s spiritual world, against the hoards of inimical forces.

Symbolism: At this moment the student snaps his middle finger with the help of his thumb and runs his palm around his head.

L. Srī Mahāviṣṇu Prītyarthē Sahasranāma Japē Pārāyaṇē Viniyōgaḥ

Having thus installed through sankalpa the Lord in himself and having come under the protecting wings of the mighty lord, here is the declaration how he is going to employ himself in it. He is going to engage himself (Viniyoga) in japa (jape) of the “Thousand Names of Lord” (“sahasra-naama”). Now the question is: with what motive should be undertake this chanting? The answer is in the very statement that it is only for the grace (Preetyarthe) of SreeMaha Vishnu.

Symbolism: After chanting this declaration in the mind, the saadhaka, takes a spoon of water (Teertham) in his right palm and pours it on the floor in front of him.

A true seeker is not desire-ridden for material satisfaction, and, therefore, he can have only one intention-the grace of lord, which will manifest in him as contemplative power.

These twelve ‘slogans’ are chanted for invoking and installing these refreshing and spiritually benign ideas on the limbs of the devotee himself. At this juncture this makes him inspired sufficiently for higher meditation upon the truth as indicated and directed by the thousand terms in Sahasranaama.

This beautiful subjective ritual is known as ‘Installation on the limbs’ (Anga-nyaasa). Not only that the seeker temporarily discovers a new surge of inspiration, but even beginners feel highly relieved, at least temporarily, from the load of his senses of ‘sins’. When this is properly performed with a right attitude and devotion, the seeker gains identification (saaroopya) with the Lord of his heart, at the outer levels of his personality.

For more on invocation, Anga Nyasa and Mantra Sadhana please read:

The Ancient Science of Mantras: Wisdom of the Sages Paperback – 19 July 2017