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शान्ताकारं भुजगशयनं पद्मनाभं सुरेशं
विश्वाधारं गगनसदृशं मेघवर्णं शुभाङ्गम् |
लक्ष्मीकान्तं कमलनयनं योगिहृर्ध्यानगम्यम्
वन्दे विष्णुं भवभयहरं सर्वलोकैकनाथम् || 3 ||
śantākāraṁ bhujagaśayanaṁ padmanābhaṁ sureśam
viśvādhāraṁ gagana-sadṛśaṁ meghavarṇaṁ śubhāṁgam|
lakṣmikāntaṁ kamalanayanaṁ yogihṛddyāna-gamyaṁ
vande viṣṇuṁ bhavabhayaharaṁ sarvalokaika-nātham||
I worship Lord Viṣṇu, the embodiment of Peace, whose couch and canopy is a thousand headed Śeṣa, from whose navel blossoms forth a lotus flower (from which the lord of creation Brahmā is born), who is the supporter of the universe, who is all pervading in ākāśa, the ether or atmosphere, whose complexion resembles that of clouds (rain bearing clouds are dark in colour), who pervades the heart of His consort Śrī Lakṣmī, who is lotus eyed, who is sought by yogis through meditation, one who is capable of eradicating the dreadfulness of transmigrations (transmigration is full of fear, miseries and pains) and the unparalleled Lord of the universe.
Lord Vishnu is the protector and the preserver of the universe. He is generally depicted as resting on the king of snakes called Kalswarup Seshnag, with Goddess Laxmi by his side.
In scriptures, his posture is mentioned as:
‘Shantakaram Bhujagshayanam’ ”शान्ताकारं भुजगशयनं’ This means a quiet calm Vishnu resting on a serpent. Seeing this form of Lord Vishnu, a question pops up in everyone’s mind- How can one be so calm sleeping on the king of snakes? And secondly, how did a snake become the bed for Lord Vishnu? ‘Shesh’ in Sanskrit means ‘that which remains’ and ‘Naga’ means a serpent. This reptile symbolises energy in our scriptures. So when these two words: shesha & naga are put together, they mean, that which remains ultimately is Energy or Atman. So the sum total of all the energies this universe is made up of is contained in Sheshanaga.
Sheshanaga is also called Anant Shesha or Adi Shesha and signifies the moving forward of time. This reptile is infinite and will exist even after the destruction of the Universe. The one who is relaxing on the coiled Shehsa is called Narayana, meaning he is the ultimate controller of this cosmic energy.
A human life is filled with duties and responsibilities of many kinds. The most important of all being family, social and economic responsibilities. One has to live up to many expectations and make a lot of effort to fulfill these commitments. Many consider this as a part of the sufferings of human birth. Sheshanaga represents these tough situations which may make a person feel scared or anxious. However, the calm face of Lord Vishnu inspires us to maintain composure and be patient in these tough times as is the true nature of our own primordial Self. With such a calm composure any problem can be solved.
The sleeping posture of Lord Vishnu is called Narayana and His active form is called Vishnu. According to the scriptures, Sheshnaga had manifested as Balarama, the bother of Shri Krishna in Mahabharata; and as Laxmana, the brother of Lord Rama in the epic Ramayana.
Shesha Nag’s brother Vasuki was used as the rope that churned the ocean of milk during Samudra Manthan, and he forms the Galbhujang in the neck of Shiva
Lord Vishnu is known as “SHANTAKARAM” means peaceful form who is unaffected even when resting on the thousand headed snake – Shesha. Its possible only for Shri Vishnu to rest on such a huge poisness snake with many heads and still be “shantha”. SheshaNaag is also known as “ANANT” which means the endless one. He is without any end even when pralaya occurs. The word “SHESHA” also point towards this. Shesha means “one which remains”, when the world is destroyed at the end of the kalpa. Shesha remains as he is.
It is said that Shesha Naag holds all planets and universe together. Shesha Naag is the base of the universe and when the base of the universe itself is the servant of the Lord then it means lord is the BASE OF EVEN THE BASE of the universe. Naturally a doubt may arise as why in this world where everything is defined by science and when it is clearly proved that gravity and attractive forces work in holding planets in the exact position, why Ananta is brought into this context. The answer is simple as Ananta or SheshaNaag is also known as “SANKARSHANA” and Sankarshana means ATTRACTIVE FORCE. So when we say Ananta holds all planets and universe, we must metaphorically interpret it as the attractive force or Sankarshana is holding everything.
Lord Vishnu resting on Shesha Naag point towards two things.
1. UNAFFECTED NATURE – even though Shri Vishnu is the protector of the whole world, he is unaffected by everything in this world. He is nirguna, paratpara and nirvikara. He is beyond worldly things, his vastness is beyond cognition.
2. PERMANENCE – Adi Shesha stands for permanence and Lord Vishnu resting on Adi Shesha is Himself the only entity which is permanent in this universe. Which highlights only God is permanent rest every thing is transient and subject to Lord’s maya.!
Padmanabham Suresham esoterically means only when one is calm even while on a bed of deadly snake, he can manifest the creative powers of the universe within him from his navel, seated gently over a lotus blooming above the muck of the tendencies and vrittis which don’t allow a person to remain reclining in peace and tranquil state of mind while functioning in the world (Anant Sansara Samudra – Bhavsagar). When the mind is such equipoise creation happens and all auspiciousness as Lakshmi herself is in the sewa (service) of such a person – Lakshmi Kantam.
Vishwadhaaram is the one who holds the world. Who is the basis of the world – the life force energy which runs and sustains the world? It’s the energy of unconditional love – vishudh prem which holds the world. Such unconditional love is only possible for the one who is such state of yogic sambhaav – equanimity. Gagana Sadrisham esoterically is the Chidakash (the space of consciousness) within ourselves. Bahar Akaash Bitar Chidakash. Meghavarnam Shubhangam means literally someone who is blue black complexioned like the clouded sky. This however relates to the infinite nature of the colour blue which spreads across the horizon and the black which essentially is the colour that forms when the surface absorbs all the light falling on it. So this means that someone who in constant union with the infinite Chit has access to the Chidakash within is capable of absorbing all – good bad without likes or dislikes, with supreme dispassion. Lord Vishnu facilitated the creation of the universe through Brahma, he runs this universe yet he stays detached.
Kamal Nayana – lotus has the quality to filter the mirth and bloom rising above the muck. Lotus eyed means the one who doesn’t judge and looks at everything in the creation with love and a sense of oneness not being affected by the muck of vrittis or karmas a person may be carrying. To be in such non judgmental bhaav leads to purity of vision.
Yogi Hrdhyana Gamyam – Eyes like a lotus, are eyes that have a tender and gentle, loving, non judgemental quality. When we approach the Lord of Lotus Eyes, we know we will be comforted and dealt with in the nurturing way a father deals with his child. Additionally, Lord Vishnu possesses the vision of detachment and bestows this vision upon aspirants, calming their fears. With his serene gaze he alleviates our suffering within the samsara, the cycle of birth and death, and instills strength and perseverance into our hearts to continue trekking along the razors edge to immortality.
Only the yogis who have attained chittashuddi, purity of heart have the divine vision of Lord Vishnu. A true “yogi” is one who is in constant communion with the Atman, the Self, and this is the highest ideal of life. The lord of the “three worlds” implies Lord Vishnu is both the knower and controller of the three periods of time: past, present, and future; and the three states of consciousness: waking, dream, and deep sleep. Additionally he has gone beyond the three modes of nature: sattwa—purity, rajas—passion, and tamas—inertia, is the one who breaks the three knots of the heart: avidya—ignorance, kama—desire, and karma—action, and finally destroys the defects of the individual soul: mala—impurity, vikshepa—distraction, and avarana—veil of ignorance. Thus Lord Narayana leads us to victory as he leads us to Himself as our own Higher Self.
This Dhyaan is to be done on the true Self leaving the puny self aside. ( Notice the big S and the small s)
Once the energies of Maha Vishnu are invoked and installed in our body through Nyasa, meditating on his forms, qualities and attributes are in the true sense Meditating on our own Higher Self.
I bow down before the Lord of the universe Viṣṇu, who appears like dark clouds, who is adorned with yellow silk clothing, having a mole by name Śrīvatsa (Śrīvatsa has different interpretations. It is said to be a cluster of hair in His chest, which is an indication of His Supremacy and auspiciousness. There is also reference which says that it is the Abode of His consort Śrī Lakṣmī. It also means a mark on His chest. According to ancient tradition, sage Bhṛgu struck Lord Viṣṇu with his feet on the chest of the Lord as the Lord had not shown due respect to the sage. The Lord is said to carry this mark as a mark of repentance and this mark is known as Śrīvatsa), His body radiating with kaustubha jewel (a celebrated jewel obtained with thirteen other precious things at the churning of the ocean and suspended on the chest Viṣṇu), with wide eyes like lotus flowers and surrounded by men of moral excellence (it is said that virtuousness is the primary duty of a man and Viṣṇu is the Lord of virtuousness).
I prostrate before Lord Viṣṇu, who is the cause of creation, the supporter of the universe, and who exists in different forms. This verse refers to His acts of creation and sustenance. This also makes a subtle reference to His omnipresent nature.
I pay obeisance to Lord Viṣṇu with four hands, who holds conch (Pāñcajanya) and disc (Sudarśanacakra), who is adorned with crown and ear studs, golden raiments, beautiful eyes like lotus flower, His chest is bedecked with garlands and kaustubha jewel.
I surrender unto Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is seated in a golden throne with Rukmiṇī and Satyabhāmā (consorts of Kṛṣṇa), under the shadow of Pārijāta tree (one of the five trees of Heaven, produced at the churning of the ocean and taken possession of by Indra from whom it was afterwards taken by Kṛṣṇa. Botanical name Nyctanthes arbortristis), with wide eyes, beautifully ornamented, face resembling the moon, with four arms and with Śrīvatsa in His chest.
The main body of Sri Vishnu Sahasranama consists of 107 stanzas which contain the One Thousand names of Sri Maha Vishnu. Every one of the one thousand names is full of significance and refers to one particular guna (quality, characteristic, or attribute) of Paramatma. These names invoke a sense of bonding with the Lord. The meanings of the names give us an understanding and depth of God as there is a deep connection between the name and the named.
Every Name of Sri Vishnu has a meaning to it; quite apart – the phonetic vibrations by chanting each Name known as Nama and the chain of names known as Namavali produces vibrations that are essential for true perception of knowledge and wisdom.
Prayers are a means to mental cleansing when they are chanted with sincerity and devotion. The importance of chanting Sri Vishnu Sahasranama is that the deity being worshiped is none other than Vasudeva.