[Advaita-l] Interesting tidbits in the Vishnu Sahasranama

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Sat Mar 24 21:52:06 EDT 2018

Happy Sri Rama Navami!
Some curiosities from the Vishnu Sahasranama (of the Mahabharata):
1) The names that recur most often (four times each) are:
  shrImAn.h (Name # 22, 178, 220, 613)
  praaNadaH (Name # 65, 321, 408, 956)
2) Pair of consecutive names that occur together twice in the same order:
  Names # 161-162 and # 865-866: niyamo-yamaH
  Names # 320-321 and # 407-408: prANaH-prANadaH
  Names # 495-496 and # 592-593: gopatir-goptaa
The second pair above occurs also in the reverse order:
  Names # 65-66: prANadaH-prANaH
3) Exactly 3 lines of the Shlokas begin with the syllable "tri", where each of the line numbers are also divisible by the number 3!
  tripadastridashaadhyaksho mahaashR^iN^gaH kR^itaantakR^it.h .. (Line #114, Second line of Shloka 57)
  trisaamaa saamagaH saama nirvaaNaM bheshhajaM bhishhak.h . (Line #123, First line of Shloka 62)
  trilokaatmaa trilokeshaH keshavaH keshihaa hariH .. (Line #138, Second line of Shloka 69)
4) The three main "saMyuktaakShara-s" (Conjoined Consonants) in Sanskrit are: kSha, tra, j~na.
They come together in the name "kShetraj~naH" (Name # 16).
5) The five names with the longest commentaries by Adi Sankara are (in order of appearance):
  Name # 1. vishvaM
  Name # 245. naaraayaNaH
  Name # 332. vaasudevaH
  Name # 974. yaj~naaN^gaH
  Name # 1000. sarvapraharaNaayudhaH
The first and last names probably have lengthy comments due to their presence at the beginning and the end of the Sahasranama.
The commentary on "yaj~naaN^gaH" mostly consists of one long quote from the Harivamsa, with little extra added on.
This leaves two names: Narayana and Vasudeva, which must have been chosen by the Commentator because of special significance.
* The two most popular Vaishnava Mantras are: "OM namo naaraayaNaaya" and "OM namo bhagavate vaasudevaaya".
* The very first word of the Mahabharata is "naaraayaNaM".
* An important phrase in the Bhagavad Gita is "vaasudevaH sarvamiti" (Everything is Vasudeva).
6) One of the earliers commentators on the Vishnu Sahasranama, Adi Sankara, was undoubtedly a non-sectarian advaitin who identified Shiva with Vishnu.
This is revealed by his commentary on the following names, where the Deities are stated to be the same, with a quote from the Shiva Purana!
  Name # 27: shiva .
  Commentary: “In light of this non-difference between Shiva and Vishnu, it is Vishnu Himself who is exalted by the worship of Shiva.”
  Name # 114: rudra .
  Commentary: “As the Shiva Purana says, "ru" means sorrow, and the person who destroys it is Rudra.”
7) Today being Rama Navami, here are a couple of names where Adi Sankara has quoted the Ramayana:
  Name # 442: kShamaH . (Patience)
  Comentary: “As Valmiki Ramayana says, "Rama is equal to the earth in patience".”
  Name # 455: suvrataH . (The Good Vow)
  Commentary: “Sri Rama says in the Ramayana, "He who takes Refuge in Me, saying 'Yours am I', I grant him protection. This is my Vow!"”

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