Vishnu is one of the main forms of God, and the personal supreme God for Sri Vaishnavas in Hinduism. A list of 1000 names of Vishnu is called as Vishnu Sahasranama (1000 names). This stotra was composed by Bhishma as an advice to King Yudhishtra.
BACKGROUND OF THE SLOKA
The most popular version of the stotra is found in Anushaasana Parva of The Mahabharata, although there are other versions existing in Padma Purana, Skanda Purana and Garuda Purana.
According to the 135th chapter of Anushaasana Parva, in the epic Mahabharata, the 1000 names of Vishnu are handed down to Yudhishtra by Bhishma, when he was on his death bed of arrows on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
After Kurukshetra war, Yudhishtra was made the king. He visited his grandsire Bhishma to ask him the following questions, which resulted in the flow of the sahasranama stotra from Bhishma.
Yudhishtra uvacha (Yudhishtra said)
- Kim ekam daivatham loke : Who is the one supreme lord for the entire world?
- Kim vaapyakam paraayanam: Who is the one ultimate shelter of all?
- Sthuvanthahkam kamarchandham Praapunuyur maanavaashubham : By glorifying and praisng whom with love, men attain peace, prosperity and salvation?
- Khodharmah sarvadharmaanam bhavathahpramo mathaha: Which is the greatest of all dharmas?
- Kimjapan muchatejandhur janmasamsara bhandhanaadh: What is the japa that helps a man to go beyond the human bonds?
STRUCTURE OF THE SLOKA
Each stotra is compiled in Anushtup Chandas, where a metre is comprised of eight syllables, a line with sixteen syllables and each sloka is comprised of thirty-two syllables. The stotra consists of three main parts:
- A prologue as to why the stotra was imparted
- The main stotra consisting of thousand names of Vishnu
- Phala Sruti which lists the benefits of chanting the stotram
HOW TO CHANT THE SLOKA?
There are no specific rules for Vishnu Sahasranamam. The rules for reciting the sloka is as same as those of any Hindu worship:
- Clean mind (Antha Soucham),
- Clean body, clean place and clean clothes (Baahya Soucham).
As the sloka is written in a conversational style, it is advised to learn the proper pronunciation and meaning of the stotra to get the best effects. When a person understands the verses he recites, it would yield better results and help in their behaviour modification.
If one could not recite the entire stotra due to any reason, the person can say the following sloka in the stotra, which is equivalent to the entire stotra.
Sri Rama Rama Rameti, Rame Raameae Manorame
Sahasranama Tathulyam Rama Nama Varaanane
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STOTRA:
- In Hindu tradition, a devotee should daily chant the Upanishads, Gita, Rudram, Purushasukta. If one could not do, it is believed that chanting the Vishnu Sahasranama could alone give him or her benefits of chanting all the above.
- ‘Vishnu Sahasranama helps one to understand the concept of God or the philosophy of Sanatana Dharma better.
- One could find answers to many of his or her spiritual questions in the stotra.
- It is believed that reciting the stotra, brings one closer to God.
- Reciting the sloka regularly is believed to burn one’s sins and helps one attain the salvation.
- The uniqueness of the sloka is that it is chanted in front of Lord Krishna (who is an incarnation of Vishnu). Therefore, the stotra is considered high above many other slokas of Hinduism.
For the convenience of the readers, we have added a link to the Vishnu Sahasranama stotra recited by Smt. MS Subbulakshmi.