Beach 1: The First Prostration

Wave 2: Names ad infinitum for the nameless

Drop 8: Each name a scriptural epitome : DROPLET 1 DROPLET 2 DROPLET 3 DROPLET 4

201: subrahmaNya 1202: Idol worship 1203: One truth - Many Expressions 1204: Glory of the Lord's name 1205: sahasranAmas 1206: Power of words 1207: Capsules of Divinity 1208: Scriptural epitomes1209: AUM or OM 1210: rAma 1211: kRSNa 1212: nArAyaNa

He is vAsu-devaH. vAsu-deva is one of the more important names of the Lord. It has very special significance. 'After several lives, the wise man reaches Me', says the Lord. 'Very rare indeed is the great soul who understands that vAsu-deva is all there is'. (gItA: 7 - 19)

bahUnAm janmanAm ante jnAnavAn mAm prapadyate / vAsudevas-sarvam iti sa mahAtmA sudurlabhaH.//

The root vas means to dwell, to cover, to be the source of. The root div from which the word 'deva' is derived means to play, to conquer, to create, to shine, to be worshipped, to be the lord of. Thus there are several meanings for vAsudeva. He who dwells in or covers everything. cf. The first line of Isopanishad: ISAvAsyamidam sarvam : This entire universe is clothed, covered or inhabited by the Lord, the Ruler, the Creator. His very dwelling in the hearts of men is His sport. He covers everything by His mAyA.He is the source of eerything. He is the source of all divinities. He is sought after by all seekers of moksha. Just as birds protect their little ones in the nests by covering them with their wings, the Lord resides in our hearts and protects us by His Grace. More than that the entire universe is in the stomach of His cosmic Form. In Him reside the universe with all the divines, human beings, birds, animals, reptiles, divine musicians, asuras: (cf. Prayer sloka in the preliminaries to the vishnu sahasra-nAma):

antah-stham yasya viSvam sura-nara-khaga-go-bhogi-gandharva-daityaih

The fact that the entire universe so resides is dramatically brought forward in the mythological story of the great compassion of Lord Siva who placed the dreadful poison, that emanated from the churning of the Milk-ocean, in His mouth, still did not swallow it but only kept it stifled in the throat, so as not to injure the universe of all beings residing in His cosmic stomach: (SivAnanda-lahari, 31)

nAlam vA paramopakArakam-idam tvekam paSUnAm pate paSyan kukshigatAnS-carAcara-gaNAn bAhyasthitAn rakshitum / sarvAmartya palAyan-aushadham-atijvAlAkaram bhIkaram nikshiptam garaLam gale na gilitam nodgIrNam-eva tvayA //

He is cchinna-samSayaH; He has no doubts of any kind, but more, He removes all our doubts by His very Graceful look. That is why it is said: What a wonderfulful scene under the banyan tree! The disciples are old, the guru is young; the guru is silent; but the silence itself is eloquent; and the disciples are rid of all their doubts!'

citram vaTa taror-mUle vRddhAs-sishyA gurur-yuvA / gurostu maunam vyAkhyAnam sishyAstu cchinnasamSayAh //

The Mundaka-upanishad says in 2 - 2 - 8:When that Self, which is both the high and the low, is realized, the knot of the heart gets untied, all doubts become solved and all one's actions become dissipated:

bhidyate hRdaya-granthiH chidyante sarva-samSayAh / kshIyante cAsya karmANi tasmin dRshTe parAvare //

He is the karaNam, instrument or the means of action; as well as the kAraNam, the cause of action; that is, He is the most extraordinary cause for the origination of the universe; He is also the kartA, the agent of every action, the free master. The Lord is all three. When we say that He is the Cause, we mean that He is both the material (= upAdAna-kAraNa) and the efficient cause (nimitta-kAraNa) - this is also referred to as the instrumental cause. When a potter makes a pot out of clay, the clay is the material cause and the potter is the efficient cause. As far as creation of the universe is concerned, that God is the efficient cause, that He is the Agent of Action, all religions agree. But Hindu philosophy, at least the advaita and viSishTAdvaita schools of philosophy, maintain that He is also the material cause. In other words He made the world out of Himself. That is why, the universe, viSvam -- the first name in VishNu sahasra-nAma - is also one of His names. In fact there are two more names in vishNu-sahasra-nAma itself which clinch the issue. Atma-yoniH svayam-jAtaH: The first one means that everything was born out of Himself, so He is the material cause of the universe. The second one means that He brought forth the universe at His own prodding, not due to any other agency and so He is also the efficient cause of creation.

He is ekAtmA, the atmA which is one and one only. Recall the Upanishadic passage: In the beginning this was but the Absolute Self alone, There was nothing else whatsoever than winked.-( aitareya-upanishad I - 1 - 1):

AtmA vA idam eka eva agra AsIt / nAnyat kimcana mishat /

Also SvetASvataropanishad: 6 -11: It is the single Divinity that resides hidden in all beings.

eko devas-sarva-bhUteshu gUdhash /


The name AtmA occurs in the LalitA-sahasranAma. The simple meaning that it is the individual soul does not do full justice to it. Certainly it is the parA-Sakti of the Absolute that has sparked within this body that makes it tick. gItA 7- 5:

jIva-bhUtAm mahaAbAho yayedam dhAryate jagat /

The word itself is pregnant with meaning: Living in this body and known as the individual soul, it 'reaches' ( = Apnoti) the sensed objects, it 'possesses' them (= Adatte), it 'experiences' them (=atti), and finally it 'exists' (asti) in some form or other.

yaccApnoti yadAdatte yaccAtti vishayAniha /

yaccAsya santato bhAvah tasmAdAtmeti gIyate //

nishkriyA: (This is a name from lalitA sahasra-nAma). She is devoid of all Action. An individual is born in accordance with his previous karma. In order that he may not accrue further karma which may land him in further rounds of birth and death, the scriptures prescribe various do's and don'ts. But man ignores these commands and goes his own way. He gets into the vortex of samsAra more deeply -- all because of Ignorance of his true nature and of the purpose for which He was brought into existence. Thus a soul which is bound by samsAra is involved in the Actions of the world. But not so the supreme Self. It has no bondage and no Action involvement. But now the question arises. We are also told that it is the Divine Self which is in us that prods us on to think, work and act. Is this not an action on the part of the Motherr Goddess? No. She is not 'making' us act and work. We act in Her presence. Under the street lamp, a transaction takes place. Without the presence of the street lamp that transaction will not take place. But the street lamp has no responsibility for the Action. You cannot ascribe the action to the street lamp. In the presence of electricity the electric fan rotates. In the absence of electricity the fan will not rotate. For that reason we have ascribed the action of rotation to the electric current. Light has no responsibility for the knowledge of things present in the room. But by the presence of Light we get the knowledge of the things present. Light does not do any work to bring us the knowledge of the contents of the room. A sweet smell pervades the atmosphere. Our mind is excited about it. But the sweet perfume has not done any action. That is why the vishNu sahasra-nAma also includes the name: sAkshI, witness. He is only the witness. In His presence things move, vibrate, mind thinks, action takes place.

More names in DROPLET 3

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May 1, '99 Copyright V. Krishnamurthy