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  Sahasranama Archana - 1008 Names

Lovingly compiled by Reet Priiman

Light and Love to all

       Below is Swami´s explanation concern to 1008 Names of God.

     The hridaya chakra has eight petals. God is the Lord of the eight-petaled hridaya chakra. These eight petals are regarded as eight consorts of the Lord. In this context, the Lord is adored in the form of the Sun. The world cannot survive without the Sun. The solar system is derived from the Sun. Hence, the Sun is worshipped as Divine...

      The ancient sages adored the eight petaled divine centre in the heart and thereby reached the sahasraara chakra and enjoyed supreme bliss.

     The sahasraara chakra has a thousand petals. Each petal carries sixteen phases (kalas). Thus the sahasraara chakra is said to represent 16,000 cowherd maidens (gopikas), while the eight petals of the hridaya chakra are adored as the eight consorts of Krishna....

    The ancient sages reached the thousand petaled Sahasrara through the adoration of the Lord in the eight-petaled lotus of the heart. They used all their God-given intelligence for this spiritual goal. ...The sages considered cultivation of virtues, good qualities, and righteous conduct as true education.

      What do the eight petals of the heart represent? They are: love (prema), truth (sathyam), forbearance (sahanam), sacrifice (thyaga), compassion (daya), beauty (sundaram), bliss (aanandha) and peace (saanthi). To realize the bliss of the Divine, all the other qualities have to be fostered. God is the embodiment of all these eight attributes. Sacrifice is the most important of them.  (Sathya Sai Baba Divine Discourse: "Promotion of Unity: Students' Duty" 14 Jan 1998. Prasanthi Nilayam).


       Motto: "Love is the most powerful thing in the world... All the yogas are included in the path of love, and whoever attains this love, attains God" - Sathya Sai Baba. ''It is the power that moves the sun and other stars," declared  Dante.

       More deeply to acknowledge the  essence of Swami`s Teachings and Vedic wisdom (to which more and more will become closer the modern science) to the person from the North is necessary to work. Stimulus is here some internal pulse which appears it is not known whence and does not quieten, while a following excerpt has done.

      One of the topic of interest is 108, 1008 names of gods and closely connected with them mantras. There is done a compilation from books, Swami`s works, sites  entwined with own thoughts. But the different sources explain the same phenomenon in various ways and it is possible to be mistaken if to everything to trust. Having taken for a basis Swami`s explanations with addition of thoughts which base on references, the present contribution has made.

      I`m thankful to all, who find the time to discuss on these theme and to show my possible mistakes or misunderstandings. It seems that this problem is significant, because mantras, names of gods are carrying the energy not only by Vedic knowledge but by modern science too. That is why Swami so often repeats the significance of bhajans, chanting the names of gods. Among the various spiritual activity chanting the Divine Name is the basis of all others.

      It may not be possible for you to undertake rigorous spiritual practises like meditation, penance, Yoga, etc. It is enough if you chant the Divine Name. Do not undertake practises which you do not understand. Take to the simplest path, i.e., Namasmarana. In Krita Yuga, meditation was prescribed as the means to liberation. In Treta Yuga it was Yajna. In Dwapara Yuga, people performed  Archana (worship), and in this Kali Age, Namasmarana is the  prescribed path to liberation."In this Kali Age, chanting of the Lord's Name alone can grant you liberation. There is no greater path than this."(sanskrit  sloka) So,sing His glory and cross this ocean of worldly life. Namasmarana is the basis of all spiritual practises. ( Sanathana  Sarathi - March 2002 page 87).


      Nama-Sankirtan means the adoration of God, calling upon Him by various Names, each describing His glory. His achievements, His relationship with the individual. The Names are many. or even countless. It is so in all languages. We have many groups of thousand and eight Names, which can be used for God, as the Vedas declare, has a 'thousand heads', a thousand eyes. and a thousand feet. Devotees can adore Him and derive bliss through that adoration, filling each Name with the meaning and significance it carries. ( Sathya Sai Baba. SSS. Vol. 10. pp. 68 - 69). 

     When the Puja (worship) with 108 or 1008 names is progressing, do not be satisfied when the sound falls on the ear. Try to grasp the meaning too, so that you can ruminate over the glory which each name denotes.  ( Sathya Sai Baba. SSS. Vol. 7. p. 287).

      When the Name is pronounced...it draws the aspirant toward God and His grace, whatever may be the Bhaava (emotion), whether the Leela (sports) or Guna (attributes) is associated with the Sam-Kirtana or not. The Name (of God) has a strength, a power, a capacity to redeem, cure and save, alone and unaided, they aver. (Sathya Sai Baba, SSS. Vol. 6. p. 219).

     Hinduism is as Sanathana Dharma, the eternal faith, the style of life full of responsibility before the Nature and creatures in it. There are large number  of gods, deities  in Hinduism.

    Hinduism has no compulsions - all ways lead to One God, Who has many (infinite) number of names, reflections in the form of deities, gods. Hinduism is the best base for Swami`s Teaching about unity of religions in the earth. (Hinduism was jet a basis for  world religions - Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Bahaism).

    Vedanta (the basis of Hinduism) declares that the 'impersonal' God, universal soul, is Brahman, the Absolute Truth. Brahman is the creator, the maintainer, and the destroyer all in one. (This can be viewed as Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, respectively). Vedanta states that the individual human soul (jiva-atman) originates and merges with the Brahman. This philosophy expound on the cosmic attributes of the Divine and near to the special streams of modern science or vice versa.

     By Vedanta the world hasn`t been created as a stable formation. All are in moving and has cyclic nature. The position of modern science is also near to this. As a cat of Schredinger * the world exists and does not exist: it is as a relative reality for humans.

      Besides the philosophical scriptures, there are stotra-s and bhajans (devotional songs and hymns).  Among the large number of stotras, Sahasranamams - 1008 names of each deity - Sahasranama Archana -is a form of archarana or worship offered to the deity with a recital of 1008 names. The more worshipped great Hindu gods from Vedic history are Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Preserver) , Shiva (Destroyer). The Brahmans (Dwaitham, Adwaitham, Vishishtaathvaitham - a groups within Brahmans) worship Sri Krishna who is known through His 1008 names. Shiva, Lord Ganesha, Goddess Lalita  Shri Krishna, Shri Sathya Sai Baba, etc. is known through their 1008 names. (About Swami`s 1008 names was one of the previous e-letter).

     Lord Shiva - as a God`s  Absolute`s aspect of transformation - is responsible for creation, regeneration and destruction. He  is also known as Rudra. The last is said to be derived from rud (dravayita) -  he who drives away suffering, sin. Eight properties of nature are as manifestations of Rudra -  Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space, The Sun, The Moon and the Life Force. (Shiva`s one name is Neelkantha, the blue-throated. To save the world Shiva drank poison what is stayed in His/Her throat).

      Sahasranama Archana worship dedicated to the different Gods is widely used in sacred buildings, places, homes individually every day or during different holy festivals. Swami in His Discourses (see above) has indicated  to the significance of this Puja as a way to have mental connection with Divine. In different places in India this Puja has been performed with different names which hidden behind them the legends of Gods, their protection of good against evil.

      Below are some short different examples of history of Sahasranama Archana worship. The references with short keywords are below the e-letter. 

       A. Mother Ganga has 1008 names, she is the river that flows in heaven, on the earth, under the earth.  It flowed from Shiva's hair and across the earth - from the Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south. On the way from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, Ganga saw the beautiful, shining city of Varanasi. So beautiful was Varanasi that Ganga simply would not flow onward. The King had to lure Ganga into flowing down to the underworld. The bend in Ganga there at Varanasi looks like a half moon. That is where all the people and all the gods bathe and rinse themselves....

      B. Festival of Navaratri is known as Durga Puja in Bengal. After these nine days comes the Dashami, the tenth day, which is the day of the famous festival of Dussehra or Vijaya Dashami ( the tenth day of victory ). This is the day Lord Rama had killed Ravana, signifying the victory of good over evil. Navratri, is celebrated as the festival of nine nights, and is celebrated differently in different parts of India. Swami has dedicated many discourses to this festival.

    The total period of worship lasts for nine days out of which the first three are dedicated to Durga ( the Goddess of Valour ), the next three to Lakshmi ( the Goddess of Wealth ) and the last three to Saraswati ( the Goddess of Knowledge ). Durga has 1008 names or epithets but is worshipped in her nine forms which are sometimes interchangeable since basically they represent only her.

      In Tamil Nadu, the first three days of the festival are dedicated to Lakshmi, Goddess of Beauty and Prosperity; the next three days to Durga, Goddess of Righteousness, and the last three days to Saraswati, Goddess of Music and Learning. These goddesses are the consorts of Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma respectively.

       C. Sri Venkateswara Swami, or Tirupati Balaji, is the presiding deity of theTirumala temple. (Vem-kata means one who can remove away one's sins). It is believed that attachment to the deity's image detaches the devotee from samsara, this world, and enables him to realise the supreme being as Narayana. The same result is when one to be connected with divine sanction for Archa worship. The earlier yugas or eras, offered a tough yogic path of penance, mental concentration and meditation. Archa is to enable all in Kaliyuga, the present era of darkness.

        D. The Vishnu Sahasranamam is one of the most beloved texts of India and provides a rare glimpse at the glory of the universal spirit in the form of the "Thousand Names of the Lord". The word "Sahasra" in Sanskrit means a "thousand" (the thousand names of Vishnu).

       The history behind Vishnu Sahasranamam is fascinating and unique. Grandsire Bhisma was on his deathbed in the famous battlefield of Kurukshetra. He had a boon that enabled him to choose the time of his death. As he was waiting for an auspicious time, his nephews who were gathered round him were asking him questions and drinking at the fountain of his wisdom. Particularly persistent was Yudhistirar or the eldest of the Pandava brothers. He asks Bhisma 6 questions and in providing an answer to these questions, Bhisma imparts the knowledge of the purest of the pure mantras to the world in the form of the 108 verses of the Vishnu Sahasranamam. Initially, Bhisma exhausted from the battle, requests Lord Krishna to answer Yudhistira's questions. Lord Krishna declines saying that Bhisma would be the appropriate one to do so and future generations would revere him for providing such a powerful hymn to the world. "All glory and fame will go to you, O Bhisma and future generations will thank you for this service" says Lord Krishna. And so in the presence of Universal Intelligence represented by Lord Krishna, Bhisma extols the 1008 names of the Lord and provides us with a manuscript for attaining peace, prosperity and happiness. To this day, on Bhisma Ekasdeshi day, the Sahasranamam is chanted all over the world.

        E. The divine creation of Lord Subrahmanya, also known as Skanda (or Kanda, in Tamil), Karthikeya or Murugan, to alleviate the sufferings of the Devas is believed to have occurred on Vaikasi Visakam. Every year, Vaikasi Visakam is observed as the birthday of Lord Subrahmanya, during the Tamil month of Vaikasi (Mid May - mid June). In homes, Vaikasi Visakam is celebrated with a special puja - Sahasranama Archana -1008 names to Lord Murugan and Sarkarai Pongal is offered as Neivedyam. Kanda Sashti Kavacham, Subrahmanya Bhujangam and Shanmukha Kavacham are some of the religious verses that are read with all devotion in some homes. It is the firm belief of devout Tamilians that these Kavachams are real a armour to protect us from the evil spirits. Shortly by R. Bharathi.

     What say science about Sahasranama Archana?

      As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. -  Albert Einstein.

        * `Exist and does not exist` - such state in the modern physics is pictorially called "cat of Schredinger".  

References:  Bansi Pandit. The Hindu Mind. Glen Ellyn, Illinois: B & V Enterprise. 1991. The Compact Guide to World Religions by Dean C Halverson.
       http://www.vaishnodevitempleoakville.com/Hinduism/body_hinduism.html  (about classifications, subject matters and philosophy of Vedas, differences between  various philosophical streams. Hinduism - as a style of life, a path of Dharma).

http://home.eunet.no/~wsether/shining.htm (a nice story for children about Ganga and its 1008 names).
       http://www.chennaionline.com/festivalsnreligion/Festivals/divine.asp  (article R.Bharathi).

http://members.fortunecity.com/jayantr/ (a beautiful site about Vishnu Sahasranamam and Bhisma, who extols the 1008 names of Lord).
 
Namaste - Reet

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