Updated on: Saturday, January 15, 2022, 01:42 AM IST

Guiding Light: Vishnu Sahasranama —The nectar of devotion


As the grandsire Bheeshma fell on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, he lay on the bed of arrows that were shot through him. Having been granted a boon by his father, which allowed him to leave his mortal body at a time of his choosing, he chose to wait 58 days, for the Sun to begin his northerly transit, or Uttarayan. It is said that passing over in the auspicious part of the year makes it easier for the soul to attain moksha or liberation.

Yudhishtra, meanwhile, was troubled with a number of questions concerning dharma and karma. Realising his anxiety, Sri Krishna advised him to approach Bheeshma, and request him to share the wisdom and knowledge which he had accumulated through his glorious life, and besides he was also one of the divine Vasu’s. What follows is a dialogue which benefits all of humanity to this day, documented by Sri Vyasdev in the concluding parts of the Mahabharata.

After answering his questions, Bheeshma advises Yudishtra to listen intently as he recites the thousand names of the Lord Vishnu, who is the supreme all pervading truth. It is then that the Vishnu Sahasranama, or the thousand names of Vishnu are revealed. Till today, you find the 108 verses playing in most Sanatani households. It is extremely auspicious to recite the Sahasranama, and even if one is not conversant with Sanskrit, it is extremely auspicious to listen to the recitation.

Chanting, or even listening to the Sahasranama also confers a number of benefits, including giving you a sense of calm, good health and improved focus, especially if you suffer from anxiety. Whilst one can do this everyday, after having a bath, and preferably donning yellow, it is especially beneficial on Ekadasi days, which are very dear to Lord Vishnu.

That Bheeshma chose to depart as Uttarayan started, underlines the spiritual significance of this period. It is of course great to participate in the regional celebrations, be they the exchange of sesame sweets, kite flying or lighting a fire, it is however equally important to grasp the spiritual significance of this event. It is a great time to clear out and release things, both material and otherwise, that no longer serve us, and make a start or deepen one’s spiritual practices.

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Published on: Saturday, January 15, 2022, 07:00 AM IST