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devakinanda ji

No matter how many names you call Him by, worship Him, and praise Him with hymns, they are going to fall short before the only God, who is Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent.

By Devakinanda Ji

(OṀ (AUM)-SA-HA-SRA-NAA-MA-DE'-VAAR-CHI-TA-BHOO-MYAI— NA-MA-HA


ॐ सहस्रनामदेवार्चितभूम्यै नमः

(Sahasranāmam: Hymns containing one thousand or infinite names; Devārċita: Worshipping the deities)

No matter how many names you call Him by, worship Him, and praise Him with hymns, they are going to fall short before the only God, who is Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent. The chanting of the Nama or the divine name has an important place in the disciplines prescribed by the Bhakti schools of Vedānta like those of Rāmaanuja, Madhva, and Ċaitanya. In fact, this tradition goes so far as to declare that the Nama (the name) and the naming (the one who is named, i.e., God) are identical.

This adoration of God by the divine name assumes two forms: japa and stotra. In japa, the name of God (or even a long formula) has to be silently repeated. The stotra, however, is invariably uttered aloud. It may consist of chanting verses conveying the form, glory, pastimes and attributes of God to reflect the many aspects of the divine. Sahasranāma stotrās belong to this group and are extremely popular.

The word sahasranāma literally means- thousand names of God. According to the Vedic tradition, there is only one manifesting sound (śabda) indicative of the Supreme Being (Parabrahman). This is called Praṇava or OM. Its recitation, along with pūja or ritualistic worship, is said to be an easier method to control the mind than japa and meditation. These thousand names can be used in ritualistic worship also along with offering flowers, tulasi (holy basil) or bilva (Aegle marmelos) leaves, or even kumkum (vermillion powder) with each name. Hindu tradition considers that some of the names of the sahasranāma stotrās are potent with powers and that their repetition can result in the fulfillment of one's desires.

Though a sahasranāma stotra comprises only the names of the deity, these names have been ingeniously composed as to reflect the many aspects of the divine. Just as that One Parabrahman manifests in the form of many deities, the one name OṀ, indicative of Him, also takes the shape of innumerable sound forms representing divine attributes and other excellences. A very large number of sahasranāma stotrās are now available in print.

They occur mostly in the purāṇās and are addressed to several deities of the Hindu pantheon. Of the 33 sahasranāma stotrās printed so far, only three-of Vishṇu, Shiva and Lalitha are extremely popular and constantly in use. At the end, it is the normal practice to recite the phalaśhruti or eulogy of the hymn also.

As ancient sages said 'Ekam sat, viprah bahudha vadanti' meaning- 'There is only one truth or true being, and learned persons call it by many names'. The land which worships God with a thousand names is our motherland 'Sahasranāmadevārċita Bhūmi'.


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