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Vishnusahasranama Stotram

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This Vishnusahasranama stotra, which is the most widely known, is a garland of the thousand names of Lord Vishnu, strung in to a beautiful stotra by the legendary Rishi Veda Vyasa, acknowledged as one of the greatest exponents of the Vedic wisdome. Apart from the great epic Mahabharata, he also wrote the Brahma Sutras (he is also called Badarayana), a treatise expounding the essence of Hindu philosophy. His father is Rishi Parashara, the redoubtable astrologer-saint who laid the foundation stone for to-days Vedic astrology by systematizing our great predictive science in his famous treatise the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra. The depth of his astrological knowledge was so great that, one day while crossing a river in a boat, he casually looked at his favorite stars in heaven, and suddenly realized that it was an exceptionally auspicious moment and if a child is conceived at that moment, he will be an expert in the shastras. So he told this to the lady rowing the boat and requested her to marry him. She agreed and the son born was Veda Vyasa!

It is in this Veda Vyasa’s Mahabharata, in the shanti parva, that we will find the Vishnu Sahasranama Stotra, which Bheeshma prescribes to King Yudhisthira. The backdrop to the prescription is as follows:

Soon after the death of Duryodhana, Yudhisthira was coroneted as the king. Though the war was over, Bheeshma was still lying on the bed of arrows as he vowed to leave this world only when the kingdom of Hastinapur is safe. Knowing this, immediately after the coronation, Yudhisthira, accompanied by Lord Krishna and his brothers, went to Bheeshma. Before leaving his mortal body, Bheeshma gives a long discourse to Yudhisthira on various aspects of life and Dharma. After listening to everything, Yudhisthira wants to know if there is any one thing through which one can achieve all; and Bheeshma prescribes the Viashnusahasranama stotra. The first 13 stanzas are the dialog between Yudhisthira and Bheeshma. The next three stanzas are the customary Dhyana verses.

The Greatest Hindu philosopher of India, Adi Shankaracharya, wrote the Bhashya (word-to-word meaning) of the 1000 names of Vishnu that are there in this sahasranama stotra, in the 6th century ad. The story of writing this is also an interesting one. Actually, being a great Devi devotee he wanted to write the commentary on the Lalita sahasranama stotra and asked a deciple to bring the text. The dicple brought the Vishnu sahasranama text. Twice this mistake was repeated and then Shree Shankaracharya heard a Divine voice asking him to write the commentary on the Vishnu sahasranama.

There is one more Vishnu sahasranama stotras in the puranas, given to Narada by Lord. Shiva (Also known as Sri Narada pancharatragamoktam) but somehow it is not popular.

There is also a Vishnu sahasranama in the famous Sikh scripture Sundar Gutka, written
by Guru Arjun Devji, one of the main Sikh Gurus. It is known as “Sahasaranama”.
I have put an authentic photocopy of this in this site as
Vishnu shasranama in Sikhism
pages 465 to 471 of Sundar Gutka put together.

Click to read the Devanagiri version

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