Nirguṇā निर्गुणा (139)

She is unconditioned with guṇa-s.  Guṇa is of three types sattva, rajas and tamas.  These guṇa-s are responsible for the formation of gross body and originate from prakṛtī (the source of objectivity) which is also known as māyā.  Since She does not have a gross body, She is called nirguṇa.  The Brahman alone is without guṇa-s, as Brahman does not have a gross form.  Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (VI.11) says ‘ekah devaḥ’ God is one without a second.  Though devaḥ also means luminous, here it  means only the Brahman as Brahman alone is self illuminating.  After identifying the Brahman, the Upaniṣad talks about the qualities of the Brahman.  It says ‘without attributes and unconditioned’.  All these confirm Her as the Brahman. 

[Further reading on guṇa-sGuṇa can be interpreted as constituent qualities. There are three kinds of guṇa -s.  They are sattva, rajas and tamasSattva guṇa means quality of purity and knowledge.  Rajo guṇa means activity and passion.  Tamo guṇa means inertia and ignorance.  The Brahman is the embodiment of sattva guṇa, whereas the empirical souls are associated with more of other two guṇa-sPrakṛtī is the primordial, unmanifested, and the most subtle metaphysical principle that has the potentiality to manifest into an enormous empirical universe. In the process of creation, the universe remains in a potential state within prakṛtī, so long as the three guṇa-s remain undisturbed. When the equilibrium of the guṇa-s is disturbed, prakṛtī begins to unfold Her metaphysical categories causing the process of creation.]

Niṣkalā निष्कला (140)

She is without bodily parts.  This nāma is an extension of the previous one.  Because of being nirguṇa, She is niṣkalāKalā means parts.  Brahman has no parts in literal sense.

 Kṛṣṇa gives more clarity on these two nāma-s.  He says “the living entities in this conditioned world are my eternal fragmental parts.  Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with six senses that include mind” (Bhagavad Gīta X).

This is beautifully explained in Vijñāna Bhairava (verse 146) thus: “Unswerving buddhi (intellect) without any image or support constitutes meditation.  Concentration on an imaginative representation of the divine with bodily parts is not meditation.”  This is possible only with knowledge.

Brahma Sūtra also says (II.iii.43) “The individual souls are parts of the Brahman because of the mention that they are different.”  The individual is a part only apparently, for the part-less Brahman can have no part in literal sense.

Thus it is amply made clear that the Brahman is without form and meditation with form is not a meditation on the Brahman.  Chādogya Upaniṣad (VIII.vii.1) further explains the Brahman as “free from sin, old age, death, sorrow, hunger and thirst.  It is the cause of desire for truth and commitment to Truth.  This Self has to be sought for and thoroughly known.”

Śantā शन्ता (141)

The absence of negation is to be noticed in this nāma.   Prefix niṣ or nir means negation of the quality mentioned in that nāma.   For Example kalā means parts and niṣ-kalā means without parts.  This nāma means that She is calm and tranquil. 

The saying of Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad VI.19 referred in nāma 133 is also applicable to this nāma. All these qualities of the Brahman are cited by Vāc Devi-s in this Sahasranāma.  One more quality of the Brahman, the tranquillity is described here.  Please remember that we are now discussing the qualities of nirguṇa Brahman (the Brahman without form and attributes).  To make us understand nirguṇa Brahman better, certain qualities are negated and certain other qualities are affirmed in Upaniṣads as well as in this Sahasranāma.

When one is bound by the clutches of bondage, there cannot be any tranquillity.  Tranquillity is considered as an essential quality for self-realization.

Niṣkāmā निष्कामा (142)

She is without desire.  This is the reason for the previous nāma.  When one has desires, he cannot have tranquil mind. There is no question for any desire for nirguṇa Brahman, the Absolute.  Brahman cannot have any desires and this has been confirmed in earlier nāma-s.  These nāma-s are in line with Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (II.iii.6) which says ‘neti neti’ meaning not this, not this.  The Upaniṣad is zeroing on the Brahman by negating many known qualities.  Finally this verse says ‘satyasya satya meaning “The Truth of truth”.  It has identified truth as one of the qualities of the Brahman. The same Upaniṣad further elucidates the Brahman (V.i). “That (the Brahman) is infinite and this (universe) is infinite.  The infinite proceeds from infinite.  Then, taking the infinitude of the infinite (universe), it remains as the infinite (the Brahman) alone.”  The original verse goes like this:

पूर्णमदः पूण्नमिदम् पूर्णात्पूर्णमुदच्यते।पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते॥

Pūrṇamadaḥ pūṇnamidam pūrṇātpūrṇamudacyate|
Pūrṇasya pūrṇamādāya pūrṇamevāvaśiṣyate||

This nāma is in confirmation of Her Brahmanic status. During the course of this Sahasranāma, one can find a number of such affirmations.