21. Nārasiṁhavapuḥ नारसिंहवपुः
Nārasiṁha avatar of Viṣṇu is considered as one of His important incarnations. Nara or nāra means man, siṁha means lion and Vapu means body.
A brief note on His Nārasiṁha avatar: His fourteenth Avatar is Nārasiṁha avatar, whose form is widely worshipped. In Varāha avatar, Viṣṇu killed the demon Hiranyākśā. His brother Hiraṇyakaśipu deeply grieved by the death of his brother vowed to destroy Viṣṇu. He did tapas and got a boon from Brahmā that he would not be killed by any gods, human and beasts. After having obtained this boon, he conquered Indra and reached Vaikuṇṭha. Viṣṇu made Himself into a subtle form and entered the heart of Hiraṇyakaśipu. After failing to find Nārāyaṇa, Hiraṇyakaśipu was under the impression that fearing him, Viṣṇu had run away. The demon returned to his kingdom. Prahlāda was born to him and became a great devotee of Viṣṇu. Hiraṇyakaśipu tried all means to prevent Prahlāda from being a devotee of Viṣṇu but he miserably failed. He then decided to eliminate Prahlāda, but again Hiranyakasipu failed. Deeply disconcerted with Prahlāda’s behaviour, one day Hiraṇyakaśipu asked Prahlāda ‘who supports him’? Prahlāda replied by saying that Viṣṇu is the supporter of everything including Hiraṇyakaśipu. Challenging his son, Hiraṇyakaśipu struck a huge pillar with his mighty sword. There was a noise much louder than a thunder. By ripping open the pillar there appeared a form that was neither a god nor a human nor a beast. His body looked that of a human and his face and hands resembled a lion. This was the form of Nārasiṁha. Lord Nārasiṁha put Hiraṇyakaśipu on his lap tore open his chest by roaring like a lion. His roarings rattled all the worlds. Everyone was scared to go anywhere near Nārasiṁha. But, Prahlāda prostrated before Nārasiṁha and by whose love, Lord Nārasiṁha cooled down and vanished. (Nārāyaṇīya: Canto 25) This incarnation is said to be of shortest duration. There are two Upaniṣad-s for this incarnation. They are Nṛsiṃha Pūrvathāpini Upaniṣad and Nṛsiṃha Utharathāpini Upaniṣad. Nṛsiṃha mantra beginning with ‘ugra vīram mahā viśnuṃ’ is known as mantra rājaṁ, which means the king of all mantras or the superior mantra. There are 32 akṣara-s in this mantra and each of these letters represents one god. There are specific ways of reciting this mantra rājaṁ in combination with certain other mantras which eradicates all miseries (Nṛsiṃhathapani Upaniṣad-s).
Following is the mantra rāja mantram:
ॐ ugravīraṁ mahāviṣṇuṁ jvlaṁtaṁ sarvatomukhaṁ|
nṛsiṁhaṁ bhīṣaṇaṁ bhadraṁ mṛttumṛttuṁ namāmyaham ||
ॐ उग्रवीरं महाविष्णुं ज्व्लंतं सर्वतोमुखं।
नृसिंहं भीषणं भद्रं मृत्तुमृत्तुं नमाम्यहम्॥
Note: Nārasiṁhavapuḥ means “the one whose form (vapus) is that of Narasiṁha (Nārasiṁha)”. The name of the “avatāra” is then: “Narasiṁha” (Man-lion), and not “Nārasiṁha” (lit. of or related to Narasiṁha; i.e. the “a” vowel is made long in order to show relation to “Narasiṁha”, that is, “that of Narasiṁha”).
Nṛsiṁha = Narasiṁha (they mean the same thing).
22. Śrīmān श्रीमान्
Śrī refers to the Consort of Viṣṇu, Goddess Lakṣmī, who is well known for auspiciousness. Viṣṇu holds His Consort Lakṣmī in His chest. Hence He is fondly called as Śrīmān. The form of Viṣṇu is known for auspiciousness and resplendence and His Consort Lakṣmī has the same qualities. Because He beholds Lakṣmī in His chest, He appears splendiferous.
Goddess Lakṣmī Herself says in Lakṣmī tantra (II.13), “He Hari (another name for Viṣṇu. Literal meaning - carrying) being “I” (the Self), is regarded as the self in all beings and I am the eternal “I” hood of all living beings.” This refers to Puruṣa and Prakṛti of Vedānta.
Pāñcarātra system gives grandness to Goddess Lakṣmī treating Viṣṇu as the Supreme Brahman or the static energy and the Goddess Lakṣmī as His kinetic force, to sustain the universe. It is only on the permission of Goddess Lakṣmī, one can attain the lotus feet of Viṣṇu or liberation.
23. Keśavaḥ केशवः
The One who has long and beautiful hair. Many of the incarnations of Viṣṇu have long, beautiful and flowing hair.
Keśava is made up of ka + a + īśa. Ka refers to Brahmā, a refers to Viṣṇu and īśa refers to Rudra. Therefore, Keśava means the One, who is supreme to the lords of creation, sustenance and destruction. This nāma is also said to refer to His Brahmanic status. This statement is substantiated in the following mantra:
sarva deva namaskāraḥ keśavaṁ prati gacchati ।
सर्व देव नमस्कारः केशवं प्रति गच्छति ।
This means that the obeisance paid to all gods ultimately reach Keśava. There is yet another verse in Nārāyaṇasūktam (verse 12) which says,
tasyāḥ śikhāyā madhye paramātmā vyavasthitaḥ |
sabrahma sa śivaḥ sa hariḥ sendraḥ so'kṣarḥ paramaḥ svarāṭ ||
तस्याः शिखाया मध्ये परमात्मा व्यवस्थितः।
स ब्रह्म स शिवः स हरिः सेन्द्रः सोऽक्षर्ः परमः स्वराट्॥
‘In the midst of that flame, the Brahman is seated. He is Brahmā, He is Śiva, He is Hari (Viṣṇu). He is the One without any ruler’ and this verse reconfirms His Supremacy. He is the Ultimate. Attaining His lotus feet is liberation.
24. Puruṣottamaḥ पुरुषोत्तमः
Puruṣottama means an excellent man. It can be split into Puruṣa + uttama. Puruṣa has already been discussed in nāma 14. Uttama means the highest. Therefore, Puruṣottamaḥ means the highest of puruṣa-s, the Supreme Soul or the Brahman.
Kṛṣṇa explains Puruṣottama in Bhagavad Gita (XV.18). “I am beyond the perishable matter of kṣetra, I am Superior to the imperishable soul; hence I am known as Puruṣottama.”
Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (I.10) says, ‘the Cosmic Self (Puruṣottama) controls both the phenomenal world and the individual self. If you meditate on that Cosmic Self, māyā’s cosmic hold ceases and you are liberated.”
25. Sarvaḥ सर्वः
He is everything and exists everywhere. The quality of the nirguṇa Brahman is being explained here. He is omnipresent and He is inconceivable. All that exists everywhere is nothing but His images. Everything is created by Him, sustained by His power and dissolved unto Him. This nāma affirms that this Sahasranāma teaches advaita philosophy.
Advaita is a philosophy of non-dualism. It is more to do with one’s personal experience than mundane theory. All that is not Brahman is negated and finally the One without a second is realised. For those who have realised the Self, everything else is superimposed on the Brahman.
Nārāyaṇīya (96.2) (composed approximately in 1560) says, “You are the individual self and you are the primeval matter (Prakṛti). There is no end to Your manifestations. There is nothing in the universe without you.”