283. Amṛtāmśūdbhavāḥ अमृताम्शूद्भवाः

Amṛtāṃśu means the moon and udbhava means origin. This nāma says that He is the cause for the origin of the moon. It is said that moon is the first one that has appeared while churning the ocean of milk.

He is the creator of the moon is the gross meaning. He creates moon like any other creation. Moon is said to be the mother of earth and nourishes the earth like her child. Moon represents innumerable things such as mind, herbs, love, etc. Moon always represents finer things of life.

By saying that He is the creator of the moon, this nāma conveys that He is the cause for finer things of life.

284. Bhānuḥ भानुः

Brahman alone is Self illuminating. Everything else can shine, only if the Brahman shines. Since this nāma comes immediately after talking about the creation of the moon, it can also be said that He is the cause for providing illumination to the luminaries, including the moon.

Bhānu also refers to the sun. Even the sun gets its illumination only from the Self illuminating Self. Brahman reveals Himself only through His own lustre, says Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (IV.iv.9). Kaṭha Upaniṣad (II.ii.15) also endorses this view. The materialistic world is visible only because of His illumination.

285. Śaśabinduḥ शशबिन्दुः

Śaśabindu refers to the black area of the moon appearing like a rabbit, which is visible from earth. This is an indirect reference to the moon again.

Different of energies of the Brahman are projected as different gods and are worshipped. Though all the energies are important, nāma-s 281 to 285 worship His Self illumining aspect. Brahman cannot be realised through any other means except by His effulgence. His Self effulgence is the cause for all His energies. For example, sun is worshipped as the light energy. The sun does not have its own light and it derives its light from the Brahman and the moon derives its light from the sun. Sun represents Ātman and moon represents the mind. Ātman (Brahman) can be realised only through the mind. Sun does not change and there is no waxing and waning period for the sun whereas the moon has waxing and waning period. This analogy can be compared the state of the Brahman, who never undergoes any modifications. Since sun is known to us, sun is drawn as example to explain the Brahman. But the moon undergoes waxing and waning. Moon is like the mind, which undergoes frequent changes. Unless the mind becomes firm like the sun, realisation is not possible. This is the subtle conveyance of these nāma-s.

286. Sureśvaraḥ सुरेश्वरः

Sureśvara means the Lord of all gods and goddesses. This has been explained in the previous nāma.

287. Auṣadham औषधम्

Auṣadha means herbal medicines. It is interesting to observe the placement of this nāma here after discussing about the power of the moon to nourish herbs. Herbs can be effective only if they are properly grown and gathered. Before plucking the herbs there are certain rituals. The herbs give the necessary potency only if they are plucked on certain specific days with specific constellations.

This nāma says that He is the cure for worldly afflictions. The nāma subtly conveys that the Brahman can be realized only if all mental afflictions such desire and attachment are totally eradicated. The sole purpose of realizing the Brahman is to get away from the miseries of saṃsāra or transmigration. He is the medicine for the decease of saṃsāra. Saṃsāra is described as decease, because it gives mainly miseries.

288. Jagataḥ Setuḥ जगतः सेतुः

Jagat means all the moving species and in particular the humanity. Liberation from saṃsāra is possible only during human birth, as the Brahman can be realized only through the mind. Setu means binding. He binds the humanity by boundaries. In other words, the limited self is the man and the Unlimited Self is the Brahman. He alone makes the illusionary boundaries through is power of concealment and projection called māyā. Unless one crosses these boundaries, the infinite Brahman cannot be realized. The bridge between Him and māyā can be crossed only by total surrender unto Him.

Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (VI.9) says that the Brahman is the best bridge to immortality. Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad (II.ii.v) explains this in detail. “On this Self is resting everything – the heaven, the earth and space between the heaven and the earth (possibly referring to the cosmic bridge)….Knowledge of this Self is the bridge to immortality….”

Many Upaniṣad-s adore Him as the bridge, which the wise utilize to cross the sea of saṃsāra. Unless this bridge is crossed, He cannot be fully realized. This is discussed in the next nāma.

289. Satya-dharma-parākramaḥ सत्य-धर्म-पराक्रमः

Why He is said to be the Supreme? He is an embodiment of truth, dharma and strength. The entire universe is upheld by Him through His different attributes also known as energies, as discussed earlier. When He is the embodiment of all the qualities that prevail in the universe, only three of these attributes are referred here. In different places different attributes are highlighted. For example, Taittirīya Upaniṣad (II.i.1) says, “satyaṁ jñānaṁ anantaṁ brahma सत्यं ज्ञानं अनन्तं ब्रह्म”. This means that Brahman is the embodiment of Truth, knowledge and instead of mentioning His different attributes, the Upaniṣad had chosen the word anantaṁ, which means everything else or infinite.

Viṣṇu Sahasranāma was authored and rendered by Bhīṣma while he was on his death bed. Bhīṣma was a great scholar. He knows the omnipresent nature of the Brahman. He is in a hurry to merge with Viṣṇu. He also knows that Brahman is beyond all attributes. But he was waiting to initiate Yudhiṣṭhira, his main opponent. Whatever attributes Bhīṣma considered as important have been referred in this nāma and elsewhere in this Sahasranāma. Bhīṣma was overwhelmed with bliss, as prelude to his merger with Him. His entire consciousness was fixed on the Lord and whatever little he could recollect at that time about the qualities of the Brahman, he had chosen to mention them here. Viṣṇu Sahasranāma is the result of Bhīṣma’s personal experience.