367. Dāmodaraḥ दामोदरः

Dāmodara literally means, the One who has a rope around his waist. As the story of Lord Kṛṣṇa clearly shows, when His foster-mother Yaśodā was unable to tie Him by a rope, the name dāmodara implies that the Lord can never get bound by anything.

Dama means subduing. He can be attained only if the mind is subdued. The more one thinks of Him, he becomes very close to the state of realizing Him. He should be pervading one’s mind all the time.

368. Sahaḥ सहः

Saha means extremely mighty. It also means enduring. Both these interpretations are applicable to Viṣṇu. By being mighty, He annihilates sinners. He endures sinners, only up to a point. Sinners are those who are afflicted with extensive amount of bad karmas. There cannot be a situation, where sinners are absent. This is based on the fact that everyone at some point of time thinks badly about others. Such bad thoughts transform as bad karmas and get embedded in his subtle body, which transmigrates. When the time is ripe for bad karmas to manifest, sins are committed. He has to endure sinners also, as the world is governed by law of karma.

369. Mahīdharaḥ महीधरः

Mahī means the earth and dhara means sustaining. He sustains the universe. This nāma refers to the second act of the Brahman, sustenance.

Further reading: Bhīṣma renders this Sahasranāma, lying on the bed of arrows, awaiting his death. Though, he was on the side of Kurus, he knew that Kṛṣṇa is an incarnation of Lord Viṣṇu. When Bhīṣma rendered this Sahasranāma, Kṛṣṇa was also present. Bhīṣma was in a hurry to merge with Kṛṣṇa. Since he rendered this Sahasranāma extemporaneously, at the instance of Kṛṣṇa, only the greatness of the Lord repeatedly came to his mind. Since, Bhīṣma could see for himself, the grandeur of the Lord, he repeatedly praised His greatness. His mind was totally engrossed in the form of Kṛṣṇa and refused to use his knowledge. He was in the state of bliss. All practices are needed till the time, one realizes Him. When He is realized, there is nothing more he needs to do.

370. Mahābhāgaḥ महाभागः

Mahā is derived from mahat or greatness, generally used to mean the Buddhi or great Tattva or principle. Mahā means greatness, abundance, etc. Bhāga means good fortune in this Vedic context. Therefore, mahābhāga refers to the One who is highly Fortunate. This nāma also says that Viṣṇu has a great part of any oblations or yajña-s, as He is yajña itself. Veda says, “yajño vai viṣṇuḥ”.

371. Vegavān वेगवान्

Vega means momentum and speed and vān derives from “vat”, which implies the notion of “possessed of, having, etc.”. This nāma says that He always moves with speed and momentum. This can be interpreted in several ways. He moves fast to help His devotees and grant them boons, to annihilate sinners, to offer liberation to His seeking devotees.

But, Īśa Upaniṣad (4) says, “Brahman is one without a second. It never moves, yet It goes faster than the mind. It is always ahead; the sense organs can never catch up with it.”

When elephant Gajendra was caught by an alligator, Viṣṇu rushed to offer liberation to the elephant, even ignoring His vehicle, the mystic bird Garuḍa. He moved at the highest speed possible to save the elephant and to offer him liberation. Viṣṇu is known for His compassion.

372. Amitāśanaḥ अमिताशनः

This refers to the One, who absorbs. Brahman has five acts, creation, sustenance, destruction (death), annihilation (this is also known as absorption, concealment - tirodhāna) and re-creation. The next few nāma-s discuss about these five acts.

When the Brahman annihilates the universe, He absorbs the universe unto Himself and again re-creates, out of compassion for the beings. Secondly, beings have to exist in order to experience their karmas. Law of karma is law of the Lord.

Absorption can be interpreted with relation to mind. Absorption happens in the mind when the Self is experienced. The state of absorption can be noticed when one experiences joyful, loving, happy and peaceful states, lasting from a few seconds to several minutes. The state of absorption happens only during the intent state of proper meditation when one’s consciousness becomes totally purified.

373. Udbhavaḥ उद्भवः

Repetitive nāma 790.

Udbhava means the source of origin. The source of origin of the universe is the Brahman. Lord Viṣṇu is adored here as the source of origin of the universe. Everything originates from Him, everything is sustained by Him and everything is absorbed into Him at the time of annihilation.

Kṛṣṇa confirms this in Bhagavad Gītā (X.8), “I am the source of all creation and everything in the world moves because of Me.”

374. Kṣobhaṇaḥ क्षोभणः

Kṣobhaṇa means pulsation and contextually, this can be explained as the Divine pulsation, causing creation. Without His initial pulsation that takes place within His own Self, creation is not possible. This Divine pulsation leads to Puruṣa and Prakṛti and their union leads to rest of the creation. This vibration is like a banyan seed, which gives rise to a huge banyan tree. But for the seed, the tree is not possible and but for this Divine vibration, creation is not possible.

Kashmiri Śaivaism calls this Divine pulsation or throb as spanda.

375. Devaḥ देवः

Here, Deva refers to the Brahman. It is said “devatīti Devaḥ”, which means that the One who shines and consequently reveals is known as Deva.

The interpretation that Deva here refers to the Brahman is based on the saying of Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (VI.11), “eko devaḥ” which means that He is one without a second, who is always Self effulgent and because this effulgence all other things become visible. Deva is the one who manifests in the form all beings. How is He? The Upaniṣad further says, “sarvabhūtāntarātmā” meaning the innermost of all the beings, the Soul.

376. Śrīgarbhaḥ श्रीगर्भः

He is the source of all the glories and splendor of the universe. Śrī is used to mean the splendor of the universe and garbha means the origin or cause.” (Hence, garbhodaka is the “causal” waters where Lord Viṣṇu rests as Nārāyaṇa).

377. Parameśvaraḥ परमेश्वरः

He is the Highest Reality or the Supreme Lord. Without Him being present in all the beings, there is no existence at all.

Kṛṣṇa confirms this in Bhagavad Gītā (XIII.27). He says, “Samaṁ sarveṣu bhūteṣu tiṣṭhantaṁ parameśvaram| Vinaśyatsvavinaśyantaṁ yaḥ paśyati sa paśyati || - समं सर्वेषु भूतेषु तिष्ठन्तं परमेश्वरम्। विनश्यत्स्वविनश्यन्तं यः पश्यति स पश्यति॥” meaning “He sees who sees That which is imperishable in these who are perishable (He refers specifically here to all the warriors about to fight in the battle), viz. (who sees) the Supreme Lord equally present in all the beings”

378. Karaṇam करणम्

Karaṇa means causing or means of causing. This nāma refers to antaḥkaraṇa, the inner psychic instruments comprising of mind, intellect, consciousness and ego. Antaḥkaraṇa refers to the subtle body.

By remaining in the form of mind, intellect, consciousness and ego, He controls the gross body. If He controls the inner psychic body, who controls the external body or the gross body? This question is answered in the next nāma.

379. Kāraṇam कारणम्

Kāraṇa means cause. Kāraṇa also means body. He is the cause of the body, the gross body. The previous nāma said that He is the cause of the subtle body and this nāma says that He is also the cause for the gross body.

Viṣṇu is both instrumental and material cause of creation.

380. Kartā कर्ता

Kartā (masculine gender) derives from kartṛ. That term means the one who causes actions, viz. the doer.

It also means the Creator of the universe. As a doer, He causes all actions, but does not partake in the actions. He only witnesses all the actions. He makes a singer to sing and in this context He is instrumental in making the singer to sing; but He does not partake in the act of singing. He only induces actions according to the law of karma, but never becomes part of any actions. He merely witnesses all the actions that unfold in His presence.

Kṛṣṇa explains this in Bhagavad Gītā (III.22-24): “Pārtha (Arjuna)! There is no work for me to do in all the three worlds, nor, there is anything that I have to acquire. Yet, I am engaged in discharging my duties. In case I do not perform my duties consciously, all men would follow me. In case I do not discharge my duties properly, the universe will be annihilated. Further, I become the cause for such annihilation and become the destroyer of humanity.”