581. Śamaḥ शमः

Śama means tranquility of the mind. Unless the mind is completely tranquil during intent stages of meditation, realization of the Self is not possible. Providing such a mind to sages and saints happens due to His Grace. In spiritual realization, His Grace is the most important factor. If His Grace is there, rest happens automatically out of fear for Him, as Brahman is all potent.

This nāma specifically talks about sages and saints and not about the aspirants. Aspirants have to cross several stages before they can long His Grace. These stages are categorised as sādhana, the practice of spiritual discipline. Without spiritual practice, realization of the Self is not possible. Therefore, His Grace is available to those who have gone through the practice of tough of spiritual discipline. When they have mastered sādhana, realization happens to them automatically, as His Grace and sādhana make them perfect. They are called sages and saints. Sages and saints are not recognised and respected by their attire, but by the knowledge of the Self.

582. Śāntaḥ शान्तः

Śānta means peace or tranquil. The previous nāma said that He causes tranquillity of the mind of sages and saints. This nāma says, how He causes tranquillity. The phenomenon of the Brahman is difficult to understand, hence there are many Scriptures that explain Him in different ways. Many of the realized sages and saints have explained sādhana in the way, they have realized Him. It is not necessary that all the aspirants have to reach the Goal in a specific way. There are different options available. For example, to reach a particular place, there could be many routes, many transport, etc. The choice is to be made by the aspirant’s Guru. That is why all these Scriptures underline the importance of Guru.

Brahman is an embodiment of every aspect of life in the universe, as everything originates from Him and tranquillity is one of such embodiments. What one has, can be given to others; and what one does not have, cannot be given to others. Based on this principle, Lord Viṣṇu gives tranquility to saints and sages as He is an embodiment of tranquility. 

Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (VI.19) lists out the qualities of the Brahman:

niṣkalṁ niṣkriyaṁ śantaṁ niravadyaṁ nirañjanam|
amṛtasya paraṁ setuṁ dagdhendhanamivānalam||

निष्कल्ं निष्क्रियं शन्तं निरवद्यं निरञ्जनम्।
अमृतस्य परं सेतुं दग्धेन्धनमिवानलम्॥

niṣkalṁ - no form; niṣkriyaṁ - no action; śantaṁ (the present nāma) – no attachment or hatred leading to tranquillity; niravadyaṁ - above reproach; amṛtasya – liberation; paraṁ - higher; setum – bridge; dagdhendhanam analam – smokeless fire; iva – like.

{He has no form, no action, no attachment or hatred. He is above reproach and has no blemish. He is the best bridge to immortality. He is bright as a smokeless fire. (This is why I seek refuge in Him)}

This clearly explains that tranquility of the mind is not that easy to attain. One has to understand this Reality.

583. Niṣṭhā निष्ठा

Niṣṭhā means the end point and contextually it refers to annihilation caused by deluge.

But this nāma can be explained in conjunction with the previous two nāma-s. Brahman is known as macrocosmic (omnipotence) form and an individual being is known as microcosmic (miniature or reflection of macrocosm) forms. The Self performs five acts – creation, sustenance, death, concealment and grace (pañcakṛtya-s). These five acts happen, both in macrocosm and in microcosm. At the macrocosmic level, everything is explained in gross form. This refers to the creation of the universe, sustenance of the universe, death or destruction of various objects in the universe in order to maintain the balance in the universe, annihilation of the universe where nothing is left and recreation of the universe, when out of compassion, He recreates beings.

At the microcosmic level or at the level of an individual, who forms a tiny part of macrocosm, the same five acts happen internally in the mind of the aspirant, leading to his final liberation. Here the fifth act, Grace is referred. When an aspirant becomes perfect, His Grace is showered on Him, paving way for his liberation. Therefore, niṣṭhā means the penultimate state of individual liberation, where the aspirant totally surrenders unto Him. If one surrenders to Him, the next state is His Grace. Grace is not easy to attain and one has to attain perfection in the previous four states. These four states may also refer to the four states of consciousness viz. active state, dream state, deep sleep state, turya state and the fifth one being turyātīta. The last state is where one does not perceive differences and the whole universe appears to him as the Self.

584. Śāntiḥ शान्तिः

Śāntaḥ (nāma 582) and Śānti (the present nāma) both mean the tranquility of mental state. Mental peace can be attained in two ways. One is by extreme devotion and another is through study of Scriptures, which removes spiritual ignorance leading to enlightenment. For both, His Grace is prerequisite. This nāma refers to the removal of spiritual ignorance, also known as removal of avidya.

585. Parāyaṇam परायणम्

Parāyaṇa means point of no return, the cessation of transmigration. When one attains perfection in spiritual practice, his level of consciousness gets purified with the intensity of practice. The Purest form of Consciousness is the Brahman. It is difficult for such a person to get back to worldly affairs after enjoying the state of Bliss.

Kṛṣṇa explains this in Bhagavad Gītā (XV.4), “Thereafter a man should diligently seek for that Supreme State, Brahman, having attained to which they return no more to this world…”

Further reading: These last few nāma-s are to be understood in the right perspective. The foremost thing in spirituality is His Grace. One begins to make spiritual progress only after He showers His Grace. From this point onwards, the aspirant makes spiritual ascension by resorting to tough sādhana. A few hours of meditation, reading a few pages of Scriptures and attending a few spiritual discourses do not tantamount to sādhana. Sādhana is to be practiced under the guidance of a learned and realized Guru. The concept of Guru is often overlooked. Guru here does not refer to the normal gurus who often initiate mantras, rituals, etc to an aspirant. Guru means the One, who can kindle the burning spiritual fire in the body of the aspirant.  This Guru is capable of enlightening and initiating the Consciousness of the aspirant, by making him sit opposite to him. Spiritual advancement can be attained only through tranquilizing the mind. If the mind is made calm and composed by disconnecting it from the sensory influences, the mind gradually moves away from the matter and turns its attention to the Subject within. For a sincere and dedicated aspirant, it takes no time to align his consciousness with that of his Guru, whose consciousness is nothing but Pure Consciousness, the Brahman. In other words, there is no difference between a Guru and the Brahman.

586. Śubhāṅgaḥ शुभाङ्गः

Śubhāṅga means handsome. Lord Viṣṇu is handsome because of His three qualities. One, He upholds dharma; two, He looks at everyone equally; three, He voluntarily offers to the advanced spiritual aspirants by giving them His Grace. It is said that one’s mind is reflected through his body.

587. Śāntidaḥ शान्तिदः

He is the giver of peace that has been discussed in the previous nāma-s. When mind is in the state of peace, one can contemplate on Him. When the mind is crowded with too many thoughts, one’s awareness distracts. If the mind contemplates only on Him, mind is able to concentrate well, paving way for a fruitful meditation.

Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad Gītā (XIII.62), “Take shelter in Him (referring to Himself) with all your being Arjuna. By His mere Grace, you shall obtain supreme state with the eternal state.”

588. Sraṣṭā स्रष्टा

Repetitive nāma 990.

Sraṣṭa means the Creator. He is the Creator of not only the beings but the entire universe. He creates souls, He creates the materialistic world for the beings to enjoy, He creates the objects of enjoyments. He not only Creates good, but also Creates bad. Thus He is the Creator of everything. Depending upon one’s karmic account, one gets entangled in the material world. Since He is compassionate, He showers His grace on the deluded beings, and offer them liberation.

We wrongly take credit for whatever we do. Every action of ours is predetermined by our karmic account. Unless one chooses to surrender unto Him, he does not accrue further karmas. However, he has to undergo the pains and pleasures of his outstanding karmic account.

Hence, He has been aptly addressed as Sraṣṭā.