671. Mahākramaḥ महाक्रमः

Krama means step. Viṣṇu’s Supreme steps are well known. Taittirīya Upaniṣad opens with a prayer to Viṣṇu, “śaṁ no viṣṇururukramaḥ शं नो विष्णुरुरुक्रमः” which means “Viṣṇu, who walks with long strides (urukrama means wide strides) and symbolizes strength be propitious to us”. This nāma once again conveys His omnipresence.

672. Mahākarmāḥ महाकर्माः

Repetitive nāma 787.

Karma refers to normal activities of human beings. From the religious parlance, karma can mean fire rituals, oblations, sacrifices, offerings etc. These are the normal duties of any human being. These duties are prescribed by Holy Scriptures such as dharma śāstra-s and their precepts. The prefix mahā is used to mean the Brahman. Only His acts can be called Superior Acts, such as creation, sustenance and dissolution. Viṣṇu sustains the universe by strictly adhering to the precepts of dhamra śāstra-s, Therefore, the difference between karma and mahākarma is that the former refers to the activities of humans and the latter refers to the acts of the Divine. Creation, sustenance and dissolution are the exclusive acts of the Brahman. This nāma signifies the difference between the Self and the self.

673. Mahātejaḥ महातेजः

This nāma describes the true nature of the Brahman. Tejas means splendour, glow, brilliance, etc. All the Scriptures repeatedly affirm that Brahman is in the form of Self-illuminating Light. Brahman is the only source of Light and from this Light alone, all other luminaries derive their power to illuminate.

Please refer nāma 483 for additional references.

674. Mahoragaḥ महोरगः

Mahoraga means a great serpent (uraga means serpent).

Kṛṣṇa refers to two types of serpents in Bhagavad Gītā. In Chapter X.28, He says, “among serpents I am Vāsuki” and again in the next verse, “among the nāga-s, I am Ananta”. Mythologically, Vāsuki is the name of the snake that was used while churning the ocean using the mountain Mandara. Ananta is said to be the brother of Vāsuki. Viṣṇu rests on Ananta, the one with five hoods. The five hoods means five types of prāṇa-s that are required for sustenance, or five types of consciousness, or five types of organs of perception and action, etc.

The point driven home through this nāma is His omnipresence. Those who have incomplete spiritual knowledge think that Brahman is someone, who is on a pedestal and thus they are deluded by duality. Ultimate spiritual knowledge is “I am Brahman”, where all the dualities are obliterated. It is not enough to realize that “I am Brahman”. Spirituality does not end here. When one is able to realize the presence of Brahman in all the beings, he alone is the Self-realized person and not the one who merely says, “I am Brahman”. This can be realized only through universal love and compassion.

675. Mahākratuḥ महाक्रतुः

Mahākratu refers to the sacrifices made during yajña-s, particularly aśvameda yajñā. Kratu is generally explained as a specific ritual out of these sacrifices – āgneya, uṣasya, āśvīna and saurya.  This nāma says that He is in the form of these sacrifices.

Kratu also means right understanding and Mahākratu obviously refers to Him. But contextually, this interpretation seems to be inappropriate as the next nāma-s talk only about sacrifices.

{Further reading on Pañca yajña: Pañca means five and yajña means act of worship and devotion that prevailed during Vedic period and offerings, oblations and sacrifice prevailing in post-Vedic literature. Yajña actually means sacrifice personified. 

There are two types of yajna-s, the one referred in Veda-s that has been heard or communicated from the beginning.  It is the sacred knowledge orally transmitted from generation to generation.  Rig Veda contains numerous references to rituals. Yajur Veda samhita on the other hand contains mantra-s that are to be recited at the rituals and prose passages explaining them, known as brāhmaṇā-s.  Brāhmaṇā passages guide to execute and preserve the intricacies of Vedic rituals.  The other type of yajña is referred in smṛti, the whole body of sacred tradition or what is remembered by human teachers in contradistinction to śruti. Smṛti includes the six Vedāṅga-s, the sūtra-s (both śrauta and gṛhya), the law-books of Manu, etc.

The five yajña-s referred in Veda-s are agntihotra, darśapūrṇamāsa, cāturmāsya, paśubandha and soma.  Soma ritual includes all the other four rituals and considered as the supreme among the five. 

The five yajña-s referred in smṛti-s are known as pañca mahā yajña-s.  They are Deva yajña (appeasing gods and goddesses), brahma yajña (the knower of Vedas), pitṛ yajña (for ancestors), bhūta yajna (animals, etc)  and nara or atithi yajña (nara means man and atithi means guest). Atithi is explained as a person who is entitled for hospitality).  Deva yajña is the worship to one’s kula devatā (the deity worshipped through lineage).  The study of Veda-s is the next.  Remembering our ancestors is the third.  This is performed on the anuual death days of ancestors.  The idea behind this yajña is not only to remember them, but also to remember and follow the family’s culture and values. Bhūta yajña means sharing with other living beings.  Feeding the hungry animals develops universal love.  The last one also known as manuṣya yajña (manuṣya means friendly to man), traditional hospitality extended to fellow beings. 

Pāñcarātra āgama-s prescribe five rituals for worshipping Viṣṇu.  Abhigamana (approaching Viṣṇu), upādāna (collecting pūja materials), ijya (the pūja worship), and svadhaya (repetition of Veda-s, verses-s, etc).  Viṣṇu is often praised with gadya (prose, composition not metrical yet framed in accordance with harmony, elaborate prose composition).

Chāndogya Upaniṣad (V.4 to 9) talks about five types of oblations that cause the birth of man.  They are offered by gods as oblations.  First gods offered water as oblation from which appeared Soma (moon). They offered Soma as the second oblation from which appeared rain.  They offered water as third oblation and there appeared food. They offered food as the fourth oblation and there appeared fluids of procreation.  They offered fluids of procreation as the fifth oblation and there appeared foetus.}

676. Mahāyajvā महायज्वा

Yajvan means a sacrifice, particularly for the benefit of everyone. Viṣṇu is in the form of those who perform yajña-s or sacrifices for the benefit of all, relegating personal needs behind.

677. Mahāyajñā महायज्ञा

Nāma 445 is Yajñaḥ and this nāma says Mahāyajñā. Yajña generally refers to fire rituals and sacrifices. Fire is considered as the carrier of prayers offered as oblations to the respective gods and goddesses and Viṣṇu presides over all the yajna-s (yajño vai viṣṇuḥ) and hence He is worshipped as Mahāyajñā.

Japa recitation is considered to be one of the best yajna-s that is available to the modern world. Great yajña -s like aśvamedha and agnicayana are not performed now. Kṛṣṇa says this in Bhagavad Gītā (X.25): “Among the offerings I am the offering of japa”.

Japa is the best way to begin one’s spiritual journey. Japa means mentally repeating the name of a god or goddess or repeating the combination of certain bījākṣara-s meant for a god and goddesses. Each god and goddess has separate japa mantra-s comprising of one or more bījākṣara-s. Continuously repeating japa mantra-s cause the oneness of the reciter, mantra and the concerned devata (god or goddess).  

678. Mahāhaviḥ महाहविः

Havis means oblations offered in the fire rituals. Generally, cooked rice is called havis and mahāhavis means the principal oblation in a fire ritual. The principal oblation differs according to the type of ritual and to whom the oblation is offered. For example, for ancestral rites, it is cooked rice; for gods and goddesses it is ghee; in certain other cases, it is the combination of various items like ghee, milk, honey, etc.

This nāma says that He is in the form of primary oblations. This nāma again goes to prove His omnipresence. He is in the form of the doer of the ritual, He is the fire of the ritual and He is the principal oblation of the ritual. He is both the subject and the object.

It can also be interpreted that such principal oblations offered in any fire ritual reaches Him only. Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad Gītā (IX.23), “All those devotees, who with faith worship other gods, worship Me alone.”

679. Stavyaḥ स्तव्यः

Stavya means praiseworthy. The next few nāma-s explain how and why, He is being praised. The primary quality for becoming praiseworthy is compassion and concern for others and reaching out to them when they are in difficult situations. Secondly, what one has is to be shared with others, which is the source of joy for the giver. Brahman is full of compassion and He is always ready to shower His Grace on those who seek His Grace, which ultimately offers liberation. He sustains the universe by upholding dharma. He does not hesitate to annihilate the evil doers. Because of these qualities, He becomes praiseworthy. There is no need for Him to praise anyone else as He is the embodiment of Absolute Grace and there is none above Him.

680. Stavapriyaḥ स्तवप्रियः

Stava means praise in the form of hymns. He is fond of praise in the form of hymns. Particularly, this refers to the verses of Sāma Veda. Gods and goddesses are fond of Sāma Veda because they are sung with svara or musical note. When the mind is clear, one is able to express the state of mind through hymns. Therefore, praising Him through hymns is possible only for those who always think about Him. When the mind has multiple thoughts, it gets associated with objects. When the mind is fully pervaded by His thoughts, where other thoughts are either suspended or relegated for sometime, this mental condition of a devotee is expressed by way of singing His praise. He is fond of such devotees.

681. Stotram स्तोत्रम्

Stotra means hymns highlighting His glory, for example Śrī Viṣṇu Sahasranāma Stotram, Śrī  Lalitā Sahasranāma Stotram, etc. Many of the nāma-s have gross and subtle meanings and consist of hidden mantra-s. They should not be recited with rāga and svara with accompanying musical instruments. They should be recited like prose. Most of the gods and goddesses have Sahasranāma Stotram-s in their praise. There are other hymns like bajagovindam that can be sung. There are thousands of songs in praise of Lord Rāma and Kṛṣṇa. This nāma says that He is praised through such stotra-s.  

682. Stutiḥ स्तुतिः

Stuti also means praise and contextually this nāma is explained that He is in the form of such praises. The one who sings His praises, the verses or hymns in the form of praises and the praised, i.e. Viṣṇu and His incarnations are one and the same. He is present in the form soul in all His devotees. He is in the form of letters that make a verse. For our easier understanding every verse or hymn or songs describes either His attributes or His forms. The whole universe is pervaded only by Him and there exists nothing except Him. This is His omnipresence.

683. Stotā स्तोता

This refers to a devotee, who understands His true nature and who is overwhelmed by emotions due to extreme love for Him, who sings in His praise with tears rolling down his cheeks. Overwhelming emotion is the exclusive factor to test one’s own depth of devotion.