589. Kumudaḥ कुमुदः

Ku means earth. Since He creates and sustains the earth, He derives happiness when people enjoy His materialistic creations. The material world is created by Him with a purpose. It is the testing ground for His devotees. The material world is called māyā because, it is deceptive in nature. Those who are able to overcome the effects of māyā move closer to Him. When an aspirant is able to transcend the effects of māyā, He is ready to offer him liberation.

This nāma says that He laughs on seeing those who are attached to the material world and make themselves susceptible to repeated transmigration. His laugh does not indicate His happiness, but His frustration. He is frustrated due to the fact the men are not able to utilize the opportunity of being born as human, where alone the liberation is possible.

590. Kuvaleśayaḥ कुवलेशयः

This is a noun for Lord Viṣṇu, which is found in Mahābhāgavata. Since the earth called “ku” is surrounded by water, it is called Kuvalaya. Kuvaleśayaḥ means the ruler of earth. Planet earth or Mother Earth is beautifully described in this nāma which also says that Viṣṇu is the ruler of Mother Earth. It is also said that Mother Earth is the consort of Lord Viṣṇu and this nāma can be explained this way also.

591. Gohitaḥ गोहितः

Go can be subtly explained as spiritual knowledge, though it can be grossly explained as cows, etc. Hita means set in motion. Therefore, this nāma can be subtly interpreted as the One, who sets in motion the spiritual knowledge for liberation.

On the grosser side, gohita means the One, who protects the cows. He protected the cows by lifting the mountain Govardhana during His incarnation as Kṛṣṇa.

592. Gopatiḥ  गोपतिः

Repetitive nāma 495.

He is the ruler of the earth. Go means earth and pati means master or possessor. It also means husband. This nāma reconfirms the interpretation of the nāma 590.

Nāma 495 has been explained differently.

593. Goptā गोप्ता

Repetitive nāma 496.

He conceals His reality or true nature. He is in the form of Pure Consciousness. But He conceals His true identity from those who are associated with the materialistic world.  He conceals His true identity through the effects of māyā, His own concealing Power. Brahman and Māyā are not different; Brahman’s concealing power known as Māyā forms a sheath around Him.  Those who are able to transcend Māyā can realize Him. The process of transcending Māyā is known as sādhana or practice.  Brahman cannot be realized without sādhana, in which an aspirant undergoes different spiritual experiences.

Nāma 496 has been interpreted differently.

594. Vṛṣabhākṣaḥ वृषभाक्षः

Vṛṣabha means most excellent or eminent and akṣa means religious knowledge. Religious knowledge is nothing but dharma śāstra, rules and regulations for leading a conscientious life. Therefore, this nāma can be interpreted to mean that Lord Viṣṇu holds dharma śāstra-s as very important and He expects His devotees to lead a life as per the precepts of dharma śāstra-s.

Dharma śāstra-s are very important for a spiritual aspirant. No one can turn spiritual overnight. A spiritual journey always begins with a rigorous religious life. Every religion tames an aspirant by prohibiting certain acts and permitting certain other acts. Dharma śāstra-s do not give any chance for manoeuvrability of the prescribed laws.

595. Vṛṣapriyaḥ वृषप्रियः

He loves all those who become eminent by strictly following the precepts of dharma śāstra-s. In fact, dharma śāstra-s are not different from Lord Viṣṇu. He is an embodiment of dharma śāstra-s and that is why He is in the form of Pure Consciousness.

596. Anivartī अनिवर्ती

Anivartin means steadfast. This is an extension of the previous two nāma-s. This nāma conclusively says that there is no question of abandoning dharma śāstra-s, as they form the life and breath of all spiritual aspirants. Those who abandon these dictums are punished through the law of karma.

A thief may become rich by stealing wealth from someone else. This wealth gives momentary happiness to the thief. But in the long run, he is bound to suffer due to the violation of the dictums of dharma śāstra-s. As a result, he accrues a huge amount of bad karmas, which may manifest either in this life itself or in subsequent lives. If the karmic impressions are too bad, many times, these karmas manifest in the same life. This is the case of a billionaire becoming a popper overnight. Law of Karma is very powerful and none can escape from this. This is also called Divine Law.

This nāma says that Lord Viṣṇu strictly follows dharma śāstra-s. He does not accept any violations.

597. Nivṛttātmā निवृत्तात्मा

Nivṛtta means cessation of mundane existence and Ātma refers to the Supreme Self, Nārāyaṇa. Though it is imperative that Self is beyond all the material existence, this nāma specifically says so to explain one particular quality of the Brahman. Brahman is an embodiment all the qualities, both good and bad; otherwise, the omnipresent nature of the Brahman will be oppugned. Every aspirant should become Nārāyaṇa Himself in order to become one with Him. This is eternal liberation or cessation of transmigration.

This nāma advises the aspirants to get detached from the materialistic world in order get liberated. Mind is the reason for all attachments and desires. If one is able to train the mind to become detached, the aspirant confidently begins his spiritual journey.

598. Samkṣeptā सम्क्षेप्ता

Saṃkṣepa has many interpretations such as throwing together, destruction, compression, comprehension, condensation, abridgment, etc. This word has been used in many Scriptures to mean different things. Contextually, it means the fourth act of the Brahman, the annihilation of the universe.

Brahman has five functions to perform.  They are creation, sustenance, destruction, annihilation and compassion (also known as Grace).  The five acts of the Brahman is a cyclic process.  Creation here means the creation of the universe in the broader perspective.  It does not mean the birth of an individual.  Sustenance also means the sustenance of the universe as a whole.  The birth and death of human beings as well as billions of other species is just a trivial part of the activities that happen in the universe.   The first amongst the creations are the five basic elements viz. ākāś, air, fire, water and earth.  Then the modifications of these elements take place gradually, which is called evolution.  Such evolution happens both in physical and subtle planes.  The highest known gross form of evolution is man and the highest form of subtle evolution is his mind. 

The universe thus created is being administered by the Brahman Himself.  In order to maintain a proper balance, creatures are allowed to shed their physical bodies.  Souls make the physical bodies to function and hence soul is called kinetic energy.  The souls originated from the hiraṇyagarbha or the golden egg. This is so called, as it is born from a golden egg, formed out of the seed deposited in the waters when they were produced as the first creation of the Self-existent. This seed became a golden egg, resplendent as the sun, in which the Self-existent Brahman was born as Brahmā the Creator, who is therefore regarded as a manifestation of the Self-existent. This is held as the fourth act of the Brahman, tirodhāna, or the great dissolution or the act of concealment. The difference between destruction and annihilation is significant.  Destruction is the death of a single organism and annihilations is the Supreme act of the Brahman, wherein He makes the entire universe to dissolve and merge unto Himself.  At this stage the universe becomes non-existent. There will be no continents, no mountains, no oceans, none of the basic elements (Pañca bhūta-s) exist.  Such an act of the Brahman is called mahā-pralayā.  This nāma refers to mahā-pralayā, which is caused by Him.  The reverse modifications take place during annihilation and penultimately there exists only the five basic elements.  Finally these five elements too, dissolve into the Brahman. Brahman is also very compassionate and has the intent to re-create the universe.

{Further reading on hiraṇyagarbha: Brahman has four distinctive states.  They are avyakṭā, Iśvarā, hiraṇyagarbha also known as sūtrātma and virāṭ. The first state is avyakṭā, the unmanifest stage. This is also known as turya stage, beyond the three normal stages of consciousness. The next state is Iśvarā. This state is the cause of the universe and is associated with māyā. The third state is hiraṇyagarbha, which binds the universe together.  The final state is virāṭ, where transfiguration of the divine happens that is visible to our eyes.  The virāṭ is also known as vaiśvānarā, meaning relating or belonging to all men, omnipresent, known or worshipped, everywhere, universal, general, common, etc.}

599. Kṣemakṛt क्षेमकृत्

The beauty of the placement of this nāma is to be relished. Nāma 597 spoke about cleansing one’s mind in order to get liberated. The previous nāma spoke about great annihilation and this nāma talks about His act of sustenance. This implies that He not only liberates and annihilates, but also sustains all the beings. His act of sustenance is universal. There is no differentiation between devotee and non-devotee. All are equal to Him, as far as the act of sustenance is concerned. But His Grace is not available universally.

One has to be His true devotee to get His Grace, which Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad Gītā (IX.2). He says, “Those who always worship Me with mind steadfastly connected to Me and thinking nothing else, I always protect them and personally attend to all their needs.” A true devotee can be explained as the one who has surrendered unto Him, never asks for anything from the Lord, as the Lord Himself personally takes care of all the needs of his sincere devotees. For the Lord also, it is hard to find a true devotee.

This nāma says that though He sustains the universe without any discrimination, He showers His special attention to His true devotees and ensures their comfort.

600. Śivaḥ शिवः

Śiva means auspiciousness. His Grace on His devotees is auspicious, hence He is called Śiva. Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad (7) says that the sum total of all that is good is known as Śivam. Lord Viṣṇu is adored here as Śiva because He is the embodiment of all auspiciousness, which have been discussed through various nāma-s in this Sahasranāma. The Upaniṣad says, “prapañcopaśamaṁ śāntaṁ śivaṁ प्रपञ्चोपशमं शान्तं शिवं”. This means that the total cessation of the world as such, the embodiment of peace and the sum total of all that is good.

This nāma subtly conveys the way to realize Him, which is a prerequisite for liberation. As per the saying of this Upaniṣad, prapañcopaśamaṁ means prapañca + upaśamaṁ. Prapañca means the material world and upaśamaṁ means negation or elimination. Unless the material world is negated, one will not get śāntaṁ, which means mental peace. If one does not get śāntaṁ, he cannot receive His Grace, which is a prerequisite for mokṣa. Since mind is an exclusive gift to humankind, liberation is possible only during a human birth.

This is also endorsed by Mahānārāyaṇa Upaniṣad (21) which says, “May the Supreme, who is the ruler of all knowledge, controller of all created beings, the preserver of the Vedas be benign to me.” This Upaniṣad uses Śivam to mean benignancy.

This nāma can also be interpreted to mean that there is no difference between Viṣṇu and Śiva. They are the two different names of the Brahman. Names and forms are useful only in the initial stages of spiritual life, in order to contemplate on certain prescribed forms. In due course, the forms vanish, leading to the realization of the Divine Light