Research article by London swaminathan

Date: 22 December 2019

Time in London – 17-59

Post No. 7372

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Here is an alternate reading of the Vishnu Sahasranama, the oldest of the Sahasranamas. One thousand names of any god is a ‘’Sahasranama. Though every Hindu god and goddess has a Sahasranama Vishnu’s one is the most famous of all Sahasranamas. It is the oldest and part of Mahabharata. Great grandsire Bhisma said it in front of Lord Krishna. Saints like Adi Shankara, Parasara Bhatta and Madhwa have commented on it. Hundreds of articles are written by prominent religious leaders on the religious merits of it.

Though I also recite it everyday like any devout Hindu, being an amateur historian, I can’t stop thinking of its influence on world history. Roman and Mitannian King names are in it. I have interpreted the words or its sounds on the bais of history.  Let me tell you what I found in it:-

Five Generations

In the introductory First Part, we see five generations in one sloka- vyasam vasistha naptharam………………… Vyasa, his son Suka, Vyasa’s father Parasara, grand father Sakthi, great grand father Vasistha.

As all Hindus know Vyasa lived just before the beginning of Kaliyuga in 3102 BCE, we are talking about 3200 BCE here.

Sloka 16……yatha sarvani bhutani……….. talks about Big Bang and Big Crunch of cosmology.

Dhyana sloka sees the God as the universe with Sun and Moon as eyes, earth as His feet and Sky as His head. This is a repeat of Purushasuktam of Rig Veda and Viswarupa Darsan of Bhagavad Gita.

Concept of Time

Hindu concept of Time is very different from the Westrn concept of Time. In the main part of Sahasranama, the very first sloka describes god as master of time past, present and future. He is beyond the sway of  Time.

All Gods in Sahasranama

Though it is called Vishnu Sahasranama, all gods’ names are in it – Siva, Sambhu, Aditya, Prajapati, Indra, Sumuka ( Ganesa), Ganesvarah, Vasu, Varuna, Rudra, Indra

Sikkandi ,Nahusha – epic and puranic names

Skanda ,Purandhara , Parameswara,Guha

Lord Kartikeya, Indra, Lord Shiva, Sastha,  figure in the hymn.

Rama , Pranava, Krishna

Names of Rama, Omkara also in the hymn.

Mitannian king

Pratardhana was one of the kings who ruled Turkey- Syria region around 1400 BCE. It is one of the 1000 names of Vishnu.


World’s first law giver Manu is in the hymn.


This is a Vedic deity with lot of funny interpretations such as sexy monkey etc. Since it is in the Sahasranama it is as old as Vedic literature.


It is the name of the Gautama Buddha ofsixth century BCE


Another Vedic deity. Names of Vedic deities are found only in this hymn. That proves that Vishnu Sahasranama is the oldest.

Margo (Way)

I am the Way.

Indus valley God

Vishnu is called Maha Srnga- we see God with horn/ srnga in the Indus Valley Seals; though mistakenly identified with Shiva/Pasupati. Later we see Srngi (horned god) Na Eka Srngi (not just one horned) in this hymn.

Kapila (Tamil Poet’s Name)

Kapila is the name of a great rishi. It is in this hymn. Sangam Tamil literature has a Brahmin poet with this name Kapila. He is the most celebrated poet and highest contributor to the 2000 year old Sangam corpus.

Mr Doctor

Hindus are the only people who call god as a doctor and Medicine (Beshajam, Bishak in Rudra of Yajur Veda) here in this hymn God is called Bishak/ doctor).

Gupta dynasty

Gupta is one of the names here in the hymn; probably Gupta dynasty named themselves with this word.


Tamil poets describe God as a Brahmin. This is an echo of Sahasranama


Manetho is one of the Egyptian priests who wrote Egyptian history in the third century BCE. Here we have Manatho

Surya Namaskar

Names of Surya found in the Surya Namaskar Mantra are Vishnu’s names found in the hymn.


Rome’s greatest orator, lawer, statesman is Cicero. We see Sisirah in the hymn.

Sri Vijaya Dynasty

Sri Vijaya Dynasty of South East Asia took its name

From the Sahasranam. This is in the last part of Sahasranama


Sri occurs in many words. It simply means, wealth, auspicious , Goddess Lakshmi.

English title SIR and Tamil title Thiru came from Sri.


Many Indian kings including the greatest legendary king Vikramaditya has this name.

Garudadwaja -Flag of Eagle-

Today we see Garuda/ emblem in several countries including USA. Garuda Pillar was erected in Besnagar by Helidorus in 113 BCE. He was the ambassador of Indo-Greek king of Taxila. He called himself Parama Bhagavata/ great devotee f Vishnu.

Thus we see many dynasties and kings in the Sahsranama.

Trees and birds and Stars

Several trees, birds, fish and star names are also found in the Vishnu Sahasranama.

So, an alternate reading of the oldest Sahasranama sheds more light on the history of the world from Turkey/ Syria to Sri Vijayas of South East Asia.


Leave a comment


  1. viswanathanl

     /  December 22, 2019

    IT is opening pallet meknow what is tobe done

    On Sun, Dec 22, 2019 at 11:28 PM Tamil and Vedas wrote:

    > Tamil and Vedas posted: ” Research article by London swaminathan > Date: 22 December 2019 Time in London – 17-59 Post No. > 7372 Pictures are taken from various sources; beware of copyright rules; > don’t use them without permission; this is a non-” >

  2. R Nanjappa

     /  December 23, 2019

    *As usual, this is fine historical insight, showing how pervasive has been the influence of Indic ideas on other cultures.* *I wish to draw attention to another facet, relating to the very origin of Vishnu Sahasranamam.and how intimately it is related to Gita. We know how the Gita originated. Just before the great War, Arjuna developed confusion about Dharma [ Dharma sammudha cheta:] and requested Krishna to teach him what was for his good { yat Shreya:], surrendering to Krishna as his disciple. Bhagavan teaches him the Gita advising him in the end to surrender to Bhgavan alone, ending all preoccupation with dharma [ Man mana bhava, mat yaaji, maamnamaskuru, sarva dharman parityajya maam ekam sharanam vraja]*

    *Yudhishthira had no confusion about dharma- he was in fact too sure of dharma at all times before the war. But after the war, which say the almost complete annihilation of all the contenders, he was overcome with a sens of grief and guilt. Lord Krishna suggests to him to approach Bhishma lying on his bed of arrows and seek advice on dharma. And Bhishma explains to him all sorts of dharmas. Hearing all such dharmas without any remainder [ shrutva dharman aseshena], Yudhisthira now becomes confused and asks six pointed questions ;* *-kim ekam daivatam loke* *-kim vap ekam parayanam* *-stuvanta: kham * *-kham arcantaha prapnuyur manava shubham* *-kho dharma sarva dharmanam bhavata paramo mata:* *-kim japan muchyate jantu: janama samsara bandanaat*

    *Thus one of the pointed questions is what is the best dharma as determined by Bhishma. And then Bhishma discourses on Bhagavan,s thousand names, declaring them to be the best of dharmas [ dharmo adhikathamo mata:] Thus Bhishma confirms, in Vishnu Sahasranama, in the presence of Bhagavan, that surreneder to Bhagavan is the highest dharma. The Vishnu Sahasranam is therefore en expansion of the Vibhutis of Bhagavan which are only briefly touched upon in the Gita. The Gita and Sahasranamam are thus cognate, and integrally related.* *It is a mystery why Bhagavan chose to teach Arjuna directly, while directing Youdhisthira to Bhishma! But we know Bhagavan has identified himself with Arjuna among the Pandavas, is part of him as Nara Narayana, and Arjuna is certified by Bhagavan as being endowed with daiva sampat.*

    *In South India, there is an elaborate preliminay portion to the way the Sahasranamam is recited, with dhyana slokams and all, which are not found in the Mahabharatam itself. In the North, people take ‘Vishnu’ in the sense of all pervading Lord, and not in the sectarian sense of a cult figure. In fact the very first name in the litany of thousand names is “Vishvam”which applies to Vishvanath of Kasi] more than to Vishnu as he is conceived in the South. At least I have not come across any Sri Vsishnava who is named Vishvam or Vishvanath, though it is the very first name!* *Among the best commentaries on Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam is by the late Sri S.V.Radhakrishana Sastrigal who has based his work on the Upanishads. Eknath Easwaran has given an elegant interpretation as applicable to modern times and sensibilities.*

  3. Thanks for pointing out the difference in South and North as far as Purva Bhaga is concerned.
    I will look for Radhakrishna Sastrigal Commentary
    I follow Anna of Ramakrishna Math.

  4. any problem? others are able to read it.

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