Prabhat Kumar Pandeya (B.1945, Ahraura, Distt. Mirzapur, UP.) Born in a cultured Zamindar family, he had his schooling in Mirzapur and higher education at the Benaras Hindu University which awarded him Ph.D. degree in English. Having taught in K.B Degree College, Mirzapur, Gorakhpur University, Kashi Vidyapith, he joined B.H.U. in 1973 where he is Professor of English. A creative writer in Hindi and English, he has translated from both languages. Widely travelled he has visited Thailand, U.K., Denmark, Sweden, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, and U.S.A. His hobbies are photography, music, and reading. All photos in the book are shot by him. Having two married daughters, he lives with his wife Maya in the oldest living city of the world Kashi, popularly called Benaras and officially Vãrãnasi.
This book contains English translation of some hymns and eulogies of Vishnu, the Blue God. I do not claim to have anthologised the whole corpus on Him. However, it contains quite a few. I would like to clarify that unlike in other religions, in Hinduism we find erotic description of gods and goddesses, especially in literature, and Sanskrit literature is rich in this regard. I have written a long introduction on Vishnu, Vaishnavism, and Visistãdvaita, a philosophical system of the Vaishnava cult propounded by Acãrya Rãmnuja. After being initiated into Ramãnuja sampradaya in 2004 by my guru Sri Devanarayanacharya at Vrindavana who gave me a new name, Parãñkua Srinivãsa Ramanuja Dãsa, I planned to write the booklet for the benefit of the English-knowing people. I had earlier translated the Hanumãncãlisã into English with introduction that proved quite useful to NRIs. During the summer of 2005 I went to USA where lived my daughter Malavika. Her husband Shekhar provided me a laptop on which I typed the MS. But it took quite some time in writing the Introduction because of my professional demands and family obligations. With His grace the
booklet is brought out by Shri Harishji of Aksnaya prakashan. May he and his business prosper. He is sui generis in publication business. I must put on record the role of my sakti, my wife Maya but for whom I cannot accomplish anything. I have given a select bibliography at the end for those who want to go into detail on the subject. I would be happy to receive feedback from enlightened readers. This modest effort is my humble offering at the feet of the Blue God, Srimannarayana.
Vishnu derived from root vi. meaning ‘All pervader’ or ‘Worker’, is the name of one of the principal Hindu deities. In the later mythology regarded as ‘the preserver’ along with Brahmã ‘the creator’ and iva ‘the destroyer’, he constitutes the famous Tri-mürti or triad. Although second in the triad he is identified with the supreme deity by Vaishnavas. And this is no mere claim of exaggerating devotees. Even though the Rgveda contains fewer hymns addressed to Vishnu, yet he is accorded the highest place according to the scriptural text that puts Agni at the lowest:
agnirvai devanãmavamo visnub paramah (Aitareya Brahmana I.1.1 agniravamo devatãnãm visnub paramah (Taittiriya Sambitã, V. 5.1) His supremacy is established by the Rgveda Sambita which not only acknowledges the existence of one ultimate reality in general terms such as sat, eka, etc. but also refers to the essential characteristics of the One Reality in the same terms as the Upanishads speak of Brahman. The one Supreme Deity is regarded as primary cause of the universe (sarva-karana, RVVI. 7.6; X. 5.7). He is regarded as the controller of all (sarva-niyãmaka, RV. III 20.4; IX.
30.2) and immanent in the hearts of men (antaryãmin). The ruler of the entire universe, he is Lord of both the transcendental as well as the physical universe. He is referred to as the saviour of mankind and giver of immortality: adabdho gopã amrtasya raksitã (RV VI. 7.7) We are also told about other important attributes of the Supreme Being such as omniscient (sarvajña), omnipotent (sarvasakta), endowed with unsurpassable glory (sarvatisayin), and the greatest of all. In the Vedic period he is not placed in the foremost rank, although frequently involved with other gods, especially with Indra whom he assists in killing Vtra and with whom he drinks soma. His later epithets are Indrãnuja and Upendra (younger brother of Indra). As distinguished from the other Vedic deities, he is personification of the light and of the sun, especially in his striding over the heavens, which he is said to do in three steps, hence, called Trivikrama (three steps of Vishnu). It denotes the threefold manifestations of light in the form of fire, lightning, and the sun or three stages of the sun-rising, culminating, and setting. First he is not included among the Adityas (Sun or son of Aditi) but later he is accorded the foremost place. In the Brãhmanas (remaining part of the Vedas excluding Mantra, Aranyaka and Upanishads) he is identified with sacrifice, and in one described as a dwarf. One of his incarnations is that of a dwarf, Vamana. In the Mahabharata and the Ramayana he rises to
supremacy. The great rivalry between Vaishnavas and Shaivas did not develop fully till the period of the Purãnas which covers a long span of time. The distinguishing feature in the character of the post-vedic Vishnu is his condescending to become incarnate in a portion of his essence on ten principal occasions to deliver mankind from certain great dangers. The concept of Avatãra or incarnation of the Supreme Being is a unique feature of Vaishnavism. The term literally means “coming down”, avatarana. This doctrine has its origin in the Vedas. The Purusa-sukta in the Yajurveda says, “(the one) who is not born but takes many births”: Ajayamãno bahudhã vijãyate. A hymn of the ?gveda which is sung for the purpose of invoking Vishnu in the sacrificial pillar, yapa, describes, “He comes down decorated with beautiful garments and surrounded by celestial beings and that He becomes great by taking births (yuva suvãsab parivita agãt sa u sreyãn bbavati jayamanab. RV II. 8.4). The Supreme Deity manifests Himself in five forms: para, vyuha, vibbava, arcã, and antaryãmin. Para is the transcendental form of God existing eternally in the Parama Pada. The vyuba avatãra is the manifestation of the Supreme Being in four different forms known by the names of Väsudeva, Sañkarsana, Pradyumna, and Anirudha. The vibbava avatãra means manifestation of the Supreme Lord by assuming bodies similar to those of human beings or other living beings: vibbavo nãma
tattatsajatiyarupena ãvirbhãvab. The word arcã means idol of worship. When God descends in response to our ardent prayers and enters into an idol created by men for worship, it is considered to be an arcã avatãra. The antaryãmin avatãra, manifestation of God as indwelling, is a subtle form in the inner recess of human heart for purposes of meditation. The antaryãmin also refers to the indwelling spirit, the Supreme Being who is immanent in all sentient and insentient entities who as the inner self controls everything from within. In this sense antaryãmin means the Supreme Being known as Narayana.
The general belief is that of dasãvatara. However, some of the Purãnas make 22 or even 24 incarnations. The concept of dasãvatãra, ten incarnations, is most popular. However, according to the Abirbudbnya Srnñhitã of the Pañarãtragama there are 39 avatãras: Padmanãbha, Dhruva, Ananta, Saktyãtman, Madhusudana, Vidyãdhideva, Kapila, Vivarüpa, Vihañgama, Krodãtman, Badabavaktra, Dharma, Vãgisvara, Ekãrnavasäyin,
Kamathesvara, Varãha, Narasimha, Piyusaharana, Sripati, Kãntãtman, Rãhujit, Kalanemighna, Pãrijãtahara, Lokan atha, Sãntãtman, Dattãtreya, Nyagrodhasayin, Ekasrngatanu, Vãmanadeha, Trivikrama, Nara, Nãrãyana. Han, Krsna, Paraurãma, Rãma, Vedavid, Kalkin, Pãtãlasayana.
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