VISHNU SHODASANAMA SMARANAM (विष्णोः षोडशनामस्मरणम् )

विष्णोः षोडशनामस्मरणम्
These slokas containing sixteen names of Vishnu referring to his different aspects or incarnations to be meditated upon under different situations or circumstances.  These are also chanted as प्रातः स्मरणं (early morning remembrance) of the different auspicious aspects of the Lord.  Vishnu Sahasranama stotra contains 1000 names of Mahavishnu and is considered one of the five jewels in Mahabharata (पंचरत्नानि भारते), along with भगवद्गीता, भीष्मस्तवराजः, अनुस्मृति and गजेन्द्रमोक्षः.  The First Sankaracharya has written a commentary (भाष्य) on Vishnu Sahasranama. Where the names in the slokas appear in the Vishnu Sahasranama, their meanings as in the Sankara Bhashya are reproduced below. Some names appear in the sahasranama more than once.  In such cases each occurrence has a different meaning in the Bhashya.  
विष्णोः षोडशनामस्मरणम्
औषधे चिन्तयेद्विष्णुं
भोजने च जनार्दनम् ।
शयने पद्मनाभं च
विवाहे च प्रजापतिम् ॥१॥
Think of Vishnu while taking medicine, Janardana while eating¸ Padmanabha while lying down (to sleep) and Prajapati while getting married.
युद्धे चक्रधरं देवं
प्रवासे च त्रिविक्रमम् ।
नारायणं तनुत्यागे
श्रीधरं प्रियसंगमे ॥ २ ॥
(Think of) Chakradhara while fighting,  Trivikrama when you are away from home, Narayana while giving up your body and Sridhara when you meet with those whom you love.
दुःस्वप्ने स्मर गोविन्दं
सङ्कटे मधुसूदनम् ।
कानने नारसिंहं च
पावके जलशायिनम् ॥३॥
(Think of) Govinda when you get bad dreams, Madhusudana  when you are in trouble, Narasimha when you are in a forest  and Jalashayee when you are caught in a fire.
लमध्ये वराहं च
पर्वते रघुनन्दनम् ।
गमने वामनं चैव
सर्वकार्येषु माधवम् ॥४॥
(Think of ) Varaha incarnation of the Lord when you are in deep water, Raghunandana (Sri Ram) when you are on a mountain, Vamana when you are on the move and  Madhava in all your activities.
षोडशैतानि नामानि
प्रातरुत्थाय यः पठेत् ।
विष्णुलोके महीयते ॥५॥
Those who chant these sixteen names of the Lord after waking up in the morning will be rid of all sins and will be honoured in Vishnuloka (Vaikuntha)
Notes on Sloka 1
Vishnu  appears three times in the Vishnu Sahasranama  ( 2nd , 258th  and 657th  names).
Sankara Bhashya gives the meanings given below:
Vishnuh(2) वेवेष्टि व्याप्नोतीति विष्णुः देशकालवस्तुपरिच्छेदशून्य इत्यर्थः One who pervades everything, unlimited by space, time or object is Vishnu  विशतीति विष्णुः Enters (विशति) (all living beings as the indwelling spirit), therefore the Lord is known as  Vishnu.   shruti also says ‘तत्सृष्ट्वा तदेवानुप्राविशत्’ having created the world, He entered it (as the jivatma)
Vishnuh (258) ’विष्णुर्विक्रमणात्’ (महाभारत उद्योग पर्व ७०/१३) इति व्यासोक्तेः  He is Vishnu because he moves(spreads) in all directions – vide words of Bhagavan Vedavayasa quoted above.
Vishnuh (657)  रोदसी व्याप्य कान्तिरभ्यधिका स्थितास्येति विष्णुः
व्याप्य मे रोदसी पार्थ
कान्तिरभ्यधिका स्थिता  ।
क्रमणाद्वाप्यहं पार्थ
विष्णुरित्यभिसंज्ञितः ॥ ( महाभारत, शान्ति ३४१/४२-४३)
O Arjuna ! since my abundant effulgence is spread in the whole of this earth and the skies or because I have unrestricted movement in all directions,  I am known as Vishnu  
जनार्दनः (१२६) जनान् दुर्जनानर्दयति हिनस्ति, नरकादीन् गमयतीति वा जनार्दनः
             जनैः पुरुषार्थमभ्युदयनिःश्रेयसलक्षणं याच्यते इति जनार्दनः
He kills (अर्दयति) the bad (wicked) people (जनान्) or sends them to hell,  therefore he is Janardana. The name also means that people beg of him   mukti or  liberation from the cycle or births and deaths  which is the ultimate objective of taking birth.
Padmanabhah occurs three times in the Vishnu Sahasranama
 (48th, 196th and 346th names).
Padmanabhah (48) सर्वजगत्कारणं पद्मं नाभौ यस्य स पद्मनाभः
One in whose navel (नाभिः) is the the Lotus(पद्म), the source from which all the worlds emerge, is Padmanabha
Padmanabhah (196) पद्ममिव सुवर्तुला नभिरस्येति, हृदयपद्मस्य नाभौ मध्ये प्रकाशनाद्वा पद्मनाभः  His navel is a perfect round as the lotus or He shines in the centre (नाभिः) of the heart-lotus; so He is  Padmanabhah
Padmanabhah (346)  पद्मस्य नाभौ मध्ये कर्णिकायां स्थित इति पद्मनाभः since he is stationed in the centre of the heart-lotus, He is  Padmanabhah`
Prajapatih  occurs twice in the Vishnu Sahasranama
(69th and 197th names)
Prajapatih(69) ईश्वरत्वेन सर्वासां प्रजानां पतिः प्रजापतिः As Eshwara (one who controls) he is the Lord (पतिः) of all human beings (प्रजा), therefore he is Prajapatih
Prajapatih (197) प्रजानां पतिः पिता प्रजापतिः  He is the father (पतिः) of all humans (प्रजा)
Notes on Sloka 2
Vishnu Sahasranama contains the name chakragadadharah
(546) which is explained by the following sloka:
मनस्तत्वात्मकं चक्रं
बुद्धितत्वात्मिकां गदाम्
धारयन् लोकरक्षार्थ-
Since the Lord carries the discus (Sudarshana)  which represents the mind principle and the mace (kaumodaki) which represents the intellect principle for the protection of the worlds he is known as chakragadadharah
The name Trivikrama comes from the Vamana incarnation of the Lord wherein he asks Mahabali for three feet of land in the sacrifice being performed by the latter.  Mahabali laughs and says you are stupid to ask me only three feet of land, ask for the whole of this earth and I will gladly give you.  But Vamana insists that he wants only three feet of land.  Finally Mahabali consents and  ritually offers Vamana three feet of land .  Vamana’s body started growing  in stature until, in no time, it was spanning the earth and the heavens and in two steps he measured all the three worlds.  Mahabali, to keep his promise, requested the Lord to put his foot on his head to complete the three feet promised.  The Lord in this incarnation spanning the three worlds is known as thrivikrama

Narayana is the 245th name in Vishnu Sahasranama. Sankara
Bhashya gives the following meanings:
नर आत्मा, ततो जातान्याकाशादीनि नाराणि कार्याणि तानि अयं कारणात्मना व्याप्नोति, अतश्च तान्ययनमस्येति नारायणः
‘नर’ means Atman and the elements of earth, water, fire, air and space which are born out of it are ‘नाराणि’  which are pervaded by the Atman  as the cause.  Therefore they (नाराणि) are the dwelling place( अयन) of the Atman. Therefore the name of the Lord is narayana 
The following mantra from Narayanopanishad says:
दृश्यते श्रूयतेऽपि वा
अन्तर्बहिश्च तत्सर्वं
व्याप्य नारायणः स्थितः
Whatever is there in this world, either seen or heard, Narayana pervades inside and outside of all that.
Mahabharata also says the same thing:
नराज्जातानि तत्त्वानि
नाराणीति ततो विदुः
तान्येव चायनं तस्य
तेन नारायणः स्मृतः
नराणां जीवानामयनत्वात्प्रलय इति वा नारायणः  During pralaya ( the great dissolution)  it is the Lord in whom the jivas (नराः) reside, therefore He is known as Narayana
Brahmavaivarta purana also says the same thing:
‘नराणामयनं यस्मात्तस्मान्नारायणः स्मृतः
Manu Smriti (1/10) says:
आपो नारा इति प्रोक्ताः
आतो वै नरसूनवः ।
ते यदस्यायनं पूर्वं
तेन नारायणः स्मृतः
Waters are known as ‘नारा’ since they are born of ‘नर’, the paramatma.   Because the waters were the resting place (अयनं) for the Lord in the beginning He is known as Narayana
Ajamila, while his life was being taken by the messengers of Yama, cried out aloud to ‘Narayana’, his youngest son whom he loved dearly.  As soon as the name ‘Narayana’ came out of his mouth the attendants of Vishnu came to his side and prevented the messengers of Yama from taking his life.  This story supports the statement that one should think of ‘Narayana’ when one is leaving his body (तनुत्याग)
Sankara Bhashya on Vishnu Sahasranama gives the meaning
of sridhara (610th name)  as follows:
सर्वभूतानां जननीं श्रियं वक्षसि वहन् श्रीधरः  Lord Vishnu carries Shree, the mother of all created beings, on his chest. So he is called shridhara
Notes on Sloka 3
Govinda occurs twice in Vishnu Sahasranama (187th and 539th
names) Shankara Bhashya gives the meaning as follows:
Govinda (187)  नष्टां वै धरणीं पूर्व-
                मविन्दद्यद्गुहागताम् ।
                गोविन्द इति तेनाहं
                देवैर्वाग्भिरभिष्टुतः  ॥  (महाभारत, शन्तिपर्व, ३४२/७०)
Since I recovered the earth submerged in the sea from the nether worlds, I am praised by the celestials by the name गोविन्द  (गां विन्दत इति गोविन्दः)
अहं किलेन्द्रो देवानां
त्वं गवामिन्द्रतां गतः
गोविन्द इति लोकास्त्वां
स्तोष्यन्ति भुवि शाश्वतम्  (हरिवंशे २/१९/४५)
“I am the Indra of the celestials and you have been crowned as the Indra of the cows (by Kamadhenu).  Therefore people will praise you as govinda (गवां इन्द्रः गोविन्दः)”.   These are words of Indra who was angry with Krishna for his advise to the cowherds to worship the Govardhana mountain instead of the former.    Indra unleashed continuous torrential rains on Vraja for full seven days.  Krishna lifted up the Govardhana mountain and held it up for this entire period asking every one,  including the cows and calves,  to get under it for shelter.  When the clouds had exhausted their water, the rain stopped and every one came out and Krishna put the mountain in its place.  Indra, crestfallen,  came down and propitiated Krishna asking forgiveness for his foolish action.  Kamadhenu, the celestial cow, also came with Indra and bathed Krishna with her milk and praised him as Govinda, meaning the Indra of the cows (गवां इन्द्रः).    
गौरेषा तु यतो वाणी
तां च विन्दयते भवान्।
गोविन्दस्तु ततो देव
मुनिभि: कथ्यते भवान् ।
गौ:  means words or speech.  It is the Lord who gives the power of speech.  Therefore you are called Govinda ( गां विन्दयते इति गोविन्दः) by munis.
Govinda (539)  गोभिर्वाणीभिर्विन्दते, वेत्ति वेदान्तवाक्यैरिति वा गोविन्दः
गोभिरेव यतो वेद्यो
गोविन्दः समुदाहृतः (इति श्रीविष्णुतिलके)
The Lord is known by the words (of scriptural texts or of the guru ) or He is known by the statements of the Upanishads.  Therefore He is known as govinda
मधुसूदनः(73rd   name in Vishnu Sahasranama stotra)
 मधुनामानमसुरं सूदितवानिति मधुसूदनः(the Lord is madhusudana because he killed the asura named Madhu)
कर्णमिश्रोद्भवं चापि
मधुनाम महासुरम् ।
ब्रह्मणोऽपचितिं  कुर्वन्
जघान पुरुषोत्तमः॥
तस्य तात वधादेव
देवदानवमानवाः ।
मधुसूदन इत्याहुः
ऋषयश्च जनार्दनम्॥  (Mahabharat, Bhishma parva, 67/14-16)
The asura named Madhu who emerged from the ear-wax of Vishnu was killed  by Vishnu to save Brahma from him. That is how he got the name मधुसूदन
नारसिंह does not appear in Vishnu Sahasranama stotra but
नारसिंहवपुः (21st name) appears which is interpreted as:
नरस्य सिंहस्य च अवयवाः यस्मिन् लक्ष्यन्ते तद्वपुर्यस्यस नारसिंहवपुः
He is नारसिंहवपुः in whose body is seen the limbs of both man and lion i.e. the incarnation of Vishnu as man-lion for the sake of His devotee Prahlada.
जलशायी means one who lies on the water. This name does not appear in the Vishnu Sahasranama.  But the name नारायण has meaning similar to जलशयी  
(pl refer to notes under नारायण)
Notes on Sloka 4
Varaha  is an incarnation of Vishnu in which he took the form of a boar to lift up the earth which was submerged by Hiranyaksha in the ocean and to kill Hiranyaksha. This name is not found in Vishnu Sahasranama though  महावराह
(mahavaraha, 538th  name) is found which the Bhashya
interprets as महांश्चासौ वराहश्च महावराहः( The Lord is great and He is also Varaha (incarnation).  
Raghunandan is Sri Ram, also an incarnation of the Lord to kill Ravana.
This name does not appear in  Vishnu Sahasranama but the
name रामः (394th name) appears which has the following
interpretation in Sankara Bhashya
       नित्यानन्दलक्षणेऽस्मिन् योगिनो रमन्त इति रामः
Yogis revel (रमन्ते) in Him who is of the nature of Everlasting Bliss. Hence the name रामः
Vamana (152nd name in Vishnu Sahasranama) is interpreted
as follows:
बलिं वामनरूपेण याचितवानिति वामनः
His name is Vamana because he begged from Mahabali taking the form of a Dwarf.
संभजनीय इति वा वामनः
मध्ये वामनमासीनम्
विश्वेदेवा उपासते  इति मन्त्रवर्णात्
वामन may also mean someone to be worshipped as the mantra says “ the vishwedevas worship Vamana seated in the centre”
(Please also see ‘Trivikrama’ under sloka 2)
माधवः  appears thrice in the Vishnu Sahasranama (72nd ,
167th and 735th names)
Madhava(72) मायाः श्रियः धवः पतिः माधव: ( मा  is श्री  (Lakshmi). Her consort is 
माधवः ) मधुविद्याऽवबोधकत्त्वाद्वा माधव:  । “मौनाद् ध्यानाच्च योगाच्च विद्धि भारत माधवं” इति व्यासवचनात् माधवः  (Mahabharata, Udyoga parva, 70/4)
(He is madhava because he is known or attained by Madhu Vidya i.e. by silence, meditation and yogic practices)
Madhava (167) माया विद्यायाः पतिः माधवः
मा विद्या च हरेः प्रोक्ता
तस्या ईशो यतो भवान्
धवः स्वामीति शब्दितः  (हरिवंशे ३/८८/४९)
He is the धवः अर्थात् पतिः  of  मा (विद्या), therefore he is known as माधवः
Madhava (735) मधुकुले जातत्वात् माधवः (He is madhava because he was born in the dynasty of Madhu

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