Tag Archives: Adi Sankara

viSNu sahasranAma: (8) : The best dharma

एषः  मे सर्व धर्माणाम्  धर्मः अधिकतमः मतः I

यत् भक्त्या पुण्डरीक अक्षम् स्तवैः अर्चेत् नरः सदा II8II

The 5th question of yudhiSThira was: कः धर्मः सर्व धर्माणाम् भवतः परमः मतः –  which dharma is accepted by you as the highest?
To which bhISma responds in the 8th s’lOka:
  • सर्व धर्माणाम्  – sarva dharmANam – of all the dharmAs (those which ignite and uplift a being)
  • एषः धर्मः – ESah dharmah – this dharma
  • अधिकतमः – best
  • (इति)  मे मतः – (iti) mE matah – thus is my thought (acceptance/opinion)
  • यत् – yat – (the dharma by) which
  • नरः – narah – man (person)
  • सदा – sadA – always
  • भक्त्या – bhaktyA – with devotion
  • स्तवैः अर्चेत् – stavaih aRcEt – worships with stavAs (words/praises/verses)
  • पुण्डरीक अक्षम् – punDarIka akSam – vAsudEva, who shines in the lotus of the heart Adi s’ankara’s translation) – lotus eyed one – common translation.

Always and with bhakti – devotion.

nArada, s’AnDilya and other have defined what bhakti is. And they hold up the examples of hanumAn, prahlAda, the gOpikAs and others.

Hanuman’s pure devotion expressed itself in knowledge and service. prahlAda’s in complete faith. And the gOpikAs who sent the dust from their feet to cure kRSNa’s head-ache without fear of pApa (wrong-doing), demonstrate their love in their concern for his well-being. Turning to God out of desire, pain or fear – is not, in my view, devotion at all. Nothing wrong in seeking/taking vAsudEva’s help as long as we do not mislabel it devotion.

Also, you don’t find Hanuman telling Rama, that he will do something “tomorrow or when he gets round to it”. Most people tend to be part-time devotees.

The divine being shining in the heart.

Some people place God in the sky, others in the temple, yet others here, there or  everywhere, and some in their own heart, as Adi s’ankara recommends.

Worship with stavAs.

As a beginner, I find that using the verses created by those better than myself, are very helpful in definition, progress and attainment. It helps with the ‘what is and what is not.’ The Vishnu Sahasranamam summarises in 1000 names all the attributes and known/deduced facts about God. Students and scholars of Indian philosophy who start with Vishnu Sahasranamam along with Sankaracharya‘s commentary can at one short go, understand what the concept of God is in the advaita vEdAnta of Hinduism.

*Chanting Caution: The  सर्व धर्माणाम् in yudhiSThira’s question, 3rd sloka – first line, will bring you to 8th s’lOka first line if you do not concentrate. and you would have missed 5 s’lOkAs!