In the field of Sanskrit devotional literature one comes across many types of homages to deities. Thus we have numerous eulogies on divinities - gods and goddesses. Some of these pertain to a god consecrated in a particular temple in a particular region. It is not strange to see works of different modes like pancakas - with five verses; astakas with eight verses; dasakas with ten verses and satakas with hundred verses. Among these types of literature the sahasranamas with thousand verses or names are prominent. In many cases sahasra does not mean exactly a thousand. It often stands for plurality for instance the Narayaniya stotra of Melputtur Narayana Bhatta eulogizing the Lord Visnu or Krsna enshrined in the famous temple at Guruvayur in Kerala states that the number of verses are sahasrottaramadhikasatam (more than a thousand)
There are sahasranama as or numerous gods and godheads. Those on the trinity- Brahma, Visnu and Siva deserved special consideration. Different sects of religious people have different inclinations. On minor deity's like Subrahmanian, Ayyappa and the several goddesses enshrined in Kerala temples we come across beautiful sahasranamas.
The fact that Sri Sankaracarya chose to comment upon the Visnusahasranama shows the importance of the work. The basic principle is that names which are synonymous are also as important as the principal one has found universal acceptances.
In the present work late Sri Bellamkonda Ramarayakavi (1875- 1914) has embarked upon a new venture keeping in mind the Vyasas lines:
yani namani gaunani vikhyatani mahatmanah
rsibhih parigitani tani vaksyami bhutaye
These lines underline the validity of synonyms. In other words any name can be applied to God Visnu - literally the one who pervades the whole universe. But, the author has to compose his own commentary to justify the derivations of such appellations. It is here that our author has excelled in his venture. He had justified many names by quoting authoritative verses on lexicography.
The rare feature of the present work is that each and every synonyms of Visnu is beginning with the syllable "vi" Naturally the work is entitled" Vivarnidisnusaharanamastotram". His commentary is self explanatory giving no scope to criticism.
The Chinmaya International Foundation Shodha Sansthan is happy to bring out this rare devotional work in the series in which several of his work are to be published. We hope that knowledgeable persons will appreciate our efforts.
In the recent era, one illustrious exponent of Sankaracarya ' s Advaita philosophy is Sri Bellamkonda Rama Raya Kavindra, from Southern India. Many great masters of the contemporary period believe that his birth is nevertheless the resurgence of Sankara Bhagavatpada. While his spiritual fervor and saintly surge were triggered under the divine shade of Lord Hayagrivas benediction, Rama Raya, a yogi -genius-thinker-critic-philosopher- poet all in one composed in Sanskrit during his short life span of four decades (1875 to 1914 AD) as many as 148 works, which include independent sastra works, exhaustive commentaries on sastra works, poems, commentaries on poetical works, manuals on Vedanta and many Stotras. Tuned certainly to the rhythm of his heart and compiled in inimitable grandeur was one such Stotra on Lord Visnu, is Vivarnadivisnusahasranamavali Savyakhya originally written in Telugu script, meaning "Thousand Namas of Visnu beginning with the letter 'vi' along with the commentary on each name". It was given to Chinmaya International Foundation, Adi Sankara Nilayam, Veliyanadu, Ernakulam by Sri Bellamkonda Rama Raya Kavindrula Trust for publication. For the benefit of readers of all regions it is brought out in Devanagari script by Chinmaya International Foundation, as yet another excellent book which is in our hands at the moment.
It is of course a paradox that the life history of Rama Raya is not widely known though he was recognized as one on whose tongue Goddess Sarasvati was manifest all the time, as one who was deemed to be the personification of proficiencies of Valmiki, Veda Vyasa, Panini, Vararuci, Kalidasa, Bhana, Bhavabhuti, Adisankara, Vidyaranya, Mallinatha, Kumarilabhatta and as one who was hailed for his book 'Pankti' as Abhinava Vidyaranya by none other than Srngagiri pithadhipati. It was also by quirk of destiny that many of his writings could not be preserved and the existing ones are not brought to limelight. A few books handed over to his friend, Kavita Venkata Subrahmanya Sastry of Narasaraopet got printed but many disappeared mysteriously after demise of the latter. It is therefore worthwhile to be familiar with his ancestry, childhood, education, religiousness and his other prominent works before we explore this book.
He was born on 27 December 1875 to Sri Mohan Raya and Srimati Hanumamba in an affluent family at Pamidipadu village, Guntur District of Andhra Pradesh. His ancestors well-versed in sastras of physical valor (armory, archery etc.) and sastras of intellectual expertise (Vyakarana, Mirniirpsa, Jyotisa etc.) accompanied Samrat Asoka in his victory trail from Magadha. Therefore these royal representatives called Magadhas or Deshpandyas were made Jamindars for 84 villages in the area and were highly revered for their philanthropy and truthfulness. They were followers of Visitadvaita of Ramanuja. Likewise, very pious and studious even as a boy, Rama Rao at fourteen wrote commentary, Saradratri Siddhantakaumudi and Kuvalayanandam. Rarna Raya, married at eighteen to Adilaksmamma from Nellore, a fervent devotee of Lord Visnu. He used to offer daily prayers in the temple of Rama Vallabha Raya and therefore probably changed his second name from' Rao' to 'Raya'. Like his ancestor, he too was under the tutelage of Sri Ramanuja Mutt of Tirupati and Tridandi. Mostly in contemplative silence, he was always righteous and truthful to revel in peace. He never indulged into the dogmatism of the times either for supporting or for opposing one cult or the other. When he was disconcerted when Astaksari Mantropadesa' was denied to him by the proponents of Visistadvaita, on flimsy grounds of his refusal to "Cakranka ', Lord Hayagriva Himself incognito as an old man had him initiated to the mantra. After study of Ramanujas Sribhasya and Gita Bhasya of and Vidyaranya's Vedanta Pancadasi, Rama Raya observed that the statements of the latter were comparatively flawless and sound. Then on, he transformed himself as an aggressive critic of Visistadvaita and a dynamic follower of Sailkaradvaita to be enthused to write various bhasyas, Stung by a scorpion and suffering for a few days, his physical body could not recuperate and death was imminent. Nevertheless he was shining with effulgence even till his last minute before reaching the abode of the Lord on 27 October 1914, at an early age of thirty eight.
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