The story behind Vishnu Sahasranama

Like there is a Bible for Christians, Quran for Muslims, Hindus have Gita and more! Its not just one for Hindus. Hindus have so many Gods and so many prayers and so many scripts to to keep them engaged during their life time (of course only when they are interested! Nothing is forced on anyone!) 😉

Vishnu Sahasranamam is one such ancient, divine script written in Sanskrit. Sahasranamam in Sanskrit means 1000 names. Vishnu Sahasranamam is 1000 names on Vishnu. There are many other such sahasranamams on Lalitha, Lakshi, Narasimha, Sudharsana, etc etc.. As many big Gods and Goddesses are there, as many Sahasranamas are there. Such scripts are all classified under slokas.

Basically I like reciting them just because, it is nice to recite. I learnt that what is more important is the way your recite it. Because, as we know sound waves are generated when we recite it. And when we pronounce the scripts correctly and in the correct pace, the sound waves follow a rhythmic pattern. This pattern is what giving you the calmness and peace of mind while and after reciting it. If the slokas are recited with correct pronunciations in a proper pace, this itself will be like a pranayama: a good breathing exercise.

I consider Vishnu Sahasranamam, a bit special than the others because it is a part of the great epic Mahabharata. The story goes like this: Yudishtra – the king of dharma, when he himself was confused about the biggest dharma to follow in life, Krishna did not answer him as he did to Arjuna in Kurukshetra. Krishna did not impart the knowledge of Gita to Yudishtra as he did for Arjuna when the latter was confused about whether to fight against his own relatives or not. Instead Krishna took Yudishtra to the great warrior Bheeshma to clarify his doubts. Bheeshma was actually in his arrow bed when Krishna brought Yudishtra to ask Bheeshma the folowing 6 questions. It is with these 6 questions the Vishnu Sahasranama starts:

  1. Who (“kim”) is the greatest (“ekam”) Lord (“daivatam”) in the world (“loke”)?
  2. Who is the one (“ekam”) refuge (“paraayanam”) for all?
  3. By glorifying (“sthuvantah”) whom (“kam”) can man (“manavah”) reach the Auspiciousness (“shubam”) (peace and prosperity)?
  4. By worshiping (“archantah”) whom can a man reach auspiciousness (peace and prosperity)?
  5. What (“ko”) is, in thy opinion, the Greatest Dharma?
  6. By (“kim”) doing japa of what can “creatures” (jantu) go beyond (“mutchyate”) the bonds (“bandhanaath”) of samsara?

Bheeshma answered that whoever brought you in here, is the greatest Lord and he is the one to whom anyone must surrender. He added that meditating on His 1000 names, one can reach the auspicious state and get rid of Bhandas and Karmas. Having said this, he continued saying the 1000 names of Lord Vishnu. This part of Mahabharat is called Vishnu Sahasranamam.

Good Reference for meanings: Vishnu Sahasranamam Meaning



  1. Well written and summarized. Keep writing more on the treasures of our heritage.

  2. Is there any link of pdf format of version of vishnu sahasranamam so as to download?

    1. Uploaded the pdf file in the widget.. It has scripts and also meanings translated in English.. Hope you find it useful.. 🙂

  3. I have personally many times experienced the wonderful benefits of chanting this stotra. More so when I ponder on the meanings of the names while chanting. This immediately gives positive circumstances and a feeling of inner peace. It need not be chanted outloud͵ the effects become visible even while chanting mentally͵ so on that point alone I disagree with this article.

    1. Sasha · · Reply

      In this age of Kali Yuga, there is more benefit chanting prayers out loud. All the holy places in the universe sit in your right ear. So when that sound vibration goes in, it purifies the mind and the heart. It showers the positive energy on the heart and the lord sits In our heart. The Supreme likes to hear these beautiful prayers. It takes away all the dust/sin that is there.
      Yes, it’s nice to chant it mentally. But chanting it out loud brings even more benefit.

  4. Alert recitation of VSN leads to a heightened intellectual state as well as better comprehension of the Gitaʹs message. These two go together.

  5. i started reading vsn in the month of feb.. now i can recite whole vsn even in my dreams 🙂

    1. Hi Pranav,
      Great to hear that! Good for you! 🙂

  6. Good work. God bless u


    greatest peace of mind every day for me after I recite VSN daily.

  8. VSN is my greatest support in life.

  9. ganesh ramasamy · · Reply

    Beautifully explained. Please keep writing. Thank you.

  10. vijay kumar · · Reply

    Key of life

  11. Thanks for this 🙂 Nicely explained and well written !!

  12. Thank you so much… You have written it so good….

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