The Shrivatsa symbol on the chest
of Shrivishnu is the seat of ‘Shri Mahalakshmi’
In the Shrimadbhagwat, Maharshi Vyas has written, ‘In Vaikunth everyone looks alike Shrivishnu. There is only one symbol on the body of Shrivishnu which distinguishes Him from the others. That is the ‘Shrivatsa’ symbol on the right side of His chest’. There is a tuft of white hair on the right side of the chest of Shrivishnu. This is called as the symbol of ‘Shrivatsa’. Shri means ‘Shri Mahalakshmi’ and ‘vatsa’ means beloved. The one who is the beloved to Shrimahalakshmi is ‘Shrivatsa’. This symbol on the chest of Shrivishnu signifies the seat of ‘Shri Mahalakshmi’!
वक्षस्य शुक्लवर्ण-दक्षिणावर्त-रोमावली । -Shabdakalpadrum
Origin : वक्षस्य means on the chest, शुक्ल वर्ण means fair complexioned like the jasmine (mogra) flower, दक्षिणावर्त means facing the right and रोमावली means bunch of hair on the chest.
Meaning : A tuft of pure white hair on the chest of Shrimahavishnu turning towards the right and creating a symbol is the Shrivatsa. To understand the Shrivatsa symbol in the Kaliyug, it is depicted in the active form of Deity Lakshmi with four arms, seated on a lotus.
According to the Shrimad Bhagwat, of the ten incarnations of Shrivishnu, Kalki incarnation will have the Shrivatsa symbol on His body.
2. Other features of the Shrivatsa symbol
A. The Shrivatsa represents the eightfold Great Illusion. Shrivatsa means the Great Illusion (Maya), including all the visible galaxies and the universe. The eightfold Great Illusion is the Divine energy of Shrivishnu, in other words ‘Shri Mahalakshmi’.
B. The white hair identified as the Shrivatsa symbol is the non-materialized (nirgun) symbol representing Parameshwar (the Supreme God) who has no beginning and no end !
C. When Maharshi Bhrugu kicked the chest of Shrivishnu, Shri Mahalakshmi residing in his heart in the form of Shrivatsa left the Vaikunth. That is why Shrivishnu had to assume the incarnation of ‘Tirupati Balaji’, that is ‘Shrinivas’.
D. The incarnation of Shrivishnu known to all in the Kaliyug is that of ‘Tirupati Balaji’. The symbol of Shrivatsa is believed to be on his chest. When a VIP or Saint visits the temple , a photograph of the sandalwood paste smeared on the Shrivatsa symbol on the chest of the Tirupati Balaji idol is gifted to him as prasad, on behalf of the temple. When that sandalwood paste is looked at it becomes obvious that this symbol is none other that of Shrimahalakshmi seated on a lotus.
3. Description of the Shrivatsa
symbol by different Sages in different ways
A. In the Vishnupuran (Part 1, Chapter 22, Holy verse 69) Sage Parashar tells Maitreyi, ‘O Maitreyi Sage Vasishtha has told me about the Shrivatsa symbol ‘श्रीवत्ससंस्थानधरम् अनन्ते च समाश्रितम् प्रधानम् ।‘ which means among the Principles of Nature Shrivishnu is adorning the chief one in the form of Shrivatsa.
B. Shrivishnu has received the name of Lakshmivallabh after adorning the symbol of Shrivatsa. Lakshmivallabh means the one who is dear to Shrilakshmi.
C. By wearing the Shrivatsa symbol Shrivishnu has received the name of ‘Shrivatsavaksha’, the one with the Shrivatsa symbol on the chest. There are several references in the Shrimadbhagwat of Shrivatsa adorned Shrivishnu.
D. There was a Sage named Vatsa from whom the Vatsa gotra (lineage) started. The sixth incarnation of Shrivishnu, Parshuram was born in this gotra. Sadguru (Mrs.) Binda Singbal too is born in the Shri Vatsa gotra.
E. A quote from Shrimadbhagwat says, ‘During the reign of Shrikrishna, in a place called Pundru, King Paundruk was impersonating Shrikrushna by copying his attire and wearing a peacock feather. He even wielded a fake discus (sudarshan chakra). When Paundruk called Shrikrushna a fraud and challenged Him to fight him, Shrikrushna came to his palace and said. ‘O foolish only the one who never falters, who is pure-minded with a clean conscience and is worshipped in the entire universe, can adorn the Shrivatsa mudra’. Then Shrikrushna released the sudarshan chakra and annihilated Paundruk.
Mr. Vinayak Shanbag, Jaipur, Rajasthan (16.4.2019)