While commencing any auspicious act, even before the worship of ShriGaṇesh, the priest asks the worshipper to perform achaman. During achaman, 24 Names of ShriVishṇu are pronounced.
1. Importance of selecting 24 specific
Names out of the 1000 Names of ShriVishṇu
A. Symbols of 24 Principles
Panchamahabhutas (The five Cosmic Principles – Pruthvi [Absolute Earth], Apa [Absolute Water],Tej [Absolute Fire], Vayu [Absolute Air] and Akash [Absolute Ether]), five subjects associated with the Panchamahabhutas-Word, touch, form, taste and fragrance, so also the five senseorgans, five motor organs, the three basic components – Sattva, Raja and Tama and the mind – all add up to 24.
B. Symbol of 24 qualities
Compilers of scriptures have identified 24 qualities. These are 1. Shape, colour, 2. Taste,3. Fragrance, 4. Touch, 5. Number, 6. Dimension, 7. Severalty,8. Conjunction, 9. Disjunction, 10. Remoteness, 11. Proximity,12. Weight, 13. Fluidity, 14. Viscidity, 15. Sound, 16. Understanding or knowledge, 17. Pleasure, 18. Pain, 19. Desire, 20. Aversion,21. Effort, 22. Merit or virtue, 23. Demerit, 24. The self-reproductive quality.
2. Meaning of 24 Names
क: + ईश = केश (व) (Kaha+Ish = Kesh [v]). Here ‘kaha’ means sons or grandsons. One who is bestowed with sonsor grandsons, meaning, One whobestows sons or grandsonsis Keshav. ‘Kaha’ also means Deity Brahma, Dakshaprajapati, Kashyap, Vayu and Sun. ‘Ish’ means God, One who has control.One who keeps Deity Brahma, Dakshaprajapati, Kashyap, Vayu,Sun etc. under His control, meaning, who is ‘Ish’(Supreme God) to all of them, is Keshav. The word Keshav has such an expansive meaning; hence, it earned the honour of being the first among the 24 Names.
Principle from which the world was created is Narayaṇ.
In Sanskrut, ‘Ma’ means Lakshmi and ‘dhav’ means husband. Madhav means husband of Shri Lakshmi. Husband is the one who looks after the welfare, and ‘Ma’ means mother or earth. One who looks after the welfare of mother, eaning, the earth is Madhav.
Go + vid = Govind. ‘Go’ means cow, earth, Heaven and Veda. ‘गांअविन्दतइतिगोविन्द: ।’- One who has been given Kamadhenu (Divine, wish-fulfilling cow) by the ocean, One who saved the earth through the Incarnation of Varaha, One who was given Heaven by Deity Indra and One who protected the Vedas by taking up the form of a fish is Govind.
One who pervades the universe is Shri Vishṇu.
One who has destroyed the Demon named Madhu is Madhusudan. There are 24 fundamental Principles. Among all these Principles, Shrikrushṇa is the foremost and hence, He is called Madhuha or Madhusudan. (Mahabharat)
Tri+vikram = Trivikram. ‘Tri’ means three. The word ‘vikram’ has many meanings such as speed, departure,stepping, victory, valour, courage.One who encompasses the three regions of Heaven,earth and Hell and extends beyond. It also means, One who upon conquering the three basic components of Sattva, Raja and Tama transcends them, is Trivikram.
As mentioned above, Vaman is associated with the Vaman Incarnation of Shri Vishṇu. One who ensures discarding of the ego is Vaman.
There are many meanings of the word ‘Shri’ -Wealth, Lakshmi, prosperity, riches, elderliness, beauty, lustre, fame, Saraswati, virtues & the three Purusharthas (Basic pursuits of life) of Dharma (Righteousness), Artha (Material gain) and Kama (Desire). One who takes on ‘Shri’ in any of the above ways is Shridhar.
One who has control over his organ of knowledge is Rhushikesha. Rhushik also means happiness from basic tendencies. Happiness is Swarupanand (Bliss experienced uponself-realisation). Deity of Swarupanand is Rhushikesha.
The Name Padmanabha has been interpreted thus in Sanskrut. Padma means naḍi-chakra (Centre located on the energy channel in the body through which the spiritual energy flows). All the chakras that find a mention in the science of Yoga are assumed to be in lotus form. The Name Padmanabha indicates Shri Vishṇu’s mastery over Yoga.
One who binds the entire world is Damodar. One whose stomach is generous, meaning, One who has accommodated the entire Creation, universe in His stomach is Damodar.
Sankarshaṇ is an act drawing sorrows and ailments, and taking them to a normal level.One who attracts or draws inappropriate vibrations and transforms them into appropriate vibrations is Sankarshaṇ. One who attracts the entire world towards Himself, is Sankarshaṇ.
He is the source of Creation and Dissolution of the collection of organs;hence, He is known as Vasudev. He is omnipresent and the entire universe is within Him; therefore, scholars know Himas Vasudev.
Pradyumna means Deity Madan or Kamadev. Shri Vishṇu is also identified as Kamadev. It is Shri Vishṇu who enticed demon Bhasmasur by taking up the Mohini form and killed him; hence,the Name Pradyumna.
Aniruddha means One whose speed (of movement) can be restricted by none. Shri Vishṇu has an unrestrained movement everywhere (in the universe); hence, He is Aniruddha.
Supreme among the men is Purushottam. One who completes everything is ‘Puru’. All the living beings surrender unto Him and hence, He is ‘saha’ and is ‘uttam’, meaning, supreme. Therefore,He is Purushottam.
That knowledgeable God, in front of whom knowledge acquired through the senses turns out to be too inferior,is Adhokshaj. A common man acquires knowledge through the sense organs. On the other hand, God is entirely in knowledge-form.He needs no medium to acquire knowledge.
Supreme among the men is Nrusinha or Narsimha (Man-lion). Shri Vishṇu was half-man and half-lion in Nrusinha Incarnation, and in this form, He killed Hiranyakashyapu; hence, the Name Narsimha.
One who is never displaced from His position, whose positions is always supreme, is Achyut. Meaning of the word ‘Achyut’ is – that which is indestructible.
One who destroys the evil people is Janardan.
Up + Indra = Upendra. He is the younger brother of Deity Indra. ‘Indra’ also means soul and the word ‘up’ means proximity. Hence, Upendra means One who is in close proximity to the soul, meaning, the Paramatma (Superme soul). Shri Vishṇu is Paramatma-form, and from this perspective the Name Upendra suits well.
One who eliminates sorrows is Hari.
The meanings of the word Shri such as Lakshmi, Wealth, estate etc. have been mentioned while giving the meaning of ‘Shridhar’. One who attracts ‘Shri’ is Shrikrushṇa. The word Krushṇa has been derived from the root ‘Krush’,which means ‘to plough’. ‘Krush’ is a word associated with earth,meaning, power. On the other hand, the word ‘ṇa’ is associated with happiness. By uniting these words and their meanings, ShriVishṇu, meaning, Krushṇa becomes the existing and Anand (Bliss) form.