By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Visnusukta, ViSNusukta, Vishnusukta
Viṣṇusukta literally means ‘the hymn dealing with Viṣṇu’.
The Vedas contain several hymns known as Suktas, addressed to different deities. The Ṛgveda itself is said to contain 1017 such Suktas. The Viṣṇusukta is one such important hymn addressed to Lord Viṣṇu. There are two versions:
- From the Ṛgveda - It is actually a hymn of 45 ṛks or verses culled from four different places of the Ṛgveda.
- From the Taittiriya Samhitā - It is a smaller one with only 12 verses out of which eleven are taken from the Ṛgveda itself.
Significance of Chanting Viṣṇusukta
These suktas may be ceremonially chanted as japa to get specific results or may be used in Vedic sacrifices at the appropriate places. For instance, if the mantra ‘tad viprāso....’ is repeated 100 times every day, the person who does it will remember Lord Viṣṇu at the time of death.
Overview of Viṣṇusukta
A brief summary of the twelve mantras from the Taittiriya Samhitā is as follows:
- I praise the heroic deeds of Viṣṇu. It is he who has created all the worlds and their supervisory deities. He has traversed and measured all the worlds. He has established the Satyaloka as the highest world for the benefit of the seekers. The next part of this mantra is used to tie the festoon of grass to the shed housing the carts containing the soma juice.
- The sky dear to him is all pervading. Those who want to reach him are per-forming sacrifices and giving gifts. In his world bliss is constantly flowing. That Viṣṇu by whose power all the worlds are supported, is praised for transcending them through his three steps. He is being praised as the supreme even as the lion in a mountain is, by other animals.
- O Lord Viṣṇu! None is able to know the limits of your cosmic body! We know only its two aspects: the earth and the sky. Other aspects like the heavenly worlds are known only to you. This Lord Viṣṇu pervaded this earth in order to give it to the gods who requested him for it. Those who pray to him live a steady and happy life. It is he who has created these worlds to grant them to his votaries.
- May that Viṣṇu who occupied the three worlds be our Master. His very name Viṣṇu shows his greatness. May the gods protect us, who are living in that part of the earth, occupied by the cosmic strides of Viṣṇu! When Viṣṇu occupied this earth through his three steps, it was covered over by the dust raised.
- When Viṣṇu, the all-powerful protector traversed the worlds with his three cosmic steps, he automatically upheld all the aspects of dharma. Look at this Viṣṇu, the friend of Indra, by whose grace one is able to perform the Vedic rites. Just as one can perceive the all-pervading sky without any obstruction, the persons endowed with spiritual wisdom can see the highest Abode of Viṣṇu always.
Apt Recitation of Viṣṇusukta
Devotees highly praise this Abode of Viṣṇu with appropriate hymns. The last mantra is a phalaśruti or eulogy. Its recitation results in correcting all the defects and confers victory on the person who recites. Most of these mantras are ṛks taken from the Ṛgveda. The commentators have also given the viniyoga for them. For instance, the fifth mantra is to be chanted in the sacrifice called Ukthya. The seventh mantra has to be used in the Darśapurṇamāsa sacrifice during the oblations for the expiation of sins.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore