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Meaning of Bhagavan (Source: Lecture by Swami Tattvavidananda)

Two meanings:

1. Bhagavan is similar to Dhanavan. The person who is wealthy. Similarly, Bhagavan


means the person who is full of Bhaga. Bhaga consists of six attributes or qualities
Shad guna aishwarya sampannaH: (Quoted by Shankara from Vishnupurana in
Karma Yoga Bhashya Ch 3)
1.1 Aishwarya = Over Lordship or immanence
1.2 Veerya = Power of creation and sustenance
1.3 Yashas = fame and honor (name and fame)
1.4 Shree = wealth and beauty
1.5 Jnana = knowledge
1.6 Vairagya = dispassion or detachment
2. Bhagavan = Bha + ga + va + nn (another meaning in Vishnupurana)
2.1 Bha = Bhu sattaya = existence (the core of the individual) or being (Bha),
basic construct of an individual or jeeva. Being is common with Ishwara and
Jeeva. Jeeva is limited Satta, Ishwara is unlimited. It is limited until realized.
2.2 Ga = gathi = incessant alternating between pain and pleasure (gathihi =
karma phalam). The mechanism of pleasure and pain happens through the
agency of Ishwara (sukha and dukha). Because, Ishwara is the karma phala
dhatrutvam.
2.3 Va = Knowingness, knowledge is complete in Ishwara and not inhibited
by ignorance Ishwara = Satyam Jnanam Anantham Brahma. Va = sarva jnana
murthy
2.4 Nn = Negation or neti neti iti upadeshaH. When we use words to
indicate, we measure, we use them in a measured manner (desha + kala +
vastu) time, place, and shape. Therefore, immeasurable cannot be
described in words. Yatho vaacho nivartante, apraapya manasa sah –
Taittriya Upanishad; God is immeasurable. Therefore, you measure God by
negation of all labels or language. At the end of negation the residue is God.

Vaasudeva = son of Vasudeva and Devaki, this is Ishwara’s incarnation only.


The wider meaning is “vasanaath vasudevasya” mantra from Vishnupurana,
it defines Vaasudeva. VasuHu + DevaH = sat and chit. Vasu = vasanthi asmin
jaganthi (universes), vasanthi = they are, substratum of universe is the
being. The ‘isness’ is substantive or substratum of the universe. The name
and form is superimposed as Vasu. VasaH = being = Ishwara. The being is
sentient; therefore, that is the devaH or illumination. It is the
Knowingness that shines as the being. Deva = div kanthau = shining or
knowingness. This is the nirguna aspect of Ishwara. The saguna aspect is
the cosmic life. The saguna sakara = jagat guru Vasudeva or sri Krishna.