The Meaning and Concept of the Name Janardana

Maha Vishnu

by Jayaram V

The name Janardana is used in the Bhagavadgita, Vishnu Sahasranama and in Vaishnava literature as an epithet of Vishnu and Krishna. Its meaning is rather roundabout. Jana means people. Ardana means disturbance, trouble, distress, pain, suffering, etc. It also means destruction, annihilation and tormenting. Hence, Janardana means he who inflicts pain and suffering upon people. While the meaning may seem rather odd since God is supposed to be a compassionate being, it is not so. As the preserver and enforcer of Dharma, Janardana (Maha Vishnu) subjects people to torment or pain and suffering (ardana) when they deviate from Dharma and engage in evil actions.

On earth, kings and rulers are entrusted with the same obligatory duty. To ensure order and regularity, they have to punish evil and wicked people and make them suffer according to their deeds. They are also supposed to protect other people from them. As Isvara, the lord of the universe, Maha Vishnu performs similar duties. When people realize their transgressions and seek forgiveness, he also removes their suffering. Hence, Janardana is both a tormentor for the wicked and remover of suffering and afflictions for those who take refuge in him and seek his forgiveness. Since Shiva is the considered the destroyer and tormentor of the world, he is known as Ardana, which also serves as a shortened form of Ardhanariswara.

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