The Nameless has a thousand Names; and it is through these Names that the Nameless is to be realized. A 'thousand' stands here for 'myriad', 'numerous'. The Purusasukta describes the Cosmic Person as a-thousand-headed, a-thousand-eyed, a thousand - footed, etc.
Explaining the meaning of the expression 'a thousand', Sayana says that since the Cosmic Being is inclusive of all creatures, and since the creatures are innumerable and their features are included in that Being, the word 'a thousand' signifies 'endless', 'countless'.1
In the eleventh chapter of the Bhagavad - Gita, Sri Krishna reveals his Cosmic Form (visva-rupa) to Arjuna. In the description of this Form, expressions such as these are used: "endowed with many faces and eyes" (aneka- vaktra- nayanam)," endless " (anantam), " with faces every where" (visvatomukham), "endless form pervading every where "(sarvato’ nantarupam), "the great form" (rupam mahat), etc.
In the Visnu-sahasranama there are names which convey the same meaning: bahusirah, the many - headed one (115), sarvatomukhah, with faces everywhere (816), sahasramurdha, the one with a thousand heads (224), sahasraksah, with a thousand eyes (226), sahasrapat, with a thousand feet (227), visvabahuh, the omni-armed (316), visvamurtih, the omni-formed (717), naikarupah, the one not with a single form (271), brhadrupah but with an all-inclusive form (272), anantarupah, the one whose form is endless (932), anekamurtih, whose forms are many (721).
1. See the
Taittiriya-aranyaka, iii, 12: Sanyana:
sahasra-sabdasya upalaksanatvat anantaih sirobhih yuktah ity-arthah'
Author : Dr. T. M. P. Mahadevan