In the ISKCON commentary on the Srimad Bhagavatam, various scriptural quotes are given in support of Gaudiya Vaishnava beliefs about the forms of Vishnu and his incarnations. In particular, this quote from the Vishnu Sahasranamam is given:

Also from the Mahābhārata: amṛtāḿśo 'mṛta-vapuḥ.

This means that Vishnu is Amritamsha, or he whose incarnations are eternal, and Amritavapuh, or he whose body is eternal. And indeed, this quote is found in the BORI critical edition of the Mahabharata:

100 kumudaḥ kuṃdaraḥ kundaḥ parjanyaḥ pavano 'nilaḥ

amṛtāṃśo 'mṛtavapuḥ sarvajñaḥ sarvato mukhaḥ

The Southern recension of the Mahabharata says the same thing:

kumudaH kundaraH kundaH parjanyaH pavano.anilaH.

amR^itAMsho.amR^itavapuH sarvaj~naH sarvatomukhaH.. 13-254-102

Despite all that, I have reason to believe that the verse actually says "amritasho amritavapuh" rather than "amritamsho amritavapuh". That is to say, I think it's possible that Vishnu is described "Amritasha", which means he that consumes or gives nectar, rather than Amritamsha.

The reason I suspect this is that all the commentaries on the Vishnu Sahasranamam I've come across say that it's Amritasha. Here is what this excerpt from Adi Shankaracharya's commentary says, for instance:

  1. The drinker of nectar (Amritashah)

    Being himself the source of nectar; or he who gave the nectar to Devas and himself participated in it; i.e. the nectar obtained by the churning (of the ocean of milk); or whose desire is for Amrita, i.e., immortality.

And here is what the Sri Vaishnava commentator Parashara Bhattar says:

  1. Amritaasah— He Who feeds with Nectar. He feeds His devotees with the Nectar viz, His auspicious qualities.

And here is what the Gaudiya Vaishnava commentator Baladeva Vidyabhushana says:

amRtam ayAcitam moksham ASayati bhojayati bhkatAn iti amRtASah – He Who feeds – bestows moksham to His devotees unasked, is amRtASah.

So what's going on here? Did all the commentators get the verse wrong? Or is the verse given in the BORI critical edition and the Southern recension of the Mahabharata incorrect?

Does anyone know whether there are other manuscripts or recessions of the Mahabharata which say "amritasho" rather than "amritamsho"?


2 Answers 2


Well, given the fact that there were many manuscripts of the Mahabharata spread across India it can easily be that in some of them it's said amṛtāśōmṛtavapuḥ with Amṛtāśaḥ, while in others it is said amṛtāṃśo 'mṛtavapuḥ.

It seems that Ganguli who gave a translation of the Mahabharata into English in his manuscripts of Sanskrit text also saw Amṛtāśaḥ. See at http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m13/m13b114.htm:

... He that drank nectar; He that has an undying body; ...

Ganguli says in preface, http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m01/m01001.htm that he has consulted several Sanskrit manuscripts, of the Bombay edition, and several Bengal editions.

It is important to note that Ganguli translated the text at the end of the 19th century when there was no a critical edition of the Mahabharata yet. He specifically states that he noticed that the text in the individual manuscripts differ.

  • I would like to find at least one manuscript or recension that says "Amṛtāśaḥ". Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 21:18
  • @Keshav - The attachment of Anushasana parva you provided in the chat says the following "Amritaasho Amritavapuhu...". It is provided in the page no: 155 of the attachment. BTW, i have a Vishnu sahasranama book published by Chinna Jeeyar swami from Andhra Pradesh, by Jeeyar educational trust. It also says "Amritaasho Amritavapuhu....." only.
    – user808
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 7:37
  • @Keshav - So, "Amritammso amritavapuhu..." is wrong as most of achrayas rather all acharyas seem to be referrring to "Amritaasho Amritavapuhu...." only.
    – user808
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 7:38
  • 1
    @Krishna OK thanks. Is this the right page? gdurl.com/33iw In any case, if you post an answer giving that gdurl link and saying that it's an excerpt from the Bombay recension of the Mahabharata and that it says Amritasho as opposed to Amritamsho, then I'm happy to accept your answer. Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 14:41
  • @Keshav - It is saying " amritaasho amrutavapuhu...." Only. Moreover, it was your answer and not mine. You identified the actual verse as per Parasara bhattar, Shankara and so on. I didnt even know it...All credit is yours..
    – user808
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 15:42

In Mahabharata (Sanskrit with Hindi Meaning) published by Gita Press Gorakhpur (Page 685 of the document) also it is written अमृताशोऽमृतवपुः

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