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Hari Vishnu statue in Kumbeswara temple

Hari or Har(i) (Sanskrit: हरि, IAST: Hari) is a name for the supreme absolute in the Vedas. Hari is also the one who removes darkness and illusion. Hari refers to God who takes away all the sorrows of his devotees. In the Rigveda’s Purusha Suktam (Praise of the supreme cosmic Being), Hari is the first and most important name of God ( whose Sanskrit cognate is Brahman), second and alternative name of the supreme Being is Narayana according to Narayana Suktam of theYajurveda. Within the Hindu tradition, it is often used interchangeably with Vishnu to such an extent that they are considered to be one and the same. In the Vedas, it is required to use the mantra "Harih om" before any recitation, just to declare that every ritual we perform is an offering to that supreme Divine Being; even if the hymn praises some one or the other demigods. The idea of demigods as found in Hinduism is very different from that found within Greco-Roman mythology. This has to be borne in mind while understanding how, within Hinduism, all beings including demigods are inseparable from Hari. The phrase "Harih Om" gestures towards Advaita Vedanta and other categories of non-dual thinking. "Harih Om" is akin to saying that all creation that we can see is in fact, a mirroring of the One Self. This is not the concept of mimesis as found in Western philosophy.

Hari in Purusha Suktam, Narayana Suktam and Rudra Suktam is usually depicted as having a form with countless heads, limbs and arms (a way of saying that the Supreme Being is everywhere and cannot be limited by conditional aspects of time and space). Lord Hari is also called sharangapani as he also wields a bow named as sharanga.

The word "Hari" is widely used in Sanskrit and Prakrit literature as well as in Hindu, Sikhism, Buddhist and Jain religions. The name "Hari" also appears as the 656th name of Vishnu in the Vishnu sahasranama of the Mahabharata and is considered to be of great significance in Vaishnavism.


The Sanskrit word "हरि" (Hari) is derived from the Proto-Indo-European root "*ǵʰel- to shine; to flourish; green; yellow" which also gave rise to the Persian terms zar 'gold', Greek khloros 'green', Slavic zelen 'green' and zolto 'gold', as well as the English words yellow and gold.

The same root occurs in other Sanskrit words like haridrā, 'turmeric', named for its yellow color.

Other names of Hari[edit]

There are multiple names of Lord Hari mentioned in the holy scriptures of Hinduism such as the Bhagavad Gita and Mahabharata. A few names which are used quite frequently,

In Indian religion[edit]

  • The Harivamsha ("lineage of Hari") is a text in both the Puranic and Itihasa traditions.
  • As the name of tawny-colored animals, hari may refer to lions (also a name of the zodiacal sign Leo), bay horses, or monkeys. The feminine Harī is the name of the mythological "mother of monkeys" in the Sanskrit epics.
  • Harihara is the name of a fused deity form of both Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Hara) in Hinduism.
  • Hari is the name of a class of gods under the fourth Manu (manu tāmasa, "Dark Manu") in the Puranas.
  • In Hinduism, beginning with Adi Sankara's commentary on the Vishnu sahasranama, hari became etymologized as derived from the verbal root hṛ "to grab, seize, steal", in the context of Vaishnavism interpreted as "to take away or remove evil or sin",[1] and the name of Vishnu rendered as "he who destroys samsara", which is the entanglement in the cycle of birth and death, along with ignorance, its cause;[2] compare hara as a name of Shiva, translated as "seizer" or "destroyer".
  • In the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, Hari is a name of both Krishna and Vishnu, invoked in the Hare Krishna mantra (Hare could be a vocative form of Harih, used in mahamantra).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit Dictionary (1899):
  2. ^ Sri Vishnu Sahasranama, commentary by Sri Sankaracharya, translated by Swami Tapasyananda (Ramakrishna Math Publications, Chennai)