All words are the Lord’s names because everything is a manifestation of ईश्वर Isvara. While every word is his name, we do have significant names like Hari, Hara and so on. Why? The word, ‘tree’ means only tree; it does not mean the sun, the moon, or the earth. However, special words like Hari, Hara, Siva and so on include every form, each name having its own special connotation.
A nama, नाम name, has a namin नामि, an object to reveal. Without an object there is no nama. There is a relationship between a name and its object, nama-nami–sambandha, as between a word and its meaning, vag-artha-sambandha. When I show you a rose, you recognize it and the word ‘rose’ pops up in your mind. Since you have memory, you can think of a lake while you are travelling through a desert. The object need not be objectified by the senses. Once you know the meaning of the word, the object, you cannot say the word without thinking of its meaning.
The sambandha between the, vak and its artha is established by repeated exposure and education. Once you have that connection, then the name and its corresponding object are inseparable.
You can invoke lsvara in a particular name.
Among the many special names and forms of the Lord, you can have a name and form for the three-fold prayer. This is called इष्ट-देवता ista-devata, chosen form and name of lsvara. What does the word ‘Rama’ mean to you? The Lord. Krsna? The Lord. Narayana? The Lord. Siva? The Lord. Ganesa? The Lord. Every word is the Lord. Suppose I ask you, “Think of the Lord.” Who comes to your mind? “Rama.” That is your ista-devta. When Isvara is understood as one who is all, you can choose any one special name and form to invoke the Lord and offer the prayers. The attitude of generations of people, towards words like Rama and so on, have created an inseparable meaning along with an appropriate bhavna, attitude. You invoke Isvara by a particular name and form.
Let us look at the name Hari in the ‘hare rama hare krsna’ kirtana. The one who takes away all papa is Hari, harti papani iti harih. You are relating to Lord as a devotee, a bhakta. The words, Hari or Rama or Krsna, invoke the devotee, who is the basic individual.
You are son-brother-father; daughter-sister mother and so on, but who are you? You are a simple conscious being who assumes these various roles… This being, without playing any role, is related to whom? The basic individual is related to the total, समष्टि samasti. In the total manifestation, you are an individual with one body-mind-sense complex? This is a single conscious being, but like a tree in the forest. The forest-ness pervades the tree, but the tree is not the forest.
The individual body-mind-sense complex is pervaded by Isvara, but with reference to that single body-mind-sense complex, one is a जीव jiva. That jiva is a simple conscious being, and the simple conscious being is related to the total, Isvara.
A God who has a location in a theology, cannot be the creation itself. He can only be like a king ruling the universe. Such a God becomes time-bound and therefore limited. A religious pursuit becomes meaningful only when lsvara is total. He cannot be vengeful. When you say samasti it means that the total manifestation is lsvara. You are included in that, yet related to lsvara. When you use a means to invoke that lsvara, who includes everything, then, related to that lsvara, you are a devotee. When you think of your daughter, the parent in you is invoked. When you think of lsvara, the basic person in you is invoked. The basic person is ever related to lsvara. That is why that relationship does not vary. It is always the same. Your grandfather related to Isvara in the same way, individual to total. Your father related to Isvara in the same way, individual to total. You relate to Isvara in the same way, individual to total. On the other hand, whereas, your grandfather related to your father, as a father, you relate to your father as son. The son becomes father, and thus, all other relationships are variable. The relationship to Isvara, however, is an invariable relationship; it is between an individual and the total. This devotee pervades and sustains every role. While the role is this person, the person is not the role. The one who has this knowledge is a devotee, bhakta. That devotee is invoked when you say, ‘hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare.’
Swami Dayananda Saraswati