Hari (Sanskrit: हरि, IAST: Harī) is the supreme absolute being in Hinduism and is often used interchangeably with Vishnu and Narayana to such an extent that they are considered to be one and the same. Hari can also mean "thief". For example, Lord Hari is one who steals Negativity from his harijans(devottes). Lord Hari is also known to steal the hearts of the Gopis.

Hari is usually depicted holding a padma (lotus flower), Kaumodaki gada (mace), Panchajanya shankha (conch) and the Sudarshana Chakra (discus). Lord Hari is also called sharangapani in the Bhagavad Gita as he also wields a bow named as sharanga.

The word "Hari" is widely used in later Sanskrit and Prakrit literature, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh religions especially preceding the word Om (the word that precedes all else) as in "Hari Om". 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

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

In Indian religion and mythology

A statue of Harihara among the group of monuments at the Badami Cave Temples
  • 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 or Vishnu, invoked in the Hare Krishna mantra (Hare is a vocative form of Harih, used in mahamantra).
  • The element hari is found in a number of Hindu given names, e.g. Bhartrhari, Harendra (i.e. hari-Indra), Harisha (i.e. hari-Isha), Hariprasad, Harikesh (Harikesha, "golden-haired", also a name of Shiva and of Savitar), etc.
  • In Sikhism, it is the holy symbol consisting of the three Gurmukhi letters and is used as "हरि" "ਹਰਿ". The Guru Granth Sahib which Sikhs revere as their 11th guru contains this word more than 8500 times.

See also


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