Narayaniya (Narayaneeyam)

by Vishwa Adluri | 41,385 words

The English translation of the Narayaniya (Narayaneeyam), literally, “the work containing everything about Narayana”) which is a small text of 1006 verses occurring in the Shantiparva of the Mahabharata. The aim of the text is the glorification of the God Hari-Narayana, who is described as the God of gods (devadeva). Narayana is described as the g...

Note to the Translation

This translation is based on the constituted text of the critical edition of the Mahābhārata.[1] I have remained true to this edition throughout, even when some have been critical of the editor’s decisions.[2] I have compared the text of the critical edition with the text of Nīlakaṇṭha (the vulgate) as reprinted in the Kinjawadekar or the Citraśāla Press edition and also with the popular Gita Press edition.[3] In some places, where I thought them significant, I have noted their divergences from the critical edition. Additionally, all lines and passages from the critical apparatus (that is, such as are found only in some manuscripts) have been translated and included in an apparatus. This edition can thus truly claim to be the most comprehensive edition of the Nārāyaṇīya currently available. As regards translations, I have consulted the three existing translations I am aware of: the English translation by K. M. Ganguli, the French translation by Anne-Marie Esnoul, and the Hindi translation by Pandit R. Śāstri.[4] Finally, I have also included excerpts from Nīlakaṇṭha’s commentary, the Bhāratabhāvadīpa, in the notes where appropriate. Though sparse at times, Nīlakaṇṭha’s commentary is an invaluable source of guidance on difficult passages. As the greatest of the Mahābhārata commentators, Nīlakaṇṭha—the Commentator, as Ganguli titles him—deserves much more attention and respect than he has been accorded in the recent period.[5]

Footnotes and references:


S. K. Belvalkar, ed., The Mahābhārata for the First Time Critically Edited, vol. 15: The Śāntiparvan [Part III: Mokṣadharma, A] (Pune: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 1954). The Sanskrit text (in Roman script) has been taken throughout from the electronic version of the Mahābhārata critical edition provided by John Smith at


See the chapter “History of Research,” and, especially the section “The Critical Edition of the Nārāyaṇīya.”


Ramachandra Kinjawadekar, ed., Shriman Mahābhāratam. Śāntiparvātmakaḥ, vol. 5 (Pune: Citrashala Press, 1932); Pandit Ramanarayanadatta Sastri Pandey, ed., Śrīmanmaharṣi Vedavyāsapraṇīta Mahābhārata, vol. 5 (Gorakhpur: Gita Press, no date).


Kisari Mohan Ganguli, The Mahabarata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa Translated into English Prose. Çanti Parva, vol. 2 (Calcutta: Bharata Press, 1891) and Anne-Marie Esnoul, Nārāyaṇīya Parvan du Mahābhārata, un texte Pāñcarātra (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1979). The Hindi translation is the same as the Gita Press (Gorakhpur) edition, cited in the preceding note.


For the reception of Nīlakaṇṭha in the modern period, see Christopher Minkowski, “What Makes a Work ‘Traditional’? On the Success of Nīlakaṇṭha’s Mahābhārata Commentary,” in Boundaries, Dynamics and Constructions of Traditions in South Asia, ed. Federico Squarcini (Florence: Firenze University Press, 2005), 225–52. Among Nīlakaṇṭha’s critics are Franz Bopp, John Muir, K. T. Telang, V. S. Sukthankar, and Adolf Holtzmann Jr.

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