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...

Chapter 4 - (Mahābhārata 12.324.1-39)

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

1 If the great king Vasu was a devotee of the Effulgent Lord, how then did he fall and enter the depths of the earth?

Bhīṣma said:

2 Here also they cite an ancient story, Bhārata, and also the dialogue of the ṛṣis and the gods.

3 The gods said thus to the best of the twice-born ones: “Sacrifice should be done with a goat. A goat alone is to be known as ‘aja’ and not any other animal.” This [was their] position.

The Ṛṣis said:

4 “With seeds (bīja) should be sacrificed in sacrifices,” this indeed is the Vedic injunction. Seeds denote aja, you ought not to kill a goat.

5 This is not the dharma of good people, gods, where an animal is slain. This is the Kṛta age, the best one. Indeed how can an animal be slain?

Bhīṣma said:

6 As the ṛṣis were conversing thus with the gods, the best among kings, Vasu, wandering in the welkin, on his way arrived at that place accompanied with all his army and vehicles.

7–8 Having seen the sky-farer Vasu suddenly approaching, the twice-born ones said to the gods, “He will dispel the doubt. How indeed can this great Vasu, the sacrificer, master of charity, the best one, who loves the welfare of all beings speak otherwise?”

9–10 Thus having conferred, the gods and the ṛṣis, hurriedly approaching king Vasu asked, “King, how should one sacrifice? With goats or with herbs? Resolve this doubt of ours. Good sir, you are considered the authority by us.”

11 Having greeted them with joined hands, that Vasu asked them, “Of you, who here champions which view? Speak the truth, assembled ones.”

The Ṛṣis said:

12 O lord of men, “With grains (dhānya) should be sacrificed”—this is our view, but the view championed by the gods is ‘animal.’ Tell us, king!

Bhīṣhma said:

13 Knowing the opinion of the gods, Vasu sided with their faction. Then he spoke his verdict thus, “With aja, that is, goat, should be sacrificed.”

14 Incensed with him consequently, all the sages, blazing like the sun, said to Vasu, who was stationed in the sky and was speaking for the view of the gods.

15 “Since you took the side of the gods, from heaven do fall! From today onwards, your sky-faring is terminated (vihata), king![1] Due to the blow of our curse, you will enter into the earth, having split it apart.”

16 Thereafter, king, in that very instant, the sky-faring king was immediately born (sambabhūva)[2] as the one being in a chasm (vivara[3]) in the earth. But his memory did not leave him, due to Nārāyaṇa’s decree.

17 But all the gods together, not being distracted, contemplated about Vasu’s liberation from the curse. “A good deed indeed is done by this king.

18 It is for our sake that this curse is incurred by the king, that great soul! Celestials! A favor should be done by all of us in return.”

19 Having resolved at once with this thought, reaching a decision and becoming joyful, the gods then spoke to king Uparicara:

20 “You have served (tvaṃ bhaktaḥ) Hari the god of whatever is related to Brahman (bramhaṇyadevaḥ) and the teacher of gods and asuras. Gratified by you, He will verily liberate you from the curse as you desire.

21 Also, honor is to be done to those twice-born great-souled ones. O best of kings, surely there will be the fruit on account of their austerities.

22 Since you suddenly fell from the sky into the depth of the earth, best of kings, we verily grant you one favor.

23 Sinless one! As long as you remain being the one who has gone into the furrow in the earth due to the detrimental effect of the curse, so long will you receive vasordhārā[4] [sacrificial libations] which are properly offered in sacrifices by the wise, great souls.

24 Through continuous mindfulness of us you will receive this and languor will not touch you. Nor will there be hunger or thirst, best of kings, while you will be in the earthly trench.

25 That God [Nārāyaṇa], being pleased through our favor, will verily lead [you, who,] having imbibed Vasordhāra and waxing with brilliance, to Brahmaloka.”

26 Thus having given a boon to the king, all the celestials there went to their respective dwellings, [as did] the ṛṣis rich in austerities.

27 And [Vasu] incessantly performed the worship of Viṣvaksena,[5] Bhārata, and chanted all the while that [mantra] worthy of being chanted, which arose from Nārāyaṇa’s mouth.

28 Moreover, subduer of foes, he sacrificed to Hari, the Lord of gods, with the five sacrifices five times [daily], even though he was in a furrow in the earth.

29 The Lord Nārāyaṇa Hari was gratified by the devotion of his singular devotee who was totally intent on Him and who had conquered his mind.

30 Smiling slightly,[6] the boon-granting, Effulgent Lord Viṣṇu spoke thus to the best of the birds (dvijottama[7]), Garuḍa of great speed, who was in the vicinity.

31 “Go by my decree, best of the twice born, highly fortunate one! A sovereign king named Vasu, a righteous soul, has taken refuge in me.

32–33 Due to Brāhmaṇas’ wrath he entered into the depths of earth. The lords of learning are already appeased. But, you best of birds, go to him who is completely concealed in the earth’s furrow. And by my decree, Garuḍa, immediately make that best of kings who is wandering in the underworld a sky-farer again!

34 Then having spread his wings, Garuḍa who has the speed of wind, entered the furrow in the earth where Vasu lived with his speech restrained.

35 Then mightily swooping him up, the son of Vinatā quickly soared up into the sky and liberated him there.

36 Furthermore, at that very instant, the king Uparicara became enlightened (saṃjajñe). And still being in the body, the best of kings attained Brahmaloka.

37 Thus, son of Kunti, through a fault of speech, by divine decree and due to the curse of the twice-born, the state fit for one who does not sacrifice (ayajvārhā)[8] was obtained by the great soul.

38 Only that Puruṣa, the Lord Hari, was resorted to by him. And therefore he quickly cast off the curse and obtained Brahmaloka.

39 Thus I have narrated to you everything. As to how the men [of Śvetadvīpa] were, how that Ṛṣi Nārada went to Śvetadvīpa—all that I will tell you. Listen with a focused mind, king!

Footnotes and references:


Vihata means repelled, rejected, it also means “furrowed.”


This term (sambhū) has many shades of meaning, all alluding to the features of pravṛtti.


Vihata in the previous verse also means furrow, which is what vivara literally means.


Sacrificial oblations.


Literally, the one whose armies or powers or are everywhere, that is, Nārāyaṇa.


For smayanniva, lit. as if smiling.


Dvijottama can mean a brāhmaṇa or any initiated one who is “born” again. It can also mean a bird, since it is born twice: once as an egg and again as a bird.



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