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 6 - (Mahābhārata 12.326.1-124)

Bhīṣma said:

1 Thus praised with secret and significant names, He revealed himself to sage Nārada, taking on His manifold form.

2 The Lord was somewhat pure in nature like moonlight, somewhat more special than the moon; somewhat similar to the color of fire, somewhat shaped like an altar (diṣṇya).

3 Somewhat like the wing of a parrot, somewhat luminous like a crystal; somewhere it could be called a heap of dark antimony, somewhere having the splendor of gold.

4 Somewhere He shone forth having the color of a coral bud and also having the color white, somewhere having the luster and color of gold and somewhere similar to green beryl.

5 Somewhere like chrysoberyl and somewhere similar to sapphire, somewhere iridescent like a peacock’s neck, somewhere similar to a string of pearls.

6 Full of splendor, the Sempiternal One with thousands of eyes, hundreds of heads, thousands of feet was bearing these various colors in his form.

7–8 The God Hari Nārāyaṇa, the self-controlled One was having thousands of bellies, arms, and was somewhere unmanifest, chanting Oṃ with one mouth, having Sāvitrī as its continuation. With all his other remaining visages he recited the Āraṇyaka which is the wealth arising from the four Vedas. [1]

9 The God of gods, the Lord of sacrifice, was holding a sacrificial altar, a water pot (kamaṇḍalu), darbha grass, stones in the form of jewels, antelope-skin [as a mat], a wooden staff, and a blazing sacrificial fire.

10 Rejoicing in his heart, Nārada, the best of the twice-born, restraining his speech and piously disposed, bowed down to the gratified Lord God. That First among gods, the undecaying One spoke to him who had lowered his head,

11 “Ekata, Dvita, Trita: these great sages reached this place desirous of beholding me.

12 But they did not see me, nor will anyone except the best of the single-minded will see me. You are such a focused one, in my view.

13 O twice-born one, these are my bodies, the very best, born in the abode of Dharma. Worship them always. Be on your way as you have come.

14 And please ask of me [any] boon, O intelligent one, whatever you desire here. I, the Undecaying One, the Universal Form here, am pleased with you today.”

Nārada said:

15 Certainly today I have instantaneously obtained the fruit of my austerities, vows and regulations, since the Effulgent Lord is beheld by me.

16 It is a superlative boon to me that you are seen by me; you the Sempiternal One, the Effulgent Omniscient One, the Lion, the Great Lord with all forms.

Bhīṣma said:

17 Thus having revealed himself to Nārada, the son of Parameṣṭhin, [Nārāyaṇa] further spoke these words: “Go, Nārada, do not delay!

18 Indeed, these are my devotees, free of senses and sustenance, radiant like the moon. They contemplate Me with singular focus, lest there be any obstacle for them.

19 Accomplished are these highly fortunate ones, indeed, first they became single-minded. Becoming free of tamas and rajas, they will undoubtedly enter Me.

20 This One who cannot be seen by the eye, nor perceived by touch, nor indeed smelt is devoid of scent and taste.

21 These three attributes, sattva, rajas, and tamas never sway Him. And that One who is the All-pervading Witness is said to be the Soul of the Universe.

22–23 He does not perish upon the destruction of the sum of all embodied beings. Unborn, eternal, everlasting, beyond attributes and also without parts, transcending the twenty-four elements,[2] he is said to be the twenty-fifth. That Puruṣa is said to be without action and also could be seen only through knowledge.

24 He is to be known as Vāsudeva, that Supreme Self who is sempiternal, O best of the twice-born, entering whom they surely become liberated here.

25 Behold the Lord’s majesty and the greatness of soul, Nārada, who is never stained by auspicious or inauspicious actions.

26 Sattva, rajas, and tamas, these are said to be the attributes (guṇas). They dwell and move about in all bodies.

27 The Knower of the Field experiences these guṇas, but he is not affected by them. Free of guṇas and the enjoyer of guṇas, he is indeed, the creator of guṇas and surpasses the guṇas.

28 O divine sage, the earth, the support of this universe dissolves into water. Into fire, the waters dissolve, fire dissolves into wind.

29 Wind goes into dissolution in space and space goes into dissolution in the Mind. Mind is indeed the highest manifest entity. That dissolves into the Unmanifest (avyakta).

30 O Brahman, the Unmanifest completely dissolves into the inactive Puruṣa. Verily, there is nothing beyond that eternal Puruṣa.

31 Indeed, in this universe there is no being which is eternal whether movable or immovable, except that Puruṣa the Eternal Vāsudeva alone who is immensely powerful and the soul of all beings.

32 Earth, air, space, water, and fire the fifth, these great ones [i.e., elements] coming together are known as [a] body.

33 O Brahman, that One who is invisible and of subtle power enters into it, and while animating the body, the Lord Himself is born.

34 Without the confluence of elements there never is a body and moreover without the soul (jīva), Brahman, the elements cannot move.

35 This jīva is also well-known as Śeṣa or the lord Saṃkarṣaṇa, who therefore obtains the state of being Sanatkumāra[3] through his own actions.

36 He, the mind of all beings is proclaimed to be Pradyumna in whom all beings merge at the time of cosmic dissolution.

37 From him is born the one who is the creator, as well as the cause and the effect. The one from whom unfolds this entire universe both moveable and immovable is Aniruddha. He is the supreme master (Iśāna), the manifestation in all actions.

38 The one who is the powerful God Vāsudeva, the Knower of the Field (Kṣetrajña), whose being is free of all attributes, should be known as the effulgent Lord (bhagavān), the individual self (jīva) and the lord Saṃkarṣaṇa.

39 And from Saṃkarṣaṇa [arises] Pradyumna. He is called mind-born. That Aniruddha who [arises] from Pradyumna is Ahaṃkāra, the supreme controller (Maheśvara).

40 O Nārada, from Me everything comes to be: the moving and unmoving universe, the imperishable and perishable and also the gross (sat) and subtle (asat).

41 They who are my devotees (bhaktas), by entering into Me, certainly become liberated here. I am surely to be understood as the Puruṣa, the actionless and the twenty-fifth.

42 Transcending the attributes (guṇas) and indivisible indeed, [I am] free of duality and free of possessions. It is not to be understood by you that I am endowed with form. It [only] appears so. If I desire, in a moment I will disappear. I am the Lord, the teacher of the world.

43 It is but an illusion created by me, that you see me, Nārada, possessing the attributes of all beings. You ought not comprehend me thus! I have thus properly disclosed my fourfold form to you.

44 O sage! These highly fortunate single-minded men, became perfected. And, transcending tamas and rajas, they will enter into me.

45 O Nārada I am the doer, the cause and also the effect. I am indeed known as the jīva and in me the jīva is established. Let there not be such a thought in you here: the jīva is seen by me.

46 I am the all-pervading one, O Brāhmaṇa, I am the innermost soul of composite beings. When all embodied beings perish, I do not perish.

47 Hiraṇyagarbha, preceptor of the world, the four-faced one who can be understood through etymology (niruktaga), the immortal god Brahmā reflects on my pluripotent [nature].

48 Behold the eleven Rudras established in my left side, and also the twelve Ādityas well-established in my right side.

49 And similarly, to my front, behold the eight Vasus—foremost amongst the gods. And behold Nāsatya and Dasra, the twin physicians, to my back.

50 Behold all the Prajāpatis in me; behold the seven ṛṣis too. Behold the Vedas and hundreds of sacrifices, ambrosia as well as medicinal plants.

51 Behold the penances, vows, and also observances of different kinds, and also the eight-fold powers being in one and embodied!

52 Behold Śrī, Lakṣmi, and Kīrti and the peaked-Earth, and also the goddess Sarasvatī, mother of Vedas as she is present in Me.

53 And Dhruva, the best among the luminaries, stationed in the sky, behold, Nārada, and also water-bearing clouds, oceans, lakes and rivers.

54 Behold, O best of beings, the four groups of ancestors incarnate. And also, the three attributes (guṇas), devoid of form, behold these in me.

55 Greater than ritual to be done for the gods indeed, sage, is the ritual to be done for the ancestors. From the very beginning, I am the only father of the gods as well as of the ancestors.

56 Taking on the Horse-head form, dwelling in the northwestern ocean, I drink libations and [receive] sacrificial incantations which are properly offered with devotion.

57–59 Having been created by Me previously, Brahmā himself worshipped me with sacrifice established by Me and becoming gratified by that, I gave him insuperable boons: to be born as my son in the beginning of the kalpa, supervision of all the worlds, the alternative name Creator of the principle of egoity (ahaṃkāra). That limit that formulated by you, no one will transgress. And you, Brahman, will become capable of granting boons to those who solicit boons—

60 O highly fortunate one, tempered by vows, rich in austerity, you will become worship-worthy to the hordes of gods and asuras and ṛṣis and the ancestors and also of various beings.

61 And, when I become manifest (prādurbhāvagata) time and again in the works of the gods, Brahmā, I am to be administered by you and am also to be engaged as your own son.

62 Becoming pleased and having granted these and other splendid boons to Brahmā of unlimited brilliance, I became completely intent on renunciation (nivṛtti).

63 Extinction of all dharmas is said to be the ultimate nivṛtti.[4] Therefore the one who attains nivṛtti goes about pacified in every body.

64 The teachers who ascertained the truth of Sāṃkhya philosophy call Me, who is established in the sun, who is Sempiternal and who has knowledge as his companion, as Kapila.

65 This effulgent Lord Hiraṇyagarbha is glorified in the Vedas. That I am (so’ham), who is renowned in the yoga scriptures as the goal of yoga, O Brahmā.

66 This Eternal I, coming into manifestation, become established in the firmament. Then at the end of a thousand eons (yugas), I will withdraw the universe again, absorbing into my Self all beings—both moveable and immovable.

67 As singular Being I will wander with knowledge, O best of the twice-born, and then I will create the entire universe again with the aid of knowledge.

68 My fourth form, which created the undecaying remainder, that itself is called Saṃkarṣaṇa who further gave birth to Pradyumna.

69 I am Aniruddha, [born] of Pradyumna. And my creation occurs again and again. Then from Aniruddha is born Brahmā, whose origin is there in the primeval lotus.

70 Know all beings animate and inanimate to be Brahmā's creation at the inception of every eon (kalpa), again and again.

71 As time (kāla), being of limitless splendor, forcibly brings back the setting and rising[5] of the sun which are gone away from the sky, so also, through my power, I [will restore] the earth, verily, for the good of all beings.

72 Having assumed the form of a boar, I will restore her to her own place, whose entire body is invaded by beings on all sides, and who has the ocean as her girdle and who has disappeared.

73 I will slay Hiraṇyākṣa, that demon arrogant due to his strength. Then again, in the work of gods, assuming the Nārasiṃha[6] body, I will slay Hiraṇyakaśipu, the son of Diti and the destroyer of sacrifices.

74 The great asura Bali, son of Virocana, will become powerful and will bring down Indra from his own kingdom.

75 When he has taken away the three worlds, and when Śacī’s lord has fled, I will take birth in Aditi as [her] twelfth son from Kaśyapa.

76 O Nārada I will then give the kingdom to Śakra of immense brilliance. I will restore the gods to their rightful stations. And I will make Bali a resident of the nether world.

77 In Tretā yuga I will become Rāma, the uplifter of the Bhṛgu clan and will completely uproot the kṣatra rich in armies and vehicles.

78 And when the juncture of Tretā and Dvāpara yuga comes about, becoming Rāma, son of Daśaratha, I will become the Lord of the world.

79 On account of violating Trita, these ṛṣis, sons of Prajāpati, Ekata and Dvita will incur deformity and will obtain a simian form.

80 Those born in their lineage will become monkeys. They will become my assistants in accomplishing the work of gods, O twice-born one!

81 Then, I will slay Rāvaṇa, that lord of demons, the terrible disgrace of Pulastya’s clan, thorn of the world, along with his hordes in battle.

82 Then at Dvāpara’s and Kali’s juncture, towards the end there will be [My] manifestation in Mathurā on account of Kaṃsa.

83 Then having killed the dānavās, a multitude of trouble-makers for the gods, I will make Kuśasthalī, the city of Dvāraka, my home.

84 Living in that city then, I will kill the son of Earth, Naraka who causes annoyance to Aditi, as well as the demons Mura and Pīṭha.

85 Having slain those best of the dānavas I will transport the delightful city of Prāgjyotiṣa, endowed with many kinds of wealth, to Kuśasthalī.

86 When they rise up, I will defeat those two worshipped by the world of gods, Śaṅkara and Mahāsena, who wishes what is beneficial and dear to Bāṇa.

87 Then having conquered thousand-armed Bāṇa, the son of Bali, I will thereafter destroy all the inhabitants of Saubha.

88 O twice-born one, indeed by me will occur the death of the one known as Kālayavana, who is endued with Garga’s brilliance.

89 And then Jarāsaṃdha, mighty and opposed to all kings, will flourish as the asura emperor at Girivraja. By the flicker of my intelligence, his death will come to pass.

90 When all the powerful kings on the earth have assembled, Vāsavi [Arjuna] alone will be my best companion.

91 Thus the worlds will say that these two lords, the Ṛṣis Nara and Nārāyaṇa have girded themselves and are burning down the kṣatra for the good of the world.

92 O best one, having reduced the burden of Earth, as was desired by her, I will cause the destruction of my own race and a terrible annihilation of all the Sātvata chiefs and of Dvāraka.

93 Having performed innumerable deeds assuming a fourfold form, I will go to my own worlds, which are honored by Brahmā.

94 O best of the twice-born, when the Vedas, that is, the scriptures are lost, they are retrieved by Me. The Swan, Hayaśirās, [and so on are My] manifestations made to be the ones with the Vedas and scriptures previously in the Kṛta eon.

95 So many of My manifestations, multiple and insuperable, have passed by. Sometimes they are glorified in the Purāṇas. Having accomplished the works of the world they have passed on again into their own nature.

96 Even by Brahmā, My vision (darśana) is not obtained such as the one that you have obtained here and now, due to your one-pointed intellect.

97 O Brāhmaṇa, all this, the past and the future together with its secrets is told by Me to you, who has devotion, O best one.”

98 Thus having spoken these words, the effulgent and undecaying Lord God of ubiquitous form (viśvamūrtidhara) disappeared then and there.

99 Then Nārada of mighty brilliance, obtaining the grace he desired, rushed to Badarī-āśrama to see Nara and Nārāyaṇa.

100–101 This great Upaniṣad, perfectly consonant with the four Vedas, nourished with Sāṃkhya and Yoga is sung by Nārāyaṇa and designated Pañcaratra by Him, dear one. Nārada told this again in Brahmā’s dwelling exactly as was seen and heard [on Śvetadvīpa].

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

102 This greatness of that intelligent one is indeed a surprise! Did Brahmā not know it, that he had to hear it from Nārada?

103 This effulgent Grandfather is the immediate successor after that God. How then did he not know the majesty of that being of immeasurable prowess?

Bhīṣma said:

104 O Indra amongst kings! Hundreds of great eons (mahākalpas), even thousands of great eons and creations and dissolutions have gone by.

105 At the inception of creation, lord Brahmā is considered the lord creator of beings. He knows the Highest God, king, and also more than this, the Ultimate Self (paramātma), the Supreme Lord (Īśāna), also his own origin.

106 [Nārada] recited this ancient narrative (purāṇa), equal to the Veda, to those others, the groups of accomplished ones assembled in the abode of Brahmā.

107 And Sūrya having heard it from them, imparted this brahman to the cultivated souls who follow their own Self, O Bhārata.[7]

108 There are sixty-six thousands of those ṛṣis, who have cultivated their Self. Sūrya imparted [that brahman] to those enlightened souls who were created as foremost when the Sun was making the worlds hot.

109 O dear one! The gods who had gathered on mount Meru were told this supreme [knowledge] by the great-souled ṛṣis who were following the Sun.

110 And then having heard it from the gods, the best of sages, Asita the twice-born one told it to the ancestors (pitṛs), O great king.

111 And my father Śaṃtanu narrated to me, dear one. And having heard this, I have narrated it to you, Bhārata.

112 All of them, may they be gods or sages, by whom this ancient narrative is heard, worship the Supreme Self (paramātma) again and again.

113 This excellent narrative of the ṛṣis, which was transmitted through generations, king, should never be given by you to one who is not a devotee of Vāsudeva.

114 O king, this is the essence extracted from those hundreds of sub-tales (upākhyānas), which are related to dharma and which are heard by you from me.

115 Just as gods and asuras, king, by churning [the ocean] extracted the elixir of immortality, so also the wise ones, previously [coming together] extracted this narrative ambrosia.

116 Whoever reads this narrative regularly and whoever listens to this, that person, attaining one-pointed focus, and becoming perfectly established in singularity,

117 That person with moonlike radiance, having attained to the luminous great isle [Śvetadvīpa] enters that thousand-rayed God—there is no doubt about this.

118 Having listened to this narrative from the beginning, the afflicted one will be liberated from disease. The seeker of wisdom will obtain his desires. The devotee will reach the goal of the devotee.

119 By you also, king, the Puruṣottama should always be worshipped. He indeed is the mother, father, and also the teacher of the entire universe.

120 May the effulgent God of brahman (brahmaṇyadeva), the Sempiternal Lord, the mighty-armed God Janārdana, be gratified with you, mighty-armed Yudhiṣṭhira.

Vaiśaṃpāyana said:

121 O Janamejaya, having heard this best of narratives, king Dharma, and all his brothers, became devoted to Nārāyaṇa.

122 Becoming intent on always chanting “Victorious is that effulgent Lord Puruṣa!” they honored Sarasvatī.

123 He who is the best teacher, the sage Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana, he sang the highest chant glorifying Nārāyaṇa.

124 Always travelling though the sky, he went to the Ocean of Milk, which is the abode of ambrosia. And having worshipped the Lord of gods there, he returned to his own hermitage.

Footnotes and references:


Āraṇyaka technically means the book of the forest, the texts studied after the life of a householder is completed. Thus it means spiritual (as opposed to sacrificial and transactional) knowledge. Understood in this sense, it would mean Upaniṣadic teachings as well. However, Āraṇyaka also means specific class of texts, belonging to the division of Vedas into Saṃhita, Brāhmaṇa, Āraṇyaka and Upāniṣad. In the present context, nivṛtti is being explicated and the limits of sacrificial (pravṛtti) order are overcome. Therefore it is best to understand this verse as if Nārāyaṇa was uttering the knowledge of the One being, Brahman, with all his mouths, led by the praṇava and sāvitrī. The Mokṣadharmaparvan itself recalls this order on a narratalogical plane, when the personification of Sāvitrī appears to the jāpaka earlier in this parvan.


The material elements of Sāṁkhya.


Nīlakaṇtha glosses this term as follows: “The jīva himself with his actions—namely meditation, worship etc. obtains the state of sanatkumāratvam, that is, jīvanmuktatvam, that is, the state of being liberated in this life itself.”


Cf. Bhagavadgītā 18.66.


Udayāstamayau is taken here as udayāstau (cf. Kaṭha Up. 2.3.6).




Cf. Bhagavadgītā 4.1: imaṃ vivasvate yogaṃ proktavān aham avyayam | vivasvān manave prāha manur ikṣvākave’bravīt ||

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