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 9 - (Mahābhārata 12.329.1-50)

Arjuna said:

1 How were Agni and Soma created in ancient times, as having one single origin? This is the doubt born in me, resolve it, Madhusūdana.

The Effulgent Lord said:

2 O joy of Pāṇḍu, of course I will explicate the Purāṇa born of my power to you. Listen, Pārtha, with a focused mind.

3 When at end of the fourth thousand-yuga cycle, the time of the great deluge had passed away, when all creatures moving and non-moving were dissolved in the Unmanifest;[1] in a world devoid of light, earth, and wind, which was one single ocean with water alone in the blinding darkness,[2] and [the world] was subdued since it was only darkness and the Nameless One without a second was established, and neither night nor day, neither the existent nor the nonexistent, neither the manifest nor the unmanifest was well-defined; in such a state Puruṣa, the Imperishable Hari, was manifest from the undiminishing, unfading, imperceptible, ungraspable, uncreated, true, non-violent, beautiful, indestructible, unfading, undying, immortal, all-pervading, all-creating, sempiternal darkness which had the virtues of Nārāyaṇa as its abode and has various features of Becoming.[3]

4 There is an example also: “There was neither day nor night. Neither was the existent nor the non-existent. In the beginning there was only all-pervading darkness. That was the mother of this whole universe, such is the meaning which is emphasized.[4]

5 When there was the manifestation of Brahmā, the Puruṣa born of darkness who has the lotus as his origin, that Puruṣa being desirous of creating creatures, created Agni and Soma from [his] two eyes. Thereafter, when the creation of beings began, according to the order of creatures, brāhmaṇa, kṣatra, etc. arose. That which is Soma is the Brahman. Whatever is Brahman those are brāhmaṇas (brāhmaṇāḥ). That who is Agni that is the kṣatra. Brahman is stronger than kṣatra. If one asks, how is it so? It is of the nature of being directly perceptible in the world. Thus it is. No other being greater than the brāhmaṇas is ever produced before. I speak this assuming that he offers in the blazing fire. Brahmā created all these creatures. Having established them, the three worlds are supported by him.

6 There are scriptural verses also: “O Agni, you are the officiating priest (hotṛ) of all sacrifices.” “Along with the gods, you are beneficial to mankind,” and there is the saying: “O Agni, [you are] the officiating priest of all sacrifices.” “Together with the gods and men he is the benefactor of the world.” “Agni indeed is the officiating priest and the performer of sacrifices, and that Agni is Brahman.”

7 Indeed without the chant (mantra), there is no offering. Without the Puruṣa, austerity does not arise. There is joint worship of offerings and mantras for gods and men, hence you are engaged as the officiating priest. And whatever are the rights of offerings for men, those are for you also. Performing rites for kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and for brāhmaṇas (dvijāti) is prescribed only for a brahmaṇa. Therefore brāhmaṇas, becoming Agni, carry the offerings. The sacrifices satisfy the gods and the gods nourish the earth.[5]

8 Indeed, in the Śatapatha [Brāhmaṇa] there occurs an explanatory passage (brāhmaṇa). “The one who knows and offers the offerings in the form of gifts in the mouth of a brāhmaṇa, he offers into the blazing fire.” Thus also, the learned brāhmaṇas, who have taken the form of Agni meditate upon the fire. Agni, that is, Viṣṇu, entering into all beings, upholds their vital breaths.[6] Moreover, here are verses sung by Sanatkumāra:

9 “Brahmā created the universe previously, the beginning of all which was completely without excrement. The immortals, having Brahmā as their creator were stationed in heaven due to the chants of Brahman.

10 The intellect, speech, action, piety, and austerities uphold the heaven and earth as the water due to its coolness upholds the elixir of immortality.

11 There is no dharma greater than truth. There is no guru equal to a mother. For prosperity, there is nothing else greater than the brāhmaṇas in this world or in the afterworld.[7]

12 In the lands of those where the brāhmaṇas are without subsistence, those become completely destroyed and enslaved. There the ox does not flourish, nor indeed the bulls. The churn-pot is churned but does not yield.

13 According to the authority of the Vedas, purāṇas, and the itihāsa, the brāhmaṇas have arisen from the mouth of Nārāyaṇa and they are the Self of all, doers of all and nourishers of all. Simultaneously with speech, the brāhmaṇas are born first of that boon bestowing God and from the brāhmaṇas are born all the other social orders (varṇas). And when in this way the brāhmaṇas, who are distinct from gods and asuras, were created by My own Self, having become Brahmā previously, the gods, asuras, the great Ṛṣis, and the variety of beings were created and regulated.

14 Indeed on account of violating Ahalyā, Indra obtained the state of being one with blond hair and beard from Gautama. And due to Kauśika, Indra was castrated and obtained the state of being the one who has the testes of a ram. The arm of the Sacker of Cities, who had raised his thunderbolt to prohibit the Aśvins from receiving a share in sacrifice, was paralyzed by Cyavana. Due to the anger caused by the destruction of the sacrifice, and having made his own self equipped again with austerities, an additional eye was created on the forehead of Rudra by Dakṣa.

15 When Rudra was initiated for the sake of destroying the Triple cities, Uśanas having plucked locks of hair from his head, employed them. From those snakes were born. His [Rudra’s] throat which was being squeezed by those snakes became blue. Or, the state of being the one who has the blue-throat is due to the grasp in the clutches of Nārāyaṇa’s hand in the previous age of Svaymabhū Manu.

16 At the time of the production of the elixir of immortality [by churning the ocean], the waters did not become clear even though Aṅgiras Bṛhaspati touched them when he was performing austerities. Therefore Bṛhaspati became angry with the waters, and said “since even though I was touching you, you remained muddied and did not become clear, therefore from today you become polluted, being infested with large fishes, crocodiles, fishes, turtles, and other beings.” From thence onwards, the waters have become infested with aquatic animals.

17 Viśvarūpa, the son of Tvaṣṭṛ, was the priest of the gods and a son of the sister of the asuras. He openly gave sacrificial offerings to the gods, but covertly to the asuras.

18 Hence having Hiraṇyakaśipu in the lead, the asuras asked Viśvarūpa’s mother and their sister for a boon. “O sister! This son of yours, Viśvarūpa, who is the son of Tvaṣṭṛ who has three heads, the priest of the gods, publicly gave sacrificial offerings to the gods, [and only] covertly to us. Due to that, the gods wax and we wane. Therefore you ought to prohibit him in such a way that he will serve us.”

19 Then, the mother said to Viśvarūpa who had gone to the pleasure grove of the gods (nandanavana), “O son, why do you destroy your maternal camp by strengthening the enemy side? You ought not to do so.” That Viśvarūpa, having worshipped her thinking “a mother’s word is not to be transgressed,” went to Hiraṇyakaśipu after having worshipped her.

20 Hiraṇyakaśipu received a curse from Vasiṣṭha, the son of Hiraṇyagarbha: “Because you chose another priest, you, whose sacrifice is not completed, will receive death from an unprecedented being come into existence!” Due to [Vasiṣṭha] giving this curse, Hiraṇyakaśipu met with death.

21 Thereafter, Viśvarūpa, in order to strengthen his mother’s camp, became excessively engaged in penances. In order to break his vow, Indra employed many beautiful celestial nymphs. And upon beholding them, his [Viśvarūpa’s] mind became excited and he instantly became attracted to those nymphs. Noticing that he is attracted, they said: “let us go where we come from.”

22 The son of Tvaṣṭṛ said to them: “Where will you go? Remain with me. That will be better!” They said to him, “We are divine maidens, celestial nymphs; we previously choose that boon-bestowing, powerful Indra.”

23 Then Viśvarūpa said to them: “This very day, the gods along with Indra will no longer exist.” Then he chanted mantras. By those mantras, he [Viśvarūpa] became three-headed. With one mouth, he drank the soma which was well offered in sacrifices by the twice-born ones performing rituals in all the worlds; water with another [mouth] and all the gods together with Indra with another. Then, Indra, beholding him nourished in every limb by drinking soma, and increasing, became worried.

24 The gods, along with Indra approached Brahmā and said: “In all the sacrifices the well offered soma is being drunk by Viśvarūpa. We have become without any share. The asura camp waxes and we wane. Now you ought immediately to do that which good for us.”

25 Brahmā said to them: “The Ṛṣi Dadhīca, a descendent of Bhṛgu, is performing austerity. He should be asked for a favor, that he relinquish [his] material body. With his bones, let the thunderbolt be created.”

26 The gods came there, where the effulgent Ṛṣi Dadhīca was performing austerities. The gods together with Indra, having approached him, said: “O effulgent one, is your austerity going well and uninterrupted?” Dadhīca said to them: “Welcome to you, what needs to be done? I will do whatever you say.” They said to him: “O lord! You ought to renounce your body for the welfare of the world.” Thereupon Dadhīca, without losing his mind, who regarded pleasure and pain alike, that great yogi, composing himself (ātmānam samādhānam), renounced his body.

27 When he slipped into the absolute Self (paramātman), Dhātṛ, gathering his bones, forged the thunderbolt. With that indestructible, invincible thunderbolt formed of a brāhmaṇa’s bones and pervaded by Viṣṇu, Indra killed Viśvarūpa and severed his head. And after that, Indra slew Vṛtra, the enemy created by Tvaṣṭṛ from churning Viśvarūpa’s limbs.

28 When there was this double brahmanicide,[8] Indra abandoned his kingdom of gods out of fear [and] went to the cool lotus plant born in the waters, which was in lake Mānasa. There, using his aiśvarya yoga and becoming a minute particle, he entered a node [in the lotus stalk].

29 When the lord of three worlds, Śacī’s husband, had disappeared out of fear of brahmanicide, the universe became without a lord. The gods were infected by rajas and tamas. Mantras were no longer existent. Demonic beings appeared before the great Ṛṣis. And the study of brahman was uprooted. The worlds without Indra became weak and vulnerable.

30 Then the gods and Ṛṣis anointed Āyuṣa’s son, called Nahuṣa, the king of gods. Nahuṣa, with five hundred blazing opulences on his forehead, capable of sapping the brilliance of all, began ruling the heaven. Then the worlds returned to normalcy and became content.

31 Then Nahuṣa said: “Everything enjoyed by Indra is present before me, except Śacī.” Having spoken thus, he approached Śacī and said to her: “O fortunate one! I am Indra [the lord of gods]; serve me!” Śacī replied to him: “By nature you are inclined to dharma and born into the Soma lineage. You ought not to violate another’s wife.”

32 To her, then, Nahuṣa said: “Indra’s position is occupied by me. I am the taker of Indra’s kingdom and jewels. There is no adharma here since you are enjoyed by Indra.” She said to him: “There is some vow of mine which remains incomplete. Upon its conclusion,[9] I will come to you in a few days.” Addressed thus by Śacī, Nahuṣa went away.

33 Then Śacī, afflicted by grief and sorrow, longing to see her husband, gripped by fear of Nahuṣa, went to Bṛhaspati. Immediately after having seen her approach, Bṛhaspati, entering meditation and divining her involvement in her husband’s work, said: “Endowed with this very vow and austerity, invoke the boon-granting goddess Upaśruti. She will enable you to see Indra.”

34 Then [Śacī], following great observances, invoked the boon-bestowing goddess Upaśruti with mantras. That Upaśruti came to Śacī and said to her: “Here I am invoked by you! What shall I do which is dear to you.” Saluting her with her head bowed, Śacī said: “Blessed goddess! You ought to reveal to me my husband. You are considered to be effective!” She took her to lake Mānasa. There, she disclosed Indra gone into a node of a lotus-stalk.

35 Indra, beholding her—his wife—pale and emaciated, grew worried. He thought: “Aho! Great is my sorrow that has come today! Afflicted with sorrow, she came here, searching for me who had disappeared.” Indra said to her: “How are you?” She said to him: “Nahuṣa beckons me. I have made a date with him.”

36 Indra said to her, “Go! Tell Nahuṣa: ‘carry me away riding in an unprecedented vehicle to which Ṛṣis are yoked. I have stepped into Indra’s great vehicles, pleasing to my mind. You ought to come in a special one.’” When she was told this, she became happy and went away. Indra also entered into the node of the lotus stalk again.

37 Then, upon seeing Indrāṇī who had approached him, Nahuṣa said: “The time period is over.” Śacī narrated to him whatever [she] was told by Indra. He, mounted on a vehicle having the great Ṛṣis yoked to it, came to Śacī.

38 Thereupon, Mitra-Varuṇa’s son Agastya who had his birth in a pitcher[10] saw the great Ṛṣis being perversely treated by Nahuṣa, and he [Agastya] was touched by [Nahuṣa’s] feet. At that time, he said to Nahuṣa: “You have engaged in a forbidden act, evil one. Fall onto the earth! Remain a serpent so as long as the earth and mountains exist!” The very instant the great Ṛṣi spoke, he [Nahuṣa] fell off from his carriage.

39 Then again the triple world became lord-less. Then the gods and Ṛṣis took resort to Viṣṇu for the sake of an Indra, and said to Him: “O Effulgent Lord! You ought to save Indra who is overcome by [the sin of] brahmanicide.” Then the Boon-bestower said to them: “let Indra perform the aśvamedha[11] with Viṣṇu as the deity. Then he will attain [his former] position.”

40 Then when the gods and ṛṣis did not find Indra, they went to Śacī and said: “O fortunate one! Go, bring Indra!” She once again went to that lake and Indra, coming out of that lake, went to Bṛhaspati;Bṛhaspati brought about the great sacrifice of aśvamedha on behalf of Indra. Then Bṛhaspati, releasing a black dappled horse [meant for sacrifice and] indeed making it into a ride, enabled Indra, the lord of Maruts, to [re]gain his own station.

41 Then the king of gods, hymned by gods and Ṛṣis, became established in heaven and purified. He distributed [the sin of] brahmanicide in four places: woman, fire, tree, and cow. Thus Indra, nourished by the strength of brahman effulgence, having slain his enemies, was restored to his own position.

42 And long ago, the great Ṛṣi Bharadvāja having gone to the celestial Ganges, touched [the waters for his ablution] and he was reached by Viṣṇu who was taking the three step stride. He was struck by Bharadvāja with a hand full of water. And He became the one who has the mark on his breast.

43 Cursed by the great ṛṣi Bhṛgu, Agni was taken to an omnivorous state.

44 Aditi, thinking “having eaten this they will kill the asuras,” cooked rice for the gods. Budha, after the conclusion of the observance of a vow, arrived there and said to Aditi: “Give alms!” Thereupon, thinking “this should be eaten first by the gods and by nobody else,” Aditi did not give alms. Then, Budha who had become a Brāhmaṇa, angered at being denied alms, killed the egg of Aditi and of the one who was called Aṇḍa, in the second birth of Vivasvat. That one became Mārtaṇḍa Vivasvat, a god of funeral and ancestral rites.

45 Dakṣa had sixty daughters. Of them, he gave thirteen to Kaśyapa, ten to Dharma, ten to Manu, and twenty-seven to Soma. These [twenty-seven], called Nakṣatras, were equal in every way. [Yet] Soma loved Rohiṇi much more. Due to that, the remaining wives, becoming jealous, went to their father and reported this matter. “O lord, though we are all of equal splendor, Soma adores Rohiṇi more.” He said: “Consumption will infect him!”

46 Due to Dakṣa’s curse, consumption affected king Soma. Infected by consumption, he went to Dakṣa. And Dakṣa said to him: “you do not behave impartially.” Thereupon the Ṛṣis said to Soma: “you will wane due to consumption. In the western direction, in the ocean, there is a pilgrimage site called Hiraṇyasaras. Go there and bathe yourself.” Then Soma arrived there at the pilgrimage site Hiraṇyasaras and, having gone there, he bathed his body; and, having bathed, he liberated his body from the evil. And there when Soma shone forth in that pilgrimage site, from that time onwards, that sacred place became famous by the name “Prabhāsam.” Due to that curse, even today, Soma wanes in the period [until the] new moon. Having reached the full moon phase, he shows his body which is covered by marks like clouds. [The body] attained a complexion similar to that of a cloud, and that became his mark of a rabbit, which is free of impurity.

47 The great Ṛṣi Sthūlaśiras performed austerities on the north-eastern slope of Meru. While he was performing his austerities, a pure wind bearing all the fragrances, blowing gently touched his body. Being fanned by the wind, he, the emaciated one, who had heated his body by austerities, rejoiced in his heart. At that time when he was made happy by the fanning of the wind, the plants did not suddenly show the beauty of the flowers; hence he cursed them: “you will not always be in bloom.”

48 Long ago, Nārāyaṇa became a great Ṛṣi named Vaḍavāmukha for the welfare of the world. While he was performing his austerities on Meru, the ocean, [although] summoned, did not come. By him [Nārāyaṇa], the ocean was made to have its waters motionless with the heat caused by His own limbs, and in it was created the existence of salt, similar to the exudation of sweat; and he was told, “you shall become undrinkable. And this water of yours will become sweet only when it is drunk by the one called Vaḍavāmukha.” Thus, even to this day, the water of the ocean is being drunk by the one called Vaḍavāmukha, who behaves accordingly.

49 Rudra desired Umā, the daughter of Mount Himavat. Bhṛgu, the great ṛṣi, also came to Himavat and said: “Give me the maiden Umā.” To him Himavat said: “Rudra is desired as the husband.” Bhṛgu said to him: “Since I who had resolved on choosing your daughter am rejected by you, therefore you will never become a receptacle of jewels.” Till today, the words of the ṛṣi stand.

50 Thus, this is the greatness of the brāhmaṇas. The kṣatra, also having approached the eternal and undecaying Earth as wife, enjoyed her. Therefore this is the Brahman related to Agni and Soma (agnīṣomīya). By it the universe is supported.

Footnotes and references:


Reading avyakte sarvabhūtapralaye sthāvarajaṅgame in the sense of avyakte sarvabhūtasthāvarajaṅgamānām pralaye.


See Gita Press for variant here.


In this lengthy sentence with many clauses a single point is being made: the manifestation of Hari from a state of deluge and darkness. The three portions separated by the two semi-colons mark the time, the place, and the cause of this manifestation.


Gita Press text variant.


See Bhagavadgītā 3.11: devān bhāvayatānena te devā bhāvayantu vaḥ | parasparaṃ bhāvayantaḥ śreyaḥ param avāpsyatha ||


See Bhagavadgītā 15.14: ahaṃ vaiśvānaro bhūtvā.


A reference to the churning of the ocean, see Mahābhārata 1.15.5–17.30.


The words dvaidhībhūtāyām, brahmavadhyāyām are obscure. Translated by context.


Literally, the bath with which the vow is concluded.


Agastya is closely associated with water. The vessel here is kumbha, or a ritual pot associated with fertility and the womb.


That is, the “horse sacrifice.”

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