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 10 - (Mahābhārata 12.330.1-71)

The Blessed Lord said:

1 The sun and the moon alternately uphold the universe perpetually by awakening and warming it with my hair (keśa), which are called rays.

2 And due to these actions of awakening and warming of Agni and Soma, son of Pāṇḍu, there will be joy (harṣaṇa) for the world (and) I will become Hṛṣikeśa, the boon-bestowing Īśāna, Creator of the universe.

3 Through the invocation of Iḍā,[1] I take (hare)[2] my share in sacrifices, and also my complexion is the best bright golden (hari). Therefore I am considered Hari.

4 [I am] deliberated on as the abode (dhāma) and essence of all the worlds, and as cosmic order (ṛta). Therefore I am celebrated by the wise as Ṛtadhāman and also as the truly existent one (satya).

5 And when in ancient times I obtained (avindam) the earth[3] when she had disappeared into a hiding the gods praised me with hymns as Govinda.

6 And regarding the name Śipiviṣṭa: the one who is hairless and whatever is pervaded by him is considered to be Śipiviṣṭa.[4]

7 Ṛṣi Yāska, having become focused, hymned me in innumerable sacrifices as Śipiviṣṭa. On account of this indeed, I am the bearer of this secret name.

8 Having hymned me as Śipiviṣṭa, by My grace, ṛṣi Yāska of profound intelligence obtained the [knowledge, the book of] etymology which had disappeared underground.

9 I was never born, nor am I being born, nor will I ever be born. I am the Knower of the Field (kṣetrajña) of all beings and therefore I am called Aja [the unborn].

10 I have never before uttered anything mean or vulgar. Sarasvatī, the daughter of Brahmā, who is ṛtā [who maintains cosmic order] and satyā [the truly existent] is My goddess.

11 I have absorbed into My Self, son of Kuntī, [both] the existent (sat) and nonexistent (asat). In Pauṣkara, the abode of Brahmā, the Ṛṣis know me to be Satya [the truly existent].

12 From sattva I never fell off previously, indeed, know sattva to be of My making. My previous sattva has come into being in this birth, Dhanaṃjaya!

13 Conceive Me as Sātvata, engaged in action without expectation [of fruit]. I am Sātvata, the lord of Sātvatas seen with sātvata knowledge.

14 I plough (kṛṣāmi) the Earth, Pārtha, becoming a great plough of black iron (kārṣṇāyasa);and Arjuna, since my complexion is black (kṛṣṇa) therefore I am Kṛṣṇa.

15 By me the earth is united with the waters and space with wind, and wind with brilliance. Therefore my state is that of Vaikuṇṭha.

16 Nirvāṇa, the ultimate bliss, is said to be the ultimate dharma. From that [state] I have never ever fallen (cyuta);through that action, I am Acyuta (the unfallen One).

17–18 The earth and the heaven these two are well known as having all the worlds. And for the sake of bearing them together, they have explained[5] Me straightaway as Adhokṣaja.[6] Those scholars who know the Vedas, who think about words and their meanings, they eulogize me in the sacrificial hall as Adhokṣaja–and that’s how it is.

19 Being of one mind, the supreme ṛṣis uttered this statement: “No one is Adhokṣaja in this universe, except Lord Nārāyaṇa.”

20 Ghee (ghṛta)[7] is the support of life of My flame (arcis) and all the creatures in this world. I am celebrated as Ghṛtārcis by those knowers of the Vedas who have a focused mind.

21 Three (tri) indeed are the well-known humors (dhātu) and which are considered to be born of karma: bile, phlegm, and wind. This [body] is said to be the aggregate of [these].

22 And by these a creature is sustained, and when they are depleted, it wanes. Therefore Āyurveda experts, celebrate Me as Tridhātu.

23 O Bhārata, Vṛṣa is said to be verily the Lord Dharma in these worlds. Understand me to be the best Vṛṣa, who is explained by the word entry in Nighaṇṭu.[8]

24 Kapi is the foremost of the boars (varāha), and Dharma is said to be Vṛṣa. Therefore the preceptor Kaśyapa hailed me as Vṛṣākapi.

25 The gods as well as the asuras can never grasp either [my] beginning, or the middle, or the end. I, the all-pervading Ruler and the Witness of the world am hymned as the one without a beginning, middle, or end.

26 Here I listen to things worthy of listening (śravaṇīya) and pure (śuci); and no sinful things do I grasp, Dhanaṃjaya. Therefore, verily I am Śuciśravas.

27 Long ago, I uplifted this Earth becoming a preeminent boar (ekaśṛṅga),[9] of divine appearance. Therefore I am Ekaśṛṅga.

28 Similarly I was also bearing three humps (trikakuda) when I assumed the form of a boar. Therefore, I am renowned as Trikakuda due to my body’s measure.

29 Whoever is called Viriñca by thinkers of the philosophy of Kapila, I am he and also indeed the Prajāpati, the Creator of all these words out of consciousness.

30 The teachers of Sāṃkhya, the ascertainers of the conclusion call Me Kapila who is Sempiternal, has knowledge as His companion, and is situated in the Sun.

31 The resplendent Hiraṇyagarbha who is glorified in the Vedas is worshipped by the yogas and he himself is regarded as Me, the All-Pervading-One.

32 They regard me as the Ṛgveda with its twenty-one branches. They are also rare, those individuals who are the knowers of the Vedas, who are the wise ones, who are my devotees and who sing whatever is the thousand branched Sāma [Veda], in the Āraṇyaka.[10]

33 I am considered to be the Yajurveda of the Adhvaryu[11] wherein there are fifty-six and eight or seventy-three branches is considered to be Me.

34 Similarly the wise ones who know the Atharvaveda consider me to be the Atharvaveda which has five ritual texts and elaborated by female spirits (kṛtyā).

35 Whatever differences in branches there are and whatever are the hymns in those branches, and also the proper articulation of vowels and consonants, know all those to be My creations.

36 Whatever is that boon-bestowing Head of the Horse (Hayaśiras), Pārtha, which manifests, I am indeed He, who is the knower of the krama [way of recitation] and division of letters in the later part [of Vedic literature, that is, the Vedāṅgas].[12]

37 That krama was obtained by the great souled Pāñcāla from that Sempiternal Being, following the way directed by Rāma. The one who is from the Bābhravya family, became the first expert in krama.

38 Having obtained a boon from Nārāyaṇa and attaining the highest yoga that Gālava laying down krama recitation instructed[13] phonetics (śikṣā).

39 The formidable King Brahmadatta,[14] a Kaṇḍarīka[15] remembering again and again the sorrow caused by the cycle of birth and death, on account of its being the mainstay in seven births, obtained the prowess of yoga.

40 Long ago, I was said to born as the son of Dharma, Pārtha, for some reason. O tiger amongst Kurus, I am therefore said to be Dharmaja.

41 In ancient times, Nara and Nārāyaṇa practiced undying austerity on Mount Gandhamādana, mounting the vehicle of Dharma.[16]

42 And exactly at that time, indeed, there was the sacrifice of Dakṣa. However, Bhārata, Dakṣa did not apportion a share to Rudra.

43 Thereupon, due to Dadhīci’s words, [Rudra] carried off Dakṣa’s sacrifice. He threw (sasarja)[17] his flaming spear in anger, again and again.

44 That spear, Pārtha, having turned Dakṣa’s sacrifice completely to ashes, with mighty speed suddenly came to us both at the Badari āśrama, falling on Nārāyaṇa’s chest.

45 From that, penetrated by its own radiance, Nārāyaṇa’s hair (keśa) became of the color of muñja grass [blond], and for that reason, I am Muñjakeśavat.[18]

46 And that spear, defeated by Nārāyaṇa and blown away by the “hum!” utterance of the Great Soul, went to Śaṅkara’s hand.

47 Rudra then assailed those two Ṛṣis, accomplished in austerities. At that time, Nārāyaṇa, the Soul of the universe, shaking him, grasped his throat with His hand. By that [Rudra] got a blue throat.

48 Then, for the purpose of striking Rudra, Nara seized a stick.[19] He invested it with mantras and suddenly it became a mighty axe.

49 And it was forcefully thrown at Rudra, [but] it broke thereupon. Therefore, due to the breaking of the axe (paraśukhaṇḍanāt), I am called Khaṇḍaparaśu.

Arjuna said:

50 But at that time, in this battle, Vārṣṇeya [Kṛṣṇa], in the churning of the three worlds, who obtained victory there? Tell me this, Janārdana!

The Blessed Lord said:

51 When these two were wrestling in battle in the form of Rudra and Nārāyaṇa, suddenly then, all the beings in all the worlds became agitated.

52 The purifying Fire did not accept the pure (śubhra) oblation offered properly in sacrifices. The Vedas did not reveal themselves to the Ṛṣis [even when] they were absorbed in the Self.

53 At that time rajas and tamas entered the gods. The earth trembled and the sky was ripped apart.

54 The luminaries became bereft of brilliance and Brahmā himself fell from his throne. And the ocean dried up, and mount Himavat split asunder.

55 Thus when in this way this omen arose, O son of Pāṇḍu, Brahmā, surrounded by the clan of gods, and great-minded Ṛṣis, came to that place where the battle was unfolding.

56 With hands joined in salutation, the four-faced one who is graspable through nirukta,[20] [Brahmā] the lord of the universe, wishing for the welfare of the worlds and putting down [their] weapons, said this to Rudra: “May there be auspiciousness (śiva) for the worlds![21]

57–58 That which is the Indestructible and also the Unmanifest, Ruler, Creator of the world, Summum, who is the doer, who is non-dual, and whom the wise know to be beyond action (akartṛ) is the singular,[22] auspicious[23] form of Him who has become manifest. Nara and Nārāyaṇa, are born here as the uplifters of Dharma’s clan.

59 [These] two great gods of mighty vows are endowed with great austerity. I am born of His grace, for some reason. And dear one, in a previous creation you, who are eternal, indeed were born of His wrath.

60 Along with me and the gods and the great sages, quickly gratify that boon giver. May there be peace in the worlds without delay.”

61 Thus addressed by Brahmā, throwing away his infernal wrath, Rudra then gratified that God Lord Nārāyaṇa, and took refuge in the adorable gift-giving Hari.

62 Thereafter that boon bestowing God, who has conquered his anger and senses, became affectionate and thereupon embraced Rudra.

63 Duly worshipped by the ṛṣis, Brahmā as well as the gods, Hari, the Lord of the world, said to the god Īśāna:

64 “He who knows you, knows Me. He who follows you follows Me. There is no distinction between you and Me,[24] do not think otherwise.

65 From this day onward may this One [that is, I Myself], who has the mark of the spear become Śrīvatsa. And also, being marked by my hand you will become Śrīkaṇṭha.

66 Then, in this way having created a mark on each other by each other and forging incomparable friendship, the two Ṛṣis, along with Rudra, having dispatched the gods and becoming focused, performed austerities.

67 Thus I have narrated to you, Pārtha, the victory of Nārāyaṇa in battle. I have explained to you my secret names, Bhārata, which were told and sung by the Ṛṣis here.

68 Thus, son of Kuntī, in multiple forms I move here on this earth, as well as in Brahmā’s world and in that everlasting Goloka. Protected by me in battle, you obtained a great victory.

69 Now when the battle occurred, the one who goes in front of you, son of Kunti, know him to be Rudra, the god of gods, Kapardin.

70 He is revealed to you by me as Time himself, born of wrath. You have slain those very enemies who were previously slain by him.

71 You ought to bow down readily to the God Hara of immeasurable power, the God of gods, lord of Umā, and the undecaying Lord of the universe.

Footnotes and references:


Iḍā iterally means food. Specificially, in sacrifices it is the remnant of the sacrificial offerings which are shared by the priests and the sacrificer. Here, iḍā is used in a more general sense of a sacrificial offering, including the offerings of food made into the fire, which the deity partakes as his share.


The verb hṛ is used here with an ātmanepada-ending to have the form hare, in order to pun on Hari.


The first half of the compound govinda is gau. It means either cow or, as it is taken here, earth.


This term occurs first in the Ṛgveda (7.101.5–7) as an epithet of Viṣṇu.


Niruktam taken from verse 18 to go with mām.


Lit., born under the axle. The commentator interprets the compound as: adhaḥ = “earth,” akṣa = “firmament,” and ja = “he who bears.”


Clarified butter is offered into sacrifices as oblations. The effulgence or flame is the sacrificial flame, as well as the metabolic vaiśvānara fire; cf. Bhagavadgītā 4.24 and 15.14.


A list of Vedic works which is the first lexicon in Sanskrit literature.


Ekaśṛṅga usually means single horned, as in a unicorn or a rhinoceros. This would not apply to a boar, which has tusks, and moreover a pair of them. Hence the meaning “preeminent” is appropriate here as well as being supported in this context. See verse 12.330.24.


Āraṇyaka here is taken to be the fourth portion of the Sāma, called araṇyagāna.


Ādhvaryava;lit., anything related to the adhvaryu priest, such as his duties in sacrifices.


Instead of sah in the third line of this verse, tad would have been grammatically preferable, corresponding to the yat tad in the first line.


Taking the participle as the finite form of a verb, since no finite verb is given.


A southern Pāñcāla king. “Tradition connects him with the revision and re-arrangement of Vedic and exegetical texts. He fixed the Kramapāṭha of the Ṛgveda and the Atharvaveda, and his minister Kaṇdarīka of the Sāmaveda. Brahmadatta’s great-grandson Janamejaya Durbuddhi, the last king, was a tyrant and was killed by Ugrāyudha of the Dvimīḍhas and thus the dynasty came to an end.” Ganga Ram Garg, Encyclopedia of the Hindu World, vol. 1 (New Delhi: Concept Publishing, 1992), 20.


Following the gloss by the Commentator.


That is, the human body.


The word sasarja here cannot be adequately translated due to its polysemy: it means “to emit, throw” as well as to “create.” In this word is the tragedy of creation, enacted by Brahmā and Rudra on opposite sides with Viṣṇu alternatively siding with each to keep the cycle of pravṛtti turning.


Reading tat instead of sva, as found in K4, V1, B6, Dn1, D7, T2, G1–3.6. If we take it as sva, the tejas goes to Nārāyaṇa Himself. Although this reading can be defended by citing the various passages in the Nārāyaṇīya where Nārāyaṇa identifies Himself with Rudra, etc., the variant reading chosen here is well represented in the manuscripts and it also makes more poetic sense.


A kind of grass, stalk, but also a pen.


Attained or discovered or approached through etymology. This epithet has the general meaning of ineffable and not easily or directly either a subject or a predicate.


Śivam = “auspicious.” The word is a play on Śiva, who is identified as Rudra.


Ekā murtiḥ. Ganguli’s translation is worth citing for its beauty: “That which is unmanifest, indestructible, immutable, supreme, the origin of the universe, uniform, and the supreme actor, that which transcends all pairs of opposites, and is inactive, has, choosing to be manifested, been pleased to assume this one blessed form, (for though double, the two but represent the same form). This Nara and Narayana (the displayed forms of Supreme Brahman) have taken birth in the race of Dharma.” Note the close proximity of ekā murtiḥ, nirdvandvam and Nara-Nārāyaṇa. Ganguli is alert to the problem of the dyad here.


Again, Śiva.


Rudra represents Nārāyaṇa’s agonistic element. Rudra had to separate from Him to make Time and Death possible, as will happen in the following verses. Here we need to note that only when this agonistic element first emerges from the One, then opposes it, and then abides in a bond of equality is Time, strictly speaking, possible. This is the exact opposite of Hegelian synthesis.

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