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 11 - (Mahābhārata 12.331.1-52)

Janamejaya said:

O Brāhmaṇa! A great narrative has been told by you having listened to which all the sages are transported to ultimate wonder.

2–4 O repository of austerities, just as butter from curds, sandalwood from Malaya [mountains], Āraṇyakas from Vedas, and as ambrosia from herbs, Brāhmaṇa, this insuperable ambrosia in the form of this text related to the Nārāyaṇa narrative which has been drawn up from the hundred-thousand [verse] expanse of the Bhārata narrative is told by you having churned the insuperable ocean of knowledge with the intellect as the churner.

5–6 He is the Supreme Lord God, the origin of the soul of all beings. Aho! How difficult it is to behold O twice-born one, Nārāyaṇa’s brilliance[1] wherein at the end of the eon (kalpa), all the gods beginning with Brahmā, the ṛṣis along with gandharvas, and whatever is movable and immovable enter. I think there is nothing more sanctifying than that here or in heaven.

7 Pilgrimage to all the āśramas, bathing in all the sacred fords, does not yield such merit, as does the Nārāyaṇa narrative.

8 Having heard from its very beginning this discourse on Hari, the Lord of the universe, which destroys all sins, we have become purified in every way.

9 Nothing extraordinary has my esteemed [ancestor] Dhanaṃjaya done, who, having Vāsudeva as his companion, obtained great victory.

10 Because, I think, nothing at all was unobtainable, even in the three worlds for him who had the Lord of the Triple-Worlds, Viṣṇu, as a helping friend.

11 And thus Brāhmaṇa, those ancestors of mine were all fortunate, who had Janārdana for their welfare and the supreme good.

12 That Effulgent God, who is worshipped in the world who cannot be seen even by austerities, whom they were able to see directly as the One adorned with the śrīvatsa mark.

13 And more fortunate than them indeed was Nārada, the son of Parameṣṭhin. Of no less prowess do I consider the imperishable ṛṣi Nārada, by whom, having reached Śvetadvīpa Hari Himself was seen.

14 That he saw God in the Aniruddha form at that time, that vision of His is manifestly due to the Divine Grace.

15 And as Nārada again rushed to Badarī-āśrama to behold Nara and Nārāyaṇa, O Muni, what was the reason for that?

16–18 Nārada, the son of Parameṣṭhin, who had returned from Śvetadvīpa, having reached Badarī āśrama, and meeting those ṛṣis, how long did he remain [there]? And what matters did he ask? When that great soul had returned from Śvetadvīpa, what did the great souled ṛṣis Nara and Nārāyaṇa say to him? All this you ought to relate to me as it is.

Vaiśaṃpāyana said:

19 Salutations to that Effulgent Lord Vyāsa of unlimited brilliance, by whose grace I will propound this narrative of Nārāyaṇa.

20 Having reached the white, great island, and having seen the Undecaying Hari, Nārada returned, king, and swiftly came to mount Meru, bearing in his heart the weight of the words of the Ultimate Soul.

21 Later, king, a great fear arose in his heart. “Having gone on this long path, how did I return here unharmed?”[2]

22 Then, from Meru he proceeded to the mountain Gandhamādana, and descended speedily from the sky onto the vast Badarī area.

23 Thereupon he beheld those two gods, the ancient, supreme ṛṣis, performing great austerities, established in the Self and who had undertaken mighty vows.

24 Those two worship-worthy ones, adorned with the śrīvatsa mark and having matted hair and a top knot, were greater in brilliance than the sun who shines upon all the worlds.

25–26 They had webbed hands, the mark of the discus on their soles,[3] broad chests, long arms, and moreover, four testicles, sixty teeth, eight canine teeth, thunderous voice, beautiful face and broad forehead, handsome chin and beautiful eyebrows and nose.

27 The heads of those two gods were similar to umbrellas. They were endowed with such characteristic features and were called Mahāpuruṣas.

28 Beholding them, Nārada was filled with rapture, and he, in turn, was honored by them. Having been greeted with welcoming words he was asked about his well-being.

29 Observing the two Puruṣottama-s (highest beings), he became introspective, “These two best ṛṣis are similar to those seen by on Śvetadvīpa who were in the assembly there and were worshipped by all beings.”

30 Thus thinking in his mind, he circumambulated them. Then he sat down on an auspicious seat made of kuśa grass.

31–32 Then those two ṛṣis, equipped with mental equipoise and self-control, the abodes of austerities and also of renown and brilliance, performed the rites ordained for forenoon. Afterwards, those two, being focused, honored Nārada with water for washing feet and sipping and having finished the hospitality and daily rituals sat down on their seats, king.

33 When all the three had taken their seats, the place shone forth like a sacrificial hall with fires having blazing great flames and oblations of clarified butter.

34 Then in that place, Nārāyaṇa said these words to Nārada, who was seated comfortably, rested, for whom hospitality was offered, and was well pleased.

35 “Was that Effulgent Lord, the Supreme Sempiternal Soul, who is our transcendent nature,[4] presently seen by you on Śvetadvīpa?”

Nārada said:

36 I saw that Glorious Person, the Eternal One in his universal form and also all the people who were there as well as the gods together with the ṛṣis. And even now I behold Him while I am beholding you two eternal ones.

37 With whatever marks Hari, who bears the unmanifest form is endowed, with those very marks indeed both of you who have manifest forms are endowed.

38 There I saw you two, by that God’s side, and here have I come now, sent by that Supreme Soul.

39 Who indeed exists in these three worlds, who is equal to Him, in brilliance, fame and opulence, except you two, sons of Dharma?

40 Previously I was told by Him what indeed is meant by Kṣetrajña and also His emanations as they will manifest.

41 Those persons there, who are luminous (śvetāḥ) and bereft of the five senses, they are all enlightened and devoted to the Supreme Puruṣa.

42 They always worship the God and He likewise rejoices in them. The Effulgent Lord who is the Supreme Soul and beloved of the twice-born is indeed fond of devotees.

43 The Enjoyer of the universe, the ubiquitous God, the friend and affectionate to his devotees and a lover of the Bhāgavatas, is verily always delighted when worshipped. He who possesses great prowess and brilliance is the doer, the cause, and the action.

44 Having yoked himself to austerity, He illuminates that which is beyond Śvetadvīpa with His own effulgence, which is famous as Brilliance (tejas).

45 He is established in the ultimate (naiṣṭhika)[5]vow with this auspicious notion that it [i.e., this vow] is the peace in the three worlds for those who are the accomplished ones and who have contemplated on the Self.

46 When that God of gods was performing extremely severe austerities, neither the sun scorched there nor the moon gleamed, nor blew the wind.

47 Having established an altar eight fingers [in height],[6] the Enjoyer of the universe standing on one foot, having his arms raised, facing North and repeatedly reciting the Vedas together with their ancillaries performed the most difficult austerities.

48–49 Whatever offerings and incantations the god Brahmā, ṛṣis, and also what Paśupati himself, and all the other remaining great gods and daityas, dānavas and rākṣasas, serpents, winged beings, gandharvas, accomplished ones and also the royal rṣis always employ in proper procedure, all that reaches the feet of that God.

50 The God Himself bears on his head all those rites which are performed by those with one-pointed intellect.

51 There is no one dearer to Him in all the three worlds than the enlightened great souls. Therefore, I [too] have become single-minded [in devotion unto Him] and have come here sent by the Supreme Soul.

52 Thus unto me did the Effulgent Lord God Hari Himself speak. I will remain here along with you two together, my mind always fixed on Him.

Footnotes and references:


Here we have taken Nārāyaṇa in the adjectival form, assuming that the taddhita suffix is lost. Alternatively, we can take nārāyaṇa as noun in apposition to tejas. Then as naraṇām ayanam, he would be the tejas which is the ultimate goal of all humans. This interpretation is in fact poetically superior as well, because the word āviśanti in the next line matches well with the ˚ayana.


Note the pun on nivṛtti. Cf. Bhagavadgītā 15.16cd: yad gatvā na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṃ mama.


Nīlakaṇṭha: jālapādā haṃsāstadaṅkitabhujau haṃsapādāṅkitabhujau cakralakṣaṇau cakrānkitapādau.


One who goes from brahmacārya to renunciation directly.


The commentator says: aṣṭanalotsedhāmityatra nalavatparvayuktatvānnalaśabdena aṅgulaṃ grāhyam | taleti pāṭhe’pi hastasya talamaṅgulocchrāyameva bhavati ||. “By the word nala in the reading aṣṭanalotsedhām, (the thickness of) a finger (aṅgula) is to be understood. Even if the reading is ‘tala’ it is the surface of the hand, that is, the palm which also is of the thickness of a finger.” This reveals the commentator at work. He is aware of variant readings, yet suggests that there is a single text of which these are variations.

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