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 13 - (Mahābhārata 12.333.1-25)

Vaiśaṃpāyana said:

1 Once, Nārada the son of Parameṣṭhin, having sacrificed to the gods according to ordinances, later performed rites to the ancestors.

2 Then the Lord, the eldest son of Dharma [Nārāyaṇa], said to him: “Who is worshipped by you, O best of the twice-born, when these divine and ancestral rites are performed?

3 O best of the intelligent ones! Tell me this, as is in the scriptures. Why is this rite undertaken and what is desired as its fruit?

Nārada said:

4 This also is told by you before, that the divine [ritual] is to be done. The divinity is the supreme sacrifice, the Sempiternal Supreme Soul (paramātman).

5 Contemplating that, I constantly sacrifice to the Undecaying Vaikuṇṭha, from whom, indeed, issued forth in ancient times Brahmā, the Grandsire of all worlds.

6 That Parameṣṭhin [Brahmā], becoming pleased, gave birth to my father. I am the first son conceived, born of his resolve.

7 O Good One, I worship the ancestors when the ordinance is laid down by Nārāyaṇa.[1] Thus, that very Lord of the world, the Effulgent God, [my] father, mother, and grandsire is always worshipped by me in the ancestral rites.

8 There is another scriptural passage, O Divinity, “The sons indeed worshipped the ancestors.” The Vedic scripture which was lost was taught again by the sons. Thus those sons who gave the mantras attained the state of being a father.[2]

9–10 Surely, this matter must previously be known to you both [who are] steeped in the Self, “Having spread sacred grass first and placing three balls of rice (piṇḍas) on the ground, sons and fathers worshipped each other.” How, then, did those fathers obtain the name piṇḍa long ago?

Nara and Nārāyaṇa spoke:

11 In ancient times, Govinda, taking on the form of a boar (Vārāharūpa) uplifted this sea-girdled earth which had disappeared.[3]

12 Having placed the earth in her own place, the Ultimate Puruṣa, drenched in water and mud, was ready for the welfare of the world.

13 When the sun had reached the meridian and it was time for daily rituals, the Lord quickly shaking off the balls of mud clinging to his tusks placed them on the ground after strewing it with kuśa grass, Nārada.

14 Making three piṇḍas, following his own prescription, the Lord performed the ancestral ritual on them dedicated to Himself, according to the proper procedure.

15 Sprinkling them with the sesame seeds having oil in them and issued from his own bodily heat verily the Lord of the divinities, facing east, Himself performed the conclusion of the rite.

16 In order to establish the custom, he then spoke these words, “I, the creator Himself of the world, am verily intent on creating the ancestors.”

17 When He was thinking thus on the ultimate rites of the ancestors, suddenly, the piṇḍas which were flung from My two tusks in the southern direction reached the earth. Therefore they (piṇḍas) are indeed the fathers.

18 The three without form are indeed these who are bearing this form of the piṇḍas. May they become the eternal ancestors created by Me.

19 I alone am to be understood as the father and the grandfather and likewise the great-grandfather established in these three pindas.

20 There is none else greater than me, who indeed can be worshipped by me? Who, moreover is my father in the world? I, indeed, am the Grandfather!

21–22 I am also the father of the grandfather, I alone am the cause here. Thus having spoken these words, the God of gods Vṛṣākapi, having offered the piṇḍas together with their elaboration [of ritual], on the Varāha mountain, O wise one and thus indeed having worshipped his own Self, He disappeared then and there.

23 Due to this, O auspicious minded one, the ancestors are understood as piṇḍas and they perpetually receive the worship as Vṛṣākapi decreed.

24 They who worship the ancestors, gods, teachers and elders, and guests as well as cows, the chief brāhmaṇas, and the mother earth in deed and thought and word, they indeed worship Viṣṇu Himself.

25 That Effulgent God who is within, who is in the body of all beings, who is equally disposed to all creatures and is the Lord of pleasure and sorrow. Nārāyaṇa, as revealed is the Great Being, the Great Souled and the Soul of all.

Footnotes and references:


Reading nārāyaṇavidhau kṛte as nārāyaṇakṛte vidhau.


Ganguli translates the Commentator as follows: “The story is that once on a time the deities, on the eve of going out on a campaign against the Asuras, communicated the Vedas unto their children, Agnishatta and others. In consequence, however, of the length of time for which they were occupied on the field, they forgot their Vedas. Returning to heaven, they had actually to re-acquire them from their own children and disciples. The Scriptures declare that the preceptor is ever the sire, and the disciple is the son. Difference of age would not disturb the relationship. A youth of sixteen might thus be the father of an octogenarian. With Brahmanas, reverence is due to knowledge, not age.”


Sunk in the primordial waters.

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