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 15 - (Mahābhārata 12.335.1-89)

Janamejaya said:

1 The greatness of that Effulgent Lord, the Supreme Soul has been heard, as well as His birth in the house of Dharma as Nara and Nārāyaṇa, and also the ancient origin of the piṇḍas created by the great Varāha.

2 It has been heard by us, sinless Brāhmaṇa,[1] as narrated by you, how one{GL_NOTE::} is conceived in pravṛtti as well as nivṛtti.

3 As well as that which was previously told by you: that there was the great Horsehead (Hayaśiras) of Viṣṇu who enjoys the sacrificial offerings and chantings in the northeastern region of the great ocean and that it was seen by the great effulgent lord Brahmā Parameṣṭhin.

4 O best among the intelligent ones, what was the unprecedented form of those great effulgent ones previously created by Hari who upholds the worlds?

5 What did Brahmā do, sage, having seen that best, unprecedented God of unlimited brilliance, that auspicious Horsehead?[3]

6 Resolve this doubt of ours, highly intelligent Brāhmaṇa, which has arisen due to knowledge of ancient matters and which is created by the Mahāpuruṣa. We are indeed purified by you telling these narratives, Brāhmaṇa.

Vaiśaṃpāyana said:

7 I will tell you all that which is ancient and commensurate with the Vedas, which the effulgent lord Vyāsa sang to King Yudhiṣṭhira.

8 Having heard [about] the form of the Horse-headed God Harimedhas, the King, with a doubt arisen in him, probed [Vyāsa] himself.

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

9 Whatever it was that Brahmā witnessed as the God bearing the Horse-Head, why was it born as the body conceived for God?

10 Vyāsa said:

10 Whatever exists here fettered by the body is constituted by the five elements born of the intellect of God.

11 The lord is the Creator of the universe, the powerful one, Nārāyaṇa, Virāt, the inner soul of beings, boon-bestower, and also with and without attributes (saguṇa and nirguṇa). Great king, hear about the Unmanifest, the dissolution of all beings.

12–14 First when the earth dissolved into waters which were a single ocean, and when water became light, and when light was dissolved in wind, and wind was dissolved in space and space followed mind, and the mind dissolved into the Manifest, and the Manifest went into the state of being Unmanifest, and when the Unmanifest went into the Puruṣa, and the Puruṣa became ubiquitous, everything became darkness and nothing was comprehended.

15 From darkness arose Brahman, which has darkness as its root and which is of the nature of cosmic order (ṛta). Brahman is established in the form of Puruṣa at the end of its cognition as the all creator.

16 He is called Aniruddha and that is called Pradhāna [also]. Best of kings, that is to be understood as the Unmanifest with three attributes.

17 With knowledge as His companion the God Viṣvaksena, Lord Hari, thinking of the beautiful creation of the universe rising out of many attributes, slept on the waters, entering the yoga of sleep.

18 When He was contemplating creation, He recalled His own great nature. From that was born Ahaṃkāra [the ego principle], which was Hiraṇyagarbha, the effulgent lord Brahmā, the grandfather of all the worlds, endowed with four auspicious faces.

19–20 Then, being born from Aniruddha, that lustrous lotus-eyed eternal lord Parameṣṭhin, who was established in sattva and was seated on a wonderful lustrous lotus with a thousand petals, saw the universe filled with waters and then created the groups of beings.

21 On that lotus-leaf equal in radiance to a ray of sun, there already were two water droplets of superior attributes created by Nārāyaṇa.

22 The Effulgent Lord Acyuta, who is without beginning or end, beheld those two. One droplet there became honey-like and was of beautiful luster.

23 By Nārāyaṇa’s decree, that became Madhu, of the nature of tamas. But the second droplet was firm and became Kaiṭabha. However, he was of the nature of rajas.

24–25 Those two splendid ones, having the nature of tamas and rajas, being strong and armed with clubs, following the lotus-stalk saw Brahmā of limitless radiance who was seated on the lotus, creating first the four Vedas of beautiful forms.

26 Those two embodied beings who were the best of asuras, beholding the Vedas suddenly seized the Vedas even as Brahmā was watching.

27 Then those best of dānavas, taking those eternal Vedas, entered into the earth in the north-eastern great ocean.

28 When the Vedas were thus stolen, Brahmā became dejected and thus being deprived of the Vedas, said to the Supreme Lord (Iśana):

29 “The Vedas are my ultimate sight, Vedas are my ultimate strength, Vedas are my ultimate abode, and Vedas are my Supreme Brahman.

30 All my Vedas are forcibly carried away by those two dānavas. Deprived of Vedas, the worlds have become darknesses to me. I was going to create the worlds, but without Vedas, what should I do?

31 Aho! Due to the loss of Vedas, what great sorrow is mine, which, having reached my heart, torments it, subjecting me to intense grief.

32 Who will uplift me from here today, I who am drowned in this ocean of grief, and bring back those lost Vedas and to whom will I become dear?”

33 Best of kings, highly intelligent one, when Brahmā was saying this, Buddhi arose for the sake of eulogizing Hari. Then, with folded hands, the lord [Brahmā] paid homage and chanted a eulogy (japya).

34–35 “Salutations to you, O heart of Brahman! Salutations to you my ancestor! The foremost in the world, the best abode, repository of Sāṃkhya and Yoga, allpervading One! Cause of the manifest and unmanifest, incomprehensible, stationed on the path of security, enjoyer of the universe, inner soul of all beings, the One without an origin!

36 I am born of your grace who is Self-born, the abode of all the worlds. From You is my first birth from the mind, which is eulogized by the twice-born ones.

37 And my second birth, the ancient one, was from [Your] eye. By your grace is my great third birth, which is from speech.

38 From You is my birth from [Your] ear, all-pervading One. And it is said that from You is my fifth birth, which is from the nose.

39 My sixth birth is from You caused from an egg. O infinitely Effulgent One, this is my seventh birth arisen from a lotus.

40 Verily, in each and every birth, I am your son, devoid of the three attributes and famous as the one conceived of the attributes of Pradhāna, O lotus-eyed One.

41 You are of the nature of the Lord, Self-born Puruṣottama [Supreme Soul]. I am created by you, beyond age and having Vedas as my sight.

42 Those Vedas which are my sight are lost. I have become blind. Wake up! Give me my eyes! I am dear to You and You are dear to me.”

43 Thus eulogized, the Effulgent Lord, Puruṣa, the One who faces all directions, then abandoned sleep and became ready for the task of the Vedas. Through his divine prowess, he took on a second body.

44 Assuming a body with a beautiful nose and becoming lustrous like the moon, the Lord made the white Horsehead the abode of the Vedas.

45 His Head became the heaven with the constellations and the stars. His hair became long, having the luster of sunbeams.

46 The ears became the sky and the underworld, the forehead the earth. His eyebrows became the great auspicious rivers Gaṅgā and Sarasvatī.

47 The eyes [became] the sun and the moon and the nose is considered to be twilight. His tongue became lightening and the utterance of Oṃ was the consecration.

48 And the teeth, king, became famous as the ancestors who drank soma in sacrifices. The Goloka and Brahmaloka were the Great-Souled One’s lips. And king, His throat became Kālarātri,[4] of awesome attributes.

49 Having made this Horsehead enveloped by various forms, that Lord of the Universe, disappeared and entered the earth.

50 Having entered the earth, He again became established in the highest yoga. Resorting to [Vedic] phonetics, he created the sound Oṃ.

51 The sound had resonance. It was all-pervading and charming; and rising from the attributes of all the beings, it reached the core of the earth.

52 Then, those two asuras, binding the Vedas with a contract and throwing them in the netherworld, ran there where the sound was coming from.

53 In the meantime, king, the God Hari, bearing the Horsehead [form], took all the Vedas that had reached the netherworld, gave them to Brahmā, and then went to His own state.

54 Then Hayaśiras, establishing [Himself] in the north eastern great ocean, also became Aśvaśiras, the abode of the Vedas.

55 Then, seeing nothing, the two dānavas Madhu and Kaiṭabha, speedily returned. And they perceive that the spot where the Vedas were thrown was empty.

56–57 Then, those two best of the strong ones, resorting to the highest speed, came up again quickly from the ocean; and at that time, saw again the same luminous Lord Puruṣa, the Inceptor, pure as moonlight, established in the Aniruddha form, of immense valor, who had entered into the yoga of sleep.

58–59 Seeing Him, who was of beautiful luster and endowed with flawless Goodness, [sleeping] on a bed arranged according to His own measure placed on the waters, abounding with the hoods of a snake and encircled with rows of flames, those two lords among dānavas emitted a loud laughter.

60 And those two, completely pervaded by tamas and rajas, said: “This is that luminous Puruṣa who is lying asleep.

61 Indeed, the Vedas are taken by Him from the underworld. Whose is He? Who is He? And why is He sleeping having hoods [above Him].”

62 Having said this, those two awakened Hari. Puruṣottama woke up, having understood that they were desirous of battle.

63 Then, beholding those asura lords, He set His mind on battle. Then a battle ensued between those two and Nārāyaṇa.

64 Madhusūdana, doing a favor to Brahmā, slew those two, Madhu and Kaiṭabha, whose bodies were overwhelmed by rajas and tamas.

65 Thus Puruṣottama immediately vanquished Brahmā’s grief by taking away the Vedas and slaying those two.

66 Thus protected, that Brahmā, whose enemies were killed and who was honored with [the return of] the Vedas, then created all the movable and immovable beings (lokān).

67 After having endowed the Grandfather with the best intellect (buddhi) for the emanation of the worlds, the God Hari disappeared to that place whence He had come.

68 Having assumed that Horsehead form and having slain those two dānavas for the sake of pravṛtti dharma, Hari retained the same form.

69 In this way, Hari, the highly fortunate One, became Horse-headed. The boonbestowing form of the Lord is narrated thus in the Purāṇas.

70 Whichever Brāhmaṇa would always listen to or memorize this, his study will never be lost.

71 Having worshipped the Horse-head bearing God with severe austerity, Pāncāla stepped on the path guided by Rāma.

72 Since you have asked me, king, I have told you this ancient narrative of Hayaśiras, which is equivalent to the Veda.

73 Whatever forms the God sometimes wishes to assume for accomplishing His tasks, He Himself takes all those forms, Himself modifying His own Self.

74 This all-pervading Hari is the glorious repository of the Vedas. He is the repository of austerities. He is Sāṃkhya and Yoga and the foremost Brahman.

75 The Vedas have Nārāyaṇa as the goal. All sacrifices are Nārāyaṇa Himself. Austerity is intent on Nārāyaṇa and Nārāyaṇa is the ultimate goal.

76 Truth is devoted to Nārāyaṇa. The cosmic order has Nārāyaṇa as its soul. Nārāyaṇa is that dharma following which rebirth is difficult.[5]

77 And the dharma characterized by pravṛtti is of the nature of Nārāyaṇa. Whatever is the most excellent fragrance on this earth is considered to be of the nature of Nārāyaṇa.

78 Taste which is the property of water, king, is of the nature of Nārāyaṇa. Form, which is the property of light, is said to be of the nature of Nārāyaṇa.

79 Touch, which is the property of wind, is also considered to be of the nature of Nārāyaṇa. Sound, which arises in space is also said to be of the nature of Nārāyaṇa.

80 And also the Mind, an entity characterized by the attribute of the Unmanifest is from him. Time, which is the path of luminaries, has Nārāyaṇa as its goal.

81 The goddesses Kīrti, Srī, and Lakṣmī are devoted to Nārāyaṇa. The goal of Sāṃkhya is Nārāyaṇa. The goal of Yoga is Nārāyaṇa.

82 Pradhāna also is the cause of those [things] of which Puruṣa is the cause. And one’s own nature (svabhāva) and actions are the cause of those [things] that have destiny as their cause.

83 Hari, who is enumerated by five causes, is everywhere verily the goal of those who are desirous of knowing the truth (tattva) through universal causes.

84–85 Keśava, the singular great Yogi, the Lord Hari Nārāyaṇa, knows the tattva, which is yearned for by great-souled Ṛṣis together with Brahmā, [the knowers of] Sāṃkhya as well as Yoga, by the ascetics and the knowers of [or those who desire to know] the Self, but they do not [know] His [desire].

86–87 Viṣṇu—who is established in divine scripture, dwells in all beings, and is the refuge of all those who in all the worlds perform the divine and ancestral rites and also give away gifts and engage in great austerity—is called Vāsudeva.

88 He is the eternal supreme Great Soul, Great God, who is full of attributes and is said to be without attributes. [He] instantly unites with the attributes just as time is united with the season at the right time.

89 [They] do not comprehend the exit of this great-souled One, and nobody sees His entry.[6] The great Ṛṣis who are the embodiments of knowledge and are well-controlled always see the Puruṣa who transcends the attributes.

Footnotes and references:


There is some association between the Sūtas and the Brāhmaṇas. Priests often served as charioteers in Vedic times. A Sūta is never only a charioteer. This is something that goes on into later times. For example, Sāyaṇa in the fourteenth century CE served also as the senāpati of the Yādavas.


Saḥ = he. Can be taken as “anyone” or Nārāyaṇa (reading from verse 1).


Just the “head” of the horse is emphasized, as if just the head is the God himself. This is in keeping with the overall theme of the epic, which began with the tail of the horse Uccaiḥśravas. The entire epic is cast as a sacrificed horse of the aśvamedha, with the head appearing only now. Prof. Kolhatkar notes that the number 12 can be significant as well, because the aśvamedha horse wanders for 12 months, and this is book 12.


The apocalyptic night of cosmic dissolution.


punarāvṛttiḥ durlabhā yena.


See Bhagavadgītā 15.10–11: utkrāmantaṃ sthitaṃ vāpi bhuñjānaṃ vā guṇānvitam | vimūḍhā nānupaśyanti paśyanti jñānacakṣuṣaḥ || yatanto yoginaś cainaṃ paśyanty ātmany avasthitam | yatanto’py akṛtātmāno nainaṃ paśyanty acetasaḥ ||

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