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 16 - (Mahābhārata 12.336.1-82)

Janamejaya said:

1 Aho! How much indeed does the Effulgent Lord Hari love the single-minded ones and how the Lord Himself receives [their] worship performed in the prescribed way.

2 The destination of those who in this world have their fuel burnt up[1] and who are beyond merit and demerit is specified by you and has come down by lineage;

3 and as their fourth goal they go to Puruṣottama. But those who are singleminded attain the ultimate state.

4 Indeed, this dharma of single-minded is the best one and is dear to Nārāyaṇa. [This dharma by which] they reach the immutable Hari without going through the three [initial] goals.

5–7 The ultimate state of the single-minded ones I consider distinct from those well-established wise ones who follow the dharma of ascetics (yati) and recite the Vedas along with the Upaniṣads resorting to the prescribed procedure. Please resolve this doubt of mine, extreme indeed is my curiosity. By whom is this dharma propounded, by a god or by a Ṛṣi? And what is the [code of] conduct of the single-minded ones, O Vibhu [All-pervading one], and when was it created?

Vaiśaṃpāyana said:

8–9 In the battle of the Kurus and Pāṇḍavas, when all the armies were well arrayed, and when Arjuna was dejected, the Effulgent Lord Himself narrated the exit and entry [of the jīva] as I expounded to you previously. This dharma is difficult indeed to comprehend. It is extremely difficult to grasp by those who have not mastered themselves.

10 Comparable to the Sāmaveda, [this dharma] was created previously in the first eon. It is upheld by Lord Nārāyaṇa Himself, O king.

11 This very matter, great king, was asked of the highly fortunate Nārada by Pārtha in the midst of Ṛṣis and in the hearing of Kṛṣṇa and Bhīṣma;

12 and, best of kings, it was also told to me by my Guru. Listen [to it] as it was told by Nārada there.

13 O protector of the earth, Bhārata, when the mind-conceived birth of Brahmā from Nārāyaṇa’s mouth took place, at that time Nārāyaṇa Himself performed the divine and ancestral ritual following that dharma.

14 The froth-drinking (phenapa) Ṛṣis took it up. Then the Vaikhānasas took up this dharma from the Phenapa Ṛṣis and from the Vaikhānasas, Soma. Then it disappeared again.

15 When Brahmā’s second birth from the eye took place, king, at that time the Grandfather[2] came to know this dharma from Soma which has Nārāyaṇa as its essence and gave it to Rudra, O king.

16 Then previously, king, in the Kṛta age, Rudra being established in yoga taught this dharma to all the Vālakhilya Ṛṣis. By the illusory power of that God it then disappeared again.

17 There this dharma was born from Nārāyaṇa Himself, king, when it was the great third birth of Brahmā which was from Speech.

18 Ṛṣi Suparṇa obtained that [dharma] from Puruṣottama, indeed, by means of well-performed austerities, self-control, and vows.

19 Since Suparṇa thrice circumambulated this best dharma, therefore this vow is called here Trisauparṇa.

20–21 This vow which is cited in the text of the Ṛgveda is difficult to perform. And this eternal dharma obtained from Suparṇa, best of men,[3] was spread by Vāyu, the life of the universe, and from Vāyu, [it] was obtained by the Ṛṣis who eat remnants [of sacrificial offerings] (vighasa).

22 From them, the Great Ocean received this highest dharma. Then again it disappeared from there and was united with Nārāyaṇa.

23 When again there was the creation of this great souled Brahmā from the ear, I will tell you about that; O tiger among men, listen!

24 The God Hari, Lord Nārāyaṇa who was intent on creating the universe, Himself thought of Puruṣa who is the creator of the universe.

25 As he was thinking thus, a being (puruṣa) emerged from [his] two ears who was Brahmā, the creator of beings. The Lord of the Universe said to him:

26 “O Son, endowed with great vows, create all beings from your head and your feet;[4] I will endow you with power, splendor, and the good (śreyas).

27 Take the dharma from Me which is indeed called the Sātvata [-dharma]. Properly establish the Kṛta age with that.”

28 Then Brahmā paid homage to the God Harimedhas[5] and received that foremost dharma with its collected texts and Āraṇyakas along with the mysteries which emerged from Nārāyaṇa’s mouth.

29 Having instructed Brahmā of limitless brilliance about the dharma having the characteristics of Kṛta age[6] and which is called action without hankering after its fruit (nirāśīḥ karma), He went beyond the darkness where the Unmanifest was established.

30 From that, the boon-bestowing god, Brahmā, grandfather of Brahmloka, then created the worlds with movable and immovable beings.

31 Thereafter, in the beginning the auspicious Kṛta age emerged from that [dharma for the Kṛta age]. Then the Sātvata-dharma was established, pervading the worlds.

32 With that very same foremost dharma, Brahmā, the creator of the worlds, worshipped the God Lord Nārāyaṇa Hari.

33 And Brahmā then taught Manu Svārochiṣa[7] for the sake of establishing dharma and with the desire of benefitting the worlds.

34 Then long ago, king, the lord of all the worlds, the expansive one who was undistracted, himself taught his son Śaṅkhapada Svarochis.

35 O Bhārata, then Śaṅkhapada taught it to his own rightful son,[8] Sudharman, the guardian of the directions. However, when the Tretā age dawned, this [dharma] disappeared again from there.

36 O king, previously in the birth of Brahmā from the nose, Lord Hari, the Lotuseyed God Nārāyaṇa Himself enunciated this dharma, while Brahmā was looking on.

37 King, the effulgent lord Sanatkūmara learned this from him, and from Sanatkūmara, O tiger among the Kurus, the preceptor (prajāpati) Vīraṇa learned it in the beginning of the Kṛta age.

38–39 And Vīraṇa, having learnt this, gave it to Manu Raucya. Further Raucya gave it to his son named Kukṣi, the righteous ruler of the directions who was pure, of high vows and intellect. Then [this dharma] which issued from Nārāyaṇa’s mouth disappeared again.

40 In the birth [of Brahmā] from an egg, this dharma arose again from the mouth of Nārāyaṇa for the sake of Brahmā who is born of Hari.

41 It was received by Brahmā and properly employed, and, king, the sages called Barhiṣad[9] were taught also. 42 From the Barhiṣad, [this dharma] reached the twice-born one who was well-versed in Sāmaveda, well renowned as Jyeṣṭha (foremost). He was Hari, the Jyeṣṭha-sāmavrata [follower of the vow of Sāma Veda].[10]

43 From Jyeṣṭha, it came down successively to King Avikampana, and then, king, this dharma of Lord Hari disappeared.

44–45 There in the seventh birth of Brahmā from the lotus, king, this dharma was told by Nārāyaṇa Himself to the flawless Grandfather, the sustainer of the worlds, in the beginning of the eon and the Grandfather gave this [dharma], in ancient times, to Dakṣa.

46 O best of kings, then Dakṣa gave it to his daughter’s eldest son, Āditya, who was elder than Savitṛ. Vivasvat obtained it from him.

47 Again, in the beginning of the Tretā age, Vivasvat gave it to Manu and Manu gave it to his son Ikṣvāku for the welfare of the world,[11]

48 and, king, [that dharma] which was told by Ikṣvāku pervaded the worlds and was established; and at the end of the decay [of the age] it will go to Nārāyaṇa.

49 O best of kings, the dharma of the followers of the vows which was briefly arranged was narrated to you previously in the verses of the Hari-Gītā.

50 And this dharma was obtained by Nārada along with its collected texts and mysteries, king, directly from Nārāyaṇa, the Lord of the Universe (Jagannātha).

51 Thus this dharma which is great, foremost, eternal, difficult to comprehend, and difficult to follow is always upheld, king, by the Sātvatas.

52 The Lord Hari is gratified by this knowledge of dharma and by the ritual which is endowed with ahiṃsā [non-violence] and which is properly performed.

53 He is of the division of one vyūha,[12] and is sometimes known as having two vyūhas. He is also renowned as having three vyūhas and is also viewed as having four vyūhas.

54 But Hari Himself is the Kṣetrajña, unattached (nirmama),[13] undivided and the life (jīva) in all beings transcending the attributes of the five elements.

55 And, king, He is the Mind that stirs the five senses, is endowed with the intellect, and is the repository of the worlds. He is the creator of all the worlds.

56 That undecaying Puruṣa, the non-doer and the doer, the action and also the cause, king, plays as He pleases.

57 O best of kings, this dharma of the one-pointed ones I have expounded to you through the grace of my Guru. It is difficult to be comprehended by those who have not mastered their selves. O king, [such] one-pointed ones are difficult to find.[14]

58 O son of the Kurus, if the universe is full of the one-pointed ones, non-violent, knowers of the ātman, engaged in the welfare of all beings, and who do not undertake actions coveting results, there will be the advent of the Kṛta Age.

59 Thus, O ruler of the subjects, he, the effulgent Lord Vyāsa, my Guru, the knower of dharma, the best of the twice-born said to King Dharma.

60 Nārada, who had successfully performed great austerities had also told this to him earlier in the presence of the Ṛṣis, O king, in the hearing of Kṛṣṇa and Bhīṣma.

61 Where the devotees of Nārāyaṇa who are single minded go is verily the shining, white Ultimate Brahman, which is radiant like the moon and Unfallen (Acyuta).[15]

Janamejaya said:

62 Why do the other Brāhmaṇas (viprāḥ) who are established in various vows not follow this manifold dharma which is followed by the enlightened ones?

Vaiśaṃpāyana said:

63 O king, there are three natures (prakṛtis), sāttvika, rājasa, and tamasa created in those bound by body, Bhārata.

64 O uplifter of the Kuru clan, among those delimited by body, the sattvagoverned man (puruṣa), who is resolute upon the goal of liberation is the best.

65 Moreover he knows that the Puruṣa exists as Brahman and liberation is dependent on Nārāyaṇa; and therefore indeed he is called sattvapredominated.

66 He who always has single-minded devotion and is intent on Nārāyaṇa, contemplating on the Puruṣottama, attains his mind’s wish.

67 When the wise ascetics yearning for liberation have relinquished their hankering, Hari takes care of their yoga and kṣema.[16]

68 The man (puruṣa) subject to birth whom Madhusūdana looks upon[17] should be known as endowed with sattva and he becomes determined for liberation.

69 The dharma of single-minded devotion is similar to Sāṃkhya and Yoga and due to that they attain the ultimate goal, which is liberation and is of the nature of Nārāyaṇa.

70 Being looked upon by Nārāyaṇa, one becomes enlightened. Thus, king, it is not [only] due to one’s own will that one becomes enlightened.

71 O king, there are two mixed natures, governed by rajas and tamas. Verily Hari Himself does not look upon the person (puruṣa) of that nature [rajas and tamas], who is subject to birth and endowed with the attributes of pravṛtti.

72 Brahmā, the grandfather of the worlds, looks upon the person (puruṣa) overflowing with rajas and tamas who is subject to birth.

73 May the gods and Ṛṣis be established in the sattva, O great king! Devoid of even a little, subtle sattva, they are subject to mental disturbance (vaikārika).

Janamejaya said:

74 How can the person who is subject to mental disturbance (vaikārika), go to Puruṣottama?

Vaiśaṃpāyana said:

75 The actionless person (puruṣa) will go to Puruṣa who is endowed with extremely subtle sattva, who consists of three letters[18] and who is the twentyfifth.

76 Thus the Sāṃkhya-Yoga and the Āraṇyakas of the Vedas are one and are ancillary to each other, and are said to be Pañcarātra. This is the dharma of the single-minded ones, which is of the nature of being intent on Nārāyaṇa.

77 Just as the tides of water emanating from the ocean, king, again enter into it, so also these great tides of the waters of knowledge verily enter again into Nārāyaṇa.

78 Thus the Sātvata dharma has been narrated to you, O friend of the Yadu. If you can, observe this as it is laid down, Bhārata!

79 Thus Nārada, the highly fortunate one, related the undecaying path of singlemindedness of the luminous ascetics[19] to my Guru.

80 And out of affection Vyāsa narrated it to the intelligent son of Dharma. Indeed I have narrated to you the same as emanated from the Guru.

81 O best of kings, this dharma thus is difficult to follow. As are you so are the others: being bewildered, [they] do not follow it.

82 Verily, it is Kṛṣṇa Himself who manifests the worlds as well as bewilders them, the enactor of their destruction as well as their cause, O lord of the earth.

Footnotes and references:


That is, they whose karmas are burnt up. See Śvetaśvatāra Upaniṣad 6.18–19: “Who at first created the brahman and delivered to him the Vedas; who manifests himself by his own intelligence—in that God do I, desirous of liberation, seek refuge—in him, who, like a fire whose fuel is spent, is without parts, inactive, tranquil, unblemished, spotless, and the highest dike to immortality” (Olivelle trans.).


Reading pitāmahaḥ for pitāmahāt.


Literally “best of bipeds,” perhaps meant to draw our attention to “suparṇa” which means “bird.”


An allusion to Puruṣasūkta, wherein the various beings are created from the various parts of Puruṣa. Although only head and feet are mentioned here, they represent all parts.


Hari, who is the intellect itself.


There is a pun on kārtayugadharma. It can be resolved as the dharma of action, which is the dharma of action without hankering after its results, or, it can be resolved as the dharma of the kṛta age, which would be the literal reading adopted here. This is a sustained motif. See, for example, chapter four, where in the argument between the ṛṣis and the gods, they cite the dharma of kṛta age to support their nivṛtti view point.


Svārochiṣa is an epithet of Manu, like Svāyambhuva and Vaivasvata. Literally Svārochiṣa means “the descendent of Svarochis, that is, the one who shines by his own luster.”


Aurasa is technically the legal heir, a son borne by a savarna wife (of the same caste) legally married in the presence of a priest and in witness of the fire. Cf. Kolhatkar, Aurasaḥ Kasmāt.


Literally those who sit on the barhis, which is (a seat made of) sacrificial grass, that is, who have performed sacrifice.


The reading jyeṣṭhasāmavratāharam is better. It would read as “Jyeṣṭha who has taken up the vow of the Sāma Veda.” The critical edition reading reads his name as Hari, in which case it seems to be someone who is different from Lord Hari Nārāyaṇa.


Cf. Bhagavadgītā 4.1.


This statement is a vadato vyāghāta: contradiction.


nirmama, literally “without claiming anything as his own.”


Literally durlabhā bahavo “Many such single-minded ones are difficult to obtain”; the sentiment here is the opposite of 4.10.


This is the “dhruvaṃ svargam” which Yudhiṣṭhira had asked about in the beginning of chapter one.


yogakṣema. Cf. Bhagavadgītā 9.22, which van Buitenen translates as “felicity.” aprāptasya prāpaṇaṃ yogaḥ kṣemaṃ prāptasya rakṣaṇam = yoga is attainment of whatever is not obtained (before), and kṣema is protecting whatever is obtained (evam etān mayā diṣṭān anutiṣṭhanti me pathaḥ / kṣemaṃ vindanti mat-sthānaṃ yad brahma paramaṃ viduḥ //, Śrimad Bhāgavatam 11.20.37).


Grace begins here. Linked to “seeing.”


That is a, u, and m or oṃ.


Of Śvetadvīpa.

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