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 18 - (Mahābhārata 12.338.1-25)

Janamejaya said:

1 O brāhmaṇa, are there many puruṣas or only one? Who is the best puruṣa here, and who here is called the origin?

Vaiśaṃpāyana said:

2 O uplifter of the Kuru dynasty, according to the thinkers of Sāṃkhya and Yoga there are many puruṣas in this world. They do not favor [the view of] the one puruṣa.

3–5 Since the one universal puruṣa is said to be the womb of many puruṣas [feminine being], I will, having worshipped that supreme ṛṣi guru Vyāsa of unlimited brilliance, endowed with austerity, self-controlled and adorable, expound to you that [being] who transcends all attributes. This Puruṣa-sūkta was conceived by that lion among ṛṣis [Vyāsa] and in all the vedic scriptures it is renowned as cosmic order and truth (ṛtam satyam).

6 O Bhārata, resorting to the contemplation on the Self, the philosophical disciplines were laid down by Kapila and other ṛṣis by way of rules and [their] exceptions.

7 Due to the blessing of the one with limitless luster [Vyāsa], I will tell you the oneness of puruṣa, which Vyāsa propounded in brief.

8 Here also they cite an ancient tale, king, [which is] the dialogue of Tryambaka[1] with Brahmā.

9 In the middle of the Ocean of Milk, there is a great mountain called Vaijayanta which has the splendor of gold, king.

10 Always contemplating on the state of the Self, the god [Brahmā], dwells in solitude there on the Vaijayanta, in that abode of Virāj [Viṣṇu].

11 Then when that intelligent-faced [Brahmā] was residing there, Śiva the son born of his forehead, came there by chance. The Three-Eyed One, the Lord of the Yogis, Śiva came there by the aerial way.

12 He then suddenly swooped down from the sky onto the summit of the mountain. Being pleased, he appeared before [Brahmā] and worshipped his feet.

13 Seeing him fallen at his feet, the solitary lord, the Preceptor, helped him stand up with his left hand.

14 The Effulgent Lord [Brahmā] said to him, his son, who had come after a long time, “Welcome to you, Mahābāhu![2] It is fortunate that you have come here to me.

15 Are you alright, son? And likewise your studies and austerities? Indeed you are always engaged in formidable austerities, hence I am asking again.”

Rudra said:

16 It is due to your grace, Effulgent Lord, that there is continuity and welfare in my studies and austerities as also in the entire world.

17 The Effulgent Lord was seen by me a long time before in the house of Viṣṇu, therefore I have come to this mountain which is graced by you.[3]

18 Indeed I am curious regarding your resorting to solitude, Grandfather. The reason for this cannot be trivial indeed.

19–20 Is not that dwelling the best, which is devoid of hunger and thirst and which is populated by gods, asuras, and Ṛṣis of immense brilliance, and is always frequented by gandharvas and celestial nymphs? Leaving that, you have come here alone onto this great mountain.

Brahmā said:

21 The great mountain Vaijayanta is always visited by me. Here, with onepointed mind the Virāṭ Puruṣa is meditated upon [by me].

Rudra said:

22–23 Many puruṣas are created by you, Brahmā, the self-born one. And others, Brahmā, are being created. Who then is this Puruṣa Virāt who alone is contemplated upon by you? Clarify this doubt of mine, great indeed is my curiosity.

Brahmā said:

24 There are many puruṣas, son, who are mentioned by you. Thus has it transcended and also thus (has transcended) that it should not be seen in this way. But I am going to tell you the support of that One Puruṣa.

25 Since He is called the one single womb of the many puruṣas, therefore they, becoming free of attributes, enter into Him—that Puruṣa, who is universal, supreme and the supremely great, free of attributes, and semipiternal.

Footnotes and references:


Lit. “The Three-Eyed One,” an epithet of Śiva.


Lit. “Mighty-Armed One,” an epithet of Śiva.


According to Schreiner, ciradṛṣta in this line means “seen from afar” and thus may be intended to indicate a “yogic capacity of telepathy” that identifies Śiva as “the prototype of the yogin.” I have preferred the more obvious translation of “a long time ago.” Schreiner, “»Schau Gottes«—ein Leitmotiv indischer Religionsgeschichte?” 167. The role of the Puruṣa as the Mahāyogin, the Supreme Yogin, is too well known to require evidence of Śiva’s yogic capabilities and Schreiner does not answer the question of where Śiva and Nārāyaṇa were in relation to each other, if Śiva is supposed to have seen him “from afar.”

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