The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 780,972 words | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes The Narayana-Kavaca explained which is chapter 8 of the English translation of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas containing roughly 18,000 metrical verses. Topics include ancient Indian history, religion, philosophy, geography, mythology, etc. The text has been interpreted by various schools of philosophy. This is the eighth chapter of the Sixth Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 8 - The Nārāyaṇa-Kavaca explained

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The King enquired:

1-2. Oh venerable Sir, please teach me the protective prayer of Nārāyaṇa which serves as an armour, and protected by which, Indra, the god with thousand eyes, sportfully but thoroughly vanquished the soldiers of the enemies with their horses and chariots, and enjoyed the sovereignty of the three worlds, and protected by which he conquered his enemies who attacked him with raised arms, in the battle.

Śrī Śuka replied:

3. The priest Viśvarūpa, the son of Tvaṣṭṛ, when solicited, explained to the great Indra, the protective prayer called Nārāyaṇa Kavaca. Listen to it with concentrated mind.

4-6. “When a danger is impending, a person should wash his hands and feet, and sip water as ācamana. He should put on a ring of the Kuśa grass round his finger, and sit with his face turned to the North. Thus purified and observing silence, he should perform Nyāsa, consecrating the various parts of the body and hands with the mantras or sacred formulae (one of eight syllables viz. Oṃ namo Nārāyaṇāya and the other of twelve syllables, viz. Oṃ namo bhagavate Vāsudevāya). He should put on the armour (protective covering) sacred to lord Nārāyaṇa, by contemplating the Lord (with the eight-syllabled mantra—Oṃ namo Nārāyaṇāya) located in the feet, in the knee-joints, the thighs, the stomach, the heart and the chest, the mouth, the crown of the head (thus spiritualizing the whole body with the protective mantra of Nārāyaṇa) or perform the same in the reverse order (technically known as Saṃhāra Nyāsa).

7. He should then perform the karanyāsa—the spiritualization of the hands—with the secret incantation or mantra consisting of twelve syllables (Oṃ namo bhagavate Vāsudevāya). He should deposit spiritual power beginning with the sacred syllable Oṃ and ending with ya in his fingers and joints of the thumbs.

(The method of spiritual insulation against dangers with the mantra Oṃ Viṣṇave namaḥ is explained).

8. He should deposit OM (the first syllable of the mantra Oṃ Viṣṇave namaḥ) in the heart, vi on the crown of the head, in the middle of the eyebrows, and ṇa in the tuft of the hair on the head.

9-10. The syllable ve should be used (to spiritualize) the two eyes and na be deposited in all joints (of the body). He should contemplate the syllable ma as the missile. He should direct in all (the ten) directions the syllable maḥ (ma with a visarga), and ending with the sound phaṭ (for casting the spiritual protection on all sides, to shut out evil spirits—the words to be used while snapping the middle finger and the thumb are maḥ astrāya phaṭ). Thus a wise man becomes the mantra Oṃ Viṣṇave namaḥ incarnate.

11. He should then meditate on the Supreme Lord endowed with six potencies (viz. sovereignty of the universe, righteousness, glory, affluence, supreme knowledge and detachment from the world) and should contemplate himself as identical with him. He should then repeat the following mantra viz., Nārāyaṇa kavaca as the embodiment of learning, energy and penance.

12. May Hari, designated by the sacred syllable OM, afford me protection on all sides and in every respect—Hari who has placed his lotus-like feet on the back of the king of birds, viz., Garuḍa; who possesses eight spiritual powers (siddhisaṇimā etc.) and who is endowed with eight arms in which he wields eight weapons, viz. conch, discus, a shield, sword, mace, arrows, bow and a noose.

13. May Viṣṇu in the form of the Fish (Incarnation) protect me from aquatic animals and the noose of Varuṇa in waters. May Vāmana who has assumed the form of a young boy by his magic power protect me on land. May Trivikrama who has assumed the cosmic form protect me in the skies.

14. May the mighty Lord Nṛsiṃha (the Man-Lion form of Viṣṇu), the vanquisher of the king of demon-forces (Hiraṇyakaśipu), at the release of whose tremendous peals of roaring laughter, the cardinal points reverberated violently, and the embryos (from the wombs of Asura women) were discharged, protect me, in dangerous situations like jungles, battle- fronts and others.

15. May the boar-incarnation of Lord Hari, who uplifted the sphere of the earth with his tusk, and who is the embodiment of Sacrifice (yajña) protect me on the road (while travelling). May Paraśurāma shield me (from dangers) on mountain-peaks and may Rāma, the elder brother of Bharata, along with Lakṣmaṇa, protect me in long journeys (or foreign lands).

16. May Lord Nārāyaṇa shield me from black magic and commissions of mistakes of all kinds. May the sage Nara protect (me) from pride; Datta, the Lord of yoga, guard me against pitfalls in the practice of yoga. May Kapila, the controller of (sattva, rajas and tamas) guṇas protect me from the bondage of karma.

17. May Sanatkumāra save me from the god of Love; May the horseheaded God (Viṣṇu), from (neglecting in payment of obeisance to (images of) gods situated on the way. May the prominent divine sage Nārada, from the (thirty-two)[1] transgressions in worshipping the Supreme person. May Hari in the Tortoise-form save me from all kinds of hells.

18. May Lord Dhanvantari (the physician incarnation) protect me from unwholesome food; may Lord Ṛṣabha, the subduer of his mind, from the pairs of opposites (pleasure-pain, heat-cold) and from fear; may Yajña, from the censure of the world; Balabhadra, from the death and violence at the hands of others (or from Yama); Lord Śeṣa, the king of serpents, from the revengeful race of serpents (called Krodhavaśa).

19. May venerable Vyāsa (Dvaipāyana) guard me against ignorance, Lord Buddha save me from heretical doctrines and negligence of duties; may Kalki who has specially taken this noble incarnation for the protection of Dharma (righteousness), protect me from the Kali age, the dirtiest of all aeons.

20. May Lord Keśava protect me with his mace in the morning (the 1st sixth part of the day); may Kṛṣṇa who has taken a flute in his hands, protect me in the Saṅgava period (next sixth part of the day); may Nārāyaṇa with his javeline held up (protect me) in the forenoon; may Viṣṇu with the discus Sudarśana in his hand, shield me at mid-day.

21. May god Madhusūdana, the wielder of the terrible bow, protect me in the afternoon; may god Mādhava of three forms (Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Rudra), in the evening. May Hṛṣīkeśa protect me in the first sixth part of the night; and Padmanābha alone during the second part and even at midnight.

22. May the Supreme Ruler bearing the Śrī-Vatsa mark protect me in the latter part of the night, and god Janārdana, carrying the sword, at about dawn (the fifth part of the night); may god Dāmodara at dawn; and Viṣṇu the Lord of the universe who manifested himself as Time (or the destroyer of all) protect me during twilights.

23. The discus Sudarśana, the rim of which is fierce like fire raging at the time of the destruction of the universe, whirls about when discharged by the Lord. Oh Sudarśana do completely and thoroughly burn down the inimical forces to ashes just as fire, helped by the friendly (favourable) wind, immediately consumes (heaps of) dry grass.

24. Oh mace (Kaumodakī)! You are dear to the invincible Lord. The sparks discharged by you are as formidable as the blow of Indra’s Vajra (or thunderbolt), thoroughly crush down to powder all the evil spirits like Kūṣmāṇḍa, Vināyaka, Yakṣas and Rākṣasas, goblins and grahas (spirits harassing children). Reduce to powder all my enemies.

25. Oh excellent Conch Pāñcajanya: Blown by Lord Kṛṣṇa you, by your terrific blast, shock the hearts of enemies with convulsions of fear. May you drive away demonic spirits like Yātudhānas, Pramathas, ghosts, Mātṛkā (female spirits posing as mothers) Piśācas, Brahmarākṣasas, and other evileyed spirits.

26. Oh sharp-edged excellent sword Nandaka! When directed by the Lord cut down to pieces all the army of my enemies. Oh shield brilliant like hundred Moons (decked with hundred moon-like buttons), cover up the eyes of the enemies, destroy the sight of the evil-eyed enemies.

27-28. May all the grahas (planets) and comets, Ketus, human beings, reptiles, carnivorous animals, Bhūtas (goblins), and sins which caused us fear, who stood in the way of our welfare, go immediately to utter destruction through the missile in the form of the utterance of the Divine name and form.

29. May the mighty Lord Garuḍa who is the embodiment of the Veda and who is extolled in Bṛhad, Rathantara and other Sāma hymns and Viṣvaksena protect us from all dangers with (utterance of) their names.

30. May all the names, forms, vehicles, arms of Lord Hari protect us from all dangers. May his excellent attendants guard our intellect, Indriyās (cognitive and conative powers), mind and vital airs.

31. The glorious Lord himself factually constitutes everything gross and subtle, with or without forms. By the force of this truth may all our troubles come to an end.

32. To those who have realised the identity of the Lord with themselves, the Lord himself stands undifferentiated. But he with his own Māyā wields powers known as ornaments, weapons and insignia.

33. On the strength of the same factual reality, may the omniscient glorious Lord Hari protect us everywhere at all times, with all his manifestations, as he is omnipresent.

34. May the glorious Lord Narasiṃha who dispels the fear of the world by his roar and who eclipses the brightness of all luminaries by his all-absorbing brilliance and splendour, protect us in all directions, in the corners of directions, in the upward and downward directions, on all sides, from within and from without.

35. Oh Indra, this spiritual armour imbued with the power and spirit of Nārāyaṇa has been taught to you. Equipped with this spiritual armour, you will easily conquer the leaders of the Asura hosts.

36. Whomsoever does the wearer of this (Nārāyaṇa Kavaca) see with his eyes or touch with his feet, he is instantaneously freed from fear.

37. From no quarter does fear affect him who possesses this mantra. Neither from kings, robbers, evil planets (and such other wicked powers) nor from ferocious animals like tigers has he anything to fear.

38. In ancient times, there was a Brāhmaṇa of Kuśika gotra who had this sacred mantra mastered by him. He cast off his body by yogic process in a desert.

39. Once upon a time Citraratha, the Lord of Gandharvas, surrounded by ladies crossed in his aerial car the place of the death of the Brāhmaṇa.

40. Immediately he fell down along with his heavenly car with his head downwards. On the advice of sage Vālakhilya, he collected together the bones of the Brāhmaṇa and immersed them in the Sarasvatī where it bends to the East. He took his bath and returned home amazed (at this instance).

Śrī Śuka said:

41. He who listens to this Kavaca at the opportune time (of fear, danger etc.) and devoutly fixes his mind on this Mantra becomes free from fear in every respect, and is reverentially respected by living beings.

42. Indra, the performer of hundred sacrifices, learnt this sacred lore (Nārāyaṇa Kavaca) from Viśvarūpa. He conquered the demons in the battle and enjoyed the sovereignty of the three worlds.

Footnotes and references:


Bhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa quotes from Pañcarātra, the list of 32 transgressions in the worship of god Viṣṇu.

They may be translated as follows:—

(1) To enter a temple in a vehicle or without removing even wooden sandals;
(2) to neglect serving in celebrations (the utsavas) of gods;
(3) to fail to bow to an image of god after seeing it;
(4) to bow to god in an impure condition (as in the mourning period);
(5) to salute with one hand (instead of folding both the hands);
(6) merely to circumambulate the image of the deity without stopping to bow to it, after completing each circle;
(7) to sit with legs stretched before god’s image;
(8) to squat raising one knee and encircling them with hands before the deity:
(9) to take meals in front of the deity;
(10) to sleep before deity;
(11) to tell a lie in the deity’s presence;
(12) to talk loudly;
(13) to speak between each other:
(14) to cry loudly and
(15) to quarrel before the god’s image;
(16) to trouble or
(17) to favour another;
(18) to speak cruel words in the presence of the Deity;
(19) to cover one’s self with a blanket;
(20) to speak ill of others
(21) or to eulogize others in god’s presence
(22) to utter obscene words;
(23) flatulence or breaking wind;
(24) to offer ordinary material for worship when one can afford the better;
(25) to eat without offering it as naivedya to the Deity;
(26) not to offer fruits or flowers peculiar to and available in the season to god first before distributing them to others;
(27) to offer a fruit etc. a part of which has been already eaten or taken by others;
(28) to sit with one’s back turned towards the Deity;
(29) to bow to other persons before offer­ing obeisance to the Deity;
(30) negligence in greeting one’s preceptor and failure to speak to him;
(31) self-extolment and
(32) scandalising any deity in the presence of god Viṣṇu’s image.

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