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Supreme Being, Absolute Truth, Ishvara
Badami Cave Temples 51.jpg
A depiction of Lord Narayana at Badami cave temples
Sanskrit transliterationN?r?ya?a or Naarayana

The Ultimate truth Supreme Being, Absolute truth, Para brahman, ultimate reality of godhead
AffiliationAdi Narayana
Mantra"? "
"Om Namo N?r?ya?aya"
Obeisance to Narayana

Or, "Om brohmanodevayo gobrahmanhitayo cha,

Jagadhitayo krishnayo gobindayo namo namaha"
WeaponSankh, Chakra, Gada, Padma

Narayana (Sanskrit: , IAST: N?r?ya?a) is known as one who is in yogic slumber on the celestial waters, referring to Lord Maha Vishnu. He is also known as Purushottama and is considered the Supreme being in Vaishnavism.

According to the Bhagavad Gita, he is also the "Guru of the Universe". The Bhagavata Purana declares Narayana as the Supreme Personality of Godhead who engages in the creation of 14 worlds within the universe as Brahma when he deliberately accepts rajas guna, himself sustains, maintains and preserves the universe as Vishnu by accepting sattva guna. Narayana himself annihilates the universe at the end of maha-kalpa as Kalagni Rudra when he accepts tamas guna. According to the Bhagavata Purana, Purusha Sukta, Narayana Sukta, and Narayana Upanishad from the Vedas, he is the ultimate soul.

According to Madhvacharya, Narayana is one of the five Vyuhas of Vishnu, which are cosmic emanations of God in contrast to his incarnate avatars. Bryant, Edwin F., Krishna: a Sourcebook. p.359 "Madhvacharya separates Vishnu's manifestations into two groups: Vishnu's vyuhas (emanations) and His avataras (incarnations). The Vyuhas have their basis in the Pancharatras, a sectarian text that was accepted as authoritative by both the Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita schools of Vedanta. They are mechanisms by which the universe is ordered, was created, and evolves. According to Madhvacharya, Vishnu has five vyuhas, named Narayana, Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, which evolve one after the other in the development of the universe.

Nomenclature and Etymology

In the Vedas, Narayana is essentially the supreme force and/or essence of all: 'N?r?ya?a parabrahman tatvam N?r?ya?a paraha'.[1] Narayan Aiyangar states the meaning of the Sanskrit word 'Narayana' can be traced back to the Laws of Manu (also known as the Manu-smriti, a Dharmastra text),[2] which states:

The waters are called narah, (for) the waters are, indeed, the offspring of Nara; as they were his first residence (ayana), he thence is named Narayana.

-- Chapter 1, Verse 10[3]

This definition is used throughout Vedic literature such as the Mahabharata and Vishnu Purana.[4][2] 'Narayana' is also defined as the 'son of the primeval man',[5] and 'Supreme Being who is the foundation of all men'.[6]

  • 'Nara' (Sanskrit ) means 'water' and 'man'[7]
  • 'Yana' (Sanskrit ) means 'vehicle', 'vessel', or more loosely, 'abode' or 'home'[8]


Lord Narayana/Hari

In the Vedas and Puranas, Lord Narayana is described as having the divine blue colour of water-filled clouds, four-armed, holding a padma (lotus flower), Kaumodaki (mace), Panchajanya shankha (conch) and the Sudarshana Chakra (discus).


As stated in the epic itih?sa, the Mahabharata:

I am Narayana, the Source of all things, the Eternal, the Unchangeable. I am the Creator of all things, and the Destroyer also of all. I am Vishnu, I am Brahma and I am Sakra, the chief of the gods. I am king Vaisravana, and I am Yama, the lord of the deceased spirits. I am Siva, I am Soma, and I am Kasyapa the lord of the created things. And, O best of regenerate ones, I am he called Dhatri, and he also that is called Vidhatri, and I am Sacrifice embodied. Fire is my mouth, the earth my feet, and the Sun and the Moon are my eyes; the Heaven is the crown of my head, the firmament and the cardinal points are my ears; the waters are born of my sweat. Space with the cardinal points are my body, and the Air is my mind...

...And, O Brahmana, whatever is obtained by men by the practice of truth, charity, ascetic austerities, and peace and harmlessness towards all creatures, and such other handsome deeds, is obtained because of my arrangements. Governed by my ordinance, men wander within my body, their senses overwhelmed by me. They move not according to their will but as they are moved by me.

-- Mahabharata (translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli, 1883-1896), Book 3, Varna Parva, Chapter CLXXXVIII (188)[9]

In the Mahabharata, Krishna is also synonymous with Narayana and Arjuna is referred to as Nara.[10] The epic identifies them both in plural 'Krishnas', or as part incarnations of the earlier incarnations of Vishnu, recalling their mystical identity as Nara-Narayana.[11]

Narayana is also described in the Bhagavad Gita as having a universal form (Vishvarupa) which is beyond the ordinary limits of human perception or imagination.[12]

Narayana's eternal and supreme abode beyond the material universe is Vaikuntha which is a realm of bliss and happiness called Paramapadha, which means final or highest place for liberated souls, where they enjoy bliss and happiness for eternity in the company of supreme lord. Vaikuntha is situated beyond the material universe and hence, cannot be perceived or measured by material science or logic.[13] Sometimes, Ksheera Sagara where Narayana or Vishnu rests on Ananta Shesha is also perceived as Vaikuntha within the material universe.


The Mah?samaya Sutta (DN 20) of the Pali Canon mentions a deity by the name Ve?hu (Sanskrit: Viu), though the text suggests that this name may also signify a class of deva. He also appears in the Veu Sutta (SN 2.12) as Veu where he addresses Gautama Buddha by celebrating the joy experienced by those who follow the Dhamma. He also makes brief mention of Manu.[14]

Mahayana Buddhism elaborates on the character of this deity, where is often called N?r?ya?a (Chinese; Tibetan) or more rarely, Narasi?ha (?) and V?sudeva (). Literature often depicts him as a vajradhara (?). He is present in the Womb Realm Mandala and is among the twelve guardian devas of the Diamond Realm Mandala. He is associated with ?r?va?a in esoteric astrology.[15] His queen consort is N?r?ya.[16] He is said to have been born from Avalokite?vara's heart.[17] The Buddhas are sometimes described as having a firm body like N?r?ya?a.

The Yog?c?rabh?mi stra describes him as having three faces with a greenish-yellow complexion. He holds a wheel in his right hand and rides upon a garu?a. Chapter 6 of the Yiqiejing Yinyi explains that he belongs to the K?madh?tu and is veneration for the acquisition of power. Chapter 41 adds that he has eight arms that wield various "Dharma weapons" (dharmayuda) with which he subjugates the asuras.

He appears as an interlocutor in several Mahayana sutras, including the K?raavy?ha S?tra, Sarvapu?yasamuccayasam?dhi S?tra and the N?r?ya?aparip?cch? Dh?ra.


Balabhadra and Narayana are mighty half brothers, who appear nine times in each half of the time cycles of the Jain cosmology and jointly rule half the earth as half-chakravarti. Ultimately Prati-naryana is killed by Narayana for his unrighteousness and immorality. Narayana are extremely powerful and are as powerful as 2 Balabhadras. Chakravartins are as powerful as 2 Narayanas. Hence Narayanas become half-chakravartins. Tirthankaras are much more powerful than Chakravartins. In Jain Mahabharta, there is a friendly duel between cousin brothers Neminatha (Tirthankara) and Krishna (Naryana) in which Neminath defeats Krishna without any effort at all. There is also a story of Neminath lifting Conch of Krishna and blowing it without any effort. In Jain Mahabharat, the main fight between Krishna and Jarasandha is described, who is killed by Krishna.

Ancient Texts

Narayana is hailed in certain parts of Vedas like, Narayana Suktam and Vishnu Suktam. Lord Narayana is also hailed in selective Vaishnava Upanishads like, Narayana Upanishad, Maha Narayana Upanishad and Narasimha Tapani Upanishad.[18]

See also


  1. ^ "? ? ? - .. Narayana Sukta .. - Sanskrit Documents". Retrieved 2015.
  2. ^ a b Narayan Aiyangar (1901). Essays on Indo Aryan Mythology. pp. 196.
  3. ^ "The Laws of Manu I". Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 3: Vana Parva: Markandeya-Samasya Parva: Section CLXXXVIII". Retrieved 2019.
  5. ^ "Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary -- n". Retrieved 2019.
  6. ^ Harivansh, Adhyay 88 shlock 44, also, Manu Smruti 1:10 " The Law Code of Manu", Published by Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-280271-2, page 11
  7. ^ "Sanskrit Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit: 'nara'". Retrieved 2019.
  8. ^ "Sanskrit Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit 'yana'". Retrieved 2019.
  9. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 3: Vana Parva: Markandeya-Samasya Parva: Section CLXXXVIII". Retrieved 2019.
  10. ^ Vaisnavism Saivism and Minor Religious Systems, Ramkrishna Gopal Bhandarkar. Published by Asian Educational Services, p.46.
  11. ^ Hiltebeitel, Alf (1990). The ritual of battle: Krishna in the Mah?bh?rata. Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-0249-5.p61
  12. ^ Prabhupada, AC Bhaktivedanta. "Bhagavad-gita As It Is Chapter 11 Verse 3". Archived from the original on 15 May 2008. Retrieved 2008. "see the cosmic manifestation"
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 May 2007. Retrieved 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "SN 2.12: With Vishnu --Bhikkhu Sujato". SuttaCentral. Retrieved 2019.
  15. ^ "". Digital Dictionary of Buddhism. 2009. Retrieved 2019.
  16. ^ Giebel, Rolf W. (translator) (2005). The Vairocan?bhisa?bodhi S?tra (PDF). BDK America, Inc.
  17. ^ Roberts, Peter Alan; Tulku Yeshi (2013). "The Basket's Display". 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha. Retrieved 2019.
  18. ^ "Narayanastra - Defending Vaishnavism as the supreme Vedic position". Retrieved 2015.

External links

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