[Advaita-l] Narayana - Word

kalyan chakravarthy kalyan_kc at hotmail.com
Wed May 28 12:26:59 CDT 2003


>   the Term 'Narayana' has not been used in the whole of Srimad Bhagavad 
>Gita even once.
>   any views....

That is actually quite significant in my opinion. The word nArAyaNa appears 
for the first time in the yajur veda.(please correct me if I am wrong). At 
that time, nArAyanA was not clearly identified with vishNu. In the nArAyaNa 
sUktam, there is only a vague linking as in -

(I have used Swami Krishnananda's translation here)

OM naaraayaNaaya vidmahe vaasudevaaya dhImahi |
tanno vishhNuH prachodayaat.h ||

We commune ourselves with Narayana, and meditate on Vasudeva, may that 
Vishnu direct us (to the Great Goal).

That  nArAyaNa was not necessarily identified with vishNu is infererred 
by(from the same sUktam) -

tasyaaH shikhaayaa madhye paramaatmaa vyavasthitaH |
sa brahma sa shivaH sa hariH sa indraH so.aksharaH paramaH swaraaT.h ||

In the Middle of That Flame, the Supreme Self (nArAyaNa) dwells. This (Self) 
is Brahma (the Creator), Siva (the Destroyer), Hari (the Protector), Indra 
(the Ruler), the Imperishable, the Absolute,....................

Anyone who reads the sUktam knows clearly than nArAyaNa is nothing but 
brahman. So nArAyaNa started his *career* as the supreme deity right from 
the beginning. That is not the case with vishNu. Anyone who reads Rg veda 
knows that vishNu is not especially an important deity in Rg veda.

>From this we *may* conclude one important thing - The name nArAyaNa was not 
always identified with vishNu.

It is precisely to *show* that vishNu is the supreme deity in Rg Veda, that 
MadhvachArya could have written his Rg Veda bhAshya.(Any dvaitin in this 
list would be knowing more regarding this) This *could* also show that 
nArAyaNa was not identified with vishNu *always* even though such an 
identification was well established by Madhwa's time. If this identification 
were always there, Madhwa could have simply used the yajur veda to show 
vishNu's supremacy. May be I am wrong here.

Dr. Surendranath Dasgupta, in his book "History of Indian Philosophy" says 
that the fact that the bhagavad gIta has not used the name nArAyaNa while 
the Mahabharata identifies nArAyaNa with vishNu could show that the bhagavad 
gIta is older than the Mahabharatha!!! He says that while the Bharata legend 
itself could have been there from long back(as old as BG), it may have been 
written down much later than the bhagavad gIta. He further quotes some 
elements of non-pANinean grammar in the BG as proof for the archaic  
language which inturn shows that the BG was *probably* older than atleast 
500-400 BC, the time when pANini *could* have lived. He also says that in 
the BG, vishNu was only the chief of Adityas and not the supreme deity, but 
he is wrong here. Arjuna himself calls Krishna as vishNu, at least twice as 
far as my memory goes. He further identifies the BG as a work of the 
Bhagavata or Pancharatra school. But since their doctrine of vyuhas is not 
*yet* present in the BG, it could only show that the BG is very old as it 
probably indicates the earliest development of this school.

Also the gIta, though it talks of yoga, does not talk much deeply about the 
techniiques of yoga in detail. This could show that it is older than the 
yoga sUrtas of Patanjali.

Other thing to note in the BG is (my opinion) - Krishna also identifies 
himself with Shiva, which could mean that the Shiva-Vishnu debate, which 
itself is very old has not started by then.

>From all this we *may* conclude -

1. nArAyaNa was originally an independent deity like purusha of the Rig 

2. nArAyaNa was not probably associated with vishNu once upon a time.

3. nArAyaNa is more identifiable with purusha of the Rig veda. To me it 
appears that the nArAyaNa of the yajur veda is just another name for the 
purusha of the Rig veda.

4. The identification of nArAyaNa with vishNu could have come when the 
Mahabharata was actually *WRITTEN* down. (NOT when it was first known as a 

5.The purpose of this identification was probably an atempt by the 
bhagavatas or pancharatras to show vedic sanction for their school, because 
once the name nArAyaNa is pulled in, others like purusha, brahman and Atman 
follow automatically.

Corrections and comments are welcome.

Best Regards

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