[Advaita-l] Narayana - Word

Sankaran Aniruddhan ani at ee.washington.edu
Wed May 28 12:51:23 CDT 2003


> That is actually quite significant in my opinion. The word nArAyaNa
> 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
> 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).

Though this is traditionally chanted after the nArAyaNa sUktam, it really
ocurs in the gAyatrI mantrA: section towards the beginning of the
mahAnArAyaNa upanishad, where the gAyatrI mantras for different dieties are

> 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
> is Brahma (the Creator), Siva (the Destroyer), Hari (the Protector), Indra
> (the Ruler), the Imperishable, the Absolute,....................

I believe some vaishnavas prefer an alternative reading of this verse
without the sa hari: part, so that it identifies nArAyaNa with brahma, shiva
etc, and automatically assumes nArAyaNa's identification with hari or

> 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.

See http://www.escribe.com/religion/advaita/m6385.html where Sri Anand Hudli
has referred to a verse from the aitareya brAhmaNa of the R^ig Veda:

  agnirvai devAnAmavamo viShNuh paramah | tadantarA sarvA devatAh ||

  "Agni is the lowest and Vishnu is the highest among Gods. All other
  gods occupy positions that are in between."

So Vishnu was certainly an important diety in the Rg Veda. Not the most
common one (I guess Indra gets this honour) but still maybe the most
important one?

> It is precisely to *show* that vishNu is the supreme deity in Rg Veda,
> 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
> were always there, Madhwa could have simply used the yajur veda to show
>vishNu's supremacy. May be I am wrong here.

I think MadhvachArya used the Rg Veda because he belonged to the Rg Veda

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

Maybe I am wrong here, but I think it wasn't necessary for Bhagavan to
explain the intricacies of yogic techniques because traditionally only
sannyasis have practiced yoga extensively. Arjuna wasn't in a position to
renounce the world and become a sannyasi at that point of time.

> 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.

I'm sure that Bhagavan wouldn't have had any qualms about identifying
himself with Shiva even if the Shiva-Vishnu debate had started by then.

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

Or mabe nArAyaNa wasn't a *diety* at all, but referred to nirguna brahman.

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

But this still doesn't explain why the tradition as a whole accepted this


Sruti smRti purANAnAm Alayam karuNAlayam
namAmi bhagavatpAda Sam.karam lokaSam.karam

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