[Advaita-l] Narayana - Word

Nomadeva Sharma nomadeva at yahoo.com
Thu May 29 04:05:48 CDT 2003

--- Sankaran Aniruddhan <ani at ee.washington.edu> wrote:

(Response to Kalyan and S.Jayanarayan also).

> namaste,
> > 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 -

When you say 'At that time', do you believe that all
vedas are not apaurusheya, that they have their own
time-periods when they are valid, that the vedas are
based on the popular theories floating around at that

The word 'nArAyaNa' is seen in the RgVeda khila
(Vishnu also appears there, and they are not
differentiated), rather whatever is khilA of khilA;
this suggests the possibility of non-extant shAkhas
being aware of 'nArAyaNa'. 

Though the word, 'Narayana' might be missing in the
RV, the text does refer to a being on the Ocean who is
seen as the creator of all ('mama yoni apsu antaH
samudre', 'ambhasya pAre bhuvanasya reto'
ityAdeshcha). And several purANas (Brahma purana,
1.38, for instance), smritis (see Manu 1.10, for
example) and itihAsa (umpteen places in Mahabharata
and Harivamsha) say that it is the etymological
meaning of the word 'nArAyaNa'.

This also suggests that statistical study of deities
in the Vedas based on the occurrence of names is a
flawed one. Noting that yAskAchArya says that words
show the laxaNa (tatraitannAmAkhyAtayorlaxaNaM
pradishanti), any statistical analysis should start
only after knowing the vyutpatti of different names. 

Regarding the link between Vishnu and Narayana, the
shruti, unlike Kalyan, does not qualify it as vague.
The verse below is the proof that it is not vague. 

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

Proponents of the idea that Narayana need not be
Vishnu should think about why "nArAyaNAya vidmahe',
was not used with other deities. As such, it is
surprising that followers of Shankara, who treats
nArAyaNa and viShNu interchangeably (refer
achyutAShTaka and Vishnu Bhujangaprayata Stotra), are
raising the question of identity of N with V. May be,
it is coming from 'asamprAdAyavit.h'.

Btw, on the same lines, how do you know 'hari',
'vAsudeva' 'Vishnu' refer to the same being? that
'rudra', 'shiva', 'shankara' refer to the same being
or that 'indra', 'maghavAn' refer to the same being?
Why is that part of the analysis left out? Also, why
do you hold that 'viShNu' of one sUkta is same as
'viShNu' of another sUkta (in the sense, why can't it
be a different person with same name)? 

> > 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 ||
> 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 vishnu.

I don't think Vishishtadvaitins consider it a matter
of preference to drop 'sa hariH'. The inclusion 'sa
hariH' is a pAThAntara and the original one is without
that, as quoted by Ramanuja in Vedarthasangraha
(passage 98: ayamartho nArAyaNAnuvAke prapaJNchitaH |
"sahasrashIrShaM devaM" ityArabhya "sa brahma sa
shivaH sendraH so.axaraH paramaH svarAD.h" iti |). I
don't think they consider it as shAkhAntara pATha.

The presence of 'sa hariH' is not an obstacle to say
that the diety who is extolled as 'yamantaH samudre'
or the husband of laxmI and hrI is not Vishnu, but
nArAyaNa. 'hari' can mean one of Vishnu, Indra, yama,
monkey. Vishnu and Indra can be ruled out to avoid
punarukti. So, this 'hari' could be yama. Why is that
possibility left out, before gathering support for the
conjecture that Narayana is not Vishnu?

Coming back to absence of 'sa hariH', refer to the
mahopaniShat (rather, whatever is available) that has
a similar passage without 'sa hariH'. This text also
talks of birth of Mahadeva and hiraNyagarbha from
Narayana. The non-mention of Vishnu being born out of
Narayana, yet mentioned later, is the proof that the
words refer to the same being.

> > 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.

You can be sure that you are wrong; in nearly every
statement of the passage. Why don't you try justifying
a single statement in the above passage? For example,
Do you have any statement of Madhva or his
commentators that the purpose of RgBhashya is to show
"vishNu is the supreme deity in Rg Veda"? How many
works of Madhva have you read to know or find out how
he has 'shown' Vishnu's supremacy?

If I were you, I'd not conjecture so much before
reading the texts myself. And since you have made so
many statements on RgVeda, pls tell if you have
studied the rgveda, which commentary on it have you
read etc? 

> I think MadhvachArya used the Rg Veda because 
> he belonged to the Rg Veda SAkhA.

Where did you get that information?

The purpose behind writing RgBhashya is supposed to
show how passages, alleged to belong to the artifical
division of karma-kANDa, can be interpreted at
adhyAtma level to give knowledge of Supreme.
R^igbhAShya and karma-nirNaya are meant for that.

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

That is not possible. The 'nArAyaNa' refers to the
attribute of having waters as a resting place. In any
case, nirguNa brahman is supposed to be without 'nAma'
and 'rUpa'. Forgot that?

> > 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.

Kalyan, it appears a reasonable estimate that you,
following some indological works, are making up a
ghost of issue of identification of nArAyaNa and
viShNu, when there isn't one. What could be useful to
prove otherwise is one statement from any advaitic
work belonging to the classical tradition. Any new-age
book or any indological work will do no good.

> > 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. 

Just as you have conjectured baselessly all through,
may be, he too didn't feel insincere about guessing.
You might find a mail in the Indology list where a
scholar has shown that gItA could have been added
later. The essential point was that if one removes the
gItA, one would find a seamless flow of the text. But
that cannot be true, because in many other places in
the Mbh, gItA is also referred (there is one instance,
I remember, in anushAsana parva). And
'vAsudevArjunAbhyAM vuN.h' is taken as a proof that BG
preceded Panini, but not MBh? That is a queer
position. What is BG without Mbh? In any case, ArSha
usages have been found in other parts of Mahabharata

> > 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 

Why should it be that every text by pancharatra or
bhAgavata school should contain the vyUha theory? It
is expected only in their samhitAs and absence in such
samhitAs is a problem, not in every other text. Going
by your style of reasoning, i.e, guessing by names,
the idea that everything emanates from 'vAsudeva' (a
word that does not appear in any extant shruti) should
be a work of pancharatrin.

S Jayanarayanan wrote:

> In short, the word "nArAyaNa" is a proper noun of
> sorts according to pANinian grammar, and has been so
> treated by appayya dIkshita (AD) himself, a famous

So, why is Panini a problem for reading Vedic texts?
There is ample unpaninean stuff in Vedas and even in
non-vedic works (like 'nirukta'). Or is this 'Na' kAra
a limitation of all grammars? Jayna, the example of
'rAmAyaNa' seems wrong AFAIK. The 'Na-kAra' is because
of presence of 'ra'. 'rAmena' becomes 'rAmeNa' because
of that. Can you find any word that has 'ra' followed
by a full 'na'?


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