Narayana (Sanskrit: नारायण, IAST: Nārāyaṇa) is known as one who is in yogic slumber on the celestial waters, referring to Lord Vishnu. He is also known as "The Purusha" and is considered Supreme in the Vaishnava Tradition.
A depiction of Lord Narayana at Badami cave temples
|Mantra||ॐ नमो नारायणाय|
|Weapon||Chakra, Gada, Padma, Sankh|
According to the Bhagavat Gita, he is also the "Guru of the Universe". The Bhagavata Purana declares Narayana as the Supreme Personality 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, 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 Pancharatra agamas, a sectarian text that was accepted as authoritative by both the Vishishtadvaita and Madhva schools of Vedanta. They are mechanisms by which the universe is ordered, was created, and evolves. According to Madhvacharya, Vishnu has either four or five vyuhas, named Narayana, Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, which evolve one after the other in the development of the universe.
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).
Lord Narayana is also often identified as Sharangapani, Vishnu, Hari, Purushottama or Purusha and Jagannath in the Hindu sacred texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, the Vedas and the Puranas. Narayana is also venerated as Mukunda (giver of Moksha, liberation from cycle of births and deaths in the material world). In the Mahabharata, Krishna is often referred to as Narayana and Arjuna as Nara. 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.
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. Sometimes, Ksheera Sagara where Narayana or Vishnu rests on Ananta Shesha is also perceived as Vaikuntha within the material universe.
There are seven weapons and symbols of Narayana, namely: conch, discus (sudarshana chakra), club, bow, sword, jewel (kaustubha mani) and a garland of flowers (vanamala). 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.
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.
There are multiple variations of Lord Narayana's name.
The word 'Narayana' means "The one who rests on waters of creation". The Manusmriti states,
- The waters are called "narah", for the waters are, indeed, produced by Nara-Narayana (the first Being); as they were his first residence "ayana", he is called Narayana.
Narayana also means,
- "The Supreme Being who is the foundation of all men".
Another interpretation sees,
- Nara means "human" and Ayana as "direction/goal". Some view Narayana as meaning "son of man." Hence, Narayana refers to the "direction of a human" (towards moksha).
Nara means "Human" and Ayana also means "Shelter" so Narayana means, shelter of all human beings. The Narayana Upanishad reads:
- Om Namo Narayanayeti mantra upasaka Vaikuntha bhuvanam gamishyati,
In Sanskrit, The word 'Nara' can also refer to a man, male or a person. Narayana is spoken of in the scriptures as being parabrahman, paramatma parameshwar parashakti and parajyothi which are all ways of saying "absolute" or "supreme".
In the Vedas, it is written,
- "Narayana parabrahman tatvam Narayana paraha"
which points to how Narayana is essentially the supreme force and/or essence of all.
Idol of Narayana around 14/15th century, found at the Devasathan, inner Bangkok, Thailand
- Bhagavad Gita (15.18): Because I am transcendental, beyond the fallible and the infallible, and because I am the greatest, I am celebrated both in the world and in the Vedas as that Supreme Person (Purushottama)
- Name No. 515 in Vishnu Sahasranama
- Vaisnavism Saivism and Minor Religious Systems, Ramkrishna Gopal Bhandarkar. Published by Asian Educational Services, p.46.
- Hiltebeitel, Alf (1990). The ritual of battle: Krishna in the Mahābhārata. Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-0249-5. p61
- Prabhupada, AC Bhaktivedanta. "Bhagavad-gita As It Is Chapter 11 Verse 3". vedabase.net. Archived from the original on 15 May 2008. Retrieved 10 May 2008. "see the cosmic manifestation"
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 May 2007. Retrieved 21 May 2007.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Narayanastra – Defending Vaishnavism as the supreme Vedic position". narayanastra.blogspot.in. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
- Manu Smruti 1:10 " The Law Code of Manu", Published by Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-280271-2, page 11, also, The Laws of Manu in the 21st Century  by Pt. Sri Rama Ramanuja Acharya, page 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
- "॥ नारायणसूक्तम् सार्थ ॥ - .. Narayana Sukta .. - Sanskrit Documents". sanskritdocuments.org. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
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