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On the name "Narayana" used to denote Supreme Brahman in the Vedas

This is an article regarding the word "nArAyaNa". It is well known that vaiShNavas prove viShNu paratva (Supremacy of Lord Vishnu) using the name nArAyaNa. One can look into the introduction of the SrI Rudram vyAkhyAna on this blog to understand how viShNu paratva is arrived at.
The shaivas pose the following argument:
  1. nArAyaNa, even if it means a proper noun according to panini can still denote Shiva as he can be equated to this deity.
  2. nArAyaNa is not a proper noun since there is no rule that the veda needs to follow panini grammar.
Argument 2) arises because shaivas are defeated by 1) and hence resort to this. But we will explain both. I am not going to go into details as to how viShNu paratva is proven because that has already been summarised in the shrI rudram intro section of the blog. But this article will simply clarify some truths with respect to the name “nArAyaNa”.
EXPLANATION OF THE NAME “NARAYANA”
nArAyaNa as a proper noun since all vaidikas have accepted this. And it is very easy to show that nArAyaNa does not denote Shiva.
Panini grammar states this name is a proper noun because of the Na-kAra. This has been discussed already and needs no more explanation.
Since nArAyaNa is a proper noun, the following explanation is arrived at. A word can have a yaugika or rUDhi artha. Yaugika artha is a meaning obtained by joining words while rUDhi points to the commonly known meaning for the word. But when the word is accepted to be a proper noun as per panini grammar due to the Na-kaara, the yaugika meanings of the word nArAyaNa also point to the one who is denoted commonly by this name (rudi). Names like Shiva, Indra, Brahma, etc which are common nouns and hence can denote anyone besides the popular deities.
As an example, "shUrpanakha" can mean anyone with large nails like a winnow if yaugika is used. But when it becomes shUrpaNakha, a proper noun as per paninian grammar, it denotes the sister of rAvaNa who has large winnow-like nails. In other words, if it is a proper noun, all meanings of the word denote the commonly known person referred by the name – in this case, the sister of rAvaNa.
So, similarly the proper noun makes the meanings of the word nArAyaNa denote only the person who is commonly referred to by the name. And the only one who is commonly referred to by the yaugika and rUDhi usage of the name is shrI mahA-vishNu.
In other words, the name “nArAyaNa” has several meanings – “One in whom all things inhere”, “One who is the resorted to by all”, “One whose abode is in the waters”, etc. Because of the “NakAra”, ALL these meanings denote the person commonly known by this name, which is of course, shrI vishNu.
Some ignorant of Sanskrit grammar and vaiShNava traditions mistakenly think we use only the meaning “He who lies in the waters” to identify vishNu with nArAyaNa. This is nothing but stupidity. Due to paninian grammar, even the yaugika artha of “He in whom all things inhere” denote only mahA vishNu and not any other deity.
But then, shaivas try another argument: It is not necessary to take Paninian grammar since the veda itself does not need to follow such rules.
To that we say: The very context where the nArAyaNa nAma occurs itself establishes it as a proper noun. What other sUkta has the words “param brahma, para tattva, paro jyotiH, etc” so explicitly stated? All sUktas glorify vishNu only. But the choicest and most clarifying epithets are used with this nAma. The reason is because while other sUktas are also bhagavad stutis, the vedas expect us to begin with the most appropriate name for Parabrahman – nArAyaNa. So, all proofs must proceed from this name. Secondly, shrI rAmAnuja establishes in his vedArtha saMgraha the reason why the nArAyaNa sUkta holds precedence over others like indra sUkta, agni sUkta, etc.: Those other sUktas have come about because of a specific reason – take the example of the rudram. The prashnam came about because of a desire to quell the wayward indrIyas and recommends propitiating narasiMha. So, the underlying motive is indrIya nigraha. Therefore, it directly embarks on praising the bhagavad guNas (like beauty of his arms, etc) without dwelling much on giving a definition of Brahman.
But the nArAyaNa sUkta has no such underlying motive. It is solely devoted to ascertaining the true nature of Brahman and hence takes precedence over other sUktas. Please keep in mind that this does not belittle other sUktas – they all glorify bhagavAn only.
Common sense itself shows this paninian grammar holds.
However, let us humor our opponents. Without even using Paninian grammar, it is easy to prove that nArAyaNa is not shiva or anybody other than vishNu. Firstly, nArAyaNa occurs in the same context as the terms “sath, Atma, brahman”, etc. And the reference to “para tattvam”, etc in the nArAyaNa sUkta shows that nArAyaNa is unambiguously the highest term for the supreme reality.
Secondly, because Shiva has been declared as different from nArAyaNa by various shruti vAkyas, he is not nArAyaNa. These shruti vAkyas include such as the following:
  • "eko ha vai nArAyaNa AsIt, na brahmA, neshAnaH"
  • "nArAyaNAt brahmA jAyate, nArAyaNat rudro jAyate"
And so on.
Thirdly, the vishNu gAyatri equates this nArAyaNa directly with vishNu:
"Om nArAyaNAya vidmahe, vAsudevAya dhImahi, tanno viShNuH pracodayAt".
Whereas, the rudra gAyatri uses the format,
tatpurushhaaya vidmahe mahaadevaaya dhiimahi | tanno rudraH prachodayaat.h ||
As interpreted elsewhere on this blog, the usage of “tatpuruSha” is to show the following meanings: “Rudra, who belongs (as vibhUti) to Brahman designated as tat (tasya paramAtmanaH puruShAya). Or, one can take nArAyaNa as “tatpuruSha” - ‘sa cAsau puruShashcha’ – and say “we meditate on Rudra to attain that puruSha known as nArAyaNa” which means that the usage of “tatpuruSha” is to show that Rudra is different and distinct from this puruSha and only leads the seeker to him.
But in the case of the vishNu gAyatrI, the usage of the “nArAyaNanAma directly shows the identity (as opposed to merely acting as a mediator in the case of rudra) of nArAyaNa with vishNu.
Other pramAnAs like “hrIshca te lakShmIshca patnyau” as referring to the consorts of vishNu have already been explained.
Fourthly, names such as “shiva”, “shambhu” etc are addressed to nArAyaNa in the nArAyaNa sUkta itself as well as viShNu sahasranAma showing all these names denote viShNu only.
Thus, nArAyaNa is a proper noun  because:
  • Panini says so.
  • All ancient vedAntins have accepted this. shrI yAmunAchArya explicitly states in stotra ratna – “what vaidika would deny nArAyaNa is the parabrahman?” showing that no vaidika – advaitin, vishishtadvaitin or dvaitin – ever contested this during his time.
  • The context of the name in the veda itself indicates this.
This nArAyaNa is viShNu and all meanings of the name denote only lakshmIpathi viShNu and no other deity because:
  • Other deities have been declared as distinct from nArAyaNa.
  • Only viShNu is identified with nArAyaNa along with distinctive characteristics. This is proven both by using the “Na-kAra” rule (“pUrvapadAt saMj~nAyAm agaH”, aShTAdhyAyi 8.4.3) and even without using it.
  • It also rules out bizarre claims that nArAyaNa is nirguNa brahman, etc. Adi Shankara himself has only used the “nArAyaNa” with the “Na-kAra” showing that it denotes a specific entity, ie, saguNa brahman. Besides the fact that nirguNa brahman is devoid of names, the “Na-kAra” makes it impossible to attribute this to any entity besides lakShmIpati viShNu. And as seen earlier, even without “Na-kAra”, it denotes saguNa brahman, ie, viShNu. Even according to shaivas like Appayya Dikshita, who had to accept this fact after much debate.

20 comments :

  1. Dear Sir, why is it that some people think that Narayana is a name of Surya? What are the basis for such arguments by the non-Vaishnavas? As far as I can understand, Suryanarayana only shows that Surya is a Vibhuti of Narayana. Is this correct?

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    1. As a note to our readers, we will be more active in a few weeks. We have other engagements now and haven't been able to update the blog with some articles.

      In answer to your question, firstly, nArAyaNa is a name that cannot be used to denote anything. Its the reverse - every name denotes nArAyaNa. Secondly, the reason why some people equate vishNu with surya is because there is an Aditya named vishNu.

      Krishna names this Aditya as "AdityAnAm ahaM vishNu" in the Gita. It cannot be argued that this Aditya is mahA vishNu because in the case of rAma, krishNa says "rama sastrabhRtAm aham". Note that for vibhUtIs like rudra, he says simply "I am sankara among rudras", but for rAma he says "I am rAma among the wielder of weapons". This means, since rAma is verily krishNa, rAma cannot be a vibhUti (property) of krishNa. So, the attribute of wielding weapons here is the vibhUti. krishNa does not say "among manushyas, I am rAma" purposely for this reason, that he is rAma himself. Whereas no such qualification is mentioned for "rudrAnAm sankarAscasmi" which shows sankara himself is a vibhUti (property) of krishNa and hence the former is a jivAtma.

      That is however, not of consequence. Even if "AdityAnAm ahaM vishNu" is interpreted as mahA vishNu, it only means bhagavAn takes avatAra among Adityas.

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    2. Thank you sir. Hopefully all your other engagements will be resolved soon.

      I do have a couple of questions.

      1) You said that Narayana cannot be used to denote anything. Does it not denote Supreme Brahman Lord Vishnu?

      2) Is the Aditya being named after Supreme Lord Vishnu a classic case of naming oneself after Brahman?

      3) Does Narayana denote only the 4 armed Vishnu with form or can it denote a formless Brahman?

      Best wishes with this blog. I am glad to see it being active again.

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    3. 1) You said that Narayana cannot be used to denote anything. Does it not denote Supreme Brahman Lord Vishnu?

      Read the article. It is not possible to repeat everything. What I meant was, nArAyaNa cannot be applied to common nouns but common nouns are applied to nArAyaNa. This nArAyaNa is the being who is well-known as lord vishNu and not any other deva because of the reasons given in the article - the panini sutra and vishNu gAyatri explain it.

      2) Is the Aditya being named after Supreme Lord Vishnu a classic case of naming oneself after Brahman?

      Every name is a name of Brahman, so there are no "classic cases". Even names like rudra, indra, agastya, vishwamitra, pulastya etc are names of Brahman. The reason each being names itself that way is based on its own limited attribute. Indra names himself so because he is king of svarga and has wealth. But Indra is a name of nArAyaNa who is supremely wealthy as he pervades all and owns all as his vibhUtIs.

      The aditya known as vishNu is the greatest of the 12 suns. Since rays of the sun pervade, obviously he has named himself vishNu.

      The term vishNu is also used to denote the all pervasive knowledge of the mukta jiva. These are common nouns unlike nArAyaNa which is the only term that ONLY denotes supreme brahman and no other vastu. We have already explained how nArAyaNa is equated to vishNu deva, the latter being an avatAra among the devas.

      When bhagavAn says "avajanAnti mAm muda:" - fools mistake me as being human, he includes those who mistake him as equal to other devas as well. Because devas are also within the realm of samsAra like manushyas, they are subject to birth and death and their bodies are made of prakrti.

      3) Does Narayana denote only the 4 armed Vishnu with form or can it denote a formless Brahman?

      The term nArAyaNa denotes the supreme reality which has taken avatArAs as rAma, krishNa, kurma, matysa, vishNu deva (among the devas), etc. Whether 4 arms, or 2 arms, or having the body of a fish, turtle or woman (mohini), this being is always the lord of lakshmi, ie, sriman nArAyaNa.

      Brahman is always associated with a form and distinct from its form. The different forms all are characterised by the same attributes, suddha sattva and subhAsraya. This is a big topic that cannot be explained in a comment - it requires knowledge of the astra bhUshaNa adhyAya of vishNu purAna, the brahma sUtrAs and the upanishad tattvas.

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    4. The term nArAyaNa is a proper noun and hence both yougika as well as rudi is applicable only to the person popularly known by the name, ie, bhagavAn vishNu. The vishNu gAyatri also states the same. It does not mean its a "4 armed form" or "2 armed form" only - it is the name of Brahman who has all these suddha sattva forms, and this Brahman is different from jivAs like Brahma, Rudra, Indra, etc.

      To clarify all confusions, let me quote srI pillai lOkAchArya who elucidates the meaning of the name lucidly as follows. No more questions will be entertained on this subject as we intend to move on to other topics post sep 10.

      contd...

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    5. contd..

      ---The word “ nAra ,” as in nara , nAra , and nArAh, is form the root “ri --” meaning “to be destroyed.” Thus the ra refers to things which are destroyed and the word “na” negates that; [this yields] “nara,” indicating the things that are eternal and are not destroyed. The suffix an which gives the meaning of a group, lengthens the vowel to yield nAra, meaning the group of eternal objects. Because it is in the plural (nArah), this means a collection of groups. Thus [piLLai lOkAchArya] says “the [entire] collection of eternal beings.” Here, “eternal” refers to the meaning of the word nara , “beings” refers to the meaning of the word nAra , and “group” refers to the meaning of the plural form. These "naras" collectively refer to [his] qualities of knowledge bliss, purity, etc, (jnAnAnandAmalatvAdi), knowledge and power, etc. (jnAna SaktyAdi), affection, affability, etc. (vAtsalya souSeelyAdi), the holy figure (tirumEni),, brilliance, tenderness, etc. (kAntisoukumAryAdi), the divine ornaments (divyaBooSaNa), the divine weapons (divyAyudha), the consorts beginning with Sri, the eternally free soul’s (nityasoori), the parasol, whisk, etc. (chatrachAmarAdi), the chief guardians of the holy gates, the leaders of the retinue of gods (gaNAdhipar), freed souls (muktar), the supreme realm (paramAkASa), primordial matter (prakriti), bound souls (baddhAtmAkkaL), time, the evolutes [of prakriti] mahat, etc. the cosmic eggs, entities such as gods, etc. which are contained in the cosmic eggs.

      “ayana” means the support or locus (ASraya) for them. Since the word ayana means support or locus (ASraya), saying that [he is] their ayana [he is] their support or locus. If not interpreted as a tatpuruSha compound meaning “the support or locus for them,” it may be taken as a bahuvrihi, meaning “the one who has them as his support or locus.

      Form these two [phrases] – “the support for “nAras” and “the one who has nAras for his support” – the meaning that the results is 1. his supremacy (paratva) in being the support (AdhAra) for all things other than himself, and
      2.his accessibility (soulaBya) in which the very one who is [their] support in this way enters into all sentient and insentient [beings] and resides there.

      Or, [the Lord’s] status as the inner controller (antaryAmi), means (upAya), and goal (upEya). What results from the two compounds – bahuvrihi and tatpuruSha – may be [interpreted as follows]:

      1. [His] status as the inner controller (antaryAmi) – that is, as the controller situated in the inner soul of all sentient and insentient beings, as stated in the antaryAmi brAhmaNa. (brihadAraNyaka upaniShad 7.1—23)
      2.[His status as the means (upAya) and goal (upEya), which is shown in the instrumental and passive formation of the word ayana—whose root is either I --, “to go,” or ay--, “to go.”(*)

      When interpreting the bahuvrihi, it is appropriate to the context to take the word “ nAra ” as referring to things other than [the Lord’s] qualities. Similarly, in interpreting the tatpuruSha, when he takes the word “ayana” to mean the upAya and upEya, the word “nAra” must be taken as referring to sentient beings and not insentient. This meaning is stated in such passages as [the following] - nAras are interpreted to be the collection of all persons. nArAyaNa is known by them as their way and support. (Attributed to pAdmottara purANa 254.52)----

      unquote

      This nArAyaNa is identified as the deva vishNu in the shAstra, the latter being an avatAra of nArAyaNa in the deva loka just as krishNa, rAma, etc are avatArAs in the manushya lOkas. That much is enough, leave it at that.

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  2. Replies
    1. Atharva Rahasyam provides another perspective on Sriman Narayana as vishnu.

      This sruthi is traditionally known as LakshmiNarayanaHrudayam.
      Lakshmi is associated with Vishnu as we all quite well know. So Narayana is Vishnu.
      The first 16 slokas after the dyanaslokam is given below.
      Translation is by P R Ramachandar. Sloka 5 reverberates sri vaishnava viewpoint.


      1 . Om Narayanah paramjyotiraatma narayanah paraa
      Narayanah parambrahma narayana namostute||

      Narayana is the divine light and our soul is divine Narayana,
      Narayana is the divine Brahmam and I salute Narayana.

      2 . Narayanah parodevo dhatha narayanah paraha
      Narayanah parodhyata narayana namostute||

      Narayana is the divine God and Narayana is the divine giver,
      Narayana is the supreme support and I salute Narayana.

      3. Narayanah paramdhama dyanam narayanah paraha
      Narayanah parodharmo narayana namostute||

      Narayana is the divine abode and is the object of meditation.
      Narayana is the divine Dharma and I salute Narayana.

      4 . Narayanah parodevo vidya narayanah paraha
      Viswam narayana ssakshaath narayana namostute||

      Narayana is the divine God and he is the education,
      Narayana is the real universe and I salute Narayana.

      5 . Narayanad vidhir jato jato narayanad bhavaha
      Jato narayanad indro narayana namostute||

      From Narayana was born the Brahma and Shiva and ,
      Indra was born to Narayana and I salute Narayana.

      6 . Ravir narayana stejah chandro narayanomahaha
      Vahnirr narayana ssakshaath narayana namostute||

      Sun shines because of Narayana and moon gets light from Narayana,
      And the fire is really Narayana and I salute Narayana.

      7 . Narayana upaasya syaad gurur narayanah paraha
      Narayanah parobodho narayana namostute||

      Narayana has to be meditated as he is our Supreme Guru,
      Narayana is the highest wisdom and I salute Narayana.

      8 . Narayana param mukhyam siddhi narayanah sukham
      Harir narayana shudhih narayana namostute||

      Narayana is the divine necessity and he gives us pleasure,
      And Narayana is purity and I salute Narayana.

      9.Nigama vedhithanantha kalyana guna varidhe,
      Narayana Namosthasthu nara karnava tharaka||

      Oh Ocean of good qualities enumerated in the Vedas,
      Oh God who helps me cross hell, My salutations to Narayana.

      10.Janma mruthyu jara vyadhi para thanthrayadhibhi sada,
      Doshairaspashta roopaya Narayana Namosthuthe||

      Oh God who is not touched by birth, death, old age and diseases,
      Which arise out of the bondage, my salutations to Narayana.

      11.Veda Sasthrartha Vijnana sadhya bhakthye khagochara,
      Narayana namosthesthu , Mamudhara bhavarvatha||

      Oh God who can only be seen by devotion arising out of,
      The knowledge of Vedas and Sasthras, my salutation to Narayana,
      I request you to lift me out of the hell of domestic life.

      12.Nithyananda mahodhara parathpara jagad pathe,
      Narayana namosthesthu Moksha samrajya dhayine||

      Oh God of everlasting joy, who is extremely benevolent,
      Oh God who is higher than the highest and Lord of the universe,
      Oh God who gives us salvation, My salutations to Narayana.

      13.Aabrahmasthamba paryantham Akhilathma mahasraya,
      Sarva bhoothathma bhoothathman, Narayana namosthuthe||

      Oh God who is in all things from a grass to Lord Brahma,
      Oh God who is in every being in this world, My salutations to you.

      14.Palithasesha lokaaya, punya Sravana keerthana,
      Narayana namosthesthu , pralayodhaka sayine||

      Oh God who protects the world, chanting whose name leads to blessings,
      Oh God who sleeps on the ocean of milk at deluge, My salutations to Narayana.

      15.Nirastha sarva doshaya bhakthyadhi guna dhayine,
      Narayana namosthesthu , thwam vina nahi may gathi||

      Oh God who removes all defects and showers good characters on us,
      I salute Narayana because I do not have any other refuge other than him.

      16.Dharma artha kama mokshascha purushartha pradhayine,
      Narayana namosthesthu punasthesthu namo nama||

      Oh God who bestows Purushathas like Dharma, wealth, passion and salvation,
      My salutations to Narayana, Again and again my salutations to him.

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    2. Kindly use only the shruti and smrti texts quoted by pUrvAcAryas. If what you have provided has been quoted by ancient AcAryas of any of the three predominant vedAnta darshanas, kindly provide a reference.

      A humble request also not to post translations of P R Ramachander and the like who are not scholarly.

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  3. MantraRajapada sthothram - Rudra praying to Narasimha
    Rudra - ahirbudhina
    दासभूताः स्वतस्सर्वे ह्यात्मानः परमात्मनः |
    अतोऽहमपि ते दासः इति मत्वा नमाम्यहम् ||

    dAsabhUtA: svata: sarvE hyAtmAna: paramAtmana: |
    atOahamapi tE dAsa: iti matvA namAmyaham ||

    All devotees of Parama-Purushan Narasimhan seek His sacred feet of their
    refuge for protection. adiyEn follows this group of blessed PrapannAs and
    perform SaraNaagati at Your feet with the bhAvam (mood) of Your Servant.
    Rudran states that He is conducting himself as the servant to Lord Narasimha
    and as One who has performed Prapatti to Him as His Master

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  4. Dear bhagwatas,plz can you shed some light on eternal damnation and tranigratipm of soul taught in Dvaita??I m aspiring sri vaishnava n accept Vishnu as supreme ,I was just skimming through vatipue vaishnava sampradayas n came to know about madhwa's eternal damnation theory its scaring me ,can you plz help.

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    1. I think for a clarification on dvaita doctrine, you have to ask the mAdhva scholars. Either way, dvaita believes that jIvas are inherently sAttvika, rAjasika or tAmasika. The sAttvika jIvAs attain liberation, the rAjasika ones are nitya-samsArins, while the tAmasika jIvAs attain the hell known as andha-tAmas and others for all eternity.

      As far as Vishishtadvaita is concerned, no difference in jIva-svarUpa is admitted. But shrI vedAnta desikan opines in the tAtparya chandrika that some jIvAs whose dharma-bhUta-jnAna remains contracted continue to accrue karmas and become nitya-samsArins, never reaching bhagavAn. That is certainly possible.

      Avoid bhagavad-bhAgavata apachAra and you are 1) Probably a sAttvika jIva if you want to follow Dvaita, 2) Do not need to fear samsAra if you want to follow Vishishtadvaita. Neither tradition encourages fear for those who are on the right path, but do not mix the two traditions up or try to follow both as they are distinct.

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  5. Dear all,

    We came across a blog recently that seems to be attempting to refute mistranslations by ISKCON, as follows:

    https://jagatgurublog.wordpress.com/

    A worthy endeavour, we have no quarrels with that position. However, in his zeal to refute ISKCON translations, the author has attempted to refute some things mentioned on our blog. Specifically, he says we are wrong when we say Narayana only refers to Lord Vishnu and no-one else.

    I think the author should stick to refuting ISKCON, because funnily enough, he is as ignorant as ISKCON about the depth of other Vaishnava sampradayas. Note that there is a world of difference between possessing the intellectual capacity to refute *ISKCON* as opposed to refuting *Vaishnavism*. Anyway, let us address the comments of the author.

    //It is quite interesting that I came across a Vaishnava blog that claims quite vehemently that the word “Narayana” can only be a name exclusively for the four handed form of Vishnu who is Lakshmi Pati. Following is the link to the blog any one can actually go ahead and read the arguments on the blog//

    Response: The author of that blog has got the pUrvapaksha wrong in the first place. By attempting to refute ISKCON, he has himself inadvertently subscribed to the ISKCON theory that “Narayana” meas “four handed form”. According to Sri Vaishnavas, Madhvas, Advaitins – Narayana refers to the Supreme Brahman, also known as Vasudeva and Vishnu, who appears in a variety of forms. It is not exclusive to “four handed” or “two handed” forms. Narayana is Krishna, Narayana is Rama, Narayana is Hayagriva.

    So much for his “refutation”. But anyway. He proceeds to elaborate that the “Na-Kaara” cannot mean Narayana is a proper noun as follows:

    Cont'd..

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  6. Cont'd from above...

    // Another reason is this चर्मनासिक here the न has not changed to ण inspite of appearing post र , the translators thought that this is due to the fact that the word चर्मनासिक is not a proper noun and that is why this doesn’t occur, but the commentaries say something different. Following is the reason
    यद्येवम्, तर्हि यथा चर्मनासिक, इत्यत्रोत्तरपदस्थस्य नकारस्य णत्वं न भवति नियमेन व्यावर्त्तितत्वात्, तथा खरपस्यापत्यं खारपयणः–`नडादिभ्यः फक` 4|1|99

    In short the above quote says that this occurrence was banned due to the Sutra 4.1.99 in Panini’s grammar, this has nothing to do with proper nouns as the translators of the commentaries on the Panini Grammar have put. For further reference please check the link below//

    Let this be true. But perhaps he has ignored the fact that even we expressed doubts about this proper noun theory on the blog. Panini’s grammar is not the be all and end all for the Vedas and there is no rule that the Vedas follow Panini. Hence, we do not necessarily disagree that Narayana can be a common noun. This fact is actually missed by this person attempting to refute our blog.

    Shri Ramanuja never used this proper noun excuse to claim Narayana refers only to Vishnu. The proof stems as follows – We see that the Supreme Reality is referred to as Sat, Atma, Brahman, Siva, etc in very generic terms which mean “Real”, “Self”, “Great One”, “Auspicious” etc. These terms are also used to address other realities – for example, the Jivatma has been referred to as “Sat”, “Atma”, “Brahman” and “Siva” in various places in the Shastra. Other objects like the mind are also referred to by these terms. However, the term “Narayana” with its’ wealth of meanings only, and always, unambiguously, refers to the Supreme Brahman.

    Unlike Indra, Shiva, Brahma etc, the name “Narayana” solely refers to the Supreme Lord and never to entities like Jivatma or Mind anywhere in Shruti or Smriti.

    Therefore, proof#1 - Wherever Narayana as a name occurs, it invariably refers to the Supreme Reality and thus, it is the highest name of Parabrahman. Thus, all beings identified with Narayana are to be considered as manifestations of Brahman.

    Next, we show that Brahma and Rudra are differentiated from Narayana as follows, “eko ha vai nArAyaNa AsIt, na brahma, nEshAna..” – This shows that during pralaya, the Cause (Narayana) existed and others like Brahma, Rudra etc are mentioned as distinct from this Cause, making them Jivas who are a part of samsara. Thus, Narayana is NOT Brahma or Rudra. This is proof#2.

    Finally, who is this Narayana? The Vishnu Gayatri identifies Narayana with God Vishnu, who is also called Vasudeva. Thus, Vishnu is an avatAra of Narayana. In contrast, the Gayatris of Rudra, Ganesha etc begin with “tatpuruSha” which is interpreted as “belonging to Narayana” or those devas who lead one to the Lord Narayana denoted as “tatpuruSha”. The significance of directly using the name “Narayana” in the Vishnu Gayatri is to identify Vishnu with Narayana. This is proof#3.

    Thus, this is the proof Acharyas have followed to prove Narayana is Vishnu. It is pretty simple.

    Since Vishnu and Vasudeva are vyApaka nAmAs that occur in the Gayatri of Narayana/Vishnu, these two names also, despite being common nouns, are not used anywhere to denote any entity other than the Lord Vishnu. Thus, the 12th Aditya is Vishnu himself. Even in the tAmasa purANAs, other devas like Shiva are never referred to as “Vishnu” or “Vasudeva” or “Narayana”, even when they are referred to as superior to Bhagavan.

    Cont'd...

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  7. Cont'd from above...

    In that respect, I quote a previous comment of mine, explaining how this is so. Even in the tAmasa purANAs which contain stotras praising Shiva, the name “Narayana”, “Vishnu” and “Vasudeva” are carefully applied only to Lord Vishnu. Here is a sample:

    maheśvarāya devāya namaste paramātmane // Linga Purana_1,71.96 //
    nārāyaṇāya śarvāya brahmaṇe brahmarūpiṇe /

    Meaning: Salutations to Maheshvara, to the effulgent god, to the Supreme Self, to Vishnu (nārāyaṇāya), to Shiva (śarvāya), to Brahma (brahmaṇe), to the one who has the Vedas as his body (brahmarūpiṇe).

    This shloka is certainly hailing Shiva as Brahman and saying Vishnu is praising him, but look how carefully it attributes the name "Narayana" to only Vishnu. It hails Shiva as one who is Vishnu (Narayana) and does not attribute the name "Narayana" directly to Shiva!

    That is clear by the reference to sharva and brahma namas. It is merely saying Shiva is in the form of the trimUrtIs, of whom Narayana (Vishnu) is one.

    Similarly, I had posted a comment earlier showing how the name “Vishnu” in the various Shiva Sahasranamas of the tAmasa purANAs always refer to “Shiva in the form of God Vishnu” based on context and never address Shiva directly as Vishnu as well. Those shiva sahasranamas even refer to Shiva as “Narayanapriya” but never directly as “Narayana”!

    Thus, the sanctity of "Narayana, Vishnu, Vasudeva" is such that even the tAmasa purANAs dare not flout it. You can go through the tAmasa purANAs with a fine toothcomb yourself and see that what we say is true everywhere.

    Cont'd...

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  8. Cont'd from above...

    Anyway, moving on. The author of that trifling blog tries to show Narayana can be applied to Brahma as follows:

    //Now let us come to the next one, is Narayana applied to any other deity other than Lakshmi Pati Vishnu, the answer is yes, what is the Pramana for it, let us check the Manusmriti for this.

    tadaṇḍamabhavaddhaimaṃ sahasrāṃśusamaprabham |
    tasmiñjajñe svayaṃ brahmā sarvalokapitāmahaḥ || 9 ||

    That became the golden egg, resplendent like the Sun; in that (egg) he (Hiraṇyagarbha) himself was born as Brahmā, the ‘Grand-father’ of the whole world.—(9)

    the very next verse says the following,

    āpo nārā iti proktā āpo vai narasūnavaḥ |
    tā yadasyāyanaṃ pūrvaṃ tena nārāyaṇaḥ smṛtaḥ || 10 ||

    Water is called ‘nara,’—water being the offspring of nara; since water was the first thing created by (or, the original residence of) that being, he is, on that account, described as ‘nārāyaṇa.’—(10)

    We also find that in the 4th Chapter 1st verse of the Vishnu Purana, Brahma is called Narayana //

    What this fool fails to understand is that the first shloka talks about the birth of Brahma. Then, using “sharIrAtma bhAva”, it refers to brahmA as nArAyaNa, meaning, “brahmAntaryAmin” (innerself of brahmA) is Narayana. Thus, once Brahma is born, Narayana is defined as the Cause who is the innerself of Brahma. This is so because:

    1) The same verse “āpo nārā iti proktā” is mentioned in the Mahabharata as the words of Vishnu, who proclaims himself to be referred to by the above verse. The same Mahabharata contains Brahma’s words where he says “mama antarAtma tava ca anyE” – Narayana is my antaryAmin, your (Shiva’s) antaryAmin and everyone else’s. Thus, using “yasya Atma sharIram”, one can interpret the Manu Smriti in this manner.

    2) The Kurma Purana contains a similar verse depicting the birth of BrahmA and says “brahmā nārāyaṇākhyastu suṣvāpa salile tadā” --- and immediately after starts praising Varaha avatAra. Unless our opponent wants to claim vAraha is an avatAra of brahmA, he has to accept that the shloka thus describes the antaryAmin of brahmA, who is then praised as varAha.

    3) Finally, the rAmAyaNa also describes the birth of brahmA (tataH samabhavad brahmaa svayambhuur daivataiH saha) and then says brahmA assumed the form of varAha (sa varaahaH tato bhuutvaa). Unless you think varAha is an avatAra of brahmA, the logical interpretation is that brahmAntaryAmin (innerself of brahmA), who is called nArAyaNa, became varAha.

    In this manner, the Manu Smriti and Vishnu Purana are explained.

    Cont'd...

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  9. Finally, our foolish opponent quotes the Harivamsha as proof that names of Vishnu refer to Shiva:

    //नामानि तव गोविन्द यानि लोके महान्ति च | तान्येव मम नामानि नात्र कार्य विचरण ||

    Whatever names you have oh Govinda which are famous as Sahasranaamas , they are my names only without doubt.//
    This is again, explained by sharIrAtma bhAva. If one looks at the entire shloka, that is clear:

    AvayorantaraM nAsti shabdairarthairjagatpate | nAmAni tava govinda yAni loke mahAnti cha ||tAnyeva mama nAmAni nAtra kAryA vichAraNA |tvadupAsa jagannAtha sevAstu mama gopate ||yashcha tvAM dveShTi devesha sa mAM dveShTi na saMshayaH |na tadasti vinA deva yatte virahitaM kvachit.h ||yadAsIdyachcha varteta yachcha bhAvi jagatpate |sarvaM tvaM deva devesha vinA kiJNchitvayA na hi ||

    Meaning: O Lord who possesses the Universe as his body! there is no difference between us in terms of words and their meanings (which extend to the antaryAmin by virtue of body-soul relationship). (On account of this), Whatever names are applicable to you are applicable to me too. Whoever worships you worships me too. Whoever hates you, he hates me too. There is nothing whatsoever that is without you. Whatever was, Whatever is, Whatever will be, is due to you. You are everything; there is nothing without you, O Lord of the Gods.

    By the term “AvayorantaraM nasti”, note that Shiva says there is no difference between them *in terms of words and meanings*. So, he is not saying there is no difference at all or implying identity here, but is proving sharIrAtma bhAva. Since Shiva is the body and the Lord is the innerself (yasya Atma sharIraM), both body and soul are denoted by the same name, as seen in the example of Jack.

    So, "whatever names are applicable to you, they are applicable to me too" -- here, "me" refers to the antaryAmin of Shiva, rudra-sharIraka-paramAtma, who is identical to Krishna. The idea is that, the antaryAmin of shiva has the same names as Krishna, Govinda, etc because it is the self-same Lord.This is by virtue of sharIrAtma bhAva.

    This explains how the Lord can do a penance by praising Shiva (the praise goes to his antaryAmin only) and how the shAstras (such as the shiva stuti in the bhAgavataM) refer to Shiva with attributes of supremacy (again, only refers to his antaryAmin).

    By addressing the Lord as “Jagatpati”, Shiva clarifies that there is no identity, but the above oneness due to sharIrAtma bhAva. “pati” means possessing the Jagat (as his body/inseparable attribute).

    He is everything, meaning, he is the innerself of everything which is his body. Without him, there is nothing, meaning, just as a body cannot exist without the self, nothing can exist without being his body.

    The statements like “he who follows you, follows me” refers to Krishna and RudrAntaryAmin and not Rudra on this account. For we see that Krishna addresses even Arjuna by similar statements in the Vana Parva of Mahabharata:

    “Janardana (in reply addressed that son of Pritha) saying, “You are mine and I am yours, while all that is mine is yours also! He that hates you hates me as well, and he that follows you, follows me! O irrepressible one, thou art Nara and I am Narayana or Hari! We are the Rishis Nara and Narayana born in the world of men for a special purpose. O Partha, you are from me and I am from you! O bull of the Bharata race, no one can understand the difference that is between us!”

    See how similar this dialogue is with Shiva’s words. If you take Shiva as supreme based on “he who follows you, follows me”, then even Arjuna is Supreme. Thus, these words refer only to Shiva’s and Arjuna’s antaryAmin, which is identical to Krishna as per “neha nAnAsti kincana”.

    Cont'd...

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  10. Finally, let us see what Shiva says in the same section:

    eSha vaH puNyanilaya eSha dharmaH sanAtanaH ||3-89-4
    eSha vo mokShadAtA cha eSha mArga udAhR^itaH |

    Meaning: This (nArAyaNa) is abode of auspicious attributes called “puNyaH” as they purify (punAti iti puNyaH). He is the supreme means to liberation, eternally associated with a divine form (which is the means as it is meditated on). This nArAyaNa is the giver of moksha, and he is indeed said to be the one sought after by the wise (mArgyatE iti mArgaH).

    Will end here. Now a word of advice for the author of that blog – Engage with ISKCON all you want. That is your level. But know your limitations before attempting to refute things you cannot even begin to comprehend.

    I hope the issue regarding the names Narayana, Vishnu and Vasudeva is now clear to the readers. Panini's grammar is not a proof we resort to, we merely quoted it on the blog as something that existed as a proof. More likely, it was the product of some less scholarly Vaishnavas. The actual proof as provided by shrI rAmAnuja is conclusive.

    ~Finis~

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  11. Srimathe Rangaramanuja Mahadesikaya Namaha

    It is also to be noted that Vishnu is the one who is engulfed by Sriman NArAyanA during Pralayam along with others. This adiyen heard from a Ahobila Matam Sishya who said AchArya's nirvAham is in such sense.

    Adiyen could not digest it as it may impact the meaning of nAma "Vishnu" himself.

    One thing is confirmed "Sriman NArAyanA" is the ultimate. Sriman Narayana is self manifested into Brahma, Rudra, IndrAdi devatAs along the lines "ekam Sarh vipra bahudha vadhanthi" and such a multifaceted Saguna Brahmam is Ekameva Adhwitheeyam.


    Dasanudasan

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    Replies
    1. //It is also to be noted that Vishnu is the one who is engulfed by Sriman NArAyanA during Pralayam along with others. This adiyen heard from a Ahobila Matam Sishya who said AchArya's nirvAham is in such sense.

      Adiyen could not digest it as it may impact the meaning of nAma "Vishnu" himself.//

      You are right and he is wrong. Vishnu is verily Narayana himself and so is not "engulfed" by anyone or anything, and these names, along with Vasudeva, do not denote any other entity anywhere, as we have shown.

      Vide the words of Shiva himself:

      nAnyo jagati devo.asti viShNornArAyatNAparaH | omityevaM sadA viprA paThata dhyAta keshavam ||(Harivamsha 3-89-9)

      Meaning: There exists no other God superior to Vishnu, who is Narayana. O Brahmanas! Chant OM! Meditate on Keshava, the Master of Brahma and Rudra!"

      It is quite surprising how some traditional Sri Vaishnavas impart incorrect meanings for basic concepts without consulting the works of Acharyas. They would do well to read Manavala Mamunigal's upadesa ratna malai pAsuram which serves as a warning:

      MunnOr mozhinda muRai thappAmal kETTu pinnOrndhu thAm adanaippEsAde * tham nenjil
      thORRinadhE solli – idu suddha upadEsavara VARRadenbar – mUrkarAvAr (~ Upadesa Ratna Malai 71)

      Meaning: Instead of hearing from learned acharyas about what pUrvAchAryas elaborated on without missing anything in accordance with the proper ways and after contemplating what was learned, teaching that to others in the same way (without deviation) -- the foolish/dull minded (not doing the above) teach others only what occurred to their minds, and would then claim the following - "what I have said comes purely from the lineage of acharyas".



      Delete

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