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Narayana Suktam, A Translation Attempt

From: V Sundar (
Date: Mon Oct 07 1996 - 06:58:06 PDT

Dear Bhakti Group Members,

This is part 2 of an effort to make translations of the pancha suktams
available on the web.
I would like to thank all of you or your encouragement and help in this
effort. Please send
me any corrections or comments you may have about this translation.

I would also ask your indulgence in what may be an irregularly paced
depending on of course, occasionally maddening personal schedules.


By way of a brief introduction :

The Narayana Suktam unfortunately is not as well documented or as well
translated as the Purusha Suktam, so I have not been able to consult as
many sources on
this to check my translations and in some cases, interpretations. I have
come across Raymundo Panikkar's translation of some verses, and these are
attributed to the Mahanarayana Upanishad. So this is definitely not a Vedic
hymn, but a later Upanishadic composition. Contrastingly some Vishnu Suktam
ymns are found in Sama, Atharva and Yajus (Vajasaneyi) samhitas, and other
parts of the Vishnu Suktam in the Tattiriya Samhita of the Yajur Veda
alone. The Purusha Suktam of course, is
undeniably early vedic, being found in the Rg Veda itself.

The Narayana Suktam is not cosmogonic on a grand scale like the Purusha
Suktam. The
Narayana of this suktam does not "atyatishtad  dashaangulam".. instead, he
is the most
personal God, minutest of the minute ( a grand celebration of aNimaa -
atomicity )..

Beginnning with the invocation of Sriman Narayana as "Vishvam"  in the
first verse, the
Narayana Suktam proceeds to "shrink" him, until he is minutest of the
minute. " Like a
lotus bud, the heart is suspended from sinews, and there is a smallest
cavity in it. In the
middle of that is the world-illuminating great flame, that goes in all
directions. That flame-
god, first eater, who gives all the world its food, is eternal,
omniscient.... In the middle of
that flame is HE, who is Brahma, Shiva, Hari, Indra, Greatest and Endless"

The Narayana Suktam is not a cosmogonical riddle like the Purusha Suktam
is, not a
celebration of "by sacrifice the Gods sacrificed to sacrifice"... It is a
worshipful chant of
adoration, and in citing comparisons in the hope of reinforcing its
message, I have chosen
similar sources.. what little I know of the sweet thamizh of the Alwars,
and sources from
Mahomahopadhyaya M. V. Ramanujacharyar's translation of the Mahabharata (the
Kumbakonam edition.) From the Mahabharatha, two sections are very relevant
here, the
Bhagavad Gita and the Vishnu Sahasranama. The latter especially has been cited
extensively both in its crystalline and scholarly Shankara Bhashyam and the
more mystic
and therefore indirect Bhattar Bhashyam. I would welcome more citations
from the readers,
depending on how this hymn speaks to you.

I have followed the same format as I followed for the Purusha Suktam here,
down the verses into words and following the translation with comments and
last, a
rendering ( I dare not call THAT a translation ) into free verse.

With my respects,

V Sundar