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Narayana Suktam, verses 4-6
Date: Wed Oct 16 1996 - 05:27:32 PDT

Dear Bhaktas,

The next 'instalment' of verses is here for your comments. Again, my thanks
to you all for the encouragement and kind words. The text I have selected
to present here differs in parts, as has been pointed out from the
"vaishnava Dinasarya" text. The text I have chosen is unchanged from
Mahanarayana Upanishad and Chandogya Upanishad manuscripts. The best
reference (with a translation) I can cite for these is the "Vedic
Experience" mantra manjari by Raimundo Panikkar.

With my respects,

V Sundar


Narayana Suktam, verses 4 - 6

4. naaraayaNa paro jyotir-aatmaa naarayaNa: para: |
naarayaNam param brahma tatvam naarayaNam para: |
naarayaNa paro dhyaata dhyaanam naaraayaNa: para: ||

naarayaNa  (Naarayana) para: jyoti (is the greatest of lights), para:
aatmaa (greatest of souls),  param brahma (is the greatest Brahman), para:
tatvam (is the best of essences) para: dhyaataa (greatest of those who
meditate), para: dhyaanam (best of meditations).

Verily is Sriman Narayana the "paramaatma" . For this name, Sri Shankara
gives us a puzzling meaning. " Who is  qualityless (vi-lakSHaNa) beyond
reasons and acts (kaaraNakaarya), is eternal (nitya), purest (parishuddha:)
and wise (having gnyaana), and has no attachment to anything".  This is in
contrast with Sri Bhattar, who has " Who is the soul without a soul of His
own (tamakku or aatmaavillaatha aatmaavaayiruppavar), lord of everything
(sarveshvarar) , and is overlord to himself".  For tatvam, the BB gives :
"Like butter in milk or yoghurt, He is the essence manifested in the
sentient and nonsentient (cetana - acetana) universe".

Greatest of Flames, of Souls,
Of Principles and Creators the Greatest,
Greatest of Thinkers and Greatest of Thoughts..

5. yacca kincign-jagat sarvam drshyate shrooyate api vaa |
antar bahish-ca tatsarvam vyaapya naaraayaNa: sTHitha: ||

yacca kincid (All that) jagat sarvam (all over the world) drshyate (is
seen) api vaa (or is) shrooyate (heard), naaraayaNa: (Sriman Narayana)
sThitha: (stands) vyaapya (manifesting) tat sarvam (all that) anta:
(inside) bahish-ca (and out).

This verse again reinforces the "vishvatvam" of Sriman Narayana. All that
is in this world, that is seen and that is heard - this could concievably
cover all cetana-acetana creation - Sriman Narayana manifests all this,
internally as his vishvaroopa, and externally as all of creation - the
prapanca. Consider the Purusha Suktam's "sa: bhoomim vishvato vrtva" - As
this earth he manifests himself. This also echoes the Uttarataapani
Upanishad " sa vaa eSHa bhootaneendriyaaNi viraajam devata: koshaamsca
srSHTvaa praviSHyamooDHo mooDha iva vyavaharan-naaste maayayaiva". For a
sense of manifesting the world "inside and out", we may again go back to
the PS : "tasmaad viraaLajaayata; viraajo adhi puruSHa:" - From him was
nature (the female principle viraat) born. And from viraat was puruSHa
born.  The Sahasranaamam again echoes this, praising Sriman Narayana as
"bhoo-garbha:". The SB has "Who contains the world (bhoo) in his womb
(garbha:)". The BB gives us "He guards his wife Bhoomi Devi as a mother
guards her womb".

All that is seen
Or heard in the World
Narayana stands
Manifesting all this
Inside and Out.

6. anantam avyayam kaveem samudre-antam viSHvashambhuvam |
padmakosha-prateekaasham hrdayam caapyadhomukham ||

anantam (Who is without end) avyayam (and without destruction) kavim (and a
poet, all knowing) samudre (Who is in the sea) antam (and Who is within)
viSHva - sham - bhuvam (who brings well-being (sham) to all the world - I
meditate on that Narayana). hrdayam ca api (The heart which)  adho-mukham
(face down) padmakosha-prateekaasham (reveals itself like a lotus bud).

Ananta - the endless one - is one of the twelve names of Vishnu we sanctify
ourselves with daily.  he is also parised as "anantaroopa" - whose form is
measureless - and "anantashree" - whose auspiciousness is measureless. The
SB translates "avyaya" as 'without destruction' or 'without disfuguration'.
The BB predicates the five names avyaya, puruSHa, saakshee, kshetragnya and
akshara and exalting the name "muktaanaam paramaagati:". Avyaya is directly
translated by Sri Bhattar as "Who never has anyone leave him / The muktas,
liberated souls, are never separated from him". This is in concordance with
"muktaanaamparamaagati:". Surely this must be a name to conjure with, for
even Sri Shankara translates this as "The highest and eternal goal of
Muktas - This name means " There is no need or necessity to reach a
divinity other than Him - and those who reach him never return to
samsaara". So where Sri Shankara takes avyaya to be "unchanging", Bhattar
gives us a meaning closer to the heart of Sri Sampradaya as unchanging in
his grace as the mukti giver. I only give a small portion of Sri Bhattar's
exegesis on the name "muktaanaamparamaagati" here - which also echoes the
Narayana Suktam's "paramam padam" -  "He is sarvaseSHi, and He is Himself
the ultimate refuge and abode of muktas - liberated souls".

He is called "kavi" - which is traditionally "poet" because he is all wise.
the SB has "kavi: kraantadarshee sarvadrk" - He is kavi who sees
everything.  The BB has the name kavi qualifying the name sarvagnya - "who
knows himself as sarvaantaryaami - the inner soul of all". The name kavi is
always connected with the wise - the Rg Veda speaks of "kavyo maneeSha" -
kavi-s, lords of their minds, as knowing Brahman.  Inrerestingly, this is
not only religious wisdom. The farmer who ploughs his field wisely and the
smith who makes implements wisely are also called "kavi".

With the second line of this verse begins the internalization process of
the Narayana Suktam.  "samudre antam" has been translated here as "both in
the vast open sea and within". It has also been translated as "at the end
of the sea". This opens up the sky-horizon, a vastness. But this is a
vastness that is concealed, or contained, in the heart that hangs like an
upside down lotus bud. "padmakosha" is an especially poetic word - "the
treasure-house of the lotus". The flowering of the lotus is a metaphor for
the dawning of wisdom, with the lotus flower being a symbol of the opened
mind. Calling  lotus bud a treasure house within which the treasure of the
lotus is contained strikes me as very apt.

The Chaandogya Upanishad has an excellent explanation of the heart as
"padmakosha prateekasha". "atha: yad idam asmin brahmapure daharam
puNdareekam veshma daharo-asmin antara aakaaSHas-tasmin yadaa antas-tad
anveshtavyam tadvaava vijignyaasa itavyam -iti". This may be broken down as
"In this brahma-pura, City of God, our body, there is a tiny palace in the
shape of a lotus (puNdareeka). Within that is the Inner Temple. What lies
within that temple, we should seek it tad anveshtavyam). We should seek to
know it (tadvaava vijignyaasa itavyam)".  The Yoga Vaasishtam cites the
Chaandogya Upanishad and the Narayana Suktam as illustrating the atomic
form of Sriman Narayana and the Purusha Suktam as prainsing his vishvaroopa
form. From here on in the Narayana Suktam, the immanence of Sriman
Narayana, his nearness, his residing in our heart is what is celebrated. To
see Him in the heart is the beginning and the end of knowing Him. This
celebration of "aNor aNeeyam" is known as the dahara vidya.

Without end, without change,
A wise poet, vast as the sea,
He is also in my heart
That nestles, face down
Like the treasure house of the lotus..