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The Nārāyaṇīya ōf Mahābhārata Ṡānti Parva – Part 1

The Nārāyaṇīya (Narayaniya or Narayaneeyam) is a Pan̄carātra text occuring in Mahābhārata’s Ṡānti Parva (Mokṣa-dharma sub-parva). These form the last 19 chapters of Ṡānti Parva. They discuss the supremacy of Lord Viṣṇu, His various vyūhas and the importance of jn̄āna-bhakti towards Him. The conversation starts with Yudhiṣṭhira questioning grandsire Bhīṣma lying on his bed of arrows. It ends with Caturmukha-Brahmā answering Rudra about the supreme Puruṣa.

Since there are different recensions of Mahābhārata, here I enumerate the relavant sections:

In the version that I’m going to translate here, the first verse of the first chapter of Nārāyaṇīya is thus (Yudhiṣṭhira addressing Bhīṣma):

   yudhiṣṭhira uvāca
gṛhasthō brahmacārī vā vānaprasthōʼtha bhikṣukaḥ
ya icchēt siddhimāsthātuṃ dēvatāṃ kāṃ yajēta saḥ

The first verse of the last chapter is thus (Brahmā addressing Rudra):

   brahmōvāca
śṛnu putra yathā hyēkaḥ puruṣaḥ śāśvatōʼvyayaḥ
akṣayaścāpramēyaśca sarvagaśca nirucyatē

The entire Ṡānti Parva ends with the last chapter of Nārāyaṇīya (12.339) in PPS Sastri’s edition. However, all the other editions continue with many more chapters after the Nārāyaṇīya (Ucchravṛtti-upākhyāna, etc). Not only that, even the starting chapters are different. BORI and Sastri explicitly mention the start of the Nārāyaṇīya with the Yudhiṣṭhira’s verse, as above. Kumbakonam edition, however, suggests its 12.344 chapter as the first chapter of Nārāyaṇīya (it ends with … nārāyaṇīyē … unlike 12.343). Similarly, Gita Press suggests its 12.335 as the first chapter of Nārāyaṇīya (it also ends the chapter with … nārāyaṇīyē … unlike 12.334). BORI, Gita Press and Nilakantha explicitly mention that the last chapter of Nārāyaṇīya is the Brahma-Rudra conversation, as above.

BORI’s manuscripts

Bhandarkar’s Critical Edition mentions the manuscripts for Ṡānti parva. In the order of my preference:

The scheme of verses I choose roughly follows to the T-G manuscripts. You can consider it a sort of Southern and/or Vaiṣṇava recension.

The priority is roughly {T1, G1} > {T#, G#} > {Kumba, PPS} > BORI

When there is no agreement among the TG manuscripts, I check if Kumbakonam and PPS Sastri’s readings are identical. If not, I finally prefer the reading of the Critical Edition itself.

I consistently check that the verses are of Anuṣṭup metre or any other metre as applicable. This usually helps to weed out spurious readings.

Concordance

Gita Press Verses BORI Verses Kumbakonam Verses PPS Sastri Verses Dvaita Verses
Ch. 334 45 (½) Ch. 321 43 Ch. 342 46 Ch. 321 46 Mo. 166 43
Ch. 335 56 (1) Ch. 322 52 Ch. 343 56 Ch. 322 56 Mo. 167 52
Ch. 336 65 Ch. 323 57 Ch. 344 69 Ch. 323 67 Mo. 168 57
Ch. 337 41 (1) Ch. 324 39 Ch. 345 47 Ch. 324 49 Mo. 169 39
Ch. 338 4 Ch. 325 4 Ch. 346 4 Ch. 325 4 (3 + 1) Mo. 170 4
Ch. 339 141 (15½) Ch. 326 124 Ch. 347 76 Ch. 326 77 Mo. 171 140
-"- -"- -"- -"- Ch. 348 91 Ch. 327 91 -"- -"-
Ch. 340 119 Ch. 327 107 Ch. 349 117 Ch. 328 119 Mo. 172 107
Ch. 341 51 Ch. 328 53 Ch. 350 59 Ch. 329 60 (58 + 2) Mo. 173 53
Ch. 342 142 (2) Ch. 329 50 Ch. 351 66 Ch. 330 194 (7 + 187) Mo. 174 50
-"- -"- Ch. 330 71 Ch. 352 76 Ch. 331 58 Mo. 175 71
Ch. 343 66 Ch. 331 52 Ch. 353 67 Ch. 332 69 Mo. 176 52
Ch. 344 27 Ch. 332 26 Ch. 354 28 Ch. 333 28 Mo. 177 26
Ch. 345 28 Ch. 333 25 Ch. 355 27 Ch. 334 28 Mo. 178 25
Ch. 346 22 Ch. 334 17 Ch. 356 20 Ch. 335 19 Mo. 179 17
Ch. 347 96 Ch. 335 89 Ch. 357 94 Ch. 336 94 Mo. 180 89
Ch. 348 88 Ch. 336 82 Ch. 358 88 Ch. 337 87 Mo. 181 82
Ch. 349 74 Ch. 337 69 Ch. 359 74 Ch. 338 97 Mo. 182 69
Ch. 350 27 Ch. 338 25 Ch. 360 25 -"- -"- Mo. 183 25
Ch. 351 23 Ch. 339 21 Ch. 361 23 Ch. 339 24 Mo. 184 21
TOTAL 1115 (20) 1006 1153 1267 1022

In the following annotations, BORI Critical Edition, Kumbhakonam, PPS Sastri and Gita Press readings are denoted CE, Ku, PPS and GP respectively. GPd means Gita Press dākṣiṇātya (southern) reading. “T G” is shorthand for “T1,2 G1–3,6”

Chapter 1

   yudhiṣṭhira uvāca
gṛhasthō brahmacārī vā vānaprasthōʼtha bhikṣukaḥ
ya icchēt siddhimāsthātuṃ dēvatāṃ kāṃ yajēta saḥ /1.1/

Yudhiṣṭhira said: O Pitāmaha! Which divinity (dēvatā) should the members of the four āśramas (gṛhastha, brahmacārī, vānaprastha and bhikṣuka) worship, if one desires to attain siddhi ?

kutō hyasya dhruvaḥ svargaḥ kutō naiḥᵃṡrēyasaṃ param
vidhinā kēna juhuyād daivaṃ pitryam athāpi vāᵇ /1.2/

ᵃ T G PPS Ku GP
ᵇ T G PPS

muktaṡca kāṃ gatiṃ gacchēn mōkṣaṡcaiva kimātmakaḥ
svargataṡcaiva kiṃ kuryād yēna na cyavatē divaḥ /1.3/

dēvatānāṃ ca kō dēvaḥ pitṝṇāṃ ca pitā tathāᵃ
sṛṣṭēḥᵇ parataraṃ yacca tanmē brūhi pitāmaha /1.4/

ᵃ T G PPS Ku GP
ᵇ T G PPS (ख घ)

   bhīṣma uvāca
gūḍhaṃ māṃ praṡnavit praṡnaṃ pṛcchasē tvamihānagha
na hyēṣaᵃ tarkayāᵇ ṡakyōᶜ vaktuṃ varṣaṡatairapi /1.5/

ᵃ T G CE; GP PPS Ku “hyetat”
ᵇ CE GP Ku; T1 G3 G6 “vai mayā” G1 “tatkathā”? G2 “viṣayaḥ” PPS “anyathā”
ᶜ T G CE; GP PPS Ku “ṡakyaṃ”

tarkayā should probably read tarkēṇa because tarka is masculine and the former is a feminine form. Sastri, therefore, renders it as anyathā ṡakyaṃ

ṛtē dēvaprasādād vā rājan̄ jn̄ānāgamēna vā
gahanaṃ hyētadākhyānaṃ vyākhyātavyaṃ tavārihan /1.6/

atrāpyudāharantīmam itihāsaṃ purātanam
nāradasya ca saṃvādam ṛṣērnārāyaṇasya ca /1.7/

nārada uvāca nārāyaṇō hi viṡvātmā caturmūrtiḥ sanātanaḥ
dharmātmajaḥ sambabhūva pitaivaṃ mēʼbhyabhāṣata /1.8/

kṛtē yugē mahārāja purā svāyambhuvēʼntarē
narō nārāyaṇaṡcaiva hariḥ kṛṣṇastathaiva ca /1.9/

tatraᵃ nārāyaṇanarau tapastēpaturavyayau
badaryāṡramamāsādya ṡakaṭē kanakāmayē /1.10/

ᵃ T G; CE “tebhyō”; Ku PPS GP “teṣāṃ”

aṣṭacakraṃ hi tadyānaṃ bhūtayuktaṃ manōramam
tatrādau lōkanāthau tau kṛṡau dhamanisantatau /1.11/

tapasā tējasā caiva durnirīkṣyauᵃ surairapi
yasya prasādaṃ kurvātē sa dēvau draṣṭumarhati /1.12/

ᵃ T G2 G3 G6 Ku PPS GP; G1 CE “durnirīkṣau”

nūnaṃ tayōranumatē hṛdi hṛcchayacōditaḥ
mahāmērōḥ girēḥ ṡṛṅgāt pracyutō gandhamādanam /1.13/

nāradaḥ sumahadbhūtaṃ sarvalōkānᵃvaṡīcaranᵇ
taṃ dēṡamagamadrājan badaryāṡramamāṡugaḥ /1.14/

ᵃ T G Ku GP; PPS “sarvāĺ-lōkān”; CE “lōkān sarvān”
ᵇ T G; CE Ku PPS GP “acīcarat”

tayōrāhnikavēlāyāṃ tasyaᵃ kautūhalaṃ tvabhūt
idaṃ tadāspadaṃ kṛtsnaṃ yasmil̐lōkāḥ pratiṣṭhitāḥ /1.15/

ᵃ T2 G1 CE Ku GP; T1 “taddhi”; G2 “tarhi”

sadēvāsuragandharvāḥ sakinnaramahōragāḥᵃ
ēkā mūrtiriyaṃ pūrvaṃ jātā bhūyaṡcaturvidhā /1.16/

ᵃ T G Ku GP PPS (ख घ); CE “saṛṣikiṃnaralelihāḥ”

dharmasya kulasantānē dharmādēbhir vivardhitaḥᵃ
ahō hyanugṛhītōʼdya dharma ēbhiḥ surairiha /1.17/

ᵃ Ku GP; T2 G2 “dharma eva”; G1 “dharma ēbhir”; T1 G3 G5 “dharma ēvābhivardhitaḥ”; PPS “dharma ēbhiṡca vardhitaḥ”; CE “mahānebhir vivar-”

naranārāyaṇābhyāṃ ca kṛṣēṇa hariṇā tathā
atraᵃ kṛṣṇō hariṡcaiva kasminṡcit kāraṇāntarē /1.18/

ᵃ T G Ku GP; CE PPS “tatra”

sthitau dharmasutāvevaᵃ tathaitau pariniṣṭhitauᵇ
ētau hi paramaṃ dhāma kā tayōrᶜ āhnikakriyā /*1.19/

ᵃ T G; CE GP “dharmōttarau hyētau”; PPS “dharmasya vai gehe”; Ku “dharmasutāv etau” ᵇ T G; CE Ku GP “tathā tapasi dhiṣṭhitau”; PPS “imau tapasi dhiṣṭhitau” ᶜ T G; CE GP “kānayōr”; Ku “kā’nayōr”

pitarau sarvabhūtānāṃ daivataṃ ca yaṡasvinau
kāṃ dēvatāṃ tuᵃ yajataḥᵇ pitṝn va kān mahāmatī /1.20/

ᵃ T1 G Ku GP PPS; T2 CE “nu” ᵇ T1 CE Ku GP PPS; T2 G “yajatāṃ”

iti san̄cintya manasā bhaktyā nārāyaṇasya hiᵃ
sahasā prādurabhavat samīpē dēvayōstadā /1.21/

ᵃ T G; CE PPS “ha”; Ku GP “tu”

kṛtē daivē ca pitryē ca tatastābhyāṃ nirīkṣitaḥ
pūjitaṡcaiva vidhinā yathāprōktēna ṡāstrataḥ /1.22/

taṃᵃ dṛṣṭvā mahadāṡcaryam apūrvaṃ vidhivistaram
upōpaviṣṭaḥ suprītō nāradō bhagavānṛṣiḥ /1.23/

ᵃ T CE G3,6; G1,2 GP PPS Ku “tad”

nārāyaṇaṃ saṃnirīkṣya prasannēnāntarātmanā
namaskṛtyaᵃ mahādēvam idaṃ vacanamabravīt /1.24/

ᵃ T2 G1,2 PPS Ku; CE GP T1 “namaskṛtvā”

   nārada uvāca
vēdēṣu sapurāṇēṣu sāṅgōpāṅgēṣu gīyasē
tvamajaḥ ṡāṡvatō dhātā vidhātā mṛtyuruttamaḥᵃ /1.25/

ᵃ T G PPS (ख घ); CE “mṛtō’mṛtam anuttamam”; Ku GP “mātā mṛtam anuttamam”; PPS “pitā mātā ca sattama”

pratiṣṭhitam bhūtabhavyaṃ tvayi sarvamidaṃ jagat
catvārō hyāṡramā dēvā sarvē gārhasthamūlakāḥ /1.26/

yajantē tvāmaharar nānāmūrtisamāsthitam
pitā mātā ca sarvasya dēvatānāmᵃ ca ṡāṡvatam /1.27/

ᵃ T G Ku; PPS “daivataṃ tvaṃ”; CE GP “jagataḥ ṡāṡvatō guruh”;

kaṃ tvadya yajasē dēvaṃ pitaraṃ kaṃ na vidmahē
kamarcasi mahābhāga tanmē brūhīha pṛcchataḥᵃ /1.28/

ᵃ T G Ku GPd; CE 800*; PPS “kandarpa sumahābhāga” for the first half

   ṡrībhagavān uvāca
avācyamētad vaktavyam ātmaguhyaṃ sanātanam
tava bhaktimatō brahman vakṣyāmi tu yathātatham /1.29/

yat tat sūkṣmamavijn̄ēyam avyaktamacalaṃ dhruvam
indriyairindriyārthaiṡca sarvabhūtaiṡca varjitam /1.30/

sa hyantarātmā bhūtānāṃ kṣētrajn̄aṡcēti kathyatē
triguṇavyatiriktōʼsau puruṣaṡcēti kalpitaḥ /1.31/

tasmādavyaktamutpannaṃ triguṇaṃ dvijasattama
avyaktāvyaktabhāvasthā yā sā prakṛtiravyayā /1.32/

tāṃ yōnimāvayōrvṛddhi yā sā sadasadātmikāᵃ
āvābhyāṃ pūjyatē’sau hiᵇ daivē pitryē ca kalpitē /1.33/

ᵃ T G PPS (ख); CE PPS Ku GP “yōʼsau sadasadātmakaḥ”
ᵇ T G CE GP; PPS “pūjyatē sō’tha”; Ku “pūjyatē yō hi”

nāsti tasmāt parōʼnyō hi pitā dēvō’tha vāᵃ dvijaᵇ
ātmā hi nau sa vijn̄ēyaḥ tatastaṃ pūjayāvahē /1.34/

ᵃ T2 G2 CE Ku PPS GP; T1 G1,3,6 “dēvō yathā”
ᵇ T G GP Ku PPS; CE “dvijaḥ”

tēnaiva sthāpitāᵃ brahman maryādā lōkabhāvinī
daivaṃ pitryaṃ ca kartavyam iti tasyānuṡāsanam /1.35/

ᵃ T G PPS (ख घ); CE GP Ku “tēnaiṣā prathitā”

brahmā sthāṇurmanurdakṣō bhṛgurdharmastapō damaḥ
marīciraṅgirāṡcātriḥᵃ pulastyaḥ pulahaḥ kratuḥ /1.36/

ᵃ T G Ku; PPS “-aṅgirā atriḥ”; CE GP “-aṅgirā’triṡ ca”

vasiṣṭhaḥ paramēṣṭhī ca vivasvān sōma ēva ca
kardamaṡcāpi yaḥ prōktaḥ kṛtō vikṛtirᵃ ēva ca /*1.37/

ᵃ T G PPS (ख घ); CE Ku GP “krōdhō vikrīta”; PPS “ēkatō dvita”

vikṛti and vikrīta are the same (as per Monier Williams). krōdhō vikrīta is wrong because krōdha is not mentioned as Prajāpati anywhere.

ēkatō dvita eva ca is wrong because what about Trita ? He’s also one of the three Āptyas.

However, Kṛta is one of the Viśvēdēvas, also name of father of Uparicara, etc.

ēkaviṃṡatirutpannāḥ tē prajāpatayaḥ smṛtāḥ
tasya dēvasya maryādāṃ pūjayanti sanātanīm /1.38/

daivaṃ pitryaṃ ca satataṃ tasya vijn̄āya tattvataḥ
ātmaprāptāni ca tatō jānanti dvijasattamāḥᵃ /1.39/

ᵃ T G CE Ku; PPS “jn̄ānāni dvijasattama”; GP “prāpnuvanti dvijōttamāḥ”

svargasthā api yē kēcit taṃᵃ namasyanti dēhinaḥ
tē tatprasādād gacchanti tadādiṣṭaphalāṃᵇ gatim /1.40/

ᵃ T G CE; PPS GP Ku “tān” ᵇ T G M; CE PPS Ku GP “tēnādiṣṭaphalāṃ”

yē hīnāḥ saptadaṡabhir guṇaiḥ karmabhirēva ca
kalāḥ pan̄cadaṡa tyaktvā tē muktā iti niṡcayaḥ /1.41/

muktānāṃ tu gatirbrahman kṣētrajn̄a iti kalpitaḥ
sa hi sarvagatiṡᵃcaiva nirguṇaṡcaiva kathyatē /1.42/

ᵃ T G PPS Ku; CE “sarvagataṡ”; GP “sarvaguṇaṡ”

dṛṡyatē jn̄ānayōgēna āvāṃ ca prasṛtau tataḥ
ēvaṃ jn̄ātvā tamātmānaṃ pūjayāvaḥ sanātanam /1.43/

taṃ vēdāṡcāṡramāṡcaiva nānātanusamāṡritamᵃ
bhaktyā sampūjayantyādyaṃᵇ gatiṃ caiṣāṃ dadāti saḥ /1.44/

ᵃ T G PPS Ku; CE GP “-āsthitāḥ” ᵇ T G CE Ku; GP “-tyāṡu”

yē tu tadbhāvitā lōkē ēkāntitvaṃᵃ samāṡritāḥᵇ
ētad abhyadhikaṃ tēṣāṃ tat tējaḥᶜ praviṡantyuta /1.45/

ᵃ T G CE; PPS Ku GP “hyēkāntitvaṃ” ᵇ T G; CE PPS Ku GP “samāsthitāḥ” ᶜ T G M; CE PPS Ku GP “yattē taṃ”

iti guhyasamuddēṡaḥ tava nārada kīrtitaḥ
bhaktyā prēmṇā ca tasyarṣērᵃ asmad bhaktyā ca tē ṡrutaḥ /1.46/

ᵃ T2 G1 M1,5–7 PPS; T1 G2,3,6 “tarṣēṇa”; Ku GP CE “viprarṣē”

It is quite clear that all southern manuscripts begin with “ta” instead of “viprarṣē”. Anyway Nārada is not a brahmin ṛṣi (viprarṣi).