If yes, what justification they provide? Please quote their original works.

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    Why would they talk about it? Did they write about grammar? Ramanujacharya never wrote on grammar as far as I know. What is the basis of the question? Why should they say Narayana is a proper noun? Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 17:06
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    Then I hope you know what is the meaning of a proper noun. "A proper noun is the name of a particular person, place, organization, or thing. Proper nouns begin with a capital letter". When they referred to only one person, what is it called besides a proper noun? A pronoun? Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 17:27
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    @Sarvabhouma You raised a good point. But I have not seen Sri Vaishnavas claiming that the words Vishnu, Vasudeva, Govinda etc. are proper nouns. They claim proper noun status only for the word Narayana. Why?
    – user16581
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 17:30
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    what is not a proper noun is an attribute. They are saying "Siva" can either mean "auspicious" or the God Siva. But Narayana can ONLY mean the supreme vaishnavite God because of a rule in Panini. Even Srivaishnavites stopped saying this much lately because counterexamples have been found since the days of Appayya Dikshitar.
    – S K
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 17:55
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    It is actually a quality, a description of the Supreme Being. It means Support or Foundation. Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 4:18

1 Answer 1


Vedanta Desika is fairly clear that the term Narayana is unambiguous.

In the Tattvamuktakalapa 3.5 Desika states:

nissādhāraṇya-nārāyaṇa-pada-viṣaye niścayaṃ yānty-abādhe
sad-brahm-ādyās-samāna-prakaraṇa- paṭhitāś śaṅkitānyartha śabdāḥ।
antaryantā ca nārāyaṇa iti kathitaḥ; kāraṇaṃ cāntar-ātmety
asmād-apy-aika kaṇṭhyam bhavati nirupadhis tatra śambhvādi śabdāḥ॥

In his own commentary on the Tattvamuktakalapa known as the Sarvartha Siddhi, in the context of the current verse, Desika states:

sad-śabdastāvat sattāyogiṣu sarveṣu pravṛttatayā na viśeṣa nirdhāraṇārhaḥ। brahmaśabdaḥ ekarūḍho'pi bahuṣu rūḍhavat prayuktatayā anyārthatva śaṅkārhaḥ syāt। ātmaśabdasca jīva-parādhi-sādhāraṇa-prayogaḥ। evaṃ puruṣa-prāṇ-ākṣara-śabdā api।

nārāyaṇaśabdastu na jātyupādhivacanaḥ, na vā'nekarūḍhaḥ। atastena anyeṣām viṣaya-viśeṣaṇa-nirdhāraṇam yuktam। tatra ca hetuḥ samāna-prakaraṇa-paṭhiṭatvam। anyathā paśvadhikaraṇāderapi bhaṅgassyāt।

  1. The word sad cannot connote a specific entity as it is used to refer to the ordinary jagat by the Sarvajagatsattāvādins.
  2. The word brahman although has a commonly understood single sense, it is applied in reference to multiple entities commonly. Therefore it cannot be used in a unique manner as it can cause confusion.
  3. The word Atman is used normally in many senses to refer to the jIva as well as the paramAtman.
  4. Similarly, words like puruSha, prANa, akShara also are incapable of denoting a unique entity.
  5. Unlike these, the word Narayana is neither used a descriptor of categories (jāti) nor attributes (upādhi).
  6. Nor is it commonly/popularly used to refer to many different things.
  7. Therefore it is proper (not ambiguous) for it to have a object-attribute relationship with other words (other words are the attributes).
  8. This is because of it (the word Narayana) being used identically (as the other words like sad, brahman, etc.) in the same context (where the other word appears).
  9. Otherwise chAga-pashu-nyAya and others would breakdown. (This refers to the principle of interpretation laid down by the Mimamsakas: when multiple terms are used in the same context, the term having a general meaning should be interpreted to bear the meaning of the term that is most specific.)

From #5 and #6, it is clear that Desika observes Narayana to be a term that is seen to be consistently applied (in extant scripture) to identify a unique entity and none else (either as a category or attribute or popular usage). The consequence of this is that whenever the term Narayana is used alongside other terms within a context in an identical fashion, the application of the principle of chAga-pashu-nyAya (#9) becomes appropriate. Thus in a context where both the term Narayana and another generic term like Sad, Atman, Brahman etc. are used in an identical manner, it is to be inferred that the other generic terms are used as a reference to Narayana.

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    "Unlike these, the word Narayana is neither a descriptor of categories nor attributes" I would disagree with this. Narayana has atleast two etymologies which describe attributes, one of them being "refuge of man".
    – user16581
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 7:27
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    @Pratimaputra I was trying to convey the argument. I didn't intend that it be read as a translation. One has to read the entire context of the fairly large ArambhaNadhikaraNa to understand the logic. Nevertheless your point is well taken. I have temporarily removed the Ramanuja Bhashya portions until I can rewrite it better.
    – hashable
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 17:25
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    @LazyLubber I have clarified that the word is not "used" as a descriptor of categories or attributes (upAdhi). E.g. there are numerous places where the term "shiva" is used as a synonym of the adjective "shubha" to connote auspiciousness but the term Narayana is not used as an adjective applied to any entity.
    – hashable
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 17:30
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    @Pratimaputra (1) Note that the terms Narayana and Vishnu are not the same for the purpose of this discussion. The different adjectives you described are what Gaudiyas apply to the term Vishnu, not Narayana. (2) Even assuming that Narayana was used as an upAdhi (which you have not proven) Gaudiyas are 150+ years post Vedanta Desika who is the subject of my answer so their thoughts are irrelevant to Desika's statement which is a reflection of the practice in his times and before him.
    – hashable
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 18:52
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    @Pratimaputra (3) Just because adjectives are applied to X doesn't make X an adjective. You have merely described that Gaudiyas apply some adjectives to Vishnu but not that the term Narayana is used in an attributive sense. E.g. If a forest becomes the home of a wanderer and is described as "nArAyaNa" , then it would become an upAdhi but we find no such uses. Whereas we see the word "shiva" used to mean "undisturbed" such as "shivAni tIrthajalAni" (undisturbed waters).
    – hashable
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 19:01

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