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How do Shaivas and Shaktas interpret the Vishnu Gayatri mantra, which is from the Narayana Suktam of the Yajur Veda:

"Narayanaya vidmahe vasudevaya dhimahi | tanno Vishnuh prachodayat"

which identifies Narayana as Vishnu?

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  • It would be worth to mention where in the scriptures that mantra is located. Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 0:28
  • @brahmajijnasa Narayana Suktam from the Yajur Veda.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 0:30
  • 1
    Yes, I knew that but some people who read questions here on Hi SE don't know that thing. For their sake you may want to mention that thing in your Q. Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 1:03
  • @brahmajijnasa I added it now.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 1:03
  • 5
    Why would Shaivas, Shaktas interpret this mantra? What is their problem if Vishnu is Narayana? @Ikshvaku
    – Rickross
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 5:03

2 Answers 2

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𝗙𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗠𝗮𝗵ā𝗻ā𝗿ā𝘆𝗮ṇ𝗼𝗽𝗮𝗻𝗶ṣ𝗮𝘁 𝗯𝗵āṣ𝘆𝗮 𝗼𝗳 Ś𝗿ī 𝗩ṛṣ𝗮𝗯𝗵𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗿𝗮𝗽𝗮ṇḍ𝗶𝘁𝗮 Ś𝗶𝘃ā𝗰ā𝗿𝘆𝗮 :

भाष्यम् — नारायणायेति ॥ स्पष्टार्थः नरायणस्य शिव- पत्नित्वेनात्र नारायणगायत्र्यां पुरुषशब्देनोपदिष्टः । कात्यायनी शक्त्यंशत्वेन अव्यवहिततत्साहचर्यमुक्तं । रुद्रगायत्र्यां । महादेवशब्दः । पुरुषशब्दश्व स्पष्टमुपदिष्टत्वाच्छिवस्य विष्णुवल्लभत्वं सूच्यते ॥ तथास्कान्दे शंकरसंहितायां भगवता व्यासेन स्पष्टमुपदिष्टं । यथा । शिवस्य शक्तिविनियोग काले चतुर्विधा भूच्छिवसत्प्रसादात् । भोगे भवानी पुरुषेषु विष्णुः । क्रोधे च काली समरेचदुर्गेति ॥ प्रकृतिस्त्वं पुमान् रुद्रस्त्वयि तद्वीर्यमाहितं । त्वन्नाभिपङ्कजाजातः । पञ्चवक्रः पितामहः इति शैवपुराणे तथाष्टभैरवस्तुतौ ॥ शिवकेशवसम्भूतं कलये शास्त भैरवमिति शिवरहस्यखण्डादिषु स्पष्टमुपदिष्टत्वान्नारायणस्य शिवपत्नीत्वे । न शंकावकाशः ॥

𝗧𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘀𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻:

𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗡ā𝗿ā𝘆𝗮ṇ𝗮: 𝗖𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗹𝘆 𝗡𝗮𝗿ā𝘆𝗮ṇ𝗮 (𝗻𝗮𝗿āṇā𝗺𝗮𝘆𝗮𝗻𝗮ṃ; 𝗮𝘆𝗮𝗻𝗮ṃ 𝗶.𝗲. 𝗴𝗼𝗮𝗹 𝗼𝗳 𝗺𝗲𝗻) 𝗶𝘀 𝗟𝗼𝗿𝗱 Ś𝗶𝘃𝗮, 𝘁𝗵𝘂𝘀 𝗡ā𝗿ā𝘆𝗮ṇ𝗮 𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗱𝗲𝗻𝗼𝘁𝗲𝘀 𝗛𝗶𝘀 𝘄𝗶𝗳𝗲. 𝗛𝗲 𝗶𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 '𝗣𝘂𝗿𝘂ṣ𝗮' 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗡ā𝗿ā𝘆𝗮ṇ𝗮 𝗚ā𝘆𝗮𝘁𝗿ī.

As a part of the Śakti of Kātyāyanī, Nārāyaṇa is closely associated with Her.

का॒त्या॒य॒नाय॑ वि॒द्महे॑ कन्यकु॒मारि॑ धीमहि । तन्नो॑ दुर्गिः प्रचो॒दया᳚त् ॥

In the Rudra Gāyatrī, the word Mahādeva occurs :

पुरु॑षस्य विद्म सहस्रा॒क्षस्य॑ महादे॒वस्य॑ धीमहि । तन्नो॑ रुद्रः प्रचो॒दया᳚त् ॥

तत्पुरु॑षाय वि॒द्महे॑ महादे॒वाय॑ धीमहि । तन्नो॑ रुद्रः प्रचो॒दया᳚त् ॥

𝗦𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗱 '𝗣𝘂𝗿𝘂ṣ𝗮' 𝗶𝘀 𝗰𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗹𝘆 𝗲𝘅𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗲𝗱, 𝗶𝘁 𝗶𝗻𝗱𝗶𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗟𝗼𝗿𝗱 Ś𝗶𝘃𝗮 𝗶𝘀 𝗩𝗶ṣṇ𝘂-𝘃𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗮𝗯𝗵𝗮 (𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗱𝗲𝗮𝗿 𝘁𝗼 𝗩𝗶ṣṇ𝘂).

In Śaṅkara saṁhitā of the Skanda Purāṇa, Lord Vyāsa clearly says:

एकैव शक्तिः परमेश्वरस्य । भिन्ना चतुर्धा विनियोगकाले ॥ भोगे भवानी पुरुषेषु विष्णुः । कोपेषु काली समरेषु दुर्गा ॥

"The one Śakti of Parameśvara manifests herself in four forms when deployed. The blissful Bhavānī, Viṣṇu as the masculine form, Kālī in anger, and Durgā on the battle field."

In the Śiva Purāṇa:

प्रकृतिस्त्वं पुमान्रुद्रस्त्वयि वीर्य्यं समाहितम् । त्वन्नाभिपङ्कजाज्जातः पञ्च वक्त्रः पितामहः ॥
— Śatarudra saṃhitā 11.40

"You are Prakṛti and Rudra is Puruṣa. The seed is deposited in you. The five-faced Brahmā was born of your umbilical lotus."

Further in the Śivarahasya khaṇḍa of Skanda Purāṇa:

शिवकेशवसम्भूतं कलये शास्त भैरवम् ।

"Śāsta is born from the union of Śiva and Keśava"

𝗧𝗵𝘂𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗶𝘀 𝗻𝗼 𝗿𝗼𝗼𝗺 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗱𝗼𝘂𝗯𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗡ā𝗿ā𝘆𝗮ṇ𝗮 𝗶𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗶𝗳𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗟𝗼𝗿𝗱 Ś𝗶𝘃𝗮.

Bhāṣya

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  • Who are the people downvoting this ? This directly addresses what was asked, that too from a Śaiva authority Commented Apr 22 at 7:07
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Well, everyone identifies Vishnu Gayatri Mantra with Lord Vishnu only. But still even if you want in dept explanation then it goes something like this.

Narayana can mean many things here I am using one of them. -> Nāra = Purusha and āyana can mean direction It's same as Rāmāyaña where āyana means to go towards to direction of Lord Rāma or to reach him as destination. So, here Narayana means the entity that goes towards the direction of Purusha to reach him as destination.

Yoga-Kundalini Upanishad 1:74.:

“prakR^ityashhTakaruupa.n cha sthaana.n gachchhati kuNDalii | kroDiikR^itya shiva.n yaati kroDiikR^itya viliiyate |”

“Kundalini assumes the eight forms of Prakriti (matter) and attains Shiva by encircling him and dissolves itself in Shiva”.

You can see the similarities in the verses below.:

Narayana Suktam verse(s) 12.:

"tasyaaH shikhaayaa madhye paramaatmaa vyavasthitaH | sa brahmaa sa shivaH sa hariH sendraH so.aksharaH paramaH svaraaT.h |" (Taittiriya Aranyaka 10.13.2.12).

"Paramatman dwells in the middle of that flame (Sushuma Nādi). (Although He is thus limited) still He (Narayana) is the four-faced creator Brahmā, Siva, Hari (Vishnu), Indra, the material and efficient cause of the Universe and the Supreme Self-luminous Pure Consciousness".

Kalika Upanishad.:

मूलाधारे स्मरेद्दिव्यं त्रिकोणं तेजसां निधिम् । शिखा आनीय तस्याग्नेरथ तूर्ध्वं व्यवस्थिता ॥ नीलतोयदमध्यस्था विद्युल्लेखेव भास्वरा । नीवारशूकवत्तन्वी पीता भास्वत्यणूपमा ॥ तस्या शिखाया मध्ये परमात्मा व्यवस्थितः । स ब्रह्मा स शिवः सेन्द्रः सोऽक्षरः परमः स्वराट् ॥ स एव विष्णुः स प्राणः स कालोऽग्निः स चन्द्रमा । इति कुण्डलिनीं ध्यात्वा सर्वपापैः प्रमुच्यते ॥

At the base of the root one should remember the divine triangle, the treasure of all effulgence. She brings the crest of the fire (Sushuma Nādi) upward. She is shining like a lightning bolt in the middle of a blue cloud. She is as slender as a nīvāra parrot and yellow like a shining atom. The Supreme Soul is situated in the middle of that crest (Sushuma Nādi), That is Brahma, that is Shiva, that is Indra, that is imperishable Supreme Self, That is very same Viṣṇu, that same is life-force, that same is time, that same is fire, that same is moon. One who thus meditates on the Kundalini is thus freed from all the sins.

  • So, Here Narayana means the Kundalini Parmeshwari Maa Tripura Sundari.

Vishnu means Vishva (universe) the all pervading one who pervades the 3 lokas from earth to atmosphere to heaven.

Bahvricha Upanishad-5 from Rig Veda.:

“mahAtripurasundarI bahirantaranupravishya svayamekaiva vibhAti |”

“The Beauty of the three-great-cities, penetrating without and within, is resplendent”.

Rudra Hridayopanishad 1:05.:

yaa umaa saa svaya.n vishhNuh |”

“Uma Herself is in the form of Vishnu”

  • So, Mata Uma is Lord Vishnu.

Vāsudeva means the one who dwells within (Vās) and shind (deva/divya). Basically our Antar Atmān.

Chapter 1656 ( 328), Moksha-Dharma Parva, Mahabharata.:

Since I (Krishna) am the dwelling of all creatures, I am Vasudeva.

Bahvricha Upanishad 5 from Rig Veda.:

"saivAtmA tato.anyamasatyamanAtmA | ata eShA brahmAsaMvittirbhAvabhAvakalAvinirmuktA chidvidyA.advitIyabrahmasaMvittiH sacchidAnandalaharI mahAtripurasundarI bahirantaranupravishya svayamekaiva vibhAti | yadasti sanmAtram.h | yadvibhAti chinmAtram.h | yatpriyamAnandaM tadetat.h pUrvAkArA mahAtripurasundarI | tvaM chAhaM cha sarvaM vishvaM sarvadevatA itarat.h sarvaM mahAtripurasundarI | satyamekaM lalitAkhyaM vastu tadadvitIyamakhaNDArthaM paraM brahma |”

“She alone is Atman. Other than Her is untruth, non-self. Hence is She Brahman-Consciousness, free from (even) a tinge of being and non-being. She is the Science of Consciousness, non-dual Brahman Consciousness, a wave of Being-Consciousness-Bliss. The Beauty of the three-great-cities, penetrating without and within, is resplendent, non-dual, self-subsisting. What is, is pure Being; what shines is pure Consciousness; what is dear is Bliss. So here is the Maha-Tripura-Sundari who assumes all forms. You and I and all the world and all divinities and all besides are the Maha-Tripura-Sundari. The sole Truth is the thing named ‘the Beautiful’. It is the non-dual, integral, supreme Brahman”.

So, now let's see the Vishnu Gayatri Mantra from inner perspective as Mata Lalita can only be find through inward concentration.

LS verse 162.:

"Antarmukha samaradhya bahirmukha sudurlabha |”

“She is easily obtainable for those whose worship is based on their mind turned inwards, and She is difficult to be obtained by those who are outward focused”.

Miscellaneous.: Mata Uma and Lord Vishnu as Guru, who gives the knowledge of Brahman.:

Kena Upanishad.:

स तस्मिन् एव आकाशे स्त्रियम् आजगाम बहुशोभमानाम् उमाम् हैमवतीम् ताम् ह उवाच किम् एतत् यक्षम् इति ॥१२॥

3.12. In that space itself (where the Yaksha had disappeared) Indra approached an exceedingly charming woman. To that Uma decked in gold (or to the daughter of the Himalayas), he said: "Who is this Yaksha?"

सा ब्रह्म इति ह उवाच । बृह्मणो वा एतत् विजये महीयध्वम् इति, ततो ह एव विदाञ्चकार बृह्म इति ॥१॥

4.1. She said: "It was Brahman. In the victory that was Brahman's you were reveling in joy". Then alone did Indra know for certain that It was Brahman.

Amritanada Upanishad.:

ओङ्कारं रथमारुह्य विष्णुं कृत्वाथ सारथिम् । ब्रह्मलोकपदान्वेषी रुद्राराधनतत्परः॥ तावद्रथेन गन्तव्यं यावद्रथपथि स्थितः । स्थित्वा रथपथस्थानं रथमुत्सृज्य गच्छति॥२-३॥

Mounted on the chariot in the form of Omkara and making Lord Vishnu as his charioteer (Guru), the wise man, thinking of the supreme position of Brahmaloka (City of Brahman), one should always remain engrossed in the worship of Lord Rudra, the God of gods and should go by that chariot in the form of Pranava until the path that can be traversed by the chariot is completed. When that path (goal) is completed, then leaving that chariot man automatically reaches the place of the owner of the chariot (Brahman). ॥ 2-3॥

Conclusion.: Thus, inwardly analysing Vishnu Gayatri Mantra we get.:

Taittiriya Aranyaka 10.1.6.29.:

naaraayaNaaya vidmahe vaasudevaaya dhiimahi | tanno vishhNuH prachodayaat.h |”

“May we know that Kundalini Tripura Shakti known as Narayana. For that, may we meditate upon the Self (Atman) called Vasudeva. May Uma aka Vishnu impel us towards It.”

I hope this clarifies all your queries. Prd..

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