To inspire His countrymen to serve the poor masses of India, Swami Vivekananda coined a beautiful term 'Daridra-Narayana'. Can anyone provide a scriptural shloka or instruction that contains the spirit of the word?

  • In Telugu we have, Manava Seve Madhava Seva- Service to humans is service to God which is similar to what Swamiji coined.
    – The Destroyer
    Feb 21, 2019 at 13:42
  • @TheDestroyer is that saying older than Swamiji?
    – user17294
    Feb 21, 2019 at 15:12
  • 2
    There are proper tagging guidelines when to use different tags. You have tag wikis and excerpt. Just because Vivekananda is a vedantin, it doesn't mean you add that into a question. This question is not related to Vedanta. You want basis for a term Daridra Narayana. For the terms, terminology tag is present. Scripture is when you ask about scriptures like Puranas itself. Don't add your favorite tags. See editing etiquette on the site. Feb 21, 2019 at 18:04
  • @Sarvabhouma i see! how did u know that its not related to scriptures and vedanta?Do u know the answer?
    – user17294
    Feb 21, 2019 at 18:07
  • @Partha Here identification-request or reference-request tag would work. No need to use tags for Vedas, Vedanta, Purana, Smritis etc scriptures.
    – Pandya
    Feb 22, 2019 at 2:46

1 Answer 1


Yes, the spirit of the word coined by Swamiji is fully supported by our holy scriptures.

The word 'Daridra-Narayana' is samasa with the vyasa-vakya : Daridra-rupi-Narayana, ie the Lord Himself in form of poor. It is a (Madhyapadalopi) Karmadharaya samasa.

Sri Bhagavan says in the Srimad-Bhagavatam:

I am present in every living entity as the Supersoul. If someone neglects or disregards that Supersoul everywhere and engages himself in the worship of the Deity in the temple, that is simply imitation.

One who worships the Deity of God in the temples but does not know that the Supreme Lord, as Paramātmā, is situated in every living entity’s heart, must be in ignorance and is compared to one who offers oblations into ashes (Reference :http://gitabase.com/eng/SB/3/29)

Swamiji says the same thing in His famous poem translated as : To a Friend:

These are His manifold forms before thee,

Rejecting them, where seekest thou for God?

Who loves all beings without distinction,

He indeed is worshipping best his God.

Sri Bhagavan also orders to prostrate before all beings in Srimad-Bhagavtam.

'Sarvam Vishnumayam Jagat' (Everything in this world are a manifestation of Lord Vishnu), 'Yatra yatra jivas tatra tatra Shivah' (Every being is a manifestation of God) are very well-known sayings. The Destroyer has also mentioned 'Manava-seva is Madhava-Seva'.

In other scriptures, like Gita and Viveka-Chudamoni also, seeing God in all beings and working for the welfare of all beings are highly praised. For example,nthe Gita says:

12.4 By fully controlling all the organs and always being even-minded, they, engaged in the welfare of all beings, attain Me alone.

A beautiful incident from the 'Swami-Sishya-Samvad' by Saratchandra Chkraborty:

After returning from Eastern Bengal Swamiji stayed in the Math and lived a simple childlike life. Every year some Santal labourers used to work in the Math. Swamiji would joke and make fun with them and loved to hear their tales of weal and woe. One day several noted gentlemen of Calcutta came to visit Swamiji in the Math. That day Swamiji had started such a warm talk with the Santals that, when he was informed of the arrival of those gentlemen, he said, "I shan't be able to go now. I am happy with these men." Really that day Swamiji did not leave the poor Santals to see those visitors.

One among the Santals was named Keshta. Swamiji loved Keshta very much. Whenever Swamiji came to talk with them, Keshta used to say to Swamiji, "O my Swamiji, do not come to us when we are working, for while talking with you our work stops and the supervising Swami rebukes us afterwards." Swamiji would be touched by these words and say, "No, no, he will not say anything; tell me a little about your part of the country" — saying which he used to introduce the topic of their worldly affairs.

One day Swamiji said to Keshta, "Well, will you take food here one day?" Keshta said, "We do not take food touched by you; if you put salt in our food and we eat it, we shall lose our caste." Swamiji said, "Why should you take salt? We will prepare curry for you without salt, will you then take it?" Keshta agreed to it. Then at orders of Swamiji, bread, curry, sweets, curd, etc. were arranged for the Santals, and he made them sit before him to eat. While eating, Keshta said, "Whence have you got such a thing? We never tasted anything like this." Feeding them sumptuously, Swamiji said, "You are Nârâyanas, God manifest; today I have offered food to Narayana." The service of "Daridra Narayana" — God in the poor — about which Swamiji spoke, he himself performed one day like this.

After their meal, the Santals went for rest, and Swamiji, addressing the disciple, said, "I found them the veritable embodiment of God.

Another quotation from His complete works is worth mentioning:

May I be born again and again, and suffer thousands of miseries so that I may worship the only God that exists, the only God I believe in, the sum total of all souls — and above all, my God the wicked, my God the miserable, my God the poor of all races, of all species, is the special object of my worship.

By the way, I had asked the question because I heard a handful criticising Swamiji for coining the term 'Daridra-Narayana' by saying that 'Lakshmipati' (the Husband of the Goddess of Wealth) Narayana can never be 'Daridra' (poor)!!! It seems they neither got the opportunity to study samasa nor to read our scriptures minutely.

  • Every religious body - big or small - has taken the route of seva to enter the hearts of the people. Hinduism is not alien to Seva and Daan, as both are two important aspects of the religion. The statement Lakshmipati (the Husband of the Goddess of Wealth) Narayana can never be 'Daridra' (poor) is extremely myopic and juvenile. Mar 10, 2019 at 17:45
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    @D.Chatterjee In fact Manu also writes: Danam ekam kalau yuge--the only dharma in kaliyuga is Daana--Annadaana vidya daana jnana daana.So Swamiji was 200% correct
    – user17294
    Mar 10, 2019 at 17:58
  • Question asks for scriptural references and in the answer you are quoting heavily from Vivekananda's and his disciples' works. Also, I don't see how the citation from SB is supporting your conclusion "the spirit of the word is fully supported by our holy scriptures". Mar 11, 2019 at 18:29
  • @sv. What do you mean? These slokas were quoted by Swami Ranganathananda many times in this regard.Do you know about him? He was an authority in this subject by the way. Some people (not you) are downvoting because of their hidden agenda to belittle Swamiji and proving their mettle
    – user17294
    Mar 12, 2019 at 5:12
  • Wikipedia says "Daridra Narayana Seva, meaning service to the poor as service to Narayana" - how do SB 3.29.21-22 ("Paramātmā, is situated in every living entity’s heart") support this? I can also choose to service the rich but you won't call it 'Daridra Narayana Seva', correct? I'm saying, cite a verse from scripture that says "service to the poor is service to Narayana". Also, do you consider a certain Swami's words as scripture? E.g., are Vivekananda's CWs scripture? Your question asks "Can anyone provide a scriptural shloka or instruction". This is what makes your answer confusing. Mar 12, 2019 at 17:43

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