As I discuss in this question, one of the most prominent incarnations of Vishnu in ancient times was the sage Narayana, twin brother of the sage Nara and son of Yama god of death. Nara and Narayana were famous for engaging in Tapasya (deep meditation) in Badrikashrama, and at the time of the Mahabharata they were reborn as Arjuna and Krishna. Apparently Narayana carried out a five-night (Pancharatra) Yagna and then became the entire universe, so people started following so-called Pancharatra texts, scriptures originating from Narayana himself which gave detailed procedures for worshipping him. As I discuss in this answer, the Pancharatra texts were extremely important in the development of mainstream Vaishnavism.

But my question is about Narayana himself. In this encyclopedia article, Madeleine Beardeau makes a rather curious claim about him:

Simultaneously an ascetic in the forest and a householder with his wives and his sacrificial fires, he provides the mythic model for the vanaprastha, the one who has settled in the forest, the theoretical stage in every human life between the stage of the householder and that of the total renunciant.

My question is, is Beardeau right that sage Narayana was married? If so who were his "wives"?

Presumably if he was married, he'd be married to an incarnation of Lakshmi (or Bhumidevi); as I discuss in this answer the Vishnu Purana says "For in like manner as the lord of the world, the god of gods, Janárddana, descends amongst mankind (in various shapes), so does his coadjutrix Śrí." But are there any scriptures that's describe Narayana having wives?

  • Isn't marriage mandatory for someone performing Yajnas?
    – Surya
    Aug 4, 2016 at 11:15
  • Hi Keshav! Which scripture mentions about sage Narayan in detail? Oct 27, 2017 at 13:09


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