Lord Narayana: Stories, His Different names, Mantra & Symbol

Lord Narayana, a pivotal deity in Hinduism, is revered as a manifestation of Vishnu and embodies the role of creation, preservation, and destruction.

This article delves into various aspects of Narayana, exploring his stories, different names, mantras, and symbols, which shed light on his significance and omnipresence in Hindu lore.

Key Takeaways

  • Narayana is synonymous with Vishnu, representing the supreme force in Vaishnavism and is often depicted in a state of yogic slumber on the cosmic waters.
  • The mantra 'Om Namo Narayanaya' is a powerful chant used to invoke peace and divine energy, reflecting Narayana's essence as the ultimate savior.
  • Narayana's iconography includes symbols like the lotus, conch, discus, and mace, each symbolizing different aspects of his divine responsibilities.
  • He is celebrated through various avatars, such as the Dashavatara, which illustrates his interventions in cosmic affairs across different epochs.
  • Philosophical interpretations link Narayana to ancient civilizations, emphasizing his timeless relevance and the depth of his influence in spiritual and worldly matters.

Understanding Lord Narayana

Etymology and Meaning

Narayana, a Sanskrit term, signifies the ultimate refuge and the foundation of all creation. This name reflects his role as the sustainer and protector of the universe, embodying both spiritual and material realms.

Associations with Vishnu

Narayana is often identified with Vishnu, one of the principal deities of Hinduism. This association highlights his importance in maintaining cosmic order and his involvement in the creation, preservation, and destruction of the universe.

Role in Creation

Narayana's role in creation is depicted through his yogic slumber on the celestial waters, symbolizing the masculine principle.

He is revered as the Supreme Being, the ultimate reality known as Brahman, and is considered the master of both spiritual and material entities.

Iconography and Symbols

Weapons and Tools

Lord Narayana is depicted with various weapons and tools that symbolize his role as the preserver of the universe. Key items include the Chakra (wheel), Gadā (mace), and Shankha (conch). Each of these items not only represents his divine power but also his commitment to maintaining cosmic balance and protecting humanity.

Primary Symbols

The primary symbols associated with Lord Narayana are deeply emblematic of his attributes and responsibilities. The most notable symbols include the eagle (Garuda), which serves as his mount, and the lotus flower, representing spiritual purity and creation. Other significant symbols are the wheel and the conch, which are often depicted in his hands.

Depictions in Art

Artistic representations of Lord Narayana vary widely but typically portray him in a serene and majestic posture, often surrounded by other deities or in a cosmic setting.

His depictions can be found in various forms ranging from classical sculptures to contemporary paintings, each illustrating different aspects of his divine nature and mythology.

The Mantras of Narayana

The Mantras of Narayana

Om Namo Narayanaya

The mantra “Om Namo Narayanaya” is a simple yet profound way to connect with the divine essence of Lord Narayana.

It translates to I bow before the Almighty, encapsulating a gesture of reverence and devotion. This mantra is often chanted to invoke peace and divine protection.

Significance of the Mantra

This mantra is not just a phrase but a spiritual tool that helps devotees achieve a deeper connection with Narayana. It is believed to purify the mind and soul, leading to spiritual growth and enlightenment. The repetition of this mantra is said to resonate with the cosmic vibrations of Narayana, aligning the chanter with universal energies.

Usage in Meditation and Rituals

Incorporating the mantra “Om Namo Narayanaya” into meditation and rituals can significantly enhance the spiritual experience.

It is commonly used in various practices to focus the mind and establish a sacred space. The mantra serves as a powerful focal point during meditation, helping practitioners achieve deeper states of consciousness and tranquility.

Narayana in Sacred Texts

References in the Vedas and Puranas

Narayana is prominently featured in the Vedas and Puranas, where he is described as a divine figure with a blackish-blue color, symbolizing the vastness of the celestial waters.

He is depicted holding sacred items like a lotus, mace, conch, and discus, each symbolizing different aspects of life and spirituality.

Narayana's presence in these texts underscores his integral role in the cosmic order and spiritual discourse.

Narayana Upanishad

The Narayana Upanishad is one of the texts that delve deeply into the philosophical aspects of Narayana.

It, along with the Mahanarayana Upanishad and the Nrisimha Tapaniya Upanishad, explores his characteristics and the essence of his being. These texts are crucial for understanding the metaphysical dimensions of Narayana and his universal form.

Bhagavad Gita and Narayana

In the Bhagavad Gita, Narayana is depicted in his universal form, which transcends human perception and imagination.

This depiction is not only a testament to his omnipresence but also highlights his role as the supreme force in the universe. The Gita elaborates on his virtues and the path of righteousness, guiding devotees towards spiritual enlightenment.

The Avatars of Narayana


The concept of Dashavatara refers to the ten primary avatars of Vishnu, which include Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, and Kalki.

Each avatar was manifested to restore cosmic order and protect dharma from various forms of evil and chaos. Krishna and Rama are particularly significant, as they address more complex and symbolic issues of morality and dharma.

Role in Hindu Cosmology

Narayana's avatars play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of the universe. Through these incarnations, Narayana intervenes directly in worldly affairs, ensuring the preservation and restoration of dharma.

The avatars are not just mythological figures but are considered real interventions that have shaped the cosmic and moral order of the universe.

Significance of Each Avatar

Each avatar of Narayana has a specific purpose and significance, often reflecting the societal needs of the time.

For instance, Matsya, the fish-avatar, saved the Vedas from a deluge, while Narasimha, the man-lion, protected his devotee Prahlada from his demonic father.

This list of avatars provides a deep insight into the evolving nature of divine intervention in Hindu mythology.

Narayana's Consorts and Their Roles


Lakshmi, also known as Sridevi, is the primary consort of Lord Narayana and embodies wealth and prosperity.

She is often depicted alongside Narayana in various forms of art and religious iconography, symbolizing the inseparable nature of divine power and material abundance. Perform Lakshmi Narayana Homam worships both deities for cosmic balance and community harmony.

Bhudevi and Niladevi

Bhudevi and Niladevi represent the earth and the nurturing aspect of nature, respectively.

They play crucial roles in maintaining the balance of the universe alongside Narayana. Bhudevi is particularly associated with the physical realm and fertility, while Niladevi connects more with the spiritual aspects of existence.

Symbolism of the Consorts

The consorts of Narayana are not just companions but also symbolize key aspects of life: wealth, earth, and spirituality.

Their roles and representations in scriptures highlight the interconnectedness of the material and spiritual realms, and how they are essential for the sustenance of life and the universe.

Philosophical Interpretations of Narayana

Narayana as Supreme Being

Narayana is considered the Supreme Being in Vaishnavism, embodying the essence of all creation and existence. His depiction as lying on a serpent in the sea symbolizes his role in creation and his omnipresence.

Connections to Dravidian and Indus Valley Civilisations

Narayana's etymology and representations link him to ancient Dravidian and Indus Valley civilizations. His name and form suggest a deep-rooted cultural significance that predates his syncretism with Vishnu.

Contemporary Relevance

Narayana's teachings and symbolism remain profoundly relevant in modern spiritual and philosophical contexts. His principles guide humanity towards enlightenment, uphold dharma, and maintain cosmic balance.


In exploring the multifaceted nature of Lord Narayana, we have delved into his stories, various names, powerful mantras, and symbolic representations.

Lord Narayana, as an embodiment of Vishnu, signifies the ultimate protector and preserver of the universe, revered across various texts and traditions in Hinduism.

His mantra, 'Om Namo Narayanaya,' serves as a spiritual beacon for devotees seeking solace and spiritual growth.

The lotus symbol, representing purity and beauty amidst adversity, aptly symbolizes his divine nature. Understanding Lord Narayana enriches our appreciation of Hindu mythology and its profound spiritual insights, offering pathways to divine connection and enlightenment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the name 'Narayana' mean?

'Narayana' stems from the Sanskrit words 'Nara', meaning 'water' or 'man', and 'Yana', meaning 'vehicle' or 'abode'. Thus, it can be interpreted as 'the abode of man' or 'the vehicle in water.'

How is Narayana depicted in Hindu iconography?

Narayana is often depicted as a four-armed deity, in a yogic slumber under celestial waters, holding a lotus, mace, conch, and discus, symbolizing his role in creation and protection.

What are the primary symbols associated with Narayana?

The primary symbols of Narayana include the Padma (lotus), the Sudarshana Chakra (discus), the Kaumodaki (mace), and the Panchajanya (conch).

What is the significance of the mantra 'Om Namo Narayanaya'?

The mantra 'Om Namo Narayanaya' is a powerful invocation that signifies reverence and devotion to Lord Narayana, believed to bring peace, harmony, and spiritual enlightenment to the chanter.

Who are the consorts of Narayana?

Narayana's chief consort is Lakshmi, also known as Sridevi. He is also associated with Bhudevi and Niladevi.

How is Narayana related to Vishnu?

Narayana is an epithet and form of Vishnu, representing the supreme being and protector of the universe in Vaishnavism.

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