Who named God as ‘Narayana’ and what does the name signify?
We are all given a name by our parents or well-wishers at the time of the birth. What about God? How did he get all the names that we all refer him by? An excerpt of Swamiji’s discourse on this topic during Sri Sita Rama Kalyanam at Toronto, Canada just for our dear readers!
God was not given a name! But he earned many names based on what he is, what he does, what he did when he took several avataras etc. Our names may not reflect what we are, but his names reflect all that he is. In fact, if someone calls themselves as God – how do we know if they are saying the truth? How can we trust when someone calls themselves as God? This knowledge is more and more relevant these days because there are several instances that we see people calling themselves as God or someone they know as God.
There are certain key characteristics and abilities that define God.
Bhruguvalli of Yajurvedam says,
యతోవా ఇమాని భుతాని జాయంతే|
యేన జాతాని జీవంతి|
తద్విజిజ్ఞాసస్వ … తత్ బ్రహ్మేతి||
God is one from whom the entire existence emanates. He is the one who is the sole supporter of the entire existence. He is the one who absorbs, and yet preserves all the existence as is in a minute form for re-creation.
God is the one who has all qualities that can protect every being. Protection cannot be confined to mere saving from a temporary hazard or illness, but uplifting one from the state of temporary pleasures to the state of eternal bliss!
God is the one who listens, who comes forward when sought out with complete submission!
God is the one who has complete supremacy and yet fully accessible!
God is the one who is not only accessible but also beautifully affable!
The name, Na:ra:yana means one who is the supporter of all beings from within and from around (Na:ra = all na:ras, i.e. groups of all elements that constitute any being + Ayana = one who is the aadharam, the base)! Thus, we refer to God as Narayana! Because of the additional qualities that make him approachable and loving, he is referred to as Sriman Narayana, where Sri means all qualities that are evoked out of extreme love, everything that is good and kind!
He supports and permeates into the smaller than the smallest. He supports and surrounds the larger than the largest. This reflects the all-pervasiveness quality of God while being the supreme supporter! That is why, the name Narayana is said to reflect the meaning of God. Jai Srimannarayana!
Other names such as Vishnu, Kesava, Govinda are all also earned names based on what he is and what he does! These names are recognised as comparatively less and more powerful based on what the name describes and to how closely the name reflects him in entirety. There is not a single name that does the job entirely, but Sriman Narayana encapsulates the maximum that one can perceive through a noun!
That is why Bhagavad Gita says,
Great people are engaged in worshipping God by offering obeisance and chanting him always in full devotion.
How do they chant him? They chant him through the names that he had earned! They chant his name because they know what the name means, thereby relishing the qualities exhibited through those names!
– From the discourse of Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swami in Toronto, Canada