Meet a God: Narayana

Lately Brad and I have been hearing a lot about a God called Narayana. He is featured in bhajans (hymns) and was mentioned quite a lot during our wedding service. I had never heard this name before, though!

So, time for me to do some research and find out who is this God that I am not familiar with.

It turns out that the name Narayana is an ancient Vedic name for Vishnu.

This name refers to God in his infinite form and it means “The one who rests on water.” Images of him often depict him on an ocean, as the water was created by The First Being.

As with many Hindu deities, he is depicted as blue and I have to wonder if he is the one to begin that trend! He is said to have the “divine blue color of water-filled clouds.” Since Krishna is also a manifestation of Vishnu, Krishna’s blue form may come from Narayana’s. (Shiva has his own reason to be blue, per the story of the swallowing of poison).

The Bhagavata Purana says that Narayana IS all three aspects of the trinity.

Apparently in The Mahabharata, Krishna is often referred to as Narayana and Arjuna as Nara, which shows how they are non-separate in reality.

In practice it seems that Narayana and Vishnu are interchangeable as names for the same deity.


More information:

Note: Meet a God posts will be moving to The White Hindu Premium blog starting next week. The posts there will go back to the beginning and give much more detailed information on each God, including stories, types of worship, etc.

About Ambaa

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.


    I think your first sentence is kind of wrong, when you say a god called Narayana. He is not an Avatar. I will explain this more next time.

    I think now you have come to a juicy part of Hinduism.

    I don’t know whether you know this, this was the first form of the lord which is actually worshiped at the time of creation. ( Yes we Hindus do believe in creation and the first word that was spoken was OM at the time). My knowledge on this subject is kind of hazy, because I was told this when I was younger, and I didn’t pay any attention to what was being said at the time. But I wish I did.

    There are many types of Narayana. The most known of them are a Lakshmi Narayana, Nurr Narayana and also Swami Narayana. Most Mandirs will have the murtis of Narayana not Vishnu ( they both are same, and one, but Narayana form of Vishnu is in a human form, and that’s the one that is worshiped.). It’s this form of the lord one becomes part of, not Vishnu. Thus the Bhajans and Kirtans of the Lord.

    When the Lord is with Lakshmi, ( refers to Vishnu but in form of Krishna ), he is called Lakshmi Narayana, and when he is with Arjuna, he is called Nurr Narayana.

    I have also used the name Arjuna here but this also applies when he is with any other companion ( devotee) who is a man, the term can be used. The word Nurr refers to as a man.

    Oh BTW, why didn’t you go on Honeymoon.

    • Ambaa

      We’ll make it to a honeymoon someday! Brad had to go straight into a school program. He’s been out of work for nine months and so he’s getting a MA in education this year to start a new career path. He couldn’t be away from his studies for a honeymoon. But hopefully there will be a school vacation sometime this year that we can go away for!

      • HARRY

        We couldn’t afford to go on our honeymoon either and it took us about three years to save up. I took my Mrs to London Zoo and madam Tussauds first time as a day out when we got married back in Nighties. And when we did go away, My ex boss went bust in property market and I was out of work for few weeks and as they say rest is history. The best thing I ever did was to go in the business Myself and I never looked back since. Hint Hint. The hours are long but rewards are rich. :)

        Oh, what’s this about you moving to premium blog, does that mean we have to pay for it to read, I’m too slow to pick up the hints.

        • Ambaa

          I am working very hard at going into business for myself :) The blogging is a part of that. I also own a small publishing company. It’s intense. I’m doing blogging everyday, the publishing company, and a full time office job right now.

          Brad’s love is teaching and he is really excited to finally be able to go where his calling is. I have discovered through my twenties that I definitely follow the beat of my own drummer, as they say, and I need the freedom and creativity that comes from working for myself.

          Yes, the premium blog is a monthly pay subscription. It is going to be designed for people really new to Hinduism to help them get started. A lot of in-depth articles and research on basics like going to a temple for the first time or how to participate in holidays, etc.

          I’ll still be blogging here as well, though probably going down to three times a week: wed, thurs, and fri.

  • Curious

    To put it very simply, Narayan is often used interchangeably with Vishnu, and refers to the same. Just like you mentioned in your post. Used a lot in prayers and songs.

  • 5w_haul

    vishnu has 1000 names called Viṣṇusahasranāma stotram