Lord Narayana, also known as Vishnu, is one of the supreme Gods of the Hindu pantheon. He is the God of protection and preservation, and is believed to sustain the universe and its beings. He is one among the holy trinity of Gods and is said to be the physical manifestation of spiritual consciousness. He guards all the living beings on earth and blesses the devotees with long life, peace, happiness and success. Goddess Lakshmi or Mahalakshmi is his divine consort. She is the Goddess of wealth, fertility and fortune. She is said to reside in the very heart of Narayana and hence the Lord always remains as Lakshmi Narayana, the unified form of the divine couple, bestowing devotees with all spiritual and material wealth.
Avatars of Narayana
As the universal protector, Lord Narayana takes upon himself the responsibility of safeguarding the lives of the subjects and of ensuring a peaceful and honorable existence for them. For achieving this end, the Lord himself takes Avatars, the incarnations on earth from time to time, to annihilate evil and protect people from cruelties and destruction. Thus, whenever the need arises, the Lord descends on earth to restore dharma, the ultimate righteousness and to establish goodwill. While Goddess Lakshmi, who is inseparable from him, remains as a part of him in all these Avatars, she also incarnates in a human form and joins the Lord in some such Avatars, and together they fight evil, establish divine order and ensure the well-being of the world.
Om Namo Narayanaya
This is regarded as one of the highly sacred mantras and is used extensively in prayers, worship, yogic practices and in meditation. This is an eight-syllable hymn in Sanskrit and hence, is commonly referred to as Ashtakshara Mantra, the eight-lettered invocation. It is held as so scared that many philosophers and great men over the past, have taken immense pains just for getting initiated into the chanting by saints, spiritual heads and preceptors.
The mantra ‘Om Namo Narayanaya’ invokes Narayana, the supreme Lord of protection and bows to him with all reverence. While it simply means ‘I bow to Lord Narayana’, the meaning has its own profundity. The invocation begins with the word ‘Om’, whose sound vibration is eternal, remains as the underlying substance of all living beings and non-living things of the universe, and resonates through every minute particle of an individual physical frame and also of the vast universe. Hailed as the universal sound, chanting of this mantra can create vibrations that are all-pervading, and these are said to have immense potency and miraculous powers. The mantra then salutes the Lord with the word ‘Namo’ and then concludes by taking the holy name Narayana most reverentially.
The name of the Lord possesses its own significance. The word ‘Nara’ refers normally to a ‘human being’, but it can also mean ‘water’. The term ‘Ayana’ can denote the ‘resting place’ and also the ‘ultimate goal’. As is well known, Narayana’s abode is Vaikunta, where he is believed to be resting on the vast ocean. The term ‘Narayanaya’ is thus interpreted by saints and seers as the ultimate destination and the final resting place, that every soul or living being aspires for.
Chanting and Benefits
When chanted with precision, devotion and faith, it can result in the convergence of the sound and the thoughts, and lead to the experience of divine consciousness and eternal peace. It is also believed that reciting the mantra 108 times with the help of the prayer beads can be very effective in obtaining its complete benefits.
The chant ‘Om Namo Narayanaya’ can be can be termed as the ‘mantra of peace’. Its recitation can remove ignorance and negative emotions like ego, anger and avarice; clear obstacles and distractions; and generate harmony, tranquility and love. This hymn can thus be very well hailed as the mantra for world peace.