nAraNa_n, the tamil word for nArAyaNa (was: Vishnu)

Venkatraman Iyer venkatraman_iyer at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 13 21:18:17 UTC 2000

>>to portray NArayana only as the dark hued God would then deny us the joy

Is Narayana ever pportrayed white?

Good advaita style thinking. "Krishna [snip] references to
dark, rather than black". Is Krishna not black???!!

While, Tamil, by linguistics as well as literature, supports
nAraNan(=nArAyaNa) as black, traditional Sanskrit literature
tells it is from water. Prof. Madhav Despande wrote:
[Begin Quote]
         Some clarification on nara -> nArAyaNa may be useful.  While
such a derivation of the word nArAyaNa from nara- may be
theoretically possible, cf. ->, the tradition
does not derive from nara-.  It derives the word from the word naaraa (f. 'water', cf. aapo naaraa iti
proktaa.h) by adding ayana.
         While the derivation of nALAyaNI from naLa, on the face of
it, may be similar to the derivation of daak.saaya.nii from,
the derivation of naa.laa in naa.laagiri from does not seem so
straight forward.
         Also the meaning 'black' for nala- is not known in its
Sanskrit usage.  Sorry for using different notations for diacritics.
                                 Madhav Deshpande
[End Quote]


Dear list members,
I am new to this list and essentially a seeker/learner. Since I found
the topic of NAraNan interesting, I tthought of sharing this. There
are many ways of deriving the meaning of this term, Narayana. The
word, Nara is used to refer to a human. It also means indestructible,
"na reeyate iti narah". Nara can therefore refer only to that which
is indestructible in man, ie. Atma. Narasya idam nAram; that which
belongs to the nara is NAra, ie. the jagat, manifested universe.
NAram eti iti NArAyana; the one who knows this nAra or jagat and is
the causeof it is NArayana. He is generally portrayed as DARK, rather
than black. Krishna, Shyama, Neela megha are all refernces to dark,
rather than black, for it often appears as green (when Rama or
Krishna is portrayed as Syama) and blue as neela megha. KArmugil in
Tamil is also the "dark cloud". In the relative universe of the
manifested world of nAra, the Dark is but one side of the Light; to
portray NArayana only as the dark hued God would then deny us the joy
and  perspective of the whole, which the luminous light provides.
Hence, Adityavarnam, hence too His darkness juxtaposed with the milky
white ocean. Gain the perspective of one, the other may be lost, like
the nearness of the tree and the distance of the woods lend..reminds
me of the Tamil verse, marattai maraittadu mAmada yAnai, marattil
maraindadu mA mada yAnai; Parattai maraittadu pArmada inbam; Parattil
maraindadu pArmada inbam. As far as I know, the description of Vishnu
takes clear form, colour, etc. only from VishnupurAna onwards..
Radhika Srinivasan
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