Nira-Narsingpur Narasimha, Lakmii-n.rsi.mha-sahasra-naaman

Ashok Aklujkar ashok.aklujkar at UBC.CA
Tue Nov 13 16:49:41 UTC 2007

As I suggested on 04 November,  Prof. R.V. Joshi sent me as an e-mail
attachment the passage in which the two problematic words niira and nira
appear. He did this by sending a scan of the first two pages of
;Srii-Lakmii-n.rsi.mha-sahasra-naaman. In the exchange that subsequently
took place on 13 November there are some points which may be of interest to
the members of this list where the discussion began. Hence I am reproducing
the exchange in a slightly edited form.  --- ashok aklujkar

That it is always better to  make inquiries like yours by providing the
context (and exact grammatical  forms found in a text) is borne out by the
attachment you sent. It is evident  that niira and nira will not be
explained by the information Prof. Deshpande  kindly provided. The name of a
river, even if it is understood as a short form of names like Sadaa-niiraa,
is not intended. 

For niira, taking its usual  meaning 'water' would be one justifiable way,
for the author has alternated  (a) epithets of with (b) names of
entities associated/associable with in several other lines of the
Lak.smii-n.rsi.mha-sahasra-naaman.  Perhaps he expected us to take the
latter as's representations or as  metaphors for  Cf.
vajra-dehaaya :  vajraaya haasaaya
si.mhaaya  si.mha-raajaaya
a.t.ta-haasaaya ro.saaya (not as clear an example as the  preceding and the
following but possible)
bhuutaavaasaaya  bhaasaaya
kha.dga-jihvaaya si.mhaaya
;subha;njayaaya  suutraaya
nirgu.naaya gu.naaya ca
nime.saaya nibandhaaya  ca
satya-dvajaaya mu;njaaya mu;nja-ke;saaya
harii;saaya ca  ;se.saaya
ku;se;sayaaya kuulaaya
suukti-kar.naaya  suuktaaya

(There may, of course, be many more examples in the pages not  included in
your attachment.)

The other way to account for niira may  essentially be the same as the one
for nira. Only the prexifes involved will  be different: nir/nis in the
first case and ni in the second.

nira can  be derived from ni + rai 'wealth, endowed object' (well-attested
in the Veda).  This rai becomes raa in some contexts as Monier-Williams has
noted. The  derivate ni + raa as a bahu-vriihi, changed to nira, so that it
can qualify a  masculine noun understood in the context (nitaraam /
ati;sayavatii raa.h  yasya/asya) would mean 'one with much property /
impressive  possessions.'

If niira is analysed the same way, the meaning would be  'one without any
possessions' and essentially become a synonym of

Thirdly, it is possible that niira is not a Dravidian word at  all. Derived
from ni + iir, it could have originally meant 'one moving  downward' (cp.
the formations of similarly structured niipa and nii.da, which  are not
Dravidian and at least one of which, nii.da, has Indo-European  cognates in
"nest" etc.). If the obviously and impressively learned author of  the
sahasra-naaman, who frequently engages in word play, had the etymological
meaning in mind, he could have intended to refer to's descending
into  the world, his avataara feature, through niira.

(An analysis of the  other nouns he has employed as adjectives should be
attempted along similar  lines. The nouns vajra, haasa ... suukta etc.
listed above may be derivable  also as adjectives. A pandit once showed me
how English "cat" is a perfectly  good Skt word: ka from muu.saka on the
pattern of bhaamaa for satya-bhaamaa  etc. kam a.tatiiti kaa.t 'That it goes
after a mouse makes it a cat.' In the  hands of gifted pandits, the noble
teaching vasudhaiva ku.tumbakam is  applicable even in the sphere of

The dhyaana verse of the  Sahasra-naaman you are working on is found also as
the first verse of  ;Srii-lak.smii-n.rsi.mha-karu.naa-rasa-stotra attributed
to ;S:nkara/ Aadya  ;Sa:nkaraacaarya in the anthologies of his compositions.
How old do you think is the ;Srii-lak.smii-n.rsi.mha-sahasra-naaman? Is
there any traditional Skt  commentary on it? If not, you should write one.
It is quite a remarkable  sahasra-naaman.

 I deeply appreciate your interpretation. There is no sanskrit commentary on
this Sahasra-Naama as far as I know. It is stated in the colophon that it is
taken from the N .rsi .mha Puraana but in the N .rsi.mha Puraana  editions I
have before me , it is not there.

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