All Puranas and stories sing the praise of god in the form that is close to them. It is like taking a large area of the beach and out of the sand, making images of Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti, Krishna and Rama, and cultivating love for those forms and names and worshipping them.
The Narayaniyam does this to Lord Vishnu and his different forms. The base for all the images—sand—is the same. “O Hari,” sings Narayana Bhattathiri, “You bless people with all their wishes with such speed even if they don’t ask for it. You also bless them with final beatitude of liberation. Yet, people keep seeking small tinsels from you that seemingly gives them temporary joys. O Bhagavan, who is the repository of an army of great qualities, the deities give to seeking devotees whatever they ask for. You, however, give yourself to them as you wish to see them free of all shackles. Who else can be greater than you?
“O lord, who has killed the rakshasa called Mura, you have your abode in air called Guruvayoor. You are controller of all the gods and your light draws into itself all the other lights of the world. Your praises are being sung by people who have withdrawn from the desires of enjoying the pleasures of the world. Laxmi, the goddess of prosperity, ever resides in you because all auspiciousness and wealth is your very nature. You are the refuge for the word Bhagavan which means the one who possesses wealth called Bhaga.”
The Narayaniyam’s second chapter begins with the description of the beautiful form of the lord and the greatness of devotion to him.
“The sun has to compete with his crown to outshine it. The forehead is bright and beautiful more so because of the radiant mark of a red line cutting across it length-wise. Your eyes are wet with compassion. You sport a beautiful smile and your nose is beautiful too. Your two earrings resembling crocodiles add brightness and charm to your face. There is indeed the Kaustubha stone which highlights your chest with its beautiful bright light with also the mark called Srivatsa.
“While your feet have beautiful anklets, lovely rings and ornaments in your bejewelled fingers, the four hands hold gracefully the mace, the conch, the discus and the lotus—the weapons to destroy our base tendencies and the lotus to bless us with realisation. The very sight of your beautiful form removes all the suffering of devotees. All things that we call beautiful in this world indeed pales in comparison when we look into the beauty of yourself. You are so beautiful that in your presence, even extraordinary things pale.”
The author is Sevak, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi; email@example.com; www.chinmayamission.com