Vishwarupa teaching the Narayana Kavacha

In the Bhagavat Gita, Kṛṣṇa reveals His universal form (Viśvarūpa) to Arjuna which was so formidable for the great hero to even behold. Therefore, before jumping to worship Viśvarūpa, we need to see the teachings in the Śrīmad Bhagavataṁ. Bear in mind that the Viṣṇu avatāra are sustainer of things based on their specific forms.

There are at least three parts to the Nārāyaṇa Kavacha. The three principal parts are the

  1. aṣṭākṣarī mantra ॐ नमो नारायणाय (om namo nārāyaṇāya). Aṣṭākṣarī means aṣṭa (eight) akṣara (syllable)
  2. dvādasākṣarī mantra ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय (om namo bhagavate vāsudevāya). Dvādasa means twelve and akṣara means syllables, hence dvādasākṣarī mantra refers to the famous twelve syllable mantra of Viṣṇu.
  3. ṣaḍākṣarī mantra ॐ विष्णवे नमः (om viṣṇave namaḥ). ṣaḍ means six and akṣara means syllable.
  4. Specific protection based on situation

Part-1: Aṣṭākṣarī Kavacha

Śrīmad Bhagavataṁ 6.8.4-6

श्रीविश्वरूप उवाच
धौताङ्घ्रिपाणिराचम्य सपवित्र उदङ्मुखः
कृतस्वाङ्गकरन्यासो मन्त्राभ्यां वाग्यतः शुचिः
नारायणपरं वर्म सन्नह्येद्भय आगते
पादयोर्जानुनोरूर्वोरुदरे हृद्यथोरसि
मुखे शिरस्यानुपूर्व्यादोंकारादीनि विन्यसेत्
ओं नमो नारायणायेति विपर्ययमथापि वा
śrīviśvarūpa uvāca
dhautāṅghripāṇirācamya sapavitra udaṅmukhaḥ
kṛtasvāṅgakaranyāso mantrābhyāṁ vāgyataḥ śuciḥ
nārāyaṇaparaṁ varma sannahyedbhaya āgate
pādayorjānunorūrvorudare hṛdyathorasi
mukhe śirasyānupūrvyādoṁkārādīni vinyaset
oṁ namo nārāyaṇāyeti viparyayamathāpi vā

Translation: Śrī Viśvarūpa teaches that when there is any sort of fear, then one must adorn the armour called Nārāyaṇa Kavacha. To do so, first cleanse the limbs and perform ācamana. Thereafter the mantra “oṁ namo nārāyaṇāya” is recited in the direct and reverse order while touching eight parts of the body from feet to head and back.

Let us do this in simple steps.
Step 1: First, wash hands and legs properly and wear some clean clothes.

Step 2: Recite the following ācamana prayer for cleansing yourself.

ॐ अपवित्रः पवित्रो वा सर्ववस्थाम् गतोऽपि वा।
यः स्मरेत् पुण्डरिकाक्षम् स बाह्यभ्यन्तरः सुचिः॥
om apavitraḥ pavitro vā sarvavasthām gato’pi vā|
yaḥ smaret puṇḍarikākṣam sa bāhyabhyantaraḥ suciḥ||

Take some water in your cupped right hand palm and sip it thrice while reciting

श्री विष्णु श्री विष्णु श्री विष्णु
śrī viṣṇu śrī viṣṇu śrī viṣṇu

Step 3: Recite each of the syllables of the eight syllable Nārāyaṇa mantra while touching the eight body parts with your fingers. This is called sṛṣṭi nyāsa (creation process) – also known as utpatti nyāsa. What we are doing is energizing the eight vital junctions of the body to ensure proper flow of fluids and energy in the system. By this the body gets the power to heal itself and create new cells and repair parts.

Nyāsa is always done with nyāsa mantra which have to be extricated from the main mantra which is going to be recited. Śrī Viśvarūpa has advised that nyāsa has to be done on eight specific body parts with each of the syllables of the aṣṭākṣarī (eight syllable) Nārāyaṇa mantra. Each of these syllables is recited after ‘om’ and then the name of the body part is recited followed by nāmaḥ.

Akṣara Placed on Nyāsa Mantra
om pādayoḥ Feet ॐ ॐ पादये नमः om om pādaye namaḥ
na jānunoḥ Knees ॐ नं जानुने नमः om naṁ jānune namaḥ
मो mo ūrvo Thighs ॐ मों उर्वये नमः om moṁ urvaye namaḥ
ना udara Abdomen ॐ नां उदराय नमः om nāṁ udarāya namaḥ
रा hṛd Heart ॐ रां हृदयाय नमः om rāṁ hṛdayāya namaḥ
ya urasi Chest ॐ यं उरसे नमः om yaṁ urase namaḥ
णा ṇā mukha Mouth ॐ णां मुखये नमः om ṇāṁ mukhaye namaḥ
ya śiras Head ॐ यं शिरसे नमः om yaṁ śirase namaḥ

Step 4: Recite each of the syllables of the eight syllable Nārāyaṇa mantra in the reverse while touching the eight body parts in the reverse order, with your fingers. This is called saṁhāra nyāsa (dissolution process). What we are doing is energizing the eight vital junctions of the body to ensure proper removal of toxins and dead cells. By this the body gets the power to heal itself as the sins are removed.

Akṣara Placed on Nyāsa Mantra
ya śiras Head ॐ यं शिरसे नमः om yaṁ śirase namaḥ
णा ṇā mukha Mouth ॐ णं मुखये नमः om ṇaṁ mukhaye namaḥ
ya urasi Chest ॐ यं उरसे नमः om yaṁ urase namaḥ
रा hṛd Heart ॐ रां हृदयाय नमः om rāṁ hṛdayāya namaḥ
ना udara Abdomen ॐ नां उदराय नमः om nāṁ udarāya namaḥ
मो mo ūrvo Thighs ॐ मों उर्वये नमः om moṁ urvaye namaḥ
na jānunoḥ Knees ॐ नं जानुने नमः om naṁ jānune namaḥ
om pādayoḥ Feet ॐ ॐ पादये नमः om om pādaye namaḥ

Step 5: Recite the aṣṭākṣarī mantra ॐ नमो नारायणाय (om namo nārāyaṇāya) 108 times or multiples thereof to reinforce the kavacha and protect from all diseases and evils. The procedure of aṅga (body-part) nyāsa protects the body.

Part-2: Dvādasākṣarī Kavacha

In the second part of the Nārāyaṇa kavacha, we focus on kara-nyāsa where kara refers to the hands in general and fingers in particular. Kara-nyāsa is always done on the fingers.

Śrīmad Bhagavataṁ 6.8.7

करन्यासं ततः कुर्याद्द्वादशाक्षरविद्यया
प्रणवादियकारान्तमङ्गुल्यङ्गुष्ठपर्वसु॥
karanyāsaṁ tataḥ kuryāddvādaśākṣaravidyayā
praṇavādiyakārāntamaṅgulyaṅguṣṭhaparvasu

Translation: The kara-nyāsa is performed by prefixing praṇava (om) to each of the syllables of the dvādasākṣarī mantra and touching one of the parvan (joints) of the añgula (fingers) and añguṣṭha (thumb).

Notes: There are a total of fourteen (14) joints in all the fingers (12) and thumb (2) and we are to use only twelve of these for the kara-nyāsa including two of the joints of the thumb. This is based on standard counting method of the fingers, where only ten of the joints of the fingers are used instead of the twelve. Further, these are different for the male and female deities.

There are twelve joints in the fingers (excluding the thumb) and the space above them are called rāśi, the twelve vedic (zodiac) signs.

Part-3: Ṣaḍākṣarī Kavacha

Śrīmad Bhagavataṁ 6.8.8-10
न्यसेद्धृदय ओंकारं विकारमनु मूर्धनि
षकारं तु भ्रुवोर्मध्ये णकारं शिखया न्यसेत्॥
nyaseddhṛdaya oṁkāraṁ vikāramanu mūrdhani
ṣakāraṁ tu bhruvormadhye ṇakāraṁ śikhayā nyaset

वेकारं नेत्रयोर्युञ्ज्यान्नकारं सर्वसन्धिषु
मकारमस्त्रमुद्दिश्य मन्त्रमूर्तिर्भवेद्बुधः॥
vekāraṁ netrayoryuñjyānnakāraṁ sarvasandhiṣu
makāramastramuddiśya mantramūrtirbhavedbudhaḥ

सविसर्गं फडन्तं तत्सर्वदिक्षु विनिर्दिशेत्
ओं विष्णवे नम इति॥
savisargaṁ phaḍantaṁ tatsarvadikṣu vinirdiśet
oṁ viṣṇave nama iti

Śrīmad Bhagavataṁ 6.8.11-12
आत्मानं परमं ध्यायेद्ध्येयं षट्शक्तिभिर्युतम्
विद्यातेजस्तपोमूर्तिमिमं मन्त्रमुदाहरेत्॥
ātmānaṁ paramaṁ dhyāyeddhyeyaṁ ṣaṭśaktibhiryutam
vidyātejastapomūrtimimaṁ mantramudāharet

ओं हरिर्विदध्यान्मम सर्वरक्षां न्यस्ताङ्घ्रिपद्मः पतगेन्द्रपृष्ठे
दरारिचर्मासिगदेषुचाप पाशान्दधानोऽष्टगुणोऽष्टबाहुः॥
oṁ harirvidadhyānmama sarvarakṣāṁ nyastāṅghripadmaḥ patagendrapṛṣṭhe
darāricarmāsigadeṣucāpa pāśāndadhāno’ṣṭaguṇo’ṣṭabāhuḥ

Part-4: Specific Avatāra

जलेषु मां रक्षतु मत्स्यमूर्तिर्यादोगणेभ्यो वरुणस्य पाशात्
स्थलेषु मायावटुवामनोऽव्यात्त्रिविक्रमः खेऽवतु विश्वरूपः॥१३
jaleṣu māṁ rakṣatu matsyamūrtiryādogaṇebhyo varuṇasya pāśāt
sthaleṣu māyāvaṭuvāmano’vyāttrivikramaḥ khe’vatu viśvarūpaḥ||13

दुर्गेष्वटव्याजिमुखादिषु प्रभुः पायान्नृसिंहोऽसुरयूथपारिः
विमुञ्चतो यस्य महाट्टहासं दिशो विनेदुर्न्यपतंश्च गर्भाः॥१४
durgeṣvaṭavyājimukhādiṣu prabhuḥ pāyānnṛsiṁho’surayūthapāriḥ
vimuñcato yasya mahāṭṭahāsaṁ diśo vinedurnyapataṁśca garbhāḥ||14

रक्षत्वसौ माध्वनि यज्ञकल्पः स्वदंष्ट्रयोन्नीतधरो वराहः
रामोऽद्रिकूटेष्वथ विप्रवासे सलक्ष्मणोऽव्याद्भरताग्रजोऽस्मान्॥१५
rakṣatvasau mādhvani yajñakalpaḥ svadaṁṣṭrayonnītadharo varāhaḥ
rāmo’drikūṭeṣvatha vipravāse salakṣmaṇo’vyādbharatāgrajo’smān||15

मामुग्रधर्मादखिलात्प्रमादान्नारायणः पातु नरश्च हासात्
दत्तस्त्वयोगादथ योगनाथः पायाद्गुणेशः कपिलः कर्मबन्धात्॥१६
māmugradharmādakhilātpramādānnārāyaṇaḥ pātu naraśca hāsāt
dattastvayogādatha yoganāthaḥ pāyādguṇeśaḥ kapilaḥ karmabandhāt||16

सनत्कुमारोऽवतु कामदेवाद्धयशीर्षा मां पथि देवहेलनात्
देवर्षिवर्यः पुरुषार्चनान्तरात्कूर्मो हरिर्मां निरयादशेषात्॥१७
sanatkumāro’vatu kāmadevāddhayaśīrṣā māṁ pathi devahelanāt
devarṣivaryaḥ puruṣārcanāntarātkūrmo harirmāṁ nirayādaśeṣāt||17

धन्वन्तरिर्भगवान्पात्वपथ्याद्द्वन्द्वाद्भयादृषभो निर्जितात्मा
यज्ञश्च लोकादवताज्जनान्ताद्बलो गणात्क्रोधवशादहीन्द्रः॥१८
dhanvantarirbhagavānpātvapathyāddvandvādbhayādṛṣabho nirjitātmā
yajñaśca lokādavatājjanāntādbalo gaṇātkrodhavaśādahīndraḥ||18

द्वैपायनो भगवानप्रबोधाद्बुद्धस्तु पाषण्डगणप्रमादात्
कल्किः कलेः कालमलात्प्रपातु धर्मावनायोरुकृतावतारः॥१९
dvaipāyano bhagavānaprabodhādbuddhastu pāṣaṇḍagaṇapramādāt
kalkiḥ kaleḥ kālamalātprapātu dharmāvanāyorukṛtāvatāraḥ||19

मां केशवो गदया प्रातरव्याद्गोविन्द आसङ्गवमात्तवेणुः
नारायणः प्राह्ण उदात्तशक्तिर्मध्यन्दिने विष्णुररीन्द्रपाणिः॥२०
māṁ keśavo gadayā prātaravyādgovinda āsaṅgavamāttaveṇuḥ
nārāyaṇaḥ prāhṇa udāttaśaktirmadhyandine viṣṇurarīndrapāṇiḥ||20

देवोऽपराह्णे मधुहोग्रधन्वा सायं त्रिधामावतु माधवो माम्
दोषे हृषीकेश उतार्धरात्रे निशीथ एकोऽवतु पद्मनाभः॥२१
devo’parāhṇe madhuhogradhanvā sāyaṁ tridhāmāvatu mādhavo mām
doṣe hṛṣīkeśa utārdharātre niśītha eko’vatu padmanābhaḥ||21

श्रीवत्सधामापररात्र ईशः प्रत्यूष ईशोऽसिधरो जनार्दनः

दामोदरोऽव्यादनुसन्ध्यं प्रभाते विश्वेश्वरो भगवान्कालमूर्तिः॥२२
śrīvatsadhāmāpararātra īśaḥ pratyūṣa īśo’sidharo janārdanaḥ
dāmodaro’vyādanusandhyaṁ prabhāte viśveśvaro bhagavānkālamūrtiḥ||22

चक्रं युगान्तानलतिग्मनेमि भ्रमत्समन्ताद्भगवत्प्रयुक्तम्
दन्दग्धि दन्दग्ध्यरिसैन्यमाशु कक्षं यथा वातसखो हुताशः॥२३
cakraṁ yugāntānalatigmanemi bhramatsamantādbhagavatprayuktam
dandagdhi dandagdhyarisainyamāśu kakṣaṁ yathā vātasakho hutāśaḥ||23

गदेऽशनिस्पर्शनविस्फुलिङ्गे निष्पिण्ढि निष्पिण्ढ्यजितप्रियासि
कुष्माण्डवैनायकयक्षरक्षो भूतग्रहांश्चूर्णय चूर्णयारीन्॥२४
gade’śanisparśanavisphuliṅge niṣpiṇḍhi niṣpiṇḍhyajitapriyāsi
kuṣmāṇḍavaināyakayakṣarakṣo bhūtagrahāṁścūrṇaya cūrṇayārīn||24

त्वं यातुधानप्रमथप्रेतमातृ पिशाचविप्रग्रहघोरदृष्टीन्
दरेन्द्र विद्रावय कृष्णपूरितो भीमस्वनोऽरेर्हृदयानि कम्पयन्॥२५
tvaṁ yātudhānapramathapretamātṛ piśācavipragrahaghoradṛṣṭīn
darendra vidrāvaya kṛṣṇapūrito bhīmasvano’rerhṛdayāni kampayan||25

त्वं तिग्मधारासिवरारिसैन्यमीशप्रयुक्तो मम छिन्धि छिन्धि
चक्षूंषि चर्मन्छतचन्द्र छादय द्विषामघोनां हर पापचक्षुषाम्॥२६
tvaṁ tigmadhārāsivarārisainyamīśaprayukto mama chindhi chindhi
cakṣūṁṣi carmanchatacandra chādaya dviṣāmaghonāṁ hara pāpacakṣuṣām ||26

यन्नो भयं ग्रहेभ्योऽभूत्केतुभ्यो नृभ्य एव च
सरीसृपेभ्यो दंष्ट्रिभ्यो भूतेभ्योऽंहोभ्य एव च॥२७
सर्वाण्येतानि भगवन्नामरूपानुकीर्तनात्
प्रयान्तु सङ्क्षयं सद्यो ये नः श्रेयःप्रतीपकाः॥२८
yanno bhayaṁ grahebhyo’bhūtketubhyo nṛbhya eva ca
sarīsṛpebhyo daṁṣṭribhyo bhūtebhyo’ṁhobhya eva ca||27
sarvāṇyetāni bhagavannāmarūpānukīrtanāt
prayāntu saṅkṣayaṁ sadyo ye naḥ śreyaḥpratīpakāḥ||28

गरुडो भगवान्स्तोत्र स्तोभश्छन्दोमयः प्रभुः
रक्षत्वशेषकृच्छ्रेभ्यो विष्वक्सेनः स्वनामभिः॥२९
garuḍo bhagavānstotra stobhaśchandomayaḥ prabhuḥ
rakṣatvaśeṣakṛcchrebhyo viṣvaksenaḥ svanāmabhiḥ||29

सर्वापद्भ्यो हरेर्नाम रूपयानायुधानि नः
बुद्धीन्द्रियमनःप्राणान्पान्तु पार्षदभूषणाः॥३०
यथा हि भगवानेव वस्तुतः सदसच्च यत्
सत्येनानेन नः सर्वे यान्तु नाशमुपद्रवाः॥३१
sarvāpadbhyo harernāma rūpayānāyudhāni naḥ
buddhīndriyamanaḥprāṇānpāntu pārṣadabhūṣaṇāḥ||30
yathā hi bhagavāneva vastutaḥ sadasacca yat
satyenānena naḥ sarve yāntu nāśamupadravāḥ||31

यथैकात्म्यानुभावानां विकल्परहितः स्वयम्
भूषणायुधलिङ्गाख्या धत्ते शक्तीः स्वमायया॥३२
तेनैव सत्यमानेन सर्वज्ञो भगवान्हरिः
पातु सर्वैः स्वरूपैर्नः सदा सर्वत्र सर्वगः॥३३
yathaikātmyānubhāvānāṁ vikalparahitaḥ svayam
bhūṣaṇāyudhaliṅgākhyā dhatte śaktīḥ svamāyayā||32
tenaiva satyamānena sarvajño bhagavānhariḥ
pātu sarvaiḥ svarūpairnaḥ sadā sarvatra sarvagaḥ||33

विदिक्षु दिक्षूर्ध्वमधः समन्तादन्तर्बहिर्भगवान्नारसिंहः
प्रहापय लोकभयं स्वनेन स्वतेजसा ग्रस्तसमस्ततेजाः॥३४
vidikṣu dikṣūrdhvamadhaḥ samantādantarbahirbhagavānnārasiṁhaḥ
prahāpaya lokabhayaṁ svanena svatejasā grastasamastatejāḥ||34

Viṣṇu avatāra

Goodness manifests in many forms and we have to protect everything that is pure and good in this planet, in our lives and in our minds. Viśvarūpa means universal form and this is the form in which we learn to see goodness in everything. Everything has an existence because of the quality of goodness and purity in it. This quality is what sustains it and ensures its continued existence in this planet. Once the goodness and purity are lost, the end is inevitable and quick to follow. Bear in mind that the Viṣṇu avatāra are sustainer of things based on their specific forms. The ten avatāra of Viṣṇu as taught by Parāśara are associated with the exaltations (highest rays) of the planets and lagna.

Graha Signification Avatāra
Sun Soul Rāma
Moon Mind Kṛṣṇa
Mars Strength Nṛsiṁha
Mercury Speech Buddha
Jupiter Intelligence Vāmana
Venus Joys Paraśurāma
Saturn Sorrows Kūrma
Rāhu Shocks Varāha
Ketu Dissolution Matsya
Lagna Name, Being Kalki

The one thing within us which sustains from one life to another is the soul – in reality, we are spirit beings and the continuity of the soul from one incarnation to another as well as its redemption is the grace of Śrī Rāma. Similarly the mind passes through umpteen transformations, changes and all this results in a constant storm in life with so many changes and experiences that cause us to have bad thoughts, doubts and so many evils. Every evil that manifests in life must have its birth in the mind of a being. To prevent such evils from occurring in the first place, one must win over the mind by the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore all pious vaiṣṇava chant these two names everyday as the Jānaka ṣaḍākṣarī or its higher anuṣṭubh chandas Mahā-mantra.

Jānaka ṣaḍākṣarī mantra
हरे राम कृष्ण
hare rāma kṛṣṇa

Mahā-mantra
हरे राम हरे राम
राम राम हरे हरे।
हरे कृष्ण हरे कृष्ण
कृष्ण कृष्ण हरे हरे॥
hare rāma hare rāma
rāma rāma hare hare|
hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa
kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare||