In this article we will explore the origins of the Om Namo Narayanaya mantra, but first, we have to tell you the story of the saint who gave the mantra to the world.
In the Indian tradition, there are many great saints who lived lives of renunciation and devotion to God. One such saint was Ramanujacharya, who lived from 1017 AD to 1137 AD. He is considered one of the greatest sages in India because he revived the knowledge of Vedas which had been lost for centuries. He started out as an Advaita Vedantin but later founded his own philosophy called Visishtadvaita meaning qualified monism or duality-in-unity. This philosophy teaches that Brahman (also called Atman) exists in everything and everyone including ourselves, but we have forgotten our true nature as Brahman due to ignorance (Avidya).
Ramanujacarya was a great saint and philosopher of ancient India. He lived from 1017 AD to 1137 AD. He was born in Sriperumbudur, near Chennai, in Tamil Nadu.
Ramanujacarya wrote many books on the philosophy of Vedanta and is considered one of the greatest teachers ever to have appeared on earth. His teachings have been passed down through generations by his disciples who have lived lives devoted to God realisation through total surrender at His feet and service for humanity
The Shisya Parampara
Ramanujacarya is considered the greatest of the shisya parampara that descends from the great Acharya Sri Nathamuni, who lived in the 9th century CE. The tradition was continued by his disciple Sri Yamunacharya. The lineage then continues down through a number of teachers and disciples until it reaches Ramanujacarya himself. This tradition is known as “sampradaya” or disciplic succession, where a teacher passes on his knowledge to his student(s), who then pass it on again to their students etc., until we reach modern times where we have access to many texts written by these ancient seers but which were inaccessible before due mainly because they were written in Sanskrit (and sometimes Prakrit).
The Shishya Parampara lineage
The following is a list of some of the great Acharyas of this Shishya Parampara:
- Ramanuja (1017-1137)
- Pillai Lokacharya (1079-1168)
- Sri Vedanta Desika (1268-1369)
- Manavala Mamuni (1300-1349)
The story behind the Om Namo Narayanaya mantra
Once Ramanujaacarya approached his guru to receive secret mantra initiation. The guru, Gosthipurna began to consider the matter deeply, but still he was unwilling to give the mantra to any person.
Time and again Ramanuja approached him, but repeatedly Gosthipurna refused his request. When his appeals had been denied on eighteen separate occasions, Ramanuja began to feel that there must be some great impurity in his heart and that it was for this reason that Gosthipurna would not bestow his mercy upon him. In this state of dejection, Ramanuja began to shed tears of despair. When some people informed Gosthipurna of Ramanuja’s condition, he was moved by pity for the young devotee.
Therefore, when Ramanuja came before him again, he spoke to him in a kind way. “Only Lord Visnu Himself is aware of the glories of this mantra. Now I know that you are worthy to receive it, for you are pure and firmly fixed in devotion to the lotus feet of the Lord. At the present time I can find no one but yourself who is fit to receive the mantra, for whoever chants it is certain to go to Vaikuntha at the time of death. Because this mantra is so pure and sacred, it must not be touched by the lips of anyone who has material desires. Therefore, you must not disclose the mantra to any other person”
Having thus instructed Ramanuja, Gosthipurna initiated him into the chanting of the mantra of eight syllables. Ramanuja was filled with ecstasy to chant this wonderful vibration, and his face began to glow with spiritual effulgence. He considered himself the most blessed of all beings and bowed again and again at the feet of his guru.
Revealing the secret Om Namo Narayanaya mantra
Having taken leave of Sri Gosthipurna, Ramanuja, in a joyful mood, began to return to Sri Rangam. But as he was walking, he began to think about the potency of the mantra that had been given to him. While thinking in this way, he became filled with feelings of compassion for the sufferings of all living beings in this material world.
Then, as he was walking near the walls of the Visnu temple in Tirukkotiyur, he began to call out to all the people who were passing by, “Please, all of you, come near to Lord Visnu’s temple, and I will give you a priceless jewel!”. Attracted by his pure expression and unusual words, a large crowd of men, women, and children began to follow him. A rumour began to spread all over the town that a prophet had appeared who could fulfil all of one’s desires.
Within a short time a huge crowd had assembled outside of the temple. On seeing this mass of humanity, Ramanuja’s heart swelled with joy. He embraced the two disciples who had accompanied him, Dasarathi and Kuresa, and then climbed up the tower of the temple.
In a loud voice he began to address the gathering: “All of you are more dear to me than my own life. Therefore I have a strong desire to deliver you from the torments and sufferings all of us must undergo in this temporary world. Please recite this mantra which I have obtained for you. Do this, and the Lord’s mercy will be upon you.”
When they heard Ramanuja’s words, all the people in the crowd called out, “Please tell us the mantra. Shower the Lord’s blessings upon us!” Then Ramanuja called out in a deep resounding voice the mantra he had just received from Gosthipurna: Om Namo Narayanaya
Om Namo Narayanaya is a powerful mantra for spiritual advancement. It’s easy to chant and it can be used by anyone who wants to improve their life – both spiritually and materially. This article has shown how Ramanujacharya used the power of Om Namo Narayanaya for the good of the world and how influential he was in propagating devotion to the Divine. His work is still having a positive impact, even 1000 years later. You can chant Om Namo Narayanaya in our 40 day Project Mantra challenge to experience the benefits first hand.