vishnu2 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.

Remaining three parts are to be taught in the Mantra Foundation Course