Sai Ram. For the last few days, I was listening to various devotional songs and seeing some good old Telugu videos on YouTube. I was also reading some good mails where the benefits of association with saints, esp. Vaishnavites were shared. Several times, I was coming across the wonderful role of Sage Narada and then tried to research about the sage. I found so many references to him and so many episodes where Sage Narada played an important role, that it would take probably 2 or 3 episodes to cover the wonderful stories of this great Vaishnava bhakta. There is also some confusion about the birth of Sage Narada and I hope to take up that part later.
Sage Narada, also called Narada Muni, Devarshi etc. is considered to be one of the many Manasaputras of Brahma. Another version has it that He was born to Kasyapa Prajapathi. So, we will take up that part later.
Narada Maharshi is arguably the greatest of the many devotees of Vishnu and had full access to all Lokas (worlds, material and spiritual). He is also called a Trikala Vedi, one who knows the past, present and future at any given time.
He is also called a Kalahapriya or Kalaha bhojana, one who relishes conflicts, but it is seen that all the conflicts, where He is involved or is the initiator end well with all the participants becoming humbler and wiser in that process!
He guided the child Dhruva to succeed in his tapas for Vishnu. Because of Narada’s blessings, the child’s tapas fructified quickly and without the usual interruptions caused by devas (to test our fitness to rise higher in the spiritual path).
He took care of Leelavathi, also called Kayadhu, wife of Hiranyakasyapa, when she was carrying Prahlada in her womb and when Hiranyakasyapa was away for tapas. Prahlada became one of the great devotees of Vishnu thanks to the Ashtakshari Mantra that sage Narada gave him when he was still in his mother's womb. Through Prahlada, sage Narada helped his father Hiranyakasyapa to meet his death at the hands of Vishnu in the Avatar of Narasimha. Hiranyakasyapa was of course a guard of Vaikuntha, who along with another was cursed by the sages Sanaka and Sananda etc. to become Daityas (Demons, Rakshasas …) because they obstructed the sages from meeting the Lord. We will take up that story in greater detail later.
Sage Narada was instrumental in Valmiki taking up the writing of Ramayana.
Similarly he was instrumental in Sage Veda Vyasa taking up Srimad Bhagavatham.
Sage Narada appeared to Tyagaraja and helped him become a better musician and thus through that sadhana reach Rama.
Sage Narada played an important role in bringing to light the pativratya of Sati Anasuya and thus setting up the stage for the birth of the Trinity (Trimurthis) as Chandra, Datta and Durvasa respectively. Datta (Dattatreya) took the energies of the other two and continued His existence since then and is guiding all of us as Guru, helping all of us reach the Paramatma, Who is One.
Narada Maharshi played a great role in preventing the Atma Linga of Lord Siva from being taken by Ravana to Lanka. The story of Maha Baleswara at Gokarna is wonderful indeed.
We will be taking up these and other stories in the months to come. Now, let us enjoy a wonderful story where the sage helped a worm or ant become a good bhakta. This story was published about a decade ago in one of the issues of Sai Leela magazine published by Sai Baba Samsthan of Shirdi and was in Hindi. I attempted a translation of the same into English and shared the same with other friends. A variation of this story was shared recently on one of the Yahoo groups where the being was a worm, a cow calf and then a prince. The message remains same.
Benefit of Sadhu Darshan and Sparsan
On the auspicious occasion of Guru Purnima, I attended the Guru Puja and Inauguration of Viswa Saidarbar at Saidarbar (Hyderabad Headquarters). I happened to read 2 interesting, useful stories. I thought I would share them with you.
The first story is about Sri Narada and is published in the Hindi section of Sai Leela the official magazine of Shirdisamsthan. The story goes like this. Sage Narada visits the abode of Sri Vishnu. Vishnu Bhagavan worships the Rishi (Sage) and asks him for the reason for his visit. Sri Narada replies: "Bhagavan, While travelling on earth, I came across a Satsang where the main speaker was praising the benefits of Darshan of Sadhus, but I could not hear the actual benefit. So kindly tell me what is the benefit of darshan of Sadhus." Sri Vishnu told Sage Narada, "Rishivar! Your question can be answered properly by an ant (Chiti in Hindi, I don't know whether it translates as ant), which is residing in so and so tree in such and such a place."
Rishi Narada goes to the ant (for the moral of this story, it does not matter what the actual creature was) and asks the ant the same question. The ant, instead of replying to him, dies in his hands. The rishi is grieved and goes to Vaikuntham with the dead ant in his hand and narrates the whole episode to Sri Vishnu. Lord tells Rishi, to go to Kailas mountain and the Mansarovar lake, where he can get the answer to his question from a Rajhans (Swan). The rishi goes to the Mansarovar lake and seeing the bird at the other side sits down and waits for the Swan to come to this side of the lake. He closes his eyes and is immersed in meditation on God. Suddenly, he feels something heavy in his lap. Opening his eyes, he is agitated to see the Rajhans, dead in his lap. He rushes to Vaikuntham with this dead bird and tells Vishnu the whole story. Vishnu tells him that now only a small, newly born child in Varanasi can clarify his doubt. Narada is horrified at the suggestion and says, "Oh No! The last two times, I went near some living thing to ask, it died. I don't want to carry the guilt of being responsible for the death of another life, that too a human child!" Sri Vishnu assured Sage Narada that this time, he need not worry and he will not have to take any guilt. With a lot of trepidation, Sri Narada approaches the 3-day old child. Seeing the Rishi, the child claps its hands in joy and addresses him thus: "Pl. come Oh! Rishivar! I am the ant. By the grace of your darshan, I became the Rajhans and again I had the benefit of your darshan in that life, because of which I got this human birth. Now with your darshan, I will..." Rishi Narada did not wait there even a moment to hear the child further but vanished.
Mother Lakshmi asked Sri Mahavishnu
why Sage Narada did not come back. He replied with a laugh, "Devi!
He got his answer about the benefits of Sadhu Darshan!"
Daksha was one of the Prajapatis, sons of Lord Brahma. He had a daughter Sati married to Lord Siva. Daksha had many more daughters and sons. Some of the daughters were married to sage Kashyapa and progeny started through them. Daksha desired his sons also to get married and raise progeny. Sage Narada met Dakshan's sons who wanted to marry and raise a progeny. Narada asked them to go around the world to check whether there was any space available for their children to live. The sons never returned and so Daksha cursed the sage that he would be wandering like a vagabond and never have a home of his own. So because of Daksha's curse, Narada has been going around the world like a nomad without a permanent home. (Devi Bhagavatham - 7th skandam, Vishnu Puranam - 1st bhagam, 15th chapter).
Once when Narada was staying with Krishna in Dwaraka, they decided to go on an aerial trip in a chariot. The sage felt thirsty after sometime and wanted to quench his thirst when they came across a river. Krishna told him to do so after bathing but Narada did not pay heed to his advice. He drank the water without bathing and got transformed into a beautiful woman. Krishna and the chariot disappeared from his view. Narada, who wandered into the forest, saw a rishi in penance and stood before him with folded hands. The rishi opened his eyes and accepted Narada as his disciple. After some time, Narada, who was in the form of a woman, married the rishi and had 60 children. One day, the rishi and the 60 children died, leaving Narada grieving alone. She wanted to perform the funeral rites but was unable to do so. Suddenly, she felt very hungry and tried to reach for the nearest tree for ripe mangoes. She could not reach them and so she laid the dead bodies in a heap and climbed on them to pluck the fruits.
A Brahmin appeared from nowhere and told her that as she was in bereavement, it was not proper to eat without having a bath. She accepted the advice and went to the nearby river. She held the mango aloft in one hand and dipped the rest of her body in the water. The woman transformed into Narada again except that the hand, which had not touched the water, remained the hand of a woman with bangles. The Brahmin, who was really Krishna, told him to take a bath again, and this time Narada immersed himself fully in the water. He regained his normal form and the mango in his hand had turned into a beautiful Veena.
Krishna explained to him that the rishi
was the Kaala Purusha and the 60 children were the 60 years Prabhava,
Vibhava and so on. Then Narada and Krishna returned to Dwaraka. (Bhagavatham
- 7th skandam).
Sage Narada and a cobbler:
In the ancient times there was once a cobbler who lived an ordinary, simple but honest life. He was a very poor man and had to work hard to support his family, but he was very much devoted to the worship of God - Lord Vishnu, the God of creation in Hinduism. He lived beside a huge Banyan tree. This Banyan tree's central trunk was huge & it was surrounded by smaller trunks which hung down from the branches to put out fresh roots. The tree was very old and was just like a small forest.
One day, as he worked in the shade of the Banyan
tree, the great ancient "Saint Narada" came to visit him.
Narada is famous among all Hindus as the personal messenger and friend
of God-Vishnu. Saint Narada is able to see God, whenever he wants,
but he spends most of his time travelling throughout the universe
in all the different planets, visiting God's devotees and instructing
them. The cobbler was very happy to receive the God's messenger, Narada.
After welcoming him with due respect he ventured to ask if he had
recently seen God-Vishnu.
Saint Narada said: "God thought you might have some questions."
"Questions?" The cobbler was taken unawares. Saint Narada himself had come to answer his questions! Of course, he did have questions from time to time, but now, with this unique opportunity, his mind went blank! In confusion he could not think of anything.
Suddenly cobbler thought of one simple question.
"What was God-Vishnu doing when you saw Him?"
"Threading an elephant through the eye of a needle?" the cobbler was surprised. He hadn't expected that God-Vishnu would be doing this. "Well, one thing's for sure," he said, "Only God-Vishnu could do that!"
"Surely you don't believe me," smiled Narada, amused at the cobbler's simplicity. He had given this answer merely to test the cobbler and didn't expect him to believe it. "I don't think even Vishnu could really do that - it's impossible."
"Why can't God-Vishnu do that?" responded the cobbler, a little taken aback at Narada's lack of faith. "Nothing's impossible for God-Vishnu. This world is full of His miracles. He makes the Sun rise each day. He makes the Wind blow. He makes the rivers run and the trees and flowers grow. He provides for the food for all the creatures in this world.
"The cobbler said to Saint Narada, "Look at this," he went on as he bent to the ground and picked up a seed from beneath the Banyan tree, "Inside this seed is a Banyan tree as big as the one above us. It's just waiting to come out. If God-Vishnu can squeeze a whole Banyan tree into such a tiny seed, surely he can thread an elephant through the eye of a needle!
"Hearing the wisdom of the cobbler's words, Narada had to admit that what he said was true. He realized that this man was not a simple man he had thought of him but was very wise because he could see in everything, the hand of God.
So such is the faith of true saintly people like the cobbler in God that they cannot think of anything without Him. Such saints see God equally present in everyone, everything.
Sai Ram. The above story goes to show how sage Narada helped the faith of the cobbler to shine forth!
Sage Narada and Lomasa Muni:
There was a great sage known as Lomasha Muni, who was a great devotee of the Lord. He lived in a small thatched house, in which one could only enter by crawling. No one knew how long he had lived there. He was a tall person and his whole body was covered with long hair, except for an area two inches wide on one knee, where there was no hair. Narada, the celestial sage, had the pride of being the best devotee of Krishna because he was always chanting and singing the Lord’s name. To humble his pride, Lord Krishna said to Narada one day, “Let us go and visit Lomasha Muni.” When they arrived, Narada was surprised at the size of the hut, and was quite distraught when he saw that Lord Krishna had to crawl into it.
During this visit Lomasha Muni was not feeling well, and had a high temperature. Knowing of their impending visit by his yogic powers, he ordered the fever to leave his body and enter into a rug, which he kept on a stick. He said the fever could get back into his body once he finished talking to Lord Krishna. So he kept it in the rug, and the rug was shivering due to the fever.
As his guests entered, Lomasha bowed to Lord Krishna and then to Narada. Narada, who was upset, asked why he lived in such a small place. Lomasha answered, “Who knows how long I will live? What is the use of having a big house and wasting time in caring for it?” Narada complained that it was even difficult for Lord Krishna to enter such a small place. Lomasha smiled at this and said, “No, I do not think that Lord Krishna had any trouble because he is omnipresent. Where is He not? He is everywhere, so where does He enter or exit? He is present even in this rug here.”
Narada was still not happy and wondered what type of monk he was. He then asked him why the rug was moving and shivering. Lomasha answered, “Since Lord Krishna and you, a great devotee of the Lord, were coming to see me, I asked my fever to leave my body and stay in the rug for the time being.” Narada was surprised at the power of Lomasha. Then he asked why there was no hair on just two inches of his knee. Lomasha replied: “In every one hundred years, one hair on this part of my body drops. When all the hair on my body is lost, I will leave this body. God has given us time only to watch His presence in every moment. Time is God, so I am watching Lord Krishna all the time, since he is Time, and is everything to me. Time is God. So I only follow Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna has come, so I am giving my love to him.”
Then he gave some fruits to Lord Krishna, and they left. Narada realized the great devotion and surrender of Lomasha Muni, and his pride was humbled.
Sai Ram. Though in the above two stories, sage Narada is shown in rather poor light, in reality, he is such a great devotee of Lord Vishnu that he shows how the Lord helps His devotees overcome the Maya / illusion. It may be mentioned that all actions of sage Narada and other devotees of Lord are meant for the welfare of the whole world.
I was watching some devotional films recently including such classics as Bhukailas, Bhakta Prahlada, Tyagayya etc. and in each of them the role of sage Narada comes up. Take any purana and you will come across interesting stories where the celestial sage plays a central role.
We pay our respects to this great sage. We will take up the stories of other sages in the coming months but will be adding to the collection of stories about sage Narada as and when they become available. So, just keep visiting the topic once in a while.