Narada
  • Divine Sage
  • Messenger of the Devas[1]
Narada
Sage Narada
Devanagariनारद
AffiliationVaishnavism
Abode
MantraOm Naradaya Namah
Symbols
Personal information
Parents

Narada (Sanskrit: नारद, IAST: Nārada), or Narada Muni, is a sage-divinity, famous in Hindu traditions as a travelling musician and storyteller, who carries news and enlightening wisdom. He is one of the mind-created children of Brahma, the creator god.[2][3] He appears in a number of Hindu texts, notably the Mahabharata, telling Yudhishthira the story of Prahalada, and he also appears in the Ramayana and the Puranas.[3] A common theme in Vaishnavism is the accompaniment of a number of deities such as Narada to offer aid to Vishnu upon his descent to earth to combat the forces of evil, or to enjoy a close view of epochal events. He is also referred to as Rishiraja, meaning the king of all sages. He was gifted with the boon of knowledge regarding the past, present, and the future.

Hinduism

In Indian texts, Narada travels to distant worlds and realms (Sanskrit: lokas). He is depicted carrying a khartal (musical instrument) and the veena, and is generally regarded as one of the great masters of the ancient musical instrument. This instrument is also known by the name "mahathi",[4][5] and he uses it to accompany his singing of hymns, prayers, and mantras. In the Vaishnava tradition, he is presented as a sage with devotion to the preserver deity Vishnu. Narada is described as both wise and mischievous in some humorous tales. He is notorious for being meddlesome, provoking conflict between both the gods and the demons for the sake of their wisdom as well as for his own entertainment.[6] Vaishnavas depict him as a pure, elevated soul who glorifies Vishnu through his devotional songs, singing the names Hari and Narayana, and therein demonstrating bhakti yoga. The Narada Bhakti Sutra is attributed to him. He would usually make his presence known by vocally chanting "Narayana, Narayana" before appearing in a scene.

Other texts named after Narada include the Narada Purana and the Nāradasmṛti (pre 6th century CE text), the latter called the "juridical text par excellence" and representing the only Dharmaśāstra text that deals solely with juridical matters while ignoring those of righteous conduct and penance.[7]

The name "Narada," referring to many different persons, appears in many Hindu legends.[8] It appears as an earlier birth of Sariputta in the Jataka tales of Buddhism, as well as among names of medieval Buddhist scholars,[9][10] and in Jainism.[11]

Mahabharata

In the Mahabharata, Narada is portrayed as being conversant with the Vedas and the Upanishads and as acquainted with history and Puranas. He has a mastery of the six Angas (limbs of knowledge): pronunciation, grammar, prosody, terms, religious rites and astronomy. All celestial beings worship him for his knowledge - he is supposed to be well-versed in all that occurred in ancient kalpas (time cycles) and is termed to be conversant with Nyaya (justice) and the truth of moral science. He is a perfect master in reconciliatory texts and good at differentiating in applying general principles to particular cases. He can swiftly interpret contraries by references to differences in situations. He is eloquent, resolute, intelligent and a possessor of powerful memory. He knows the science of morals, politics; he is skilled in drawing inferences from evidence and very proficient in distinguishing inferior things from superior ones. He is competent in judging the correctness and incorrectness of complex syllogistic statements consisting of 5 proponents. He is capable of arriving at definite conclusions about religion, wealth, pleasure and salvation. He possesses knowledge of this whole universe and everything surrounding it. He is capable of successfully answering Brihaspati himself while arguing. He is a master of the Sankhya and Yoga systems of philosophy, conversant with sciences of war and treaties and proficient in drawing conclusions by judging things, not within direct knowledge. He knows about the six sciences of a treaty, war, military campaigns, maintenance of posts against the enemy and strategies of ambushes and reserves. He is a thorough master of every branch of learning. He is fond of war and music and incapable of being repulsed by any science or any course of action.[12]

Puranas

Sage Sanatkumara teaches the Brahmavidya to Narada

The Bhagavata Purana describes the story of Narada's spiritual enlightenment: He was the primary source of information among the devas, and is believed to be the first cosmic messenger upon the earth. In his previous birth, Narada was a gandharva (a musical being) who had been cursed to be born on earth for singing glories to the "demigods" instead of Vishnu.[13] He was born as the son of a maidservant of some particularly saintly priests. The priests, being pleased with both his and his mother's service, blessed him by allowing him to eat some of their food (prasada), previously offered to their deity, Vishnu.

Gradually, he received further blessings from these sages and heard them discussing many spiritual topics. During the four months of rainy seasons when the sages did not leave their hermitage and stayed together, they used to recite various deeds of Vishnu, and from there Narada used to hear these stories. After his mother died, he decided to roam the forest in search of enlightenment in understanding the 'Supreme Absolute Truth'.

Reaching a tranquil forest location, after quenching his thirst from a nearby stream, he sat under a tree in meditation (yoga), concentrating on the paramatma form of Vishnu within his heart as he had been taught by the priests he had served. After some time Narada experienced a vision wherein Narayana (Vishnu) appeared before him, smiling, and spoke: "that despite having the blessing of seeing Him at that very moment, Narada would not be able to see His (Vishnu's) divine form again until he died". Narayana further explained that the reason he had been given a chance to see his form was that his beauty and love would be a source of inspiration and would fuel his dormant desire to be with Vishnu again. After instructing Narada in this manner, Vishnu then disappeared from his sight. The boy awoke from his meditation, both thrilled and disappointed.

For the rest of his life, Narada focused on his devotion, meditation upon and worship to Vishnu. After his death, Vishnu then blessed him with the spiritual form of "Narada" as he eventually became known. In many Hindu scriptures, Narada is considered a shaktyavesha-avatara or partial-manifestation (avatar) of God, empowered to perform miraculous tasks on Vishnu's behalf.

The Shiva Purana describes a legend in which Narada's penance alarmed Indra, who sent Kamadeva to disturb his austerities. Due to the fact that the sage was meditating in the Himalayas and under Shiva's favour, he was protected by the deity's maya (illusory power) and hence remained undisturbed. When Narada learnt of this, still confounded by Shiva's maya, he falsely attributed this event to his own mental prowess and grew proud of his achievement. Heeding Shiva's suggestion to break the pride of the sage, Vishnu praised the qualities of Narada, but also warned him to not be delusional. The sage turned a deaf ear to this warning. Vishnu extended Shiva's maya to create a great and prosperous city in Narada's path. The king of the city, Shilanidhi, introduced his beautiful daughter, Shrimati (an incarnation of Lakshmi), to the sage, who grew desirous of marrying her. He travelled to Vaikuntha, requesting Vishnu to grant him the deity's form so that Shrimati would choose the sage as her husband during her svayamvara ceremony. Vishnu promised to grant Narada what would be beneficial for him, granting him his own form, but the face of a monkey. Believing his wish had been granted, Narada grew assured that Shrimati would choose him, but soon realised what had transpired. Vishnu attended the ceremony in the form of a king, and Shrimati chose him as her husband instead. Enraged, Narada cursed Vishnu to also be separated from the woman he loved and would only be saved by one with a monkey-face. When his maya was dispelled, Narada begged forgiveness from Vishnu. The deity instructed the sage to visit the abodes and praise the qualities of Shiva, and the latter journeyed to the deity's abode in Kashi.[14][15]

In the Devi Bhagavata Purana and some other texts, Narada enquired Vishnu about the nature and greatness of maya. The deity guided him towards a lake, in which the sage took a bath. The sage was transformed into a woman. She married a king named Taladhvaja and was a mother to his many sons. After some time, Vishnu dispelled the illusion and restored Narada to his true male form. Narada came to understand the concept better, but concluded it was still mysterious to him.[16][17]

Worship

Narada temples are few, most prominent being Sri Narada Muni Temple at Chigateri, Karnataka.[18]

Some adherents believe that it was Narada who was reborn as Purandara Dasa as a Haridasa (servant of Vishnu). He emphasised his works on Vithala, another form of Vishnu and the presiding deity of the temple in Pandharpur.[19][20]

Jainism

Main article: Salakapurusa

In Jainism, there are a total of 9 Naradas in every cycle of Jain Cosmology;[21] current cycle's Naradas were Bhima, Mahabhima, Rudra, Maharudra, Kala, Mahakala, Durmukha, Narakamukha and Adhomukha.

Sri Narada Muni
Sri Narada Muni Temple. Chigateri

See also

References

Citations

  1. ^ World Religions, True Beliefs and New Age Spirituality: A New Age Study on How Economic Tides and Parental Conditioning Mold Our World of Ethics, Religions, Beliefs, Sex and Relationships. iUniverse. December 2005. ISBN 9780595377701.
  2. ^ Novetzke, Christian Lee (2003). "Divining an Author: The Idea of Authorship in an Indian Religious Tradition". History of Religions. 42 (3): 213–242. doi:10.1086/375037. JSTOR 10.1086/375037. S2CID 144687005.
  3. ^ a b James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 461. ISBN 978-0-8239-3180-4.
  4. ^ Guy, Randor (31 July 2010). "Bhaktha Naradar 1942". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 20 August 2010. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  5. ^ "Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.1". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase. Archived from the original on 29 August 2022. Retrieved 27 January 2023. Narada is addressed as 'Veena-panih', meaning "one who carries a veena in his hand"
  6. ^ Lal, Ananda (2009). Theatres of India: A Concise Companion. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-569917-3.
  7. ^ Lariviere 1989: ix
  8. ^ Devdutt Pattanaik (2000). The Goddess in India: The Five Faces of the Eternal Feminine. Inner Traditions. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-89281-807-5.
  9. ^ Sarah Shaw (2006). THE JATAKAS: Birth Stories of Bodhisatta. Penguin Books. p. 497. ISBN 978-81-8475-034-8.
  10. ^ Martin Ramstedt (2005). Hinduism in Modern Indonesia. Routledge. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-135-79052-3.
  11. ^ Helmuth von Glasenapp (1999). Jainism: An Indian Religion of Salvation. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 273 with footnotes. ISBN 978-81-208-1376-2.
  12. ^ The Mahabharata of Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa Volume 1 Books 1, 2 and 3, Section XII
  13. ^ Srimad Bhagavatam 7.15.72
  14. ^ Debroy, Bibek (29 May 2023). Shiva Purana: Volume 1. Penguin Random House India Private Limited. pp. 141–154. ISBN 978-93-5708-072-9.
  15. ^ Seth, Kailash Nath; Chaturvedi, B. K. (2000). Gods And Goddesses Of India. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. p. 104. ISBN 978-81-7182-069-6.
  16. ^ Danielou, Alain (December 1991). The Myths and Gods of India: The Classic Work on Hindu Polytheism from the Princeton Bollingen Series. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co. p. 187. ISBN 978-0-89281-354-4.
  17. ^ Brown, C. Mackenzie (29 August 1990). The Triumph of the Goddess: The Canonical Models and Theological Visions of the Devī-Bhāgavata Purāna. SUNY Press. p. 205. ISBN 978-0-7914-0364-8.
  18. ^ Hindu Gods and Goddesses
  19. ^ Cheever Mackenzie Brown, The Triumph of the Goddess: The Canonical Models and Theological Visions of the Devi-Bhagavata Purana (1990), page 212
  20. ^ Amara Das Wilhelm, Tritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex (2004), page 153
  21. ^ Doniger 1999, p. 550.

Sources