Narada, an easily recognizable figure with a lute in one hand and a pointed and
knotted tuft of hair in the center of the otherwise clean-shaven scalp, plays
a subsidiary but very important role in numerous mythological stories and religious
scriptures of the Hindus. The word 'Nara' means knowledge useful to mankind and
'Da' means 'a giver'. So 'Narada' means the one who gives useful knowledge to
mankind and guides it in the right path.
|NARADA - THE WANDERING SEER
Narada was a first-order musician. He always loved to sing songs praising the
glory of the Almighty. It is said of Narada that he was
the inventor of the musical instrument VEENA. He played on his Veena, which was
named "MAHATI." Among
the 'DEVARSHIS', Narada is one of the holiest. He commanded the respect of all.
It was his habit to travel and to go round preaching to people, uttering his
words of wisdom and telling people stories carrying an ethical message. All loved
him - be it Gods, Demons or human beings.
He had one weakness - that of disclosing to gods and demons, the secrets about
each other. Gods and demons, naturally, hated each other. Narada's
deeds often created trouble and friction among gods, demons and men, and such friction often
led to a war in the end. Hence Narada acquired the name,
'KALAHAPRIYA' or the lover of quarrels. Narada's intention was to espouse a good cause. It was his
constant desire that bad people should be punished for their deeds, that the
haughty ones should learn their lesson soon, and that the good should live happily.
Narada is a wanderer, traveling around all the three worlds. There is an interesting
story about this. The children of DAKSHABRAHMA were called HARYASHWAS. One day
Dakshabrahma called them to his side and said: "O my children! Observe penance
and you will derive strength and spiritual splendor. Later you must get married
and lead a contented life." In response to the command of the father, the
children went to the Himalayas and commenced a rigorous penance near the NARAYANA-SARAS.
Narada happened to go there. "O sons of Dakshabrahma, why at all are you
observing such a penance? There is no joy in married life. You must develop devotion
merely to get Lord. Our aim must be to escape from the sorrows of family life.
Must you observe penance only to get trapped in misery? Practice renunciation,
aspire for deliverance." Saying thus, Narada went away. The advice of Narada
made a tremendous impact on the minds of the children of Daksha. They took an
oath not to marry. This news upset Daksha. He called his other children who were
named SHABALASHWAS, and instructed them properly and sent them for penance. But,
sure as ever, Narada came and taught them too the ways of renunciation.
Dakshabrahma's anger knew no bounds. He said to Narada: "O Narada, it was
my desire that my children should marry and lead a happy household life. But
you interfered and misled them. Don't you have any other occupation? I am cursing
you to remain a vagabond eternally" Narada was not upset by the curse. "All
the better indeed! I shall spend all my time wandering and preaching the people
the best" he determined.
According to Mahabharata Narada was the son of KASHYAP and
his mother was the daughter of Daksha. Another account says that he sprang from the forehead of
Brahma. It is said that Narada himself once told the story of his birth.
The great sage VEDAVYASA divided the Vedas into four branches
- RIGVEDA, YAJURVEDA, SAMAVEDA and ATHARVANAVEDA. Vedavyasa felt that common people could not comprehend
the Vedas, and therefore wrote the Puranas, which explained the meaning of the
Vedas. He also wrote the Mahabharata; he brought out the essence of the Upanishads
in a chapter called 'BHAGAVAD GITA' using very simple language.