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Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The story of Narad Muni. His earlier birth. How he inspired Rishi Valmiki.

It is said that Narada himself once told the story of his birth.

The great sage Vedavyasa divided the Vedas into four branches - Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana. 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 theMahabharata; he brought out the essence of the Upanishads in a chapter called 'Bhagavad Gita' using very simple language.

The great sage was not satisfied even with such wonderful writings meant for the good of humanity. He was somehow convinced that there was yet one more work to be carried out by him for thebenefit of humanity. A worried Vedavyasa was once sitting on the banks of the river Saraswati. Narada came there.

Narada knew what was worrying the sage Vyasa. He said: "Great sage, you have done so much for the welfare of humanity. And yet you are not satisfied. It is because none of your writings thoroughly describes the glory of Lord Narayana. You have not adequately brought out the greatness of
devotion. In the coming Kaliyuga people will not live for as long a period as in the present era. For them it will be a tough task to acquire spiritual knowledge. The best way for them will be the Path of Bhakti or Devotion. You must write a book, which will describe the glory of the Lord and the
greatness of Bhakti. Only then will you find peace. The company of good men generates Bhakti. 0 sage Vyasa, words fail to describe the all-pervasive influence of good men and their devotion towards God. I was once a very ordinary man. But today I am revered as Saint Narada. I owe
this entirely to the company of great men; to the devotion I have towards God."

Sage Vyasa was dumb-founded. Is it ever possible that this universally respected 'Devarshi'was once upon a time an ordinary man? A baffled Vyasa
stared at Narada in wonder. Narada.could read his mind. So he explained: "0 Vyasa, I was once an angel. I was called Upabarhana. I was an expert in music and I was handsome to look at, too. Once Dakshabrahma decided to perform a sacrifice. He arranged a big function. I sang devotional songs on that occasion. But I was not concentrating; my attention was diverted towards the apsaras (heavenly damsels). Dakshabrahma was upset by my behavior. He turned towards me and cursed me, 'You lecherous gandharva! Let the devil take away your entire Knowledge and spiritual splendor.
You don't deserve to live in Heaven. May you be born as a little, despicable human being on earth!'

"I came to my senses only after I had heard the dreadful curse. I begged for his forgiveness. Daksha then said: 'do not lament, 0 Upabarhana. You will be blessed by the company of good men.' 0 Vyasa, it was owing to that curse that I was born to a slavewoman."

"Later, my mother started working as a servant-maid in an ashram. I was a little boy then. The rainy season came. Some sannyasins came to the ashram and stayed there. They were learned men and great devotees of God. Every day they conducted prayer meetings in which they sang the glory of Lord Narayana. Their preaching changed my very behavior. I became increasingly attracted to their preaching as days passed. Gradually I
became more and more devoted to God. The sages began to like me. They would offer me fruit and speak to me with much warmth. I carried out devotedly whatever work they assigned to me."

"The rainy season came to an end. The sages prepared to leave for another place. I felt very sad. The kind sages understood my feelings and consoled me. 'Do not worry. Have trust in God and be always eager to realize Him. Do not while away your time on earth. This world is a creation of God and it finds its ultimate fulfillment in Him. Not a straw moves without the will of God. Keep repeating with whole-hearted devotion the mantra 'Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya'and you will be blessed.' Having uttered this benediction, the sages went away."

"The departure of the sages made me sad beyond words. I spent all my time thinking about God."

"Days passed. One day my mother died bitten by a snake. I placed all my trust in God and headed northwards. I had no particular destination. After
a great deal of wandering, I came to a beautiful uninhabited place. I took my bath and drank the water from a nearby pond. I felt comforted. Body and mind became light. I remembered the good words the holy men had preached in the ashram. I sat under a people tree contemplating on God."

"Many years passed by. I lived on the fruits and leaves of the forest. My mind was immersed in contemplation. As time passed, I realized that God is present everywhere and in all objects. One day I saw a brilliant flash of divine light. I saw that the Lord was standing before me. His magnificent form thrilled me. Everything else looked meaningless. I was over- whelmed. I began to wander everywhere. I longed to see that divine form again.
Then I heard a divine voice: 'you will not see me once again in this birth. I do not appear before people who have not rid themselves of desire and anger. As you have seen me once, your devotion for me will now become more steadfast, especially since you keep company with good men. In your next birth you will be one of my close attendants.'"

"I felt somewhat relieved after I heard that voice. I felt a surging spirit of renunciation. The world appeared to be pervaded by the Lord. There was no trace of ego in me. I remained loosely attached to that body for a while like a drop of water on a lotus-leaf. Once, while I was in deep meditation, I
felt as if I was touched by a divine light. Immediately I cast away my body. Then the deluge came. I along with all the living creatures became absorbed in the body of the Lord."

"Some time after the deluge, new creation began. Out of the navel of Lord Narayana came Brahma. He engaged himself in the work of creation, in accordance with the Lord's command. Then Brahma created Marichi, Atri and the other eight Prajeshwaras. I happened to be one of them. Vyasa, I became Narada thanks to the blessings of the Lord. I am wandering round the world singing the glory of the Lord accompanied by this Veena Mahati. It has since then been my aim to convert people into the Path of Devotion (Bhakti) and Piety. In the future Kaliyuga, the chanting of the Lord's name will bring greater reward than performance of sacrifices. The Path of Devotion is the easiest and best. The mind becomes
steady, cleansed of passions like greed and anger. Knowledge can be attained only when the mind becomes pure. Of course you are aware of all these things. I therefore ask of you to compile a book setting out the greatness of Devotion (Bhakti) and the glory of God. I shall narrate to you the ideas of Vedanta, which Brahma has taught me briefly. Let this be the basis of your great work. That book will make people happy and will bring
mental peace to you."

And then Narada communicated to Vyasa the secrets of Vedanta. Vyasa composed the Bhagavata deriving inspiration by Narada.

In The Hermitage Of Valmiki
Narada had a part to play even in the composition of the Ramayana. Once sage Narada came to the hermitage of Valmiki.

He was received with warmth and the two hermits sat chatting with each other. Something had been worrying Valmiki for a long time. He wondered whether there was any man who tenaciously stuck to the path of righteousness even in the midst of the greatest odds; whether there was any man
who could be pointed out as an ideal to the whole world.

Narada traverses in all the three worlds. Valmiki thought that Narada might find an answer to his questions. He asked Narada: "0 great sage, you are all knowing. You have studied the Vedas. Can you tell me if there is any man in this world who is virtuous, pious, ever truthful and tenacious? Is there any one who wishes well or all living creatures and who are also a hero and a scholar? Such a man should be free from jealousy and be a man of
invincible valor. He should be the most handsome among mankind. If there be such a man, please let me know."

Narada beamed with a smile and replied: "0 yes. I understand you. You want to find out if there is a flawless perfect human being. It is no doubt difficult to come across such a man. But there is a man who has combined in himself all the virtues you have enumerated. He i6 Sri Rama the king of Ayodhya." Then Narada narrated the story of Sri Rama and went away.

Sage Valmiki was thrilled to listen to the story of Sri Rama. He decided that Sri Rama was truly the greatest living being. With the story of Sri Rama still fresh in his memory, Valmiki set out for the river Tamasa for his morning ablutions. Two
birds were seen playing about on the banks of the river. A hunter shot down the male bird. The female bird wailed sorrowfully for the loss of her male. Sage Valmiki was greatly moved by the misery of the stricken bird.

Unable to restrain his sorrow, Valmiki cursed the hunter for his shameful deed. But no sooner did he utter the curse than it was converted into the form of a shloka - a verse. The sage was amazed.

He returned to the hermitage after his ablutions. Meanwhile Lord Brahma himself arrived there. Valmiki was astonished. Early morning was Narada's surprise visit; later, the death of the bird, and his utterance of a shloka; lastly it was Brahma's arrival. Lord Brahma said: "0 sage, the shloka you have uttered is due to my inspiration. Your mind is now mature enough for writing poetry. Please write in poetic form the story of Sri Rama as narrated to you by Narada. Your poetry will be acclaimed all over the world as the 'Ramayana'. The first 'sarga' or canto of Ramayana written by Valmiki contains one hundred shlokas. These contain a concise account of the Ramayana narrated by Narada.


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