Narada

Narada

Narad redirects here; for the village in Slovakia, see Ňárad.

Narada (Sanskrit: नारद, nārada) or Narada Muni is a divine sage from the Hindu tradition, who plays a prominent role in a number of the Puranic texts, especially in the Bhagavata Purana, and in the Ramayana. Narada is portrayed as a travelling monk with the ability to visit distant worlds or planets, lokas in Sanskrit. He carries a musical instrument known as a vina, which he uses to accompany his singing of hymns, prayers and mantras as an act of devotion to his lord, Vishnu or Krishna. In the Vaishnava tradition he is held in special reverance for his chanting and singing of the names Hari and Narayana and his promoting of the process of devotional service, known as bhakti yoga as explained within the text accredited to Narada himself, known as the Narada Bhakti Sutra.

Son of Brahma

According to legend Narad is regarded as the Manasaputra referring to his birth 'from the mind of Brahma', the first living being as described in the Puranic universe. He is regarded as the Triloka sanchaari, the ultimate nomad who roams the three lokas of Swargaloka (heaven), Mrityuloka (earth, literally: "place of death") and Patalloka (nether-world). He does this to find out about the life and welfare of people. He was the first to practise Natya Yoga. He is also known as Kalahapriya as he playfully causes quarrels amongst Gods (devas), Goddesses and people.

Narad Muni has a specifically important place among the Vaishnava traditions. In the Puranic scriptures, he is listed as one of the twelve mahajanas, or 'great devotees' of God (Vishnu). As he was a gandharva in his previous birth before becoming a rishi he is in the category of a devarishi.

Enlightenment

The Bhagavata Purana describes the story of Narad's spiritual enlightenment: In his previous birth Narad was a gandharva (angelic being) who had been cursed to be born on an earthly planet due to some offense. He was born as the son of a maid-servant of some particularly saintly priests (brahmins). The priests, being pleased with both his and his mother's service blessed him by allowing him to eat some of their food (prasad) previously offered to their lord, Vishnu.

Gradually Narad received further blessings from these sages and heard them talking about many spiritual topics. When his mother died from a snake's bite, taking this as an act of God (Vishnu), he decided to roam the forest in search of enlightenment in understanding the 'Supreme Absolute Truth'.

Reaching a tranquil forest location, he, after quenching his thirst from a nearby stream, sat under a tree in meditation (yoga), concentrating on the paramatma form of Vishnu within his heart as he had been taught of by the priests he had served. After some time Narad experienced a vision wherein Narayan (Vishnu) appeared before him, smiling, and spoke "that despite having the blessing of seeing him at that very moment, Narad would not be able to see his (Vishnu's) divine form again until he died". Narayan further explained that the reason he had been given a chance to see his form was because his beauty and love would be a source of inspiration and would fuel his dormant desire to be with the lord again. After instructing Narad 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 Narad focused on his devotion, meditation upon and worship to Vishnu. After his death Vishnu then blessed him with the spiritual form of "Narad" as he eventually became known. In many Hindu scriptures Narad is considered a partial-manifestation (avatar) of God, empowered to perform miraculous tasks on Vishnu's behalf.

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