Sunday 17 March 2013

Why Narada never married

He is one of the most well-known figures in India. He has been parodied in films in all Indian languages. He is also called the world’s first humorist and mischief maker.
Wherever he went and whatever he did, he left behind a cauldron of confusion. Though he interacted with Gods, Emperors and demons alike, he never married and apart from his parents never had any family.
An indispensable wandering minstrel, his name today means a person who cannot hold back or a person who carries tales. He is Narada, one of India’s revered sages.
Though many of his contemporaries married and even had children, Narada never married though once he came close to getting “hitched”. The Puranas themselves narrate the story of Narada’s near miss with matrimony.
The Puranas say that Emperor Ambeeresha was reigning over the Ayodhya Kingdom thousands of years ago.
A kind and just ruler, Ambareehsa was known for his piety, kindness and religious bent of mind. One day two sages-Narada and Parvata came to the court of Ambareesha.
Ambareesha received the sages with respect and seated them in his court. He then asked his daughter, Srimati, to perform Padapooje-wash the feet of the saints and get their blessings.
The two sages were seated side by side and Srimati washed their feet with water. Both the sages were stunned on seeing the beauty of Srimathi and both fell in love with her.
Narada and Parvata approached Ambareesha individually and told him that they wanted to marry Srimati.
Ambareesha was worried as the situation called for a calm solution. How could he displease one sage by getting his daughter married to another.   
He then suggested to both the sages that he would hold a Swayamwara so that Srimati could chose either of them. Though both the sages agreed to the proposal, each of them were nervous about the event.
Narada wanted Srimati at any cost and he decided to seek Vishnu’s help. He knocked on the doors of Vaikuntha and was immediately admitted to Vishnu’s abode.
Vishnu was holding court with other Gods when he saw Narada rush in. Narada sought out Vishnu and told him that he wanted to speak something very important.
“Speak on”, commanded Hari.
Narada looked around and saw Gods and Devas looking at him curiously. He looked up pleadingly at Hari and said “I can speak but only you should hear.”
Hari looked a little amused but he asked all others to leave. When none but Hari and Narada were left in the magnificent hall, Hari asked Narada to speak.
Unable to contain himself any longer, Narada blurted out that he was in love with Srimati and that she was holding a Swayamvara  tomorrow where she would have to choose between him and Parvata.
Hari looked a little amused and said he saw no role for himself in a love affair. “Moreover, Srimati is free to chose and I cannot influence her”, said Hari
Narada looked aghast at the reply and pleaded with Hari to intercede on his behalf. “Make Srimati chose me and make Parvata  look like a monkey at the time of the Swayamvara. That’s all I want”, said Narada
Hari very nearly failed to hide his smile at the lovelorn Narada. Keeping a straight face, he agreed to transform Parvata’s face into a monkey face at the time of Swayamwara.
A beaming Narada left Vaikunta, strumming his tamburi, singing praises of Hari and also simultaneously thinking about how he would end up marrying Srimati.
Barely had Narada left Vaikunta, when there was another knock on the door and in came Parvata.  
By now, Hari knew about the whole thing and he sternly asked Parvata what he wanted.
Parvata too narrated his take of love and he too wanted Srimati for himself.  I feel she will chose Narada and, therefore, transform him into a bear, he said.
As you wish,  said Hari and Parvata left Vaikunta a satisfied man. The day of Swamyamwara dawned and both Narada and Parvata were seated in the royal court.
Srimati came with a garland in her hand. Ambareehsa gently took her by her hand towards the sages and asked her to chose between them.
Srimati looked up and then blanched with fear. She took a step back even as her father urged her on. Ambareehsa asked her to chose quickly between Narada and Parvata.
“But father, I see no sages” replied Srimati. Ambareesha was taken aback as he and the entire court could see the two sages seated. He once again asked her to pick her husband and Srimati replied that all she saw was a bear and a monkey. Besides them, I see an angel who is the most handsome man I have ever come across.
Ambareehsa looked up and saw nobody except the two sages. He asked his daughter to describe the apparition. Srimati said he was like a Sun, radiant and full of light. He has four arms, Srimati told her father.
Ambareesha suddenly realised that the four armed man was none but Hari or Vishnu. But he still remained puzzled. Where is the bear and the monkey you saw, he asked Srimati.
By then, both Parvata and Narada were getting impatient. Both asked Srimati to stop telling tales of the monkey and the bear. They warned the King that he would have to pay dearly if he was playing any tricks.  
Both also asked Srimati to make her up her mind quickly. Chose or get cursed, they said. Srimati said she could not decide and she would throw her garland. “Whoever catches the garland will be  my husband,” she said.
She closed her eyes, prayed to God and flung the garland. Neither Narada nor Parvata could catch it and the garland fell around the  neck of the radiant man standing between the two sages. As soon as the garland touched him both he and Srimati vanished from sight.
Both Narada and Parvata were shocked at the turn of events. Both berated the King and were all set to leave the court in a huff when they saw Srimati with Vishnu.  
The sages decide to tackle Hari and went to Vaikunta. They straightaway confronted Hari and asked him whey he had tricked both of them.
Hari then took both the sages aside and told them that Srimati was none but Lakshmi herself. How can she marry you when she is already married to me, he asked the sages.
Hari then told the sages that love had blinded them. Had you even spent a little while in contemplation or meditation, you would have realised that she is Lakshmi. Love blinded your senses and each wanted to outdo the other he said.
Narada was so ashamed of himself that he vowed never to marry and remained single forever. He also took a vow never to fall in love. So he remains forever a wandering minstrel, a tamburi in hand and singing the praises of Hari.
Once even Hari as moved to ask whey Narada created so much cvonfusion in the lokas and why he set one against the other. “Just to test their devotion, My Lord. Nobody or no thing is greater than you. I just want to test their faith and invariably they fail the test”, replied Narada. This was one time the all-knowing Hari had no answer to Narada. All he could do was to smile and urge Narada on.

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