Narada (Sanskrit: नारद, Nārada, possibly derived from "năra", meaning man) is a Vedic sage who plays a prominent role in a number of Hindu texts, notably the Ramayana and the Bhagavata Purana. Narada is arguably ancient India's most travelled sage with the ability to visit distant worlds and realms (Sanskrit lokas). He is depicted carrying a khartal and Veena with the name Mahathi and is generally regarded as one of the great masters of the ancient musical instrument. This instrument is known by the name "mahathi" which he uses to accompany his singing of hymns, prayers and mantras as an act of devotion to Lord Vishnu. Narada is described as both wise and mischievous, creating some of Vedic literature's more humorous tales. Vaishnav enthusiasts 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.
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Narada is also said to have orated the maxims of the Nāradasmṛti (100 BC – 400 CE), which has been called the "juridical text par excellence" and represents the only Dharmaśāstra text which deals solely with juridical matters and ignoring those of righteous conduct and penance.
Karnataka sangita pitamaha, The great adi purandaradasaru is said to be the incarnation of the sage narada
In the Mahabharata, Narada plays a critical role in many instances - his knowledge is used in critical situations to arrive at right conclusions. For example, it is Narada who requests the Pandava brothers to create a rule for sharing their wife Draupadi, so that they do not end up fighting for her company.
The Mahabharata explains Narada's qualifications and experience in vivid detail - He was conversant with the Vedas and the Upanishads and was acquainted with history and Puranas. He had thorough knowledge of the six Angas - Pronunciation, grammar, prosody, explanation of basic terms, description of religious rites and astronomy. All celestial beings worshiped 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 (logic) and the truth of moral science. He was a perfect master in re-conciliatory texts and differentiating in applying general principles to particular cases. He could swiftly interpret contraries by references to differences in situation. He was eloquent, resolute, intelligent and possessor of powerful memory. He knew the science of morals, politics, skilled in drawing inference from evidence, and very proficient in distinguishing inferior things from superior ones. He was competent in judging the correctness and incorrectness of complex syllogistic statements consisting of 5 proponents. He was capable of arriving at definite conclusions about religion, wealth, pleasure and salvation. He possessed knowledge of this whole universe, above it, below it and everything surrounding it. He was capable of answering successively at Vrihaspati himself, while arguing. He was the master of the Sankhya and Yoga systems of philosophy, conversant with sciences of war and treaty and proficient in drawing conclusions of judging things not within a direct knowledge. He knew about the six sciences of treaty, war, military campaigns, maintenance of posts against the enemy and strategies of ambushes and reserves. He was a thorough master of every branch of learning. He was fond of war and music and was incapable of being repulsed by any science or any course of action.
The Bhagavata Purana describes the story of Narada's spiritual enlightenment: He was the primary source of information among Gods, and is believed to be the first journalist on Earth. He claimed to have 60 wives. In his previous birth Narada was a Gandharva (angelic being) who had been cursed to be born on an earthly planet as a sudra for singing glories to the demigods instead of the Supreme Lord. 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 he received further blessings from these sages and heard them discussing many spiritual topics. 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 Narayan (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". 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 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 saktyavesa-avatara or partial-manifestation (avatar) of God, empowered to perform miraculous tasks on Vishnu's behalf.
Narada Temple is dedicated to the Divine Sage Narada. These temples are located in Chigateri, which is 50 km away from Davanagere, Karnataka, India and the temple is famous in neighbouring districts of Davanagere, and in Korva which is 29 km north-east of Raichur in Karnataka, India. Korva is a beautiful island surrounded by the Krishna River. Korva is looked upon as a holy place and is popularly known as Naradagadde - one of the most scenic islands on the Krishna River. Due to its exquisite location the temple is not only visited by devotees but also by tourists.
- Guy, Randor (31 July 2010). "Bhaktha Naradar 1942". The Hindu. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
- Bhag-P 1.5.1 Narada is addressed as 'Vina-panih', meaning "one who carries a vina in his hand"
- Lariviere 1989: ix
- The Mahabharata of Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa Volume 1 Books 1, 2 and 3, Section XII
- Srimad Bhagavatam 7.15.72
- Translation by Richard W. Lariviere (1989). The Nāradasmr̥ti. University of Philadelphia.
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- Complete Narada-Bhakti-Sutra dead links on site
- Narada's Instructions on Srimad-Bhagavatam for Vyasadeva
- Translation from Sanskrit of Narada Bhakti Sutras at www.urday.com/narad.htm
- References to Narada in Gaudiya Vaishnava texts
- Ruesi Narot - Narada in Buddhist Thailand