Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Why Narada remained a bachelor

As is true of any mythological happening, there are many interesting stories behind the bachelorhood of Sage Narada. Let me narrate one such interesting story that perhaps not only explains Narada’s bachelorhood, but also many of the events that followed.

King Ambarish was a renowned Vishnu Bhakta. It is even said that a very pleased Vishnu had given the Sudharshana Chakra as a protection to King Ambarish. Many sages and wise men often visited the King. On one such occasion, Sage Narada and sage Parvata visited the King. As they were discussing the various happenings of the universe and each man sharing his wisdom with the other, King Ambarish’s daughter Srimati came in to wash the feet of the sages and offer them something to eat. The two sages were mesmerised by the beauty and grace of Srimati and both of them wanted to marry her.
They expressed their desire to the king who was now in a dilemma. But being the diplomatic and wise person that he was, he called both the sages for a Swayamvar the next day. Both the sages agreed and as they were leaving, Sage Parvata told Narada that victory was his as he looked better than Narada.
Narada’s knee-jerk reaction to this situation reiterates the fact that when it comes to choosing a bride even the wisest of sages is pretty unsure of what a girl looks for in her prospective groom!

Narada ran to Vishnu and told him about the situation...
Narada ran to Vishnu and told him about the situation that he was in. Vishnu smilingly assured Narada that things would go well and that he shouldn't be too worried. With these assuring words from Lord Vishnu on his side, Narada, somewhat calmly, went away.

Exited Narada, entered Parvata! Parvata narrated the episode once again and told Lord Vishnu that even the surest of men cannot be very sure when it comes to marriage! Vishnu eased Parvata’s nerves and told him to relax. He assured Parvata too that things would go well.

The next day both the sages went confidently to the Swayamvar, because they thought Lord Vishnu would know what Srimati was looking for in her husband. The Swayamvar began and the two sages were eagerly waiting for Srimati to garland them. Srimati hesitated and called her father. She told her father that she could not see the two holy men, and instead saw a monkey faced man and a bear faced man sitting there, and in between them stood a very handsome man, smiling gently. She told her father that she wished to garland him and threw the garland, which immediately fell around the neck of the handsome man. The next minute, both Srimati and the stranger disappeared.

The sages then saw their reflection in a mirror and saw the monkey and bear faces. They were angered and in their fury, went straight to meet Lord Vishnu. There, by the side of Lord Vishnu, stood Srimati as his wife. Seeing the two sages, Lord Vishnu could not control his laughter. He then told them that he too did not know what a woman would look for in her future husband, but he knew his wife well! Even as Lord Vishnu said this, Srimati turned into goddess Lakshmi. Lord Vishnu then told the sages that it was a shame on them that they could not identify the Goddess. Both the sages were ashamed of themselves and only Narada could overcome his guilt and face Lord Vishnu. He apologised for his mistake and took an oath never to marry!
They saw their monkey and bear face and were angered!

 “But”, he continued, “Since you have insulted a monkey and a bear by laughing at them, in your next avatar as human being, it is the monkey and the bear that will help you reach your goal” said Narada to Lord Vishnu.

A true sage’s words also come true. In his Rama avatar, Lord Vishnu is ably helped by Hanuman and Jambhavan.

What a wealth of morals this story has for all of us to learn from!

Even Gods are spared when they stray away from the path of humility!