The Life of Narada

Swami Sivananda Saraswati, from Srimad Bhagavatam

Sage Narada said:

"In the previous Kalpa, in my former birth, I was born of a certain maidservant of vedic rishis. Certain yogis had collected at a place to pass the rainy season and I was engaged as a boy to serve them. Seeing me void of all fickleness as a boy and self-controlled, the munis, who looked on all with equal eyes, were kind to me, especially as I gave up play, followed them, served them and talked little. With the permission of the regenerated, I, at one time, partook of the remnants of their meal, and the impurities of my mind were all removed.

"When thus my mind became pure, my inclination grew towards their Dharma. By their favour, I heard them sing the beautiful stories of Krishna. Hearing those stories every day with faith, I gained holy love for Krishna. Through that love, my mind became fixed on Him and I came to perceive my sthula and sukshrna bodies as being only false reflections of the real Self or Brahman. The bhakti that grew up in me destroyed my rajas and tamas.

"Then when the king rishis were about to leave the place, they imparted to me most of the occult knowledge which had been given to them by Bhagavan Himself. Through that knowledge I have known the maya of Bhagavan. It is by that knowledge that one reaches the plane of Bhagavan. As I cultivated this occult knowledge, Bhagavan appeared Himself and gave me knowledge and powers direct.

"Sometime after my teachers, the bhikshus, had gone away, my mother died of snakebite. I deemed it as an act of God and went towards the north. After crossing several forests, rivers and mountains. I at last reached a solitary forest and there sat tinder a peepal tree. As directed by my teachers, I meditated on the Self in the Self through the Self. My mind had been completely conquered by bhakti.

"As I was devotedly meditating on the lotus feet of Bhagavan with teardrops in my eyes, Hari gradually appeared in my heart. The hairs of my body stood on end through exuberance of holy love, I was completely lost in joy and knew neither self or any other. The indescribable Isvara spoke thus in solemn words: 'O thou dost not deserve to see me in this life. I am difficult to be seen by imperfect yogis whose likes and dislikes have not been completely burnt up. I have shown myself to thee so that thy karna may all be centred in me. When I am the object of kama, the sadhu gives up all other desires. By prolonged service of mahatmas, thy mind is firmly fixed in me. Therefore shalt thou give up this faulty body and acquire my companionship. The mind fixed in me is never destroyed in creation or in pralaya, nor does the memory fail.

"So saying Isvara disappeared. In time, when I was drawn towards the pure body with which I was favoured by Bhagavan, the body of my five bhutas fell down on the extinction of my prarabdha-karma. When the kalpa came to an end my new body was indrawn by the breath of Brahma who was going to sleep. After one thousand yuga cycles, when Brahma awoke and desired to create, I, Marichi and other rishis came out.

"Since then I have invariably observed brahmacharya, and through the favour of Vishnu have been travelling all over triloka both inside and outside, my passage being wholly unobstructed. The devas gave me this vina which is adorned with svara-brahma.

By playing upon this vina, I sent forth songs of Hari all around. These songs are the only means of crossing the ocean of recurring lives."