- Narad redirects here; for the village in Slovakia, see Ňárad.
Narada (Sanskrit: नारद, nārada means Naara = Wisdom + Da = Giver) or Narada Muni is a divine sage from the Vaisnava tradition, who plays a prominent role in a number of the Puranic texts, especially in the Bhagavata Purana, and in the Ramayana. Narada is the author of the Pāñcarātra, a standard text for Vaisnava's priests which contains the technical and philosophical meanings of the temple Deity worship. Narada is portrayed as a travelling monk with the ability to visit distant worlds or planets (lokas in Sanskrit). He carries a veena as his musical instrument - and not a Tampura as is commonly assumed  - which he uses to accompany his singing of hymns, prayers and mantras as an act of devotion to his Lord, Vishnu. In the Vedas, Narada is described as a saintly traveler who sometimes while remembering Vishnu by singing His Glories his Brahminical holy thread breaks, because of bodily expansions through the emotions he feels of pure bhakti (love of God) in separation, which he derives from his unalloyed devotional service. In the Vaishnava tradition he is held in special reverence 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. Narada is also said to have orated the maxims of the Nāradasmṛti (100BC-400CE), 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.
Son of Brahma
According to legend, Narada 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 practice Natya Yoga. He is also known as Kalahapriya, as he playfully causes quarrels amongst Gods (devas), Goddesses and people.
Narada 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.
The Bhagavata Purana describes the story of Narada's spiritual enlightenment: In his previous birth Narada 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 Narada 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.
- Translation by Richard W. Lariviere (1989). The Nāradasmr̥ti. University of Philadelphia.
- Complete Narada-Bhakti-Sutra
- 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
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