The Hindu tradition accords the privilege of being proof in itself  only to the Vedas – all other theological positions draw their validity through reference to the vedas. In this context there are two kinds of sutras or aphorisms which weave together scriptural wisdom. Shandilya Sutras which are essentially philosophical and Narada Sutras which are soaked in bhakti. As my dear friend Rashmi pointed out to me – Kabir is an archetype of Vaishnava Bhakti akin to Narada . Narada pointed that Bhakti is a proof of itself and doesn’t need any further proof from vedas or elsewhere – and this was a remarkably radical position.

Narada’s Bhakti has always been a benchmark and he was among Sri Hari’s foremost Bhaktas . Once Sri Krishna happy with his bhakti – asked Narada for a boon. Narada – asked Prabhu ,“ Please show me your maya (illusory power). Please explain to me its secret and magic – how it can affect even those who have their minds firmly rooted in your feet”

(**This  story is drawn from Devi Bhagvatam , Swami Vivekananda’s works and Paramhansa Yogananda’s works . There is a minor difference – in the Devi Bhagvatam – Narada goes to Sri Vishnu – in the other 2 narratives the story is narrated with reference to Sri Krishna. This story is narrated with respect to Sri Krishna )

Sri Krishna didn’t answer immediately. Instead he asked Narada again – “ Narada , you are very dear to me . Are you sure you want to see the power of my maya? Lets step out in the meanwhile . And the bhakta and bhagwaan stepped out- and in their journey got to a place that was desert like and extremely hot .

“Yes  Bhagwaan, please show me the power of Maya ” Narada answered with determination – not knowing what he was asking for .

Sri Krishna sat down under a tree and asked Narada “  I am very tired .Its very hot here – can you get me some water from that village nearby” . He pointed to smoke coming over the horizon from a hut. Narada’s throat was parched too so he hurried along to get water.

Narada went over to the village and knocked on the door of the first cottage . The door was opened by a stunningly beautiful maiden. In that one moment , Narada whose penance could not be broken by the most beautiful of apsaras became enchanted by the beauty standing in front of him. He could not avert his eyes . The girl asked shyly , “ What do you need , O Brahmin?” Narada finally found his voice “ Will you marry me ?” he asked hesitantly – forgetting all about water and his friend Sri Krishna .

The girl’s father walked over – he welcomed Narada and offered him water and food. Narada however was totally lost in the beauty of his daughter .While love at first sight existed in the ancient times , dating and courtship are only very recent phenomena . So there were no Saturday night dinners or any romantic proposals. Happy at having found a worthy match – the father immediately married his daughter to Narada . Narada’s happiness knew no bounds .

The couple settled down and enjoyed years of marital bliss. Narada’s household became an animated and happy one . His father-in-law’s fields passed on to him . He was blessed with 3 kids – the apples of his eyes . He  now was providing for everyone and busy taking care of all needs . He shouldered every responsibility happily .

Here the two versions of the story differ again. One version says that his children grew , got old and the patriarch Narada now enjoyed playing with his grandkids and looking at his growing farm and family contentedly. The other version doesn’t get there and talks about only the 3 kids . I have gone with the second version.

One day torrential rains lashed the village and the nearby river raged angrily washing away fields , cattle and everything else in its way. Narada lifted his little son and put him on his shoulder and held the hands of his two elder sons tightly and prepared to escape from the fury of the raging storm. His wife followed tentatively.

The current was very strong . Narada stumbled over a stone . The kid on his shoulder fell down and got swept away . As Narada ran to save him – his two other kids whose hand he was holding – also got pushed by the strong current and following them his wife was also taken by the raging river as he watched helplessly . Overcome with grief and guilt Narada ‘s heart was torn and he let himself go with the river’s current chanting in desperation- “Krishna , Krishna please save me !”

At once the raging currents disappeared and there was Sri Krishna – still reclining under the tree – looked bemused. “Narada, hadn’t you gone to get some water for me” he asked . “I have been waiting for half an hour.”

“Half an hour” , thought Narada –” its been 12 long  years !”

“How can you be so remorseless ?” thundered Narada.”I have lost my entire family and you are asking me for water ?”

“Calm down Narada !” said Sri Krishna,with a smile .  “You only wanted to see the power of Maya . Tell me where did your family come from ? From me . I am the only reality , the only entity in the cosmos that’s eternal and unchanging . Everything else is an illusion. You – my foremost devotee – are well aware of that . Yet in the pleasures of the worldly life you forgot all about me . Yet you  deluded yourself that your material world was infalliable , invincible and perfect. That is the magic of Maya

The illusioned dispelled – Narada fell at Sri Hari’s feet now more aware of the power of Maya. Krishna clearly liked demos better than lectures .

Jai Sri Hari !


PS Series posts : Narada and Kayadhu/ Narada and Prahlada

                               Narada and Dhruva (attaining the impossible)

                               Narada and Valmiki  ( Life Transformation)

                               Narada’s curse to Sri Hari (Kapi Vaktra(Monkey faced) Narada- bhakta and bhagwaan)

                              Narada and Maya (current post)

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