Published:15 Apr 2013 8 PMUpdated:15 Apr 2013 8 PM  Sakthi Vikatan
Vikatan Correspondent

Author: The Wordsmith Mr. Balakumaran.  Images: Padmavasan
This is the story of Naradar who descended from Gandharva World, took birth on earth and became a devotee of Narayana.
1. Nāradar’s stories did not go under the pen for mere humor (நகைச்சுவை = laughter-taste = humor). I do not understand why Nāradar became the clown in dramas. Nāradar’s history reveals he was the best of good character with sharp intellect, tranquility, epitomic integrity, a great enquiring mind of Tattvas, surrender to Narayana, and his exemplary Saranagathy. For some reason unknown to us, he projected the image of a buffoon on the stage.
2. It appears he projected a clown's image by inciting quarrels by pitching one against the other. With two opposing parties of different opinions, he raised the question of who was right: That does not amount to his instigation against the other. When two parties assert their stand's righteousness, raising a question of who was right did not amount to incitement of a dispute. That is a journey to truth and an accomplishment of an objective. Anyhow, his entry on the stage saying 'Narayana, Narayana' precipitates laughter in the assembly. It appears that his enunciation in a tone of ridicule of 'Narayana-Narayana' in the most suitable time is his tour-de-force. I feel the 'Narayana-Narayana' sound is an expression of his amazement.
3. Adadē! Is this the truth! With that in mind, it appears Nāradar looks around to discover the truth: This comes naturally to him. Instead of burying the truth in his inner depths, he seems to reveal them as his life's motive and his life story. I take Nāradar's stories are integral to the life of a righteous man.

4. The patrons sat in the Dance Hall pinned to their seats. The dance crew decided to make them relax. They sent Naradar, who sports a bun on the crown, ochre clothes, sacred thread, and the Vina hung over his shoulder. As he entered the stage, excitement and handclaps greet him. The people think that the next ten minutes will pass with humor. It is not the Tambūra that Nāradar holds but Mahathi-Vīnai from Gandharva Lokam (world).

5. Who is Nāradar? He is the personification of Sabda (sound). In this world, anything that moves makes a sound. What is the best among the sounds? Music. What is the best in the music? The melody emanating from Vīna. Another form of sound is poetry. Poetry's other form is debate. Nāradar renders good service, using the debate to influence people and change their course.

6. Nāradar goes where haughtiness reigns supreme, and bravado dominates speech and brings about a balance between the extremes. Nāradar did not write or sing poetry but spoke, searching for truth, the why and the what of the matter. The entailed disputes and confusions bring the best in Nāradar: Clarity in the place of confusion and ambrosia out of churning and whipping arguments.

7. Brahma's portfolio is creation: the beginning of life, the form and the name for his created being. Śiva's function is destruction. Life begins and ends with growth between the two. What is growth? Viṣṇu is growth. The three sakthis and their wielders are creation and Brahma, maintenance and Viṣṇu and sublation (taking away life) and Śiva. These are the basis of Sanātana Dharma.
8. All matters between birth and death are about growth. That is life. When life is the subject of misstatements and nescience, Nāradar establishes and brings the truth to the forefront by breaking down and removing the dross. He is the epitome of Truth.

9. Nāradar stayed away from discussion of birth and death but showed interest only with the growth phase: His research is with what grows, and how it grows. He surrenders to Viṣṇu and becomes Śṛīman Nārāyaṇa's Bakthar

10. His critical study avoids birth and death but is about growth. His analysis establishes clarity. Nārada Sakthi is questioning the growth phase of life between birth and death. Nāradar laid the path and became the heart of the Nārada stories.

11. These stories separate the chaff from the grain, the good from the bad, and show the righteous path. We find no place for cackling laughter here. Against this backdrop, we see those with a sharp intellect and analytical acumen understand Nāradar's stories.

12. The mistake is on you if you think Balakumaran is narrating humorous stories. These Nāradar stories, unlike the earlier ones, are sharp and substantial.

13. This prapañcham includes a multitude of worlds with beings of different shapes and sizes, according to Sanātana Dharma precepts.

14. Gandharva world is one of those alien worlds, where Ātmas well-versed in musical instruments live and express their Bhakti through music. The pure souls free of hunger, sleep, and physical maladies live a life of music in the Gandharva world. Mental confusion and lapses are prevalent in this world.

15. Upan fathered a son, named Upavarukkan and led a life of music. Music was the medium of worship of God for him. He trained his son along the path of musical worship and taught him to play Mahathi. The son exceeded his father in playing that Vīna. No high festival proceeded in all the worlds without Upavarukkan playing his Mahathi.

16. Muni Brahmaseṣtar in Devaloka invited Upavarukkan to play the Mahathi at his great Yāgam. He played the Sāma Gānam and brought the attendees under his influence.

17. One of the attendees was a Brahmin girl, who, having been taken by the music, wanted to be his consort to improve his musical skills, and fell in love with him. To elicit his attention, she drew upon her feminine charm: She moved in beguiling ways, looked at him casting 'come hither' looks with her eyes, parted her lips emitting a laugh, at one turn receded in modesty, and at another turn exhibited an air of enthusiasm. Upavarukkan did not miss one twitch of her movements; his mind strayed; his play at the Vīna skipped the beats. The assembled music maestros noticed the errors in his play and slumped in shock.

18. With the faces writ with anxiety, they worried about the cause for his mistakes. They were unhappy to notice his attention went astray towards a young girl.
19. The Muni Brahmasreṣtar became angry and upset to see and hear a murmur spread through the hall like a cloud. The assembly became fidgety and murmurous from lack of attention. The Muni ordered the player, "Gandharva! Stop." The music stopped.

20. The Muni said further, "Your distraction spoiled the music. You are unfit to play the Mahathi Vīna. You cast aspersions on the Sāma Gānam and behaved in an insulting way. It would be best if you were not a Gandharva anymore. You will descend and take birth on the earth."

21. Upavarukkan realized his mistake. He took birth on the earth as a man. He lost his earthly father when he was young. His mother worked as a domestic in many households to support and raise him.

22. He lost his position by playing the most sacred Sāma Gānam erroneously in the accomplished musicians' hall. He lost his earthly father.

23. The earthy Upavarukkan lived with his widowed mother in a Brahmin's house. She worked for the Brahmin. It was a rainy season. The servitors of Narayana came to the household. They were the itinerant devotees moving from temple to temple, singing the praises of Narayana. The devotees sang songs of panegyric in that household. Upavarukkan kept his musical voice and ability gained in the Gandharva Lokam. He wrote their songs down, committed them to memory, and sang melodiously with the group, often giving them the pieces they forgot.

24. The itinerant group, recognizing his abilities, his penchant for music, and his musical knowledge, were happy to teach him the Narayana Mantra.

25. They said, "Narayana Mantra is superior to the music, speech, dance, singing, and others. Keep reciting the Narayana Mantra, and he will appear before you. He will offer boons and fulfill your needs." The youngster was ecstatic, paid them tributes, and sent them on their way.

26. Upavarukkan did not know what to do when his mother died. What is essential: Music or poetry? Neither. It was clear to him that Narayana Mantra was important. He went to the forest and recited the Narayana Mantra uninterruptedly. Within himself, the fire of Tapas was burning and engulfing him. Narayana, pleased with his Tapas, appeared before him and said, "Continue with your recital of Mantra. This world will undergo dissolution. A deluge will be coming. All creation will die in it. The creation will come back again. Brahma himself will become your father and teach you everything." So saying, he disappeared.

27. The Great deluge came. The life forms died. There was water everywhere. Brahma began creating life.

28. Upavarukkan took his birth on earth with Varisi Munis and the Mahathi-Vīna. Brahma named him Nāradar and announced proudly to the word that Nāradar was his son. Nāradar, born with his Vīna, earned the privilege of being the 'All Worlds Traveller.'

29. His music was supreme: It gave happiness, relief from distress with Mauna (silence), and the enquiring Jñāṉa (wisdom) with discrimination and clarity, directed to truth.

30. Narayana Mūla Mantram gave a unique Amsam: Nāradar. His explication of Truth is Nārada Puranam.