The Narada Purana (abridged)

2010 | 18,115 words

The Narada Purana (Nārada Purāṇa) is one of the major eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of Hindu religious texts. It deals with the places of pilgrimages and features a dialogue between the sage Narada, and Sanatkumara. During the course of the dialogue between the two, Narada explains to Sanatkumara the major places of piligrimages, their location, ...

Suta and the Other sages

Narayanam namaskritya naranchaiva narottaman devim sarasvatinchaiva tato jayamudirayet.

This is always the first shloka in any Purana. Narayana is another name for Vishnu. The couplet means that, prior to reading the sacred texts, one should pray to Narayana and Nara, the best of all humans. One should also pray to Sarasvati, the goddess of learning. It is only after these prayers are over that one can start reading the sacred texts known as jaya. The word jaya was initially used to refer to the Mahabharata, but subsequently came to include the Ramayana and the eighteen Puranas as well.

There was a forest known as naimisharanya. Shounaka and several other sages performed meditation (tapasya) there. The sages were all honest and righteous. They had attained control over their senses and over hunger and thirst. They did not fall prey to pride, jealousy or pity. In that forest, they prayed to Vishnu. Some sages performed sacrifices (yajna), others meditated on the true nature of Vishnu, and still others made offerings to the great god.

The sages were trying to attain the four goals of dharma (righteousness), artha (that which gives meaning to life). Kama (that which is desired) and moksha (liberation). They called for a huge assembly at which the means for attaining these goals might be debated. Twenty-six thousand rishis (sages) came to attend this assembly. As for their disciplines, there were too many to be counted.

When the sages were busy discussing and debting, the sage Shounaka said, “I would like to submit something for the consideration of the assembly. Not very far from here is the hermitage (ashrama) known as siddhashrama. The sage Suta lives there. I do not need to remind you that Suta is Vedavyasa’s disciple and the great sage Lomaharshana’s son. Suta is learned in the Puranas. The best means for attaining the four goals is to listen to a recital of the sacred Puranas. Why don’t we go and ask Suta to recite the Puranas to us?”

The other sages were delighted at this wonderful suggestion. They all trooped off to visit Suta in siddhashrama.

Suta was engaged in performing a yajna then. That special yajna was known as agnishtoma and was dedicated to Vishnu.

The sages waited till the ceremony was over. Then they told Suta, “We are your guests and it is your duty to serve your guests. You have to give us what we desire. We are thirsting for knowledge. Please recite to us the wisdom of the Puranas.”

“I will do that gladly,” replied Suta. “Narada had recited to Sanatkumara the wondeful Narada Purana. A sinner who listens to a recital of this Purana is pardoned all his sins. This is the text that I am going to reveal to you. If one faithfully listens to the recital of even one couplet of this Purana, the severest of sins is forgiven. The only stipulation is that the text must never be revealed to those who are evil or to those who do not revere religion. Please focus your minds on Vishnu and concentrate. I am about to start.”

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