The story of Narada and his arrogance – Shiva Purana
Once Narada the excellent sage, son of Brahma was inclined to perform penance. He found a beautiful cave (very convenient for penance) in Himalayan Mountain, near which a celestial river was flowing the leading sage. He performed the penance for a long time, seated firmly and steadily, keeping silent, controlling the breath and retaining the purity of the intellect, doing meditation and contemplation wherein the realisation “I am Brahman” is generated leading to the direct perception of Brahman.
When the great sage Narada was performing penance, Indra, the leader of deities doubted Narada’s intention and thought that the sage was yearning for his kingdom. To spoil the Narada’s penance, he commanded Kamadeva (Cupid). Kamadeva, accompanied by his wife (Rati) and Madhu, his friend, went to that place and employed all his arts. Spring too haughtily spread his prowess of diverse nature. But the mind of the sage (Narada) did not waver.
The mind of Narada did not waver, reason being, it was the very place where Shiva performed great penance. Shiva reduced the Kamadeva to ashes here who used to spoil the penances of sages. Rati wanted the resuscitation of Kama and requested the Deities. They appealed to Shiva, the benefactor of the whole world who said: after some time, Kama will come to life again. But none of his tricks will succeed here. It was due to this, Kama’s viles did not prevail upon Narada. Kamadeva went to Indra and narrated him his unsuccess. Indra was unaware of the true facts and was greatly surprised and he admired Narada.
After realising that his penance was complete, Narada concluded the same. Thinking that he had conquered Kamadeva, he was filled with pride. He was devoid of true knowledge and deluded by Shiva’s maya. Narada went to Kailasa to expatiate on his own achievement. Bowing down to Rudra, the sage arrogantly spoke about his conquest of Kama. On hearing it, Shiva advised Narada, “you are blessed, but never speak like this anywhere else, especially in the presence of Viṣhṇu”.
But Narada who was still under the influence of Shiva’s Maya did not take up his advice. Then the great sage went to Brahma’s loka. After saluting Brahma, he told him about his conquest of Kama as a result of his penance. On hearing that, Brahma meditated on Shiva’s feet and knew thereby the true cause. He then forbade his son.
Narada did not still take up the advice of Brahma. Then, Narada hastened to Viṣhṇuloka to boast of his achievement to Viṣhṇu. When Viṣhṇu saw Narada approaching, he could guess the purpose of his visit. He said, “you are blessed. I am sanctified by your visit. May I know where you come from and why you have come?” On hearing these words of Viṣhṇu, the sage Narada felt elated. He narrated his story in the same haughty manner. On hearing the arrogant words of the sage, Viṣhṇu remembered the lotus-like feet of Shiva and understood the true cause. He said, “O foremost among sages, you are blessed. You are the storehouse of austerities and large-hearted. O sage, lust and delusion rise only in the heart of that man who is devoid of the three types of devotion. Base passions bring all sorts of miseries instantly. But you are vowed to perpetual celibacy. You are ever endowed with knowledge and devoted to non-attachment. Unaffected by passion and highly intelligent by nature how can you be swayed by lust?”
On hearing words like these, Narada laughed within himself but spoke to Viṣhṇu humbly. He said, “what can Kama do to me if you remain favourable to me?” Saying so, the sage bowed to Viṣhṇu and left.
When Narada went away, Vishnu ji with his Maya created a big wonderful city. It was far more beautiful than heaven. The wealthy and prosperous king of that city named Silanidhi was preparing for the gorgeous celebration of Svayaṃvara (selection process of bridegroom) of his daughter. Brilliant princes coming from all the four quarters eager to court the princess. On seeing such a splendid city, Narada was enchanted. With his love kindled, he eagerly went to the palace threshold. When the sage reached the palace the king Śilanidhi adored him and offered him a seat on the splendid throne. He called his daughter Srimati and asked her to kneel down at the feet of Narada. He informed Narada, “her daughter has attained the marriageable age. She is in search of a qualified bridegroom”. He asked the sage to foretell her destiny.
By the time, Narada became an agitated victim of love and desired her. He said, “your daughter is endowed with all qualities. Her future husband will certainly be a splendid God, lord of all, unvanquished, heroic, on a par with Shiva, and Vying with Kamadeva”. Having said this, Narada took leave of the king. Narada who was agitated by love, went to Viṣhṇuloka somehow to acquire Viṣhṇu’s form to captivate her. He narrated his affair to Vishnu and requested his favour with a splendid form. On hearing these words of the sage Viṣhṇu, blessed the sage with a form like his own and the face of Hari (i.e., the monkey since the word Hari means a monkey also).
The great sage Narada hastened to the place where Svayaṃvara was to be held and where the princes had assembled. With his mind surging with love, he began to think, “She will choose only me since I am in Vishnu’s form”. The poor sage did not know the ugly character of his face. Considering the sage, a fool, the two attendants of Rudra sat near the sage and began to mock at him. The sage overwhelmed by love did not heed their whisper. He went on gazing at the princess Srimati and was eager to get her. In the meantime, the princess had come out and went in search of a suitable bridegroom went round the hall with the garland in her hands. On seeing the sage with the face of a monkey and the body of Vishnu she was infuriated. Failing to find a bridegroom of her choice she was afraid. She did not put the garland round the neck of anyone. Meanwhile Vishnu came there in the guise of a king. He was not seen by anyone. Only the princess saw him. Then on seeing Vishnu, she put the garland round his neck. The sage oppressed by love became excessively agitated.
The attendants said to Narada, “being deluded by love, you are desirous of getting her. Your effort is in vain. See, your face is as despicable as that of a monkey”. On hearing their words Narada was surprised. Deluded by Shiva’s maya he looked into a mirror. On seeing his face like that of a monkey he became infuriated. The deluded sage cursed the two attendants. Narada said, “Since you had mocked at me, you will become demons born of Brahminical semen and of that form”. Then, he went to Vishnuloka. Narada said to Vishnu ji, “you made me distressed for the sake of woman. O Hari, you shall experience misery in that human form which you imitated while proceeding with your deceptive tactics. Your allies will be those whose face you assigned to me. You shall get the misery of separation from a woman. You shall have the travails of a human being deluded by ignorance.” Thus Narada, deluded himself by ignorance, cursed Hari. Vishnu quietly accepted the curse praising the Maya of Sambhu. Thereafter Shiva withdrew his enchanting Maya whereby Narada became wise (as before) and free from delusion.
When the Maya vanished, he became as intelligent as before regaining perfect knowledge and becoming free from distress. He was surprised (at his own action in the meantime). He cursed himself after repenting again and again. On realising his mistakes due to illusion, Narada, the most excellent of the devotees of Vishnu, fell at his feet. He said, “O lord, I heaped curses on you. O master, please make them ineffective. I have committed a great sin. Certainly, I will be falling into a hell.”
Vishnu said, “deluded by your haughtiness you disobeyed the instructions of Shiva. The true bestower of fruits according to the actions, He has given you this result. Everything has happened in accordance with Shiva’s wish. He removes haughtiness. He is the supreme Brahman; the supreme Ātman, Existence, Knowledge and Bliss. He is free from the three Guṇas, changes and deviations. He is beyond Rajas, Sattva and Tamas. He is both Saguṇa and Nirguṇa (with and without attributes). He Himself availing of his own Maya manifests into three forms—Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh. Different from Maya, the pure Being in the form of Shiva is the Sakṣin (cosmic witness) and moving about according to His Will and indulging in divine sport He blesses his devotees. O sage Narada, please listen to a good remedy that bestows happiness, removes all sins and yields worldly pleasures and salvation. Cast off all your doubts. Sing the songs of noble glory of Shiva. With your mind not turning to anything else, always repeat the hundred names of Shiva and his hymns. By his Japa all of your sins will perish instantaneously. O sage, perform His adoration. Worship him always. Hear and sing his glory. Perpetually pay Him homage. He who approaches Śiva by means of his body, mind and speech is a great scholar. He is called a living liberated soul. The sins which are at the root of worldly existence are destroyed certainly by the axe of Shiva’s name. It is my conviction that salvation is easy of access only to the person who has exclusive and unflinching devotion for Shiva and not for any other. After bowing to him and eulogising Him you will become free from all doubts. Thereafter you must go to Brahmaloka to achieve your wishes. After bowing to and specifically eulogising your father Brahma, you shall ask him many points regarding Shiva’s greatness with an endearing mind. Brahma, the foremost among the devotees of Shiva, will narrate to you the greatness of Shiva as well as the hymn of hundred names, out of love. After advising the sage Vishnu was pleased. Remembering, saluting and eulogising Shiva he vanished from that place.”
when Vishnu vanished, Narada roamed over the Earth seeing Shiva Lingas (in the various holy centres) with piety. On knowing that Narada of divine vision was wandering over the Earth, the two attendants of Shiva approached him who by that time had become pure in mind. They bowed to him and touched his feet. With a desire to secure release from the curse they spoke to him respectfully. The attendants of Shiva said, “O celestial sage, son of Brahma, we, your former offenders, are the attendants of Shiva. Induced by Shiva, you had cursed us when your mind was deluded by the illusory infatuation for the princess at the Svayaṃvara. No one is to be blamed for it. O lord, be pleased. Bless us now.” The sage replied lovingly, repenting (for his previous fury). Narada said, “O attendants of Lord Shiva, formerly my mind had been depraved. Certainly, it was Śiva’s will. In that state of delusion and crookedness of the mind I had unfortunately cursed both of you. What I have said is bound to happen. Still, I shall tell you the way of redemption from the curse. Please forgive my sin now. You will be born as demons from the semen virile of a great sage and due to his power, you will secure the commanding position of the king of demons endowed with prosperity, strength and valorous exploits. You will rule over whole of the universe as devotees of Shiva with your sense conquered. You will gain your former position after courting death at the hands of another form of Vishnu.”
Arrogance or the pride of superiority rests on the premise on the fear to be ordinary person. It attempts to fill our inner emptiness with ego rather than allowing that emptiness to blossom into humility. If we can allow ourselves to be at the same level of importance as others: not higher, despite our gifts, and not lower, despite our defects—Just ordinary – It will be the antidote to arrogance.
All the malice, pains and miseries trace to the ego and ignorance. Anger, jealousy, arrogance……originate basically from ego. 1. Shrimad Bhagavad Gita (chapter 5.7) declares, the qualified karma yogi is one who pure in his heart, who has controlled his mind and his senses overcomes his egoistic thinking and limited vision.
Reference: Shiva Purana, Second Samhita - Rudra-saṃhita: Sṛṣṭi-khaṇḍa, Chapter 2, 3, 4 & 5