The curse of Narada

The curse of Narada

Ashish Joshi

MOST Indians are familiar with the story of Rama and Sita, and how they were separated when she was abducted by Ravana, the demon king of Lanka, and their subsequent rescue by the monkey-god Hanuman and his army. All lives hark back to previous lives, and this is the story of Rama and Sita’s separation, and Hanuman’s heroic assistance.

Narada was a sage, who was extremely conceited about his good looks. To cure him of his vanity, Vishnu and Lakshmi decided to teach him a lesson. Using his powers, Vishnu constructed a vast kingdom, glittering with wealth, while Lakshmi transformed herself into the kingdom’s beautiful princess. One day, word was sent out that she was looking for a suitable husband. Her portrait was sent to all corners of the kingdom. One portrait ended up with Narada; confident of his easy charm, he marched with haughty steps to the swayamvar chamber, where the princess was to choose her husband.

All the princes were lined up in the main hall of the palace. At the approach of the princess to the sound of heavenly music, the suitors gasped with disbelief at her richness of attire, her ethereal beauty and her poise. The air crackled with suspense; who would she choose? Narada smiled with self satisfaction as she approached him, confident of victory. But she walked past him and put the garland around the neck of the last suitor down the line.

Narada could no longer tolerate this insult. He broke from the line and railed at the princess for rejecting him in favour of a monkey. The princess smiled tolerantly and asked him to examine his own face in the mirror first. As he looked in his hand mirror, Narada was shocked to find a hairy, grinning monkey’s face in place of his own. Confused, Narada turned to look at the princess; she revealed her true form as Lakhmi, while the winning suitor took on the shape of her consort Vishnu. In rage and frustration, Narada cursed them both for the trick they had played on him; he decreed they would be born on earth as man and wife, and suffer the bitter pangs of separation.

But later he repented of his anger and begged Vishnu’s forgiveness; the god blessed him and said while the curse would come to pass, he (Narada) would be born as Hanuman, a kind, loyal friend to both Rama and Sita.

And it happened exactly as Vishnu had foreseen.

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