Narada is a Vedic sage who plays a prominent role in a number of Hindu texts, notably the Ramayana and the Bhagavata Purana. Narada is arguably ancient India’s most traveled sage with the ability to visit distant worlds and realms (Sanskrit lokas).
He is depicted carrying a khartal and Veena and is generally regarded as one of the great masters of the ancient musical instrument.
Narada is described as both wise and mischievous, creating some of Vedic literature’s more humorous tales. In the Mahabharata, Narada plays a critical role in many instances – his knowledge is used in critical situations to arrive at right conclusions.
The Mahabharata explains Narada’s qualifications and experience in vivid detail – He was conversant with the Vedas and the Upanishads and was acquainted with history and Puranas. He had thorough knowledge of the six Angas – Pronunciation, grammar, prosody, explanation of basic terms, description of religious rites and astronomy.
He was a perfect master in re-conciliatory texts and differentiating in applying general principles to particular cases. He could swiftly interpret contraries by references to differences in situation.
He was eloquent, resolute, intelligent and possessor of powerful memory. He knew the science of morals, politics, skilled in drawing inference from evidence, and very proficient in distinguishing inferior things from superior ones. He was competent in judging the correctness and incorrectness of complex syllogistic statements consisting of 5 proponents.
He possessed knowledge of this whole universe, above it, below it and everything surrounding it.
He was the master of the Sankhya and Yoga systems of philosophy, conversant with sciences of war and treaty and proficient in drawing conclusions of judging things not within a direct knowledge.
He was incapable of being repulsed by any science or any course of action.
All loved him – be it gods, demons or human beings. He had one weakness – that of disclosing to gods and demons, the secrets about each other. Gods and demons, naturally, hated each other. Narada’s deeds often created trouble and friction among gods, demons and men, and such friction often led to a war in the end. Hence, Narada acquired the name ‘KALAHAPRIYA’, or the lover of quarrels. Narada’s intention was to espouse a good cause.
Narada is a wanderer, traveling among all three worlds.
Narada was not the kind of rishi who would sit at a place and meditate. He always strove for human welfare.
Vyasa has described Narada as follows in the ADIPARVA of the Mahabharata:
“Narada is a great scholar, he is well versed in Vedanta, he is serene and tender hearted. Human beings, angels and demons alike respect him. He has a lustrous personality, and is a veritable Brihaspati in intellectual powers. He has extraordinary proficiency in Samaveda and is an expert musician. He can set at naught any doubts and misgivings. He can always find devices on he spur of the moment for helping people out of difficulties. He can charm people with his pleasant speech. He knows the art of articulating each syllable and is also well versed in semantics. He knows the precise use of each word.”