Hearing and Speaking Hari Katha: Way of life for the Kumara brothers
The Sanata Kumara brothers were travelers across multitudinous dimensions in the field of consciousness. They retained their form of 5 year old children, as they visited the dimensions beyond material space. In the nether region of Patala (पाताल The lowest abode, below earth), they would visit the abode of Lord Sheshanaga, the eternal servitor of Lord Narayana and in the abode known as Kailash, they would seek the company of the greatest devotee of Lord Narayana, Lord Shiva. They would hear the glories and pastimes of the Supreme Being from the Lotus mouths of both Lord Sheshanaga (शेषनाग) and Lord Shiva. Even after listening to the infinite glories, their thirst to hear the pastimes of the Lord seemed unquenchable. They would then return to their own abode Jana Loka and become the speakers of Hari Katha. They had the entire Jana Loka as their audience and would relay the pastimes of the Lord, the way they received it from the two Lords Sheshanaga and Shiva. At other times, to cast their causeless mercy on some being, they would descend to the earthly platform. They had also delivered many times the philosophy of Love of God, Bhakti to one of their dear disciples, Emperor Prithu, after whom Mother Earth got Her Vedic name Prithvi (पृथ्वी). Even the other mind-born son of Sri Brahma, sage Narada received Hari Katha from the Sanat Kumara brothers. Millions of other beings from various dimensions had the fortune of receiving Hari Katha from the Kumara brothers. It was during one such visit of the Kumara brothers that the eternal door-keepers of Vaikuntha were accursed to accept three demoniac incarnations on the earthly plane. The Sanata Kumara brothers can be regarded as the foremost torch-bearers of the cult of speaking Hari Katha. There are very few people who can be regarded as good listeners. Even after being regarded as the foremost proponents and preachers of Hari Katha, the Kumara brothers would accept an unassuming position and with a very child-like inquisitive manner consume the nectar of Hari Katha from other devotees. This talks volumes about their humility and innocence. Jnana, Vairagya, Nama Japa and being subservient listeners to Hari Katha defined the very character of the Kumara brothers.
Sage Narada is the Acharya of Keertan
Deva Rishi Sage Narada says thus about his own internal state “When I sing the glories of the most auspicious and benevolent Lord, remembering his divine qualities, the very same Lord, appears in my heart without a moment’s delay.” Sage Narada is an unhindered space traveler, a traveler similar to his other four brothers, the Kumara brothers. His only occupation is to incessantly chant the names of the Lord as he toured the entire consciousness realm, material as well as spiritual realms. Sage Narada, along with the 4 Kumara brothers is considered one amongst the 12 Mahajans (महाजन beings who have perfect knowledge about the Supreme Personality of Godhead). He is also known as the Acharya of Keertan (कीर्तन singing the glories of the Lord), the advocate of praising the Lord, as a spiritual discipline. Sage Narada had vowed that he would inspire and advocate the Lord’s glory in every single household within the universe.
The story of Upabarhan and the curse of Sri Brahma
In the previous Kalpa (कल्प cycle of creation) Narada was the Gandharva (गंधर्व a type of being) named Upabarhan (उपबर्हण). Upabarhan was proud of his physical appearance. Once, at the abode of Sri Brahma, all the Gandharvas, Kinnaras (किन्नर) and other types of celestial beings came together to sing the glories of the Supreme Lord. On that occasion, Upabarhan arrived at that place accompanying some women. Upabarhan arrived there in a lusty mood, with women supporting his indecency. To go to a place of worship or where there is an association of devotees, in a mood not conducive to Bhakti is Aparadha (अपराध crime or blasphemy) at the feet of the Supreme Lord. Upabarhan’s actions were highly objectionable because of their lascivious nature. Seeing the behavior of Upabarhan, Sri Brahma cursed the Gandharva, to be born out of the womb of a Shudra woman. It should be understood that Sri Brahma was a great devotee; a devotee’s curse is also meant for the welfare of the transgressor. Even their anger, is supposed to bring auspiciousness to the recipient of such anger.
Narada-Upabarhan reborn as a Shudra.
Upabarhan was reborn to a Shudra lady. However, the Shudra woman was servant to Brahmanas who were servitors of the Lord and performed rituals for the pleasure of the Lord. By the grace of Sri Brahma, the Shudra boy, the reincarnated Upabarhan, had well developed qualities a patience, forbearance, seriousness, straight-forwardness, equanimity, humility, modesty and several other divine qualities. When the boy was five years old, there arrived a few yogis at the place, where the boy and his mother, the Shudra women, offered humble service to the Yogis, who were then observing the holy month of Chaturmasa (चतुर्मास Observance of vows for 4 months of monsoons). Remembering this birth of his, Sage Narada said this to his dear disciple Veda Vyasa “Dear Vyasa, I remember, I was too small at that time and yet I was not playful in my mannerisms. I had gained control over my senses at a very young age. I would forsake play and instead, was engaged with serving devotees and yogis. The devotee, knowing me to be innocent, showed me great mercy. I belonged to the class of Shudras (शुद्र fourth class among the Varnas). With their kindness and seeking their permission, I would partake their food remnants. This act proved to be extremely purifying and I was rid of the sins of all my previous lifetimes. My heart was completely purified. I developed the taste for listening to the pastimes of the Lord. I used to serve the devotees and then hear from them, the divine pastimes of the Lord. After the Chaturmasa month, the devotees and the yogis prepared to leave. Being impressed by the Shudra boy, they showered their mercy on him. The boy was initiated into the Lord’s mantra, by them. The Sadhus left, shortly.
Narada gets the first vision of the Lord
The boy’s mother was milking the cow, on a certain day. She stamped a snake by mistake and was bitten by it. She died instantly. The boy, instead of being saddened by the event, took it as the mercy of the Lord. The mother had never allowed her son to move around freely, as she was heavily attached to him. He was curtailed by the bondage chains of parental affection. Such is the nature of worldly affection. Now the boy was left scot free, by the kind Lord, his mother, having died. At the age of five the boy had no clue about the ways of the world nor was aware of the times. The boy, took the path northwards, without a stop. After walking for a few days, the boy stopped near a stream. He quenched his thirst and took his seat under a Pipal tree. He started meditating on the form of the Lord, about which he had learnt from the sadhus. During the course of his meditation, the boy suddenly attained a glimpse of the Lord’s transcendental form in his heart. The boy was ecstatic, overjoyed. But that vision lasted only for a few moments and then vanished. The boy tried his level best to attain that vision again, somehow, by some means but was grossly unsuccessful. Seeing the desperation and the steep intent of the little boy, there was an oracle which said “In this body you cannot see me again. Your heart still remains to be purified. I have only shown you this vision so that you will develop greed for me, so that you shall be able to mediate on me better. The boy immediately got up and prostrated in the direction of the Oracle. The boy started singing the glories of the Lord, then on and traversed the length and breadth of the earth. At the ordained time, the boy left his body, after having entered adulthood. In that Kalpa, this Shudra boy, was never reborn. At the end of the Kalpa, the boy entered into the heart of Sri Brahma and at the beginning of creation, of the next Kalpa, he attained the spiritual form and appeared as Deva Rishi Narada. He was ordained as the Mind- incarnation of the Supreme Lord. The Lord always used Sage Narada as His best resourceful medium to manifest His personal desires.