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Story Of Sage Narada Twisting Music Ragas With His Pride

The story of Sage Narada twisting Raginis (the personalized forms of the various Ragas) with pride is found in the Linga Purana.

Narada, the spotless Nada-Yogin, once began to develop the pride about his knowledge and proficiency in music. The all-knowing Lord Narayana wanted to prick the bubble of pride at the earliest. Assuming mischievous innocence He asked Narada to accompany Him in His daily journey through the universe. Sage Narada did without any hesitation.

Story Of Sage Narada Twisting Music Ragas With His Pride

On their way Narada was horrified by what he saw at one place. There he saw a host of celestial damsels. But the pity of it! Each and every one of them was lying maimed and mutilated.

Narada asked the Lord who the damsels were and how their limbs came to be so terribly twisted, contorted and injured.

The All-knowing Lord sported ignorance. Seemingly guileless He told Narada: "Yes, I too am puzzled to see these damsels in this ghastly plight. But I don't know anything about them. So you please go to them and get first-hand information."

Narada approached them and asked, "Mothers, who are you? How is it that your limbs are so deformed and twisted? "

The damsels replied with a sigh: "O Saint, we are the Raginis, i.e., the personalized forms of the various Ragas. You must have heard of one Narada. We too have heard of him, but have not seen him. May we not see him ever. For it is because of him that we are undergoing this great suffering."

Narada was flabbergasted.

The celestial maidens continued: "This Narada conceitedly thinks that he has mastered the art of music to perfection. But it is verily because of his mishandling of the Ragas, that we, the personalized forms of those Ragas, have become so misshapen, maimed and twisted."

A shame-faced Narada returned to Narayana and stood silent "Now what is your information?" the Lord asked – a not teasingly, tauntingly, but in pretended innocence.

Narada fell crest-fallen at His lotus-feet. The bubble got pricked!

Music and character go hand in hand. Inner purity must precede the purity of notes, according to famous Carnatic Musician Thyagaraja: suddhamaina manasuce susvaramuto. The scriptures caution the Sangita Sadhaka (practitioner of music) to be wary of any lapse in character, the gravest and subtlest of them bring the pride of proficiency in the art itself. 

Source - Story taken from the article published by Raga in the Mountain Magazine October 1977 issue under the title 'The ego must go.'