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Story Of Benefits Of Holy Company – Sage Narada

In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna says that he is Sage Narada among the rishis – such was the greatness of the rishi. There is a story about Sage Narada requesting Bhagavan Sri Krishna to narrate the greatness and benefits of holy company.

Sri Krishna did not reply immediately to the query of Sage Naraga. Probably, he thought that it was best that Sage Narada should find the answer to this question himself through experience. Hence, Sri Krishna told Sage Narada: ‘Please go towards the east. You will find a garbage dump there. There would be a worm there. Ask your question to that worm.’

Sage Narada, anxious to know the answer to his question, followed Sri Krishna’s instructions and reached the garbage dump. There he found the worm mentioned by Sri Krishna. Sage Narada put his question to the worm. The moment Sage Narada completed his question, the worm wriggled left and right, as though it was waiting to hear the question, and the next moment, died.

Seeing this, Sage Narada’s heart was greatly wounded. He went to Sri Krishna and recounted all that had happened with great sorrow. Hearing out Sage Narada, Sri Krishna said: ‘Now, you have to do something. Go straight towards the north. There you would find a dilapidated temple. You would find a pigeon living in the gopuram of that temple. Ask your question to that pigeon.’

Sage Narada went towards the north as Sri Krishna had told him. It is said that the darshan of a temple gopuram leads to freedom from all sins. Sage Narada approached such a glorious gopuram. There he saw the pigeon mentioned by Sri Krishna and he said to it: ‘O pigeon! I want to know the benefits of holy company.’ The rishi was anxiously waiting for the reply. But, the pigeon did not give any reply. Instead, it fluttered its wings, fell at Sage Narada’s feet, and died the next moment.

The compassionate Sage Narada was shocked. His heart melted with this distressing thought: ‘Alas! The moment I asked my question, the worm died. Now, the pigeon too has died. I have become the cause of the death of two living beings. I have taken the lives of two creatures.’ He again and again remembered what had happened and was greatly disturbed. Unable to control his sorrow, he went to Bhagavan Sri Krishna. As if waiting for Sage Narada’s arrival, Sri Krishna asked him: ‘What Maharishi! Did you get the reply to your question?’

Sage Narada was speechless. He was on the verge of tears. Somehow, he composed himself and recounted his heart-rending experiences. Sri Krishna said: ‘Is that so Sage Narada? Please do something. There lives a king in the south. Today, a son has been born to him. You can go and directly ask your question to that baby. Your question will vanish.’

Sage Narada did not proceed immediately in search of the answer to his question now as he had done a couple of times earlier. Because, he was afraid what he would do if the baby prince  also dies in front of him just as the worm and the pigeon had died. Also, the king might punish Sage Narada if the baby dies. Thinking all this, Sage Narada humbly expressed his concerns to Sri Krishna.

Sri Krishna understood Sage Narada’s concerns. He consoled Sage Narada with his gentle talk and saw him off with these words: ‘Nothing untoward would happen. This time you will definitely get your answer. Please proceed.’ Sage Narada reached the palace of the king mentioned by Sri Krishna. There, lying on a cradle was the baby referred to by Sri Krishna. Hesitatingly, Sage Narada asked the baby: ‘O child! Could you please tell me what is the benefit of holy company?’ Then, something happened that was completely unexpected for Sage Narada. The baby boy got down from the cradle. In a few seconds, he transformed into a god and saluted Sage Narada with humility and devotion.

Sage Narada’s amazement knew no bounds. He was dumbfounded. The god told Sage Narada with folded hands: ‘O Rishi! I am none other than the worm you found in the garbage dump. I got the fortune of becoming a pigeon because of your holy company. Even in my lifetime as a pigeon, it is because of your arrival and holy company that I was born as a prince in this palace. Even in this lifetime, since I got the company of you, a rishi, I have now got the privilege of becoming a deva, a god. My life-stories and my growth are the wonders produced by holy company.’ Saying these words, the god flew away to the world of gods, deva-loka. One does not need to explain the obvious. Sage Narada then understood the glory of holy company.