"You know we have very little time now" Brahma reminded Narada.
"Yes, I do. I am almost ready. Would you like to hear about how Vishnu explained Maya to me?"
"Yes, go on" Brahma said.
So Narada began -
"I reach for the boy, but ... in so doing, I let go of my second son!"
Here Narada's voice becomes heavy with emotion. He is almost living the experience again. After a while he continues.
"A moment later a gales wind tore my daughter from my arms. Then my beloved wife is washed away into the roaring darkness. I wail helplessly and claws at the sky. But my cries are drowned by a towering wave that rises from the depths of the terrible night and washes me headlong into the river. All goes black."
" Many hours pass; perhaps days. Slowly, painfully, I come to my senses, only to discover that I have been washed onto a sandbank far down the river. It is daytime now, and the storm has passed."
"But there is no sign of my family anywhere, nor, for that matter, of any living creature."
"For a long time I remain lying on the sand, almost mad with sorrow and abandonment. Bits of wreckage float past me in the river. The smell of death is on the wind."
"Everything has been taken from me now; All things life-giving and precious have disappeared into the swirling waters. There is little to do, it seems, but weep."
"Then, suddenly, I hear a deep voice behind me that makes the blood stop in my veins."
"Child," the voice asks, "where is my glass of water?"
I suddenly realize that all these years was nothing but illusion. It made me forget my real purpose.
I turn and see Krishna standing at his side, smiling mischievously. The river vanishes, and once again I and the Lord are alone in the empty desert.
"Where is my water?" Krishna asks again. "I have been waiting for you to bring it now for almost half an hour now."
I threw myself at the Lord's feet, tears in my eyes, and yet with a smile on my face.
"O Master, I forgot! ... Forgive me. I forgot what you asked for!"
The Lord smiled and said,
"Now do you understand the secret behind your life, and the appearances of this world?"
Narada smiled as he finished his story, and turned to Brahma.
"... And that is how the Lord explained Maya to me. I have been teaching this to the mankind since then. I told this story to Dharmaraja Yudhishthir when he was in exile."
Brahma cleared his throat. "Yes, indeed. But that is not why you should renounce married life. Why did you need to wander from place to place and not have a house and a family?"
"O Father, that is not going to happen, you know."
"But why? I do not understand. What was the need to live like a mendicant? You could have stayed with us, you know."
" Oh Father! But you know the answer to this question. I seek my destiny. I seek to understand Life and the welfare of the people, and I wish to spread my knowledge to all. I wish to give counsel to those in need. Even at this time of the Kalpa, when the Kali is at its strongest, there are individuals on the Earth who are pious and worthy of our counsel."
"I know, I know" ... Brahma said, getting up, " but you know why I have come now, don't you?"
"Yes, I do. I know the time is up, and my work here is done. It is time for me to come with you. The end of the Kaalchakra is fast approaching, and we are to merge with the Eternal Vishnu along with everything else. It is the time of Pralaya, and from which a new beginning will be sought. I am indeed looking forward to this, Father."
He gets up.
"Father, just let me get my Taanpura, and let us haste towards Vaikuntha."
07 May 2009