There was once a handsome young sage named Narada. He was devoted to god ad well versed in holy books. In one of these he came across a word, Maya, that was not clear to him. ‘Ah! What does it mean by Maya?” He said to himself as he went through the book again and again. Finally he shut it with a bang. “No, I don’t understand”, he said to himself, ‘and there’s no rest for me till I do”. He searched many books, consulted many scholars, but was not satisfied. What shall I do? Who can help me ?” he thought. Then suddenly he jumped to his feet. “Why, I must go to my Lord, my master Krishna”, he cried out “he would certainly know”. So he left for Dwarka where Krishna lived.
Krishna welcomed him heartily. “It’s very nice of you Narada”, said Krishna embracing him But my child”, he continued,’ it seems you aren’t at peace. What’s the matter?”
“Yes, my Lord”. Said Narada humbly “I have come to you with a problem”
What is it Narada?” asked Krishna
“Lord I couldn’t find the meaning of the word Maya. Please do explain it to me”, replied Narada with folded hands, “show me what Maya is .”
Krishna laughed aloud . ”Is that all that troubles you, my boy?” “Well surely you‘ll understand what Maya is but not now, you must be tired stay few days and take rest”
“It’s a blessing for me, Lord to be in your company”, Narada said.
A few days passed, but Narada did not get his answer. He grew restless but hesitated to remind Krishna. One day Krishna asked him to make a trip with him to a distant place. After walking several miles all day Krishna said, “narada I ‘m thirsty can you fetch me some water?”
“At once sir” said Narada and rushed off. At a little distance was a village and he knocked at the door of the nearest hut, which was opened by a most beautiful young girl.
“Ah! What divine beauty “, he muttered as he gazed upon her. The girl blushed and lowering her eyes, said in a sweet voice, ”Please do come in Sir, and tell me what can i do for you?”
Like one hypnotized, Narada stepped in and sat down, but could say nothing. He forgot his purpose of coming; he forgot his master was waiting; he forgot everything for one thought: ”What beauty she is, I must have her as my wife and I ‘ll be the happiest person“.
Girl left the room and sent her father. An old man with a white beard greeted Narada:”Welcome sir to my poor home. I’m honoured to have you as my guest. Please stay with us as long as you like”. Narada never expected such an invitation and was only too glad to accept it.
He found many opportunities to talk to her and talk ripened into love. One day he ask her, “Will you marry me?”
The girl blushed softly replied “…. only if my father agrees”
“I ‘ll talk to him right now”, said Narada and rushed inside to meet the old man. Narada sat, rubbed his hands, scratched his head, and then started: “Well sir,… I have a proposal …er… request to you … i ‘d like to ….er.. will you give us your consent…well…your daughter …and…er..I..I mean…”
Old man laughed and said “I understood. If my daughter agrees you ‘ll have my blessings”.
But my son I have a request “after the marriage, please stay here with me” Narada agreed promptly and happily. On an auspicious day Narada was married to the girl and both were immensely happy.
Thus twelve years passed. His father- in law died. Narada inherited his property. He lived as it seemed to him a very happy life with his wife and children, his fields and cattle.
One night he woke up suddenly to a fearful sound. “Oh! That’s thunder”, he said to himself, looking out through the window. “let thunder roar, lighting flash, rain pour, I ‘m safe and dry and happy in my house with my dear wife and lovely children”. And he dropped asleep again.
But his happiness did not last long. Soon there was a flood. The river rose until it overflowed its banks and flooded the whole village. Houses fell, men and animals are swept away and drowned, and everything was floating in the rush of the stream. Narada woke up once again hearing the screams of his children, jumped out of bed and opened the door. The sight that met his eyes turned his face ashen. “O God, O God spare my home”, he cried out but his voice was lost in the gush of water that entered his home.
Narada had to escape. With one hand he held his wife, and with the other two of his children; another child was on his shoulder, and he was trying to ford the tremendous flood. His evil star led him to a wrong place. After a few step she found, the current was too strong, and the child on his shoulder fell and was swept away. A cry of despair came from Narada. In trying to save that child, he lost his grasp upon the other two, and they were also lost. In helpless anger and despair he poured out a volley of oaths. Clinging to each other, husband and wife struggled on.
But alas, his dear wife, whom he clasped with all his might, was also torn away by the cruel current, and he was thrown on the bank weeping in bitter lamentation.
“O,Lord, what have I done that you gave me this punishment? What use is this life to me now?” Narada kept on lamenting, “Kill me too, O cruel one!”
Suddenly there came a gentle voice from behind him: “My child, where’s the water? You went to fetch water and have been gone for half an hour “.
“Half an Hour !! Narada exclaimed heaving himself up on his legs. “Who says this?” he turned to see. “O Lord, YOU! Twelve whole years have passed and all these things have happened and you say half an hour!”
Krishna smiled, “Narada, my son I thought you wanted to know what Maya is; and this is MAYA”