Narada Purana is one of the Upapuranas but is nevertheless regarded as a Mahapurana. The Purana was narrated by the sage Sanatkumara to Narada hence the name Narada Purana. It is also known as Naradiya Purana.
Cult of Narada Purana
Narada Purana is a compilation, intended to support the doctrines of Bhakti and faith in Vishnu. It also describes the importance of Ekadashi vow and Lord Vishnu; hence it is considered as Vaishnava Purana. Various prayers addressed to various incarnations of Vishnu are found in this work. It also contains different legends extolling the devotion to Lord Hari. Due to the doctrines of Bhakti, Padma Purana considers Narada Purana as Satvika (mild) by nature.
Structure of Narada Purana
Narada Purana comprises of two parts, Purvabhaga and Uttarabhaga. Purvabhaga, the first part constitutes 125 chapters and the second portion Uttarabhaga contains 82 chapters. The former is again divided into 4 sub sections namely Pada. On the other hand Uttara bhaga is continuous without any division. It is said that there are 25000 verses but the available edition does not have that many number of verses. It has 18110 verses. Hence we can conclude that some part of this Parana is missing.
Date of Narada Purana
There are not many versions about the date of Narada Purana. Before 600 AD is the generallly accepted period of Narada Purana.
Content of Narada Purana
It describes the Vaishnava feasts and ceremonies described in various legends and certain chapters describe the glory of Ganga, the duties of castes and Ashramas, funeral rites, sacrifices and expiation and so forth. It is a work on Vishnu Bhakti which has ten gradations. This Bhakti is repeatedly declared by the Purana to be the only means of salvation. In the Narada Purana we have stories of Dhruva and Prahalad. The second portion deals with the legend of Mohini, the mind born daughter of a king call Rukmangada. The king offers to perform for her whatever she may desire. She calls upon him either or violate the rule of fasting on the eleventh day of fortnight a day sacred to Vishnu or to put his son to death; and he kills his son, as the lesser sin of the two. This shows the spirit of the Narada Purana.
Gangavatara,Ganga mahatmya, how to create a well, lake, etc. vows, donations, punishments, origin of universe, slokas in praise of different deities, holy places are the other topics discussed in the Narada Purana.
Significance of Narada Purana
Many scholars have considered Narada Purana as the encyclopedia of various types of knowledge seeing the scope of subject matter. It is also very important from historical point of view because Adhyaya (chapter) number 92 to 109 gives the detailed list of 18 Puranas. We can study the original part of each Purana and later additions to it. Hence for study of any Purana, initially the account given in Narada Purana is preferred.
Philosophy in Narada Purana
Philosophical discussions done in the 42 to 45 Adhyaya is according to Shantiparva of Mahabharata. That is, Narayana is ultimate Tatva, he is known as Mahavishnu. Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh are created out of that tatva. The power of Vishnu is of two types Sat and Asat, it is also known as Vidya and Avidya. We straddle a separate universe from Vishnu because of Avidya. Difference between knowledge and ignorance reduces due to Vidya. As Vishnu is everywhere in this universe, his Shakti also accompanies him. She is in Vyakta or Avyakta form according to the situation.
Criticism of Buddhism can be seen in the Purana. Narada Purana considers Buddhists as Pakhandi, Vedanindaka. Brahmins should not visit their temples. If one visits, then that sin cannot be driven away by any kind of punishment.
- Mahadeva Shastri Joshi. 1968. Bharatiya Sanskruti Kosha, Vol. V. Pune. Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh Mandal.