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Better than best – Naarad, Thumbur and Hanumaan

May 22, 2021

Naarad and Thumbur were sons of Brahmaji (Creator) and were gifted with great capability in music. They were called Divine Seers (Deva Rishi). They had one Veena (String instrument) each. Naarad’s veena was called Mahati and Thumbur’s was called Kalavati. These veenas were their partners and were like their consort. They loved these instruments and the instruments became part of their lives.

Both Naarad and Thumbur were singers of highest excellence and their veenas added to the rhythmic concordance. When each of them sang the whole audience and environment responded and swung along the waves of divine songs and divine music of highest order.

Naarad and Thumbur were devotees of Lord Vishnu and lords enjoyed their presence and presentation. Naarad used to meditate about Lord Vishnu Narayana and would always sing using “Mahathi”. Whenever he visited any pace he used to announce his arrival by saying, “Narayana ! Narayana !”

One day Indra, the Lord of Gods in general assembly praised both the rishis for their music talent after two concerts by each of them. In both cases they received standing ovation from the whole assembly. They were given very valuable presents and they both were happy. When they came out of the assembly, Naarad said, “Dear brother Thumbur, there is no doubt that we are the two best musicians and singing artistes of the entire universe, but who is Mr. Musical Universe. Who is best among us? You will agree, that I am better than you considering my seniority and experience.”

Thumbur said, “Dear brother, seniority does not mean much when extraordinary results are to be attained. It is performance, innovation and added value which matter. You will agree that I am more innovative than you. You are excellent in tradition but I am much better in value addition. You being elder should encourage younger brother like, me, by honestly recognizing the par-excellence in me.”

Naarad said, “But-------.” Thumbur said, “Not only that ---------.” “Further------.” “Then--------.” “No-------“. “Not at all !” “How--------?” “Why not---------?” The discussion, debate and argument proceeded and was about to a turn into a terrific fight.

Sage Asita who was also a great rishi came and said, “Brothers, what is happening?”

Naarad and Thumbur said, “We are trying to find out who is best amongst us, but are unable to find.” Asita smiled, “You will never be able to find out. This is an objective matter. Objective cannot be decided by subjective. Both of you are interested parties. Why not go to Indra and ask him to adjudicate?”

They liked it and went to the King of Gods Indra and said, “Respected Indraji! Can you please help us to find out who is the best and greatest singer in the universe amongst the two of us!” Indra assembled the eight rulers of eight directions (including himself) and requested Naarad and Thumbur to have a jugalbandi. They sang for 11 hours but Indra and chief gods could not decide. Indra said, “We are not competent enough. Please approach further Brahmaji!”

They both approached Brahmaji and requested. Brahmaji said, “Both of you are my songs. Both of you are equal to me and I am also a subjective interested party. You may approach Lord Shiva. He is a supreme master of drums and rhythms.”

When approached, Lord Shiva said, “Both of you are superb. My marks are equal. What about your mother Saraswathi? Is she not the source of speech, song, music and knowledge? Please discuss with her.”

Saraswathi said, “Dear Sons! I am not for competition. All artists are my children. The right person to resolve your predicament is Lord Vishnu himself.”

They went to Lord Vishnu and first sang two wonderful kirtanas. Vishnu said, “What can I do for you?” Thumbur said, “Oh kind one! Naarad thinks that his is better than me. Who is the best in music amongst us; who are the two top most final contenders for Mr. Musical Universe? Nobody including Brahmaji and Lord Shiva are able to decide. We have come to you as a final resort. Please help us.” Lord Vishnu smiled and remained in smiling contemplation for a long time. then when Laxmi reminded him he said, “Dear Naarad and Thumbur! When each of you sing with your veena, at that time each one of you appear best. Actually both of you are personification of divine excellence and there is not much difference. Why don’t you consider yourself as joint winners?” Naarad and Thumbur kept quiet. But it was clear that they were not ready for the optimal win-win solution. They were bent upon a win-lose or lose-win situation. Vishnu, the supreme person said, “O.K. ! There is one person who can help you. He is also my devotee like you. Go to Hanumaan in the Himalayas.”

Naarad and Thumbur were shocked, “What does a monkey like Hanumaan know about the quality and excellence of music? How is that their lord has chosen a monkey to be the final judge leaving gods and men in a matter concerning two divine rishis? This they thought but did not reply. Now there is no other way but to approach the old monkey, Hanumaan.

Hanumaan was in deep meditation. He was sitting on a snaow block on Annapooma Mountain. Snow and ice was all around him in a sub-zero atmosphere. His lips were silently moving to harmonious form “Raam!_______Raam!__________Raam!” Naarad and Thumbur sat silently in front of him like two good children. Their veenas – Mahanti and Kalavati were on ice in front of them. After a very long time Hanumaan opened his eyes. He saw Naarad and Thumbur. He was instantly in great joy. He folded his hands and said, “oh ! what a good day. The two greatest devotees of lord are in front of me. Why have you come to see me at this lonely cold place? What can I do for you? Naarad said, “Hanumaan Ji ! We have a small problem. You know that we both are two topmost singers and musicians of the universe. But who is first and who is second nobody is able to resolve. Lord Vishnu himself sent us to you !”

Hanuman closed his eyes. A smile appeared on his face. He opened his yees. He said to them, “oh great devotees, before we proceed to the competition, why not remember the lord. I will just sing a bhajan and then we will see who is the best.” Naarad and Thumbur were reluctant but agreed. They thought, “This is the problem with monkeys. When one thing is to be done they will jump to another thing. Was Lord Vishnu correct?”

Hanumaan started singing slowly, “Raam! Raam! Jai Jai Raam! Sita Raam!! Jai jai Raam! Sita Raam! _____.” Hanumaan’s body, his every organ, his each uttering, each word became a harmonious whole and the waves of joyful consciousness emanated. The simple bhajan started slowly, picked up speed and then vibrated with a great singing effect. The whole world seemed to have joined Hanumaan. The environment started becoming bright and then warm. Mist evaporated, the sun appeared. Spring appeared in winters of Himalyas. Hanumaan was deeply merged into the progressing symphony of supreme song. Snow melted, streams started flowing, the waterfalls started descending deep into valleys, rainbows appeared. Waterfalls became rhythematic accompaniments to harmonious enchanting prayer. Hanuman continued. Birds appeared, parrots sang, peacocks danced, universe danced. Naarad and Thumbur became part of the experience. They lost themselves and started singing along with Hanumaan. From part they became the whole of the prayer. Hanumaan, Naarad and Thumbur became one three-some and then full-some. Song moved. Time stopped.

Hanuman stopped the song suddenly. World stopped. The sudden discontinuity was unbearable. Bird’s disappeared, spring disappeared, the sun disappeared, waterfall stopped. The mist came back. The ice reformed. It was dead silence. Naarad and Thumbur opened their eyes. They looked at Hanumaan. Thumbur said, “Hanumaan Ji! Why did you stop? This was the most wonderful experience. I never had such a devotional Samadhi before!” Naarad nodded and agreed.

Hanumaan said, “Have you forgotten the purpose of your visit? Let us have your competition.” Naarad and Thumbur had completely forgotten their reality and with a jerk they went back to competitive “I”ness.

They adjusted themselves and waited to start singing. Then they searched for their instruments – Mahathi and Kalavathi. They were stacked up in solid ice. Without them we cannot sing in perfect rhythm. “Hanumaan smiled and said, “Sing! Sing and make the ice re-melt and take out your instruments.” Naarad and Thumbur looked at each other. They started singing separately and then together. The flow was not perfect. Without instruments they were helpless. Each of them experienced 1000 defects in their own voices, rhythm and singing. They felt imperfect. Suddenly they realized. Ego melted. They bowed down and said to Hanumaan, “Great devotee! We were ignorant. We thought only we were best and the top two. Actually you are much better. Even without any instrument you did magic with music.”

Hanumaan said, “No! there is nothing like best. Every best can be bettered. Every record is waiting for record breaking. Continuous improvements is the key. Best must be bettered. One more thing, when you cross excellence and move towards par-excellence and supreme excellence, competition disappears. There is no competition and there is only collaboration. Collaborative-corrective-collective-conscious spirit is the music of universe.”

Gods appeared, Vishnu smiled, Hanumaan started singing. All sang togather. “Aum tatsatsri Narayana Tu! Purushottama Guru Tu! _____________” Narayana joined the song of Narayana, which is the song of self, song of each person and living being, which is universal song. Universal unification from units to unity occurred. Ego melted completely. Ice melted.

Naarad and Thumbur picked up Mahathi and Kalavathi the great instruments. Both of them realized that they themselves are instruments of God.


Dr. Bansari Dave, Associate Professor, Unitedworld School of Business (UWSB)

Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.

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