Composition of Narada Purana
The nature and the character of the Narada Purana show that it was not written by a single author. It can be considered as a compilation. Narada Muni is a divine sage from the Vaishnava tradition, who plays a prominent role in a number of the Puranic texts. He is also the writer of Narada smriti. He is a devotee of Lord Vishnu. He is one of the Prajapatis related to Kanva family. Again Narada is referred to as one of the eighteen scholars of Jyotisashtra in the Narada Samhita.
Style of Narada Purana
Narada Purana appears in the style of dialogue between the sage Narada, and Sanat Kumar. During the course of the dialogue between the two, Narada explains to Sanat Kumar the major places of pilgrimages, their location, and significance. The style of the Narada Purana may be considered to be Vaidarbhi, as the composition is elegant and has no long compounds in the metrical portions, though sometimes there are small and the prose passages have long compounds. The diction, classical Sanskrit, the metres and the figures of speech used show that this work belongs to the golden age of Sanskrit literature. The metre which is mostly used is Anustubh. We find some of the chapters closing with long verses. In Narada Purana there are around forty two chapters where the last verse is in a different metre. We get verses in different metres even in the middle of few chapters. There are prose passages which are long, high flown compounds and have a rhyme at the end of a topic. Observing the figures of speech Narada has employed the Abdalankaras, Anuprasa, Yamaka in plenty in Kavya style. There are no drifts in the grammatical style. In addition, there are verses which are near replication of stanzas contained in the Kumarasambhava and Kiratarjunya. It can be concluded that the Narada Purana has the poetical quality common to the Kavyas. It was written in the golden age of classical Sanskrit literature.
Adhyayas of Narada Purana
The adhyayas of Narada Purana contains various tales narrated by Narada Muni. These adhyayas deal with subjects like philosophy, dharma, religion and few others.
The Part I of Narada Purana deals with a number of tales involving the Indian sages. One such story is about Shounak and many other sages who meditated in the forest called Naimisharanya. Some performed sacrifices, others meditated on the true nature of Vishnu, and few others made offerings to Vishnu. The sages were trying to attain the four goals of Dharma (righteousness), Artha (that which gives meaning to life), Kama (that which is desired) and Moksha (liberation). Shounaka suggested them to hear the recitals from Suta the disciple of Ved Vyas. He would be able to deliver the wisdom of Puranas.
Features of Narada Purana
The Narada Purana belongs to the class of encyclopaedic Puranas. In religion, Narada's glorification of Lord Vishnu shows that he was a propagator of Vaishnavism. But he gives equal importance to Lord Siva and other gods also. Among the goddesses, Mahalaksmi, Durga, Saraswati and Savitri are given as partial incarnations of Radha. Narada seems to believe in the equality of Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva. According to Narada, Mahavishnu is the primordial Being from whom Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva emerge. Therefore they require equal veneration. Narada's approach to Tantrism also deserves special credit. In short Narada's treatment of Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism and Tantrism is an asset to the Puranic literature.
In philosophy, Narada had dealt with the six systems of Indian Philosophy equally well. Besides he describes the knowledge about the individual soul and its union with the Supreme Soul, Adhyatma tattva and Moksa dharma. With this, Narada's description of Pasupata, which is an older phase of that school, gives Naradiya Purana an important place among Shaivite works. His treatment on Bhakti is an example of the popularity of "Narada-Bhakti."
In the Vedangas, Narada describes siksha along with the rules of pronunciation of Vedic and Classical Sanskrit and also the rules regarding music. In Kalpa it deals with the Vedakalpa, Samhitakalpa Angirasakalpa and Santikalpa. In Vyakarana, its approach is not found to be very systematic as it gives examples without stating the rules on the topics. In astrology, Narada breaks new ground in the Puranic literature by giving an account of Ganita, Jataka and Samhita spread over three chapters. He has explained all the essentials connected with Jyotisa in detail.
Narada's description of many vratas, especially Ekadasi vrata and the illustration of the same with the story of Rukmangada, is very important. The Naradiya adhyayas are said to be almost the last word on the topic of vratas. Regarding tirthas, Narada has given a detailed description of holy places like the holy Ganga, Kasi, Purusottama etc. Its description of holy places is a valuable record. In this Purana, Narada has described the contents of all the 18 Mahapuranas. In fact the Naradiya description of the Puranas helps to find out the interpolations of the later period.