In the land of Gokarna there was a temple dedicated to Shiva. Narada decided that he would go and visit the temple. On the way, he saw a flowering champaka tree and stopped to admire it. A brahmana came there to pluck flowers from the tree. But seeing that Narada was there, the brahmana refrained from plucking any flowers.
Where are you going? asked Narada.
The brahmana lied and replied, To beg some alms.
Narada went to the temple. Meanwhile, the brahmana plucked flowers from the champaka tree and placed them in a basket that he covered up well. Narada met the brahmana again on his way back from the temple.
Where are you going now? He asked the brahmana.
The brahmana lied again, Home, he said, I could n’t get any alms.
Narada’s suspicions were aroused. He went to the champaka tree and asked, Has that brahmana plucked any flowers?
What brahmana? replied the tree. I don’t know of any brahmana. No one has plucked any flowers. Narada went back to the temple and discovered fresh champaka flowers lying there on top of the Shiva linga. There was another devotee praying there. Narada asked him, Do you know who came to worship with these champaka flowers?
Yes, I do, replied the devotee, It is an evil brahmana. He worships Shiva every day with champaka flowers. Thanks to Shiva’s blessings, he has completely brainwashed the king and has secretly been stealing the king’s wealth. He also oppresses other brahmanas.
Narada asked Shiva, Why do you encourage such evil?
I am helpless, replied Shiva. I cannot resist it if someone worships me with champaka flowers.
Just then, a brahmana woman came running with her tale of woe. Her husband was crippled. But they had managed to get some money from the king so that their daughter could be married. They had also received a cow from the king. But the evil brahmana was claiming that half of whatever they had received was his. It was due to his good offices that the king had been so generous, he was saying.
The evil brahmana had already appropriated half of the money. But how was a cow to be divided?
Narada then decided that something needed to be done about the champaka tree and the evil brahmana.
Apart from everything else, the champaka tree was a liar. Narada cursed the champaka tree that its flowers would never be accepted by Shiva as an offering. He cursed the evil brahmana that he would be born as a rakshasa (demon) named Viradha. But the brahmana had been a devotee of Shiva. So the curse was qualified by the stipulation that Viradha would be killed by Rama and would then again become a brahmana.