Narada Bhakti Sutras

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Chapter 5 Sutra 5, 6


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 5 –
Modante pitharo nrithyanti devataah sanaatha cheyam bhoorbhavathi

Word Meaning
Modanthe pitharo – Past generations rejoice,
Nrithyanthi devataah – Gods dance
Cha – and
Iyam bhooh sanaatha bhavathi – this Earth would get a savior (controller).

Sutra Meaning
Past generations rejoice, Gods dance and this Earth would get a savior because of these real devotees who are ever immersed in the Lord.

Narada now speaks about what effect real devotees will have in the world in this sutra.

Mundaka Upanishad proclaims that there will not be a single person who will not know Brahman in the kula of a Brahma Jnaani thus:

Na asya Brahmavid kule bhavathi

There is no difference between a knower of Brahman and a bhaktha of the ultimate reality of Lord (we have already discussed this previously). Even as an entire room is illuminated by a small lamp in the room similarly an entire clan will be purified if there is a knower of Brahman in the clan. We can even consider devotion towards the Lord as a disease communicated through proximity. Narada had earlier proclaimed in the 4th chapter that a bhaktha will always be speaking, thinking, chanting, singing etc. about the Lord alone. The power of the Lord is so strong not just because he controls the entire illusory world but because he is of the nature of bliss which we are constantly seeking – therefore the Lord attracts each and every person. Even as cotton dipped in kerosene or hay needs just a little spark to get burnt similarly all the beings in the world just need an initiation towards the ultimate reality of Lord. This initiation or spark is generated by the devotee’s presence in the entire family. Thus the entire family becomes devotees of the Lord thereby rejoicing in constant contemplation of the Lord.

Though it is not good to speak about personal matters, the entire family becoming devotee of the Lord is seen in my father’s family. Initially when my father was very devoted to AMMA, most of the relatives used to criticize him. But after 5-10 years all our relatives are devotees of AMMA (not staunch but at least seeking AMMA whenever she is in town, chanting Lalitha Sahasranama, always interested in listening about AMMA etc.). This in itself is a practical illustration of Narada’s statement that past generations or the entire clan itself will become devotees of the Lord thereby rejoicing in bliss.

Unlike human beings who are stuck with jealousy, Gods are people who are pure in their hearts. This Godly nature or sattvic qualities can be found in few rare human beings as well. This Godly nature is appreciation the success of another person who might or might not be related to us. It is natural to become happy with the success of one’s kith and kin but it is not natural to become happy with the success of any person. Gods are those beings who become happy with success irrespective of whom it graces. Thus when there is the presence of a real devotee, Gods will dance in joy as they experience the same bliss (because of being ever immersed in the Lord like the devotees).

It goes beyond doubt that a real devotee of the Lord is a person who shows the way to God realization to all the seekers of the world. This is evident in the lives of great masters like Krishna, Sankara, AMMA, Ramana etc. They serve the world and are saviors in taking the entire world from sorrows and sufferings to the state of eternal bliss. One may now object that earlier I spoke about my father leading the entire family to AMMA and whether it is true about my father being a savior – though helping the world can be done at different levels, it goes without saying that my father has taken more people to AMMA than even AMMA’s senior disciple Swami Amritasvaroopananda Puri (there is no Ego of “my father” in this statement – any person can verify thisJ).

Narada though enumerates few effects of real devotees in the world, we should understand that the very presence of the bhaktha is enough to send around bliss, peace, compassion and satisfaction as they signify constant contemplation of the ultimate reality of Lord.

We will continue with the next sutra in the next day.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Chapter 5 Sutra 3, 4


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 3 –
Teertheekurvanthi teerthaani sukarmee kurvanthi karmaani satshaastreekurvanthi shaastraani

Word Meaning
Teertheekurvanthi teerthaani – (Real devotees) sanctify the pilgrimage places;
Sukarmee kurvanthi karmaani – they make actions pure;
Satshaastreekurvanthi shaastraani – they give authority to scriptures.

Sutra Meaning
Real devotees sanctify pilgrim places, make actions pure and provide authority to the scriptures.

Why (or how)?

Sutra 4 –

Word Meaning
Tanmayaah – (for) they are ever established in the Lord.

Sutra Meaning
Because they are ever established in the Lord.

Narada here is again emphasizing real devotees by speaking about their greatness. This is so that each and every sadhaka will strive to become a real devotee by hearing about their greatness.

We know that a real devotee is one who is ever immersed in the thought or contemplation of the Lord. Thus around such devotees, we can feel the very presence of the Lord in the form of bliss. It is for this reason that most of us feel peace, bliss, contentment etc. in the presence of Mahatmas like AMMA and others. This means that wherever such a real devotee is there, it is a place of pilgrimage. We generally call teertha sthalas or pilgrimage places as those which will purify us of our sins. The most common place that comes to our mind is the ganges in Varanasi or Ahmedabad. We as ignorant seekers need to go to these pilgrimage spots in order to purify us of our sins.

How do these pilgrimage spots purify us?
In fact it is not the place in itself that purifies us but the thought of the Lord in our minds all the while we are in the place that purifies us. We think about the Lord only when we visit temples or ashrams or pilgrim places.

If this is the case, then what to speak about a real devotee who is ever immersed in constant contemplation of the Lord. His very presence makes the place a purifying spot. It is this purification of the Mahatma’s presence that gives us bliss and peace once we go to them and come back home. Thus Narada here says that such real devotees add more value and give life to pilgrim places, actions and scriptures. It is such Mahatma and their words which are testimonies to the scriptural truth – the scriptures are indirect knowledge whereas the Guru is a living embodiment of the scriptures. It is for this reason that many intellectual pandits are well versed in the scriptures but are not realized. They haven’t experienced Brahman and hence people following them also will be as deluded as them. Thus we have many self-proclaimed Mahatmas and saints leading a lot of devotees and followers into a string of sorrows. The moment we get near such a self-proclaimed Mahatma, we will be able to find tension and sorrow. On the contrary the very presence of a real Mahatma is enough to give us bliss for weeks and years to come by.

In the case of Mahatmas like Ramana Maharshi, the bliss and peace still emanates from the ashram in Tiruvannamalai though he is physically no more present. This pull of a real Mahatma is so strong that it even pulled people from the West (US and Europe) to visit one of the smallest villages in India where everything is scarce except the fiery sun during summer.

The pull we experience from a Mahatma is the pull of the ever-blissful Atman. This pull is because we are always attracted to our own Self. Though we are essentially the Self, we are now associated with the Body-Mind-Intellect complex whereas the Mahatma is ever established in the Self (or Lord). Thus the Self which we are seeking attracts us in the form of the Mahatma. Therefore Narada says that the Mahatmas or real devotees are ever established in the reality (Tanmayaah). This one quality alone is enough to determine who is a real devotee and who isn’t. It is this Lord who is of the nature of peace and bliss – hence Ramana used to say that the sole criterion for judging a saint is peace.

We will continue with the next sutra in the next day.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Chapter 5 Sutra 1, 2


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 1 –
Bhakthaah ekaanthino mukhyaah

Word Meaning
Ekanthinah bhakthaah – Devotees with one-pointed devotion
Mukhyaah – are the main (best).

Sutra Meaning
Devotees with one-pointed devotion are the best.

Narada starts this chapter about supreme devotion by saying that devotees who have one-pointed devotion are the greatest or supreme devotees.

What is one-pointed devotion?
One-pointed means focused on something. This is not normal focus but a focus so strong that the person is fully immersed on the thing. We can understand this easily by taking worldly examples. A mathematics scientist will always be focused on maths. An IIM aspiring candidate will be fully focused on the procedures to get into IIM. An alcoholic will be fully focused on alcohol irrespective of whether he is in office or home, during day or night. All these people are totally focused on one thing that the thing alone fills up most of their mind. Their mind or the thoughts in their mind are fully focused on the particular thing. This doesn’t mean that they will not think anything else but it only means that the thought about the particular thing alone will be having high priority in their mind.

Consider that we are driving a car from one place to another. We see a lot of other cars and people in the way. We even encounter calls on our phone. Yet all the while our mind is fully focused on driving. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t thinking about anything other than driving but that driving has the highest priority in our mind. Some people interpret ananya bhajanam (devotion without any other thoughts than the thought of the Lord) as the state of sanyaasa or wherein a devotee is fully in the Lord like an alcoholic is immersed in alcohol. This is not the right meaning of ananya bhajanam. As long as the world is perceived, it is impossible to be without other thoughts. As long as the mind is there, we will have many thoughts because mind itself is based on various thoughts (duality). But when a devotee focuses on the Lord rather than on other thoughts – other thoughts just like passing clouds – then it is called ananya bhajanam or one-pointed devotion. We can also interpret ananya in a different way from the perspective of practice – when a devotee is having various thoughts but considering all of them as nothing but the ultimate reality of Lord, then though he has many thoughts yet it is only one thought of the Lord that prevails in his mind. Though such a devotee is having many thoughts, yet his mind has only the one thought about the ultimate reality of Lord.

Thus a sadhaka who is ever focused on the ultimate reality of Lord alone will be without anything other than the Lord – thus there is nothing but the Lord alone for the devotee; such a devotee is the best devotee as this is para bhakthi wherein there is only the Lord and nothing else.

Such devotion is the highest because there is nothing else to achieve than this in life – when a devotee merges into the ultimate reality of Lord realizing that there is nothing here but the Lord alone, then that is termed as moksha or realization or eternal bliss – for such a sadhaka there is nothing to be achieved in life nor nothing to be done as there is only the Lord present (non-dual reality of Consciousness).

We will see Narada’s reason as to why such one-pointed devotees are the highest devotees in the world in the next few sutras. Narada’s reason might suggest that there is duality left for such devotees but such a view is only from the perspective of the ignorant seeker – for such a devotee whose mind has only the thought of the Lord has already merged into the Lord and thereby there is no scope at all for duality to exist from the devotee’s perspective. But we ignorant people might see or perceive such a devotee as doing various activities in the world. These activities of the devotee are suggestive that he is a para bhaktha or supreme devotee of the ultimate reality of Lord. We will see these in depth in the next few days.

Sutra 2 –
Kantha avarodha romancha ashrubhih parasparam lapmaanaah paavayanthi kulaani prithiveem cha

Word Meaning
Kantha avarodha – (When those devotees have) throats choked with emotion,
Romancha – hairs are standing in their body,
Ashrubhih – eyes covered with tears,
Parasparam lapamaanaah – converse with each other in broken words;
Paavayanthi kulaani – (they) purify their tribe (family as well)
Prithiveem cha – and entire Earth.

Sutra Meaning
When those devotees have their throats choked with emotion, hairs standing upright in their body, eyes covered with tears and converse with each other in broken words, they purify their tribe and the entire Earth.

Narada is giving one of the reasons in this sutra as to why such devotees who are one-pointed in their devotion to the ultimate reality of Lord are Supreme.

We also find as to how the supreme devotees would be behaving in the world when they hear about the Lord. Their throats will get choked, their eyes will be filled with tears, the hair in their body will be standing and they will not be able to communicate properly except with broken words. We find this so often in the case of Bhagavatha pravachanams (discourses on Bhagavatham). We find the person doing the discourse speaking fluently and all of a sudden words don’t come out of his mouth; he stops as if he cannot speak any more, his eyes become filled with tears for some time until he regains his balance. This is the state that Narada speaks about in this sutra. AMMA herself says that a devotee will not be able to remain steady when he hears the mantra of his Lord as the very utterance of the name of the Lord will make him ecstatic and into a different realm.

There are many people in the spiritual path who claim that unless a person cries when he hears about the Lord (and other features mentioned by Narada in this Sutra) he is not a real devotee and he lacks devotion. This is completely wrong. What Narada is here hinting is only from the perspective of an ignorant person. He is a supreme devotee who has merged unto the Lord – such a person will not even be able to speak or cry as he has no different existence apart from the Lord. Only a person who feels the difference between himself and the Lord will be able to cry when speaking about the Lord. Those who aren’t able to cry or bring few tears in their eyes when hearing about the Lord need not worry – real devotion isn’t bringing tears to one’s eyes but as Narada himself pointed in the previous sutra, real devotion is when a devotee has one-pointed devotion towards the Lord. Few of the one-pointed devotees while acting in the world might get dragged into the realm of the Lord thereby bringing tears to their eyes etc. Others may not have the same experience. Any experience whether it is bringing tears to one’s eyes or dancing while hearing the Lord’s names sung etc. are as illusory as the objects in the world. What is real is the ultimate reality of Lord alone – thus real devotion is when the devotee merges unto the Lord all the while performing activities in the world. Few such devotees might feel all these experiences and others might not. Just because a person feels these experiences doesn’t make him a real devotee.

I personally know a lot of people who claim to have had tears in their eyes while listening to the Lord’s stories. I know of a friend who very recently cried when seeing AMMA. This in no way proves them to be one-pointed devotees as they themselves will acknowledge. Real devotion is when internally a devotee is constantly focused on the Lord irrespective of external situations all the while performing activities at the external plane. Such a devotee offers everything whether it is worldly action or religious activity or spiritually activity like crying when hearing about the Lord to the ultimate reality of Lord – for him everything is an illusion in the Lord.

Narada also says here that such devotees purify the entire world. The purification mentioned here is by spreading the love and devotion of the Lord. Wherever the name of the Lord or the thought of the Lord is present that is a pure environment as such rays will instigate devotion in others. We shouldn’t take the meaning here that those who bring tears to their eyes purify their entire clan – because as explained earlier, those who bring tears to their eyes when seeing AMMA don’t have a pure family or tribe as most of their family are against spirituality itself. Thus the apt meaning is that a real devotee purifies his entire clan and the entire world as well.

Though it isn’t apt to speak about one’s family, yet from a witness standpoint I have to mention it here. When we initially met AMMA, all of my family people were against my father as he was following a Christian fisherwoman (that AMMA is). But as of today, all my family members (both my father’s side and mother’s side) have met AMMA and many of them are staunch believers of AMMA. This is what Narada is pointing out here – a pure devotee is one whose entire family will be forced to become devotees in one way or the other. My father’s devotion to AMMA is so strong that whoever comes to him for whatever reason (be it astrology or singing or teaching), he will speak only about AMMA and direct them to AMMA. It is this strong devotion that has forced our entire family or tribe to be devotees at one or the other plane of AMMA. As we have learned previously, a devotee (even if he is a gauni bhaktha seeking wealth or relief) is better than a non-devotee.

We might think that Narada’s words are his own opinion but this is not so. The Mandukya Upanishad speaks about a brahma jnaani and his clan thus: na asya abhrama vid kule bhavathi – there will nobody who will not know Brahman in his clan (in the clan of a person who knows Brahman). This is what has happened with my father and what Narada is also pointing out. We have already learnt many times that real devotion is not different from knowledge as both are the same only.

I am not here pointing out that my father is a supreme devotee and a jnaani – I am not in a state to judge others. But the factors that Narada is pointing out here are what have happened with my father and his entire clan. Imagine that state wherein an entire family is happy with going to AMMA though they are not blissful or peaceful – yet getting relief from all sorrows & being devoted to the Lord; there is nothing else that one could ask. JThis also doesn’t mean that such a family will be devoid of all negativities as that would make everyone a real devotee – but this is only about the family of ONE DEVOTED PERSON. It will take time (years and maybe lives) for a person to become really devoted to the Lord.

Let’s hope that by learning Narada Bhakthi Sutras, we will all become real devotees of the Lord thereby be a lamp shedding the light of the Lord in each of our families.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chapter 5 Introduction


Prostrations to all.

We have come to the very last chapter of Narada Bhakthi Sutras. This chapter is titled Mukhya Bhakthi Mahima. As the title suggests, this chapter speaks about mukhya bhakthi or para bhakthi or supreme devotion wherein the devotee merges unto the ultimate reality of Lord. We will see a small introduction today before entering into the sutras of the chapter.

We have already learnt the two main types of bhakthi as para bhakthi and apara bhakthi. Para Bhakthi is equivalent to Jnaana propounded by Sankara – it is that devotion wherein the devotee merges unto the Lord (we can compare it with atma nivedanam of the nava vidha bhakthi propounded by Prahlaada in Bhagavatham). Apara Bhakthi is wherein the devotee still has the difference between himself and the Lord. As a result of this difference between the devotee and the Lord, the devotee might consider the Lord in that form which seems attractive and suitable to him. Thus Narada spoke about the different types of gauni bhakthi (type of apara bhakthi) in the previous chapter.

Narada after explaining the importance of devotion, sadhanas of devotion, nature of devotion etc. is again concentrating on the core of Para Bhakthi or Supreme Devotion which is the goal for a devotee to be achieved. Unless we focus ourselves on the ultimate reality of Lord, we will end up fighting about the various dualities in the world which will lead us only to sorrow. If a devotee seeks anandam which is the very nature of Lord, he should always set his goal as para bhakthi. Narada in the last chapter is re-emphasizing Para Bhakthi by speaking about it. Though this chapter is titled Mukhya Bhakthi Mahima yet we can consider this as a brief summary of bhakthi in general as well. Narada in the end of this chapter beautifully categorizes devotion into 11 (ekadasha bhakthi) even as Bhagavatham has navavidha bhakthi.

Finally Narada anticipating the objection that these are his personal views mentions that these are the words of not just Narada but all bhakthi acharyas. Thus we also get a list of Bhakthi acharyas from Narada.

We will enter into the chapter in the next day by learning the first sutra.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Chapter 4 Summary


Prostrations to all.

Let us summarize the 4th chapter of Narada Bhakthi Sutras today. As we are aware, this chapter is titled PREMA NIRVACHANAM or exposition of pure love. Here in this chapter Narada gives a very clear exposition of what love is, how it is, what activities are done by a real lover and what should a seeker do in order to achieve such pure love.

Narada starts the chapter by telling that pure love is indescribable. Pure love is indescribable not because it doesn’t exist but as it is beyond words and expressions. The scriptures speak about the ultimate reality of Brahman or Lord as being beyond words and thoughts. Pure love is when a seeker is ever immersed in the reality of Lord thereby merging into the Lord. Thus pure love is the same as the very nature of Lord. As the scriptures speak about the Lord being beyond words and thoughts, therefore pure love is also indescribable. Narada gives a very beautiful example to illustrate this – he says that pure love is indescribable even as a dumb person cannot speak about the good food he had.

Though pure love can only be experienced by oneself and not explained in words, yet we can speak about as to how a person who has pure love would behave in the world. Narada starts this exposition by telling that pure love shines in very few. Even as the Lord proclaims in Gita 7th chapter that out of thousands of people very few strive and out of those striving few, very few know the Lord in reality, Narada says that pure love shines in very few alone. This is because in pure love we transcend everything. Narada explains this beautifully by telling that a person who has pure love would be speaking about the Lord, listening to the Lord, following the Lord and always thinking about the Lord.

Though pure love is subtle, devoid of gunas and only a matter of experience, love can be categorized as three either based on qualities (sattva, rajas, tamas) or based on what is being sought (aartha seeking removal of worldly troubles, arthaarthi seeking wealth and jijnaasu seeking knowledge). Depending on an individual’s nature as well as what he is seeking, this categorization has been made. We have to rise the ladder and become a jnaani who is one with the Lord (thus experiencing pure love).

Narada then gave the two beautiful reasons as to why Prema or pure love has to be sought – as it is self-proven (doesn’t need any other proof) and peaceful-blissful in nature. Finally Narada started explaining as to the way to achieve pure devotion. There is a common notion that if we have to realize we have to renounce everything. This is not true. In fact renunciation is not external as is generally considered. Renunciation is internal wherein a person always surrenders to the ultimate reality of Lord offering all the actions and fruits. For such a person who has renounced everything internally, external activities will still go on as he is a mere instrument in the hands of the Lord. It is the Lord who is making him do actions rather than himself doing it. This is advisable as the seeker is not at all doing any actions; as he is not the doer, he is not the enjoyer of the fruits whether they are good or bad. As is the case with any goal, there are dos and donts for attaining pure love also. The donts are that a person shouldn’t have any ego, hatred, listen to stories about women and atheists. The dos are offering everything unto the Lord.

Narada finally explains the beautiful concept of offering even desire & anger to the Lord. If we are unable to conquer desire and anger, we should show it towards the Lord. The Lord will then ensure that those are removed from our mind thereby liberating us from their bondages.

Lastly Narada concludes the chapter by telling that pure love alone is to be aspired and practiced. Pure love is like the love shown by a devoted servant or a devoted wife or a devoted mother to household or husband or children respectively.

Attaining pure love alone can give us eternal bliss which is the very fruit of anandam and amritham as explained in the very first chapter by Narada.

Let us all after listening to the virtues of pure love seek it with all our effort and power so that we may rejoice in bliss (that which is sought in the external world each and every moment of our life).

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Chapter 4 Sutra 15, 16


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 15 –
Tadarpitha akhila aachaarah san kaamakrodhaadikam tasminneva karaneeyam

Word Meaning
Tadarpithah akhila aacharah san – After having offered all activities unto him,
Kaamakrodhaadikam – desire, anger etc.
Tasmin eva karaneeyam – should be had towards Ishwara alone.

Sutra Meaning
After having offered all activities unto him, desire, anger etc. should be had towards Ishwara alone.

Narada here gives a very beautiful way of overcoming desire, anger etc. It is easy to say that we should overcome the six emotions of kaama, krodha etc. But a person who has tried to overcome these will know as to how tough it is. Arjuna himself had this doubt when the Lord proclaimed to him as to controlling the mind. At that time Krishna replied saying that the mind though is very tough to control it can be controlled through dispassion and practice. But it is a well known fact that it might take years of practice in order to control the emotions of the mind.

But Narada gives the easiest way to overcome the passions of the mind in this sutra. Whenever we feel that we are overcome by passions, we should divert those passions unto the Lord. If we are feeling too much attachment towards a person or entity in the world we should direct the attachment towards Ishwara. This can be done through offering all actions whether it is in the form of mental emotions or physical activities unto Ishwara. Thus the moment a person gets attached to another person, he should offer the attachment to Ishwara. This means that we should consider Ishwara as the only person closest to us so that we may divert our attachment, aversion etc. unto him than any other person or entity in the world. This is very easy and simple to do if we consider Ishwara as our closest friend or our father or our mother. When we are very devoted to Ishwara with the knowledge that Ishwara alone is real and he alone is our refuge in the world, we can very easily divert all passions of the mind towards him. Thus whether it is attachment, aversion, anger or greed, we should have it towards the Lord.

Therefore whenever we get angry, we should divert the anger towards Ishwara. Whenever we become overly attached, we should divert the attachment towards Ishwara. When this is done continuously, we will find that after a point of time we will not be able to get attached or averted to anyone as we cannot direct it towards Ishwara whom we love the most. Even as getting angry to our beloved lover is impossible, similarly getting angry with our beloved Lord is impossible. Though by impulse we may feel ourselves getting angry at certain points of time, we should at that time remember to offer the anger unto Ishwara. Though we may not want to, yet because of impulse we will be forced to direct it towards our beloved Ishwara. Slowly as we find it tough to direct attachment and aversion towards Ishwara, we will be forced to stop having the emotions of attachment and aversion. Thus the only emotion that will remain in the mind will be pure love and devotion towards Ishwara. This pure love is neither a bondage nor an obstacle to the seeker as it helps in purifying the mind and making the mind always focus itself on the ultimate reality of Lord. The more and more a person follows this attitude of having just love alone in the mind, the mind will become more and more directed towards the reality than towards illusory entities of the world. Thus slowly the seeker will be lead from the crocodiles of kaama, krodha etc. towards the shore of immortality which is termed as mukthi or liberation in the scriptures.

Thus here we find a beautiful way of overcoming desire, anger etc. by not abstaining from them but directing them towards Ishwara. There have been many people who have realized the ultimate reality of Lord through desire and anger towards the Lord himself. Kamsa, Jarasandha etc. were asuras who had the mental emotion of anger towards the Lord which finally lead them to realization. The gopis as well uddhava had the emotion of attachment or lust towards the Lord which in turn lead them to realization. Thus rather than trying too hard to abstain from emotions of the mind which might finally burst like a fully blown balloon, we just need to direct it towards the ultimate reality of Lord.

We will see the last sutra of this chapter of Narada Bhakthi Sutras in the next day wherein Narada will say that prema or love alone is to be done or practiced in the world.

Sutra 16 –
Triroopabhangapoorvakam nityadaasya nityakaanthaa bhajanaatmakam prema karyam premaiva karyam

Word Meaning
Triroopabhangapoorvakam – Going beyond the three factors of experiences, love and consisting of constant service
Nityadaasya nityakaanthaa bhajanaatmakam prema karyam – a person should have love as in the case of a devoted servant or wife
Premaiva karyam – such a love alone should be followed.

Sutra Meaning
Going beyond the three factors of experiences, love and constant service, a person should have love as in the case of a devoted servant or wife.

Narada concludes this fourth chapter of Bhakthi Sutras with this particular sutra. He concludes by telling that Prema or pure love (which is inexplicable as explained in the very first sutra of this chapter) alone is to be aspired and practiced in life by a seeker.

Narada says here that we have to go beyond everything. All limitations have to be crossed over for a person to became a real devotee of the Lord. This is done through constant remembrance of the Lord; speaking about the Lord alone; thinking about the Lord alone as has been explained in an earlier sutra in this chapter. The goal of bhakthi is paraa bhakthi in which the devotee merges into the reality of Lord. The Lord is infinite, unlimited and thereby blissful. In order for a person to gain pure devotion with which he merges into the Lord, he has to cross over all limitations; he has to break all limitations.

Is it possible to go beyond limitations in the world?
Yes, it is possible to do that; limitations are broken when a person is ever immersed in thought or contemplation of the Lord. During that time, the devotee knows nothing but the Lord. Whatever is seen in the world is the form of the Lord; whatever is spoken are words of the Lord; whatever activities are done are worship of the Lord – thus whatever is there is the Lord alone for a real devotee who is ever immersed in contemplation of the Lord. The Lord in Gita terms such contemplation as ananya bhajanam – meditation without any other thoughts. “No other thoughts” doesn’t mean that such a devotee will not be doing activities in the world. This only means that the devotee’s mind will convert all names and forms of the world into the ultimate reality of Lord. Once the devotee convinces his mind and intellect that whatever is seen and present in the world is only an illusion of names and forms in the reality of Conscious Lord even as various gold ornaments are mere illusions of names and forms in gold, then the devotee internally will be asserting each and every moment that the Lord alone is present here. It is this intellectual or mental assertion when anything is seen or heard that the Lord terms as ananya bhajanam. That such contemplation wherein all limitations are broken is possible is proved by Narada giving a couple of examples for the same.

The examples that Narada gives is that of a devoted servant and a wife. We can add a mother as well to the list as Sri Ramakrishna beautifully explains. A devoted servant is fully devoted to the house and the people in the house she works. She calls the child of the house as “my child” and takes care of everything in the house as if it is her house. A wife does a similar thing with her husband. She doesn’t see her husband as different from herself – she sees her husband as part of her life. Thus each and every activity of the husband is looked into by the wife. It is for this reason that such a wife will be able to even judge the thoughts of her husband. If the world still had such devoted wife, we wouldn’t be dealing with too many divorces that happen even in India today. Sri Ramakrishna adds the example of a mother. We all are well aware of the fact that when the child cries, a mother can know it though she might be away from the child. Again this is not seen today as children spend most of their time in day-care centers than with their parents.

These three are beautiful examples wherein we see all the limitations being crossed over. As per Sri Ramakrishna when we merge the three love and direct it towards the Lord, we will become realized and merge unto the Lord. Narada also is saying that such love alone is to be sought and practiced in life by devotees.

With this, Narada ends the fourth chapter of Prema Nirvachanam. We have one more chapter left in the Bhakthi Sutras which we will start after seeing a summary of the fourth chapter in the next day.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Chapter 4 Sutra 13, 14


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 13 –
Stree dhana naastika charitram na sravaneeyam

Word Meaning
Na sravaneeyam – Don’t hear
Stree dhana naastika charitram – stories (gossips) about women, wealth and non-believers of Ishwara or Brahman.

Sutra Meaning
Don’t hear or spend time on stories about women, wealth and non-believers of Brahman.

Narada in the previous sutra mentioned that a person doesn’t need to renounce everything but he just needs to do sadhana as well as renounces phalam or fruit of actions. Now Narada is entering into the sadhana to be done in order to be established in paraa bhakthi. From this sutra till the 16th sutra (last sutra) of this chapter, Narada explains about what to do and what not to do as part of sadhana towards being established in paraa bhakthi.

Even like in the first chapter and third chapter, Narada first mentions the “not-to-dos” or prathikoolas that to be renounced in this and the next sutra.

Though Sankara and tradition mentions the two-fold obstacles of kaamini and kanchanam (women and wealth), it was Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who publicized and made the normal folks aware of this.

Sankara beautifully mentions this in the first few slokas of Bhaja Govindam thus:

Moodajaheehi dhanaagama trishnaa
Kuru sadbuddhim manasi vitrishnaam
Yat labhase nija karma upaattam
Vittam tena vinodhaya chittam

Renounce the thirst for wealth in your mind; be dispassionate in the mind and fix the mind unto the reality; whatever wealth you get by regular daily activities, be content with the same.

Naaristhanabhara naabhivesham
Dristvaa maa gaa mohaavesham
Etat maamsa vasaadivikaaram
Manasi vichinthayam vaaram vaaram

Don’t get deluded into the full bosom, navel and private part of the women; repeat in your mind always that these are only made of fat, flesh etc.

Narada following tradition thus says in this sutra that we should never get into contemplation of women, wealth or dis-believers of Ishwara. The more a person contemplates on women and wealth, the more his mind will be distracted. When the mind is distracted, it will not be able to apprehend the underlying reality of Lord or Brahman. Therefore vision of the unreality and negligence to apprehend the reality will lead such a person into more and more sorrow (thereby taking births again and again in order to get deluded in the ocean of samsaara). Narada adds naastika or disbelievers as well to the list. Any person who doesn’t believes in the underlying reality of Consciousness behind the illusory names and forms of the Lord will never be able to get out of sorrow. The very basis of bhakthi as well as jnaana is faith in the ultimate reality which is so evident yet beyond apprehension (anoor aneeyaan mahato maheeyaan – that which is subtler than the subtlest and larger than the largest).

Any person who doesn’t believe in the reality of Brahman cannot progress in the spiritual path as there is no goal to be empirically realized or achieved by such a person. Therefore we should always try to avoid hearing or discussing with disbelievers of the ultimate reality of Ishwara or Brahman.

We will continue with the next sutra in the next day.

Sutra 14 –
Abhimaana dambaadikam tyaajyam

Word Meaning
Tyaajyam – Renounce
Abhimaana dambaadikam – qualities like ego, pride etc.

Sutra Meaning
Renounce qualities like Ego, pride etc.

We saw in the previous sutra Narada proclaiming that we shouldn’t listen to stories or gossips about women, wealth or naastikas who don’t believe in Brahman or God. In this Sutra Narada mentions another “not-to-do” in order to attain paraa bhakthi. We always have to renounce qualities of the mind which not only distract the mind but lead us from the reality of Lord to the unreality of world.

Let us analyze just one quality of the mind to prove this. Abhimaana is sense of Ego which is nothing but getting attached and associated with things and people around us. Ego starts with association of the Self or “I” with the body-mind-intellect and then extending itself to people and things around us. It is Ego sense that makes us feel some people as our friends and others as our enemies. It is Ego that makes us feel some things are happiness providers as we like them and others are sorrow providers as we hate them. Due to this dual notion arising out of considering duality as real and getting association with the duality, we will end up in sorrows and sufferings when something good or bad happens to people and things around us. Not only that Ego leads us to sorrow, it veils the reality that Lord alone exists here. Instead of focusing on the non-dual Lord we will be focusing on the dual world. Instead of concentrating on the real Lord we will be focusing on the illusory names and forms. Instead of spending time in devotion to the reality of Lord we will be focusing on attachment and aversion towards worldly entities. This in turn will thereby lead us away from the Lord and lead us to sorrows-sufferings in the world.

Such a person who is lead away from the Lord and getting attached to things will be taking birth again and again in the world in order to get rid of all attachments and realize his own nature of Lord. Until liberation from worldly bondages and realization of one’s own nature of Lord a person has to be born again and again. A person with Ego will not be able to have devotion towards the Lord which is the way out of the bondages of the world (going through birth and death again and again). Therefore Sankara beautifully says in Bhaja Govindam,

Punarapi jananam punarapi maranam
Punarapi janani jatare shayanam
Iha samsaare bahudustaare
Kripaya pare pahi murare

Again birth and again death; again in the wombs of a mother; this ocean of samsaara (consisting of births and deaths) is tough indeed to cross over. But with devotion and surrender to the Lord, a person easily crosses over it.

Thus a person without abhimaanam alone can realize his own nature of Lord by overcoming samsaara. Thus we have to renounce qualities of the mind like ego, pride etc.

The Lord proclaims thus in Purusha uttama yoga:

Niramaana mohaah jithasanga doshaah
Adhyaatma nityaa vinivritta kaamah
Dvandvairvimukthaah sukhadukha samjnaaih
Gacchanthi amoodaah padam avyayam tat

A person devoid of ignorance, without sense of ego and delusion, devoid of the faults of getting attachment to things, being focused in the spiritual path, devoid of all desires and devoid of the dual notions like sukha-dukha etc. will attain the immutable state (of blissful Lord).

The above sloka of Gita propounds as to what all we have to renounce in order to progress in the spiritual path towards realization of the ultimate reality of Lord.

We will continue with the next sutra in the next day.

Prostrations to all.

Let a moment not pass by without remembering God