Narada Bhakti Sutras

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Narada Bhakthi Sutras - Introduction


Prostrations to all.

As mentioned earlier, there are mainly two works which are considered to be the basic texts for bhakthi or devotion – these are the Narada Bhakthi Sutras and Shandilya Bhakthi Sutras. Even though different systems of Vedanta do differ about this but Advaita accepts these two texts are authoritative in terms of Bhakthi or devotion.

Narada Bhakthi Sutras as the name goes is attributed to Sage Narada. We all very well know about the devotion of Narada. Hence there is no other person who is worthy than Narada to explain Bhakthi. Even though the work is attributed to Narada, there are mention of devotion as perceived by other saints as well. The work also mentions about Narada’s views about bhakthi not in the first person view but as a third person view. Thus the work mentions that “Narada considers bhakthi as….” instead of “I consider bhakthi as….” Thus it can as well be that somebody other than Narada just collected the different views of devotion and attributed the name to Narada as Narada is considered as the ultimate devotee of the Lord. Anyway, we are not interested in the authorship of the work but just the content of the work. Authorship does matter in certain cases as if the author is authoritative one, then there remains no doubt about acceptance of the concepts in the work. But since the content of the work very well matches bhakthi as propounded by the Lord in Bhakthi Yoga (12th chapter of Bhagavad Gita) and jnaana as propounded by the scriptures, therefore the work is considered as authoritative irrespective of whoever is the real author of the work (we will see while learning the work as to how and why the work goes as per Gita and the scriptures).

Narada Bhakthi Sutras has a commentary by Narayana Teertha (currently don’t have any book on Narada Bhakthi Sutras and hence am not very sure whether it is Narayanendra Saraswathi or Narayana Teertha but guess it is Narayana Teertha who was a great devotee of Lord and wrote many devotional carnatic songs as well) – Savithri might be able to throw some light of some of the popular songs of Narayana Teertha – one song which I know and remember is “Govardhana Giridhaara govinda gokula baala paramaanandaa” sung in Darbari Kanada.

There are other commentaries in Sanskrit for the work as well – haven’t read any of the commentaries as couldn’t get the Sanskrit commentaries from any place except that the RK Mutt book does mention about the same. Famous English translations of the work are from RK Mutt and Swami Chinmayananda’s translation of the work. There is a beautiful Malayalam translation and explanation of the work by Jnaanaananda Saraswathi of Kanyakumari wherein he uses lot of quotations from Bhagavatham.

Getting into the outline of the work, the work is split into 5 chapters and in total contains 84 sutras. The sutras are simple and almost like hindi so that each one of us can easily understand. One of the main reasons that there are many sutra literatures for different topics is that it is easy to remember, memorize and recollect (as has very few words). Once the sutra meaning is learnt, memorizing is easy. Sutras consist of very few or minimal words but yet conveying the entire meaning of whatever is to be conveyed.

The first chapter is titled “PARABHAKTHI SVAROOPAM” (nature of supreme devotion) wherein the ultimate or higher devotion is explained. This chapter consists of 24 sutras and herein the definition and explanation of paraa bhakthi or higher devotion is there. This chapter also gives the definition of devotion by various sages and finally concluding with Narada’s definition and supporting it with reason/example.
The second chapter is titled “PARABHAKTHI MAHATVAM” (importance of supreme devotion). This chapter consists of 9 sutras. Here it is mentioned that bhakthi is greater than all the other paths of jnaana, karma, yoga etc. (jnaana here means only intellectual knowledge or mere learning of scriptures without any proper import – we will deal with this when learning this chapter). This chapter also gives reasons as to why bhakthi is greater than all other paths – thus Narada doesn’t believe in blind statements but gives logical reasons for the same. Thus we find over here that even in devotion, there should be logical analysis and reasoning – also that ultimate devotion is not against logic but logic will support supreme devotion.

The third chapter is titled “BHAKTHI SAADHANAANI” wherein the different means or sadhanaas for bhakthi is propounded. Thus after explaining supreme devotion and as to why supreme devotion is important and to be followed by all seekers, the means to supreme devotion is mentioned. As Vedanta accepts two ways or two wings to be followed in the spiritual path, here too we find the same of “anukoola sevanam” (doing things that support the spiritual path) and “prathikoola varjanam” (removal of things that obstruct the spiritual path). Thus we find that Narada’s views are not against Vedanta but it is in par with Vedanta only. After explaining the means, Narada ends the chapter with explanation of who overcomes the ocean of samsaara. This chapter consists of 17 sutras.

The fourth chapter is titled “PREMA NIRVACHANAM” (exposition of Prema or love). This chapter consists of 16 sutras. Here exposition of love is done. Love or pure devotion is explained beautifully with examples and logic. The difference between the first chapter and this chapter is that the first chapter deals with Supreme Devotion from theoretical viewpoint whereas this chapter deals with LOVE from practical viewpoint. So the first chapter explains theories whereas this chapter emphasizes on actions or implementations at the empirical level.

The fifth and the last chapter titled “MUKHYA BHAKTHI MAHIMA” (importance of mukhya bhakthi) has 18 sutras. Mukhya bhakthi is one-pointed devotion – the work does mention about gauni bhakthi which is at the empirical implementation level whereas the devotee does activities at the physical level. We will see the different types of bhakthi as and when we deal with the work.

The last chapter ends with mention of different bhakthi acharyas and that all of them have the same view & nobody really deviates or differs from other persons.

Having seen a brief introduction of the work, we will start with the first sutra tomorrow.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


  • At 9:28 PM, Blogger Askinstoo said…

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