Narada Bhakti Sutras

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sutra 1 and 2


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 1 –
Athato bhakthim vyaakhyaasyaamah

Word meaning
Atha – Now
Atah – Therefore
Bhakthim vyaakhyaasyaamah – bhakthi will be explained

Sutra meaning
Now, therefore bhakthi will be explained

Atha is considered as one of the two words used by Brahma at the time of creation (the other being AUM). Since these two words were used by Brahma at the beginning, therefore they are considered as auspicious or mangalakaram. Thus the word ATHA means auspiciousness and shows start of some work as such.

Atah or therefore means that after all the various literatures have been propounded, bhakthi is explained clearly with various acharyas views so that it can be memorized and implemented. As sutras are works which summarize a philosophy, therefore this work summarizes bhakthi from various puranas and other saints words.

This Sutra can also be said to point out the subject matter of the work which is BHAKTHI or devotion.

This starting of bhakthi sutras doesn’t mean that previously nothing was mentioned or previous mentioned were of no real use – previously bhakthi should have been explained because here bhakthi is explained from the view of other acharyas (which means that Narada had access to the various bhakthi literature and views of different bhakthi acharyas). Previously mentioned things cannot be said to be of no real use (here things means the Vedas, Upanishads, darshanas etc.) because there also bhakthi has been mentioned clearly. Here it only means that bhakthi is being collected from all works & words of all acharyas and put together in a capsule form through sutras so that a bhaktha can learn, remember and implement it easily in life.

This sutra doesn’t require any particular explanation as such & hence this ends the explanation of the first sutra. We will learn the second sutra of the first chapter tomorrow.

Sutra 2 –
Saa tu asmin parama prema roopaa

Word meaning
Saa tu – Bhakthi is (surely)
Parama prema roopa – of the nature of supreme devotion
Asmin – on the Lord (towards the Lord)

Sutra meaning
Bhakthi is verily supreme devotion towards the ultimate reality of Lord.

Narada here defines bhakthi as ultimate or supreme devotion towards the ultimate reality of Lord. Narada will be explaining in depth about this bhakthi and its in-depth definition but here it is a very short and concise definition of Bhakthi.

The word Parama means supreme and the word prema means love or devotion. Supreme here means total and unconditional. Prema here doesn’t mean mere love but it is love for the ultimate reality of Lord more than the love that we have towards our own existence or Self. A bhaktha is ever devoted towards the Lord. Even if he/she has to die for the sake of the Lord, he is ever ready to do that because the Lord alone is being really loved by the devotee. As per the bhakthi granthas, the bhaktha doesn’t even crave for moksha because the Lord is greater than moksha for the devotee.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa gives three examples of worldly love which put together is real devotion to the Lord (this is not his own idea but is mentioned in the bhakthi sutras itself).

1. Love of a chaste wife towards her husband
We have grown up in a culture wherein we find women as satis or the very embodiment of chastisy even though this is found less these days due to the western culture taking the mainstream in the lives of most of the youngsters. A chaste woman is one who lives for the sake of the husband alone. Manu speaks about how a woman should behave towards her husband quite beautifully – a woman should be like a kshatriya while dealing with official and other matters of the husband, a woman should be like a vaishya giving the husband good food and other items whenever he requires it, a woman should be like a Brahmin leading the husband to progress in the spiritual path through support in spiritual activities and like a shoodra (Manu literally means a prostitute) at night while sleeping with the husband. This analysis of Manu can also be taken to show the status of woman as not having much importance during that period of time but what is important here is that for a chaste woman, the husband is everything. It is this devotion towards the husband who is well versed in the scriptures due to the brahmacharya avasthaa being spent in the Gurukula which leads both to realize the ultimate reality of Lord within a single birth. We thus find Maadhva entering into the fire when Pandu died – Kunti did not enter into the fire because she had to take care of the children. Thus a chaste wife is totally devoted to her husband, similar should be the love of a devotee towards the Lord.

2. Love of a mother towards her child
We all know about the love that a mother has towards her child who is born out of her flesh itself. Even though we don’t find so pure love today but still the greatest love that we can find in the world apart from spiritual love is this kind of love. AMMA says that a pure love is that which a mother has towards her child. The mother takes so much pain and carries the child for nine months. Once the child is born, the mother imparts her own blood in the form of breast milk and takes care of the child at all time. We know that when the child cries, the mother becomes sad. Such is the deep bond between a mother and the child. Similar to the love of a mother towards her child, a devotee should love the Lord in the same way.

3. Love of a worldly person towards worldly objects
A worldly person whose mind is totally attracted and attached to worldly objects will always be seeking out worldly objects. He cannot live without the worldly objects even for a second. The moment he loses some object, it is as if he is dying like a fish on shore. The previous two types was pure love filled with dedication whereas this is love filled with strong attachment and pangs of separation (in case of separation).

A person who is endowed with the above three types of love towards the Lord has pure love or supreme love towards the Lord which Narada is speaking about here.

It is this supreme devotion which the lord mentions through three points in Bhakthi Yoga thus:

Mayi avesha mano ye maam nitya yuktaa upasathe
Sradhayaa parayopetaa te me yukthatamo mataah

A person who is endowed with the three qualities is a real and supreme devotee:
1. Fixing the mind unto me at all times
2. Ever steadfast on me as the ultimate reality
3. Considering me as the supreme goal to be achieved in life

We can go on speaking about supreme devotion but in order to keep it short so that everyone will be reading it, am not entering into much explanation. The above three points have been dealt in depth in Bhakthi Darpanam ( Interested people can go through the same.

Knowing what is the ultimate devotion and love towards the Lord, let us try to judge as to where we stand in terms of love so that we can improve our love and progress towards ultimate devotion which will lead to merging unto the ultimate reality of non-dual Lord.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


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