Narada Bhakti Sutras

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sutra 2 and 3


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 3 –

amrita svaroopaa cha

Word meaning
Cha – and
Amrita svaroopaa – of the nature of immortality (nectar).

Sutra meaning
And bhakthi is of the nature of amrita or immortality as well (meaning that bhakthi of the nature of supreme devotion and immortality).

In this and the previous sutra, Narada is giving the two distinct nature of bhakthi or two different facets of bhakthi one being supreme devotion and the other being nectar or immortality.

Amrita in this sutra is better interpreted as nectar than immortality. Bhakthi or real devotion to the Lord is like nectar – it has no limits and a person who is immersed in it can never come out of it. A person who has once tasted bhakthi for the Lord can never get away from it. It is more addictive than the worldly addictions that we know about.

Sureshwaracharya beautifully explains this addictive nature in Naishkarmya Siddhi. Sureshwara first raises a purvapaksha statement as to that once a person tastes bliss of the Self or the bliss emanating through scriptural knowledge or paroksha jnaana, can he be again fully immersed in the ocean of samsaara. He answers this by telling that the addiction of shaastra jnaana is so strong that it attracts a person again to taste the nectar that is got through it. If the worldly addictions which give only temporary happiness can be so strong that it takes people years (and even births) to get out of it, what to speak about addiction towards the Lord which gives a glimpse of eternal bliss????

Thus pure devotion is of the nature of nectar – it is indescribable and quenches the thirst of the devotee totally. But until a devotee merges into the Lord, there will always be desire to get the nectar again and again. Thus pure devotion always is like nectar – attracting the devotee all the while until he himself becomes nectar by merging unto the Lord.

Pure devotion can also be taken to be immortality or amrita because it leads a person to that state beyond birth and death. Satisfaction or contentment through the nectar of devotion is possible only if the thought or notion of “I am the body” and that “I have birth-death” vanishes. Thus amrita or knowledge that I am ever present and beyond birth-death alone can give a devotee eternal bliss. The first and foremost hindrance or obstacle to the spiritual path is the feeling that “I am the body”. Thus the bliss of the Lord can be enjoyed (either a glimpse or as a whole) only when this thought of “I am the body” vanishes. In the state of deep sleep, this body-thought is not there & hence the seeker experiences bliss in that state.

Thus only when we know that “I am not born nor will I die” that nectar in the form of pure devotion to the Lord can be enjoyed. Thus real devotion which is constantly thinking about the Lord – always being immersed in the thought of the Lord has to be of the nature of pure or supreme devotion as well as of the nature of immortality.

Sutra 4 –

yallabdhva pumaan siddho bhavathi amritho bhavathi triptho bhavathi

Word meaning
Puman – a person
Yat labdhvaa – having attained which
Siddho bhavathi – attains perfection
Amritho bhavathi – attains immortality
Triptho bhavathi – and becomes extremely satisfied (content)

(that is pure devotion or bhakthi)

Sutra meaning
That by attaining which a person attains perfection, immortality and contentment, that is pure devotion or bhakthi.

Narada was defining bhakthi in the previous two sutras. Any action or activity is propelled only by desiring for the fruit that is achieved through the activity. Bhakthi as well requires activity in the form of nava vidhi bhakthi or ekaadasa vidha bhakthi (as Narada puts it). A person will be made to go for these actions or even go for bhakthi as such only if he knows what is its fruit & the fruit or phala appeals to the person. It is for this reason that one of the anubandha chathustayam is phala or fruit of studying a particular work.

Narada thus after defining bhakthi gives the fruit of getting pure devotion to the Lord. We have to remember that the fruit which Narada mentions (in 3 sutras starting from this sutra) is for para bhakthi or supreme devotion and not lower devotion (gaauni bhakthi). A person can never attain perfection by apara bhakthi as still there will not be eternal bliss due to separation from the Lord. Any love doesn’t lead to fulfillment or contentment or perfection until the lovers meet and merge into one another. Similar is the case with bhakthi as well – since Narada is mentioning perfection, contentment etc. as the fruit of devotion, therefore the devotion which he is pointing out is para bhakthi or supreme devotion (that which is to be ultimate gained through atma nivedanam or offering oneself completely to the Lord).

What is the phala of getting pure devotion unto the Lord????
Narada mentions three qualities or three gunas as the phala of pure devotion. The three are siddhi or perfection, amritha or immortality and tripthi or satisfaction.

Perfection is attained when there is nothing more to do in life to become perfect. In other words, perfection is achieved when all imperfections vanish. As we already have learnt, supreme devotion is that in which the devotee merges into the Lord. The Lord is poorna or perfect in all aspects as he is one without a second. Thus when the devotee who is individual and hence imperfect merges unto the Lord, the devotee becomes perfect or attains perfection. Perfection is that state wherein there is no imperfection either physically, mentally or spiritually as the devotee has attained that attaining which there is nothing more to attain.

A person becomes immortal when he doesn’t again enter into the ocean of samsaara characterized by birth and death. So long as the individual ego or jeeva exists in the seeker (characterized by the identification with body and mind), there will be births and deaths physically and mentally. But as the devotee through pure devotion merges unto the Lord killing one’s own individual ego, therefore there is no more birth or death. Birth-death is with respect to the Ego – when Ego vanishes, birth-death also vanish. Also since the jeeva merges into the Lord who is AJAH (beyond birth and thereby death), therefore he also becomes immortal.

Satisfaction or contentment is attained when the seeker feels happy and blissful such that he doesn’t crave for anything else. SIDDHI is to do with removal of imperfections whereas TRIPTHI is to do with attaining perfection. Thus both are different facets of the same thing. One is negation whereas the other is attainment. Satisfaction or contentment is achieved when the seeker becomes perfect and achieves that which satisfies everything else – this is amritatva or immortality or eternal bliss. We see bliss in the form of deathlessness. If we ask 100 people as to what would they ask to God as a boon, 90 people will definitely ask a deathless life. Thus satisfaction is achieved when the seeker becomes deathless or merges unto the deathless Lord.

As a result of getting pure devotion, the devotee achieves that by achieving which everything is achieved. This is the very same question which Saunaka asked Sage Angiras in Mundaka Upanishad as “tell me that by knowing which everything else is known” (eka vijnaanena sarva vijnaanam) and Angiras mentions about Brahman as being everything – finally saying that “brahmavid brahmaiva bhavathi” or “he who knows Brahman becomes Brahman”. This Brahman is mentioned as BHOOMA or perfection or poorna by Sanatkumara to Narada in Chandogya Upanishad. Thus we find here that Bhakthi as propounded by bhakthi acharyas is not different from jnaana of Upanishads. Both are one and the same only expressed in different ways.

We will continue with the phala of pure devotion in the next two sutras in the coming days.

Prostrations to all.


PS: translation of Narada Bhakti Sutras can be had from

Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


Post a Comment

<< Home