Narada Bhakti Sutras

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sutra 5 and 6


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 5 –
yatpraapya na kinchit vaanchathi na shochathi na ramathe na utsaahi bhavathi

Word meaning
Yatpraapya – Having attained which
Kinchit na vaanchathi – (a devotee) doesn’t seek anything,
Na shochathi – doesn’t become sad,
Na ramathe – doesn’t indulge (in sensual pleasures)
Utsaahi na bhavathi – doesn’t become excited

(That is pure devotion or bhakthi)

Sutra meaning
Having attained which a devotee doesn’t seek anything, doesn’t become sad, doesn’t indulge in sensual pleasures and doesn’t become excited – know that to be pure devotion.

Spiritual path or rather any path involves dual-activity from the seeker. Whether the action is that of worldly pleasure or of ishwara saakshaatkara, it has two parts to it. One is indulging in those activities which help in the progress & two is restraint from those activities which are obstacles in the progress. These are termed as:

1. Anukoola sevanam – following those which are conducive to the path
2. Prathikoola varjanam – removal of those which obstruct the path

Thus to get into IIM, the anukoola to be followed is constant practice through any external coaching centre and daily preparation for continuous period of time. The prathikoola for the same is not indulging in diversions like TV, movies etc. which kill the time that is essentially required for practice.

In the case of spiritual path, the anukoola is doing sravana, manana and nidhidhyaasana in the jnaana marga & anusandhaana through the nava vidhi or ekaadasha vidhi bhakthi. The prathikoola is not indulging too much in the sensual pleasures & not wasting time-energy in attainment-enjoyment of worldly pleasures – this is what Vedanta calls as vairagya. Narada also explains these as “not indulging in hearing about women, naastikas, wealth etc.” & “not having kaama, krodha, abhimaana” etc.

As is the case of spiritual path, similarly the goal or the state of a supreme devotee or devotion also can be defined in two ways – one as the positive way by which is mentioned the activity of a devotee & what is the state of the devotee with respect to the nature of the goal (eternal bliss, peace, contentment etc.). This positive way of explaining was done by Narada in the previous sutra (this will be explained from a different perspective in the next sutra as well – we will see later as to what is the difference in explanation of the previous sutra and the next sutra though both speak in the positive way only). The second is the negative way by negating things which will not be found in a real devotee or in real devotion.

Until both the positive and negative ways have not been explained, the explanation is not complete. This dual way of explaining is in view of the ignorant seeker alone – to make the seeker understand it in a clear way – as through this the seeker will have removed things which are to be removed & will have attained that which has to be attained.

Thus Narada says here that real devotion is that in which the devotee doesn’t seek anything at all. Thus Narada is pointing out that a real devotee shouldn’t seek anything at all. Seeking is there so long as there is lack of something in life. As we saw in the previous sutra, Amritatva, siddhi etc. can be experienced only when all seeking ends. When the devotee realizes the ultimate reality of Lord through pure devotion – he realizes that by knowing which everything becomes known. This ultimate reality is termed in Chandogya as BHOOMA or that which is POORNA or FULL. Thus knowing or realizing the ultimate reality of Lord, there will be nothing else to be sought. Thus the devotee after gaining pure devotion doesn’t seek anything at all (as to what the devotee will be doing, will be explained in the next sutra).

Sorrow is possible only when there is some seeking. Seeking something temporary always leads to imperfection or “conditional seeking”. Thus such a seeker who seeks temporary things will be losing the temporary thing that he sought. Such temporary entities of the world can only give sorrow and suffering. Thus sorrow is the very seed of worldly objects or the pleasure from the worldly objects.

Lord explains this beautifully in Gita 5th chapter thus:

Ye hi samsparshajaa bhogaah dukhayonaya eva te
Adhyanthavantha kaunteya na teshu ramathe budhah

That pleasure which is attained through contact of sense organs with the sense objects, it is the seed of sorrow – as it has a beginning and an end, and thus the wise never indulges in such worldly pleasures.

Real devotion is that where there is no sorrow as there is no seeking at all.

The opposite of sorrow is happiness. As sorrow is temporary, happiness from the worldly objects is also temporary. A real devotee is one who has achieved eternal bliss – thus he doesn’t indulge in the temporary happiness from the worldly pleasures. Utsaaham or excitement happens when something very good happens for a person. We can call this the height of temporary worldly happiness. Like worldly happiness, utsaaha is also temporary & hence a real devotee who has tasted & tastes eternal bliss will never become excited as he is ever immersed in eternal bliss. Also excitement happens which from a normal state or sorrowful state, a person gets immense temporary happiness. But for the real devotee, there is no fluctuation of happiness as he is ever blissful. Thus he doesn’t get excited.

Through this sutra, Narada is telling all devotees or seekers of the Lord to not seek anything (other than the Lord), not to get sad or happy or excited instead constantly seek the Lord alone.

Narada ends up the definition of the goal or the ultimate state in the next sutra which we will see the next day.

Sutra 6 –
yat jnaatva mattho bhavathi, sthabdho bhavathi, aatmaaramo bhavathi

Word meaning
Yat jnaatva – Having known which
Mattho bhavathi – becomes mad or intoxicated,
Sthabdho bhavathi – becomes rigid or without any activities,
Aatmaaramo bhavathi – always is immersed in the bliss of the Self (Lord)

(That is pure devotion or bhakthi)

Sutra meaning
Having known which a seeker becomes intoxicated, without any activities and is ever immersed in the bliss of the Lord, know that to be pure devotion.

This sutra and the 4th sutra (which explained real devotion as that having attained which a devotee attains siddhi, immortality and satisfaction) are almost similar – the difference being that the 4th sutra spoke about the goal that is achieved (goal here means characteristics or nature of the goal) through pure devotion whereas this sutra speaks about the state of the devotee who achieves the goal. Thus 4th sutra is about the goal or prameya or object to be achieved whereas this sutra speaks about the pramaatha or the subject-devotee who achieves the goal.

As we have been hearing again and again in the postings in this series that knowing the ultimate reality of Lord through pure devotion is knowing whatever is to be known. As Narada mentioned that after having attained pure devotion or attained the goal of atma-saakshaatkara through atma-nivedanam, the seeker doesn’t seek anything else because he has known the one and only entity that exists.

We frequently witness that we become intoxicated or in a state of delirium upon getting temporary happiness from worldly objects. When the result of the 10th exam comes & we come to know that we have got rank, we become very happy – this state is a state wherein we become totally merged with what we have achieved. Once that happens, there is no difference between the goal and ourselves – during such a state there is vikshepa or projection of duality & hence we are happy/blissful. But still there is avarana or veiling of the reality as we are not aware of our nature of eternal bliss but just that the projections have temporarily vanished even as in the case of deep sleep. We all very well know how intoxicated the state of deep sleep is. Thus the state of a bhaktha who has realized the Lord is similar to intoxication due to worldly possession or deep sleep. If temporary merging of the dual perceptions itself can cause a person to become mad, what to speak about total sublation of the duality?

Thus when the devotee realizes the ultimate reality of Lord, there remains nothing else to be known & there is no duality at all. Thus the devotee is in a state of intoxication. This is what Narada is speaking here as Mattah bhavathi. From the lives of Sri Ramakrishna among other saints, we can very well understand this easily. The jnaani or bhaktha behaves like a madman. Brahma Sutra following the Upanishad compares the jnaani with a child and a madman. The jnaani or bhaktha is like a child because he is innocent (as there is no mind at all) and he ever lives in the present (as he has reached that state where there is no time or space). The jnaani or bhaktha is as well like a madman because he behaves as if he is madman – his activities cannot really be explained. He is like a person who has experienced eternal bliss but is unable to speak about it as it is inexpressible. Even as taste of sugar can never be expressed but only tasted, similarly the state of bliss cannot be expressed but only experienced.

Thus the jnaani behaves as if he is intoxicated with some powerful drugs. This also means that his activities cannot really be explained through logic or compared to behavior of normal people. At times he might be running here and there – at times he might be dancing – at times he might be getting angry with others.

A bhaktha (as we have already seen that para bhakthi is same as jnaana – therefore bhaktha and jnaani mean the same person only) also becomes silent with respect to word and actions. Knowing the ultimate reality of Lord, knowing which everything is known, there remains nothing for the bhaktha to speak or act. Any word or action is performed with the desire to achieve or attain something. But for the devotee who have achieved or attained the ultimate reality of non-dual Lord, there remains no desire left – thus he remains silent in words and actions.

A bhaktha as well is always immersed in the bliss of the Lord who is in the heart of all beings. Thus he is ever immersed in bliss. This is the reason why Lord says in Gita that a person who goes to such a bhaktha will get bliss emanating from the bhaktha. Mundaka Upanishad says that a person who has realized the ultimate reality of Lord will never do any debates but will be immersed in bliss of the Self (vijaanan vidvaan bhavathe na athivaadi – atmakridaa atmaratih kriyaavaan esha brahmavidaam varistah).

Ataamaaramo means ever immersed in the Self – this means that such a bhaktha will not stray from the ultimate reality of Lord even for a second. Whatever happens, he will ever be immersed in the ultimate reality of Lord – he will ever be blissful whatever be the situation and surroundings. Some devotees once asked Ramana as to why Vishwamitra who built a new svarga for Trishanku not help Rama when Ravana kidnapped Sita – Ramana replied that a jnaani is ever immersed in the ultimate reality & hence he doesn’t see any sufferings in the world as the world is filled with the Lord alone for such a jnaani. This was not the state of Vishwamitra but this was the state of Ramana Maharshi as well. When followers of Mahatma Gandhi went to Ramana to offer their prostrations and seek blessings, they asked Ramana as to why he is not helping the people around in the world who are suffering. Ramana replied by telling that “I don’t see anybody suffering, I see only bliss everywhere – therefore how can I help?”

There is a famous parable mentioned about a jnaani and as to why he is not in the realm of even religious activities like Sandhya Vandanam. Once an elderly Brahmin was asked as to why he didn’t do sandhya vandanam. He replied “Sandhya can be done only when the sun rises and sets – the person for whom the Sun of Self has risen never to set, how can he do sandhya (as there is no rising or setting for him)?”

Thus Narada through this sutra is mentioning that a jnaani will ever be immersed in the reality of Lord – there is no deviation from that state for a jnaani or bhaktha. Pure devotion once attained can never be lost as it totally destroys the ignorance which is the cause of dual perception and notion of difference between the seeker, the Lord and the world.

With this sutra, Narada has clearly defined the goal or the fruit of attaining para bhakthi. We will continue with Narada explaining the nature of bhakthi or the path of bhakthi in depth through the next sutras the next day.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


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