Narada Bhakti Sutras

Friday, October 27, 2006

Definitions of Bhakthi - 01


Prostrations to all.

We saw in the last few mails the definitions of bhakthi as per various acharyas finally culminating in Narada’s definition of bhakthi as offering all actions unto the Lord and becoming sad when the Lord is forgotten.

The definitions attributed to various acharyas don’t mean to either compare or show that one is better than the other. It is but a systematic way of putting the opinions of different people on the topic and showing a progressive way to the ultimate devotion of constant remembrance of the Lord or ananya bhajanam.

This is known by the final sutras where Narada says that the bhakthi acharyas all speak in one voice about bhakthi. Thus the different definitions are but progressive and meant to lead the seeker from the physical to the mental to the intellectual to the spiritual level. We have discussed in the last few mails regarding this.

Today we will try to see and collate all the definitions. Bhakthi defined by Narada is the ultimate definition which has a positive and a negative approach as we discussed in the previous mail. The positive aspect is constant remembrance of the Lord through offering of all actions to the Lord. The negative aspect is trying not to forget the Lord & in such a case becoming desperate so that such a situation never happens and instantaneously the Lord is remembered again even as the fish in land remembers water/breathing instantaneously.

Activities can be done at three levels of body (physical), verbal (words) and mental (thoughts). When Narada mentions offering of all activities unto the Lord, the three types of activities of physical, verbal and mental has to be offered unto the Lord.

Physical activities include bodily actions. The easiest way to start offering bodily actions to the Lord is through performance of various poojas or ritualistic activities with the help of the body. Thus the definition of bhakthi by vyaasa shows us the way to start offering physical activities to the Lord. Once we do certain ritualistic activities like sandhya etc, then all activities done through the body has to be offered to the Lord.

Verbal activities include talking about the Lord. We can talk about the glories of the Lord only if we have heard the glories of the Lord. Thus we have to develop attachment towards listening to the glories of the Lord. This is the definition attributed to garga. When we develop attachment to listening of the glories of the Lord, we remember the stories and take interest in speaking about them to each and every person that we meet. Thus when we speak about any grace or happiness, we would automatically attribute it to the Lord by saying that “it is by the grace of the Lord”. This is the way in which verbal activities can be offered to the Lord through adding of the Lord’s name in all verbal statements.

Mental activities include chanting of the name of the Lord, meditating on the form of the Lord etc. All these activities are to be done remembering the Lord as one’s own nature and not as someone different from our own Self. This is what shaandilya mentions that attachment to the Lord shouldn’t be against attachment of the Self. As it is mentioned in the Upanishads that everything is loved for the sake of the Self alone, attachment to the Lord shouldn’t be against attachment to the Self. Both these attachments cannot be against each other only if the Lord is one’s own Self. Thus while offering all activities unto the Lord, we should remember the Lord not as different from oneself but as one’s own very nature of Consciousness.
Thus all the various definitions of bhakthi in turn make Narada’s definition of the positive aspect of bhakthi clear. Whatever be the activity that we do, we have to offer it unto the Lord. Thus there is no doership but we remain a mere witness to all activities. This witness of Consciousness is none other than the Lord. Thus we get detached from the illusory world & activities, instead getting attached and identified with the ultimate reality of Lord who alone is real.

When we try to offer all actions unto the Lord, there might be times when we forget the Lord & hence Narada mentions the negative aspect that when the Lord is forgotten the devotee should become so desperate that he remembers the Lord instantly & never forgets again in the future.

Having seen the various definitions of bhakthi, we will see Narada proving the definition of Bhakthi through logic and examples in the coming days.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


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