Narada Bhakti Sutras

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sutra 19 and 20


Prostrations to all.

Definition of bhakthi by Shaandilya

Sutra 19 –

Naradasthu tadarpitha akhila aachaaratha tadvismarane parama vyaakulathaa cha

Word meaning
Tu – But (Bhakthi is)
Naradah – as per Narada
Tadarpitha akhila aachaarathaa – offering all activities unto the Lord
Cha – and
Tadvismarane parama vyaakulathaa – having vyaakula bhaava (attitude like that of a fish on land) when the Lord is forgotten

Sutra meaning
Bhakthi as per Narada is offering all activities unto the Lord and having vyaakula bhaava when the Lord is forgotten.

After giving the definitions of various bhakthi acharyas, here Narada gives his own definition of bhakthi. Here there can be a doubt as to that since it is mentioned that Narada considers Bhakthi as this, therefore this particular sutra literature is not that of Narada. But this doubt is not valid as in olden times, mentioning of themselves in third person was not uncommon. In many places, Sankara himself mentions his own view as “ours” or second person than the first person. Also here since the definitions of different acharyas are mentioned, therefore instead of “my definition”, Narada’s definition is mentioned. This is further strengthened by a sutra which comes in the 4th chapter where the same words of “tad arpitha akhila achaaraah” are present. Not to mention the last sutra where it is mentioned that “thus has been propounded bhakthi by sage Narada”. Thus it is beyond doubt proved that this sutra literature is that of Narada alone.

Narada’s definition of bhakthi is the best definition that can be given about bhakthi. This doesn’t mean that other definitions are wrong or invalid – as mentioned earlier, all the definitions are kind of progressive and at different levels. Here Narada’s definition is that of a para bhaktha or a pure devotee of the Lord who is almost on the verge of atma nivedanam or merging unto the Lord.

Narada’s definition of bhakthi has two aspects to it – as we have already discussed that anything has two aspects to it – one being following the necessary or supportive means & the other being staying away from those which obstruct the path.

Bhakthi or devotion is having ultimate devotion to the Lord. This thus has two aspects – one being constant remembrance of the Lord through offering of all activities to the Lord & the other being restraining from forgetfulness of the Lord. These two aspects is what Narada has mentioned in this sutra.

As Lord has mentioned in many places in Gita that a devotee should offer everything unto the Lord, Narada’s definition is but apt and as per the scriptures. The Lord’s final instruction in Gita is “sarva dharmaan parityajya maam ekam sharanam vraja” – renounce everything and take resort unto me alone. It is the same import which Narada is mentioning in this sutra.

1. Offering all actions unto the Lord – offering all activities unto the Lord is the easiest way to remember the Lord amidst our tight and busy schedules. It is not that easy to always remember the Lord directly if not for the indirect ways of offering all activities, remembering the Lord as the substratum of the illusory world, as the creator-protector-destroyer etc. As the Lord himself proclaims in the Gita that a person cannot live in the world without doing any activities. Actions will go whether a person likes them or not. We don’t have control over actions but only over the attitude with which the action is performed. The jnaana way of attitude is knowing oneself as the mere witness to all activities & the ego as the doer of all activities. This is not that easy as most of the time we will be associated with the ego. Thus the bhakthi way of offering all activities unto the Lord is easier and does lead us to the same state of witness-hood alone. When a devotee offers all actions unto the Lord, the devotee ceases to the doer of Ego. When the devotee ceases to the doer, he becomes a mere witness to all activities. This witness is none other than the Self or the ultimate reality of Lord alone. Thus the bhakthi way of offering all actions unto the lord also is the same as jnaana path but easier for initial seekers. Thus real devotion is that in which a devotee offers all actions unto the Lord whether it is daily activities like brushing, bathing etc. or other activities like working, learning etc. A devotee shouldn’t differentiate between good and bad activities – all activities irrespective of the activity should be offered unto the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus a person who smokes should as well offer the activity of smoking unto the Lord – through this the Lord himself get the devotee rid of the activity of smoking (addiction). We shouldn’t as well differentiate between drinking, sexual activity etc. Whatever be the activity, we have to constantly offer all the activities unto the Lord.

2. Vyaakula bhaava when the Lord is forgotten - There could be a chance that we may forget the Lord at times because of our nature of getting identified with the Ego. Thus Narada mentions that in such a case, when the Lord is forgotten (forgetfulness of the Lord obstructs the spiritual path and progress) the devotee should have vyaakula bhaava. Vyaakulathaa is the attitude that a fish has when it is in land – it is the state of helplessness and as if we are about to die. Such an attitude is essential because in such a case, we will remember the Lord the next moment itself & will try to avoid forgetting the Lord in the future. Once a person struggles in water (as he doesn’t know swimming), the next time he makes sure that he doesn’t fall into water. Sri Ramakrishna used to tell that the Lord can be realized by a devotee if there is such strong desire for the lord even as a person who is immersed in water & unable to breath has towards living (or escaping from the water).

These two aspects very clearly bring out the definition of a pure devotee towards which we all as devotees of the ultimate reality of Lord have to strive and work.

We will see all the definitions viewed together in the next day after which we will see Narada substantiating his definition of bhakthi through logic and examples.

Definition of bhakthi by Shaandilya

Sutra 20 –

Asthi evam evam

Word meaning
Asthi – it is
Evam evam – as explained earlier only

Sutra meaning
Bhakthi is devotion as defined by Narada (it is the proper definition only).

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


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