Narada Bhakti Sutras

Monday, October 02, 2006

Sutra 7 and 8


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 7 –

saa na kaamayamaana nirodharoopatvaat

Word meaning
Saa – Bhakthi
Na kaamayamaana – doesn’t involve desire
Nirodharoopatvaat – as it is of the nature of renunciation.

Sutra meaning
Bhakthi or pure devotion doesn’t involve any desire in it as it is of the nature of renunciation.

There can be a doubt raised thus: even though bhakthi is attaining that after attaining which there remains no more desire but doesn’t bhakthi as well involve worldly desires in it? If it involves desire, then it cannot be pure. Bhakthi involves desire as there is the desire to realize or achieve the Lord.

Narada is answering this by saying that Bhakthi is of the nature of renouncing everything except the Lord & hence it doesn’t involve any desire at all whether it is material or spiritual. Narada will be explaining as to what is NIRODHA he is speaking about in the next few sutras.

Desires are there only when there is duality present. When the devotee has realized the ultimate reality of non-dual Lord, there is nothing apart from the Lord to either desire to be desired. When there is no duality whatsoever, there cannot be any desire at all. Narada already explained earlier that in pure devotion, there remains no desire whatsoever to be achieved or gratified. This also encompasses worldly desire as well as spiritual desire also.

Desires can be broadly classified as worldly and spiritual. Worldly desires are those which bind the seeker to the world whereas spiritual desires are those which help the seeker to get out of the ocean of samsaara. In the beautiful worlds of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, worldly desires are iron chains whereas spiritual desires are gold chains. As a thorn helps to remove another thorn, similarly spiritual desires help the seeker to get rid of worldly desires and helps in the progress of the seeker in the spiritual path.

Any desire which is for the sake of worldly pleasure in the form of physical, mental or intellectual is worldly desire. Desires create vasana or latent tendencies in the seeker. These tendencies are never ending & bind the seeker to again and again indulge in the same activity. The desire to eat good food causes a vasana of always eating good food. Thus whenever the seeker is hungry, he wants “good” food. The scriptures mention not to give emphasis to food – food is required just for the sustenance of the body. Food should be under the control of the seeker & not the seeker under the control of food. Vasana can be easily identified as that activity which binds the seeker or that activity under whose control the seeker is. Vasanas keep on increasing & they never end.

It can be doubted that cant a desire be destroyed by enjoying it. Manu beautifully answers this by telling that if a person thinks that he can destroy desires by enjoying them then it is like trying to extinguish fire by pouring ghee (fire will not extinguish but will burn even more).

Mundaka Upanishad speaks about this thus:
Kaamaan yah kaamayathe manyamaanah
Sa kaamabhir jaayathe tatra tatra
Paryaaptha kaamasya krithaathmanah tu
Ihaiva sarve pravileeyanthi kaamaah

A person who desires desire will be born again and again to gratify that desire whereas a person who is satisfied with all desires, ends them will overcome desires here itself.

Lord says thus as to what would happen for desirous people:

Kaankshantha karmanaam siddhir yajantha iha devathaah
Kshipram hi maanushe loke siddhirbhavathi karmajaa

He who desires something and does activity by worshipping appropriate devas, he will soon be born in the manushya loka to gratify the desire.

Thus as vidyaranya puts it in Panchadashi:

Kurvathe karma bhogaaya, karma karthum cha bhunjathe

A person does action to enjoy – he enjoys to do more action.

Thus desires-action continues again and again – they never end. They bind the seeker in the ocean of samsaara characterized by avidya-kaama-karma (ignorance-desire-action). So long as a person is in the samsaara, he will be suffering without any peace of mind or eternal bliss. It is easy to say that “I am enjoying now”, but we have to really ask whether we are really enjoying or not? Is the enjoyment that we have permanent or temporary? The enjoyment of worldly pleasures is like the enjoyment of the fish which have been caught in a net but are still in the dirt in the net thinking that “we are safe”.

Thus worldly desires have to be renounced either through the path of jnaana or through the path of bhakthi. The path of jnaana says that the seeker is the mere witness to all activities and thus cannot do any action or desire anything. The path of bhakthi is wherein the seeker surrenders completely to the Lord offering all actions to the Lord.

Spiritual desires are those desires which help in removing the vasanas as well as guiding the seeker further in the spiritual path. The foremost spiritual desire is the desire to get liberated (which is nothing but desire to merge unto the ultimate reality of Lord). If this desire is strong enough, then it itself removes all other desires and latent tendencies. Other subsidiary spiritual desires include the desire to do religious activities like going to temple etc., reading spiritual books, learning spiritual things, attending bhajans-discourses etc. All these subsidiary activities lead to constant remembrance of the Lord and surrender to the Lord. Thus any activity or desire which leads to remembrance of the Lord and surrender to the Lord is spiritual activity or desire. Remembrance of the Lord doesn’t mean simply remembering the Lord while seeing the idol and then cursing the person in front who is blocking the view of the idol. Remembrance means remembering the Lord as the substratum of the entire world, the all-pervading Lord as the essence of all beings.

Thus worldly desires are to be renounced by a seeker & spiritual desires should be cultivated in place of worldly desires. The spiritual desires will lead the seeker to the Lord and thereby all desires will end up. The third chapter of Bhakthi Sutras speaks about the various sadhanas or activities which help in attaining pure devotion.

Since pure devotion involves renouncing everything, thereby there is no desire in it – it is that state wherein all desires vanish.

We will see as to what Narada speaks about renunciation in the next sutra the next day.

Sutra 8 –
Nirodhasthu lokaveda vyaapaara nyaasah

Word meaning
Nirodhah tu – Nirodha is indeed
Lokaveda vyaapaara nyaasah – renunciation of all worldly and vedic activities.

Sutra meaning
Nirodha (mentioned in the previous sutra that bhakthi is nirodharoopa) is indeed renunciation of all worldly and vedic activities.

In the previous sutra Narada mentioned that Bhakthi doesn’t have desire in it because it is of the nature of renunciation. Renunciation or nirodha is explained by Narada in this sutra as well as in the next three sutras.

When Narada mentioned renunciation, there can be a doubt as to whether this renunciation is of worldly activity alone or of vaidika activity as well. Narada answers this by telling that all actions have to be renounced. It doesn’t matter whether the activity is laukika or vaidika – all activity has to be ended.

As we have mentioned in many places in the forum, activity is caused only by desire for something. Thus wherever there is activity, there has to be desire. Activity cannot be propelled without desire. Thus if there are vaidika activities then there should be desire behind the activity. Since bhakthi or pure devotion to the Lord is total surrender, therefore there is no scope for desire in it. There cannot be any desire because of total surrender or total renunciation of all activities. Narada will be explaining later that all activities have to be surrendered or offered unto the Lord but there the bhakthi sadhanas are being spoken whereas here it is para bhakthi or pure devotion.

In pure devotion, there is no doer as everything is but a play of the Lord. The world is a lila of the Lord – this lila is not real but only empirically real and hence this doesn’t go against the jaganmithyatva of advaita.

Activities in general can be categorized as laukika and vaidika. Vaidika activities include the nitya-naimittika karmas. Nitya karmas are those which have to be performed regularly on a daily basis. This includes sandhya, agnihotra etc. Naimittika karmas are those karmas which are performed on specific occasions like the naama karana, marriage etc. All other activities which are not mentioned by the Vedas but are required to be done for sustenance in the world is laukika karmas. These in the current time would include working, looking after children-wife etc. These are not adjoined by the Vedas but are essential for living in the world.

Both vaidika and laukika karmas are propelled by desires. Laukika karmas are propelled by desire for money, fame, power etc. whereas the vaidika karmas are done desiring punya, svarga etc. The Vedas themselves speak about a person who does punya karma as to going to svarga and other higher lokas. The nitya-naimittika karmas are essential because if they are not done, then papa will be added. If a person accumulates papa, then punya gets reduced & thus he will go into the lower lokas wherein he will suffer and not enjoy as in the higher lokas. Vaidika karmas other than nitya-naimittiaka include the various yajnas like jyosthitoma etc. which are done to attain a specific loka.
Thus both vaidika and laukika karmas are done desiring something. Since Narada speaks about bhakthi as not having any desire, therefore bhakthi doesn’t involve any activity but involves renunciation of all activities. For the devotee who has attained that which is to be attained, there remains no action to be performed & hence he doesn’t desire anything.

Through this sutra, Narada makes it quite clear that for a real devotee there is no action to be performed in the world. Whatever actions he might be doing at the empirical world are not actions at all as they are devoid of any doer but the devotee does actions only as an instrument in the hand of the Lord. Analyzing this a bit deeper, there remains no doer or actions in that state wherein the devotee has merged into the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus there is no duality whatsoever but the Lord alone exists – therefore there is no question of any actions or activities performed.

We should remember that here Narada is speaking about pure devotion and not means of devotion. The way to reach this state wherein all activities are renounced is “offering all actions” unto the Lord. It is through this sadhana of offering all actions unto the Lord that the devotee attains this state where there is total renunciation of all actions. Even when a devotee is doing action as the sadhana to attain the ultimate reality of Lord, he does it without any doer-ship and expectation of fruits – thus there is no action or desire at all there. Thus in both the states of pure devotion & when devotion is a means, there is total renunciation of actions.

It is for this reason that the Lord mentions in many places in Gita that actions don’t matter but the attitude of surrender and offering to the lord is what matters.

Speaking about a devotee of the Lord, Gita mentions thus:
Ye tu sarvaani karmaani mayi sanyasya matparaah

He who offers all actions unto me and is ever fixed in me, he is my real devotee.

With this sutra which says that all actions are to be renounced, there can be a doubt that then how will the devotee who is trying to attain pure devotion act in the world (as the Lord himself says in gita that “even for a single second, a person cannot remain without doing actions”). This doubt is being anticipated by Narada & is answered in the next sutra (again explained in the couple of sutras following the next sutra). We will see Narada’s answer the next day.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


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